Qualcomm expects to see two major waves of 5G handsets arrive throughout 2019. Speaking at the 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong, Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon said, based on its viewpoint, there will be an initial set of launches along with the arrival of 5G mobile networks themselves. U.S. carriers are expecting to get their 5G mobile networks up and running during the first six months of 2019, and some may launch during the first quarter. Amon believes a second wave of 5G phones — all flagships — will hit the market in the latter part of the year ahead of the holiday shopping season. OnePlus CEO, Carl Pei, who joined Amon on stage, says his company will have one of the first, if not the actual first, 5G phones to reach consumer hands. Pei noted that OnePlus has already begun conducting 5G tests with partner Qualcomm in San Diego. OnePlus is prepared to launch the OnePlus 6T at an event in New York on October 29. It is likely the 6T's successor that will include 5G. Earlier this year, Sprint claimed it would be the first carrier to launch a 5G handset with partner LG. Given OnePlus' recent tie-up with T-Mobile, it's possible OnePlus' 5G smartphone will operate on T-Mobile's network. Neither Sprint nor T-Mobile has provided a firm 5G launch date for 2019.
T-Mobile today announced new handset and service promotions that offer new phones for low monthly payments with one big catch: the equipment installment plan runs for 36 months. That means it will be three years before customers pay off their device, rather than the customary two years. The basics are these. Beginning October 19, customers can trade in an eligible phone for a new Samsung Galaxy S8, S9, Note9, LG G7, LG V40 ThinQ, and others for payments as low as $10 per month. T-Mobile hopes customers taking advantage of this promo will jump on the T-Mobile Essentials plan, which provides a family of four new phones with unlimited service for $40 per line per month, or $160 total. This breaks down to $30 per month per line for service and $10 per month for device payments. The actual device payment may be different. Customers who want the T-Mobile One plan will need to pay another $10 per month per line, or $50. This deal requires auto-pay. Eligible phone trade-ins will be credited to customer accounts monthly over a period of 36 months. The maximum trade-in value is $360 per device, but that will depend on the trade and its condition. T-Mobile didn't immediately list a set of devices eligible for trade-in. The trade can be applied to the purchase price of most phones LG sells, including the forthcoming iPhone Xr.
Metro by T-Mobile, T-Mobile's recently-renamed prepaid brand, will offer 5G service to customers at about the same time T-Mobile rolls out 5G to its postpaid subscribers. "When we talk about 5G for all, it's not just nationwide 5G service, but it's all shades of T-Mobile, magenta and purple," said Neville Ray, chief technology officer at T-Mobile, at an event today. T-Mobile says it will launch 5G in some 30 markets during the first half of 2019, and both T-Mobile and Metro customers will be able to access the faster speeds and lower latency. Metro's new service plans, announced earlier this month, are available starting today. Metro's $40 plan doubles the amount of high-speed data to 10 GB per month. The new $50 plan allows for unlimited data and includes Google One online cloud storage (Android only). The $60 plan includes unlimited data, Google One, and Amazon Prime. T-Mobile says Metro customers' data is prioritized below that of some T-Mobile customers when the network is congested. On all plans, customers who consume more than 35 GB per month may notice reduced speeds due to deprioritization.
OnePlus today said it will launch its next device on October 30 at an event to be held in New York City. The company has already shared a few details about the device. To start, the 6T will adopt an in-display fingerprint reader. The reader will be buried under the display glass, allowing OnePlus to design a more seamless device. OnePlus has also said the device will drop the 3.5mm headphone jack, in favor of the USB-C port. Last, the OnePlus 6T will be the first device from OnePlus to be sold by a U.S. carrier. The company says T-Mobile has agreed to sell the OnePlus 6T once it becomes available. OnePlus is offering tickets to the event so fans of the brand can attend the launch. Fans who pay to attend the launch will receive a gift bag as well as a set of Bullets Wireless headphones.
The FCC is stripping power away from state and local governments in order to facilitate the installment of 5G infrastructure. This week the agency moved forward on an earlier proposal that sets limits on fees municipalities can charge for cell site applications, as well as the timeframe in which those applications need to be approved. Carriers must apply locally within towns, cities, and states to install new cell sites. Local governments can impede progress by denying permission to put up new sites for any number of reasons, as well as charge fees. Since 5G requires more cells in more locations, the FCC believes the process needs to change. To start, the FCC is setting limits on the fees that can be charged by municipalities for applications, processing the applications, and adjusting the right-of-way around such sites. The FCC is mandating that local governments charge no more than is reasonable. The FCC has also shortened the shot clocks afforded to local governments to weigh such applications. For example, new equipment that is to be added to existing cell sites will have a 60-day shot clock, and entirely new cell sites will have a 90-day shot clock. Local governments that charge onerous fees or sit on applications past the new 60- and 90-day windows will be presumed to be denying the applications and will need to have legitimate reasons prepared. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are all in various stages of building their 5G networks. This step by the FCC helps these companies at the expense of local governmental control. Earlier this year, the FCC made similar changes at the federal level.
MetroPCS is no more. T-Mobile is rebranding its prepaid service to Metro by T-Mobile. Along with the new name, Metro by T-Mobile will come with new service plans. First, Metro's existing $40 plan will double the amount of high-speed data allowed per month to 10 GB. Second, the new $50 plan allows for unlimited data and includes Google One for online cloud storage that's accessible from phones and PCs. Google One requires an Android device. Third, the $60 plan includes unlimited data, Google One, and Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime gives people access to quicker shipping and Amazon's content and media services, such as Amazon Video. The free Amazon Prime offer is only valid to new Amazon Prime subscribers. T-Mobile says Metro customers' data is prioritized below that of some T-Mobile customers, particularly when the network is congested. On all plans those customers who consume more than 35GB per month may notice reduced speeds due to prioritization. Video streams are capped at 480p. The name change and new rate plans will kick off officially in October.
Google and T-Mobile are working together to ensure that T-Mobile customers' location is more accurately pinpointed when calling 911 emergency services. About 80% of the annual 240 million 911 calls in the U.S. are made via cell phones. Where landlines can point to an exact address for emergency services, cell phones often provide only a general location that can be off by hundreds of feet. Google and T-Mobile have been looking to solve this problem for four years. Moving forward, Android devices running on T-Mobile's network will use the RapidSOS system. RapidSOS's internet protocol-based pipeline can share location data with 911 centers quickly and securely. This newer system integrates with 911 centers' existing software to more finely pinpoint location. This user location data cannot be used for non-emergency purposes and 911 centers will only have access to location during 911 emergency calls. RapidSOS is operating in about 1,000 of the country's 5,700 911 call centers. RapidSOS is available to all 911 centers, though there's no word on when the rest will adopt it. By law, wireless network operators are required to locate callers within 50 meters 80% of the time, but not until 2021. Google and T-Mobile claim RapidSOS reduces the average location radius from more than 500 feet down to 122 feet. This is within the range mandated by the FCC. Apple adopted RapidSOS with the release of iOS 12, allowing iPhones to provide similarly accurate location data to 911 call centers.
The Communications Workers of America believe the proposed Sprint/T-Mobile merger will lead to as many as 28,000 job loses nationwide. The union has written the attorneys general in all 50 states asking them to investigate the deal and weigh in on the pros and cons at a local level. The CWA, which has 700,000 members, has detailed which metro regions are likely to be most severely impacted and predicts the bulk of job losses will be due to retail store closures. The attorneys general of California and New York have already begun to look into the matter. In the letter, CWA President Christopher Shelton "expressed concern" that the deal would "result in substantial harm to consumers and employees." Sprint and T-Mobile insist they need to merge in order to better compete against market leaders AT&T and Verizon. T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Sprint President Marcelo Claure believe the merger will lead to more job gains than loses, though they admit some 3,200 retail jobs will likely be lost. The deal is still being reviewed by the FCC and Justice Department.
Don't expect to be able to use the same phone across 5G networks, at least in the early days, says AT&T. "It's not because there isn't a desire and we don't want to," explained Gordon Mansfield, AT&T's VP of radio networks and device design, to PCMag. Technical challenges are the roadblock that will prevent 5G roaming from the onset. Specifically, phones won't be able to contain the 28 GHz 5G radio used by Verizon and T-Mobile, and the 39 GHz 5G radio used by AT&T in a single device. This means the first 5G phones will likely be carrier exclusives. The same story played out when LTE 4G first launched, as network operators used disparate bands for their high-speed service. It wasn't until 4G radios began to support multiple bands that LTE roaming became a reality. Mansfield believes this scenario won't last too long with 5G. "As an industry, that will be very quickly overcome; I don't think the single band introduction from the millimeter-wave point of view will last very long," he said. AT&T's first 5G device, expected before the end of the year, will be a puck-style mobile hotspot. The carrier hasn't said when it will go on sale, nor how much it will cost. The company is also preparing 5G-enabled smartphones, though those aren't expected to reach the market until 2019.
The nation's four largest network operators recently provided an update on the progress being made by the Mobile Authentication Taskforce. In September 2017, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless agreed to work together in order to build a better way for people to log-in to apps and other services with their phone. This week, they announced Project Verify, which they contend will replace passwords with a "more secure, device-based, multi-factor authentication." With Project Verify, consumers will have control over what information they share through their device and what apps are allowed to access it. Once they've set up the initial handshake between their phone and their favorite apps and services, they will be logged in automatically. The Mobile Authorization Taskforce says user IDs will be backed by unique identifiers, including phone numbers, account type, account tenure, and SIM card data — all of which are protected by the mobile network's authentication protocols. Consumers' ID is verified via network intelligence that matches the SIM card to device owner data. The service can work with text- and email-based two-factor authentication methods when necessary. Users will need to protect their phone with a password, fingerprint, or other method to prevent others from easily accessing their apps and data. The carriers hope Project Verify will help prevent fraud and data breaches, while also helping people bypass the hassle of usernames and passwords. There's no word yet on when Project Verify will launch, nor what phones and carriers will be able to use the service.
Apple today announced that its new iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max will be the first to support dual SIM cards. Rather that include the space for two physical SIM cards in the iPhone Xs and Xs Max, the phones will include support for one physical SIM and one eSIM, an electronic SIM card that can be programmed with carrier service. The eSIM will not be accessible to those purchasing the Xs/Xs Max right away. Apple says an update to iOS 12 will enable the eSIM later this year. Using the eSIM and physical SIM together will not be as simple as it would be to use two physical SIM cards. "To use two different carriers, your iPhone must be unlocked," explained Apple on its web site. "Otherwise, both plans must be from the same carrier. If a CDMA carrier (Sprint or Verizon) provides your first SIM, your second SIM won't support CDMA." Apple says the eSIM can serve as your only cellular plan if you don't have access to a physical SIM card. Otherwise, the main cellular plan will be attached to the physical SIM and the second to the eSIM. Apple says with two active carrier accounts on a single iPhone, owners will be able to select primary and secondary accounts, set one for calls/texts and the other for data, or use both lines for calls, texts, and data. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon will support the eSIM, but Sprint will not. Apple warns that the eSIM may be disabled when purchased from some carriers.
Apple has realigned its roster of smartphones with the debut of the new iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and Xr. Moving forward, Apple's entry-level model is the iPhone 7 at $449 and the iPhone 7 Plus at $569. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus start at $599 and $699, respectively. Last year's iPhone X has been discontinued, as have the iPhone 5 SE and iPhone 6s. The iPhone Xs costs $999 for the 64 GB model, $1,149 for 256 GB, or $1,349 for 512 GB. The iPhone Xs Max costs $1,099 for the 64 GB model, $1,249 for 256 GB, or $1,449 for 512 GB. All these iPhones are available with service from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon Wireless, as well as unlocked with support for global GSM/LTE networks. The iPhone Xr costs $749 for 64 GB, $799 for 256 GB, or $899 for 512 GB. The Xr will not initially be sold unlocked and must be purchased with service from one of the four national carriers. Each iPhone ships with Lighting EarPods, a Lightning charging cable, and a 5W charger. They do not include Lightning-to-3.5mm adapters for standard headphones.
Samsung to Adopt Google's RCS-Based Messaging Platform So Samsung Messages and Android Messages Are Compatible
Owners of Samsung Galaxy phones will soon have access to a more powerful messaging app. Samsung says it is working more closely with Google to ensure that its own Samsung Messages app will work seamlessly with Google's Android Messages app. Samsung is integrating the Google- and GSMA-backed RCS standard within its own app. RCS offers features such as read receipts, group chats, typing indicators, and high-resolution photo/video sharing. To-date, these RCS-based features were only available to Google's Android Messages, meaning both the sender and recipient needed to use Android Messages. Eventually, these features will come to the Samsung Messages app and work between the two. The RCS features are dependent on network support and will only be available to customers on carriers that have deployed RCS. In the U.S., that includes Sprint and T-Mobile. Samsung is starting off slowly. It will first bring these features to the 2017-era Galaxy S8 and S8+, followed by the S8 Active, S9, S9+, Note8, Note9, and select A and J series running Android 9.0 or later. Eventually, new Galaxy phones will natively support RCS when they first go on sale. Samsung did not provide a timeline for deploying its RCS-based Samsung Messages App.
The FCC today announced that it's pushing back its own deadline for reviewing the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. The FCC says it needs additional time to review information submitted relatively late in the process, and it needs additional information not yet submitted by the companies. The information in question includes a revised and expanded engineering model, a detailed new business model called "Build 9", and additional economic modeling. The FCC's "informal 180-day shot clock" will resume once the necessary information is submitted.
T-Mobile today announced that it plans to spend $3.5 billion on networking equipment from Ericsson over the next few years. Ericsson will supply T-Mobile with its 3GPP-compliant 5G NR hardware and software for its 5G network. T-Mobile plans to use various spectrum bands for 5G, all of which can be covered by Ericsson’s equipment. In addition to powering 5G, T-Mobile will rely on Ericsson’s gear to bolster its LTE 4G network. T-Mobile’s existing Ericsson-supplied LTE base stations can eventually be upgraded to 5G NR with a software update. News of the T-Mobile’s deal with Ericsson comes as all the major network operators are scrambling to be the first to launch 5G. Each is taking a slightly different approach.
OnePlus says its next phone will allow people to unlock their phones by placing their finger directly on the display. The in-display fingerprint reader is expected to appear on the OnePlus 6T due later this year. Several devices already offer this feature, such as the Vivo 11, but they are reserved for overseas markets. By using a reader that's embedded in the display, OnePlus can recoup space in the chassis for other components. Even so, the 6T will be slightly thicker than the 6 as it moves the fingerprint reader from the rear to the display. "We unlock our phones multiple times a day, and Screen Unlock reduces the number of steps to complete the action," said OnePlus to CNET. "By adding this feature as an addition to other display unlocking options such as Face Unlock, users will have options to unlock the display in a way that is most efficient for them." Earlier this year, OnePlus said its next phone will be sold by T-Mobile, its first such carrier distribution deal in the U.S. The OnePlus 6T will likely make its debut in October.
Samsung today said it plans to sell the Galaxy A6 phone in the U.S. beginning September 14. The A6 is a mid-range phone that fills the gap between Samsung's entry-level J series and flagship S series phones. The A6 features a 5.6-inch Super AMOLED Infinity Display with HD+ resolution. The phone is powered by a Samsung Exynos 7884 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The A6 offers two 16-megapixel cameras, one on front and the other on back, each with its own LED flash. The rear camera has an aperture of f/1.7, while the front camera has an aperture of f/1.9. The camera app is able to use Samsung's Bixby Vision to identify items in the viewfinder as well as translate text. A 3,000mAh battery is sealed in the chassis, and the fingerprint reader is mounted on the rear panel. The phone includes good LTE support for T-Mobile thanks to Bands 66 and 71. Other radios include Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, NFC, and WiFi. The Galaxy S6 runs Android 8 Oreo and will be sold unlocked via Samsung.com for $360. Samsung says Sprint will also sell the phone on September 14, with other carriers to follow later. Carrier pricing may be different. Last, Samsung is making the Galaxy J3 and Galaxy J7 available on September 14 unlocked via Samsung.com for $170 and $250, respectively.
The FCC wants to ensure that wireless companies don't hit any unnecessary hurdles thrown in the way by state or local governments as they build out their 5G networks. As it works today, carriers typically have to apply locally within towns, cities, and states to install new cell sites. Local government can impede progress by denying permission to put up new sites for any number of reasons. Since future 5G will require more cells in more locations, the FCC believes the process needs to change. A new Declaratory Ruling and Report and Order seeks to establish new guidelines. For example, the FCC wants to set limits on the fees that can be charged by municipalities for applications, processing the applications, and adjusting the right-of-way around such sites. The FCC also wants to shorten the shot clocks afforded to local governments to weigh such applications. For example, it wants to see a 60-day approval window when carriers seek to adjust an existing cell site and a 90-day window for installing new cell sites. The Order will codify the existing 90 and 150 day shot clocks for larger wireless facility deployments. Local governments that don't comply with the new clocks will be presumed to be denying the applications and will need to have legit reasons prepared. "This is part of a national strategy to promote the timely buildout of this new infrastructure across the country by eliminating regulatory impediments that unnecessarily add delays and costs to bringing advanced wireless services to the public," argued the FCC. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wirless are all in various stages of building their 5G networks.
TCL today announced the BlackBerry KEY2 LE, a mass-market smartphone with a keyboard. The phone is a scaled back variant of the KEY2 with a new exterior. Gone is the rigid metal build and in its place is a polycarbonate frame with a soft-touch material on the rear surface. The KEY2 LE comes in three color combos: slate, champagne, and atomic red. The latter two have contrasting shades to give them more personality. The LE is less buttoned-down than the standard KEY2. The screen is the same size and resolution (4.5 inches, full HD) as the original. One area where TCL moved to cut costs was the keyboard. The keys are the same shape as those on the pricier KEY2, but the keyboard loses capacitive touch support. The phone is powered by a Qualcomm 636 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 32 or 64 GB of storage. A dual-camera system graces the rear of the phone and a selfie camera is on front. The main shooter is a 13-megapixel job at f/2.2 and the secondary sensor is a 5-megapixel job at f/2.4. Other hardware features include 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C, and the dedicated speed key on the keyboard. The phone has a 3,000mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0. Of note, TCL says the KEY2 LE will be compatible with more networks. It will be able to operate on Verizon's network as an LTE-only phone. It is also compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile. TCL has lined up a wide number of retail and carrier distribution points for the phone, which goes on sale for $399 / 32 GB and $449 / 64 GB at the end of September.
Altice, a cable TV provider, has asked the FCC to intervene in T-Mobile's $26 billion bid for Sprint. Altice plans to resell Sprint service beginning next year and fears the combined entity won't provide it with favorable terms. Moreover, Altice is "concerned about T-Mobile's willingness to support Altice's further expansion in the wireless market." Altice opposes the deal and has requested that the FCC not allow the merger to proceed. When asked for comment, Sprint and T-Mobile called Altice's actions "part of the normal FCC open comment process." Sprint and T-Mobile will have to file official responses to public comments on the merger by September 17.
Two different security flaws affecting the customers of AT&T and T-Mobile were revealed this week. The security gaps could have given hackers access to customer account PINs, which would in turn allow them to potentially hijack the customers' SIM cards. AT&T customers were left vulnerable by the insurance provider Asurion. When initiating claims through Asurion's web site, hackers could have gleaned PINs through a form that failed to have a limit on attempts to enter the PIN correctly. This opened the door for brute-force attacks. T-Mobile customers were left vulnerable by the Apple Store app on iPhones. The issue left an opening on a web page that bridged the Apple Store with T-Mobile's account verification system. Similar to the Asurion issue, the Apple Store didn't place a limit on the number of attempts for PIN entry. This also permitted a brute-force attack to guess the number. Both Asurion and Apple resolved the lapses after they were brought to their attention. The T-Mobile vulnerability left some 77 million customers exposed. The number of customers impacted at AT&T is not known. SIM hijacking allows hackers to essentially copy the identity of a legit phone that can then be used to verify identify in apps and services that used SMS-based two-factor authentication.
T-Mobile has informed some customers that a security breach may have exposed some of their personal data. T-Mobile's security team discovered that customer data was being accessed without permission on August 20 and shut down the operation. T-Mobile says credit card numbers, social security numbers, and passwords were not involved, but names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and account numbers were exposed. T-Mobile apologized for the breach and told customers they can contact the company to learn more if they wish. The incident impacted some 2.3 million T-Mobile postpaid and MetroPCS prepaid customers. T-Mobile reported the breach to authorities.
The FCC has denied a petition to stop the informal 180-day clock as it analyzes T-Mobile's proposed acquisition of Sprint. A number of organizations sought to stop the clock and delay the proceedings. Some of those in question include the Communications Workers of America, Rural Wireless Association, Public Knowledge, Free Press, and others. They argue T-Mobile and Sprint haven't provided enough information about how much spectrum the combined entity will control, and that the information the two have submitted was not in the proper format. T-Mobile and Sprint argued that all the information has been available since June and that the organization's reviewing the material can reformat it however they wish. The FCC sided with T-Mobile and Sprint, denying the motion. The agency's review of the transaction will move forward with the original dates. Petitions to deny currently are due on August 27, 2018. The clock is running.
T-Mobile will sell OnePlus' next flagship phone, the OnePlus 6T, in October according to CNET. OnePlus has said twice this year already that it is working with U.S. carriers. This would mark the first time OnePlus has scored a carrier distribution deal in the U.S. To-date, OnePlus has marketed and sold its phones to U.S. consumers online. Citing people familiar with the company's plans, CNET reports that OnePlus will create a version of the 6T specifically for T-Mobile's network, including support for T-Mobile's 600 MHz spectrum (Band 71). The 6T will still be sold online unlocked with support for either AT&T or T-Mobile, in addition to global carriers. Pricing for the phone is expected to be around $550. Other features of the phone were not revealed. OnePlus releases two phones each year. The OnePlus 6 arrived in May and the company's second phone is expected in the October timeframe.
T-Mobile today said it is prepared to reward its customers with music via the T-Mobile Tuesday app. On August 28, T-Mobile customers will be able to score 12 months of free Pandora Plus. Pandora Plus offers an ad-free listening experience with unlimited skips. Further, T-Mobile has partnered with Live Nation to offer customers "exclusive $25 tickets to amphitheater shows, reserved seats in sold-out sections" and more. T-Mobile says the tickets will become available 30 days before the show. The company says it will also offer fast-lane entry, lawn chairs, and other exclusive perks.
T-Mobile today said it is investing in serving its customers through a new model that bypasses voice-based systems in favor of a direct connection with real people. The Team of Experts idea includes a dedicated team that handles customer support issues with no robots, no phone menus, and no call bouncing. T-Mobile considers customer service a "pain point" that needs to be fixed. The company says the team sits together in its call centers and will work together to resolve customer problems. Customers can schedule calls, use text messaging, and access help 24 hours a day. T-Mobile's U.S.-based team will answer calls between 7am and 9pm local time, while overseas representatives will answer calls during the overnight hours. The Team of Experts is free for all T-Mobile customers to access when they need assistance with their account or device.
All the major carriers in the U.S. plan to sell the Samsung Galaxy Note9 when it becomes available August 24. Each has a different offer on hand to entice consumers to buy the phone.
- AT&T: AT&T is asking customers to pay $33.34 per month for 30 months for the $999.99 128 GB version of the Note9. For a limited time, customers who buy the Note9 can get a second Note9 or Galaxy S9/S9+ for free when the phones are financed on an installment plan.
- Sprint: Sprint customers can get the Note9 for half off for a limited time, which puts monthly payments on the Sprint Flex Lease at $20.83. Customers who opt for the Galaxy Forever plan can upgrade to a new phone after completing 12 monthly payments. Sprint's deal includes the AKG headphones and/or Fortnite V-bucks.
- T-Mobile: The Uncarrier is asking customers to make a downpayment of $280 for the 128 GB Note9 and then pay $30 per month for 24 months. The 512 GB Note9 will require a $530 down payment followed by 24 months of payment at $30 each. For a limited time, T-Mobile is offering 50% off the price with a qualifying Samsung trade-in. The price will be reduced via the monthly payments.
- U.S. Cellular: The carrier is offering $150 in bill credits to those who buy the Galaxy Note9 with a new line of service.
- Verizon Wireless: Big Red is asking for $41.66 per month for 24 months for the 128 GB model and $52.08 per month for 24 months for the 512 GB model. For a limited time, customers who initiate a new line of service and buy one Note9 on a monthly plan can score a free 128 GB Note9, or Galaxy S9/S9+. Verizon's deal includes the AKG headphones and/or Fortnite V-bucks.
Preorders for the Samsung Galaxy Note9 kick off on August 10. The 128 GB capacity variant will be available in blue and lavender from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, U.S Cellular, and Xfinity for $999.99. Samsung will sell an unlocked version of the phone on its web site. The device will also be available from Amazon, Best Buy, CostCo, Sam’s Club, StraightTalk Wireless, Target, and Walmart. The 512 GB model will be available from AT&T, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless, but not Sprint for $1,249.99 The Galaxy Note9 streets August 24.
T-Mobile today announced T-Mobile Essentials, a low-cost plan that drops many of T-Mobile's extra services and focuses on the basics. T-Mobile Essentials offers unlimited talk, text, and smartphone data for $60 per month for one line. The second line costs $30 per month, and lines three through six are $15 each. A family of four can score T-Mobile Essentials for $120 per month (before taxes and fees), or an average cost of $30 per line. These prices require autopay, otherwise each line is $5 more per month. The Essentials plan does not include mobile hotspot, international roaming, or Netflix. Subscribers to the Essentials plan will experience 480p video streaming, and may see data speeds slow down when the network is congested. The Essentials plan will be available starting August 10. The T-Mobile One and T-Mobile One Plus plans are still available. These add features, such as mobile hotspot, at a higher monthly cost.
Asus recently revealed the ZenFone Live L1, a Best Buy exclusive that runs Google's Android Go platform. Android 8 Oreo Go is a pared-down version of Android that's able to run on devices with limited memory. The Live L1 features a 5.5-inch LCD screen with HD+ resolution at an 18:9 aspect ratio. The phone is powered by a 1.4 GHz Snapdragon 425 processor, which is paired with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. The Live L1 supports memory cards up to 1 TB. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor, while the selfie camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Other features include a 3,000mAh battery, Bluetooth, WiFi, FM radio, and microUSB. The phone accommodates up to two SIM cards and functions on GSM/LTE networks such as those operated by AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS. Best Buy is selling the Asus ZenFone Live L1 unlocked for $109.99.
T-Mobile today added to its lineup of mid-range phones with the LG Q7+, a phone that looks like LG's Stylo 4, but is smaller and higher-end in a number of ways. The Q7+ has a 5.5-inch display, (compared to the 6.2-inch display on the Stylo 4.) LG's Q series is intended to bring the premium design of the G series — including a 2:1 display and a metal frame — to lower price points. The Q7+ is rated IP68 for water resistance. It pairs a Snapdragon 450processor with a generous 4 GB of RAM. Other features include FHD+ screen resolution, NFC, fingerprint reader, 16-megapixel camera, USB-C, fast charging, 3.5mm audio jack, and a memory card slot. T-Mobile is selling it for $350.
Amazon has made the LG Stylo 4, a rebadged variant of the LG Q Stylus, available via its web site as a Prime Exclusive. Prime Exclusives are offered at slightly lower prices than retail and include a variety of Amazon apps and services preinstalled. The Stylo 4 includes a stylus and has a metal body with mil-spec 810G for protection against abuse and IP68 protection against water and dust. The Stylo 4 has a 6.2-inch screen with LG's 2:1 Full Vision (2,160 x 1,080) resolution. The phone is powered by a 1.8 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 450 processor with 3 GB of memory and 32 GB of storage. The phone comes with a 13-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel front camera with a wide-angle lens. The Stylo 4 has a 3,300mAh battery and specs including USB-C, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, wifi, and LTE 4G. The fingerprint scanner is located on the rear surface. The phone ships with Android 8 Oreo and LG's pen-based software tools, such as memos and notes. Amazon is selling the LG Stylo 4 unlocked with support for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. (The phone is already being sold by Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS.) Amazon is charging $249.99, a savings of $50.
Verizon Wireless today said that Houston will join Los Angeles and Sacramento as one of its launch markets for 5G. This particular deployment will be fixed residential 5G broadband service. Verizon is testing a number of different technologies for its forthcoming 5G network, including millimeter wave. Verizon and its carrier competitors are all racing to be first to deploy 5G, with AT&T and T-Mobile also targeting late 2018 launches. Initial rollouts will include fixed broadband service, with mobile service to follow. Qualcomm recently announced new wireless antennas that make mobile 5G a possibility on phones. Phones with 5G may reach the market as soon as the first half of 2019. AT&T has gone on the record saying its first mobile 5G device with be a puck, or mobile hotspot.
T-Mobile today updated its Simple Global plan, expanding the number of countries in which customers can access service. T-Mobile customers have long been able to use unlimited (2G) data and texting in more than 140 countries. Beginning July 22, that number swells to more than 210 countries. The company is also making high-speed data available in those same countries for a low daily rate. Beginning August 1, T-Mobile customers can pay $5 per day for up to 512 MB of LTE data and unlimited calling between all Simple Global countries. Simple Global is included in all T-Mobile One plans.
Vivo today announced that its all-screen NEX flagship phone will be launching this month in Russia, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, making it available in the global unlocked market. The international model supports LTE bands 2/4/5/12/25/26/41, meaning basic support for AT&T and T-Mobile networks, as well as full support for the CDMA and LTE bands used by Sprint. The NEX has a truly all-screen design. To avoid employing a notch, the speaker and fingerprint reader are both built into the screen, and the 8-megapixel selfie camera slides up from the top of the phone when in use. The AMOLED screen measures 6.59 inches and has FHD+ (2316x1080) resolution. The premium model is powered by a top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor paired with 8 GB of RAM. The battery is large at 4,000 mAh. The 12-megapixel main camera features 4-axis optical stabilization and a secondary 5-megapixel sensor. It's available with either 128 or 256 GB of internal storage. A cheaper NEX model has the same all-screen design, but a standard fingerprint reader on the back, a Qualcomm 710 processor, 6 GB of RAM, and no support for Sprint bands.
OnePlus hopes to distribute its phones through carriers in the U.S., reports PCMag. OnePlus CEO and founder Pete Lau told PCMag that the company is holding discussions with U.S. carriers, though it didn't specify which ones. Moreover, the company plans to release a 5G phone next year, which will coincide with the expected launch of 5G service in the U.S. For the moment, OnePlus sells its phones unlocked on the open market. Its most recent device, the OnePlus 6, includes support for AT&T and T-Mobile. OnePlus said its good working relationship with Qualcomm has helped pave its path towards 5G.
The Attorney General's office from New York is investigating if and how T-Mobile's proposed merger with Sprint might impact the MVNO and prepaid markets. Sprint and T-Mobile separately serve the prepaid space via their own Boost Mobile and MetroPCS brands, respectively, as well as MVNOs, such as Google-run Project Fi. With reduced competition, the New York attorney general is concerned that the tie-up between the two companies could lead to higher prices for prepaid consumers. Dozens of other states are participating in the probe, says the Wall Street Journal. This investigation mirrors a separate one underway with the U.S. Department of Justice, which has similar concerns. The $26 billion deal was proposed earlier this year and would see the nation's third- and fourth-largest carriers become one. Antitrust investigations are normal for such deals. Sprint and T-Mobile defended the deal in front on Congress on Wednesday. The companies insist the deal will create jobs and ensure the combined entity can compete with AT&T and Verizon.
KaiOS says Google has agreed to invest $22 million in its light-weight mobile operating system. The investment from Google follows commitments made earlier this year by Google, Facebook, and Twitter to support the platform. "This funding will help us fast-track development and global deployment of KaiOS-enabled smart feature phones, allowing us to connect the vast population that still cannot access the internet, especially in emerging markets," said Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies. KaiOS is already available on a number of low-cost phones, including Nokia's 8110 5G "banana" phone and the Doro Phone 7050. KaiOS says it is working with other manufacturers, including TCL, HMD Global, and Micromax, and that it has partnerships with carriers including AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Beyond the investment, Google plans to bring Google Assistant, Google Maps, YouTube, and Google Search to KaiOS. Google said it is "excited to work with KaiOS to further improve access to information for feature phone users around the world."
T-Mobile today rolled out FamilyMode, a new service that gives parents more control over how their kids use smartphones and other connected devices. The service has two components, the FamilyMode app and the FamilyMode Home Base, an in-home box that connects to WiFi. With just the FamilyMode app, parents can manage usage time, set limits, filter apps and content, set bedtime hours, create geo-fences, and always access real-time location. The app controls phones' access to T-Mobile's cellular network independently of the Home Base. The Home Base is not required to run the service just on phones. The optional Home Base is specifically meant for in-home devices that rely on WiFi. T-Mobile says the app and Home Base together work with phones, tablets, gaming consoles, laptops, TVs, and other WiFi-connected devices. Using the FamilyMode app costs $10 per month. The Home Base can be added to manage WiFi devices for a one-time fee of $20. It will be available starting June 29.
Following moves made earlier in the day by Verizon and AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have now said they also will cease sharing customer location data with certain third-party apps and services. Sprint said it is "beginning the process of terminating its current contracts with data aggregators to whom we provide location data." T-Mobile CEO John Legere tweeted, "I've personally evaluated this issue & have pledged that @tmobile will not sell customer location data to shady middlemen." The matter rose to attention after some third-party location brokers left the real-time data of millions of customers unprotected. Lawmakers called for change and today's responses appear to be it.