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printed September 3, 2015
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CAT S50 Coming Soon For Verizon

Today, 2:04 PM   by Rich Brome

The CAT S50 rugged Android phone will be available to Verizon customers in just a few weeks, according to CAT representatives. The special S50c version supports Verizon's LTE bands and CDMA network, and is in the final stages of approval by Verizon. It will be available through business channels and certain indirect retailers, but not in Verizon stores. The S50 has a 4.7-inch 720p HD display, IP67 rating against water and dust, 8-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and a Snapdragon 400 processor.

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Gear S2 Ships In October, Works with Non-Samsung Phones

Today, 12:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung said its Gear S2 smartwatch will ship worldwide beginning in October. Exact pricing details for the various models, however, remain elusive. The wearable is made to serve as a companion for Samsung's Galaxy smartphones, but the Gear S2 will work with any Android handset running Android 4.4 and up. Previous Samsung wearables required Samsung handsets. Expanding to all Android phones gives the Gear S2 a much larger potential customer base.

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Hands On with Samsung Gear S2 Smartwatch

Today, 12:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung's second-generation Gear S smartwatch is a well-conceived and executed wearable. The snazzy UI is leagues better than Android Wear and the hardware isn't too bad, either. Here are our first impressions.

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T-Mobile Announces Native Video Calling Service

Today, 10:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced T-Mobile Video Calling, a service that works with the native phone dialer of select handsets without requiring special apps. Like VoLTE and HD Voice, T-Mobile Video Calling can move easily between LTE and WiFi with no dropped video. Video calls will be converted to voice calls, however, if one or both parties moves away from LTE or WiFi coverage. Video calls do count against monthly data buckets. T-Mobile subscribers will be able to see which of their contacts are available for video calls thanks to new icons being added directly to the contact application. The Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ are the first two handsets capable of making native T-Mobile Video Calls thanks to an update being disseminated this week. T-Mobile plans to add the feature to the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge next week, and to three other unnamed handsets later this year. T-Mobile said it is working with competing carriers to enable the feature across networks.


Skype Overhauls Android and iOS Mobile Apps

Today, 9:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Skype today released Skype version 6.0 for Android and iOS, which completely redesigns the apps to make them more natural and intuitive. Skype 6.0 for Android tackles Material Design to give it a more native look; adds a floating action button for starting new conversations/calls; upgrades contacts search; and speeds up inbox management thanks to clearer read/unread indicators. Skype 6.0 for the iPhone and iPad has also been given a visual overhaul, which includes new swiping gestures to make calls and answer messages. Skype improved contact search for the iPhone/iPad app, as well. Last the iPad version of Skype now has all the features found on the iPhone version, including the new messaging function, large emoticons, and group chats. Skype 6.0 for Android and for iOS is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.


Sprint Adds Data Options to DirecTV Service Offer

Today, 9:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint adjusted its offer to DirecTV customers and added more data options. The original pitch included unlimited talk and text and just 2 GB of data per month for a year for free for DirecTV customers who port to Sprint. Now, those customers will be able to improve their data bucket to 4 GB for $10 per month or 6 GB for $20 per month. Customers will be also responsible for a $36 activation charge and monthly taxes and fees. Once the 12-month promotion ends, users will be moved to a $50 monthly service plan (for a single line). The free year of service does not include Sprint's international services, and data overages are charged at $0.015 per MB. Data speeds may also be reduced at congested cell sites during peak hours. The promotion is available through Sept. 30. DirecTV was acquired by AT&T last month.


Verizon Rebrands

Today, 2:06 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon today unveiled a new logo and visual identity. The company is keeping its signature red and black colors, while shifting the angled "V" graphic into a smaller symbol after the word "verizon" that is more obviously a "check mark". According to the company, "it’s a cleaner, more human design and the checkmark, the universal symbol for getting things done, uniquely expresses the reliability of Verizon."


Hands on with the New Moto 360

Yesterday, 3:33 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Yesterday, 3:45 PM

Motorola set the standard for Android Wear watches with the Moto 360. Now they're back with a refresh. It's very similar to the previous model, but with a new strap system that makes it look more like a traditional watch. Following the lead of Apple - and everyone else - it now comes in two sizes. How is it in person? Read on.

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Hands On with Sony Xperia Z5 Range

Yesterday, 2:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony's latest flagship family impresses with high-quality materials, top-notch specs, and user-friendly features. The Xperia Z5, Z5 Compact, and Z5 Premium make for a formidable lineup of Android handsets. Here are Phone Scoop's first impressions.

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Motorola Debuts Range of Moto 360 Watches

Yesterday, 2:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 2:07 PM

Motorola today showed off several new versions of the Moto 360 smartwatch, which cater to both active and professional lifestyles. The Moto 360 now comes in two sizes: 42mm (1.37-inch screen) and 46mm (1.56-inch screen). The 360 by 360 pixel circular displays have a slim 3mm bezel and offer a full-round screen. Consumers can choose from several different finishes, including stainless steel, and a variety of quick-release straps. Motorola will allow people to build their own via Moto Maker. The wearables run Android Wear 1.3 and are compatible with both Android phones and the iPhone. They are powered by a Snapdragon 400 processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. The larger size has a 400mAh battery and the smaller size has a 300mAh battery. Both sizes measure 11.6mm thick and include Bluetooth and WiFi. The Moto 360 Sport adds GPS for tracking workouts and a brighter screen for easier outdoor use. The Moto 360 can be preordered beginning today and ships in late September. The Moto 360 Sport will ship later this year. Prices range from $299.99 to $429.99.


Hands on with the Huawei Mate S

Yesterday, 1:31 PM   by Rich Brome

The Mate S is Huawei's new global flagship phone. Like most new flagships, it sports a 5 inch display, metal body, fingerprint sensor, and some advanced camera technology. It will also support Force Touch, sensing the pressure you apply, to the degree that you can use it as a scale, although we've heard that there will be several versions of the Mate S, and not all will include Force Touch. It's an intriguing phone. Read on for our hands-on impressions.

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Sony Reveals the Xperia Z5 In Small and Large Sizes with 4K Display

Yesterday, 9:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 12:09 PM

Sony today announced the Xperia Z5, a family of flagship smartphones that range in features and size. All three versions rely on the same slim metal design from previous generations of Xperia Z devices with glass on the front and back surfaces. The Xperia Z5 is waterproof and protects the handset from accidental spills as well a dunks in the sink. The Xperia Z5 features what Sony says is "the best camera." Sony sped up the autofocus to 0.03 seconds, while also improving the sensor count to 23 megapixels. The camera features Sony's G-Lens and uses "clear image zoom" to power 5x zooming with no loss in clarity. The camera also performs well at night and in low light thanks to a new night capture mode powered by the latest Exmor RS mobile sensor. Last, video includes steady shot intelligent shake reduction. Sony added a fingerprint sensor to the screen lock button, which is positioned on the right edge. The phone will be offered in three variants. The standard version has a 5.2-inch 1080p HD display; the Xperia Z5 Compact has a 4.7-inch display; and the Xperia Z5 Premium features a 5.5-inch 4K display (with upscaling for full HD content). All three are powered by octa-core Snapdraon 810 processors and run Android with the latest software and services from Sony on board. The handsets will go on sale worldwide in October.


Hands on with the Asus ZenWatch 2

Yesterday, 8:56 AM   by Rich Brome

The ZenWatch 2 is an Android Wear watch available for an unusually low price of well under $200. We checked it out.

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Huawei Mate S Has Force Touch

Yesterday, 8:49 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Yesterday, 9:40 AM

Huawei today announced the Mate S, its new flagship Android smartphone. Its most notable feature is Force Touch, which precisely measures pressure on its touch screen. The harder you press on a photo in the gallery, the more it zooms in, for example. It is precise enough that Huawei will ship the phone with an app that turns the screen into a small scale. The screen is 5.5-inch full-HD AMOLED. The phone also has a 13-megapixel main camera with RGBW sensor, 1.2-degree OIS (optical image stabilization), sapphire lens, and advanced manual controls. The front camera clocks in at 8 megapixels. Another unique feature is directional listening, which uses three microphones to pinpoint voice locations and filter out background noise. The Mate S is also water-resistant using a nano coating. Like many new Huawei phones, it has two card slots; one for a SIM card, and one for a memory card or a second SIM card. It supports 13 LTE bands, including U.S. bands. It has a thin metal body and fingerprint sensor. It's powered by a Huawei Kirin 935 2.2 GHz, 8-core, 64-bit processor accompanied by 3 GB of RAM. It will be available within the next month in Europe starting at 649 Euros for the version with 32 GB of internal storage.

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Huawei's Android Wear Smartwatch Goes Upscale

Yesterday, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei today said its Android-based smartwatch will go on sale this month for $349, putting it in Apple Watch territory. The wearable will come with several face variations, including stainless steel, black stainless steel, and rose gold, with leather, steel, and gold strap options. Prices vary depending on the chassis and strap combination, with the gold models costing as much as $799. All models have a 1.4-inch screen with 400 by 400 pixels protected by sapphire crystal. The watch is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400 processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. The Huawei Watch includes Bluetooth and WiFi for connectivity, and sensors such as barometer, accelerometer, and gyroscope to help track movement. The 300mAh battery delivers up to two days of usable life and can reach an 80% charge in just 45 minutes. The watch runs Android Wear 1.3 and is compatible with Android and iOS smartphones. The stainless steel and black models can be pre-ordered beginning today and will ship on Sept. 17, which is also when the watch will reach general availability. The Huawei Watch can be purchased from GetHuawei.com, the Google Play Store, Amazon.com, and BestBuy.com.

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Asus updates ZenWatch

Yesterday, 7:04 AM   by Rich Brome

Today at the IFA show in Berlin, Asus announced the ZenWatch 2, an affordable Android Wear smartwatch. It comes in two sizes and three stainless steel case colors, for just 149 Euros (approx. $168). The company claims two days of battery life, and the watch charges via a magnetic connector on the back. A set of exclusive Asus apps includes a messaging app that communicates directly from one watch to another. 18 different strap options are available.

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Google to Punish App Install Adds that Appear in Search

Yesterday, 3:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 3:18 AM

Google has decided to clean up how mobile search results present ads for app installs. In particular, it hopes to negate the use of interstitial app install ads that hide content when users try to view search results. "Our analysis shows that it is not a good search experience and can be frustrating for users because they are expecting to see the content of the web page," explained Google. Google has updated the Mobile-Friendly Test — a barometer the company offers to mobile web site designers — to help demonstrate how interstitials fail the friendly test. Web site designers can use the tool to see the number of pages across their site(s) affected by the issue. Google is giving mobile web designers two months to clean up their interstitials. Beginning November 1, sites that continue to show interstitial app install ads will no longer be consider mobile friendly, which will drop their search rankings. Google suggests publishers use alternatives, such as banners, to coax mobile users into installing their apps.


Google Adjusts Google Now Cards and Search

Yesterday, 3:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated the appearance of its Google Now and Google Search tools on Android devices to match the company's new design motif. First and foremost, the apps adopt the new logo and font changes Google made earlier this week. Second, in Google Now the cards are arranged by category and will shift and change size throughout the day to reflect important appointments and other events. Third, the Google Search app now displays the Google Doodle on days it's published, and search results make it easier to sift between types of content (web, images, video) with new swiping gestures. The Google Search app is free to download from the Google Play Store. Google said other Google-branded apps will be given visual tweaks in the days ahead to reflect its new design language.

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