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AT&T, Cricket Intro New $15 Plan with 2 GB of Data

Friday, 11:21 AM   by Rich Brome

AT&T is introducing a new $15 plan, and temporarily adding 10 GB of data to existing plans. The same offering is being made available under both of the company's prepaid brands: AT&T Prepaid and Cricket. The new $15/month comes with 2 GB of data and unlimited talk and text. It will only be available for a limited time. T-Mobile recently launched a similar plan. For existing AT&T Prepaid and Cricket customers with capped data plans, the company is automatically adding an additional 10 GB of data for the next 60 days. These moves are intended to help customers unexpectedly operating from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Verizon, AT&T Further Scale Back Retail Operations

Mar 23, 2020, 11:32 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon has announced new hours and policies for its physical locations, while AT&T has announced a new round of temporary store closings. Verizon stores will now be closed on Sundays, and open 11am – 4pm the rest of the week. Verizon is also reducing staff in stores and limiting occupancy so that the number of customers in a store may not exceed the number of employees working at any given time. The company is asking customers to use its web site and app instead of physical stores for any transaction that is not "critical". AT&T announced new closings. The company will only keep open one store within a 20-mile radius in urban and suburban areas, and just over a 30-mile radius in rural areas. AT&T is also limiting the number of customers that can enter a store at the same time.


AT&T to Temporarily Expand Network Capacity with Spectrum on Loan from Dish

Mar 19, 2020, 3:20 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Mar 19, 2020, 3:20 PM

AT&T has reached an agreement with Dish that will allow AT&T to use some of Dish's radio frequency licenses for the next 60 days. This will allow AT&T to temporarily, significantly boost the capacity its 4G LTE network. AT&T will be able to deploy the spectrum quickly using its existing network equipment for bands 66 and 29. Phones supporting those bands will be able to access the additional capacity automatically. Dish is providing the spectrum — which it owns but has not been using — at no cost to AT&T. In recent days, the FCC has taken the unusual move of forcing companies such as Dish to temporarily relinquish radio frequencies they own licenses to, but that have been sitting idle. Customers of T-Mobile, Verizon, and US Cellular have been the beneficiaries of those FCC actions this week. All of these temporary actions are designed to meet the sudden surge in demand for all types of broadband access, as people turn to video conferencing to work and learn from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite for US Clears FCC

Mar 18, 2020, 2:16 PM   by Rich Brome

When Samsung announced the Galaxy S10 Lite at the start of the year, there were no indications it would come to the US. But the FCC has just approved a variant of the S10 Lite that appears to be designed specifically for the US market. It supports all major US 4G and 3G frequency bands, including ones that typically only appear on US-specific phones. This includes full support for Sprint's unique CDMA voice network, as well as bands unique to Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. It also has a model number ending in "U", which, for a Samsung phone, indicates a US-specific model. The Galaxy S10 Lite has a 6.7-inch full-HD AMOLED display, 48 megapixel main camera, wide camera, macro camera, and a 4,500 mAh battery. It also has a memory card slot, fast charging, and an in-display fingerprint reader. US launch date and pricing has not been announced.


AT&T Closes 40% of Stores

Mar 18, 2020, 9:40 AM   by Rich Brome

Following T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon in temporarily closing many retail locations, AT&T today announced that it will close 40% of its company-owned stores, as well as AT&T Authorized Retail stores in indoor malls and "high traffic areas". The company is also adjusting its store hours to be closed on Sundays, and 11am – 7pm the rest of the week. These measures are in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, where most people in the US are currently advised to stay home, and avoid congregating near others in public when possible.


Across US Telecom: Late Fees Waived, No Disconnects

Mar 17, 2020, 10:42 AM   by Rich Brome

At the request of the FCC Chairman, essentially all US internet and telephone providers have pledged to waive all late fees, and not disconnect any service due to inability to pay bills, for the next 60 days. This includes Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular, and Comcast. The Pledge is designed to help people economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and everyone needing additional connectivity as they work and study from home. Companies agreeing to the FCC's pledge are also committed to opening up to everyone their wi-fi networks that were previously reserved for paying customers. On top of the pledge, both T-Mobile and Sprint are temporarily giving unlimited data to all customers on metered data plans, as well as 20 GB of mobile hotspot data.


LG V60 Launches Friday Starting at $800

Mar 17, 2020, 9:50 AM   by Rich Brome

US carriers have revealed launch plans for the new LG V60 ThinQ 5G flagship-class phone. T-Mobile will offer it starting March 20th for $800, or $900 in a bundle with LG's Dual Screen accessory. T-Mobile is also offering a buy-one-get-one (BOGO) deal where customers with two or more lines can get a second V60 for free, if both phones are purchased on a 24-month payment plan. AT&T will start taking online orders for the V60 on Friday, March 20th. The phone will cost $900, which includes a free Dual Screen accessory from LG. AT&T is also offering a BOGO deal, but it requires a new line of service. Verizon's version will be slightly pricier and ship later, reflecting that its unique variant supports mmWave 5G, which requires extra components and engineering. (Versions for other US carriers only support sub-6 5G, which is generally slower but offers broader coverage.) Verizon brands mmWave 5G as "Ultra Wideband", which is why its unique variant will be called the LG V60 ThinQ 5G UW. Verizon will sell the phone for $950, with pre-orders starting March 26th. Like AT&T, Verizon is offering a BOGO deal for customers adding a new line, and Verizon customers purchasing a V60 are eligible for a free Dual Screen from LG.


AT&T Launches mmWave 5G for Consumers, Bringing 5G to Cricket

Mar 6, 2020, 12:02 PM   by Rich Brome

With the launch today of the Samsung Galaxy S20+ and S20 Ultra, AT&T is now offering consumers access to its faster mmWave "5G+" network in parts of 35 cities. Before today, consumers could only access the company's sub-6 GHz 5G network, which offers broader coverage. The faster mmWave "5G+" network was previously restricted to business customers. To access "5G+", consumers will need to be on either the "Unlimited Extra" or "Unlimited Elite" plan. The Galaxy S20+ and S20 Ultra are the first phones for the US that can access both types of 5G networks. AT&T also announced plans to launch 5G service for customers of its Cricket prepaid brand, starting "soon" with the Samsung Galaxy S20+ on an unspecified "compatible plan".


AT&T Launches 5G in Columbus, Denver, and 20 Other New Markets

Mar 3, 2020, 4:15 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Mar 4, 2020, 3:14 PM

AT&T today launched sub-6 GHz 5G in 22 new markets, bringing the company's total sub-6 5G coverage to 80 markets in the US. Sub-6 5G uses lower frequency bands than mmWave 5G, allowing sub-6 5G to offer broader coverage. This is the type of 5G that AT&T is currently offering to consumers. New markets launching today include Columbus, Denver, and Cincinnati, as well as: Albany, Ga.; Albany, N.Y.; Athens, Ga.; Beaverhead County, Mont.; Binghamton, N.Y.; Hamilton, Ohio; Lancaster, Pa.; Lincoln County, Mont.; Madera County, Calif.; Madison County, Va.; Mono County, Calif.; Provo, Utah; Raleigh County, W. Va; Ross County, Ohio; Santa Rosa, Calif.; Springfield, Ohio; State College, Pa.; Sussex County, N.J.; and Worcester, Mass. The company launched 5G in 37 new markets last month, including Atlantic City, Bakersfield, Boston, Dayton, Hartford, Kansas City, New Bedford, New Haven, Portland, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Spokane, St. Louis, Wichita, and Wilmington. AT&T also offers mmWave 5G, which has only been available to business customers so far, but will launch for consumers on Unlimited Extra and Unlimited Elite plans starting March 6th. mmWave 5G offers higher speeds but limited coverage. AT&T calls this "5G+" and currently offers it in parts of 35 cities.


FCC Fines Carriers for Selling Customers' Location Data

Feb 28, 2020, 2:29 PM   by Rich Brome

The FCC has announced proposed fines totaling over $200 million against the nation's top four wireless carriers for selling customers' location data to third parties for years with little regard for customers' privacy or consent. T-Mobile is being fined $91 million, AT&T: $57 million, Verizon: $48 million, and Sprint; $12 million. "The size of the proposed fines for the four wireless carriers differs based on the length of time each carrier apparently continued to sell access to its customer location information without reasonable safeguards and the number of entities to which each carrier continued to sell such access." The fines will only be finalized after the companies have a chance to respond; the FCC could ultimately settle on lower fine amounts.


LG V60 Includes 5G, Dual-Screen Accessory

Feb 26, 2020, 11:18 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Feb 28, 2020, 8:55 AM

LG today announced the V60 ThinQ 5G with LG Dual Screen. Its specs are flagship-level, but not quite as top-end as past V-series phones. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and US Cellular will offer the V60 "in the coming weeks". As with the Samsung Galaxy S20, Verizon's version will supports both mmWave and sub-6 5G, while other versions will only support sub-6 5G (which offers better coverage but not the fastest 5G speeds.) The V60 will be packaged with LG's Dual Screen accessory, which adds a second display identical to phone's main display, connected to the phone with a 360-degree hinge, plus a 2.1-inch monochrome outer display. The V60's is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset, and features a 6.8-inch full-HD+ OLED display, 5,000 mAh battery, 8 GB of RAM, 128 GB storage, memory card slot, and Android 10. It also features two rear cameras plus a ToF depth camera. The main camera is 64 megapixel (f/1.8), while the wide-angle camera is 13 megapixel (f/1.9, 117º). It can capture 8K video, as well as 4K time-lapse or 60 fps video. It has stereo speakers and 4 microphones, plus an ASMR recording mode. The phone also features an in-display fingerprint reader, 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC, Quick Charge 4+, IP68 water rating, NFC, Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi 6, and USB-C (3.1). It will be available in blue or white. Specific launch dates and pricing will be announced by US carriers in coming weeks.


Samsung Unveils Galaxy Z Flip, a New Clamshell-Style Foldable

Feb 11, 2020, 2:19 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Feb 14, 2020, 10:27 AM

Samsung today announced the Galaxy Z Flip, its newest foldable phone. The phone forms a tall slab of a smartphone when open, but closes to a small square with a small outer touch-screen. It uses a new, ultra-thin flexible glass material to cover the flexible 6.7-inch screen that bends in the middle, The glass is designed to fold up to 200,000 times. "Flex Mode" enables a special split-screen interface in select apps when the phone is opened to an angle less than fully open. This can be used to set the phone down on a flat surface to take a long-exposure photo without a tripod. Purchase of the phone includes YouTube Premium. The phone will sell for $1,380 starting February 14th. It will be available in three color-shifting hues: Mirror Purple, Mirror Black, and Mirror Gold. In the US, Sprint and AT&T will offer it starting this Friday in Mirror Purple and Mirror Black, in "limited quantities".


AT&T Lights up 5G for Consumers in 13 new Cities

Feb 5, 2020, 2:43 PM   by Rich Brome

AT&T is launching sub-6 GHz 5G service for consumers in 13 new markets this week. In California, the new markets are Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, and Modesto. In Massachusetts, Boston and Bedford are getting 5G this week. The remaining markets are Liberty, GA; Wichita, KS; Frederick, MD; St. Louis, MO; Atlantic City, NJ; and Dayton, OH. With these new launches, AT&T's 5G network for consumers will cover 50 million people across 32 markets. AT&T says it remains on track to offer the service nationwide by the middle of 2020. Separately, AT&T's "5G+" service for businesses is now available in parts of 35 cities across the US. AT&T's "5G+" service uses new mmWave frequencies, which offer high speeds but limited coverage. AT&T's "5G" service for consumers uses more traditional cellular frequencies below 6 GHz (specifically, band 5 at 850 MHz), offering better coverage than mmWave, and speeds that are faster than 4G but not as fast as mmWave 5G. The only phone currently offered by AT&T that supports its consumer 5G network is the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G.


CAT's Latest Rugged Phone is Slightly Cheaper (Hands On)

Jan 10, 2020, 1:00 PM   by Rich Brome

CAT's latest rugged phone for the US market is the S32. It's a bit more affordable than past models at $349. It's rated IP68 for water and dust. It can withstand being submerged under 1.5 meters of water for up to 35 minutes. It also has a military rating for drop and shock. It has a 5.5-inch HD display covered in DragonTrail Pro glass that works with gloves and wet fingers. It has a 4,200 mAh battery. It's powered by a MediaTek Helio A20 processor with 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage, and Android 10. Features include NFC, 13 megapixel main camera, memory card slot, 3.5mm audio jack, and a user-assignable shortcut key on the side. The US variant will have full support for Verizon and T-Mobile 4G LTE bands, and decent support for AT&T, including band 14 for FirstNet.

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AT&T Launches 5G for Consumers Today in 10 Cities

Dec 13, 2019, 12:51 PM   by Rich Brome

AT&T has finally launched 5G service for consumers as of today, using far-reaching low-band radio frequencies (band 5 / 850 MHz). As the company promised last month, the launch cities include Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Providence, RI, Rochester, NY, and San Diego. However, AT&T managed to accelerate its schedule and launch five additional cities today: Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, CA, Milwaukee, and Birmingham, AL. The company has released 5G coverage maps for all consumer launch cities. The only phone AT&T currently offers that supports the service is the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G, which runs $1,300. This particular 5G service is distinct from the company's "5G+" service, which uses higher mmWave frequencies and is only available to business customers. mmWave frequencies offer higher data speeds but much more limited coverage. AT&T's phone lineup does not yet include any phones that can access 5G on both low-band and mmWave frequencies. Neither 5G service should be confused with "5Ge", which is merely AT&T's branding for the fastest type of 4G LTE. AT&T has also confirmed that its next 5G launch cities will include Boston, Bridgeport, CT, Buffalo, NY, Las Vegas, Louisville, KY, and New York City. The company promises "nationwide" 5G coverage by the middle of 2020.


MediaTek Details its First 5G SoC for High-End Phones

Nov 26, 2019, 12:30 PM   by Rich Brome

MediaTek has revealed that its first SoC with integrated 5G modem and high-end processor will be called the Dimensity 1000. The company revealed the first set of details on the chip in May. Now that it has a name, MediaTek has revealed additional details of the SoC. It's fabricated using the latest 7nm process and is designed for "premium and flagship" phones. The 5G modem component supports SA (stand-alone) and NSA (non-stand-alone) 5G networks, as well as DSS (Dynamic Spectrum Sharing) that allows 4G and 5G to efficiently share the same frequency band. It also supports 5G carrier aggregation, which enables downlink speeds up to 4.7 Gbps and seamless handovers as users move around. It also supports dual 5G SIMs, which MediaTek claims is a first. The processor part of the chip includes a five-core image signal processor (ISP) to power cameras up to 80 megapixel at 24fps. Its AI processor assists with camera functions, offering features like multi-frame video HDR, which MediaTek claims is another first. The chip also supports Full HD+ displays with refresh rates up to 120Hz, and 2K+ up to 90Hz. The Dimensity 1000 only supports 5G in sub-6 GHz frequency bands, not mmWave. By the end of this year, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint will all offer sub-6 GHz 5G networks with broad coverage. The first devices powered by the Dimensity 1000 will ship in the US by the end of this year, which is earlier than previously announced. The new Dimensity brand will include a whole line of chips with integrated 5G.


AT&T Launching Low-Band 5G for Consumers in Coming Weeks

Nov 22, 2019, 11:33 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Nov 23, 2019, 6:13 PM

AT&T is launching 5G for consumers in the coming weeks, and has detailed its launch plans for both sub-6 GHz (low-band) and mmWave launches in the coming year. The company promises "nationwide" 5G in the first half of 2020. AT&T is branding low-band 5G (which offers coverage similar to 4G) as "5G", and this is the service it is launching for consumers. Its mmWave service (with faster speeds but more limited coverage) will be branded "5G+", and remains limited to business customers. Neither designation should be confused with "5Ge", AT&T's misleading designation for 4G. AT&T is launching its low-band 5G in band 5 (850 MHz), which is one of the lower-frequency bands in AT&T's spectrum portfolio, offering the good long-range and in-building coverage. The launch cities for low-band 5G will be Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Providence, RI, Rochester, NY, and San Diego. Those cities will be followed by Boston, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, New York City, San Francisco, Birmingham, AL, Bridgeport, CT, Buffalo, NY, Louisville, KY, and San Jose, CA. AT&T has published coverage maps for all of the listed launch cities. AT&T's first phone to support low-band 5G will be the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G, which will only support low-band 5G and not mmWave "5G+". It will be available for pre-order on Nov. 25th. 5G service is included in AT&T's Unlimited Extra and Unlimited Elite plans. AT&T's mmWave "5G+" service for business customers is currently offered in parts of 21 cities, expanding to 30 in "early 2020".


AT&T Forces Price Hike on Mobile Share Value Customers

Nov 7, 2019, 2:52 PM   by Rich Brome

AT&T has raised the price of its Mobile Share Value plans by $10, forcing existing customers to pay the new rate even if they make no changes to their plan. The rate hike comes with an additional 15 GB of "bonus" data.


AT&T Tweaks Unlimited Plans

Oct 30, 2019, 2:34 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Oct 30, 2019, 5:20 PM

AT&T is introducing new unlimited plans that drop the live and on-demand TV package included with the existing Unlimited &More plans. Accounting for that and other minor changes, pricing stays about the same, with unlimited plan choices (and price points) increasing from two to three.

  • The new entry-level plan is called Unlimited Starter and costs $65/month for a single line, down from $70/month for the old Unlimited &More plan. Multi-line discounts can bring that down to $35/month/line for an account with four lines. As with the plan it replaces, data, voice, and texting are unlimited across the US, Canada, and Mexico, and texts from the US to over 120 countries are free, but video is limited to SD quality and mobile hotspot is not allowed.
  • The new step-up plan is called Unlimited Extra, replacing Unlimited &More Premium. The new plan is cheaper, but does not include a premium streaming service of choice, nor HD video streaming. It does include everything in the Starter plan plus 15 GB of mobile hotspot data. Unlimited Extra will run $75/month for a single line, (down from $80/month for the old Unlimited &More Premium plan.) Multi-line discounts can bring that down to $40/month/line for an account with four lines. Both Unlimited Starter and Unlimited Extra will launch on November 3rd.
  • Unlimited Elite is AT&T's new top-end plan, and AT&T's only unlimited plan to allow HD video streaming. It also includes 30 GB of mobile hotspot data. Instead of a choice of premium streaming service, HBO is included. AT&T owns HBO. Unlimited Elite will cost $85/month for a single line. Multi-line discounts apply, such as $50/month/line for four lines. This plan will be available "in the coming weeks".
All of the pricing cited above is after applying AT&T's discount for auto-pay and paperless billing, (which was true of AT&T's existing plans as well.) AT&T offers an additional 25% discount for military, veterans, and first responders and their families.


Big Four Carriers Join Forces to Accelerate RCS in US

Oct 24, 2019, 4:56 PM   by Rich Brome

Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint have formed a new joint venture to accelerate the adoption of Rich Communications Services (RCS) and ensure it works seamlessly across US and global networks. The venture is called the Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI) and "is working to develop and deploy the standards-based, interoperable messaging service starting with Android and expected in 2020." RCS is an existing open industry standard for advanced messaging, designed to replace SMS and MMS. It supports high-quality media, read receipts, typing indicator, and more. Google has been pushing RCS heavily in the past two years, but US adoption has been slow due to delayed carrier deployments.


LG Brings G8X ThinQ with Dual Screen to US

Oct 22, 2019, 10:21 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Oct 22, 2019, 5:06 PM

LG is bringing its dual-screen concept to the US along with a new variant of the G8: the G8X ThinQ. The G8X drops the 3D depth camera and quad-HD display resolution in favor of a 32-megapixel selfie camera, full-HD display, stereo speakers, and a larger 4,000 mAh battery. It also has an in-display fingerprint reader instead of the standalone sensor on the G8. Other features of the G8X are similar to the G8, including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip, standard and wide-angle rear cameras, high-end audio chip, extra-loud speakers, 3.5mm headphone jack, IP68 water resistance, NFC, wireless charging, fast charging, 6 GB RAM, 128 GB storage, and a memory card slot. The snap-on Dual Screen sports a full-HD OLED screen identical to that on the G8X, including the small notch. It also has an extra "cover" display on the outside that shows notifications, date, time, and battery life. The hinge folds a full 360º, and locks in place at 120º, 140º, 180º (flat), and 270º (tent). The phone + Dual Screen together will sell for $700 unlocked. Both AT&T and Sprint will offer the LG G8X ThinQ. AT&T is including the Dual Screen for free for a limited time. Sprint will offer an online rebate form for a Dual Screen, which will ship from LG. Sprint will have "more details to share next week" on its launch offer. Pre-orders start Friday, will full availability on November 1st.


Nubia Red Magic 3S Offers Gaming Specs for $479

Oct 10, 2019, 10:23 AM   by Rich Brome

The Nubia Red Magic 3S gaming phone will launch next week — October 16th — starting at $479. It has a faster processor (Snapdragon 855+) and storage (UFS 3.0) than original Red Magic 3, but the specs and design are otherwise almost identical. It has a 6.7-inch, full-HD OLED display with 90 Hz refresh rate, 240 Hz touch sampling rate, 5,000 mAh battery, shoulder buttons, liquid+air cooling with integrated fan, and a customizable light-up strip on the back. It also has a 48-megapixel Sony main camera, 3.5mm headset jack, fingerprint reader, and 27W fast charging. It does not have NFC, wireless charging, nor a memory card slot. It supports LTE 2/4/5/12/25/26/30/41/66 for US networks, giving it better support for AT&T's network than many other unlocked phones. The base version has 8 GB of RAM / 128 GB of storage, and is available in black or silver for $479 direct from the Red Magic web site. An upgraded "Cyber Shade" version has 12 GB RAM / 256 GB storage and a red/purple gradient design for $599.


LG K30 Series Proliferates on US Carriers

Oct 1, 2019, 10:12 AM   by Rich Brome

LG's entry-level K30 2019 model has launched in several different versions, under a variety of names, at AT&T, T-Mobile, and Cricket in recent weeks. Cricket launched the phone as the Escape Plus a few weeks ago, and sells it for $80. Since then, AT&T Prepaid has launched the same phone as the Arena 2 for $120, and LG now sells it unlocked as the K30 2019 for $140. Also, a slightly higher-end version with a fingerprint reader and better camera (13 megapixel instead of 8) is now available as the Prime 2 on AT&T (also $120) and Aristo 4+ on T-Mobile for $162.50. Those two models also differ: the Prime 2 has NFC, while the Aristo 4+ has dual-band Wi-Fi instead. Unusually, the Prime 2 and Aristo 4+ have only 16 GB of storage, while the otherwise lower-end Escape Plus and Arena 2 have 32 GB. All versions in the series have a tall HD display, 3,000 mAh battery, dedicated Google Assistant button, 5-megapixel selfie camera, 3.5mm headset jack, and a memory card slot.


Cricket Launches First Own-Brand Phone Made by Emblem

Sep 23, 2019, 4:48 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Sep 25, 2019, 2:53 PM

Cricket has launched the Icon — a Cricket-branded, entry-level phone — for $80. The phone is manufactured by Tinno for Emblem Solutions, which launched a little under a year ago with a financial investment and strategic agreement from AT&T to provide exclusive phones and tablets to AT&T. Cricket is a brand of AT&T. Cricket is offering a unique 2-year warranty on the phone. The Icon runs Android 9 Go Edition. It has a 5.5-inch display, 2,500 mAh battery, 5 megapixel rear camera, 2 megapixel front camera, MediaTek 6739 processor, 16 GB of storage, and a memory card slot.


Samsung Releasing Galaxy Fold on Friday

Sep 23, 2019, 9:53 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Sep 23, 2019, 9:56 AM

Samsung has finally set a US release date for its delayed and tweaked Galaxy Fold: this Friday, Sept. 27th. While T-Mobile had originally planned to offer the Fold, now it will only be available from AT&T and in an unlocked version. Select Best Buy and Samsung Experience Stores will sell both the unlocked version and the AT&T version. The Fold will come with a special support offering called Galaxy Fold Premier Service. This will include a dedicated phone number, video chat service, and in-person support. "Samsung experts" will be available for complimentary "onboarding" as well as ongoing support. The Galaxy Fold is the first smartphone for the US with a flexible pOLED screen that actually folds in half. It also has a full touchscreen interface on the outside. Its specs are similar to the high-end Galaxy S10+, including a top-end Snapdragon 855 processor, 12 GB of RAM, and triple rear cameras (wide, standard, and telephoto.) The Fold was originally slated to launch April 26th of this year, but the launch was delayed after multiple reviewers experienced serious issues soon after receiving the phone. The design has since been improved to address the issues seen on the original design.


New KaiOS Feature Phones for US Offer Google Assistant, App Store

Sep 19, 2019, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Alcatel today announced the Go Flip 3 and SmartFlip, two variants of essentially the same clamshell-style feature phone. The phone runs KaiOS, and for the first time in the US, supports both Google Assistant voice control and the KaiStore for downloading third-party apps such as WhatsApp. The hardware is otherwise similar to previous KaiOS phones by Alcatel for the US, such as the Go Flip, MyFlip, QuickFlip, and Cingular Flip 2. Like those models, it has 4G LTE, a large screen and keypad, HD Voice, 2-megapixel camera, HD video capture, music player, memory card slot, 3.5mm audio jack, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and a color outer display. The model branded Go Flip 3 is for T-Mobile and Metro, and supports mobile hotspot, band 71, and Sprint bands; it replaces the original Go Flip. The model branded SmartFlip is for AT&T and Cricket; it supports band 14 (FirstNet) and replaces the Cingular Flip 2 and QuickFlip.


Walmart, Verizon Offering Deals on iPhone 11 Series

Sep 11, 2019, 12:39 PM   by Rich Brome

Walmart and Verizon are both offering substantial discounts and offers for customers buying a new iPhone this year. New and existing customers of Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint can pre-order the new iPhone 11 models from walmart.com starting this Friday and receive $50 off the usual phone price when choosing a device payment plan and picking up their phone in a Walmart store (starting Sept. 20). Existing customers of Verizon and AT&T can instead opt to have the phone shipped to them with free two-day shipping, and receive the same $50-off pricing. Separately, Verizon is offering deals on iPhones for customers activating new Unlimited lines, and deals on other Apple devices for all customers. Customers activating a new Unlimited line can get up to $700 toward a new iPhone 11 (making the base model iPhone 11 free) with device trade-in. The trade-in credit of up to $500 is applied over 24 months, with the remaining $200 delivered as a prepaid card. Or customers can get a second iPhone Xr for free when purchasing the first iPhone Xr on a payment plan and activating a new Unlimited line. Verizon customers can also get a $250 discount off any iPad when purchasing any iPhone (with both devices on Verizon payment plan; discount applied over 24 months.) Verizon customers purchasing a new Apple Watch can get a second one for up to 50% off.


T-Mobile, AT&T Connect on STIR/SHAKEN

Aug 14, 2019, 10:00 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile and AT&T can now securely confirm caller-ID info between the two networks, an important step in fighting number spoofing widely used by robocallers. Both companies have now implemented the STIR/SHAKEN protocol between their networks, allowing caller-ID info to be authenticated, resulting in a "Caller Verified" banner on the phone screen when a call is incoming. T-Mobile and Metro currently offer 12 phones from Samsung and LG that support this banner. The FCC has urged US telecom companies — under threat of new regulation — to implement STIR/SHAKEN as a means of combatting robocalling and fraud. Once adoption is widespread, consumers will be able to block calls that cannot be authenticated. Verizon has announced that it is also working to implement STIR/SHAKEN.


All Four Top US Carriers to Offer 5G Note10, with Varying Band Support

Aug 7, 2019, 3:40 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Aug 8, 2019, 11:31 AM

The Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G will be the first phone to support sub-6 GHz FDD 5G for T-Mobile and AT&T. However, the AT&T and T-Mobile versions will not support mmWave 5G that offers faster speeds in central areas of major cities, even though the Verizon version will support only mmWave 5G. T-Mobile and AT&T spokespeople have confirmed to Phone Scoop that their versions will not support mmWave. Sub-6 GHz FDD bands (low-band) are the same bands used for 4G service today, and offer broad coverage that mmWave frequencies cannot. T-Mobile and AT&T have announced plans to launch 5G on sub-6 GHz FDD bands later this year. Verizon will be first to sell the Note10+ 5G on August 23rd. Verizon will have an undisclosed period of exclusivity, after which AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint will also offer it. Verizon will charge $1300 for the 256 GB model, available in black, white, or a prismatic "Aura Glow", and $1400 for the 512 GB version, available in black. The 5G and 4G versions of the Note10+ are identical in appearance, size, and features. The only difference is a 2 gram weight difference to account for the 5G components. The Note10 series includes Play Galaxy Link, which lets you stream games from your home PC to your phone, a feature that will benefit greatly from the data speeds and low latency offered by 5G.


Samsung Note10 Comes in Two Sizes

Aug 7, 2019, 3:00 PM   by Rich Brome

Samsung today announced the Galaxy Note10 and Note10+. The company's super-flagship Note series for 2019 comes in two sizes: The Note10 packs a screen similar to the Note9 into a smaller body, while the Note10+ sports a larger display in a body similar in size to the Note9. The Note10+ will also be available in a 5G version. The Note10 has a 6.3-inch full-HD display, 3,500 mAh battery, and 8 GB of RAM, while the Note10+ has a 6.8-inch quad-HD display, 4,300 mAh battery, and 12 GB of RAM. The Note10+ also adds a ToF camera for 3D scanning, and a memory card slot. Both new models are thinner and lighter than the Note9. Samsung accomplished this by removing the headphone jack, iris scanner, and heart rate sensor. Key features from the S10 have been included, including triple rear cameras (dual-aperture plus tele and wide), in-display ultrasonic fingerprint reader, and Wireless Power Share. The included S Pen now has a motion sensor, allowing it to support mid-air gesture shortcuts. The DeX feature that turns the phone into a computer now works via USB connected to a PC or Mac, where the phone's desktop is displayed via a new app, which supports both copy-and-paste, and file drag-and-drop between desktops. A 25W charger is included, and the Note10+ supports an optional 45W charger that can provide a "full day" charge in 30 minutes. All US models are powered by a Snapdragon 855 processor and come with at least 256 GB of internal storage. All four top US carriers will offer all three models — including the Note+ 5G — although Verizon will offer the 5G model first for a short exclusivity period. 256 GB models will be available in white, black, and a prismatic Aura Glow. Models with 512 GB of RAM will only be available in black. Best Buy will also offer the Note10+ in an exclusive Aura Blue color. All three models will go on sale August 23rd, with pre-orders starting tomorrow, August 8th. Pre-orders include a credit of $100-$150 to spend on samsung.com. The Note10 starts at $949, the Note10+ at $1099, and Verizon will sell the Note10+ 5G starting at $1300.


AT&T Expands Business-Only 5G Network to NYC

Aug 6, 2019, 9:45 AM   by Rich Brome

AT&T's mmWave 5G network is now live in parts of NYC for select business customers. AT&T did not say which parts of the city are covered, but did say "While our initial availability in NYC is a limited introduction at launch, we'e committed to working closely with the City to extend coverage to more neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs." NYC joins a list of 20 other US cites with AT&T 5G. The company plans to have at least 30 cities lit up by the end of the year, and the company plans to use 5G in sub-6 GHz bands to offer "nationwide" 5G coverage in the first half of 2020. AT&T has yet to make 5G available to consumers.


AT&T Adds Spotify Option to Premium Data Plan

Aug 5, 2019, 11:23 AM   by Rich Brome

AT&T has added Spotify Premium as a new option for the media service included with its Unlimited &More Premium unlimited data plan. As part of a new partnership with Spotify, AT&T will also offer "select" customers on other plans a free six-month trial of Spotify Premium. AT&T's Unlimited &More Premium plan is $8-12/month more than the standard unlimited plan (depending on how many lines are on the account), for which you get full-HD video streaming, 15GB of high-speed personal hotspot data, and your choice of one media service from seven options, which are now: Spotify Premium, Pandora Premium, HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, or VRV.


Samsung Launching Tweaked Galaxy Fold in September

Jul 24, 2019, 9:04 PM   by Rich Brome

Samsung today released a statement that it will launch the Galaxy Fold in September, having improved the design to address issues that cropped up in multiple review units right before the original launch date in late April. Samsung has tweaked the design of the folding-display phone in four specific ways:

  • "The top protective layer of the Infinity Flex Display has been extended beyond the bezel, making it apparent that it is an integral part of the display structure and not meant to be removed."
  • "The top and bottom of the hinge area have been strengthened with newly added protection caps."
  • "Additional metal layers underneath the Infinity Flex Display have been included to reinforce the protection of the display."
  • "The space between the hinge and body of Galaxy Fold has been reduced."
Samsung has also taken advantage of the delay to optimize the user interface of additional apps and services for the unique foldable display. AT&T and T-Mobile had previously committed to carrying the Galaxy Fold. More specific launch details will be shared closer to the new sale date.


Samsung Galaxy A10e Launches on Boost, Coming to AT&T

Jul 16, 2019, 7:44 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jul 17, 2019, 8:51 PM

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, T-Mobile Successfully Test First Full-Featured 5G Modem

Jul 11, 2019, 10:40 AM   by Rich Brome

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.


FCC Moves Forward on Four New 5G Bands

Jul 10, 2019, 4:38 PM   by Rich Brome

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 Enabling Anti-Robocall Features by Default

Jul 9, 2019, 2:46 PM   by Rich Brome

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 Launches 5G in Las Vegas

Jun 27, 2019, 11:35 AM   by Rich Brome

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.


Nokia Brings Another Affordable Phone to Cricket

Jun 20, 2019, 9:40 AM   by Rich Brome

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 Crowns AT&T Fastest Mobile Network Overall

Jun 20, 2019, 9:16 AM   by Rich Brome

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.


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