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Verizon Turns to Messages by Google for Enhanced Messaging

Tuesday, 10:30 AM   by Rich Brome

Messages by Google will come pre-loaded and be the default messaging app on all Verizon Android devices starting next year. T-Mobile made a similar announcement in March, as did AT&T earlier this month. That means all three top-tier mobile networks in the US have now standardized on Messages by Google as the default app for RCS. RCS is the industry standard for enhanced messaging, designed to replace SMS. RCS offers features like read receipts, higher-quality photos and videos, and end-to-end encryption for one-on-one conversations. Verizon is also working to enable RCS interoperability across all carrier networks, but has not yet committed to a timeline for that. Verizon continues to offer and improve its own messaging app, Message+, even though it will no longer be the default messaging app starting next year. Customers using Message+ will get "full access to RCS capabilities by the end of the year". Verizon is also teaming with Google "to provide a robust business-to-consumer messaging ecosystem using RCS." Verizon's announcement today is a huge step for the RCS standard, which has suffered a long and tortured road to full implementation. Although there's now a clear path to a seamless and consistent enhanced messaging experience for Android users in the US, Apple has yet to support RCS in iOS. This means enhanced messaging is not yet interoperable between Android and iOS devices.


Verizon Signs $8.3 Billion Deal to Expand 5G Network

Jul 16, 2021, 11:21 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon has entered into a multi-year, $8.3 billion deal with Ericsson to expand Verizon's 5G network. The deal covers new mid-band coverage in the C band, as well as continued build-out of existing low-band and mmWave networks. The C band should offer a better balance of data speeds and coverage than most frequency bands currently in use for 5G. The deal with Ericsson includes Massive MIMO technology, which uses an array of 32–64 antennas to improve network capacity. Verizon has told investors it plans to spend $10 billion over the next three years to deploy 5G in the C band. Verizon spent $45 billion for its C band licenses, far more than any other company in that auction.


AT&T Picks Google Messages for RCS

Jul 1, 2021, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

AT&T and Google have forged an agreement to make Google's Messages app the default messaging app for all AT&T customers using Android phones. T-Mobile made a similar commitment in March, leaving Verizon as the only top-tier US carrier to not standardize on Google's Messages app for next-generation rich messaging using the RCS industry standard. AT&T's move will help ensure AT&T and T-Mobile customers can enjoy interoperable rich messaging among Android phones between the two carriers. RCS is a replacement for SMS that offers better group messaging, typing indicators, and encryption, among other features. RCS offers features comparable to Apple Messages. However, Apple has yet to support the RCS industry standard, so iOS does not yet offer interoperable rich messaging with Android phones.


TCL Launches 20 Series in US

Jun 28, 2021, 8:45 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jun 28, 2021, 8:04 PM

TCL today revealed the US launch details for its new 20 series of phones: the TCL 20 Pro 5G, 20S, and 20 SE.

  • The 20 Pro 5G is an affordable flagship phone with 5G for $500. It has a curved-edge TCL AMOLED display, satin glass back, 48 megapixel Sony-made main camera, 16 megapixel wide-angle camera, and wireless charging. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G chip with 6 GB RAM, 256 GB storage, and a 4,500 mAh battery. It has excellent support for all 5G and 4G US networks, including Verizon. It's available in Moondust Gray and Marine Blue.
  • The 20S has a 64 megapixel main camera, 8 megapixel wide camera, huge 5,000 mAh battery, and 18W fast charging. It also has a Snapdragon 665 processor and 4 GB RAM. It has excellent support for Verizon and T-Mobile 4G networks, and decent support for AT&T. It runs $250 and comes in Milky Way Black and Frosted Blue.
  • The 20 SE is only $190 but comes with 48 megapixel main camera, wide camera, 4 GB RAM, and huge 5,000 mAh battery. It has basic support for AT&T and T-Mobile networks, and comes in Nuit Black and Aurora Green.
All three phones are available starting today on Amazon.com. As a launch promotion for this week only, TCL is offering a free pair of TCL MOVEAUDIO earbuds with the purchase of a TCL 20 Pro 5G or 20S. The 20 Pro 5G comes with the MOVEAUDIO S600 (a $100 value) using promo code TCL20BOGO1
, while the TCL 20S comes with the MOVEAUDIO S150 (a $40 value) using promo code TCLBOGO2.


US Mobile Offers Half Off First Year of Service For Prime Day

Jun 18, 2021, 2:10 PM   by Rich Brome

US Mobile is once again offering a promo of 50% off the first year of service for new customers. The promo is available to anyone buying a US Mobile starter kit on amazon.com during Amazon's Prime Day sale, June 21–22. US Mobile did a similar promo for the launch of the OnePlus 9, but it was restricted to customers with that phone and US Mobile's "Super LTE" (Verizon) network. This new Prime Day promo is available for customers using any compatible phone, and for either network, including "GSM LTE" (T-Mobile). Customers will receive the discount as monthly service credits of up to $20.83, for a total of $250 over 12 months. Customers can choose from Custom, Shared Data, or Unlimited All plans. Customers buying the starter kit June 21–22 will receive a promo code that gets them the 50% off.


AT&T Spins Off Media Biz

May 17, 2021, 10:15 AM   by Rich Brome

AT&T is shedding its WarnerMedia division, which includes HBO, CNN, DC Comics, Warner Brothers, TBS, TNT, and Cartoon Network. In a complex deal, WarnerMedia will leave AT&T and merge with Discovery, Inc., to form a new media company. AT&T will receive $43 billion as part of the transaction. AT&T says the deal will create an opportunity for "stepped-up investment in growth areas", including mobile broadband. AT&T completed its purchase of Time Warner three years ago. Verizon sold its media division two weeks ago.


Verizon Picks up Nokia's New Flip Phone

May 13, 2021, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated May 13, 2021, 11:24 AM

Nokia today announced the Nokia 2720 V Flip feature phone for Verizon. Styled after the Nokia 2720 offered by AT&T and T-Mobile almost 12 years ago, the 2720 V Flip is a modern 4G LTE feature phone. Running KaiOS, the phone offers Google Assistant and the ability to download select apps from the KaiStore. The phone also supports HD Voice, and Wi-Fi mobile hotspot. The main screen is 2.8 inches and the outer display is 1.3 inches. The phone has extra-large keypad buttons and display text can be enlarged up to 100%. An emergency button sends a message to five contacts, giving details of your location, after which it rings selected contacts until they answer. There's also a 2 megapixel camera on the back, just below the hinge, a 3.5mm headset jack, and a memory card slot. Nokia claims the removable 1,500 mAh battery can last 26 days on standby. The Nokia 2720 V Flip will be available available May 20th for $80 at VerizonWireless.com or using the My Verizon app.


Verizon Sheds Yahoo

May 3, 2021, 12:30 PM   by Rich Brome

Verizon has reached an agreement to sell its Verizon Media business — which includes Yahoo and AOL — to Apollo Global Management for $5 billion. Verizon will retain a 10% stake in the new company, to be known simply as Yahoo. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2021. Verizon bought AOL in 2015 and Yahoo in 2017.


Verizon Looking to Sell Yahoo and AOL

Apr 28, 2021, 4:20 PM   by Rich Brome

Verizon is exploring the sale of its media businesses, including Yahoo and AOL, according to the Wall Street Journal. Verizon bought AOL in 2015 and Yahoo in 2017.


US Mobile Intros New Affordable Shared Plans

Apr 28, 2021, 10:48 AM   by Rich Brome

US Mobile today introduced a new category of plans that makes family plans more affordable than ever. The new Pooled Plan lets multiple lines share a set, customizable amount of data, as a cheaper alternative to unlimited plans (which US Mobile continues to offer.) Monthly pricing for Pooled Plans is $9/line, plus $2 per GB of shared 4G/5G data. For example, four lines sharing 8 GB of data would run $13/line/month. Customers can specify any amount of data to share, down to the GB. A new dashboard helps customers analyze current and past data usage in order to right-size their plan. Prices include taxes, but not a Regulatory Cost Recovery charge of $0.48 per line. The plans are available on the company's "Super LTE" network, which appears to be Verizon's 4G+5G network.


Verizon Brings mmWave 5G to More Cities

Apr 20, 2021, 9:42 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon on Thursday will launch its 5G "Ultra Wideband" service in four new cities: New Orleans, LA; Fresno, CA; Riverside, CA; and San Antonio, TX. This will bring the total number of US cities with the service to 71. Ultra Wideband is Verizon's branding for mmWave 5G, a flavor of 5G that offers very high speed but limited coverage. mmWave 5G service is typically only available in the densest parts of downtown urban areas, as well as stadiums, arenas, train stations, and airports. Verizon also affirmed its commitment to launch 5G in C-band spectrum in the first quarter of 2022. C-band enables 5G service with a better balance between data speed and coverage. Verizon says its C-band 5G network will cover "an additional 100 million mobility customers" at launch.


Xfinity Mobile Adds Discounts for Family Plans

Apr 15, 2021, 4:45 PM   by Rich Brome

Xfinity Mobile, the Comcast MVNO for Xfinity home internet customers, today introduced discounts for accounts with multiple lines. The discounts are greater for more lines, similar to what many other US carriers offer. While a single line of unlimited data remains $45/month, two lines are now $40 each, while four lines are just $30/line. Three lines are $33.33/line, to make the monthly total an even $100. Other aspects of Xfinity's mobile plan are unchanged. Xfinity Mobile runs on Verizon's 4G / 5G network.


Sony's New Flagships Feature Dual Zoom and 120 Hz Displays

Apr 14, 2021, 10:23 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Apr 14, 2021, 12:33 PM

Sony today announced its 2021 phone lineup for consumers: the Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III. The two phones are both high-end models with similar specs and features, with the 5 III being the smaller of the two. Both phones have OLED displays with 120 Hz refresh and three 12-megapixel rear cameras. While the standard and wide-angle cameras are similar to last year's models, the new periscope-style telephoto camera has its own optical zoom feature, offering both 2.9x and 4.4x zoom. The main and telephoto cameras include OIS (optical image stabilization). The phones are powered by Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon 888 chip and offer excellent support for the (sub-6) 5G and 4G networks of T-Mobile and Verizon. Other specs include 4,500 mAh battery with 30W USB-PD fast charging, Android 11, NFC, memory card slot, headset jack, and IP68 water resistance. The stereo speakers are the first in a phone to support 360 Reality Audio. The Xperia 5 III has a 6.1-inch display with FHD+ resolution, 8 GB RAM, and 128 GB storage. The larger Xperia 1 III has a 6.5-inch display with 4K resolution, 12 GB RAM, and 256 GB storage. The 1 III also adds a ToF camera, wireless charging, Gorilla Glass Victus on the front, and speakers that are 40% louder than last year's model. The Xperia 1 III design consists of frosted glass and "blasted" metal, available in black or purple. The 5 III has a mirror finish and will be available in black or green. Both phones will be ship in the US "this summer". Pricing is to be announced.


Samsung Reveals Galaxy A42 5G, A02s for US

Apr 7, 2021, 10:18 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Apr 7, 2021, 3:01 PM

Samsung today announced the US launch of five new phones in the company's affordable Galaxy A series, including three 5G models. The Galaxy A32 5G will be the most affordable 5G model at just $280, and will be exclusive to T-Mobile (and Metro) at launch. Samsung is able to offer 5G at this prince thanks in part to the MediaTek Dimensity 720 5G chip in the A32 5G, whereas the two pricier 5G models use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G. Samsung announced the A32 5G and A52 5G a few weeks ago, but withheld US launch details at that time. The Galaxy A52 5G will run $500 and come to both AT&T and T-Mobile (including Metro). New is the Galaxy A42 5G, which is similar to the A32 5G but adds mmWave 5G for Verizon. It also swaps the 90 Hz LCD display for a 60 Hz Super AMOLED display, switches to an in-display (optical) fingerprint reader, and has double the storage at 128 GB. Most other keys specs are identical to the A32 5G. The A42 has a unique design on the back divided into four equal parts. Verizon starts selling the Galaxy A42 5G tomorrow for $400. All three 5G models will be available by the end of this week. The two more affordable 4G models are the A12 and A02s. We reported on the Galaxy A12 for AT&T on Monday. That model will also come to T-Mobile this week, and Verizon on April 29th. The most affordable model is the new Galaxy A02s (shown), "starting at" $110, although Verizon will sell it for $150 and T-Mobile says "Stay tuned for pricing details." The A02s has the same 6.5-inch HD display and huge 5,000 mAh battery as the A12, but with expected cost-trimming on the cameras (13 megapixel main and no wide-angle), processor (Snapdragon 450), and RAM (2 GB instead of 3). The A02s also loses NFC and the fingerprint reader, but keeps 15W fast charging, USB-C, memory card slot, and the headset jack. The A02s is distinguished by its textured design on the back, divided into sections diagonally. Verizon starts selling the A02s on April 29th; T-Mobile has yet to announce a launch date.


US Mobile Offers 50% Off Service When You Bring Your Own OnePlus 9

Apr 2, 2021, 1:08 PM   by Rich Brome

MVNO US Mobile today launched a special promo offering 50% off its plans for one year (up to a maximum of $250 saved for the whole year) when new customers activate a OnePlus 9 or OnePlus 9 Pro. US Mobile offers service on both the Verizon and T-Mobile networks, but this offer applies to customers signing up for the Verizon network, which US Mobile refers to as its "Super LTE network". US Mobile offers unlimited plans starting at $45/month for one line, or as low as $25/line for multiple lines. Non-unlimited plans range from $12/month for 1 GB of data to $30/month for 30 GB of data (all include unlimited talk and text). Prices do not include taxes and fees. All US Mobile plans include free access to 5G with compatible phones.


CAT S62 Pro Features Advanced Thermal Imaging

Apr 1, 2021, 7:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Bullitt Group today announced the CAT S62 Pro, the latest in its line of ruggedized phones for field professionals. The company is releasing the US version today, which has excellent support for T-Mobile and Verizon 4G networks, and will also work on AT&T. The S62 Pro is the third CAT-branded phone to feature a FLIR thermal imager, and sports the most advanced thermal sensor in a phone to date with full-HD+ resolution, a high-end spec for this type of sensor. It's also the first CAT+FLIR phone with a sleeker design instead of the odd hump hat extended from the top of the S60 and S61. The camera software includes FLIR's newest algorithms for combining thermal and visible imaging in real time, with several options and adjustable intensity. The software also includes new "analytic and reporting features typically found in higher end, dedicated thermal imaging products", including the ability to generate PDF reports of thermal conditions. The phone is also rated IP68 & IP69 for water and dust, as well as MIL-SPEC for thermal shock, high & low temps, vibration, humidity, and salt mist. It's fully washable with soap. The screen is protected with Gorilla Glass 6 and works with gloves and wet fingers. The phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage (which is expandable). Other specs include a 5.7-inch FHD+ LCD display, 12 megapixel main camera, 4,000 mAh battery, and Quick Charge 4. Other features include 4K video capture, Android 10, NFC, fingerprint reader, and LED notification light. Bullitt promises an update to Android 11 and three years of security updates. The CAT S62 Pro is available today starting today for $699 unlocked.


Verizon Sets New End Date for CDMA Network

Mar 31, 2021, 9:53 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon this week announced that it will finally shut down "the last of" its legacy 3G CDMA network on December 31, 2022. Verizon has set and extended the date several times already, but now promises that "The date will not be extended again." Verizon started preparing for this transition many years ago, requiring that all new phones (including basic feature phones) support 4G LTE and VoLTE. Newer Verizon phones do not even support CDMA, and Verizon stopped activating new CDMA devices starting in 2018. Verizon says that less than 1% of its customers still access the CDMA network. Verizon is urging customers still using CDMA devices to upgrade as soon as possible, saying they may "experience a degradation or complete loss of service" "as we move closer to the shut off date" and the company "will only be able to offer extremely limited troubleshooting help on these older devices." The move is necessary in order to free up radio spectrum for more-efficient technologies such as 4G LTE and 5G NR, which means better service to customers using those new technologies (which is over 99% of Verizon customers).


OnePlus 9 Series has Hasselblad Color, 50-Megapixel Wide Camera

Mar 23, 2021, 10:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Mar 29, 2021, 10:22 AM

OnePlus today announced the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro, its newest flagship phones. The 9 Pro is a true flagship-class phone with a QHD AMOLED display with variable refresh from 1 to 120 Hz, and IP68 water rating, starting at $969. The standard OnePlus 9 is priced more like an "affordable flagship" at $729, but keeps many high-end specs like a Snapdragon 888 chip, 50-megapixel wide-angle camera, 120 Hz display, and wireless charging. Both models include "Hasselblad Camera for Mobile", which tunes the coloring of photos in auto mode "to bring more perceptually accurate and natural-looking colors to photos". The phones also include a Hasselblad Pro Mode, optimized for professionals who prefer to capture in 12-bit RAW for post-processing. OnePlus and Hasselblad have established a long-term partnership that will extend to phone sensors and optics in the future.

  • The OnePlus 9 sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip, sub-6 GHz 5G (including the forthcoming C-band), 8–12 GB LPDDR5 RAM, 128–256 GB UFS 3.1 storage, 4,500 mAh battery, Warp Charge 65T fast charging, 15W Qi wireless charging, 6.55-inch FHD+ AMOLED display with 120 Hz refresh and HDR10+, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.2. Its main camera is 48 megapixel and can capture 8K video. A wide-angle camera clocks in at 50 megapixel and has a "Freeform" lens that reduces edge distortion. The wide camera doubles as a high-quality macro camera, and the camera app has a new Tilt-Shift mode. There's also an extra monochrome camera and a 16 megapixel front camera. Other features include Android 11, OnePlus' signature sliding alert switch, stereo speakers, NFC, and an in-display fingerprint reader. The lightweight frame is made from fiberglass-reinforced polymer. In the US, it will be available in two glossy finishes: Winter Mist (purple) or Astral Black. The base version is 8 / 128 GB for $729, with the 12 / 256 GB model going for $829 (in black only).
  • The OnePlus 9 Pro builds on the standard model with numerous upgrades, including mmWave 5G, IP68 water resistance rating, aluminum frame, and 50W fast wireless charging. Battery and memory specs are the same. The display is slightly larger at 6.7 inches and has been upgraded with QHD+ resolution and curved sides. The display also features "Fluid Display 2.0", which automatically adjusts the refresh rate as needed from 120 Hz all the way down to 1 Hz, which saves battery life. This is made possible by an AMOLED display panel with a low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) backplane layer. The phone senses ambient light from both the front and back, to automatically adjust both brightness and color temperature of the display. As for cameras, the main 48-megapixel sensor has been upgraded to a custom-designed IMX789 sensor, co-developed with Sony, with OIS. The 50-megapixel wide camera is the same, but a 3.3x telephoto camera has been added, with 8 megapixel resolution and OIS. The Pro also adds laser focusing and an extra microphone for audio zoom when recording video. The OnePlus 9 Pro be available in glossy Morning Mist (silver) with 8 / 128 GB for $969. The step-up 12 / 256 GB version will run $1,069 and come in Morning Mist or matte Pine Green.
Both phones include a 65W fast charger that can charge the phone to 100% in less than 30 minutes. The included charger can also charge third-party devices such as laptops at up to 45W. Both phones also support industry-standard fast charging at up to 18W. T-Mobile will offer the OnePlus 9 in the 8 / 128 GB version, in both color options, and the OnePlus 9 Pro 12 / 256 GB version in Morning Mist (silver). Both phones are also compatible with, and certified for, Verizon's 4G and 5G networks. Pre-orders start March 26th, with full availability on April 2nd from oneplus.com, T-Mobile, Amazon, Best Buy, and B&H.

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Verizon Will Charge Extra for Access to C-Band 5G

Mar 11, 2021, 11:08 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon this week told investors what it plans to do with the C-band radio spectrum it purchased for $45 billion in a recent FCC auction. The company will use it to deploy mid-band 5G, filling a crucial gap in the company's 5G network. Currently, Verizon offers low-band 5G with broad coverage but data performance barely better (and sometimes worse) than 4G. This is available to all customers at no extra charge. Verizon also offers "Ultra Wideband" 5G service using mmWave frequencies. This offers very fast data rates but very limited coverage. Verizon only offers Ultra Wideband to customers on pricier unlimited plans, excluding those on metered plans or the basic Start Unlimited plan. The new C-band 5G service should offer a better balance of coverage and data speeds. Verizon told investors that it will treat the new mid-band 5G service the same as its mmWave Ultra Wideband service, restricting access to customers on premium plans. Verizon also stated that all new phones it launches going forward will support C-band (band 77). The company plans to spend $10 billion over the next three years on the physical infrastructure to add C-band 5G to its network.


Kyocera DuraForce Ultra Launches on Verizon

Mar 11, 2021, 10:40 AM   by Rich Brome

Kyocera's ultra-rugged 5G phone, the DuraForce Ultra, is now available from Verizon for $900. The phone was announced two months ago and combines high-end specs with a body that's durable, washable, and certified for hazardous locations.


Verizon Just Spent $45 Billion on New 5G Spectrum

Feb 24, 2021, 5:19 PM   by Rich Brome

The FCC today announced the winners of Auction 107 for radio frequency licenses in the coveted "C-Band". Verizon spent $45.5 billion, well over half the $81.1 billion total spent in the whole auction. All major US carriers spent large amounts, with AT&T spending $23.4 billion, T-Mobile spending $9.3 billion, and US Cellular spending $1.3 billion. Auction 107 is for radio frequencies spanning 3.7 to 3.98 GHz. This band is unusually large at 280 MHz wide, giving it valuable high capacity for many users and/or fast data speeds. Spectrum in these "mid-band" frequencies is also valuable because it's ideal for building 5G networks that offer a good balance of fast data speeds and broad coverage. Most current 5G networks in the US offer only fast speeds or broad coverage, an issue that is particularly acute for Verizon at the moment. Auction 107 is likely to be the largest and most important of several C-band auctions the FCC is holding. Auction 105 was the first, though it raised only $4.6 billion. The next will be Auction 110, for 3.45 – 3.55 GHz. The FCC finalized its proposed rules for that auction earlier this week.


Verizon, Google Offer New Intro Deals on Plans

Feb 22, 2021, 11:30 AM   by Rich Brome

Google Fi and Verizon Prepaid recently launched new introductory deals for new customers / added lines. Verizon Prepaid is offering the third month of service for free, while Google is offering half off the first three months of service. Verizon also offers "loyalty" discounts that kick in starting on the fourth month.


Visible Revamps Plans, Launches 5G and eSIM

Feb 9, 2021, 10:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Visible just launched a variety of new service offerings and revamped plans. Customers with compatible phones can now access Verizon's 5G network at no extra cost. The company's unlimited voice service now includes calling to Canada, Mexico, US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Visible also now supports phone activation via eSIM on iPhones launched in 2018 (Xs and Xr) and newer, "with Android devices coming soon". Finally, the company has tweaked its Party Pay plans and added a referral program. Whereas Party Pay shared plans were previously capped at four people, they are now unlimited, with groups of four or more paying $25/month each. The company has also launched a community forum to help people find Party Pay groups to join. (The company does not require that groups be related, and in fact nearly one third of all customers using Party Pay are in a group with someone they don't know.) The referral program reduces your bill to $5 the month after you refer a new customer.


Motorola Sale Brings Verizon razr to just $500

Feb 8, 2021, 11:51 AM   by Rich Brome

Motorola and Verizon are running a Valentine's Day sale offering a $500 discount on the flex-screen razr (2019) and the 5G edge+. Both are normally priced at $1000, so the discount cuts the price in half, to just $500. That is, by far, the lowest price for a foldable phone to date. This discount is available to both new and existing customers, and does not require a new line nor trade-in, but it does require a "select unlimited plan" and is only available online. The sale started February 4th and runs through February 14th. Further discounts can lower the price to zero with an eligible phone trade-in. The companies are also offering a buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) deal on the edge+ "with new line activation and premium unlimited plan."


DC Metro Offers Underground Cell Service Systemwide

Jan 27, 2021, 11:59 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 27, 2021, 12:15 PM

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority today announced the completion of its project to offer cellular service in all 100 miles of underground tunnels and stations in the Washington, D.C. Metrorail system. Passengers can now receive uninterrupted AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon service on their phones throughout their entire journey. The project was mandated in a bill passed by Congress in 2008.


Sony Finally Launches its 5G Phone for Video, Photo Professionals

Jan 26, 2021, 1:07 PM   by Rich Brome

Sony today launched the Xperia Pro, a $2,500 phone designed specifically for video and photo professionals. The Xperia Pro has four mmWave 5G antennas for reliable connection to Verizon's Ultra Wideband 5G network (where available). This enables live broadcast of video and speedy upload of photos. It has unique wired input capabilities — including micro-HDMI — allowing it to connect directly to professional video and still cameras. The phone also comes with an External Monitor app for use with professional cameras. A "Network Visualizer" feature helps users find the strongest 5G signal for solid live video transmissions. The Xperia Pro was first announced last February. Since then, the specs have been boosted from 8 to 12 of RAM. Other specs are as initially announced, including 512 GB storage, memory card slot, Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset, 4,000 mAh battery, and a 6.5-inch OLED display with HDR and unique 1644 x 3840 pixel resolution. Its built-in triple rear cameras are all 12 megapixel and include standard, telephotos, and wide lenses, aided by "3D iToF" and RGB-IR color sensors. Additional features include water resistance, NFC, Wi-Fi 6, fast charging, and front-facing stereo speakers. It's available starting today from B&H Photo.


Kyocera DuraForce Ultra Brings the Rugged to Verizon's 5G Lineup

Jan 11, 2021, 2:01 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 11, 2021, 5:05 PM

Kyocera today announced the DuraForce Ultra 5G UW, Kyocera's first 5G phone for the US and the first ultra-rugged phone in Verizon's 5G phone lineup. This ultra-rugged is certified military standard 810H to withstand drops of up to 5 feet directly onto concrete, water immersion (IPX6/IPX8), dust (IP6X), extreme temperatures, salt, fog, solar, shock, hazardous work environments and more. It's also fully washable and certified for Class I, Division 2 hazardous locations. Kyocera put its "virtually scratchproof" Sapphire Shield protection on both the display and camera lenses. It has a 24 megapixel main camera, 16 megapixel wide-angle (117º) camera, and an 8 megapixel front camera. It also has a ToF camera for fast auto-focus and advanced AR. The main camera supports pixel binning in low light, there's a multi-frame Super Night Vision mode, and an underwater mode. An Action Overlay "provides outdoor enthusiasts the ability to add elapsed time, distance, speed, G-force, altitude, date/time and map of route traveled to photos and videos". Dual front speakers provide 106dB of speakerphone and PTT volume for loud environments. The DuraForce Ultra also supports 802.11mc indoor positioning, CBRS, and Mission-Critical PTT (MCPTT). Other specs include a 4,500 battery, wireless charging, Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, 5.45-inch full-HD display that works with gloves and when wet, fingerprint reader on the side, and a 3.5mm jack that supports stereo audio and PTT controls. Pricing will be announced when it launches on Verizon, which will be "very soon", according to Kyocera.


Motorola Unveils Full Affordable Lineup for 2021

Jan 8, 2021, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Motorola today unveiled a full lineup of four new affordable phones, including three g-series models ranging from $169 – $299 and one 5G model for $399. All four feature large batteries (4,000 – 5,000 mAh) and large displays (6.5 – 6.8 inches). All four also include a fingerprint reader, multiple cameras, headset jack, memory card slot, USB-C connector, and a "water-repellant design" that protects against accidental spills, splashes, sweat, or light rain. They ship with Android 10 and Motorola promises one full OS version update plus two years of security updates. Moto's latest camera app supports AI scene detection and optimization, Google Lens, portrait mode, RAW format, Active Photos, Auto Smile Capture, Gesture Selfie, time-lapse, and slow-motion on all models. All four also support gestures such as Lift to unlock, Flip for DND (Do Not Disturb), Pick up to silence, and Fast flashlight, where a quick double-chop motion turns the flashlight on or off. All four phones will be available unlocked as well as from many US carriers.

  • moto g play (2021): The most affordable at $170, this phone has a 6.5-inch HD display with notch, huge 5,000 mAh battery, Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 chipset, 3 GB RAM, and 32 GB built-in storage. Its primary 13 megapixel camera is assisted by a depth camera for portrait mode, and the front camera is 5 megapixel. It also has 10W fast charging. The new moto g play will be offered in the coming months by AT&T, Cricket, Boost Mobile, Consumer Cellular, Google Fi, Metro by T-Mobile, T-Mobile, Republic Wireless, Verizon, and Xfinity Mobile.
  • moto g power (2021): Upgrades compared to the g play include: Snapdragon 662 chipset, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB storage, up to 15W fast charging, "48 megapixel" main camera that outputs 12-megapixel photos using pixel binning, 2-megapixel macro camera, and an 8-megapixel front camera. The upgraded main camera enables a Night Vision mode and better low-light performance in general. The camera app also gains Cinemagraph mode, Group Selfie, and Spot Color for video. The fingerprint reader moves to the side and the display is slightly larger at 6.6 inches, with a corner hole-punch design. This new moto g power will sell for $250, although Best Buy will sell a variant with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB storage for $200. It will also come to Boost Mobile, Cricket, Consumer Cellular, Google Fi, Republic Wireless, US Cellular, Verizon, and Xfinity Mobile in the coming months.
  • moto g stylus (2021): This model adds a stylus that stows in the bottom-right of the phone. It comes with two special apps: Moto Note and Coloring Book. The stylus also offers system-wide shortcuts and works with third-party apps. This is the only model of the four to come with a smaller 4,000 mAh battery, which Motorola says was necessary to make room for the stylus. It has several spec upgrades compared to the g power, including a larger 6.8-inch display with full-HD resolution, Snapdragon 678 chipset, 128 GB storage, 8-megapixel wide-angle camera, 16 megapixel selfie camera, and 4K video capture. It will sell for $300 unlocked. Boost Mobile, Cricket, Consumer Cellular, and Republic Wireless will also offer it in the coming months.
  • Motorola one 5G ace: Combines the best of the g power and g stylus specs (minus the stylus) while adding 5G (sub-6 GHz only) thanks to its Snapdragon 750G chipset. Other upgrades include 6 GB RAM, NFC, and an official IP rating for water resistance: IP54 for the T-Mobile version and IP52 for other versions. The display measures 6.7 inches with a centered hole-punch design, and the fingerprint reader is located on the back. It will run $400 unlocked. AT&T, Consumer Cellular, Google Fi, Metro by T-Mobile, T-Mobile, Republic Wireless, Verizon, and Xfinity Mobile will also offer it in the coming months.
Unlocked versions of all four phones are available for pre-order starting today, with full availability on January 14th. Unlocked models can be purchased from Best Buy, Walmart, B&H Photo, Amazon, and motorola.com.


Verizon Delays Shutdown of old CDMA Network

Jan 6, 2021, 1:35 PM   by Rich Brome

Verizon has once again delayed the planned shutdown of its legacy CDMA network. The company originally planned to shut down the network at the end of 2019, then in mid-2019 postponed it to the end of 2020. Now, the company says: "we don't have a plan to shut it down at this time". Verizon's original CDMA network was first launched as a 2G network by Bell Atlantic in 1996. Verizon then upgraded that CDMA network to 3G with the rollout of EV-DO technology in 2004. Each separate network technology requires its own dedicated part of the radio spectrum, and older technologies make less-efficient use of the limited resource that is radio spectrum. Verizon's original plans to phase out CDMA would have freed up more of Verizon's licensed spectrum for newer, more efficient 4G and 5G technologies, allowing the company to accommodate more 4G and 5G customers with better service. But apparently more customers remain active on the CDMA network than Verizon is willing to leave stranded.


Kyocera Teases Rugged 5G Phone for Verizon

Dec 23, 2020, 2:30 PM   by Rich Brome

Kyocera Mobile is featuring a new video on its home page that teases the "fastest", "toughest", and "loudest ultra-rugged device" with "5G connectivity", "coming soon in 2021". This week the FCC approved a Kyocera phone matching that description, with frequency bands that indicate it's intended for Verizon's network. The phone, with technical model number E7110, supports both sub-6 and mmWave 5G, as well as NFC. Little else was revealed by the FCC approval documents. It's not yet clear if the phone will be exclusive to Verizon. Kyocera's last major phone for the US — the DuraForce Pro 2 — was released first for Verizon, then with AT&T five months later.


Verizon Expands 5G Coverage in Both Low-Band and mmWave

Dec 17, 2020, 10:54 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon today announced the availability of "Nationwide" low-band 5G in four new areas of the country and faster "Ultra Wideband" mmWave 5G in parts of four new cities. The low-band network (offering wide coverage but speeds closer to 4G) is now available to an additional 24 million customers in central Texas, Tulsa, upstate New York, and the New England area. The "Ultra Wideband" mmWave 5G network — which offers much faster speeds but has coverage limited to specific dense areas of major cities — is now available in parts of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Albuquerque, and Durham. Verizon also announced that it has deployed carrier aggregation (CA) on its mmWave 5G network, enabling double data rates for "peak speeds up to 4 Gbps possible in some locations".


Ting Simplifies Rate Plans

Nov 17, 2020, 6:10 PM   by Rich Brome

Ting introduced new rate plans today that completely revamp the way the MVNO charges for service. The company previously offered fixed allotments of data, voice, and text messages, which could be customized individually. The new plans join the rest of the industry in offering unlimited voice and texting standard, and unlimited 2G data when high-speed data run out. Three main plans offer different high-speed data options. The "Flex" plan starts at $10/month, plus $5/month for each 1 GB of shared high-speed data. Ting's "high-speed" data includes 4G LTE and 5G access. The step-up "Set 5" plan runs $25/month for 5 GB high-speed data, all of which can be used for mobile hotspot. Finally, the "Unlimited" plan offers 12 GB high-speed data, 12 GB of which can be used for mobile hotspot, for $45/month. An Unlimited Pro plan offers 35 GB of high-speed data for $60/month. Ting operates on the Verizon and T-Mobile networks.


Nokia Brings 5G Flagship to Verizon

Nov 9, 2020, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Nokia's first flagship phone in the US in many years is the Nokia 8 V 5G UW for Verizon. The 8 V is a variant of the Nokia 8.3 5G, Nokia's first 5G phone globally. The 8 V adds mmWave 5G and comes in a Meteor Gray finish, but is otherwise identical to the 8.3 5G. The 8V will be available from Verizon and Best Buy for $700 starting November 12th. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset. Key specs include a large 6.8-inch display, large 4,500 mAh battery, 64 megapixel main camera with Zeiss lens, 12 megapixel wide camera, and a 24 megapixel selfie camera. It also has fast charging, a headset jack, memory card slot, and dedicated programmable shortcut button. The fingerprint reader is integrated into the lock button on the side. The premium design is made from metal and 3D curved glass. HMD Global, the company behind Nokia phones, will run a US marketing campaign for the 8 V starring Lashana Lynch from the 25th James Bond film, No Time To Die.


Hands On with the TCL 10 5G UW for Verizon

Nov 2, 2020, 3:12 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Nov 5, 2020, 10:49 AM

In late 2020, the focus of the mobile world is still on 5G, but it's not on flagship phones; the hot race is who can offer the best $400 5G phone. Verizon's big bet in this race is on the TCL 10 5G UW, which stands out for including faster mmWave 5G, a feature that usually carries a price premium. And this phone has a number of other specs usually found only on much pricier phones. So what corners did TCL cut to reach this low price? Is the phone actually any good? We took it for a quick spin to find out. Here are our first impressions.

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The TCL 10 5G UW Offers Full-Featured 5G on Verizon for $400

Oct 27, 2020, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Getting a 5G phone for Verizon just got a lot more affordable with the introduction of the TCL 10 5G UW. The phone is notable for several reasons. First is the $400 price point, a full $150 lower than Verizon's cheapest 5G phones before today. The $400 price point matches T-Mobile's cheapest 5G phone, the REVVL 5G, which is also made by TCL. In fact, the two phones are closely related, sharing many specs and the same "T790" technical model number. The TCL 10 5G UW is also notable for including faster mmWave 5G, a feature that usually carries a price premium. No competing phone near this price point includes mmWave, and Verizon's 5G phones usually carry a $50-100 premium because Verizon requires that all of its 5G phones include mmWave. The 10 5G UW is also notable for being the first TCL-branded phone in the postpaid lineup of Verizon, the largest carrier in the US; this marks a major milestone for the TCL brand. Finally, the 10 5G UW includes several high-end specs one might not expect in such an affordable phone, such as a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G — a chip also found in some flagship-level phones — as well as 6 GB RAM, HDR10 display, and a 48-megapixel main camera. The premium design sports Gorilla Glass 3 on the front and 3D curved Gorilla Glass 5 on the back covering a subtle, dark prismatic crystal design. Additional specs include a 6.53-inch full-HD display, 128 GB storage plus memory card slot, 4,500 mAh battery, fast charging, and Super Bluetooth for connecting up to four audio devices simultaneously. It also has a wide-angle camera, macro camera, NFC, rear fingerprint reader, and a headset jack. It ships with Android 10 but TCL promises an update to Android 11 is on the way, along with at least two years of quarterly security updates. The TCL 10 5G UW will be available from Verizon starting this Thursday Oct. 29th.


Verizon Expands Affordable 5G Lineup with Motorola One 5G

Oct 15, 2020, 10:11 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon today launched the Motorola One 5G for $550, matching the price of the Samsung Galaxy A51 5G, Verizon's cheapest 5G phone before today. AT&T sells the One 5G for $445, but Verizon's version adds support for mmWave 5G, which Verizon calls Ultra Wideband.


Verizon Launches Nationwide 5G

Oct 13, 2020, 12:43 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Oct 13, 2020, 2:41 PM

At Apple's iPhone 12 launch event, Verizon announced the launch of its nationwide sub-6 GHz 5G network, offering broad 5G coverage from Verizon for the first time. The network covers over 200 million people spanning 1,800 cities and towns. The company also detailed plans to continue expansion of its mmWave "Ultra Wideband" network, offering even higher speeds in select dense areas. The company is launching mmWave 5G in 19 new cities today, including Baltimore, Hartford, Jersey City, Las Vegas, Louisville, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Tucson. That bring Verizon's mmWave city count to 55, a number they expect to reach 60 by the end of the year.


Google Details 5G Pixels

Sep 30, 2020, 2:06 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Sep 30, 2020, 3:03 PM

Google today announced its 5G Pixel phones for 2020: the Pixel 5 and "Pixel 4a (5G)". The confusingly-named Pixel 4a (5G) actually has more in common with the Pixel 5 than with the Pixel 4a. Both have a large OLED display (6–6.2 inches) with HDR, large battery (roughly 4,000 mAh), the exact same high-quality camera arrays, Titan M security chip, and are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chip. The key differences are that the Pixel 5 has wireless (and reverse wireless) charging, water resistance, aluminum (vs. polycarbonate) body, and 8 GB RAM instead of 6. However only the Pixel 4a (5G) has a 3.5mm headset jack. The new Pixels include several new camera features. Night Sight in Portrait Mode lets you take portrait shots with blurred backgrounds even in very low light. Portrait Light lets you simulate a studio light and position it anywhere relative to your subject. That feature can also be applied to existing photos in Google Photos. Video mode now lets you choose from three different stabilization modes, including a new Cinematic Pan mode. The main camera is the same 12-megapixel sensor with f/1.7 aperture that Google has used in Pixel phones for the past year. The two new 5G models also have a 16-megapixel ultra-wide camera, a departure from the Pixel 4 which had a telephoto camera instead. A new Hold for Me feature lets you assign Google Assistant to monitor a call on hold and alert you when a person is on the line. Extreme Battery Saver lets you pick which apps are essential and shuts down everything else to prolong battery life up to two days. Hold for Me and Extreme Battery Saver will come older Pixel phones via software update. Google has also improved its Recorder app, which records audio while transcribing it to text, even offline. Now, you can crop and remove sections of audio by simply editing the text. The Pixel 5 will be available unlocked in mint or black starting October 15th for $699. Pre-orders are open now. It will also come to Verizon with mmWave 5G for the same price, at a later date. The Pixel 4a (5G) will be available unlocked in November for $499, in black or white. Verizon will sell a version with mmWave 5G for $600, and will start taking pre-orders for that version October 29th.


LG Wing Launches October 15th for $1000

Sep 29, 2020, 10:03 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon will start taking pre-orders for the LG Wing on Oct. 1 for $1000, with full launch on Oct. 15. AT&T and T-Mobile will offer the Wing at a later date.


Verizon Adds TCL-Branded $80 Phone to Prepaid Lineup

Sep 24, 2020, 11:43 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon today launched the TCL Signa, the first TCL-branded phone to be launched by one of the big three US carriers. Previously, most TCL-made phones offered in the US bore the company's Alcatel brand. Although the Signa is an $80 entry-level phone for Verizon prepaid customers, it marks a major step in TCL's effort to expand the TCL brand in the US mobile market. Verizon lists the phone as the "Alcatel TCL SIGNA" on its web site, but the phone itself bears just the TCL and Verizon logos. The Signa has a 5.5-inch HD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 429 processor, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB storage, 3,000 mAh battery, 8 megapixel main camera, USB-C, Android 10, dedicated Google Assistant button, memory card slot, and headset jack. It's available now for $80.


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