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Multi-Lens Nokia Clears FCC

Feb 12, 2019, 10:48 AM   by Rich Brome

A Nokia phone with a large array of cameras on the back was just approved by the FCC. The unusual design with up to six discrete cameras on the back is clearly visible in a drawing of the back of the phone. FCC documents also reveal the phone's radio functions, which include NFC and all of the LTE bands used by Verizon, as well as basic LTE functionality for AT&T and T-Mobile. Verizon did recently launch its first Nokia phone (since the brand was handed over to HMD Global). Camera company Light revealed a prototype of a similar multi-camera phone in the middle of last year, and promised that its light field technology will come to a smartphone with five to nine cameras. Light says its phone design is capable of capturing 64 megapixel shots, better low-light performance, and sophisticated depth effects. Rumors have circulated that a phone looking like this will be called the Nokia 9 PureView. The old Nokia used the PureView brand for its phones with the most advanced cameras.


Hands On with the Moto g7 Series

Feb 7, 2019, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Moto's new g-series phones bring up-to-date features, upgraded specs, and clean Google software to three models ranging from $200 to $300. This year's series moves to a notched-screen design, steps up to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor, and supports USB-C across the board. They will all launch with Android 9 (Pie). All three will eventually come to US carriers, most by this spring.

  • Moto g7 play: The most affordable at $199, it has a 5.7" HD display, 3,000 mAh battery, fast charging, fingerprint reader, 13 megapixel camera, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, memory card slot, 3.5mm headset jack, and FM radio. It will be available from Boost, Virgin, US Cellular, Ting, and Republic, as well as unlocked from most major retailers.
  • Moto g7 power: The main feature is its huge 5,000 mAh battery, which Motorola claims will last for three days. It builds on the specs of the g7 play, stepping up to a larger 6.2" display, 3 GB of RAM, and a higher-quality 12-megapixel camera. It will be available for $249 from Verizon, T-Mobile, Metro, Cricket, Xfinity Mobile, Republic, Ting, and Consumer Cellular, as well as unlocked from most major retailers.
  • Moto g7: Higher-end but with a normal-size (3,000 mAh) battery, this flagship of the g series has a curved glass back, full-HD 6.2" display with a smaller notch, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, 4K video capture, and dual cameras for portrait effects. It also has a more advanced camera app, with new features like automatic group smile capture, hi-res digital zoom using multiple frames, hyperlapse video, and RAW output. The camera also integrates with YouTube Live and Google Lens. It will be available unlocked from most major retailers for $299 this spring, followed by launches with Google Fi, Republic Wireless, and Ting.
Read on for our first impressions, including photos and a video.

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Nokia Phones Return to US Carriers

Jan 25, 2019, 11:39 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 31, 2019, 10:24 AM

Nokia phones are back on US carrier store shelves as of today. The Nokia 3.1 Plus goes on sale today with Cricket, and Verizon will start selling the Nokia 2 V on January 31st. The announcement was made today by HMD Global, the independent company formed by ex-Nokia employees when Nokia stopped making its own phones. HMD licenses and has exclusive use of the Nokia brand for phones. The company plans additional phones for US carriers this year. "Our approach to operator relationships is not transactional — our users will see more devices at different price points launching with our prepaid and post-paid wireless prover [sic] partners and on the open market", said Maurizio Angelone, Vice President Americas for HMD Global. The Nokia 3.1 Plus has a tall (2:1) 6-inch HD screen, 3,500 mAh battery, fingerprint reader, NFC, and Snapdragon 439 processor with 2 GB RAM. It has dual rear cameras including a 13 megapixel main sensor. It sells for $160 from Cricket. The Nokia 2 V has a huge 4,000 mAh battery for "two-day battery life". It also has a 5.5-inch HD display, Snapdragon 425 processor, 8 megapixel main camera, and 8 GB storage plus a memory card slot. Pricing was not announced for the 2 V.


Affordable MVNO Visible Expands to Android, Starts Selling Phones

Jan 24, 2019, 12:43 PM   by Rich Brome

"Unlimited" Verizon 4G service is now available to anyone for $40/month through Visible, an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator). The Verizon-backed company launched in May last year as an invite-only service for people bringing their own compatible iPhone. The company dropped the invitation requirement later in the year. As of today, the service is compatible with Android phones, and the company is selling new iPhone and Android phones. The initial Android selection is just the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+. The 4G service is limited to 5 Mbps data speed, but all usage is otherwise unlimited. The company does not charge activation fees, SIM card kit fees, upgrade fees, nor restocking fees. The company now offers phone financing with no interest and no down payment, as well as phone insurance plans. Visible has no physical locations, offering activation, support, and all customer interactions via its app, now available for both iOS and in beta for Android.


Next RAZR Might be a $1,500 Foldable Smartphone

Jan 16, 2019, 2:24 PM   by Rich Brome

Motorola will soon revive the RAZR brand for a pricey folding-screen phone for Verizon, the Wall Street Journal reports today. The phone is in testing but could launch as soon as February. The phone would cost roughly $1,500 and be exclusive to Verizon Wireless. Samsung has said it also plans to introduce a phone this year with a screen that bends, allowing the phone to fold in half. Motorola Mobility is owned by Lenovo. The original RAZR was a thin metal flip phone introduced in 2004. Motorola revived the RAZR brand in 2011 for a line of Droid phones that were also exclusive to Verizon. The new "foldable" RAZR has yet to be announced and no other details are available.


Major Carriers Cut Off Location Aggregators After Abuse

Jan 16, 2019, 2:03 PM   by Rich Brome

Sprint this week became the last major US carrier to commit to ending its relationships with location aggregators, companies that resell phone location data, including real-time customer location. AT&T and T-Mobile last week pledged to cut off location aggregators in March, while Verizon has also told The Washington Post that it's working to end its location aggregator contracts. An investigation by Motherboard published last week found that loose regulation and oversight had led to location data being made available on an effective black market, with bounty hunters and other private citizens able to purchase real-time location data. Legitimate users of the data may be affected by the cutoffs, including roadside assistance services and banks that use customers' location to detect credit card fraud. Several members of congress have called for inquiries into the sharing and protection of location data.


Verizon Bundles Apple Music with Premium Plans

Jan 15, 2019, 6:07 PM   by Rich Brome

Verizon's top two unlimited postpaid plans now include an Apple Music subscription. The most affordable plan, GoUnlimited, still includes just a six-month trial of Apple Music, as the other plans did previously.


CAT S48c Rugged Phone Coming to Verizon

Jan 10, 2019, 11:52 AM   by Rich Brome

The ultra-rugged CAT S48c will soon be available to Verizon business customers, the two brands announced this morning. The S48c has been available with Sprint since early November. The Verizon version will have 64GB os internal storage and a two-year warranty (including screen breakage), but is otherwise the same as the Sprint version. The phone is well-rated for being waterproof and rugged, as well as extreme temperature ranges and safe for areas with flammable materials. Its screen is protected by extra-thick Gorilla Glass 5 in front, and a special metal plate behind it. The screen works through gloves and with wet hands, and the camera has an underwater mode. It's powered by a Snapdragon 630 processor paired with 4 GB of RAM. It also has a 4,000 mAh battery, NFC, USB-C, and a 13-megapixel camera. The CAT S48c will be available through Verizon business channels by the end of January.

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BlackBerry Key2 LE Coming to Verizon

Jan 8, 2019, 12:03 PM   by Rich Brome

Verizon business customers will soon have access to the newest BlackBerry, the Key2 LE. TCL Communication, which makes BlackBerry phones, announced today that the phone will launch in the "coming weeks" via business channels. The variant for Verizon will have dual-SIM support, 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of internal storage. The Key2 LE has a physical QWERTY keyboard, HD screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, fingerprint reader, USB-C connector, fast charging, 3.5mm audio jack, and dual rear cameras.

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Two Blu Phones now Work on Verizon

Jan 4, 2019, 12:00 PM   by Rich Brome

For the first time, Verizon customers can use an unlocked Blu phone certified by Verizon for use on its network. Two models are compatible: the recently-launched Blu Vivo XI and Vivo XI+. The phones can be used with Verizon’s Bring your Own Device Promotion, where customers will get a $150 prepaid MasterCard and free SIM card with activation. Best Buy is also running a sale today of $20 off the Vivo XI. Customers who have already purchased one of these phones can request a software update from Blu that will add official Verizon compatibility.


Verizon Cost-Cutting Efforts See Departure of 10,400 Employees

Dec 10, 2018, 11:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Communications today said that about 10,400 employees have accepted a voluntary buyout offer and will leave the company at various stages over the next six months. Verizon says the workforce reduction, which impacts roughly 7% of employees, leaves the company better positioned for growth. It aligns with Verizon's recently overhauled organizational structure as it focuses on bringing 5G to market. Verizon tried to put a positive spin on it, saying the changes will "be seamless to our customers" and "better serve customers with more agility, speed and flexibility." The Voluntary Separation Program offered employees up to 60 weeks' salary, bonus, and benefits, depending on how long they were with the company. Verizon's most recent headcount stood at more than 152,000 employees.


Huawei's Meng Facilitated Deals with Iran, Says U.S.

Dec 7, 2018, 7:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is facing extradition to the U.S. so she can face accusations that she hid connections with a company in order to sell sanctioned equipment to Iran. The U.S. first issued a warrant for Meng's arrest in August; she was arrested on Dec. 1 in Vancouver and has been held there since. The government alleges that Meng relied on Skycom Tech Co, based in Hong Kong, to sell HP computers to Iran in violation of U.S. and EU law. Skycom had an office in Tehran and was effective run by Huawei. She faces charges of conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions, which could carry a prison sentence of 30 years. Meng sought bail in a hearing held today in Vancouver. The U.S. now has 60 days to formally request Meng's extradition. A Canadian judge will ascertain whether or not the case against Meng is strong enough. If deemed solid, Canada's justice minister will be responsible for making the decision to turn her over. The U.S. has long held that Huawei's ties to the Chinese government are too close, and that Huawei represents a security risk to the country. The government has already banned employees from using Huawei phones. Early this year, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and others shelved plans to sell Huawei phones. Carriers are prohibited from using Huawei's telecommunication equipment, and the U.S. has advised carriers in other countries to also ban Huawei gear.


Verizon Offering First Responders Discounts On Personal Lines

Dec 6, 2018, 2:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said it is extending first responder discounts to the personal lines of state and local police, fire, and EMS employees. Current and former first responders, including volunteers and retirees, can sign up for the Go Unlimited plan and receive per-line savings. A single line saves $15 per month, two lines save $35, and three or more lines save $40. A family of four can enjoy Go Unlimited for $120. The discount requires autopay and does not include taxes and fees. Verizon says first responder customers will need to log into their account and upload the proper documentation, or visit a store, to receive the discount.


AT&T and Verizon Turning On Support for iPhone eSIM

Dec 6, 2018, 12:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and Verizon Wireless have confirmed that the latest system update for iPhones from Apple has made it possible to support the eSIM on their networks. AT&T is activating eSIM support on the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR starting today. It won't cost AT&T subscribers to use the feature. "AT&T does not charge for a SIM Card/eSIM Card for device upgrades or new lines of service," said the company in a statement provided to Fierce Wireless. Verizon told Fierce that it will initiate support for the eSIM starting tomorrow, December 7. T-Mobile is still working to make eSIM happen, but has not provided a timeline for bringing the feature to its customers. The eSIM in the newer iPhones allows the devices to act as though they have dual SIM cards. Owners can designate one SIM as the primary and use that for calls, messaging, and data. The secondary SIM acts as a separate account and can handle calls and texts.


Verizon Plans to Push RCS to Pixel Phones December 6

Dec 5, 2018, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has sped up its timeline for deploying rich communications services (RCS). The company had previously said it would launch RCS in early 2019. Now, Verizon will seed RCS as soon as this week. "Verizon and Google will be rolling out enhanced messaging (RCS) in the Messages app on Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL beginning this Thursday, December 6th," said Verizon in a statement provided to The Verge. "This messaging service brings, for example, typing indicators, very large group chats and the ability to transfer large files between the owners of these smartphones." Google has been pushing the RCS standard on carriers for several years. RCS is the next-generation messaging system that was designed by the GSMA to provide media-rich messaging to Android devices. Carriers must support RCS on the backend, and convincing U.S. operators to jump aboard has taken time. Sprint and T-Mobile announced support for RCS earlier this year, and each is in various stages of deployment. AT&T supports a version of RCS, though not the Universal Profile, which is what makes RCS work across carriers. Verizon will use the Universal Profile, which is good news. Verizon already offers a media-rich texting app called Message+ to its customers. The RCS features will be added to the Google-made Messages app.


Inseego Supplying Verizon with 5G Mobile Hotspot Next Year

Dec 4, 2018, 6:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless plans to offer a mobile hotspot powered by 5G during the first half of 2019. Today, the company showed off the device and revealed that it is being made by Inseego. Inseego was formerly known as Novatel and has made MiFi-branded hotspots for years. The Inseego MiFi 5G NR hotspot includes a touch screen and is powered by the Snapdragon 855 processor and Snapdragon X50 modem. It supports WiFi 6, and includes an ethernet port to assist in various connection scenarios. Inseego hopes to bring the hotspot to market before the end of the first quarter. There's no word on what it will cost.


Verizon Expands TravelPass to 54 More Countries

Dec 4, 2018, 2:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said its customers now have access to daily wireless service in 54 additional countries abroad. TravelPass costs $10 per day and allows people to make calls, send texts, and use high-speed data. People are only charged on days they actually use their phone. Some of the new countries include Qatar, Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya. TravelPass is now available in 185 countries around the world, representing 99% of the destinations to which Verizon's customers travel. Verizon also expanded its International Monthly Plan to 33 new countries. This plan for those who need to use mobile devices only occasionally when traveling.


Verizon and Samsung to Launch 5G Phone In First Half of 2019

Dec 3, 2018, 11:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless and Samsung today said the companies are working together to bring a 5G phone to market during the first half of 2019. The pair said they'll show off a proof-of-concept device at Qualcomm's Snapdragon Tech Summit later this week. The device will rely on the Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem and antenna modules, including the RF transceiver and RF front-end. Next year's mobile 5G networks will be many times faster than today's LTE 4G, with minimal latency. Verizon and Samsung have been working together on 5G for years on both the network and device sides. Verizon says its 5G mobile service will go live in "early 2019" and "expand rapidly." Verizon plans to use the brand "5G Ultra Wideband" for the network when it goes live. Verizon has already launched fixed 5G service in a handful of markets. The company hasn't made clear which will be the first of its mobile 5G networks.


Verizon Prepping RCS Text Messaging for Early 2019 Launch

Nov 16, 2018, 4:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless plans to roll out support for RCS messaging in early 2019, according to Aparna Khurjekar, SVP of consumer products at Verizon. Google has been pushing the RCS standard on carriers for several years. RCS is the next-generation messaging system that was designed by the GSMA to provide media-rich messages, including read receipts, video calls, and group chats, to Android devices around the world. Carriers, however, are the linchpin, as they must support it on the backend. In the U.S., Sprint and T-Mobile announced support for RCS earlier this year, and each is in various stages of deployment. AT&T supports a version of RCS, though not the Universal Profile, which is what makes RCS work across carriers. Verizon hasn't said if it will support the Universal Profile, nor has the company said exactly when it will launch RCS. Verizon already offers a media-rich texting app called Message+ to its customers. It's not clear if Verizon will add RCS to that app, or launch a brand new app.


Verizon App Supports Up to 5 Separate Numbers On One Phone

Nov 16, 2018, 10:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 16, 2018, 12:16 PM

Verizon Wireless today introduced a new application called My Numbers that lets any single phone use up to five distinct numbers. The app is available to Android and iOS devices. Customers who want or need to manage multiple numbers can add them to the app, where each will have its own voicemail inbox and SMS inbox. Each number added to the app costs $15 extra per month. The service uses software to mimic the idea of multiple SIMs in a single phone. My Numbers is available now.


Senators Probing Carriers Over Video Throttling Claims

Nov 16, 2018, 8:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Recently published research suggests the four major wireless carriers are throttling video traffic and three Senate Democrats want to know what's going on. Senators Edward Markey (Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), and Ron Wyden (Ore.) sent letters to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless about the allegations with a demand for a formal explanation from each. "All online traffic should be treated equally, and internet service providers should not discriminate against particular content or applications for competitive advantage purposes or otherwise," said the senators in their letter. The Wehe testing platform showed that AT&T throttled NBC Sports, Netflix, and YouTube; Sprint throttled Amazon Prime, Netflix, Skype Video calls, and YouTube; T-Mobile throttled Amazon Prime, NBC Sports, and Netflix; and Verizon Wireless throttled Amazon Prime, Netflix, and YouTube. T-Mobile also engaged in boosting, which provides unthrottled video streaming for a short time before eventually throttling it. Carriers' usage policies may allow for some throttling or down-graded resolution, and, due to the loss of net neutrality protections, current law does not explicitly prohibit throttling. However, the law does say that carriers have to disclose their throttling policies, if any exist. In this case, it's not clear if any of the carriers have specifically stated that they'll throttle the aforementioned apps and services. AT&T disputed the research and Sprint told Ars Technica that it does not "impose any restrictions on VoIP traffic or VoIP services." The carriers have until December 6 to answer the senators' questions.


Verizon Prepaid Debuts the Orbic Wonder

Nov 15, 2018, 2:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless' prepaid unit today added the Orbic Wonder to its lineup of inexpensive phones. The Wonder features a 5.5-inch full HD screen that is protected by Asahi Glass. The phone is power by the Snapdragon 430 processor with 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. It supports microSD memory cards up to 256 GB. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor with flash. Verizon did not list the user-facing camera's specs. The phone has an embedded 3,000mAh battery. The Orbic Wonder, made by Reliance Communications, costs $99.99 and is available online.


Kyocera's DuraForce Pro 2 Brings Rugged Performance to Verizon

Nov 15, 2018, 10:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Kyocera and Verizon Wireless today announced the DuraForce Pro 2, a ruggedized smartphone that targets construction and public safety workers. The DuraForce Pro 2 is fully ruggedized thanks to its hard rubber exterior, meeting the mil-spec 810G rating. It can withstand drops, shock, vibration, radiation, temperature extremes, blowing sleet/rain, and high elevations. An IP68 rating means the DuraForce Pro 2 can handle submersion in up to 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Kyocera says the DuraForce Pro 2 can be used around harmful vapors without fear of sparking a fire. The phone features a 5-inch full HD display that's protected by Kyocera's Sapphire Shield, which is scratch proof. It is powered by a Snapdragon 630 processor with 4 GB of memory and 64 GB of storage. It supports microSD memory cards up to 512 GB. The DuraForce Pro 2 has powerful front speakers that produce 106dB of sound. Four noise-cancelling mics ensure that PTT calls, speakerphone calls, music, and other audio is loud and clear. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and features such as wide 135-degree field of view, underwater mode, slow motion, time lapse, and automatic scene detection. The phone also has a 5-megapixel front camera. Programmable keys let users launch select apps, such as PTT or the camera, at the press of a button. The phone has a 3,240mAh battery that supports rapid charging and wireless charging. A fingerprint reader is built into the power button on the side. The Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 costs $444, or $18.50 for 24 months. It is only available online.


Yahoo Relaunches Comprehensive Android and iOS Apps

Nov 15, 2018, 8:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Media Group has launched a brand new version of the Yahoo mobile app. It combines all facets of Yahoo's online services in a single space. The app ties together separate services such as Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Sports, and Yahoo Finance, as well as various pieces of Yahoo's main web page. Users who create profiles and sign in can customize the app to show them local news and weather, local sports and highlights, as well as top news stories, stocks, daily deals, video content, and search. A separate tab called Watch contains the latest and most popular video on the web, curated by Yahoo's editors. Yahoo says app users will be treated to a "Deal of the Day" from partners during the upcoming holiday season, which delivers savings on potential gift items to Yahoo inboxes. The new Yahoo app is free to download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.


Motorola, Verizon Successfully Test Data On Moto Z3's 5G Mod

Nov 14, 2018, 8:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola and Verizon Wireless say they've successfully completed a 5G NR data transmission test between the Moto Z3 paired with a 5G Moto Mod and Verizon's network. Motorola announced the Moto Z3 for Verizon in August along with a Moto Mod capable of adding 5G to the Z3. While the Z3 went on sale over the summer, Motorola and Verizon said the 5G Moto Mod wouldn't arrive until 2019. The test demonstrates that the Mod does indeed bring 5G service to what Motorola and Verizon marketed as the "first 5G upgradeable phone." The companies performed this test in Providence, R.I., using Verizon's 28 GHz spectrum. The 5G Moto Mod relies on Qualcomm's Snapdragon X50 5G modem with QTM052 mmWave antennas. The companies used the publicly available Motorola Moto Z3. Motorola says the Moto Z3 will be the "first smartphone with access to Verizon’s 5G network" when that network launches. Verizon is expected to launch mobile 5G service during the early months of 2019. It launched fixed 5G in October. Verizon competitors AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile are all clamoring to be first to offer mobile 5G. AT&T recently revealed its first mobile 5G product, the Netgear Nighthawk hotspot. Sprint says it is working with LG to bring a 5G-capable phone to market.


OnePlus to Sell 'Thunder Purple' 6T In North America Nov. 15

Nov 12, 2018, 8:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

OnePlus today said the thunder purple color variant of its flagship OnePlus 6T phone will reach North America beginning November 15. The device was initially an exclusive to OnePlus' home market of China. The thunder purple model features a gradient rear panel that transitions from purple at the bottom to black at the top. Other than the color, all the other features of the phone are the same as the midnight black and mirror black versions. The 6T has a 6.3-inch display, Snapdragon 845 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of storage. It also includes an under-the-glass fingerprint reader and is compatible with Verizon's network. The thunder purple OnePlus 6T costs $579.


Cell Service Descends to NJ/NY PATH's Underground Stations

Nov 6, 2018, 11:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Commuters who use the Port Authority's PATH train service will soon have broader access to wireless service. Beginning today, AT&T and T-Mobile service is live in underground PATH stations in New York City. AT&T and T-Mobile service will expand to underground stations in New Jersey over the next three weeks. The Port Authority says service from Sprint and Verizon Wireless will reach underground stations in both New York and New Jersey in early 2019. Cellular service will be available on platforms and throughout the underground stations. The underground PATH stations in New York are located at 33rd, 23rd, 14th, 9th, and Christopher streets, while the underground New Jersey stations are located at Hoboken, Exchange Place, Newport, and Grove Street. The Journal Square, Harrison, Newark Penn Station (which are all above ground), and World Trade Center PATH stations already offer cellular device. The Port Authority recently added free unlimited, high-speed WiFi service at the four major New York-area airports.


Verizon Improves the Value of Its Prepaid Plans

Nov 6, 2018, 11:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 6, 2018, 1:00 PM

Verizon Prepaid now offers a bit more bang for the buck. Verizon Wireless has shuffled its prepaid plans and is including more discounts along the way. The new plans cost $70 per month for unlimited service, $50 for 8 GB, and $40 for 3 GB. These plans are all eligible for a $5 per-line discount when customers opt for Auto Pay. Verizon still offers a basic prepaid unlimited talk and text plan with 500 MB of data for $30 per month. All plans offer unlimited international texting, while the 8 GB and unlimited plans also include unlimited calling from the U.S. to Canada and Mexico. Verizon Prepaid customers can now enroll as many as 10 lines (up from five) on a single account, including tablets and Jetpacks. Verizon Prepaid service can now travel with subscribers to international destinations thanks to TravelPass. Last, prepaid customers can mix and match prepaid plans to find the right combination of services for each family member. The new plans and discounts go into effect November 6.


FCC Chair Wants More Action Taken Against Robocalls

Nov 5, 2018, 4:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai sent letters to more than a dozen telephone service providers today asking them for a status update on their efforts to curb robocalls. He demanded these companies deploy a system that authenticates the identity of callers as those calls transit the networks with the goal of identifying and squashing spoofed numbers and spam. Pai wants the system rolled out no later than 2019. "Combatting illegal robocalls is our top consumer priority at the FCC," said Pai. "That’s why we need call authentication to become a reality — it's the best way to ensure that consumers can answer their phones with confidence." Earlier this year, the FCC approved an authentication system called SHAKEN/STIR. This system verifies calls from the originating carrier as legitimate and ensures they are validated once again by the receiving carrier before the calls reach consumers. Americans receive billions of robocalls annually. If no action is taken, more than half of all calls made in 2019 are predicted to be robocalls. "By this time next year, I expect that consumers will begin to see this on their phones," continued Pai. "If it does not appear that this system is on track to get up and running next year, then we will take action to make sure that it does." Pai asked the telephone service providers to send in status reports indicating how far along they are in adopting the SHAKEN/STIR framework. The telephone companies have until November 19 to reply. Some of the companies that received letters include AT&T, Google, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon.


Verizon to Shuffle Business Units Ahead of 5G Launch

Nov 5, 2018, 8:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon today announced plans to reorganize its internal business structure to reflect its jump into the 5G era. Moving forward, the company will have three major business groups that are all tied together by its network. The new Verizon Consumer Group will center on running Verizon's wireless and wireline businesses for consumers, while the Verizon Business Group will do the same for Verizon's small, medium, and large business customers. The Business Group also contains Verizon's telematics business. These two organizations will be run by Ronan Dunne and Tami Erwin, respectively. Verizon Media Group, the company's Oath brand, ties together media, advertising, and technology through a collection of web sites. Oath will be led by Guru Gowrappan. Last, Verizon's global Network & Technology organization will serve all company operations by deploying and maintaining the company's wireless and wireline services. This group will be led by Kyle Malady. The top-level executives will not change. Verizon says its new structure will go into effect January 1, 2019.


ZTE Brings Two Low-Cost, Unlocked Phones to the U.S.

Oct 31, 2018, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE is taking its first, cautious steps in staging a comeback in the U.S. market with two entry-level phones that can run on Sprint, Verizon, and GSM networks. The Blade Max View and Blade Max 2s (pictured) both cost under $200 and offer big screens and big batteries. Shared features between the two include 6-inch displays with full HD+ resolution, dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, USB-C, memory card support, 4000mAh batteries, basic GSM/LTE for AT&T/T-Mobile, fingerprint readers, and a clean version of Android 7 Nougat.

  • Blade Max View: This is the slightly more capable of the two phones. It is powered by a Snapdragon 435 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The dual-camera configuration includes a 16-/2-megapixel combination. The main sensor has a five-element lens at f/2, while the secondary sensor has a three-element lens at f/2.4 The second sensor is meant chiefly for contrast and depth-of-field information for bokeh photos. The phone has an 8-megapixel front camera. The Blade Max View provides Cat 6 LTE on Verizon Wireless.
  • Blade Max 2s: This is the spiritual successor to the Max XL. It is powered by a 1.4 GHz processor with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. It includes a 13-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. The Blade Max 2s works well on Sprint's LTE 4G network.
Both phones are available unlocked starting today. The Blade Max View costs $199 and the Blade Max 2s costs $179. They can be purchased from ZTE's web site, as well as B&H and Newegg.


No U.S. Carriers Are Supporting Apple's Dual-SIM Feature Yet

Oct 31, 2018, 8:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple this week distributed iOS 12.1 and with it turned on the dual-SIM capability of the iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and Xr. Each of these newer iPhones includes a slot for physical SIM cards as well as an embedded eSIM. The eSIM can be used to change carriers at will. Despite the feature's availability from Apple, U.S. carriers aren't supporting it just yet. A check of Apple's web site shows that AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless will add the capability "later this year." AT&T says it is still working with Apple to add the feature, T-Mobile says it is still finalizing the software, and Verizon has confirmed that the eSIM causes coverage issues. Sprint has publicly said it will support the dual-SIM and eSIM functionality of the newer iPhones, but the company has not said when that might be. This all means U.S. consumers hoping to take advantage of the new iPhones' dual-SIM capabilities will have to wait a bit longer.


Verizon Debuts Its Fastest-Ever Mobile Hotspot

Oct 30, 2018, 4:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced the Jetpack MiFi 8800L, a mobile hotspot that relies on the most advanced LTE technology to deliver speeds up to 1 Gbps. Verizon says the 8800L is the first Cat 18 LTE hotspot. It supports two-, three-, and four-channel career aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, and LTE-LAA to enable gigabit speeds. The 8800L, built by Inseego, includes business-grade security, such as IT admin controls, a VPN, guest network options, and anti-hacking features. The battery provides 24 hours of connectivity, charges rapidly, and can recharge the batteries of phones or tablets when necessary. Last, the 8800L has a 2.4-inch color touchscreen for managing passwords, settings, and usage. The Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L costs $200 to purchase outright, or $100 with a two-year agreement. It is available from Verizon.com.


Dual-SIM Tech On iPhones Messes with Verizon Coverage

Oct 30, 2018, 10:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless will not support Apple's dual-SIM technology at first due to a software bug that degrades service. The new Apple iPhones (Xs, Xs Max, Xr) support dual-SIM functionality thanks to one physical SIM and one eSIM. The way dual-SIM phones typically work is to designate a primary SIM for voice, text, and data, with a secondary SIM handling voice and messaging through a second subscription. Many dual-SIM phones allow you to switch which SIM is designated as the primary/secondary at will. With the new iPhones, a third option exists that uses the primary SIM for iMessage and FaceTime, and the secondary for data. According to PCMag, when a Verizon physical SIM is designated as the secondary account, it drops to 2G CDMA data, which is slow, not widely available, and doesn't support MMS. Verizon confirmed the issue to PCMag and said it is working on a fix. "Wireless customers will be able to activate Verizon service eSIMs as soon as we're confident you'll be able to have the great, high-quality service you expect from us on both your primary and secondary line. If you are a Verizon customer and you activate another carrier's service on your iPhone's eSIM, your Verizon service will be degraded due to the current software configuration. We believe these concerns will be resolved quickly and you should be able to add our great Verizon service on your secondary line before the end of the year." Verizon said that until the secondary SIM supports all its LTE-based services, it won't activate service on any eSIM for now. Apple is activating the dual-SIM feature on its new iPhones today via iOS 12.1.


AT&T, Verizon to Sell Red Hydrogen One Starting Nov. 2 for $1,295

Oct 29, 2018, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 29, 2018, 7:02 AM

AT&T and Verion today disclosed launch details for the Red Hydrogen One. The phone, which boasts a 3D "holographic" display, will reach select stores on November 2. AT&T has priced the phone at $43.17 per month for 30 months on an AT&T Next plan, which totals more than $1,295.00. AT&T typically also offers 18- and 24-month payments plans for devices, but it hasn't provide details on those options. Verizon Wireless also plans to sell the phone, and will charge $53.95 per month for 24 months for a total of $1,295. The Hydrogen One has a 3D screen and can capture 3D photos and video.


Razer Phone 2 Certified to Work on Verizon

Oct 25, 2018, 4:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today confirmed that the Razer Phone 2 has been certified on its network. This means the phone supports a base level of performance with respect to connecting to 3G/4G, connecting calls, and accessing data. Verizon doesn't actually sell the Razer Phone 2. Razer offers the device unlocked via Best Buy and it can be used on Verizon's network should the owner wish.


Verizon's Palm Device Available to Buddy Up with Your Phone On November 2

Oct 25, 2018, 8:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today shared launch details concerning the new Palm companion device. Verizon says the small smartphone will be available online and in stores starting November 2. Big Red is offering several ways to finance the phone. The Palm can be paid off over 24 months for payments of $14.58 per month. Alternately, customers can sign a two-year agreement and pay $299 for the Palm, or buy it outright and contract-free for $349. The Palm companion device requires a $10-per-month Verizon NumberShare plan that is anchored to a standard smartphone service plan. The idea behind this diminutive device is to allow people to access their vital apps when needed, but keep them from staring at their screen all day. The Palm features an aluminum chassis with Gorilla Glass panels and an IP68 rating for protection against dust and water. It syncs messages, calls, and other data between itself and the primary phone. The Palm has a 3.3-inch HD screen, Snapdragon 435 processor, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. It has a 12-megapixel rear camera with flash and an 8-megapixel selfie camera. The Palm includes LTE, WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth, with an embedded SIM card. It has an 800mAh battery and relies on face unlock for security. The phone runs Android 8.1 Oreo and is compatible with millions of Android apps. Palm has customize the software to minimize notifications and interruptions.


Razer Acknowledges Verizon Compatibility Bug

Oct 24, 2018, 8:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Razer took to its Twitter account to admit that an issue is preventing owners of the Razer Phone 2 from using their device on Verizon's network. "We're aware that Verizon is not enabled on the #RazerPhone 2 right now and are working to enable it ASAP — hang in there!" said the company. The $800 phone, which launched earlier this month, targets gamers with a high refresh rate display, powerful camera, stereo speakers, and boosted graphics. It is sold directly from Razer unlocked and supports a number of LTE bands for U.S. networks. Razer didn't say how quickly it might push a patch to enable the Razer 2 on Verizon.


Verizon Removes SIM Lock from Pixel 3 Phones

Oct 19, 2018, 4:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has removed the SIM lock from the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Some users had noticed the phone was locked before being activated on the network, something Verizon began doing earlier this year to deter theft. "At launch, there was an update related to an automatic overnight unlock on Pixel 3s, which also showed up on phones sold in Best Buy stores," explained Verizon to Droid-Life via email. "We have temporarily removed it from Pixel 3 and are assessing where it will be implemented in the future." This means all Pixel phones sold will be SIM unlocked and can be used on any network, not just Verizon's. Verizon is the only carrier officially selling the devices, though it is also available via Google's Project Fi MVNO.


RED Details 3D Content Strategy for Hydrogen One Phone

Oct 16, 2018, 7:01 PM   by Rich Brome

At an event in NYC today, RED CEO Jim Jannard revealed how owners of the company's forthcoming Hydrogen One phone will be able to access and share 3D content. The phone has stereoscopic 3D cameras on both sides, and a "holographic" display that displays 3D content without special glasses. The phone will come with HoloPix, an Instagram-like app for sharing 3D photos. The company is also working on a FaceTime-like app for real-time 3D video chat, which should launch shortly after the phone launches. The company's Hydrogen Network service will offer paid and free commercial movies and video. The catalog of 3D films will include 55 titles from Warner Brothers, including The Hobbit. AT&T customers will receive Ready Player One and a Fantastic Beasts movie for free. Established content creators can apply to create their own channel on Hydrogen Network with paid and/or free content. The Leia Loft is a separate service for 3D-compatible games and apps, paid and free. RED claims that developers can make their games compatible with the holographic display very easily. 3D photos taken with the Hydrogen One are saved as JPEG files with the 3D data in metadata, so that they automatically display as 2D photos on any 2D devices they're shared with. Pricing and launch date with AT&T and Verizon have yet to be finalized.

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