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AT&T, Verizon Agree to Hold Back C Band 5G Near Airports

Yesterday, 2:29 PM   by Rich Brome

AT&T and Verizon are moving forward with this week's launch of 5G service in the new C Band, but have voluntarily agreed to new restrictions around airports at the request of major US airlines. The airlines have asked for 5G in the C Band to be banned within two miles of airport runways, a limitation that will severely reduce availability of the service in some cities. Verizon's initial launch will now cover 90 million people, down from the 100 million originally promised. The FCC and wireless industry insist that 5G in the C Band poses no danger to airplanes. 5G in this band is already operating in over 40 countries with no reported issues. But the FAA remains unconvinced that the service cannot interfere with some airplanes' radio altimeters, which use a nearby radio frequency to measure distance to the ground. The FAA came to an agreement with AT&T and Verizon on airport restrictions earlier this month, but also instituted new rules for airlines that apply to certain airports near C Band 5G networks and certain weather conditions. The FAA has so far tested and approved two radio altimeter models, exempting 45% of the US commercial fleet from the rules. But airlines say the rules would still have resulted in over 1,000 additional cancelled flights on days with poor weather. The new 2-mile restriction should allow the FAA to relax those rules until more testing and new rules can be put in place that will allow C Band 5G near airports.


What is C Band 5G?

Friday, 3:06 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Yesterday, 10:35 PM

There's a whole new kind of 5G being launched and talked about in the US in 2022: C Band. It's much faster than existing "nationwide" 5G, yet has better coverage than hard-to-find mmWave 5G. For AT&T and Verizon, it represents a huge leap forward in the 5G race. For their customers, it will mean the first time many of them will experience a significant difference between 4G and 5G. So what is C Band? Is it just hype or something to actually get excited about? Is "C Band" the best term for this? Where did this band come from? Does it pose a danger to planes? And where does T-Mobile fit into all this? We answer all those questions and more in this in-depth guide to everything C-Band.

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Verizon Tweaks Plans, Adding True Unlimited + More Hotspot Data

Jan 5, 2022, 10:30 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 5, 2022, 7:20 PM

Verizon has made a handful of changes to its unlimited plans, giving some customers a better value. The basic structure and pricing remain unchanged, but some plans now come with more data. Specifically, the top-end "Get More" plan now comes with truly unlimited full-speed 5G data, which Verizon calls "premium network access". Previously, full-speed 5G data was capped at 50 GB for all plans. (The 50 GB cap remains for the mid-range "Play More" and "Do More" plans.) This change to the top-end plan brings Verizon in line with the competition, which already offer plans with truly unlimited high-speed data. The top-end plan also now includes one TravelPass day per month, offering unlimited talk, text, and data in more than 185 countries for 24 hours. The top three plans also include more high-speed hotspot data than before. "Play More" and "Do More" now include 25 GB (up from 15 GB), while "Get More" now includes 50 GB (up from 30 GB). The "Start" plan remains unchanged; although it has no data cap, there is also no access to 5G Ultra Wideband (faster C Band and mmWave networks), and non-priority network access means data may be slower than for other users when the network is busy. Previously, Verizon also offered a cheaper "Just Kids" plan with unlimited throttled (speed-capped) data. Verizon has confirmed to Phone Scoop that the Just Kids plan is no longer available, although users already on the plan will be able to keep it. To differentiate the updated plans from the old, Verizon has dropped the word "Unlimited" from the actual plan names and added "5G", so "Play More Unlimited" is now "5G Play More", etc. The plan changes coincide with Verizon announcing this month's launch of 5G in the new C Band frequencies, which will mean up to 10x faster speeds for many customers. This new band counts as "Ultra Wideband" with Verizon, meaning access is included with the three "More" plans, but not the "Start" plan.


Verizon Details C-Band 5G Launch Plans, Promises 10x Data Speed

Jan 4, 2022, 1:13 PM   by Rich Brome

Verizon has formally announced plans to launch 5G in the new "C-band" mid-band radio frequencies later his month, and filled in details of what the launch will include. The company is promising to cover 100 million people — nearly 1/3 of the population — with the new network at launch. Coverage will include over 1,700 cities and towns. Verizon is promising that the new 5G network will deliver speeds "up to 10x faster than [median] 4G LTE" speeds. Specifically, customers should expect "typical download speeds of 90-170 Mbps with ... peaks over 1 Gbps in certain areas. Typical upload speeds of 15-30 Mbps with peak ... over 100 Mbps." The company is branding the new 5G service "5G Ultra Wideband", just like its faster (but limited-coverage) mmWave 5G network. The company will also launch tweaked plans tomorrow. As before, only premium plans ("Play More", "Do More", and "Get More") will include access to the faster 5G networks. The "Start Unlimited" and "Just Kids" plans will only be able to access "5G Nationwide" low-band 5G, and not the new, faster mid-band network. Verizon and AT&T originally planned to launch C-Band networks in early December, then delayed the launch by one month at the request of the FAA, then recently by another two weeks. The FAA maintains that the networks could interfere with airplane radio altimeters, although the industry and the FCC disagree. Although the new networks should launch in two weeks, Verizon is currently only committing to launching it by the end of this month.


TCL 30 Series Headed to Verizon, T-Mobile

Jan 4, 2022, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome

TCL has announced the first two models in its new 30 series for 2022, both of which are coming to major US carriers. Both models are affordable 5G phones.

  • The TCL 30 XE 5G will come to T-Mobile and Metro first, followed by other carriers. It has a 6.5-inch HD+ display with 90 Hz refresh. It's powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 700 chip paired with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage. It has a 13 megapixel main camera plus macro and depth cameras, and an 8 megapixel front camera.
  • The TCL 30 V 5G is a somewhat higher-end model coming to Verizon. It has a 6.7-inch Full HD+ display and is powered by a Snapdragon 480 chip paired with 4 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. It has a 50 megapixel main camera plus macro and 5 megapixel wide-angle cameras, and a 16 megapixel front camera. It supports both mmWave and C-band 5G.
Both phones have 4,500m mAh batteries, fast charging, and fingerprint readers. Both phones also accept memory cards for expandable storage and have headset jacks. Pricing is yet to be announced and launch timing for both is "in the coming weeks".


AT&T, Verizon Postpone C-Band 5G Launch by Another Two Weeks

Jan 3, 2022, 9:36 PM   by Rich Brome

After initially rejecting the FAA's last-minute request to delay the launch of 5G in the C Band, the two carriers have now agreed to another two-week delay, following an earlier one-month delay. The services will now launch in mid-January.


Samsung Revives S21 Fan Edition

Jan 3, 2022, 9:04 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 4, 2022, 9:01 AM

A model previously rumored to have fallen victim to supply-chain issues, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE (Fan Edition) is finally coming to market this month. Samsung will use the new model as the more-affordable alternative to the forthcoming S22 series, rather than keep last year's flagship S21 models on the market at lower prices as the company has done in the past. This new strategy should help the company address ongoing supply-chain issues. Compared to the standard Galaxy S21 model, the new S21 FE has a larger display (6.4"), larger battery (4,500 mAh), and higher-resolution front camera (32 megapixel). It still achieves a lower price point with less RAM (6 GB), a less-capable telephoto camera (8 megapixel instead of 64), and an optical fingerprint reader instead of ultrasonic. It keeps "fan-favorite" features of the S21 series such as the Snapdragon 888 chip, 120 Hz display refresh, triple rear cameras (including wide and tele), IP68 water rating, wireless charging, fast charging, NFC, and Wi-Fi 6. It ships with Android 12 and the US version will support both sub-6 GHz and mmWave 5G. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE goes on sale January 11th for $700 (with 6 GB RAM + 128 GB storage). A version with 8 GB RAM + 256 GB storage will also be available, for $770. It will be available in four colors: lavender, white, olive, and graphite. AT&T, Cricket, Verizon, and US Cellular will carry the phone, and it will also be available directly from Samsung's web site. Verizon confirmed that it will offer all four colors and both memory options, starting January 11th.


Verizon, AT&T Moving Forward with C-Band 5G Launch This Week Over FAA Objection

Jan 2, 2022, 4:13 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 3, 2022, 9:38 PM

Verizon and AT&T this morning refused a request by federal transportation officials to delay this week's planned launch of 5G service in the critical new C Band. [Update: By evening, the two companies agreed to a two-week delay.] The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) insists that the service could potentially interfere with radio altimeters that planes use to measure distance to the ground in poor weather. The companies, along with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), insist that such interference is extremely unlikely, if not impossible. Radio altimeters use a frequency band close to the C Band. The frequencies do not overlap, but radio equipment with inadequate filters can sometimes be affected by adjacent frequencies. The FCC specifically set aside empty "guard bands" to avoid such interference before auctioning off the C Band to private companies, but the FAA insists a risk remains. C-Band frequencies are already in use for 5G in other countries, with no evidence of interference with airplane systems. To appease the FAA, Verizon and AT&T have already delayed the launch of 5G in the C Band by one month. In their latest letter to the FAA, they have offered to further limit the power of transmissions near airports while any potential effects are studied. While the companies had already agreed to similar temporary power limits in specific areas, the new proposal matches stricter limits currently in place in France. The two companies spent more than $80 billion in total to acquire licenses in the C Band from the FCC, with the promise that they would be able to offer improved 5G service by the end of 2021. C Band frequencies enable 5G service with a better balance of data speeds and coverage compared to the frequency bands currently in use by AT&T and Verizon.


Verizon Expands mmWave 5G, Sets C-Band Deployment Target

Dec 10, 2021, 1:33 PM   by Rich Brome

Verizon has added 14,000 new mmWave 5G cell sites this year, nearly double the number the company deployed in the previous two years combined. mmWave 5G provides very fast 5G service but limited coverage per cell site. That makes the additional sites crucial to the availability of mmWave service, although it will still remain exclusive to high-density areas and venues for the foreseeable future. Verizon and AT&T will soon launch 5G in C-Band (mid-band) frequencies, which offer a better balance of data speed and coverage. Verizon announced that it plans to cover 100 million people with the new mid-band 5G service by March 2022. Verizon will market both mmWave and mid-band as "5G Ultra Wideband".


Qualcomm Driving to Make mmWave 5G More Affordable in 2022

Dec 1, 2021, 4:05 PM   by Rich Brome

Qualcomm will make a big push to bring high-speed mmWave 5G to more affordable phones in 2022, according to comments made by CEO Cristiano Amon during a Q&A session at the company's Snapdragon Summit event in Hawaii today. For a phone to support mmWave 5G, multiple specialty antenna modules need to be added, which can raise a phone's price by $50 – 100. This has kept the technology limited to higher-end phones thus far. Qualcomm has therefore not bothered to include mmWave support in its lower-end 5G chipsets to date. In the US, only Verizon has put mmWave in its affordable 5G phones, but this has often come at a price premium compared to similar phones with other carriers. Such phones have often had to use a pricier Qualcomm chipset in order support mmWave, such as the Orbic Myra, which used a Snapdragon 7-series chip for its mmWave support, while the same phone for TracFone uses a cheaper 6-series chip that does not support mmWave. Qualcomm will bring mmWave support to "all tiers" of its Snapdragon chips in 2022, as well as work on ways to implement mmWave using fewer and/or cheaper antennas, without compromising performance. "That's our mission, and you're going to start to see that happen next year", said Amon. mmWave offers dramatically faster data speeds than other flavors of 5G, but the high radio frequencies offer limited range. That makes it suitable for arenas, convention centers, airports, and transit hubs, but not coverage over larger areas.

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Samsung Brings 5G to Almost its Whole Lineup

Dec 1, 2021, 11:59 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung today announced the Galaxy A13 5G, its most affordable 5G phone yet at $250. Typically, the two most affordable phones in Samsung's annual lineup are the A1x and A0x models, leaving the new Galaxy A03s as possibly the only model in Samsung's 2022 US lineup without 5G. Key features of the Galaxy A13 5G include a 50 megapixel camera, 90 Hz adaptive refresh display, 5,000 mAh battery, and NFC. It also has 15W fast charging, 64 GB of expandable storage, a fingerprint reader on the side, headset jack, macro camera, and depth camera. It's powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 700 chip. It launches this Friday with AT&T and on samsung.com. T-Mobile will also launch it in January. The Galaxy A03s will sell for just $159. It has "a long-lasting battery, triple camera system, and fingerprint security". It launches in January with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.


Motorola's Affordable New moto g power has 90 Hz Screen

Nov 17, 2021, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Motorola has announced a new moto g power, just ten months after announcing the last one. The new moto g power (2022) has two key upgrades over the old 2021 model: a display with 90 Hz refresh, and a 50 megapixel main camera. It specs are otherwise comparable to the 2021 model, including a huge 5,000 mAh battery, fast charging, 6.5-inch HD+ display, 4 GB RAM, and 64 GB storage (expandable). The new model is powered by a MediaTek Helio G37 chip. The phone also has a rear fingerprint reader, headset jack, FM radio, dual-band Wi-Fi, and IPx2 water resistance. The phone launch soon with Metro by T-Mobile and Republic Wireless, followed by Verizon, Boost, Xfinity, AT&T, Cricket, US Cellular, and Google Fi. It will also be available unlocked for $200, or $250 for a version with 128 GB built-in storage.


Kyocera Intros Slim, Rugged 5G Phone for Consumers

Nov 11, 2021, 8:30 AM   by Rich Brome

Kyocera and Verizon today launched the DuraSport 5G, a mid-range 5G phone with the durability Kyocera is known for, but in a slim, pocket-friendly form factor. While Kyocera's DuraForce line is well-suited to the construction site, this model is targeted at those with an "active lifestyle" who want a phone that's rugged even without a case. The DuraSport 5G is rated IP68 and can be submerged in up to 6.5 feet of fresh water for up to 30 minutes. It's US military rated for drops (5 feet onto concrete), salt fog, humidity, temperature extremes, thermal shock, high altitude, icing, and more. The 6.1-inch full-HD+ display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 6 and works with wet & gloved fingers. The cameras are protected by Dragontrail glass. The phone also features a 48 megapixel main camera, 16 megapixel wide-angle camera, NFC, rear fingerprint reader, dual-band Wi-Fi (including enterprise network features), and USB-C 3.1. The 4,500 mAh battery can be fast-charged via Quick Charge 4, USB-PD 3 (up to 27 W), or Qi wireless (up to 8.1 W). The DuraSport 5G is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 chip and 4 GB RAM. The 64 GB of internal storage is expandable via microSD cards of up to 1 TB. A programmable shortcut button on the side can activate PTT. The phone's 5G support includes both mmWave and C-Band. The phone comes with Android 11 and is certified Android Enterprise Recommended by Google. The DuraSport 5G is available from Verizon today for $580.


C-Band 5G Launches Delayed until Next Year

Nov 4, 2021, 11:25 AM   by Rich Brome

AT&T and Verizon have agreed to an FAA request to delay the launch of 5G in new C-Band radio frequencies by one month, while potential interference issues are addressed, reports the Wall Street Journal. Both companies were planning to launch the highly-anticipated mid-band 5G service on or around December 5th, but will now launch the service no sooner than January 5th, 2022. The FAA, which regulates aircraft, is concerned that C-Band frequencies are too close to the frequencies used by some RADAR altimeters, instruments that measure the distance between aircraft and the ground. The FCC — which regulates communications including radio airwaves — disputes the FAA's claim that the new 5G networks could cause this type of interference. The new 5G networks will operate at up to 3.98 GHz, while the altimeters operate at 4.2 – 4.4 GHz. Radio equipment operating at different frequencies can sometimes still interfere if the frequencies are close enough and inadequate filters are used. The new C-Band 5G networks are highly anticipated because this band enables 5G networks with a good balance of coverage and faster data speeds. Phones that support 5G NR in band 77 will support the new C-Band 5G networks in the US.


Sony Pushes Xperia Pro Imaging Farther with the PRO-I

Oct 25, 2021, 10:56 PM   by Rich Brome

Sony today revealed the Xperia PRO-I, an $1,800 phone with the same 1-inch camera sensor found in Sony’s line of RX100 standalone cameras. The 12-megapixel Exmor RS sensor has dual apertures (f/2.0 and f/4.0) and ZEISS Tessar T optics. The main camera is joined by 12 megapixel wide and telephoto cameras on the back, as well as a "3D iToF" and RGB-IR sensors. The front has an 8 megapixel camera and 6.5-inch 4K OLED display with 120 Hz refresh and HDR, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. The PRO-I is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip alongside 12 GB RAM and 512 GB storage, expandable with memory cards up to 1 TB. The battery is 4,500 mAh and the phone supports USB-PD fast charging. The phone has excellent support for 4G and sub-6 5G networks of Verizon and T-Mobile, including new C-Band networks coming soon to the US. It does not support mmWave 5G like the original Xperia Pro. Other features include IP68 rating for water and dust, USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, DisplayPort and HDMI video output, NFC, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, fingerprint reader, and a headset jack. For vlogging, Sony will offer an external monitor accessory that lets you see yourself while using the rear cameras. The phone will launch in "some regions" by the end of this year, and elsewhere in 2022.


Verizon Prices Motorola Edge at $550

Oct 12, 2021, 10:02 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon will sell the Motorola edge 5G UW starting this Thursday, Oct. 14th for $550. Motorola sells an unlocked version with more memory and storage (but no mmWave 5G) for $700.


Motorola's New Budget Phone is Already Very Popular

Oct 7, 2021, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Motorola today announced the moto g pure, the company's latest entry-level phone. The phone will be sold by essentially every carrier in the US, including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket, Metro, Boost, US Cellular, and Xfinity. Verizon will be the first to offer it, for $150 starting October 14th. Other carriers will offer the phone "in the coming months". Motorola will sell the phone unlocked for $160, with pre-orders starting October 14th. The phone will come in two variants: one for AT&T, Cricket, and Verizon — with support for AT&T's unique bands 14 and 30 — and the other for all other carriers, supporting T-Mobile's network and overseas 4G networks. Both variants will be powered by a MediaTek Helio G25 chip. The phone's features include a fingerprint reader on the back, basic water resistance, headset jack, and dual-band Wi-Fi. The HD+ display measures 6.5 inches. The 13 megapixel main camera is joined by a depth camera for portrait shots and a 5 megapixel front camera. Motorola claims two days of battery life from the 4,000 mAh battery. It has 3 GB RAM and 32 GB of storage, which is expandable with a memory card. It comes with Android 11 and Motorola promises one major OS upgrade plus two years of security updates (at least quarterly).


FCC Kicks Off Third Auction for Mid-Band 5G

Oct 5, 2021, 1:04 PM   by Rich Brome

The FCC today started Auction 110, the third in a series of auctions to sell licenses for valuable C-band (mid-band) radio frequencies that offer a good mix of data speeds and coverage when deployed for 5G networks. All three major US wireless carriers have registered and qualified to bid in the auction. The most recent auction in the series was Auction 107, which was for the highest and widest range of frequencies in the band. In that auction, all three major carriers spent billions, with Verizon spending the most. Before that, Auction 105 — for the middle range of frequencies — saw Verizon and Dish Network come out on top. The current auction is for the lowest range of frequencies in the band: 3,450 – 3,550 MHz. The US government only decided a little over a year ago to allow commercial service in this new range of frequencies. The Department of Defense currently uses this radio spectrum for radar operations that support missile defense, counter-mortar capabilities, weapons control, electronic warfare, air defense, and air traffic control. Auction proceeds must cover 110% of the expected sharing and relocation costs for federal users currently operating in the band, which in this case is estimated to be over $14 billion.


Hackers May Have had Access to the Majority of Text Messages Sent in the US Since 2016

Oct 5, 2021, 12:29 PM   by Rich Brome

Telecom infrastructure provider Syniverse recently disclosed to the SEC that it discovered a hack of its systems this year, which appears to have been ongoing since 2016. The compromise affects the Electronic Data Transfer (EDT) environment for 235 of its customers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. The EDT handles a wide variety of sensitive customer data, including the content of SMS text messages, call records, data usage records, and billing details. Ninety-five of the top 100 mobile carriers in the world are Syniverse customers. Syniverse's systems allow different carriers around the world to connect to each others' networks, exchanging text messages between networks and enabling roaming agreements and billing.


TCL Brings It Newest Flip Phone to Four US Carriers

Sep 16, 2021, 11:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon today launched the TCL Flip Pro for prepaid customers. The same phone launched recently on US Cellular as the TCL Flip, and earlier this week as the Alcatel Go Flip 4 on T-Mobile. (Alcatel is a brand of TCL.) TCL says the Go Flip 4 is also coming to Metro by T-Mobile. The phone is an update to the Alcatel Go Flip 3, with a larger battery, new shortcut buttons on the keypad, and a modern USB-C connector. Other key features are similar, including KaiOS, which has its own app store and enables smartphone-like features such as Google Assistant and Google Maps. The phone also sports a 2-megapixel camera, memory card slot, headset jack, Wi-Fi, and a 1.44-inch color outer display. US Cellular and Metro sell the phone for $100, and T-Mobile for $96. Verizon sells it for $70 on prepaid and will bring it to their postpaid lineup "in the coming weeks".


T-Mobile Takes Crown of Fastest Mobile Network

Aug 27, 2021, 2:35 PM   by Rich Brome

For the first time, T-Mobile has won the title of Fastest Mobile Network in PCMag's annual nationwide drive test. T-Mobile's 5G network was the fastest in 24 out of 36 tested cities and regions. PCMag attributes the win to T-Mobile's use of mid-band spectrum (band 41, around 2,600 MHz) for 5G. This unique frequency band was originally owned by Sprint, and T-Mobile has been aggressively re-deploying it for 5G since merging with Sprint. Mid-band frequencies are ideal for 5G, offering a good balance of coverage and potential data speeds. AT&T and Verizon recently purchased C-band spectrum that will let them deploy mid-band 5G networks like T-Mobile starting by the end of this year. Verizon's "Ultra Wideband" mmWave 5G network is the fastest 5G network, but has very limited coverage. AT&T and Verizon's sub-6-GHz (non-mmWave) 5G networks are often barely faster than 4G. Looking only at 4G networks, AT&T was once again the winner.


Hands On with the Motorola edge (2021)

Aug 20, 2021, 11:17 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Oct 12, 2021, 9:57 AM

Motorola describes the new Edge as their one premium phone for the US for 2021, (besides whatever RAZR they may or may not introduce.) It's not a flagship, but it's well above the usual affordable fare that Motorola has primarily focused on in recent years. It has a fast-refresh display and a whopping 108 megapixel main camera. It will be available soon unlocked, and later on with Verizon. But it's a bit of an odd duck, with an unusual spec mix that's unlike any other mid-range phone. It looks nice enough in photos, but what's it like in person? Read on for our first impressions.

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Motorola's new Edge has a 108 Megapixel Camera

Aug 19, 2021, 2:30 PM   by Rich Brome

Motorola today announced a new premium-tier phone: the Motorola edge (2021). The headline features are a 108 megapixel main camera and a large 6.8-inch display with adaptive refresh up to 144 Hz. It also has a large 5,000 mAh battery, 30-watt fast charging, Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G processor, Wi-Fi 6E, and NFC. The 108-megapixel camera operates in 9-pixel pixel-binning mode by default, for excellent low-light performance with 12 megapixel output. It's accompanied by am 8-megapixel wide-angle camera, a depth camera, and a 32 megapixel selfie camera. Verizon will offer a version supporting its mmWave 5G network, while the unlocked version has excellent support for the 4G and sub-6 5G networks of both T-Mobile and AT&T. The unlocked version will be available in blue for $700. It goes on sale September 2nd with a special price of $500 for a limited time. Pre-orders start August 23rd. Verizon and Spectrum Mobile will offer the Verizon version later this fall; pricing for that version is yet to be determined.


Hands On with the Orbic Myra 5G for Verizon

Aug 19, 2021, 7:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Orbic (which is actually a brand of Reliance Communications) has been low-key making low-end phones for Verizon for a few years, but now they're ready to step into the spotlight with a much more interesting 5G phone, the Orbic Myra 5G. It is designed to be one of the more affordable 5G phones in Verizon's lineup, but this mid-range phone goes beyond the basics with a 48-megapixel main camera, Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G chip, huge 5,000 mAh battery, and 18-watt fast charging. But what is it actually like in person? Read on to find out.

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Orbic Brings its First 5G Phone to Verizon

Aug 16, 2021, 12:30 PM   by Rich Brome

Verizon is now offering the Orbic Myra 5G, the first Orbic phone in the US with 5G, and the first with mid-range specs. Orbic has been offering entry-level phones for Verizon since late 2018, including two Android smartphones and one feature phone. The Myra offers both sub-6 and faster mmWave 5G which Verizon brands "Ultra Wideband". It should also support mid-band 5G (band 77 / C-Band) when Verizon launches that network. The Myra uses Qualcomm's Snapdragon 750G chip, alongside 6 GB RAM and 64 GB storage (expandable). It has a large 6.78-inch HD+ display and large 5,000 mAh battery. Other features include Android 11, a 48 megapixel main camera, 8 megapixel wide camera, 16 megapixel front camera, Quick Charge 3.0 (18-watt charger included), and a headset jack. It's available from Verizon starting today for $349. Orbic is a brand of Reliance Communications.


FCC Debuts Standardized 4G Coverage Map

Aug 10, 2021, 9:53 AM   by Rich Brome

The FCC has launched a new interactive map showing 4G LTE coverage for the whole US. It includes Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and US Cellular networks. The data is sourced from the carriers, but is required to meet standards intended to make the data uniform and allow apples-to-apples comparisons. "Specifically, it shows where customers can expect to receive 4G LTE broadband service at a minimum user download speed of five megabits per second (5 Mbps) and a user upload speed of one megabit per second (1 Mbps) based on propagation modeling." Another "voice" layer shows where users should be able to get basic service regardless of data speed.


Verizon Pumps up its Mobile Hotspot Plans

Jul 29, 2021, 4:03 PM   by Rich Brome

Verizon has launched a new set of plans exclusively for mobile hotspot devices, with more options and more data than previously available. Verizon previously offered the same two plans for all "connected devices", from mobile hotspots to smartwatches, topping out at $30/month for 30 GB of full-speed data. The new plans offer up to 150 GB of full-speed data. The entry-level Essential plan is mostly similar to the old Unlimited plan, offering 15 GB of full-speed data for $20/month. Like the old plan, access to "Ultra Wideband" mmWave 5G is not included, and video streaming is limited to 720p. The new Plus plan offers 50 GB of full-speed data for $40/month. mmWave 5G is included, and customers can stream 4K video when using the mmWave 5G network. The Pro plan steps up to 100 GB of full-speed data for $60/month, while the Premium plan offers 150 GB for $80. The Essential and Plus plans are only offered as an add-on to an existing Verizon account, while the Pro and Premium plans are available as a stand-alone plan for an extra $30/month.


Verizon Turns to Messages by Google for Enhanced Messaging

Jul 20, 2021, 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.


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