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T-Mobile Debuts 3-Year Device Payment Plan

Wednesday, 11:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Samsung Says Foldable Phone to Act Like Tablet

Oct 12, 2018, 7:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung's forthcoming foldable phone will perform like a tablet when unfolded, and like a phone when folded, according to Samsung mobile chief D.J. Koh. When in tablet configuration, the device will support side-by-side multitasking for power users. "When we deliver a foldable phone, it has to be really meaningful to our customer," said Koh to CNET at the recent launch of the Samsung Galaxy A9. "If the user experience is not up to my standard, I don't want to deliver those kind of products." Koh went on to say he believes the product has staying power and won't be a gimmick that vanishes just months after it reaches the market. The phone will be made available globally. Folding phones have struggled in the modern smartphone era. The Kyocera Echo and ZTE Axon M failed to resonate with consumers. Koh believes Samsung's phone has what it takes to survive. "Possibly when we start selling the foldable phone, it may be a niche market, but definitely, it will expand," said Koh. "I'm positive that we do need a foldable phone." Koh has hinted strongly that the device will arrive this year. It's possible Samsung will use its upcoming developer conference, scheduled for November, as a launch point for the phone.


Fortnite for Android No Longer Requires An Invitation

Oct 11, 2018, 1:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Epic Games today made its popular Fortnite game available without an invitation. The app has been available in beta since August, though an invite was required for access. Epic Games has dropped the need for an invitation and most anyone can download the game. Fortnite is not available in the Google Play Store. Instead, people interested in the game will need to go to Epic's web site to download an installer. The installer then puts the game on the phone. The game started as an exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy Note9 and was later discovered to have a major security flaw in the installer (since patched). Fortnite is best played on high-end devices that have Android 8 Oreo installed. Some compatible phones include the Samsung Galaxy S7, S8, and S9 series; all Google Pixel phones; the LG G5, G6, G7, V20, and V30; the Asus ROG Phone and 5Z; the Essential Phone; the Huawei Mate 10, Mate 10 Pro, Honor 10, and Honor Play; the OnePlus 5, 5T, and 6; the HTC 10, U Ultra, U11+, U12+; the Sony Xperia XZ1, XZ2, and XZ3 series; as well as a handful of others from Xiaomi, ZTE, Nokia, and Lenovo.


Samsung Galaxy A9 Adopts 4-Camera Configuration

Oct 11, 2018, 7:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has announced the Galaxy A9, a mid-range device that is among the first to include a four-camera array on the rear panel. The stand-out feature is this camera, which includes wide, telephoto, and normal lenses, as well as a depth-of-field camera. The wide-angle lens has an 8-megapixel sensor at f/2.4, the 2x optical zoom telephoto lens has a 10-megapixel sensor at f/2.4, the main camera has a 24-megapixel sensor at f/1.7, and the depth camera has a 5-megapixel sensor at f/2.2. Samsung says these cameras allow people to flex their creative muscles. Software such as Scene Optimizer and Portrait Mode help expand and improve imaging. The front camera has a 24-megapixel sensor. The Galaxy A9 has a 6.3-inch full HD+ AMOLED display, octa-core processor, 6 or 8 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of storage. It supports memory cards up to 512 GB. Other specs include a 3,800mAh battery, fingerprint reader, NFC and Samsung Pay, dual-band WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth 5.0, and Cat 9 LTE. The phone runs Android 8 Oreo and includes Bixby and Samsung Health. It goes on sale in select markets starting in November. Pricing was not disclosed.


CVS Gives up on Mobile Payment App

Oct 9, 2018, 11:44 AM   by Rich Brome

One of the nation's largest retail chains has finally given up on its own mobile payment solution in favor of industry-standard mobile payments. CVS announced today that it now accepts contactless payments using Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay at all locations. It was among the last major national chains to resist standard NFC payment platforms. The company will retire its CVS Pay app on October 15th. CVS previously accepted Apple Pay, but disabled support in 2014 so it it could develop CVS Pay, which launched in 2016. Apple announced just a few weeks ago that Apple Pay support was expanding this year to CVS, 7-Eleven, and Costco.


Sprint Slowly Rolling Out VoLTE to Several Samsung Phones

Oct 4, 2018, 8:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint has begun offering customers VoLTE service. VoLTE allows for higher-quality voice connections when the call is passed over the LTE data network, rather than the legacy voice network. VoLTE has been available from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless for years. Sprint already offers a high-quality VoIP service called Calling Plus. Sprint's new VoLTE service replaces Calling Plus, which is being phased out. "Before we do updates market-by-market on various devices, we are alerting Calling Plus customers so they can decide whether to continue using the feature until our VoLTE launch is complete," said Sprint in a statement provided to The Verge. Right now, VoLTE is only availably to the Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+, and S8 Active. It is limited to just 15 markets, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, Indianapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Sprint did not say how quickly VoLTE will be made available to additional phones and markets.


AT&T Expands '5G Evolution' Footprint to 99 More Markets

Oct 4, 2018, 7:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said it has launched what it calls 5G Evolution in 99 new markets, bringing the total of pre-5G markets to 239. AT&T is on track to reach its goal of 400 markets by the end of the year, and nationwide coverage during the first half of 2019. The company says its 5G Evolution technology — which is not 5G NR — can deliver theoretical speeds up to 400 Mbps to properly equipped phones. AT&T expects to launch true 5G mobile service in a dozen markets by the end of the year, with another seven joining the list in early 2019. Further, AT&T has expanded its LTE-LAA footprint to parts of 20 markets and expects to reach 24 by December. LTE-LAA can push speeds to a theoretical max of 1 Gbps. A handful of phones sold by AT&T are LTE-LAA capable, including the Samsung Galaxy S8, S9, S8+, S9+, Note8, Note9, and S8 Active, as well as the LG V30 and V35, the Motorola Moto Z2 Force Edition, and the Netgear Nighthawk Mobile Router. AT&T's first real 5G NR mobile device will be a mobile hotspot.


Samsung Wants Developers to Put the Note9's S Pen to Use

Oct 2, 2018, 2:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today made its S Pen SDK available to app developers. The company announced the SDK earlier this year. Developers will be able to use the tools in the SDK to create custom apps or actions that center on the Galaxy Note9's S Pen stylus. Critically, Samsung added Bluetooth to the S Pen for the Note9, which opens up a wide range of possibilities for developers. For example, the S Pen button can be set to respond to a single or double press to interact with an app's features. Further, the S Pen Remote allows users to control their Note9 from afar. Adding remote triggering to camera apps and similar can improve the overall experience of using apps with the Note9 and S Pen. The SDK is free for developers to download and use.


Samsung to Bring Black and Silver Note9 Models to the US

Sep 27, 2018, 9:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said U.S. consumers will soon be able to purchase the black and silver variants of the Galaxy Note9. The silver will become available on October 5 as a U.S. exclusive. It will only be sold from Best Buy and Samsung. The 128 GB black Note9 will reach Best Buy, Samsung, and carrier stores October 9 with the 512 GB model to follow October 26. The lavender and blue models have been available since August.


AT&T Rolls Out Connected Car Product with Harman

Sep 25, 2018, 7:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and Harman this week launched the Harman Spark, a module that brings safety and security features to cars. The Spark plugs into a car's OBD II port and connects to AT&T's LTE network. Some of the functions include emergency crash assistance, wherein owners will receive a call if the module detects a crash, as well as a roadside assistance manager for help hailing and paying for a tow truck. A virtual mechanic provides alerts and guidance when it detects problems with the car, and can contact car owners if the car is bumped, moved, towed, or stolen. Other features include geofences to set boundaries for novice drivers, family/fleet management with real-time location sharing, in-car mobile hotspot for up to eight devices, and parking reservations to secure a spot in advance. Last, the module offers driving feedback after analyzing driver behavior. AT&T says the Harman Spark costs $80 on its own, or $30 when purchased alongside a Samsung Galaxy S9, S9+, or Note9. Service costs either $10 or $20 per month, depending on whether or not the Spark is being added to an existing wireless account. The Harman Spark goes on sale Sept. 28. Verizon Wireless sells a similar product called the Hum.


Samsung Calls It a Day On Samsung Call Stickers

Sep 20, 2018, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has begun notifying customers that starting December 17, 2018, they'll no longer be able to send Call Stickers via their Samsung's phone application. Call Stickers, introduced with the Galaxy S8 and S8+, allowed people to send stickers as their caller ID when calling other Samsung devices. Similarly, people with Samsung phones to reject calls with a sticker. Samsung says customers who have purchased Call Stickers through the Galaxy App Store can request compensation for their purchase as long as the request is filed before June 15, 2019. Samsung thanked its customers for using Call Stickers. Samsung sold off the Call Stickers business earlier this year.


Samsung Intros the Galaxy A7 with 3 Rear Cameras

Sep 20, 2018, 7:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the Galaxy A7, an addition to its mid-range roster that is the first to feature three cameras on the back. The triple-camera array includes a 24-megapixel main sensor at f/1.7, an 8-megapixel wide-angle sensor at f/2.4, and a 5-megapixel depth-sensing camera at f/2.2 for bokeh and other effects. The camera has the ability to detect scenes and adjust automatically to create better photos. The A7 relies on a metal-and-glass design and features an Infinity Display measuring 6 inches with full HD+ resolution on front. Dolby Atmos ensures the A7 delivers a great sound experience. A 2.2 GHz octa-core processor powers the phone, which ships with either 4 or 6 GB of RAM and 64 or 128 GB of storage. It has a 3,300mAh battery and a slew of radios, including Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi, GPS, NFC, and Cat 6 LTE. The fingerprint reader is located on the side edge and a 24-megapixel selfie camera on front allows for Selfie Focus shots with studio effects and Samsung's AR emoji. Samsung plans to sell the Galaxy A7 in Asian markets first, followed by European and other markets. Samsung didn't say if it intends to bring the A7 to the U.S., and the company didn't specify which LTE bands the phone supports. Samsung recently launched the Galaxy A6 in the U.S.


Samsung and Disney Partner Up on More AR Emoji

Sep 19, 2018, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has made several new AR Emoji characters available to the Galaxy S9, S9+, and Note9. The new animated emoji come from Disney's movie Zootopia and include Judy Hopps, Nick Wilde, and Flash. These characters join others such as Disney classics Mickey and Minnie, as well as several from Frozen and The Incredibles. Samsung's AR Emoji allow people to animate avatars with their own facial expressions to create unique messages. The new characters are available from the camera app and the Galaxy Apps Store.


Apple Gear Spared from Trump's Tariffs for Now

Sep 18, 2018, 8:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Apple iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods are not among the list of products that will be subject to a new 10% tariff directed against imports from China. The tariff, levied by President Donald Trump, covers some $200 billion of goods shipped into the U.S. Apple had feared its products would be among those hit with the tariff, but it has been spared. FitBit said its products were spared from this round of tariffs, as well, but some Cisco, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard components necessary for cloud computing equipment do fall on the list of taxed products. The 10% tariff goes into effect September 24, and rises to 25% on January 1, 2019. Trump has threatened to expand the tariffs to an additional $267 billion worth of goods. In that case, Apple's products would no longer be exempt from the added fees, nor would the phones from Samsung, LG, and most other manufacturers. Tariffs are generally viewed as a tax on consumers, as they often result in higher prices on goods.


Cricket Offering Galaxy S9 Promo and Open Enrollment for Insurance

Sep 14, 2018, 9:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today announced several promotions timed with the arrival of the fall season. First up, customers who open a new line of service with Cricket and port in their number can buy the Samsung Galaxy S9 for $499, a savings of $120 off the regular price. Alternately, new customers can snag the LG Fortune 2 for free. This offer is available through November 8. Cricket is offering four lines of "unlimited data" for $100 per month. This plan includes 22 GB of high-speed data, after which the speeds may be slowed down when the network is congested. Cricket's network allows for maximum download speeds of 3 Mbps, with video streams capped at 1.5 Mbps, or standard definition. Last, Cricket is offering customers the opportunity to enroll in Cricket Protect. Cricket's insurance program includes quick and convenient phone replacements and covers broken glass and water damage. Cricket Protect costs $7 per month. The program is automatically offered to people when they buy a new device. The open enrollment lets people who don't have insurance sign up for the program. Cricket says people seeking to add their phone to Cricket Protect will need to bring their device to a local Cricket store for a quick inspection. The open enrollment period lasts through November 8.


Samsung Health Refreshed with New UI, More Personalization

Sep 12, 2018, 8:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced Samsung Health 6.0, a revitalized version of its personal health and fitness app for Samsung phones. Samsung says the app includes a new user interface, new tracking tools, and new personalization features to customize the experience. Samsung simplified the UI so it focuses on the user's personal needs, habits, and priorities. The app features a new Together tab, which lets people share photos and fitness milestones with friends. It also opens a window to Samsung's worldwide community of health and fitness fans where people can collaborate and even participate in global challenges. The refreshed Discover tab is where users can fine-tune their knowledge by surfacing articles, programs, and compatible partner apps. It includes a storefront through which people can buy wearables, accessories, and other fitness products. Samsung Health is also taking a leap forward on Samsung's smartwatches. Samsung says the new Samsung Health interface provides more at-a-glance information, such as heart rate, GPS data, and workout countdown. Users can track 39 different exercises on all Samsung devices, while the latest Samsung Galaxy Watch can track these same exercises automatically. Samsung Health on Samsung wearables also provides new wellness and stress management features, such as a sleep stage detector and breathing exercise program. The new version of Samsung Health is available via the Google Play Store or the Galaxy Apps Store.


Samsung to Adopt Google's RCS-Based Messaging Platform So Samsung Messages and Android Messages Are Compatible

Sep 12, 2018, 7:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Samsung Brings Galaxy A6 to the US for $360

Sep 7, 2018, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Android's September Security Patches Are Here

Sep 4, 2018, 12:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today detailed the September security patches for Android devices. The company says it discovered a number of vulnerabilities impacting the Android runtime, framework, media framework, and system software. It also found component-level issues with hardware from Qualcomm. Most issues were given a severity rating of "high" but a significant number were listed as "critical." Many could have led to remote code execution. Google says it informed its hardware partners about the issues about 30 days ago. Google does not believe any of the security holes have been exploited by hackers. Google is pushing two updates to its Nexus and Pixel phones, dated September 1 and September 5. It will be up to individual device makers (Samsung, Motorola, et al.) to update their own hardware with the latest patches. Google will provide AOSP with the patches within 48 hours.


Samsung's Foldable Phone Is Real and May Arrive This Year

Sep 4, 2018, 7:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung is hard at work completing a phone with a foldable screen and the device might be announced as soon as November, reports CNBC. Samsung has been working on foldable screen technology for years, but mobile chief DJ Koh told CNBC that now "it's time to deliver." Koh did not provide any hard details about the device, but said the company is working to create an experience that's different from a tablet when the phone is unfolded. Unlike old flip phones, which had a hinge and screen on one half of the device, this phone would feature a screen that bends more like a wallet so when people open it they can take advantage of a larger screen. "You can use most of the uses ... on foldable status. But when you need to browse or see something, then you may need to unfold it. But even unfolded, what kind of benefit does that give compared to the tablet? If the unfolded experience is the same as the tablet, why would [consumers] buy it?" said Koh. "So every device, every feature, every innovation should have a meaningful message to our end customer. So when the end customer uses it, [they think] 'wow, this is the reason Samsung made it'." Samsung's developer conference is scheduled for November and it's possible the company will use that event as a platform to announce its foldable phone.


Samsung to Shift Strategy, Bring New Features to Mid-Range Phones First

Sep 4, 2018, 7:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung is rethinking how it develops phones and plans to make a significant change in strategy. Moving forward, the company will introduce the newest features to devices at the $400 price point, such as the Galaxy A series, rather than to flagship models such as the Galaxy S or Note. "In the past, I brought the new technology and differentiation to the flagship model and then moved to the mid-end. But I have changed my strategy from this year to bring technology and differentiation points starting from the mid-end," said Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh in an interview with CNBC. The new, cutting edge features will appear on a mid-range phone by the end of the year, according to Koh. Part of the thinking behind this change is due to the slowdown in sales of high-end models, which are too costly for many people. "So we are very much focusing on millennials who cannot afford the flagship," continued Koh. "But how can I deliver meaningful innovation to our millennials? That's the reason I'm trying to differentiate the mid-section." Samsung also needs to find a way to compete with Chinese rivals, including Huawei and Xiaomi, which have a plethora of good phones available at affordable prices.


Galaxy J2 Core Is Samsung's First Android Go Phone

Aug 24, 2018, 7:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the J2 Core, a low-cost phone based on the Android Go platform. This device relies on design language similar to Samsung's pricier phones. It features a 5-inch display with 960 by 540 resolution. The J2 Core is powered by a Samsung Exynos 7570 processor and it has 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of built-in storage. Two cameras are aboard the J2 Core, including an 8-megapixel shooter on back with a flash and a 5-megapixel shooter on front. Both cameras have an aperture of f/2.2 and tools such as beauty mode. The phone packs a 2,600mAh battery and includes Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi. The Android Oreo Go operating system includes compact versions of key apps, such as Google Go, Assistant Go, YouTube Go, Gboard, Chrome, Maps Go, Files Go, Gmail Go, and Google Play. The phone will initially go on sale in Malaysia, and will eventually spread to other markets. Samsung has not announced plans to offer the Galaxy J2 Core in the U.S.


Samsung Says Samsung Pay Now Available On 6 Continents

Aug 21, 2018, 8:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung Pay has launched mobile payments in South Africa, bringing the total number of markets served to 24 across six continents. Samsung has partnered with some 2,000 banking and financial institutions to serve as many people as possible. Samsung Pay supports online purchases in 15 markets, transit cards in five markets, loyalty and membership cards in 20 markets, ATM transactions in five markets, and Samsung Rewards in 10 markets. Samsung Pay has been integrated into Samsung's Bixby voice assistant, allowing people to make purchases at some merchants with a voice request. Samsung Pay relies on both NFC and MST (magnetic stripe) technology, which makes it compatible with more payments terminals than an NFC-only service such as Apple Pay. Samsung says Samsung Pay has surpassed 1.3 billion transactions. The tap-and-go functionality is available to the new Samsung Galaxy Note9 and Galaxy Watch, as well as many of Samsung's older high-end phones.


Apple Pay Expands to Costco Warehouse Stores

Aug 21, 2018, 7:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

All 750 of Costco's U.S. stores now accept Apple Pay at the register. The company had been testing Apple Pay at a small number of stores since earlier this year. Costco completed the Apple Pay rollout on August 10. Costco is working to bring Apple Pay to its store-based gas stations, too, but has only gone live in a few locations. "We've added additional mobile payment options to make your next visit more convenient," said Costco in a statement provided to MacRumors. "Costco members can now use Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and Samsung Pay at U.S. Costco locations." Apple Pay will arrive at CVS and 7-Eleven stores later this year.


Update from Samsung Tweaks Note9's Slow-Motion Settings

Aug 20, 2018, 7:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung is pushing a small update to the Galaxy Note9 that introduces new options in the camera application. Before the update, the Note9 was limited to taking 0.2 seconds of 960fps slow-motion footage in manual mode. After the update, owners can alternately elect to record 0.4 seconds of 480fps slow-motion. The update also installs the August security patch from Google. The Note9 goes on sale August 24, so this update will likely be waiting for most people when they first turn on the device.


Samsung Develops Its Own 5G Modem

Aug 15, 2018, 8:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has announced the Exynos Modem 5100 for mobile devices with support for the 5G New Radio standard (3GPP release 15) in both sub-6 GHz and mmWave bands. Samsung says the Exynos 5100 is built using a 10nm process. The company claims to have successfully conducted an over-the-air 5G NR test with the modem using a 5G base station. It handles legacy networks, such as 2G GSM/CDMA, 3G WCDMA, HSPA, and LTE along with the 5G standard. Samsung says the modem delivers download speeds up to 2 Gbps in sub-6 GHz settings and 6 Gbps in mmWave settings. The Exynos 5100 is capable of achieving 1.6 Gbps via LTE 4G. Samsung says the Exynos Modem 5100 also includes envelope tracking, radio frequency IC, and power management solutions. It will be available to hardware makers by the end of the year. Phones with integrated 5G are not expected until 2019.


Here's What U.S. Carriers are Charging for the Samsung Galaxy Note9

Aug 10, 2018, 8:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


YouTube Highlights Phones with the Best Screens for Video

Aug 10, 2018, 7:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

YouTube has begun to recognize what it calls Signature Devices, or phones that deliver the best-in-class experience for YouTube content. YouTube says these phones have the latest technology and provide optimal viewing. In order to qualify as a Signature Device, a phone must include features such as high dynamic range, 4K, 360 video, reliable DRM performance, and a high frame rate. YouTube says it has worked with select manufacturers to verify a handful of Signature Devices. They include the new Samsung Galaxy Note9, as well as the S8, S8+, Note8, S9, and S9+; the LG V30 and G7 ThinQ; the Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium, XZ2, and XZ2 Compact; the HTC U12+; the Huawei Mate 10 Pro; the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S and Mi 8; the HMD Global Nokia 8 Sirocco; the OnePlus 6; and the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. People who own these devices don't need to do anything in order to enjoy a good YouTube experience. YouTube will add devices to the list over time.


Hands On with the Samsung Galaxy Watch

Aug 9, 2018, 12:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung debuted a new smartwatch in Brooklyn called the Galaxy Watch. This Tizen-based wearable has a classier air about it when compared to last year's Gear S3. Here are our first thoughts about Samsung's latest smart device.

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Samsung Signs New Partnership with Spotify

Aug 9, 2018, 11:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung devices will feature Spotify as the default music service moving forward thanks to a new partnership between the two companies. Samsung Galaxy phone owners will be guided through the process of signing up for Spotify out of the box. People will be able to access Spotify not only on their phones, but also Samsung’s tablets, smart TVs and other products. The service supports seamless listening as people move about their day, transitioning between devices at home, on the road, or in the office. Samsung didn’t say if Spotify will be preloaded on the Galaxy Note9.


Samsung Shows Off Galaxy Home, a Bixby-Powered Speaker

Aug 9, 2018, 10:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today unveiled a smart speaker for the home. The Galaxy Home is powered by Bixby and Samsung’s Smart Hub technology. Speaking the “Hi Bixby” catchphrase wakes the speaker thanks to eight microphones. It can handle requests, such as accessing playlists and controlling smart home technology. There are multiple speakers and a built-in subwoofer for rich sound. It relies on natural sound processing to produce a stereo effect. Samsung said more information about Galaxy Home will be shared during the Samsung developer conference later this year.


Samsung Debuts New Galaxy Watch with Multi-Day Battery

Aug 9, 2018, 10:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 9, 2018, 12:26 PM

Samsung today announced the Galaxy Watch. It includes the company’s signature circular, rotating bezel. It comes in two sizes, 42mm and 46mm in rose gold, silver, and black. The Galaxy Watch is powered by a Samsung-made Exynos processor and it comes with 4 GB go storage. The wearable is water resistant (for swimming) and is rugged for protection from drops and other abuse. One variant will come with LTE for constant connectivity. Samsung says it is compatible with most worldwide LTE bands. The company says the new low-power architecture of the processor helps the battery last much longer, up to several days on a single charge. The watch can charge wirelessly. The 46mm Watch has a 472mAh battery and the 42mm Watch has a 270mAh battery. Samsung is targeting health and fitness with the watch. New stress management tools can monitor heart rate to establish a baseline and then offer a breathing guide when it senses that the wearer is stressed. The watch is designed to make workouts easier to track, and can handle 39 different exercises, 6 of which can be detected automatically. The watch also tracks sleep. All three of these work together to monitor and manage health. Samsung says the phone is compatible with most normal watch straps, and it has access to 60,000 watch faces via the software. The Galaxy Watch will go on sale in select markets August 24. The Bluetooth-only model costs $330, while the LTE model costs $350.


All Major U.S. Carriers to Sell Galaxy Note9

Aug 9, 2018, 10:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Hands On with the Samsung Galaxy Note9

Aug 9, 2018, 10:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung's new flagship is here, and it's an enormous piece of hardware. The Galaxy Note9 showcases Samsung's best in terms of technology and design. With a bigger screen, bigger battery, and fancy S Pen features, the Note9 is vying to be the productivity and creativity champ. Here are our first impressions.

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Samsung Offering Free Headphones for Note9 Preorders

Aug 9, 2018, 10:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

People who preorder the Samsung Galaxy Note9 from Samsung directly will be able to score a pair of free headphones. The noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones come from AKG and have a retail value of $299. Samsung didn’t indicate how long the headphon offer will be available. Preorders for the Galaxy Note9 stat August 10 and the phone goes on sale August 24.


Samsung Debuts New Dual Wireless Charger

Aug 9, 2018, 10:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced a new wireless charging accessory that can charge two devices at the same time. It incorporates two separate charging pads, one upright and one laying down, so people can charge their Galaxy phone, such as the new Note9, and another device. The Galaxy Duo comes in black or white. It goes on sale August 10. Pricing wasn’t immediately announced.


Samsung Galaxy Phones First to Gain Access to Fortnite

Aug 9, 2018, 10:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung said a handful of its Galaxy phones will the the first to be able to download and play the popular game Fortnite. Samsung said the game will be made available to the new Galaxy Note9 as well as all Galaxy S and Note phones from the 2016-era S7 and up. This includes the Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, S8, S8+, S9, S9+, as well as the Tab S3 and Tab S4. The game will not be distributed by the Google Play Store directly; instead, the game will be available via the Samsung Game Launcher app. People who preorder the Galaxy Note9 will be able to score 15,000 Fortnite V-Bucks for in-game purchases. Those not interested in Fortnite can opt for a free pair of AKG Bluetooth headphones instead.


Samsung Galaxy Note9 Touts AI-Assisted Camera, Big Battery, Refreshed S Pen

Aug 9, 2018, 10:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the Galaxy Note9, its premiere flagship phone for the year. The Note series has always featured Samsung's newest technology, a big screen, and a stylus. This year, Samsung iterated on the design of the Note8 while introducing new camera and stylus capabilities. The Note9 is a nearly all-glass device with curved panels on the front and back. A thin metal frame supports the chassis. The Super AMOLED screen has been stretched to 6.4 inches at quad HD+ resolution (2,960 x 1,440). The U.S. variant of the phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor. Samsung says it has boosted the performance of the 845's GPU with a new algorithm, a water carbon coolant, and a larger heat sink to get every bit of power for games. The phone will come with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, or 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage with support for an additional 512 GB via the microSD slot. The phone adopts the camera setup from the Galaxy S9+. The main, wide-angle sensor is 12 megapixels and includes a variable aperture that can switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4. The secondary telephoto lens has a 12-megapixel sensor at f/2.4. Both include OIS. Samsung is introducing a dash of artificial intelligence thanks to the Snapdragon 845. The camera can recognize 20 different scenes and adjust the settings automatically for the best shot (similar to the Huawei P20 Pro and LG V35s). It also has flaw detection and can manage things such as blinking, lens smudging, and image blur. The front camera has an 8-megapixel camera with autofocus at f/1.7 for better low-light selfies. Samsung has improved the S Pen. It now includes Bluetooth Low Energy and can act as a remote control for select apps, such as the camera to take a picture or PowerPoint to advance a presentation. The phone stores a 4,000mAh battery that Samsung says will last all day. It runs Android 8 Oreo. The battery supports rapid charging and rapid wireless charging. The Note9 will include a Cat 18 LTE modem with 4x4 MIMO, carrier aggregation, and LAA for theoretical download speeds up to 1.2 Gbps. Other radios include dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and GPS. The phone is rated IP68 for protection against water, it includes a 3.5mm headphone jack, and stereo speakers tuned by AKG. Samsung repositioned the fingerprint reader on the rear surface so it is easier to reach. The Note9 will be sold in blue with a yellow S Pen and lavender with a purple S Pen. Preorders start August 10 and the device will go on sale August 24. The 128 GB model costs $999.99 and the 512 GB model costs $1,249.99.


Samsung Galaxy S7 Susceptible to Meltdown Attacks

Aug 8, 2018, 8:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Samsung Galaxy S7 has a serious security flaw, according to researchers from Austria’s Graz Technical University. A microchip security issue leaves the S7 open to Meltdown attacks. Meltdown takes advantage of a CPU tool called speculative execution, which allows processors to predict where instructions will travel. Hackers could use certain techniques to manipulate speculative execution in order to access privileged memory, such as that of the kernel. Meltdown and a similar vulnerability called Spectre were discovered to impact devices from a wide range of manufacturers late last year and early this year. "There are potentially hundreds of million of phones out there that are affected by Meltdown and may not be patched because the vendors themselves do not know," said the researchers. They plan to look at devices from other phone makers to see if other models are impacted by the flaw. Samsung claims to have plugged the Meltdown security hole in patches issued in January and again in July. "Samsung takes security very seriously and our products and services are designed with security as a priority," said the company. There are no known cases of Meltdown being used to attack the Galaxy S7. The Galaxy S7 was first released in 2016 and is used by about 30 million people, according to Strategy Analytics.


MetroPCS Rolls Out Some Smartphone Deals

Aug 2, 2018, 1:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

MetroPCS today kicked off several promotions meant to encourage people to sign up for its service. To start, MetroPCS is offering those who switch a $200 discount that can be applied toward the purchase of a new phone. Some phones, including the Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime, LG Stylo 4, Moto E5 Plus, and iPhone SE, would be effectively free after the $200 discount. This deal requires users to subscribe to MetroPCS' Unlimited LTE plan. Second, customers who buy one iPhone can earn a $200 rebate toward the purchase of a second iPhone of equal or lesser value. This promo is good for new and existing customers. Customers who switch to MetroPCS can buy the iPhone 6 for $49. Last, customers who bring their own device to MetroPCS will receive a free month of service. These deals are available online and in stores.


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