Boost has started selling the Samsung Galaxy A10e, Samsung's entry-level phone in its newly expanded A-series. The $140 phone is currently offered for just $100 by Boost, in a two-day introductory sale. The A10e has an all-screen design with small notch in its 5.8-inch, HD LCD display. The phone has a USB-C connector, 3,000 mAh battery, 8-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel front camera, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, a memory card slot, and a 3.5mm audio jack. Samsung's web site also reveals a version for AT&T, which has not yet gone on sale.
Qualcomm and T-Mobile have successfully completed the first data call using Qualcomm's X55 modem, the first 5G chip for phones to support all 5G networks to be launched in the US in 2019, including T-Mobile's band 71 (600 MHz). All 5G phones currently on the market in the US use the X50 chip, which only supports mmWave bands and TDD bands such as Sprint's band 41. mmWave bands offer high speeds, but short range and poor building penetration. US carriers will only offer mmWave 5G in central areas of major cities. T-Mobile and AT&T will offer broader 5G coverage using sub-6-GHz FDD bands later this year, and the first phones in the US to support those networks will use this new X55 chip.
At today's FCC meeting, the Commission voted to approve two actions that will open up four radio frequency bands to new 5G service. Three of the bands are ultra-high mmWave frequencies near 40 GHz, while the fourth is mid-band, near 2.5 GHz. For the three mmWave bands, today's action finalized the rules for Auction 103, which will allow companies to bid on licenses for Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands. Auction 103 will commence on December 10th, 2019. The 39 GHz band was first auctioned off in 2000, with some of those licenses ending up in the hands of Verizon and AT&T via sales and acquisitions. However some 39 GHz licenses remain privately-owned, but unused. Auction 103 will include an incentive auction component to facilitate the sale of those licenses to companies that will use them. The 2.5 GHz band was originally set aside for educational TV broadcast service, which never took off. Today the FCC voted to remove rules requiring the band be owned by education institutions and used for educational purposes. Existing license holders will be able to lease out the spectrum, making it available for commercial 5G. Many licenses in the band remain unsold, which the FCC will auction off, after giving priority to Tribal Nations. The 2.5 GHz band is near the band 41 that Sprint already uses for 5G service. It has better range and building penetration than mmWave bands.
AT&T will enable free automatic fraud blocking and suspected spam-call alerts to all mobile lines by default over the coming months. It will be applied to all new lines going forward, and to existing lines "over the coming months". The features have been available since last year as an option. Last month the FCC issued a ruling allowing companies to opt customers into such tools by default, and now AT&T is doing just that. Existing customers can get the features today by downloading AT&T Call Protect or turning it on in myAT&T account settings.
AT&T has launched mmWave 5G service in Las Vegas, bringing the total number of AT&T 5G cities to 20. AT&T's 5G network is so far only available to business customers.
Cricket has started selling the Nokia 3.1 C, a more-affordable version of the Nokia 3.1 Plus that Cricket launched in January. Like its higher-end sibling, the 3.1 C has a tall (2:1 ratio) HD display, USB-C connector, Android 9 (Pie), 32 GB of storage, and 2 GB of RAM. It has a 5.5-inch display, 2,990 mAh battery, a single 8-megapixel rear camera supporting Motion Photos, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 429 processor. It also has a 3.5mm audio jack, FM radio, and memory card slot. Nokia's web site also now lists an identical model called the 3.1 A, implying that Cricket's parent company AT&T will also offer the phone.
PCMag has completed its annual nationwide test of mobile networks, and found that, for the first time in six years, AT&T's network is faster, on average, than Verizon's. AT&T won or tied in 15 out of 30 cities, and won or tied in every rural region. All four national networks improved year-over-year in both speed and reliability, but AT&T improved the most. PCMag's testing utilized a custom rig of Samsung Galaxy S10 phones driven across 30 major US cities and six rural areas. In each city, analysts stopped by more than a dozen locations, testing downloads, uploads, latency, reliability, and consistency every two minutes.
The miniature Palm Android phone — originally a Verizon exclusive — will be available unlocked for $350 in August. With LTE 2/4/5/12/13/66, it's compatible with AT&T, T-Mobile, Metro, and Verizon.
Google will offer its own RCS service for Android users on networks that have not yet launched RCS. RCS is an open industry standard for enhanced messaging, designed to replace SMS and MMS. It offers many of the features of Apple's iMessage, such as read receipts, high-quality attachments, and typing indicators. Most new Android phones support RCS via Google's Messages app and its Chat feature, but it requires support on the network side. RCS was designed so that network operators could launch RCS support on their own networks, but most operators have been slow to adopt RCS. Sprint has launched it. T-Mobile has also launched it, but does not yet support it on all Android phones. Verizon has launched it for Pixel phones and promised greater support in 2019. AT&T does not yet support the Universal Profile that makes it RCS standard and interoperable between networks. RCS servers can be located anywhere on the Internet, though, so Google is launching its own. Google is rolling out the service on a country-by-country basis, starting with the UK and France this month. When available, Android users without an active RCS service will see a new prompt when opening the Messages app, asking if they want to opt in to Google's RCS service. Google has pledged to delete message content from its servers as soon as message delivery is confirmed.
Sprint and Verizon both recently started offering standalone GPS tracker devices that can report their exact position using cellular networks. AT&T already offers such a device. The devices use the new LTE Cat-M1 technology designed specifically for small, low-power devices that only need to transmit small amounts of data. Unlike Bluetooth-based tracking tiles, they do not need to be near the phone viewing the location, although the tracker device does need to be within the coverage area of the cellular network it's associated with. All of the tracker devices are roughly the size of a matchbook, are water-resistant, include Wi-Fi for enhanced location accuracy and efficiency, and have multi-day battery life. They are designed for tracking kids, pets, vehicles, and luggage, for example. Sprint's Tracker is made by Coolpad and features a light sensor and speaker. Its battery lasts 3-10 days and it's rated IP67 for dust and water. Sprint is charging $60 for the tracker and $5/month for service. The Verizon Smart Locator has battery life up to five days and an IP67 rating. Verizon charges $100 for the tracker with one year of free service, after which service is $3/month. AT&T offers the Samsung SmartThings Tracker, which has battery life up to one week and an IP68 rating. AT&T charges $100 for the tracker which includes one year of service. After the first year, service on the AT&T network is offered through Samsung, and runs $5/month or $50/year.
AT&T is launching its first 5G phone on June 17th, but only for business customers and a select group of developers. The company will offer the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G to customers on the new AT&T Business Unlimited Preferred plan, which includes 5G service. For a limited time, businesses can order the Galaxy S10 5G with 256 GB of storage through their AT&T account representatives for the discounted price of $1,000. The phone can access AT&T's mmWave 5G network, which is available today in "very limited parts" of 19 cities, with plans to reach parts of at least 30 cities. The phone cannot access 5G service at lower (sub-6 GHz) frequencies that AT&T has promised to launch by the end of the year. The company is also offering a group of developers a Galaxy S10 5G with free service through the end of the year.
The FCC today announced the results of its recent auctions of mmWave radio bands for 5G services. AT&T and T-Mobile were the big winners, both scoring 24 GHz licenses covering most major US cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Houston, Seattle, Boston, Dallas, Miami, Phoenix, Atlanta, Detroit, San Diego, Orlando, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Las Vegas, Denver, Portland, and San Antonio. AT&T and T-Mobile focused on 24 GHz while Verizon focused on 28 GHz. AT&T spent nearly $1 billion on 24 GHz licenses covering 383 markets. T-Mobile spent $803 million for 24 GHz licenses covering 400 markets, but also $39 million for 28 GHz licenses covering 864 small markets. Verizon spent over $505 million on 28 GHz licenses covering 863 markets, most of which are smaller cities and towns. US Cellular split its winning bids evenly, with $129 million for 28 GHz and $127 million for 24 GHz. Auction 101 was for the 28 GHz band and raised over $700 million in net bids with 33 bidders winning a total of 2,965 licenses. Auction 102, for the 24 GHz band, raised over $2 billion in net bids with 29 bidders winning a total of 2,904 licenses.
Bittium's new Tough Mobile 2 is a mid-range smartphone with unusually advanced security features, designed for organizations with exceptional security needs, including governments and militaries. A privacy switch disables microphones, cameras, and Bluetooth at a hardware level, and reduces sensor sensitivity to prevent fingerprinting. The operating system is secured against rooting and tampering, validated in hardware and software at boot. A hardware secure element stores user credentials. A Workspaces feature creates isolated OS environments that keep work data separate from personal data, and confidential data from different organizations separate. The phone is designed and manufactured in Finland, and Bittium supervises phones from manufacturing to customer delivery. Also, the component and software solutions can be audited by authorities. The phone is also rugged, military rated for shock and drop, and IP67 for dust and water. The 5.2-inch full-HD screen works when wet and through gloves. The Tough Mobile 2 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 chip with 4 GB of RAM. It runs Android 9 (Pie) and has 64 GB of internal storage plus a memory card slot. Its 12-megapixel main camera can record 4K video. It has customizable physical shortcut buttons, including privacy, PTT, and emergency. It has NFC, dual-band Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0. It's fully compatible with all LTE bands used by Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint, including FirstNet (band 14). Pricing starts at 1550 €.
AT&T now accepts Bitcoin for paying bills. The option is available after logging into an AT&T account online or in-app, and is only available for postpaid accounts.
The Blu G9 went on sale today, offering mid-range specs and flagship looks for just $130 for a limited time on Amazon, and $180 thereafter. The phone has a metallic frame and glass-like metallic back with color gradient. Its 6.3-inch HD screen has a small notch and a 19:9 aspect ratio. Its large 4,000 mAh battery supports fast charging via USB-C. It also has dual rear cameras, Android 9 (Pie), a MediaTek Helio P22 processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of storage. It also has a fingerprint reader, 3.5mm audio jack, and memory card slot. The G9, an unlocked phone, has Cat. 6 LTE in bands 2, 4, 5, 12, and 13, providing basic support for AT&T and T-Mobile networks.
The Sonim XP3 rugged flip phone is now available on AT&T. The phone supports band 14 and FirstNet, the dedicated part of AT&T's network that gives priority to first responders. It's the first clamshell-style phone available for FirstNet. The XP3 launched a month ago on Sprint. The XP3 has a waterproof body, Push-To-Talk, 1-inch outer display, 3.5mm audio jack, USB-C connector, global roaming, Wi-Fi, mobile hotspot, and barometer. It has a 5-megapixel camera, but is also available without a camera. Its 1,500 mAh battery is removable. Its software is based on Android, but it does not run Android apps.
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.
AT&T has a new promotion offering double the data on its mid-range plan. For $40/month, customers get 16GB of high-speed data, instead of the usual 8GB. The plan also includes unlimited talk and text across North America. The promo requires that customers enroll in AutoPay (without AutoPay, the plan is $50/month and only includes the usual 8 GB of data.) The plan includes rollover, where unused data is available the following month. The promo works by adding a special 8 GB block of "bonus data" each month. That bonus data is used first, followed by the standard data allotment. The bonus data does not roll over. Therefore if a customer used 8 GB one month, they could have up to 24 GB of high-speed data available the following month (8 bonus + 8 standard + 8 rollover). The plan also includes HD video and mobile hotspot. The next plan up is the unlimited prepaid plan for $65/month ($55 with AutoPay), but that does not include HD video nor mobile hotspot. The double-data promo will be available until July 11th, but customers who sign up before then will continue to receive the double data as long as they stay on the plan and signed up for AutoPay.
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".
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.
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.
Sony's new phones have unusually tall screens with a 21:9 aspect ratio. The company today announced the Xperia 1, 10, and 10 Plus. The 1 is the new flagship, while the 10 and 10 Plus fill out the mid-range. All three phones ship with Android 9 Pie, support USB-C PD fast charging, and have at least two rear cameras, NFC, Bluetooth 5, memory card slot, and a fingerprint reader.
- Xperia 1: The company's new flagship has a 6.5-inch HDR OLED display with 4K resolution (1644 x 3840). It has three rear cameras: standard, wide, and 2x telephoto, all of which are 12 megapixel. The main camera supports 960 fps slow-motion video. It's powered by a Snapdragon 855 processor and 6 GB of RAM. It has a 3,330 mAh battery, water resistance, LTE Cat. 19, USB 3.1, Miracast, and support for PS4 Remote Play.
- Xperia 10: This mid-range model has a 6-inch full-HD+ display, 13-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel depth camera, 2,870 mAh battery, Snapdragon 630 processor, 3 GB of RAM, 64 GB storage, and Cat. 13 LTE.
- Xperia 10 Plus: A step up from the 10, it has a larger 6.5-inch display, 3,000 mAh battery, Snapdragon 636 processor, 4 GB of RAM, a better 12-megapixel main camera, and 8-megapixel 2x telephoto camera.
By the end of this year, AT&T's 5G network will use sub-6 GHz radio bands to achieve broad coverage. The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G announced today won't be able to access that part of AT&T's 5G network; it can only access mmWave spectrum being launched only in dense urban areas. AT&T and Samsung are working on a second 5G phone that will be able to access the whole 5G network, to be available by the end of this year. AT&T's press release reads: "In addition to the Galaxy S10 5G, we previously announced that we're working with Samsung to make another 5G smartphone available in the second half of this year. This smartphone will be able to access 5G using sub-6 GHz spectrum broadly available later this year and nationwide in early 2020, as well as access 5G+ over mmWave in dense urban areas when available." Sprint and T-Mobile also plan to launch 5G networks in sub-6 GHz bands. Verizon has thus far only announced plans to launch 5G in mmWave bands, which cannot provide broad coverage.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 series covers a wide range of prices, from $750 up to $1,600 for the best S10+, the Ceramic edition with 12 GB RAM and 1 TB storage. Although Samsung initially announced pricing only for the lowest-memory configuration of each S10 model, US carriers have now revealed additional details and deals, including pricing for the high-memory configurations, and monthly payment options. The pricing of the Galaxy S10 series is remarkably consistent across all US carriers, with up-front pricing being identical, and monthly options working out to an even split of the up-front price across the full term of the payment plans, with no interest. Most carriers are also offering special deals for multiple phones and/or adding lines to existing plans. Read on for full details.
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.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy Fold, the company's first commercial phone with a flexible display that folds in half. Folded, it resembles a thick smartphone with 4.6-inch HD Super AMOLED display; unfolded, it approximates a tablet in size and form factor, with a 7.3" "Infinity Flex" Dynamic AMOLED display. App Continuity allows users to start an Android app on the outer screen, then open the phone and continue uninterrupted on the larger screen. The inner screen also supports up to three apps side-by-side. It's powered by a Snapdragon 855 processor with 12 GB of RAM, and comes with 512 GB of storage. It also supports UFS 3.0 for faster storage access. Its two batteries total 4,380 mAh, and it supports fast wireless and wired charging. It has six cameras and a fingerprint reader on the side. The camera arrays are the same as on the new Galaxy S10+, including standard, wide, and tele cameras on the back, plus 10 megapixel selfie cameras on both the front and inside. The 4G LTE version will go on sale April 26th for $1,980, and a 5G version will also be available. Both AT&T and T-Mobile will offer the Galaxy Fold in the second quarter of this year. The phone comes in Cosmos Black, Space Silver, Martian Green, and Astro Blue, with choice of hinge color for further personalization.
AT&T today added Chicago and Minneapolis to its list of cities that will get a true 5G network by the end of this year. That list already includes Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose. The company already has 5G available to a limited group of customers in "parts of" Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Louisville, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, San Antonio, and Waco. The company plans to launch 5G nationwide by "early 2020". This true (standards-based, mmWave) 5G network is not yet available to most consumers, and no phones have launched yet that support 5G. AT&T is currently running a misleading campaign to promote "5G E", which is actually 4G LTE. Sprint is currently taking AT&T to court over that campaign.
AT&T's marketing of a "5G E" network — which is actually 4G LTE and has nothing to do with 5G technology — now has the company in legal trouble, as Sprint is taking AT&T to court for "false advertising and deceptive acts". AT&T has been marketing "5G E" in large national ad campaigns, as well as updating existing phone software to show a "5G E" indicator for 4G LTE service. Sprint is seeking an injunction to stop these actions, as well as damages caused by the success of AT&T's campaign. According to Sprint, "AT&T’s deceptive ads have harmed consumers by persuading them to purchase or continue purchasing AT&T’s services based on the lie that they are offering 5G." Sprint made its filing in a United States federal court in New York, based on a combination of federal and New York state laws.
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.
ROKiT is a new line of affordable unlocked phones accompanied by a unique range of health and life services for what it calls "transitionals", which means people between jobs, people struggling socioeconomically, and anyone without adequate health insurance. The lineup includes two very basic feature phones and three Android models. Two of the Android phones have glasses-free 3D screens and a ROK Flix app with exclusive 3D content. One of the first content offerings is an animated bible created by the company's own animation studio. The company offers a variety of subscription services tailored to its target market. ROK Health is included free for the first year on the three Android phones, and includes pharmacy discounts and family telemedicine. The subscriber and family members under 26 can call and consult with a real doctor at any time. After the first year, ROK Health is $10/month or $100/year. A step-up plan called ROK Life adds roadside assistance, accidental death insurance, burial and cremation insurance, ID theft protection, and family legal services. ROK Life runs $15/month or $150/year. The roadside assistance is also available separately for $30/year. The feature phones are priced $35-40. The Android models run $90-275. The phones work on AT&T and T-Mobile networks, and cellular service must be purchased separately. ROKit phones and services will be available in March. The parent company ROK Brands previously launched ROK Mobile as a music-focused MVNO in 2014, re-launched it in 2015, then closed shop last year.
AT&T plans to change the indicator in the status bar of some Android phones from "LTE" to "5G E" in select markets. Specifically, this logo will appear in cities and towns that have been upgraded to AT&T's 5G Evolution technology, which is not 5G at all. Instead, the phones will be connecting to faster 4G LTE that relies on 4x4 MIMO, LAA, 256 QAM, and other LTE-based technologies. What AT&T calls 5G Evolution will be up and running in more than 400 markets by the end of the year. It is in these markets that Android device owners will see the logo change. The change arrives just as AT&T launches its mobile 5G network. The only device that can access the nascent 5G network is a mobile hotspot. AT&T isn't expected to offer a 5G phone until February or March. That 5G service will appear as "5G+" once it arrives. AT&T's planned "5G E" change is likely to mislead some consumers into believing they are connecting to 5G service when in fact they are not.
AT&T said its mobile 5G service is live starting today in a handful of markets. This makes it the first major U.S. carrier to launch 5G. AT&T is branding the service AT&T 5G+. It relies on the 5G NR standard and makes use of AT&T's mmWave spectrum. The service is being offered in parts of Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Louisville, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, San Antonio, and Waco. AT&T didn't say exactly where in these markets 5G is available. The company plans to expand to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose during the first half of next year. The first device to provide access to AT&T's 5G service is the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot. It goes on sale December 21. Select early adopters will be able to grab the Nighthawk with mobile 5G service at no cost for three months. The device will be more widely available in the spring for $499. AT&T says its data-only 5G service will start at $70 per month for 15 GB. AT&T expects to have at least one 5G phone reach the market during the first half of the year with a second to follow before the end of 2019. This second device will include both mmWave and sub-6 GHz 5G spectrum. AT&T hasn't priced out phone-based 5G service yet, but says it expects 5G service will be "broadly available" by late 2019 with nationwide coverage to follow in early 2020.
Blu today revealed the Vivo Go, a sub-$100 smartphone that runs the Go Edition of Android 9 Pie. Android Go focuses on delivering the core Android experience through lightweight versions of Google's apps. The phone has a curved glass front, mirrored frame, and metal-plated rear panel. The Vivo Go includes a 6-inch, HD+ (1,440 by 720p) screen with a 2:1 aspect ratio. It is powered by a 1.5 GHz quad-core MediaTek chipset with 1 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. The phone supports microSD memory cards up to 64 GB. Blu paired an 8-megapixel main sensor with a VGA secondary sensor on the rear. The dual-camera setup supports adjustable depth-of-field portrait shooting. The selfie camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and a flash of its own. Other features include a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB, and basic support for AT&T/Cricket Wireless and T-Mobile/Metro. The Blu Vivo Go goes on sale via Amazon.com today for $80. It will be available briefly at a price of $60 upon launch.
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.
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.
AT&T today said it plans to release a second 5G smartphone during the latter half of 2019. Samsung will make this new device for AT&T and, unlike the first 5G phone from AT&T, this second one will support 5G in both mmWave and sub-6 GHz bands. AT&T says it is still on track to launch mmWave mobile 5G before the end of 2018. It has been installing software upgradeable sub-6 GHz radios throughout 2018 and will continue to do so in 2019. AT&T didn't say when it intends to light up sub-6 GHz spectrum with 5G service. AT&T's mobile 5G network will only be available in a handful of cities to start and will grow over time.
AT&T today said it plans to sell a 5G smartphone from Samsung during the first half of 2019. The device is likely similar to, if not the same as, the mobile 5G device that Verizon recently said it will sell next year. The 5G phone from Samsung will join the 5G mobile hotspot already announced by AT&T. AT&T expects to sell the hotspot before the end of 2018. The company says it has installed mobile 5G network equipment in the 12 markets where it plans to kick off 5G this year. Those cities include Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Louisville, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, San Antonio, and Waco. AT&T will expand its 5G service during the first half of 2019 to parts of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. AT&T is working with Samsung on what it calls a "manufacturing-focused 5G Innovation Zone." This testing ground will explore how robotic manufacturing can be improved with 5G.
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.
AT&T plans to cease offering AT&T Smart Limits, a service that allows parents to control their kids' phones, on November 26. Smart Limits will no longer be available after that date. In its place, AT&T is launching AT&T Secure Family. The new app and service has more features, a simpler user interface, and lets parents manage more phones at a lower price. AT&T Secure Family includes live location tracking and detailed location history for each family member. Parents can set up arrival and departure alerts, such as when kids leave school or arrive home. Parents can also schedule location updates that are sent automatically throughout the day. Secure Family includes content and usage controls. Parents can pause access to the internet, such as at bedtime, filter and block apps and online content based on age, set time limits for kids' daily internet access, and prevent kids from making purchases on the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store. AT&T Secure Family is available to iPhone and Android devices and costs $7.99 per month to manage up to 10 lines.