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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.


Sprint Teases 5G Phone From OnePlus

Aug 6, 2019, 9:25 AM   by Rich Brome

Sprint today announced that it will soon offer its first phone from OnePlus, and that it will be a 5G phone. Further details will be announced "soon". OnePlus does offer a 5G version of its newest flagship, the OnePlus 7 Pro, in some markets, including the UK. It only supports sub-6 GHz 5G, the kind Sprint recently launched. OnePlus has not shown interest in developing phones with mmWave 5G the kind deployed so far by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Prior to this announcement, T-Mobile was the only major US carrier to carry OnePlus phones. Sprint currently offers 5G in areas of Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Kansas City, and the company expects to launch service in areas of Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix and Washington, DC, in "the coming weeks".


Texas Joins State AG Lawsuit Against T-Mobile / Sprint Merger

Aug 1, 2019, 5:07 PM   by Rich Brome

Texas has joined 14 other states in suing to block the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that "[Texas] Attorney General Ken Paxton will assume a key leadership role in this case, along with [California] Attorney General Becerra and myself". "After careful evaluation of the proposed merger and the settlement, we do not anticipate that the proposed new entrant will replace the competitive role of Sprint anytime soon," said Paxton.


T-Mobile Successfully Tests Standalone 5G, Plans Launch in 2020

Jul 31, 2019, 9:02 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile plans to launch standalone 5G in 2020. Standalone (SA) technology differs from the 5G NR NSA (non-stand-alone) technology that has been launched to date, which is dependent on, and integrated with, a 4G LTE network. Toward its goal, T-Mobile successfully tested 5G NR SA technology in its labs, a first in North America. The test was the first in the world with a multi-vendor network, including equipment from Ericsson, Nokia, and Cisco. The 5G mobile device tested used a MediaTek chipset. The 5G network that Dish plans to build will also use 5G NR SA technology.


State Attorneys General Reaffirm Opposition to T-Mobile / Sprint Merger

Jul 26, 2019, 2:02 PM   by Rich Brome

New York State Attorney General Letitia James today confirmed that she continues to lead a coalition of 14 states in suing to stop the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint on anti-trust grounds, in spite of today's approval of the merger by the US Department of Justice. The states' concerns include specific issues with the deal announced today by the DoJ and Dish, for Dish to take certain assets from Sprint to build a new, fourth national carrier. The new concerns include: "Dish has never shown any inclination or ability to build a nationwide mobile network on its own and has repeatedly broken assurances to the Federal Communications Commission about deployment of its spectrum." and "T-Mobile and Sprint are asking Americans to trust that this new mega corporation will act directly against its own economic interests by helping transform Dish into an independent competitor that rivals this new company" In addition to New York, the plaintiffs currently include California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, Virginia, and Wisconsin.


Dish Details Deal to Become Fourth National Carrier

Jul 26, 2019, 11:06 AM   by Rich Brome

Dish Network will pay $5 billion to buy significant Sprint assets in an attempt to create a new national 5G wireless network, in a deal brokered by the US Department of Justice to win approval for T-Mobile merging with Sprint. The deal includes $3.6 billion for licenses to 14 MHz of nationwide 800 MHz spectrum. For its new 5G network. Dish will use the new 800 MHz spectrum alongside 600 MHz, 700 MHz, and 1,700 MHz spectrum it already owns. Dish will also pay $1.4 billion to acquire Sprint's prepaid business, including Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Sprint Prepaid. That purchase includes 9.3 million customers and 400 employees. Dish has made a new commitment to the FCC that it will build its own 5G network capable of serving 70 percent of the US population by June 2023. Dish will pay a penalty of up to $2.2 billion if it fails to meet that deadline. Dish will have access to the new T-Mobile / Sprint network for seven years while it builds its own network. Dish will also lease T-Mobile some of its 600 MHz spectrum for several years to smooth the transition. Dish will also have the option to acquire certain tower, network equipment, and retail assets that will be decommissioned as part of the Sprint / T-Mobile integration process.


DoJ Green-Lights T-Mobile / Sprint Merger

Jul 26, 2019, 10:43 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jul 26, 2019, 10:45 AM

The US Department of Justice has given its blessing to the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. Several conditions — including a comprehensive deal with Dish intended to create a small fourth national carrier — have satisfied the federal government's anti-trust concerns. The FCC has already announced it will allow the deal, meaning the deal is cleared at the federal level. Five state attorneys general joined in supporting the deal. However, ten state attorneys general have filed suit to block the deal on anti-trust grounds, including those for New York and California. Those states are not signed on to the deal announced today. That action remains outstanding and could still delay or scuttle the deal. The required deal with Dish will see Dish acquire all of Sprint's prepaid business, including the Boost and Virgin brands and 9 million customers with those brands, along with radio spectrum licenses. Dish will also have "robust access" to the new T-Mobile/Sprint network as an MVNO for at least seven years, giving it time to build out its own physical network. T-Mobile/Sprint will also be required to "make available" at least 20,000 tower sites and hundreds of retail locations, in order to facilitate Dish building its new network and wireless business. Dish has a long history of hoarding spectrum licenses while promising — but failing — to build any significant network to use them.


Moto e6 Offers Portrait Mode for $150

Jul 25, 2019, 8:52 AM   by Rich Brome

Motorola today announced the Moto e6, a $150 Android phone with a 13-megapixel main camera and portrait mode, in a new design that drops the iconic Motorola look in favor of something more like an iPhone. Motorola calls the design "unibody", although the battery is removable. Compared to the e5, the display and battery are smaller, at 5.5 inches and 3,000 mAh, respectively. The display offers HD+ resolution. The processor has been updated to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435, which Motorola claims is 50% faster than last year's 425 chip. The improved camera has f/2.0 aperture, PDAF, auto HDR, an LED flash, manual mode, and RAW output. It can also record full-HD video and support both time-lapse and hyper-lapse. The selfie camera is 5 megapixel with f/2.0 aperture. The phone also has a micro-USB port, 3.5mm headphone jack, memory card slot, and dual-band Wi-Fi. The Moto e6 is available today from Verizon, and will also be carried by T-Mobile, Metro, Boost, US Cellular, Consumer Cellular, and Xfinity Mobile.


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.


Justice Department Close to Approving Merger of T-Mobile, Sprint

Jul 24, 2019, 7:32 AM   by Rich Brome

The Justice Department could announce approval of the T-Mobile / Sprint merger as soon as this week, according to the Wall Street Journal. The deal would require the companies to sell radio spectrum licenses and prepaid customers to Dish, and grant Dish use of the companies' networks while it builds its own.


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.


T-Mobile Revs Up REVVL Series with Fast Charging

Jul 9, 2019, 4:15 PM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile's 3rd generation of own-brand REVVL phones have larger, notched screens, fast charging, and modest spec upgrades all around. Dubbed the REVVLRY and REVVLRY+, these mid-range phones ship July 19th. The larger REVVLRY+ has a 6.24-inch, full-HD screen with a small notch. It has a 27W fast charging, Snapdragon 636 processor, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB storage, and Cat. 12 LTE. It has a 16+5-megapixel dual rear cameras and a 12-megapixel selfie camera. It will sell for $350. The smaller REVVLRY has a 5.7-inch HD display with a large notch. It also has 10W fast charging, Snapdragon 632 processor, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, Cat. 6 LTE, and a 13-megapixel camera. It will sell for $200. Both phones have a 3,000 mAh battery, fingerprint reader, basic water resistance, and Android 9 (Pie).


T-Mobile Launches mmWave 5G With Samsung Galaxy S10 5G

Jun 25, 2019, 9:11 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jun 25, 2019, 10:38 AM

In a surprise move, T-Mobile is launching its first 5G phone and a limited 5G network ahead of schedule. The 5G network is currently only using mmWave spectrum (both 28 GHz and 39 GHz), which offers high speeds but limited coverage. It's available in parts of six downtown areas: Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York. T-Mobile has published coverage maps showing where customers can expect mmWave 5G service outdoors. The company's first 5G phone will be the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, available this Friday, June 28. The S10 5G only supports T-Mobile's mmWave 5G launching this week, not the sub-6-GHz 5G that will form the bulk of T-Mobile's 5G coverage later this year. The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G will be available in select stores in the six cities with 5G service for $1,300. Well-qualified customers can finance it with no interest for $550 down plus $31.25/month for 24 months. T-Mobile does not charge extra for 5G service.


Tiny Palm Phone Now Available Unlocked

Jun 18, 2019, 1:48 PM   by Rich Brome

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 Launching RCS Service as Carriers Drag Feet

Jun 17, 2019, 3:58 PM   by Rich Brome

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.


State Attorneys General Sue to Block T-Mobile/Sprint Merger

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

A group of ten states is suing to block the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. The action is led by New York State Attorney General Letitia James and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. James outlined the crux of the states' argument in a tweet, saying "The merger would deprive customers of the benefits of competition & drive up prices for cellphone services." Today's action follows an investigation by the attorneys general, which "found that many of the claimed benefits [of the proposed merger] were unverifiable and could only be delivered years into the future, if ever. By contrast, if the merger were to go through, the combined company would immediately have the power and incentive to raise prices." "Additionally... the ten states are concerned that further consolidation at the carrier level would lead to a substantial loss of retail jobs." The complaint was filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.


AT&T and T-Mobile Clean up in FCC's 24 GHz Auction

Jun 3, 2019, 5:03 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jun 3, 2019, 5:39 PM

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.


T-Mobile Tweaks Plans, Matches Discounts for Switchers

May 24, 2019, 8:27 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile is tweaking its plans, including one increase that applies to existing plans, and extending a new discount-matching deal to new customers switching from competitors. To account for Netflix raising its prices, customers on an existing T-Mobile One plan with Netflix on Us will see a new $2/month Netflix charge starting in July. Customers can avoid the charge by dropping NetFlix on Us, or switching to a new Magenta plan. The new Magenta plan is the same as the existing T-Mobile One plan, but only includes Netflix Basic, (which does not include HD), although it does include 3 GB of 4G mobile hotspot data. The higher-tier T-Mobile One Plus plan is being renamed Magenta Plus, but is otherwise unchanged, including full Netflix. Starting June 2nd, new customers switching from Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint can also new have special discounts matched, up to $15 per line. Eligible discounts include employer, corporate, affiliate, military, and senior discounts.


Justice Department Staff: Block Sprint + T-Mobile Merger

May 22, 2019, 9:12 AM   by Rich Brome

Internally, the US Justice Department's antitrust division has recommended the agency file a lawsuit to block the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, according to a Reuters reports citing two sources familiar with the matter. The final decision on whether to allow the merger now lies with political appointees at the department. That decision is expected in about a month, the two sources said. Earlier this week, two FCC commissioners announced their support for the deal, after Sprint agreed to shed its Boost prepaid brand. Both the FCC and DoJ must approve for the merger to proceed.


Blu G9 Offers Large Battery, Premium Look for Less

May 22, 2019, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome

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.


FCC Chair Pai Recommends in Favor of T-Mobile / Sprint Merger

May 20, 2019, 10:40 AM   by Rich Brome

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that he will recommend the agency approve the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. To secure the recommendation, the companies have promised to divest the Boost prepaid brand and not raise prices for three years. With Commissioner Brendan Carr also announcing his support, the deal seems close to FCC approval. The Department of Justice must also approve the deal.


Hands On with the OnePlus 7 Pro

May 14, 2019, 1:38 PM   by Rich Brome   updated May 15, 2019, 2:21 PM

The OnePlus 7 Pro is the company's new flagship, and it's a looker. These days a top-end phone is expected to have an all-screen, all-glass, curvy design. The OnePlus delivers that, along with the top-end specs everyone wants. Instead of a notched or hole-punch screen, OnePlus has solved the selfie camera problem with a motorized pop-up design. So what is it like in person? We checked it out.

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OnePlus 7 Pro Sports Three Rear Cameras, Pop-up Selfie Camera

May 14, 2019, 10:31 AM   by Rich Brome   updated May 14, 2019, 10:52 AM

The new OnePlus 7 Pro puts top-end specs and features, such as three rear cameras and a notchless 6.67-inch quad-HD AMOLED display with HDR 10+ and 90 Hz refresh rate, into a new design with a pop-up selfie camera and a glass back, that's just 8.8mm thick. OnePlus announced the phone today at events around the world. The OnePlus 7 Pro is powered by a Snapdragon 855 processor with 6-12 GB of RAM. Its three rear cameras include a 48-megapixel main camera with OIS and f/1.6 aperture. It also has a 16-megapixel wide camera and 8-megapixel telephoto camera. It supports slow motion (1080p at 240 fps), portrait mode, automatic scene detection, and RAW mode. The pop-up front camera clocks in at 16 megapixels and f/2.0. It retracts automatically if the phone is dropped. The fingerprint reader is embedded in the display. Its 4,000 mAh battery can be topped up with "Warp Charge 30" fast charging (5V/6A). Instead of a 3.5mm audio jack, it support audio over USB-C. The phone also has Cat. 18 LTE, NFC, and stereo speakers. The full retail pricing is $669 for the variant with 6 GB of RAM, up to $749 for the 12 GB version. T-Mobile will launch the phone on Friday, May 17th. It will be available in dark gray, blue, and almond/gold. The company also announced a OnePlus 7 model (non-Pro) that is not coming to the US.


OnePlus 7 Pro Coming to T-Mobile

May 9, 2019, 9:11 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile will start selling the forthcoming OnePlus 7 Pro nationwide on May 17th. The phone is set to be announced on Tuesday, May 14th in NYC. T-Mobile will hold its own launch event for the phone at its Times Square store on the same day. On the 15th, T-Mobile will hold additional launch events at its "signature" stores in Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, San Francisco, and Santa Monica. OnePlus made a name for itself offering "affordable flagship" phones and selling them unlocked. The company scored its first US carrier deal last year when T-Mobile picked up the OnePlus 6T.


Google Pixel 3a Series Starts at $399

May 7, 2019, 1:42 PM   by Rich Brome   updated May 10, 2019, 8:03 AM

Google today expanded its Pixel lineup with two mid-range models: the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. The new models look much like the higher-end Pixel 3 models and have many of the same features, but use software to bring enhanced quality to more affordable hardware components such as a camera module without Google's Visual Core chip. Cost savings also come from dropping water resistance, wireless charging, and the wide-angle selfie camera. The processor is Snapdragon 670 instead of 845, and the rear is made of plastic instead of glass. The Pixel 3a has a 5.6-inch display and sells for $399. The larger Pixel 3a XL has a 6-inch display and sells for $479. The phones are on sale starting today from Google. Tomorrow, Google is expanding distribution of its whole Pixel 3/3a lineup to T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular, in addition to Verizon. The Pixel 3a phones include a 3.5mm audio jack, full-HD OLED displays, Night Sight and Portrait modes in the camera app, call screening, a squeeze shortcut for Google Assistant, USB-C, stereo speakers, Google's Titan M security chip, and a promise of OS updates for three years. The phones support fast charging and come with an 18-watt charger. The Pixel 3a is available in three colors: Just Black, Clearly White, and Purple-ish.


T-Mobile Launches Checking Accounts

Apr 18, 2019, 12:46 PM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile is now offering its own branded checking accounts as a new offering called T-Mobile Money. The accounts bear no monthly, overdraft or transfer fees, and no ATM fees. Accounts earn 4% interest on the first $3,000. The product is digital-only and mobile-first, accessed primarily through a phone app. The debit card is compatible with Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay, although customers receive a physical debit card as well. It supports direct deposit, mobile deposit, bill payment, and customers can send checks. The product is created and operated by BankMobile, a division of Customers Bank (Member FDIC). BankMobile has over 2 million customers, mostly college students using a similar product offered in partnership with over 800 colleges and universities.


Justice Department Leaning Against Merger of Sprint and T-Mobile

Apr 16, 2019, 5:06 PM   by Rich Brome

Justice department staff reviewing the proposed merger between T-Mobile US and Sprint have informed the two companies that they're disinclined to approve the merger as currently proposed, on antitrust grounds, according to the Wall Street Journal. The $26 billion deal would reduce competition and likely lead to lost jobs in the long run, although T-Mobile and Sprint claim otherwise. T-Mobile and Sprint could propose alterations to the deal to win approval. Also, senior Justice Department officials could override the staff recommendation and approve the deal as-is, although several state attorneys general are preparing to sue on antitrust grounds if that happens. A final decision from the Justice Department is expected in a few weeks, and T-Mobile and Sprint are still aiming to wrap up the deal by the end of July.


Samsung Galaxy Fold Ships in Two Weeks; S10 5G in May

Apr 11, 2019, 9:31 AM   by Rich Brome

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".


LG G8 Launches mid-April on All Major US Carriers

Mar 28, 2019, 11:41 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Mar 28, 2019, 1:38 PM

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.

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Sony Phones Go Extra-Tall

Feb 25, 2019, 5:37 AM   by Rich Brome

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.
All of the new models have basic support for AT&T and T-Mobile networks, including LTE bands 12, 29, and 66. The 10 and 10 Plus launch today, while the Xperia 1 will be available in "late spring".


Samsung Grows Galaxy S Family with S10, S10+, S10e, and S10 5G

Feb 20, 2019, 2:30 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Feb 25, 2019, 7:54 AM

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.

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Samsung Galaxy Fold Does What its Name Says

Feb 20, 2019, 2:26 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Feb 20, 2019, 2:58 PM

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.

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Qualcomm's Next 5G Modem Supports T-Mobile 5G

Feb 19, 2019, 10:49 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Feb 24, 2019, 6:08 AM

Qualcomm's new X55 standalone modem chip supports 5G in all major frequency bands as well as FDD and TDD modes. Support for FDD makes it the first chip to support T-Mobile's planned 5G network in the 600 MHz band. Qualcomm's first 5G modem chip, the X50, only supported TDD modes. Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint all have TDD (unpaired) spectrum they will use for some or all of their initial 5G deployment. T-Mobile is focused on its existing FDD bands for 5G. The X55 also includes both 5G and 4G, and is the first chip to support Cat. 22 LTE, offering up to 2.5 Gbps speed. Furthermore, it supports dynamic spectrum sharing between 4G and 5G, for carriers planning to use existing cellular bands for both 4G and 5G simultaneously. The X55 also supports both SA (standalone) and NSA (non-standalone) 5G networks. The X55 can deliver speeds up to 7 Gbps down (and 3 Gbps up) on 5G networks. Qualcomm also introduced a new front-end 5G solution designed to work with the X55, providing the other components needed for 5G. These include a new mmWave antenna that supports band 258 (26 GHz), and is thinner than the current model, allowing 5G phones as thin as 8mm. The X55 and companion parts will appear in commercial devices by "late 2019".


Hands On with the Moto g7 Series

Feb 7, 2019, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Moto's new g-series phones bring up-to-date features, upgraded specs, and clean Google software to three models ranging from $200 to $300. This year's series moves to a notched-screen design, steps up to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor, and supports USB-C across the board. They will all launch with Android 9 (Pie). All three will eventually come to US carriers, most by this spring.

  • Moto g7 play: The most affordable at $199, it has a 5.7" HD display, 3,000 mAh battery, fast charging, fingerprint reader, 13 megapixel camera, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, memory card slot, 3.5mm headset jack, and FM radio. It will be available from Boost, Virgin, US Cellular, Ting, and Republic, as well as unlocked from most major retailers.
  • Moto g7 power: The main feature is its huge 5,000 mAh battery, which Motorola claims will last for three days. It builds on the specs of the g7 play, stepping up to a larger 6.2" display, 3 GB of RAM, and a higher-quality 12-megapixel camera. It will be available for $249 from Verizon, T-Mobile, Metro, Cricket, Xfinity Mobile, Republic, Ting, and Consumer Cellular, as well as unlocked from most major retailers.
  • Moto g7: Higher-end but with a normal-size (3,000 mAh) battery, this flagship of the g series has a curved glass back, full-HD 6.2" display with a smaller notch, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, 4K video capture, and dual cameras for portrait effects. It also has a more advanced camera app, with new features like automatic group smile capture, hi-res digital zoom using multiple frames, hyperlapse video, and RAW output. The camera also integrates with YouTube Live and Google Lens. It will be available unlocked from most major retailers for $299 this spring, followed by launches with Google Fi, Republic Wireless, and Ting.
Read on for our first impressions, including photos and a video.

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US Gov't Indicts Huawei for Stealing Trade Secrets from T-Mobile

Jan 28, 2019, 5:55 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 29, 2019, 12:23 AM

The US government is pursuing a criminal case against Huawei for stealing the design for — as well as actual parts and software from — a unique phone-testing robot developed by T-Mobile USA. The gov't alleges that Huawei offered bonuses for employees to steal such trade secrets, and obstructed justice in a related civil case. A Seattle grand jury returned a 10-count indictment for theft of trade secrets conspiracy, attempted theft of trade secrets, seven counts of wire fraud, and one count of obstruction of justice. The robot in question is called "Tappy" and simulates human fingers activating a set of actions on a phone being tested. The theft occurred in 2012 and 2013. T-Mobile pursued a civil case against Huawei in 2014, and in 2017 a jury awarded T-Mobile $4.8 for Huawei's breach of contract. In the civil case, T-Mobile alleged that Huawei employees authorized to use Tappy snuck another, unauthorized Huawei employee into T-Mobile's labs to photograph Tappy. A Huawei employee also stole one of Tappy's "fingers" and copied some of its software. T-Mobile provided surveillance photos to back its claims, and Huawei admitted to several of the allegations. Under the maximum sentencing provisions applicable to corporate entities, Conspiracy and Attempt to Commit Trade Secret Theft are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000,000 or three times the value of the stolen trade secret, whichever is greater. Wire Fraud and Obstruction of Justice are punishable by a fine of up to $500,000.


T-Mobile Finally Launches Hotspot That Supports Its Whole Network

Jan 25, 2019, 10:14 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile today launched the Coolpad Surf, its first mobile hotspot device to support newer LTE bands 71 and 66. Band 71 — AKA 600 MHz — became a large and important part of T-Mobile's network in 2018. Band 71 provides much-needed extra capacity in dense urban areas, and extended coverage elsewhere. T-Mobile has been offering phones with band 71 since November 2017, but before today, T-Mobile's only mobile hotspot device was the Alcatel Linkzone, which only supports older LTE bands 2, 4, and 12. The Coolpad Surf has a 2,150 mAh battery that should provide 5.3 hours of continuous use. It sells for $72, or $3/month for 24 months.


Major Carriers Cut Off Location Aggregators After Abuse

Jan 16, 2019, 2:03 PM   by Rich Brome

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.


T-Mobile Launches Caller ID Verification

Jan 10, 2019, 6:33 PM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile has now launched Caller Verified technology, which uses the STIR and SHAKEN standards to confirm that caller ID information hasn't been spoofed. The anti-robocall service is currently available only on the Galaxy Note9, but is coming to other T-Mobile smartphones "later this year". The technology requires other telecom companies around the world to also implement STIR / SHAKEN in order to work for all legitimate calls. When caller ID info is confirmed authentic, "Caller Verified" will appear on the phone's incoming call screen.


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