Google today expanded its Pixel lineup with two mid-range models: the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. The new models look much like the higher-end Pixel 3 models and have many of the same features, but use software to bring enhanced quality to more affordable hardware components such as a camera module without Google's Visual Core chip. Cost savings also come from dropping water resistance, wireless charging, and the wide-angle selfie camera. The processor is Snapdragon 670 instead of 845, and the rear is made of plastic instead of glass. The Pixel 3a has a 5.6-inch display and sells for $399. The larger Pixel 3a XL has a 6-inch display and sells for $479. The phones are on sale starting today from Google. Tomorrow, Google is expanding distribution of its whole Pixel 3/3a lineup to T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular, in addition to Verizon. The Pixel 3a phones include a 3.5mm audio jack, full-HD OLED displays, Night Sight and Portrait modes in the camera app, call screening, a squeeze shortcut for Google Assistant, USB-C, stereo speakers, Google's Titan M security chip, and a promise of OS updates for three years. The phones support fast charging and come with an 18-watt charger. The Pixel 3a is available in three colors: Just Black, Clearly White, and Purple-ish.
Verizon has started accepting pre-orders for the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, its first phone with integrated 5G. The phone will hit stores on May 16th. Verizon will offer the S10 5G in the Samsung-announced configuration with 256 GB of storage for $1,300, plus a new option with 512 GB of storage for $1,400. (The S10 5G does not have a memory card slot to add storage.) Verizon has a limited-time exclusive on the S10 5G in the US, and will retain an exclusive on the Majestic Black color. Verizon will also offer the phone in Crown Silver. The company is offering several promo deals to those who pre-order the phone, including free 5G service (normally $10/month), free Samsung Galaxy Buds, and a Samsung Wireless Charging Battery Pack. In addition, customers can trade in an old phone for up to $450 in savings, and new customers switching to Verizon get a $200 prepaid MasterCard. The S10 5G is similar with the S10+, but with a larger screen, larger battery, and advanced depth cameras on the front and back. Verizon plans to offer 5G service in the downtown areas of over 30 major US cities by the end of the year. Chicago and Minneapolis have already launched, and Verizon announced the next 20 cities today. Because Verizon's initial 5G network uses the 28 GHz band in the mmWave range, it can offer very high speeds, but the range of each cell is limited to a few hundred feet and does not reach indoors well.
Verizon has announced a new list of 20 cities where it will offer 5G coverage in 2019. They are Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Des Moines, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Little Rock, Memphis, Phoenix, Providence, San Diego, Salt Lake City, and Washington DC. The company has already launched mobile 5G service in Chicago and Minneapolis. The company continues to promise 5G in "more than 30" US cities by the end of the year, leaving at least nine cities yet to be announced. Verizon offers 5G phone service with a Moto z3 + 5G Moto Mod. Its first phone with integrated 5G will be the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, which became available for pre-order today, and hits stores on May 16th.
Verizon has repriced its phone activation fees, lowering the cost for online and in-app phone purchases, while raising the fee for in-store and over-the-phone activations. Previously, all new phone activations incurred a $30 fee. Now, the activation fee for online purchases will only be $20, while phone purchases (including upgrades) that require interaction with a Verizon employee will run $40.
Verizon today started selling the Alcatel Avalon V, an entry-level Android phone that marks the first Alcatel phone to be offered by Verizon. The phone is similar to the Alcatel 1x Evolve already on sale with Metro by T-Mobile, but has a Snapdragon 425 processor instead of a MediaTek chip, and lower-resolution cameras (5 megapixel main and 2 megapixel selfie). The phone is notable for its tall (2:1 aspect ratio) display, which is still uncommon in truly entry-level phones such as this. The phone has a memory card slot, 2.5mm audio jack, and comes with Google Lens image recognition. It's available today for $100.
Kyocera's US phone lineup is down to just rugged phones these days, where they compete with Sonim. Kyocera's been at this for a while, though, so the DuraForce Pro 2 is building on quite a bit of experience. The DuraForce Pro was a solid entry, and its sequel mostly just updates the specs to keep current. It's offered by both Verizon and AT&T. How is it in person? We put on our work gloves and checked it out.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold will be on display and available for purchase on April 26th at AT&T, T-Mobile, Best Buy, and Samsung Experience Stores. T-Mobile will start accepting online orders the night before, at midnight ET / 9pm PT. Samsung will start accepting pre-orders tomorrow, April 12th, exclusively for people who have signed up to receive Galaxy Fold updates on samsung.com. Samsung also confirmed that the Galaxy S10 5G will launch in the US in May. Verizon has previously announced that it will be the first US carrier to offer the phone, with a period of exclusivity. AT&T also recently revealed that it will offer the S10 5G in the "spring", which implies that AT&T will launch the phone in June. Samsung says pre-orders for the S10 5G will start "soon".
Visible — a relatively new MVNO using the Verizon network and backed by Verizon — is now offering a free new Android phone to new customers who trade in an old Android phone. Unlike most trade-in offers, any working Android phone is accepted, as long as it turns on, is paid off, and is not already compatible with Visible (making the Galaxy S9 and S9+ ineligible). The free new phone is the Visible R2 by ZTE, which has a fingerprint reader, 13-megapixel camera, 2:1 HD display, USB-C, and normally sells for $99. Visible will ship the new phone first, giving customers 14 days to send in the old phone, so new customers are never without a phone. There are no activation fees, shipping fees, taxes, or contracts. Visible offers unlimited service for $40/month, although data is limited to 5 Mbps speeds. The company has no physical locations, offering activation, support, and all customer interactions via its app.
Palm has updated its tiny Android phone to operate as its own standalone smartphone. It was originally introduced as a companion device that required a "full" smartphone to share a phone number and sync with. The companion-device functionality remains, now as an option. The company introduced the standalone option today as part of a major software update. The update also improves camera quality and battery life. For the month of April, Verizon is offering the Palm for $199 (a $150 discount) with a 2-year contract or payment plan. Palm is also offering 50% off all Palm accessories until April 18th.
Verizon launched the first part of its commercial, mobile 5G network today in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis. Consumers can experience 5G service with the Motorola Moto z3 when used with the 5G Moto Mod accessory, which also goes on sale to the general public today. Verizon says early customers in Chicago and Minneapolis should expect typical download speeds of 450 Mbps, with peak speeds of nearly 1 Gbps, and latency less than 30 milliseconds. Verizon had originally announced April 11 as the launch date, but moved the launch up to today in order to beat Korea's SK Telecom to claim the "first commercial 5G network in the world that works with a 5G smartphone". SK Telecom just today announced its plans to launch commercial 5G on April 5th with the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. Verizon has announced plans to carry the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and LG V50 ThinQ phones, both of which have 5G fully integrated, but it appears SK Telecom will be the first to offer a phone with integrated 5G. Verizon's 5G service costs an extra $10/month. The company has announced plans to expand its 5G network to over 30 US cities this year. Verizon's 5G network launching today relies on the 28 GHz frequency band, which is considered mmWave. Such high frequencies have limited range and do not penetrate well indoors. Sprint plans to launch its 5G network — using much lower frequencies — starting next month, offering the LG V50 ThinQ. AT&T claims it launched its mmWave 5G network last year, but has yet to make compatible devices available to the general public. AT&T has promised to offer a 5G phone in the first half of 2019.
Verizon's new Just Kids wireless service plan bundles parental controls and a restricted call list with 5GB of data, for $10/month less than the company's cheapest unlimited plan. The company announced the plan today, and it will be available starting this Thursday. It requires a family plan with at least one other line on an unlimited plan. The parental controls are Verizon's Smart Family Premium product, which is normally an extra $10/month. It tracks location, limits online time, and includes content filters. Just Kids limits calling and texting to 20 parent-defined contacts, although that usage is unlimited. The plan includes 5 GB of 4G LTE data, with unlimited low-speed data after the 5 GB is exhausted, eliminating overages. The Just Kids plan starts at $35/month on family plans with 4 or more lines. With 3 lines, Just Kids runs $45/month; with 2 lines, the Just Kids line is $55/month.
Verizon now offers a free version of its Call Filter service, which lets customers get alerts when a call is likely spam, report unsolicited numbers, and automatically block robocalls based on their preferred level of risk. The service was previously $3/month/line, although a premium version with additional features (such as advanced caller-ID and personal block list) is still available for the same price. Only post-paid wireless customers are eligible, and they must opt in to receive the service. Features vary slightly by device. T-Mobile already offers a similar service. Verizon also announced that it's making progress in implementing STIR/SHAKEN, a technology that securely authenticates caller-ID info to deter number spoofing. T-Mobile has already implemented STIR/SHAKEN and AT&T also recently announced progress in its implementation. STIR/SHAKEN is more effective the more telecom companies implement it. The FCC has publicly threatened to impose new regulations if the industry does not do more to address the issues of robocalling and number spoofing.
In two weeks, the LG G8 ThinQ will be offered by all major US carriers, with several offering major discounts at launch. This flagship phone from LG has a unique 3D depth camera on the front, supporting mid-air gestures, hand vein scanning, and 3D face scanning. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular, and Xfinity Mobile will carry the G8, as well as Best Buy and B&H. The standard retail price is $820, although some carriers are offering significant discounts and deals. Read on for carrier deal specifics, color options, and pre-order dates.
AT&T today launched sales of the Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2, an extra-rugged Android phone with waterproof body and a non-incendive rating. The 5-inch, full-HD display works through gloves and when wet. It has a 13-megapixel main camera plus wide-angle camera, fingerprint reader, NFC, barometer, memory card slot, wireless charging, and fast charging via USB-C. It utilizes a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor with 4 GB of RAM and supports LTE Cat. 9 on all AT&T bands, including band 14 supporting FirstNet, as well as bands 29 and 30. It's powered by a 3,240 mAh non-removable battery. Verizon launched its own version of the phone in November. AT&T is offering the DuraForce Pro 2 today via online and business channels for $450.
Verizon's first standards-compliant mobile 5G network will launch in select areas of Chicago and Minneapolis on April 11th. 5G service will cost an extra $10/month. The country's first 5G smartphone solution will be the 5G Moto Mod for the Moto z3, which customers can pre-order starting tomorrow, March 14th. For a limited time, the 5G Moto Mod is available for just $50, after which it will sell for $350. The $10/month 5G data plan offers truly unlimited 5G data and requires an existing "Unlimited" service plan. The first three months of 5G service are free. The 5G Moto Mod is only compatible with the Moto z3, and Verizon will only sell it to customers they can confirm have a Moto z3. Verizon has also announced plans to carry the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and LG V50 ThinQ phones, both of which have 5G fully integrated. Verizon's initial 5G NR network relies on the 28 GHz frequency band, which is considered mmWave. Such high frequencies have limited range and do not penetrate well indoors. The initial Chicago coverage will include West Loop, South Loop, Gold Coast, River North, Old Town, Union Station, Willis Tower, Art Institute, Millennium Park, Chicago Theatre, and near the Verizon Store on the Magnificent Mile. The Minneapolis coverage will include Downtown West, Downtown East, areas of Elliot Park, Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis Central Library, Mill City Museum, Target Center, The Commons, and U.S. Bank Stadium. 5G offers lower latency (delay) and faster data speeds overall. Verizon's 5G phones are only compatible with the new 5G NR network launching in April, and not the company's existing 5G Home network, which uses an incompatible, non-standard technology.
Red has removed all mentions of add-on modules for the Hydrogen One phone from its web site. When the phone was announced, add-on modules — including a high-end camera — were one of the key selling points. It was also supposed to integrate with other Red products via the module connector. The $1,300 phone with a unique 3D display is offered by both AT&T and Verizon.
The tenth edition of Samsung's Galaxy S series of flagship phones includes, for the first time, four different models spanning a range of sizes and price points. Samsung announced the Galaxy S10 series today at an event in San Francisco. In addition to the standard S10 and (larger) S10+ that mirror pervious years' offerings, Samsung also revealed a smaller, cheaper S10e, as well as the S10 5G, which is even larger than the S10+. All of the S10 models include the new, top-end Snapdragon 855 processor, Cat. 20 LTE, a new "Dynamic" AMOLED display with hole-punch design and HDR10+, and two-way wireless charging that can charge other phones or accessories. For photography, they all include the same 12-megapixel main camera as the S9 (with dual-pixel and dual-aperture technology), a 16-megapixel wide-angle camera, and a new 10-megapixel, auto-focus front camera that can record 4K video. All models keep the 3.5mm audio jack, as well as IP68 rating for water-resistance. Most S10 models (the S10e excluded) also have an ultrasonic fingerprint reader embedded in the display, a third camera on the back for telephoto shots, an Infinity Edge display that curves at the sides for thinner bezels, heart rate sensor, and a minimum of 8 GB of RAM / 128 GB built-in storage. The S10 5G also adds 3D depth cameras to both the front and back and 25W fast charging. The S10, S10e, and S10+ go on sale worldwide March 8th, with pre-orders available starting tonight at midnight Eastern time. Those models will be available in the US in Prism Black, Prism White, Prism Blue, and Flamingo Pink (which is based on Pantone's color of the year, Living Coral). Pricing will be the same unlocked and at all major US carriers: The S10e will start at $750, the S10 at $900, and the S10+ at $1,000. Variants with added memory will cost more. All four top US carriers will offer all four models. Those who pre-order the S10 or S10+ will receive a free set of Galaxy Buds fully wireless earbuds (normally $129). Samsung is also offering trade-in deals worth up to $550. The S10 5G will be available in the 2nd quarter, first with Verizon before the middle of the year, followed by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Spectrum, and Xfinity "at a later date this summer." Read on for more details.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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'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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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 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 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.
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 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 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 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 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.
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 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 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.