LG Chem has developed a new top layer for flexible displays that it claims is both "hard as glass" and "flexible as plastic", while offering several key advantages over materials currently used in folding displays. LG calls the new material Real Folding Window. Compared to existing materials, Real Folding Window should offer "significantly improved fold lines in the folding area", meaning less-visible creases. The material is also designed for both inward- and outward-folding displays, unlike current commercial products that are optimized for inward-folding displays. The mew material is thinner than tempered glass and cheaper than existing polyimide film products. LG's new material consists of a thin, proprietary coating on both sides of a thin PET (plastic) film. LG plans to begin "full-scale" sales of Real Folding Window from 2023. The company is already working on an improved version that removes the need for a PET base layer, which will be even thinner and better-suited to "rollable" displays.
LG today announced that it will continue to issue Android operating system updates for three years for its premium phones, and two years for its lower-end phones. The pledge follows the news earlier this week that LG will stop making phones by mid-year. For premium phones, LG's commitment is "up to three iterations of Android operating system updates from the year of purchase". This applies to G series and V series phones released in 2019 and later, as well as the Velvet and Wing. Lower-end models include the K series and Stylo phones released in 2020 "will receive two OS updates".
LG Electronics today announced that it is closing its mobile business unit, exiting "the incredibly competitive mobile phone sector". The company has lost money on phones for years, having trouble competing with Samsung and Apple. Current LG phones will continue to be sold at first, but the company plans to move relatively quickly, completing the "wind down" of the business by July 31. "LG will provide service support and software updates for customers of existing mobile products for a period of time which will vary by region."
LG is "considering all possible measures, including sale, withdrawal and downsizing of the smartphone business", according to an internal memo that the company has confirmed is genuine. LG's smartphone business has lost $4.5 billion over the past five years.
In a CES press conference today, LG briefly teased a new "rollable" device that uses flexible-display technology on rollers to expand from a phone to a tablet. The company didn't officially announce the device, but did show video of it expanding as part of its pre-recorded presentation. The Verge has been able to confirm that the device teased is a real LG product in development, currently set to be called the "LG Rollable". TCL has also shown off prototypes of a similar device.
Boost has launched the new LG K22, an affordable, entry-level phone with a large 6.2-inch HD notched display. Normally priced at $90, Boost is currently offering the phone for just $70. Other specs include a 3,000 mAh battery, Android 10, Qualcomm 215 processor, 2 GB RAM, and 32 GB of internal storage plus a memory card slot supporting up to 32 GB more. Its 13 megapixel PDAF rear camera is accompanied by a 2 megapixel macro camera. The front camera is 5 megapixel. The camera app supports full-HD video capture and Google Lens. Like most current LG phones, it has a dedicated Google Assistant button on the side. It also includes a 3.5mm headset jack.
LG is reorganizing its mobile phone division to focus its internal R&D, design, and manufacturing resources exclusively on premium-tier phones. The company will outsource the design and manufacturing of all of its entry-level and mid-tier phones. The move is an attempt to cut costs as it competes with Chinese rivals. LG's mobile communications division has reported an operating loss for the past 22 consecutive quarters.
LG today unveiled the K92 5G, its entry into the growing surge of phones designed to bring 5G to more affordable price points. The K92 5G will be sold by AT&T, Cricket, and US Cellular starting at just $359, breaking the $399 barrier for the first time. The K92 5G is the second phone to be announced for the US that uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 chipset, following the OnePlus Nord N10 5G earlier this week. The 690 is specifically designed to enable more-affordable 5G phones such as these. Nokia, Motorola, and TCL have also announced that they will use the 690 in forthcoming phones. The 690 supports only sub-6 GHz 5G, not mmWave. The LG K92 5G has a large 6.7-inch full-HD display, 4,000 mAh battery, Quick Charge 4, 6 GB RAM, 128 GB storage, and a memory card slot. Its quad rear cameras include a 64 megapixel (f/1.78) main camera, 5 megapixel wide camera, 2 megapixel macro camera, and depth camera. The 16-megapixel front camera sits in a large centered hole punch. It also has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, NFC, and stereo speakers. It will ship with Android 10. It will be available from US carriers "shortly".
T-Mobile has successfully tested the world's first 5G standalone (SA) data session with New Radio Carrier Aggregation (NR CA) on a commercial smartphone. Carrier aggregation lets a mobile device on a wireless network use more than one frequency band simultaneously, boosting available bandwidth and therefore increasing data speeds. Carrier aggregation has long been a standard feature of 4G (LTE) networks, but is just now coming to 5G (NR) networks. T-Mobile's test used an LG Velvet phone with a MediaTek Dimensity 1000C chipset to connect to Ericsson network equipment over two bands: band 41 (2.5 Ghz, AKA mid-band) and band 71 (600 MHz, AKA low-band). T-Mobile says CA boosts download speeds on its band 41 by 20 percent on average initially.
Verizon will start taking pre-orders for the LG Wing on Oct. 1 for $1000, with full launch on Oct. 15. AT&T and T-Mobile will offer the Wing at a later date.
The first phone in LG's "Explorer Project" series is the LG Wing, a phone with a unique swivel display design. The 6.8-inch full-HD OLED main display swivels up to reveal a 3.9-inch second screen. The hinge features a hydraulic damper for smooth motion, and is rated for 200,000 swivels. The unique design is optimized for viewing videos full-screen while commenting or messaging on the second screen, for example. It can also keep GPS navigation full-screen while offering call controls on the second screen. A Grip Mode ignores accidental touches while recording video with the hinge open. A "Gimbal Motion Camera" mode takes this further with joystick, lock, and follow controls on the second screen. The 64 megapixel main camera is accompanied by two wide-angle cameras: a 12 megapixel "big pixel" camera plus another 13 megapixel wide camera. One wide-angle camera is mounted in standard portrait orientation while the other is rotated 90º to match the shape of the swivel screen when open. The 32 megapixel selfie camera pops up from the top of the phone. The Wing is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chip with 8 GB of RAM. It will come with either 128 or 256 GB of storage, plus a memory card slot. The 4,000 mAh battery can be charged via Quick Charge 4.0 or wireless charging. The Wing is rated IP54 for water and dust resistance. Available colors include Aurora Gray and "Illusion Sky". In the US, the LG Wing will launch first with Verizon, followed by T-Mobile, AT&T, and other US carriers. "Specific pricing, availability, specs and color options will vary by network partner."
Bose is launching its first true wireless earbuds with company's famous QuietComfort brand of ANC (active noise cancelling). The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds (QC Earbuds for short) include a "proprietary electronic chip loaded with an exclusive new algorithm" that can compensate for changing outside noise in a fraction of a millisecond. It offers 11 levels of noise control to let through the exact amount of background noise you want to hear. The QC Earbuds offer 6 hours of battery life, plus another 12 via the included charging case. They come in black or white, and will be available Sept. 29th for $279.
T-Mobile today announced that will start selling the LG Velvet on September 10th. T-Mobile's version will be powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 1000C chip, instead of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 765G. This change will allow T-Mobile to offer the Velvet for $588, a tad cheaper than the $600 that AT&T charges for its Velvet. The Dimensity 1000 is MediaTek's flagship SoC with integrated 5G, and the 1000C variant is tailored to the US market. The 1000C also adds supports for Dual Display, a key feature of flagship LG phones such as the Velvet. The Velvet will be the first 5G phone in the US powered by a MediaTek chip. T-Mobile will offer two color choices: Aurora Gray and Pink White.
LG today released a new video teasing the first phone in the company's new "Explorer Project" lineup of unique phones. The video includes visuals that line up with rumors of a "Wing" phone with two halves that rotate form a cross shape with two displays. LG explains that its mainstream phones such as this year's Velvet are now considered part of the company's "Universal Line", while the "Explorer Project will focus solely on new usability that is discovered with innovative designs". LG will reveal more details on September 14th.
The Velvet is LG's 5G flagship phone for 2020. Instead of aiming for the very best specs on the market, LG has attempted to deliver a very premium 5G experience at a reasonable price. For example, the Velvet uses a Snapdragon 765 chip instead of Qualcomm's pricier 865. Did LG strike the right balance? In this hands-on, we take the Velvet for a spin to find out.
Verizon will start selling the LG Velvet this Friday, August 21st, for $700. Verizon has a US exclusive on the Aurora Red color. AT&T already sells the Velvet in silver and gray, and T-Mobile also plans to sell the Velvet. As with many 5G phones this year, only Verizon's model includes mmWave 5G as well as sub-6 GHz 5G. Verizon currently only offers a mmWave 5G network, with higher speeds but limited coverage. The company will launch its sub-6 5G network (with broad coverage but less impressive speeds) "soon".
LG today finally revealed the US launch details for its design-centric flagship phone for 2020, the Velvet. The Velvet will be offered by all three major US carriers, starting with AT&T tomorrow. It specs are just shy of competing flagship phones, but still very high-end. Crucially, it's significantly cheaper at just $600. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chip, 6 GB of RAM, and a 4,300 mAh battery. The AT&T and T-Mobile versions offer sub-6 GHz 5G. As usual, Verizon will offer a special version that also supports mmWave 5G. Other specs include a 6.8-inch full-HD OLED display with HDR10, 48 megapixel main camera, 8 megapixel wide-angle camera, 16 megapixel selfie camera, Quick Charge 4+, and IP68 water resistance. It also has 128 GB of storage, memory card slot, headset jack, NFC, stereo speakers, and an in-display fingerprint reader. The Velvet supports its own Dual Display, which adds a second full-size display plus small outer display as part of a hinged case accessory. The Velvet also supports and optional stylus, and can operate in a special desktop mode when connected to a large external monitor or TV. LG has emphasized design in launching the Velvet, touting its "3D Arc Design", "raindrop-inspired rear camera array", "flowing lines, polished surfaces, curved corners and symmetrical front and rear edges". Colors available in the US include Aurora Gray, Aurora Silver, Aurora Red, and Pink White, although specific colors and pricing "will vary by network partner". The Velvet will come to T-Mobile and Verizon "later this summer".
US carriers have launched a flurry of new entry-level phones from LG and Samsung in recent weeks. The phones include three new models from each of the two manufacturers. They range in price from $60 to $260.
- LG's new most affordable phone goes by many names and ranges in price from $60 to $160. It's offered by just about every carrier except Verizon. T-Mobile, Sprint, and Metro offer it as the Aristo 5. Boost offers it as the Tribute Monarch. U.S. Cellular offers it as the K8x. All of those versions come with 32 GB of storage. Only AT&T's version comes with just 16 GB of storage, which they offer from AT&T Prepaid as the Phoenix 5, or from Cricket as the Fortune 3. Oddly, Cricket also offers this phone as the Risio 4. The Risio 4 and K8x have a front camera that's downgraded from 5 to 3 megapixel. Key specs in common include a 5.7-inch HD display with notch, MediaTek Helio P22 processor, 2 GB RAM, and a 3,000 mAh Battery. It also has a 13-megapixel main camera, dedicated wide-angle camera, and a rear fingerprint reader.
- LG Harmony 4: Currently available only from Cricket (for $140), this step-up model has a larger display (6.1-inch), larger battery (3,500 mAh), and more RAM (3 GB). It also has USB-C and a better front camera. Regulatory filings indicate it may also come to Verizon prepaid and TracFone using the Sprint network.
- LG K51: Already available from T-Mobile, Metro, and Boost, this model is now available from Verizon for $168. Compared to the Harmony 4, it offers an even larger display and battery. It's powered by a MediaTek Helio P22 processor.
- Samsung A01: First launched on Verizon in April, Samsung's most affordable phone is now available from AT&T, Cricket, and Metro, for $115, $60, and $160, respectively. It has USB-C and fast charging, but no fingerprint reader.
- Samsung A11: A big step up from A01, this $180 phone is now available from AT&T and Verizon. It will launch with Boost on July 21st at a limited-time price of $130. It has a 6.4-inch HD display with a hole-punch design, 4,000 mAh battery, fast charging, fingerprint reader, and a dedicated wide-angle camera.
- Samsung A21: Now available from Verizon, T-Mobile, Metro, Sprint, and Boost. While the standard price is $250, Metro is charging $260 while Boost is currently offering it for $200. It has a similar display and battery compared to the A11, but has upgraded cameras, MediaTek Helio P35 processor, 3 GB RAM, and NFC.
Qualcomm's newest and best 6-series Snapdragon chip for phones is the Snapdragon 690, which has 5G as well as high-end performance previously found only on the company's pricier 7- and 8-series chips. The 690, intended for mid-range phones, supports sub-6 5G, but not mmWave 5G. It includes several firsts for the 6 series, including support for 4K HDR video capture, 120 Hz display refresh, dual Wi-Fi antennas, and Qualcomm's Hexagon Tensor Accelerator for on-device AI. Compared to the Snapdragon 875 — the previous top-end chip in the 6 series — the 690 has 20% better CPU performance, 60% faster graphics rendering, and 70% better AI performance. The Snapdragon 690 also supports up cameras up to 192 megapixel, Quick Charge 4+, and Wi-Fi 6. The 690 is made using an 8nm manufacturing process. Phones based on the Snapdragon 690 are expected to ship in 2020. Nokia, LG, Motorola, and TCL announced plans to use the chip in their phones.
Boost Mobile is the first US carrier to launch the LG Stylo 6, an update to the popular Stylo 5 series. Compared to the 5 series, the Stylo 6 has a larger display, larger battery, more storage, and more cameras. It's about the same width and thickness as the 5, but taller. This, plus a modern all-screen design, allow an increase in screen size from 6.2 to 6.8 inches. It also has a 4,000 mAh battery and 64 GB of storage. The 13-megapixel rear camera has been joined by a depth camera and 5-megapixel wide-angle camera. The front camera, which sits in a small screen notch, has been upgraded to 13 megapixel. The Stylo 6 is powered by Android 10 running on a MediaTek Helio P35 processor with 3 GB of RAM. Other features are similar to the Stylo 5 series, including a pop-out stylus, full-HD display resolution, NFC, rear fingerprint reader, memory card slot, and 3.5mm audio jack. Boost is selling the LG Stylo 6 for $180, starting today. The FCC has also approved a different variant of the Stylo 6 that seems designed for T-Mobile's network. The Stylo 5 series was offered by all major US carriers and most prepaid brands.
Verizon has launched a new mid-range phone, the LG Q70, for $350. Notable features include an IP68 water resistance rating, NFC, 3.5mm headset jack, 4,000 mAh battery, and a 32-megapixel camera that can capture 4K video. The phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 chip with 4 GB of RAM. It has a 6.4-inch full-HD display with a "hole punch" in the corner for the 16-megapixel selfie camera. It also has 64 GB of storage, a memory card slot, depth camera for portrait effects, rear fingerprint reader, and USB-C with fast charging (USB PD 2.0 and Quick Charge 3.0). The phone is available from Verizon starting today.
Boost Mobile has launched the LG K51, a new affordable Android phone with triple rear cameras and a large 4,000 mAh battery for $90. It also has a 6.5-inch HD display with a small notch, fingerprint reader, 3.5mm headset jack, and USB-C. It's powered by a MediaTek Helio P22 processor and 3 GB of RAM. It has 32 GB of storage and supports memory cards. The three rear cameras are: 13 megapixel standard camera with PDAF, 5 megapixel wide-angle (115º) camera, and a depth camera for bokeh (portrait) effects. It comes with Android 9. It also supports VoLTE, which future-proofs it against the eventual shutdown of the legacy Sprint CDMA network.
LG and Tubi announced a deal to preload the Tubi video-streaming app on LG phones. Tubi is a division of FOX Entertainment. The Tubi app offers over 20,000 movies and TV shows for free, with ads. The app is already loaded on LG phones sold by T-Mobile, and is coming soon to LG phones sold by Metro and US Cellular. Additional carriers will be announced soon. The multi-year partnership is expected to cover "tens of millions of LG mobile phones in the US and Canada".
LG has released a new teaser video for its next major phone, the Velvet. The video confirms several color options, and that the phone will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 chipset with 5G. The video shows the phone in white, black, dark green, and a color-shifting purple/pink/gold design with a gold metal frame. LG has been slowly teasing the new phone for several weeks. Previously, LG had revealed the phone's name, and shown design sketches. The new video provides a much clearer look at the Velvet.
LG Electronics has announced that it is "moving away from alphanumerical designations [such as V60 or G9] in favor of familiar and expressive names that will help the consumer capture the essence of the device best suited for his or her personality and ever changing trends". The first new phone launched under this new strategy will be the LG "Velvet". All indications are that this will be the phone that was previously expected to be called the LG G9.
LG has released design renderings for its next major phone. The three rear cameras are arranged in a "Raindrop" formation toward the corner of the phone. The main camera has a sticks out slightly, while the two other cameras sit flush behind the glass that covers the back of the phone. The phone will also feature glass that curves toward the sides on both the front and back, similar to Samsung flagship phones in recent years.
US carriers have revealed launch plans for the new LG V60 ThinQ 5G flagship-class phone. T-Mobile will offer it starting March 20th for $800, or $900 in a bundle with LG's Dual Screen accessory. T-Mobile is also offering a buy-one-get-one (BOGO) deal where customers with two or more lines can get a second V60 for free, if both phones are purchased on a 24-month payment plan. AT&T will start taking online orders for the V60 on Friday, March 20th. The phone will cost $900, which includes a free Dual Screen accessory from LG. AT&T is also offering a BOGO deal, but it requires a new line of service. Verizon's version will be slightly pricier and ship later, reflecting that its unique variant supports mmWave 5G, which requires extra components and engineering. (Versions for other US carriers only support sub-6 5G, which is generally slower but offers broader coverage.) Verizon brands mmWave 5G as "Ultra Wideband", which is why its unique variant will be called the LG V60 ThinQ 5G UW. Verizon will sell the phone for $950, with pre-orders starting March 26th. Like AT&T, Verizon is offering a BOGO deal for customers adding a new line, and Verizon customers purchasing a V60 are eligible for a free Dual Screen from LG.
LG today announced the V60 ThinQ 5G with LG Dual Screen. Its specs are flagship-level, but not quite as top-end as past V-series phones. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and US Cellular will offer the V60 "in the coming weeks". As with the Samsung Galaxy S20, Verizon's version will supports both mmWave and sub-6 5G, while other versions will only support sub-6 5G (which offers better coverage but not the fastest 5G speeds.) The V60 will be packaged with LG's Dual Screen accessory, which adds a second display identical to phone's main display, connected to the phone with a 360-degree hinge, plus a 2.1-inch monochrome outer display. The V60's is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset, and features a 6.8-inch full-HD+ OLED display, 5,000 mAh battery, 8 GB of RAM, 128 GB storage, memory card slot, and Android 10. It also features two rear cameras plus a ToF depth camera. The main camera is 64 megapixel (f/1.8), while the wide-angle camera is 13 megapixel (f/1.9, 117º). It can capture 8K video, as well as 4K time-lapse or 60 fps video. It has stereo speakers and 4 microphones, plus an ASMR recording mode. The phone also features an in-display fingerprint reader, 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC, Quick Charge 4+, IP68 water rating, NFC, Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi 6, and USB-C (3.1). It will be available in blue or white. Specific launch dates and pricing will be announced by US carriers in coming weeks.
LG today announced three new models in the K series, the company's most affordable series of phones. All three phones share a similar design, with a 6.5-inch screen filling the front and four cameras plus a fingerprint reader on the back. The four rear cameras on each are: standard, wide, macro, and depth. All three also have a 4,000 mAh battery, NFC, USB-C, dedicated Google Assistant button, and a memory card slot.
- K61: Full-HD+ display resolution, 48 megapixel main camera, 8 megapixel wide camera, 16 megapixel selfie camera, 4 GB RAM, and 64 or 128 GB storage.
- K51S: HD+ display resolution, 32 megapixel main camera, 5 megapixel wide camera, 13 megapixel selfie camera, 3 GB RAM, and 64 GB storage. (shown)
- K41S: HD+ display resolution, 13 megapixel main camera, 5 megapixel wide camera, 8 megapixel selfie camera, 3 GB RAM, and 32 GB storage.
Sprint has revealed its launch details for the new LG G8X ThinQ with its unique Dual Screen accessory. As we previously reported, the companies are offering a free Dual Screen accessory via rebate. This promotion is available until January 9th to any Sprint customer (new or existing) that leases or purchases a G8X. The free Dual Screen will ship from LG within six weeks. Sprint is offering the LG G8X for $750. Special pricing is available to new customers, existing customers that are upgrade-eligible, and customers adding a line. Those customers can get the G8X for $15/month on a Sprint Flex Lease (18 months to upgrade or 24 months to own.) The G8X ThinQ will be available for pre-order from Sprint on Nov. 1st, with full availability on Nov. 8. The G8X has a Snapdragon 855 chip, standard and wide-angle rear cameras, 32-megapixel selfie camera, 4,000 mAh battery, in-display fingerprint reader, 3.5mm headphone jack, IP68 water resistance, NFC, and wireless charging. The snap-on Dual Screen sports a full-HD OLED screen identical to that on the G8X. It also has an extra "cover" display on the outside. The Dual Screen hinge folds a full 360º.
LG is bringing its dual-screen concept to the US along with a new variant of the G8: the G8X ThinQ. The G8X drops the 3D depth camera and quad-HD display resolution in favor of a 32-megapixel selfie camera, full-HD display, stereo speakers, and a larger 4,000 mAh battery. It also has an in-display fingerprint reader instead of the standalone sensor on the G8. Other features of the G8X are similar to the G8, including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip, standard and wide-angle rear cameras, high-end audio chip, extra-loud speakers, 3.5mm headphone jack, IP68 water resistance, NFC, wireless charging, fast charging, 6 GB RAM, 128 GB storage, and a memory card slot. The snap-on Dual Screen sports a full-HD OLED screen identical to that on the G8X, including the small notch. It also has an extra "cover" display on the outside that shows notifications, date, time, and battery life. The hinge folds a full 360º, and locks in place at 120º, 140º, 180º (flat), and 270º (tent). The phone + Dual Screen together will sell for $700 unlocked. Both AT&T and Sprint will offer the LG G8X ThinQ. AT&T is including the Dual Screen for free for a limited time. Sprint will offer an online rebate form for a Dual Screen, which will ship from LG. Sprint will have "more details to share next week" on its launch offer. Pre-orders start Friday, will full availability on November 1st.
LG's entry-level K30 2019 model has launched in several different versions, under a variety of names, at AT&T, T-Mobile, and Cricket in recent weeks. Cricket launched the phone as the Escape Plus a few weeks ago, and sells it for $80. Since then, AT&T Prepaid has launched the same phone as the Arena 2 for $120, and LG now sells it unlocked as the K30 2019 for $140. Also, a slightly higher-end version with a fingerprint reader and better camera (13 megapixel instead of 8) is now available as the Prime 2 on AT&T (also $120) and Aristo 4+ on T-Mobile for $162.50. Those two models also differ: the Prime 2 has NFC, while the Aristo 4+ has dual-band Wi-Fi instead. Unusually, the Prime 2 and Aristo 4+ have only 16 GB of storage, while the otherwise lower-end Escape Plus and Arena 2 have 32 GB. All versions in the series have a tall HD display, 3,000 mAh battery, dedicated Google Assistant button, 5-megapixel selfie camera, 3.5mm headset jack, and a memory card slot.
Cricket is offering a choice of eight different phones for free to new customers through the end of the month, and two models after that. Until October 1st, the free choices include several mid-range models such as the Moto g7 Supra, LG Stylo 5, and Nokia 3.1 Plus. Also free are the Samsung Galaxy J2 Pure, LG Harmony 2, LG Fortune 2, Moto e5 Cruise, and Nokia 3.1 C. After Oct. 1st, the Moto e5 Cruise will continue to be free until Nov. 21. The Samsung J2 Pure will be free again Oct. 11 - Nov. 21.
Verizon has revealed that it will light up its mmWave 5G service in New York City in one week, on September 26th. As with all mmWave deployments, it will focus on dense, downtown areas and public spaces, rather than broad citywide coverage. The coverage areas include parts of uptown, midtown, and downtown Manhattan, along with select parts of Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens. NYC is Verizon's 11th 5G city. The company has promised to launch 5G in 30 US cities by the end of the year. Verizon's lineup of phones with integrated 5G include the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, LG V50 ThinQ 5G, and Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G.
The FCC this week granted permission for initial commercial service to commence in the unlicensed part of band 48, also known as CBRS, a radio frequency band spanning the range of 3550 - 3700 MHz. In a new and unique arrangement, consumer phones will be able to cellular technologies like LTE in an unlicensed band that also has incumbent users such as the military and satellite operators. To prevent interference, five companies will operate central databases that coordinate access to the band in real-time. Having proven their systems in certified lab tests, it is these five Spectrum Access System (SAS) Administrators that have received permission from the FCC to begin "initial commercial deployment", which is both a real-world test phase and a commercial launch. The five approved Administrators are Google, Sony, Federated Wireless, Amdocs, and CommScope. Verizon has been most vocal among the major US carriers about deploying service in band 48 for its customers. The most recent flagship phones from Samsung, Apple, LG, OnePlus, and Razer already support band 48. In mid-2020, the FCC plans to auction a different part of the CBRS band that will be licensed in a more traditional way for deployment of 5G service.
Cricket is now selling the LG Escape Plus, a new phone with basic specs for $120. Its best feature is a 5.5-inch LCD display with and tall 2:1 aspect ratio and HD+ (720 x 1440 pixel) resolution. It also has a dedicated Google Assistant button on the side, 32 GB of storage, an 8-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel selfie camera, 3.5mm headset jack, and a memory card slot. It's powered by a 3,000 mAh battery, Snapdragon 425 processor, and 2 GB of RAM. Regulatory approvals indicate versions of this same phone are planned for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Metro as well. If history is any indication, those versions are likely to be sold under different names.
Qualcomm today revealed an accelerated timeline for bringing integrated 5G to its Snapdragon chips for mid-range phones. An unnamed 7xx-series Snapdragon chip that fully integrates a 5G modem is already sampling to customers such as LG, Motorola, and Nokia / HMD Global (among others), with the chip launching commercially before the end of 2019, and phones using the chip available "soon thereafter". The chip fully supports all mmWave and sub-6 GHz frequency bands for 5G worldwide, as well as both NSA and SA networks, both TDD and FDD modes, and DSS (Dynamic Spectrum Sharing, which allows 5G and 4G to share existing frequency bands). The company also plans to bring 5G to its 6xx-series Snapdragon chips, with devices using those those chips expected to be commercially available in the second half of 2020.
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.
LG's flagship phone — the LG G8 ThinQ — now supports magnetic-stripe payment terminals with the LG Pay app, similar to a key feature of many recent Samsung phones. The feature can emit a magnetic signal when held near magnetic-stripe readers, which emulates a credit card being swiped through the reader. LG has signed up a list of just a few, but major, banks to support the feature, including Chase, PNC Bank, US Bank, and Regions Bank. LG says the feature will roll out to additional LG phones soon.
Sprint is launching its 5G network in Chicago this week. Utilizing the company's 2.6 GHz (band 41) spectrum, the network offers better coverage and building penetration than the mmWave 5G networks launched by other companies in Chicago to date. The coverage area reaches from the historic IL-64 in the north to Stevenson Expressway in the south, and as far as California Avenue in the west. It covers 700,000 people. Chicago joins Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Kansas City among Sprint's 5G cities, and the company promises to launch 5G in Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington, DC "in the coming weeks". Sprint customers in Chicago will be able to buy a 5G device starting Friday, July 12th. Sprint currently offers the LG V50 ThinQ 5G and Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.