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Samsung Pushes Security Update to Galaxy S8 and S8+

Jun 19, 2017, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung recently seeded a software update to its Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones. The update applies the June security patches from Google, stabilizes memory card performance, and adjusts some user interface elements of Bixby. The update comes in at about 150MB and can be downloaded and installed over the air.

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Samsung Opens Up Limited Preview of Bixby for Testing

Jun 16, 2017, 11:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced that U.S. owners of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones can begin to test the voice powers of Bixby. Bixby is more than a simple voice assistant, as people can use it to interact with all facets of the phone's user interface. Samsung calls Bixby an intelligent interface, one that it hopes will help people interact with various types of technology and not just phones. Anyone who owns the Galaxy S8 or S8+ can register with Samsung to test the early preview of Bixby. According to Samsung, the number of testers will be limited. The sign-up is available from Samsung's website. Bixby was originally intended to launch on the Galaxy phones when they went on sale earlier this year. Samsung was forced to delay Bixby, however, and has since said Bixby will arrive later this summer.


T-Mobile Rolls Out Buy-One, Get-One Offer for Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6

Jun 16, 2017, 8:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile said shoppers will be able to score a free Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+, or LG G6 or V20 (pictured) through a new buy-one, get-one offer that kicks off June 16. Existing T-Mobile customers need to buy both phones on an installment plan and subscribe to an unlimited data service plan in order to qualify. New T-Mobile customers will need to activate both phones on the T-Mobile One plan. The BOGO offer requires customers to mail in a rebate form. T-Mobile will then mail a prepaid gift card within about eight weeks to cover the cost of the second handset. T-Mobile says it will reimburse customers for the cost of the lesser of whichever phones they purchase, up to $500 for the LG G6 or V20 and up to $790 for the Galaxy S8 or S8+. Customers will need to pay sales tax on both devices at the point of sale. The offer is contingent on customers staying through the 24 month installment plan. Those who leave T-Mobile before 24 months will need to cover the remaining balance of the two phones. T-Mobile warns that video is streamed at 480p and the top 3% of users may experience reduced speeds during network congestion.


T-Mobile to Light Up 600 MHz LTE This Summer

Jun 15, 2017, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it plans to begin testing its newly acquired 600 MHz spectrum as soon as this summer. The FCC granted licenses for the spectrum this week following the years-long incentive auction process. T-Mobile won an average of 31 MHz (ranging from 20 MHz to 50 MHz) of the 70 MHz low-band spectrum auctioned off by TV stations and the FCC earlier this year, giving T-Mobile 100% coverage of the U.S. and Puerto Rico. T-Mobile had already voiced its intent to use some of its 600 MHz holdings for LTE service, and it is now preparing to do exactly that. The company expects to test LTE 4G on its 600 MHz this summer and commence commercial operations later this year "when new 600 MHz smartphones from Samsung and other manufacturers are anticipated to arrive." T-Mobile didn't say anything specific about the devices that will be able to access the 600 MHz spectrum, but the Samsung handset in question may be the Galaxy Note 8 flagship, which is expected by the end of summer. T-Mobile plans to cover more than 1 million square miles with LTE 4G in the 600 MHz band by the end of the year. T-Mobile is reserving some of its 600 MHz spectrum to operate some form of 5G service beginning in 2019.


5 Reasons to Buy the Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus

Jun 2, 2017, 3:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Living the unlocked life is living the best life, at least when it comes to your smartphone. Many handset makers offer unlocked versions of their top devices, including, as of this week, Samsung. If you're in the market for a Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus, here are a few reasons why buying the unlocked variant may be worth the little bit of extra effort.

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Samsung Makes Good On Promise to Sell Unlocked Galaxy S8 and S8+

May 31, 2017, 1:35 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today made unlocked versions of its flagship Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ smartphones available for sale. People interested in the unlocked phones can pick them up at select Best Buy retail stores, as well as BestBuy.com and Samsung.com. Samsung says the unlocked variants of the S8 and S8+ are compatible with most wireless networks around the world, including those operated by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. Samsung-branded apps and services are aboard the unlocked S8 and S8+, but carrier-branded bloatware is absent. Samsung's Bixby voice-based assistant is still not ready, though Samsung expects it to arrive in the next month or so. Best Buy and Samsung will permit phone trade-ins, as well as 24-month financing, to help defray the cost of the device. The Galaxy S8 costs $725 and the Galaxy S8+ costs $825. The unlocked phones are only available in midnight black.


Samsung Adds Chromecast Support to Its Gear VR Headset

May 31, 2017, 12:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

People who own the Gear VR can now cast content from the headset to their cast-enabled television sets. A fresh software update from Oculus adds Chromecast support to the Gear VR. Selecting the new cast button will call up a list of nearby cast devices, allowing VR users to push their experience to TVs, monitors, and other devices while remaining within their VR environment. Oculus said Samsung handsets should see the software update arrive in the next day or two. Google recently added cast support to its DayDream platform for similar VR sharing.


ARM's Cortex A75 and A55 Processor Cores Target AI

May 30, 2017, 8:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ARM recently announced the Cortex-A75 and Cortex-A55 processor cores, the first to support its DynamIQ technology. ARM first revealed DynamIQ earlier this year, an advancement of its big.LITTLE technology that allows paired sets of high-power and low-power processor cores to tackle specific tasks based on the computing requirements at hand. Most significantly, DynamIQ doesn't require evenly matched pairs; instead, it can handle one high-power processor with seven low-power processors and other combinations to give device makers more granular control over how the cores handle computing operations. ARM claims the Cortex-A75 core improves multicore performance by 50%, providing enough processor power for laptops and even servers, while only requiring the energy from a smartphone. Compared to the A73, the A75 can handle 20% more calculations at clock speeds up to 3.0 GHz and deliver 15% more memory throughput. The A75 is meant for high-intensity use cases, such as 3D gaming and virtual reality. The Cortex-A55 targets a wide range of computing tasks. ARM says the A55 is ten times more scalable than the A53, meaning it can ramp up from ultra low-intensity tasks to super high-intensity tasks. It's also 15% more power efficient and twice as good as handling memory. The company says together, these advancements make the A55 two and a half times more efficient than the A53 when measuring performance-per-milliwatt. This will be a boon for mid-range smartphones. ARM also debuted the new Mali-G72 GPU, which targets virtual reality, gaming, and machine learning on high-end devices. It delivers a 40% improvement in performance when compared to the previous generation GPU. ARM sees the A75, A55, and Mali-G72 complimenting one another in multi-core designs, such as those created by Qualcomm (Snapdragon) or Samsung (Exynos). ARM has made these components available to companies that design processors. It's not clear when the A75 and A55 will be built into future processor designs.


Samsung Itself Offering T-Mobile Galaxy S8 BOGO

May 22, 2017, 12:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has rolled out a simpler and more direct buy-one, get-one offer for the Galaxy S8 smartphone. Under the terms of Samsung's deal, customers must buy two Galaxy S8 handsets for full price and activate at least one on T-Mobile's network via Samsung.com. Samsung will then issue a rebate for up to $750 to cover the cost of one Galaxy S8 within seven to 10 days after the purchase is made. The rebate is applied as a refund directly to the original payment method, excluding taxes, shipping, or other fees. T-Mobile's buy-one, get-one offer, in comparison, requires new/upgrading customers to sign up for its monthly installment plan for both devices and wait up to eight weeks for a rebate card that can be applied to the second device. Samsung's offer lets customers pay off the second phone almost immediately. Moreover, it can be combined with the free entertainment kit offer, which includes the Gear VR with Controller headset and six free months of Netflix.


Google Says Samsung Galaxy S8 to Get Daydream

May 17, 2017, 1:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said Samsung will update the Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets later this summer in order to make them compatible with Google's Daydream virtual reality platform. Daydream is Google's year-old VR service that runs on select handsets. It includes a dedicated VR headset. Google also mentioned that a forthcoming flagship handset from LG will be Daydream compatible. Google is working with partners such as Qualcomm, HTC, Lenovo, and others to create more standalone Daydream headsets that should arrive later this year.


Intel, Samsung Pile On Qualcomm By Supporting FTC Lawsuit

May 15, 2017, 7:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Intel and Samsung support the Federal Trade Commission's antitrust investigation against Qualcomm and have filed amicus briefs to air their own complaints. The FTC hit Qualcomm with legal action in January and suggested that the company's patent licensing practices may violate monopoly regulations. Intel and Samsung, it would seem, agree. "Intel is ready, willing, and able to compete on the merits in this market that Qualcomm has dominated for years. But Qualcomm has maintained an interlocking web of abusive patent and commercial practices that subverts competition on the merits," said Intel in a blog on its web site. Intel has been unable to crack the smartphone market, which sees more than 1 billion devices ship annually. Samsung, for its part, suggests Qualcomm's unwillingness to play fairly has held back its in-house processor business. "Despite having requested a license from Qualcomm, Samsung cannot sell licensed Exynos chipsets to non-Samsung entities because Qualcomm has refused to license Samsung to make and sell licensed chipsets." Qualcomm argued that the FTC's case is weak and should be dismissed. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for June. Apple filed its own lawsuit against Qualcomm shortly after the FTC concerning the chip-maker's "onerous, unreasonable and costly" licensing terms.


T-Mobile Rolls Out Buy-One, Get-One Galaxy S8 Deal

May 12, 2017, 8:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 13, 2017, 4:02 PM

T-Mobile today introduced a buy-one, get-one promotion for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. Customers who add a line and finance both phones on an equipment installment plan will receive a gift card for the value of the second phone. The S8 costs $750. T-Mobile is asking for $30 down followed by $30 per month for 24 months. The larger S8+ costs $850, and for that model, T-Mobile is asking for $130 down followed by the same $30 per month for 24 months. In order to score the deal, customers may be hit with a $25 SIM starter kit or $20 line upgrade fee. T-Mobile says sales tax on both devices is due at the time of purchase. The prepaid MasterCard rebate may take as long as eight weeks to arrive and customers will be responsible for making all device payments. Customers who leave T-Mobile before the end of the 24-month financing program will need to pay the device balance. The BOGO deal is available starting today.


Samsung Forges New Business Explicitly for Contract Chips

May 12, 2017, 7:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has split its processor manufacturing business into two units so the company can better handle outside clients. Samsung makes a lot of silicon and much of it, such as the Exynos processor line, ends up in Samsung smartphones, tablets, and other products. The company also manufactures components for outside clients, including Qualcomm and Nvidia. The move effectively divides Samsung's foundry and system chip operations. The change will help Samsung manage its manufacturing processes more efficiently while also giving outside clients some peace of mind with respect to the safety and security of their designs. Samsung executive Kim Ki-nam will oversee both businesses.


Cricket Wireless Improves Data Offering

May 11, 2017, 11:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today made its base $40 plan more attractive thanks to more data. Moving forward the plan includes 4 GB of high-speed data, which is up from 3 GB. Customers who sign up for Auto Pay can get the plan for $35 per month. Customers who already subscribe to the $40 plan will be upgraded to the new data limit automatically at the start of their next billing cycle. Cricket is also offering significant discounts on a number of its phones. For example, the Alcatel Streak, ZTE Sonata 3, Samsung Amp 2, and LG Fortune are all free to those who port in their number. These same devices can be purchases at low prices for those upgrading a line. Other deals include the LG Escape 3 for $20, the Samsung Amp Prime for $30, the LG X Power for $50, the LG Stylo 2 for $80, and the Alcatel Idol 4 for $130. Again, these prices are offered to those porting in a number from a competing carrier.


Samsung Says Unlocked Galaxy S8, S8+ Go On Sale May 31

May 9, 2017, 7:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said unlocked versions of its flagship Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ smartphones will be available online later this month. People interested in the unlocked phones can pre-order them from BestBuy.com and Samsung.com beginning today. Samsung says the unlocked variants of the S8 and S8+ are compatible with most wireless networks around the world, including those operated by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. Samsung says its own apps and services will be aboard the unlocked S8 and S8+, but carrier-branded bloatware will be absent. Both Best Buy and Samsung will allow phone trade-ins, as well as 24-month financing, to help defray the cost of the device. The Galaxy S8 costs $725 and the Galaxy S8+ costs $825. Samsung expects the unlocked phones to begin shipping May 31.


Cricket Wireless Debuts HD Voice for Select Phones

May 5, 2017, 11:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless recently added HD Voice to its service offering. HD Voice, which requires both the caller and receiver to have compatible devices connected to Cricket's LTE network, delivers significantly improved voice clarity. HD Voice reduces background noise and permits people to talk and browse at the same time while on LTE 4G. The list of compatible handsets is rather limited at launch. The four devices that support HD Voice include the Alcatel Idol 4, LG Escape 3, Samsung Galaxy Sol 2, and the ZTE Grand X 4 — all of which need to be updated to most recent software build. The company didn't indicate if or when new phones will gain access to HD Voice. Cricket says HD Voice may not be available when the network is congested. HD Voice is free for Cricket customers to access and use.


Nougat Reaches Smattering of AT&T's Galaxy S6 Variants

May 5, 2017, 8:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T this week began distributing Android 7 Nougat to the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 edge, and S6 Active. Along with the new version of Android, the update introduces Samsung Cloud, Samsung Pass, and a wide range of bug fixes and performance improvements. According to AT&T, the update will remove the AT&T Address Book and MobiTV apps, while it brings the security patch level up to April 1, 2017. The new operating system is rolling out to these phones already. AT&T updated the Galaxy S6 edge+ to Nougat earlier this year.


Samsung Rolls Out Bixby Voice In Korea; U.S. Launch Still Unknown

May 1, 2017, 7:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today began distributing the Bixby Voice user interface to Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets in its home market of South Korea. Bixby was included on the S8/S8+ at launch without support for the voice functionality. For the moment, Bixby is limited to generating information cards and creating reminders. Once Bixby Voice is installed, Galaxy S8 owners will be able to talk themselves through the entire user interface of select apps, rather than just issue short commands for one-time actions. Bixby Voice fully supports 10 apps at launch, including the gallery, messages, settings, phone, contacts, weather, calculator, reminders, Bixby Vision, and the camera. Samsung says people will be able to test Bixby with 20 more apps through its Bixby Labs program. Some of those apps include Samsung Pay, Samsung Health, notes, My Files, email, and the internet browser, and third-party apps such as WhatsApp, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and YouTube. Applications still in the Bixby Labs will come to Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets over time. Samsung did not provide details concerning the U.S. launch of Bixby Voice. For now, the launch is still slated for later this spring.


AT&T Says '5G Evolution' to Reach 20 Markets This Year

Apr 25, 2017, 10:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 25, 2017, 10:56 AM

AT&T said customers who own the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ will have access to enhanced wireless service in Austin starting today. Austin serves as the first market for what AT&T is calling "5G Evolution" service, an effort to modernize and improve its network ahead of the official adoption of the 5G specification by international standards bodies. AT&T plans to take advantage of improved LTE 4G network technologies such as small cells, network densification, carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, and 256 QAM to provide real-world speed and latency improvements. The company didn't provide any guidance on what sort of speeds S8 and S8+ owners in Austin will actually experience other than to indicate 5G Evolution will be up to twice as fast as its existing LTE 4G service. AT&T will light up 5G Evolution in Indianapolis this summer with markets including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, San Francisco, and others to go live by the end of the year. Further, AT&T said it will have "numerous other" 5G Evolution-capable devices available by the end of the year. All four major carriers are moving forward with 5G technology trials despite the fact that the final standard has not been ratified. AT&T's so-called 5G Evolution is "5G" in name only.


LG G6 vs. Samsung Galaxy S8: Buying Points to Consider

Apr 24, 2017, 3:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Can't decide between the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8? It's a tough choice, to be sure. These appealing Android smartphones represent the best from LG and Samsung by breaking new ground in design and refining core features along the way. Here are how these two phones compare head-to-head on a handful of essential buying points.

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Samsung to Issue Software Patches for Galaxy S8

Apr 24, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said it will push two software updates to its Galaxy S8 smartphone to resolve issues with screen tint and WiFi connectivity. Some S8 owners claim their devices have a reddish tint to the screen, while others say they cannot connect to WiFi networks. Samsung insists there are no actual defects in the device itself and that the updates are being distributed "for consumer comfort." The first patch will address the tint issue, giving consumers "a further enhanced ability to adjust the color setting to their preference." The second patch targets phones sold by a specific carrier in South Korea and will be only be issued there. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ went on sale in the U.S. on April 21 and in S. Korea a few days before that. Samsung says pre-orders for the device have been strong, particularly in its home market of Korea. The company did not share first-weekend sales figures. The phones are the first high-end devices to ship from Samsung after its failed Note7 last year, which was recalled due to battery problems.


Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Amp Prime 2 Available from Cricket

Apr 21, 2017, 9:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today added two new Samsung handsets to its list of devices. First, the Galaxy S8 is available for purchase from Cricket stores. Cricket is charging $699.99 for the handset, a $50 savings off list price, when the S8 is activated on a new line. Second, Cricket debuted the Galaxy Amp Prime 2 (pictured), a low-cost Android phone. The Amp Prime 2 features a 5-inch 720p HD screen with a 1.35 GHz quad-core processor and 16 GB of storage. The phone includes 5- and 2-megapixel cameras on the back and front respectively, and a 2,600 mAh battery. Other features include LTE, Bluetooth WiFi, and support for memory cards up to 256 GB. The Samsung Galaxy Amp Prime 2 runs Android 7 Nougat and costs $150.


Google Play Music to Be Default Music Player on All Samsung Devices

Apr 21, 2017, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google and Samsung today said starting with the launch of the Galaxy S8 and S8+, Google Play Music will be the default music player and music service on Samsung phones and tablets globally. Consumers who buy the S8 or S8+ will receive a free three-month trial of Google Play Music, which offers ad-free access to some 40 million tracks. The trial also includes YouTube Red, an ad-free version of YouTube. Moreover, Samsung device owners will receive special features from Google. To start, S8 and S8+ buyers will be able to upload up to 100,000 of their own tracks to Google Play Music for safekeeping (double the standard amount.) Google says more custom features for Samsung phones are on the way. Last, Google Play Music will be compatible with Samsung's Bixby voice assistant when Bixby launchers later this spring. Galaxy S8 and S8+ owners will be able to ask Bixby to play their favorite song and it’ll start playing on Google Play Music instantly. The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ go on sale today.


Sprint Offering Two-For-One Lease On Samsung Galaxy S8

Apr 20, 2017, 11:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today finalized its retail plans for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and there's good news for consumers. The company is offering a two-for-one lease deal on the S8 with a new line activation and one upgrade, or two new line activations. New and existing customers can lease the S8 for $31.25 per month and receive a second leased phone at no additinal cost. The second monthly lease payment will be credited to the account each billing period. The Sprint Galaxy Forever lease program allows people to trade the phone in for the newest Galaxy handset after making 12 lease payments. The S8 and S8+ are both compatible with Sprint's new HPUE technology, which makes them perform much better on the company's 2.5 GHz spectrum. Sprint says this two-for-one lease deal for the Galaxy S8 is good only from April 21 through April 27.


Samsung's 2nd-Gen 10nm Process Delivers Performance Boost

Apr 20, 2017, 9:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung this week said it has finished testing its second-generation 10nm FinFET process and is ready to produce the silicon in volume. The 10LPP (Low Power Plus) technology, used in conjunction with 3D transistors, improves speeds by about 10%, or power efficiency by about 15% when compared to the first-generation 10nm process. Some variants of the Samsung Galaxy S8 rely on the first-gen 10nm process in the Exynos 9 processor, though the U.S. model relies on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835. Samsung expects to begin producing the new 10nm 10LPP circuitry by the fourth quarter. The company didn't say what mobile processors might make use of the new technology.


Samsung's Bixby Voice User Interface Not Ready for Galaxy S8 Debut

Apr 12, 2017, 6:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ will not ship with the Bixby Voice user interface when the devices first go on sale, according to Samsung. "Key features of Bixby, including Vision, Home and Reminder, will be available with the global launch of the Samsung Galaxy S8 on April 21. Bixby Voice will be available in the U.S. on the Galaxy S8 later this spring," said the company in a statement provided to Phone Scoop. Samsung did not offer any explanation for the delay, though the company was not able to offer live demonstrations of Bixby as recently as the S8's splashy March 29 launch event. More than just a voice assistant, Bixby is a voice-based user interface. It allows people to interact with any touch element on the screen, such as opening apps, selecting menu items, toggling controls, and more. Any app that is Bixby-enabled will offer full voice control to S8 and S8+ owners. Bixby Vision, referenced in Samsung's statement, combines the artificial intelligence element of Bixby with the camera for translating languages, reading business cards, recognizing landmarks, and scanning QR codes. Bixby Vision will work when the S8 goes on sale. The S8 and S8+, which include dedicated Bixby buttons, reach stores April 21. It's not clear how long consumers will have to wait before the voice-based interface arrives.

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Sprint Lists Samsung Galaxy J7 Perx for $264

Apr 10, 2017, 11:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint recently added the Samsung Galaxy J7 Perx to its lineup of inexpensive Android handset. The Perx appears to be a minor refresh of last year's J7. It carries over the 5.5-inch 720p HD display, but upgrades to a Snapdragon 625 processor and a 3,300mAh battery. The phone features an 8-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel front camera. It loses the J7's NFC radio, but includes an FM radio. Other specs include 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 256 GB; and Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, WiFi, and support for Sprint's LTE Plus network. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat and is capable of VoLTE and WiFi calling. The phone costs $264 at full retail or $11 per month for 24 months. The Samsung Galaxy J7 Perx is available from Sprint's web site. The FCC has recently approved variants of this phone for all four major carriers, though it has yet to appear elsewhere.


Comcast Details Mobile Phone Service as Xfinity Mobile

Apr 6, 2017, 8:30 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Apr 6, 2017, 9:07 AM

Comcast today revealed details of its forthcoming Xfinity Mobile phone service. The company will use Verizon's 4G LTE network for the service, using an existing MVNO agreement. The service will also automatically, seamlessly leverage 16 million Xfinity wi-fi hotspots for free data, capacity, and coverage. The service will initially be available only to customers who use at least one other Comcast Xfinity product, but will be billed separately. Comcast's main goal is customer loyalty. Plans include unlimited data, ranging from $45 to $65 per line, depending on the Xfinity home services the customer uses. Unlimited LTE data is throttled to slower speeds after 20 GB. For metered data, customers can create their own plan at $12/GB of LTE data. Texting and voice are unlimited. A new mobile app will let users monitor usage and change data plans on the fly. Customers can switch from metered to unlimited at any time via the app, even in the middle of a billing period, and the change will be retroactive without penalty. Customer service will be available via text messaging. The company will offer a range of phones, including the Apple iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy S8, and LG X Power. Phones will be available for full price or on an installment plan. The company is launching a large trial of Xfinity Mobile today, open to all Comcast employees. It will launch for consumers in the coming weeks.


Google, Seeking Patent Peace, Debuts PAX Licensing Network

Apr 3, 2017, 1:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced PAX, a patent-licensing initiative for Android that the company hopes will help resolve and/or prevent patent-related threats. Companies that join PAX give each other royalty-free patent licenses that cover Android and Google applications on compatible devices. The founding members of PAX include Google, Samsung, LG, Foxconn, HMD Global, HTC, Coolpad, BQ, and Allview. Together, these companies own some 230,000 patents. Google says the patent pool will only grow as more companies join the network. "We believe PAX will further expand the openness of Android for its members, promoting patent peace that will free up time and money for members, who can then dedicate those resources to creating new ideas," said Google. PAX is free for companies to join. Electronics companies often use technology patents as revenue sources, and litigate in order to seek payment. PAX may help reduce patent-based litigation depending on which companies join and what patents are cross-licensed with the group.


5 Things to Like About the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Mar 31, 2017, 2:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 2, 2017, 9:52 PM

Samsung announced the Galaxy S8 and S8+ this week, its flagship smartphones for 2017. These powerful handsets arrive with new screen shapes, slim silhouettes, and bulked up specs. Here's what we like most.

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Microsoft to Sell Customized Versions of Galaxy S8 and S8+

Mar 30, 2017, 10:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft will sell the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ in its brick-and-mortar retail stores beginning April 21, reports ZDNet. Microsoft will customize the S8 and S8+ by adding a number of its own apps and services, though Microsoft declined to state exactly which ones. Likely contenders include OneDrive Cortana, Outlook, and MSOffice. "The new device customization is an example of bringing together Microsoft applications on more devices so customers can work, play and connect from their pockets," said Microsoft in a statement provided to ZDNet. Microsoft has preinstalled its software on Samsung handsets in the past. Microsoft will charge the same $750 and $850 retail prices for the S8 and S8+, respectively, as Samsung and other retailers. Microsoft did not say if the customized phones will be sold unlocked.


Galaxy S8 to Cost $750, S8+ to Cost $850: Carriers Share Launch Details

Mar 29, 2017, 11:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 29, 2017, 3:29 PM

Samsung's new Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones will cost $750 and $850, respectively. The phones share almost all features other than size and both ship with 64 GB of internal storage. All carriers are bundling in the new Gear VR with controller at no added cost ($129 value), and will upgrade the bundle to include a 256 GB memory card and Harmon Kardon headphones for $99. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ will be available for preorder starting March 30 and should reach stores April 21.

  • AT&T: AT&T is offering a buy-one, get-one deal with the S8 and S8+. Monthly prices range from $28 to $36, depending on the length of the installment plan. Further, AT&T is selling the Gear S3 for $50 with an S8/S8+ purchase, provided the customer signs a two-year agreement. Last, AT&T is offering either the Galaxy Tab E or Gear S2 for 99 cents with a service agreement.
  • T-Mobile: The S8 will cost $30 month on a T-Mobile installment plan, and the S8+ will cost $30 per month, too, with a $130 down payment. T-Mobile says MetroPCS customers will have access to the Galaxy S8 when it reaches stores April 21.
  • Sprint: Sprint plans to lease the phones. The S8 will cost $31.25 per month for 18 months while the S8+ will cost $35.42 per month for 18 months. Customers will be able to upgrade to a newer Samsung phone after making 12 payments. People who preorder the phones from Sprint will be entered into a sweepstakes that includes prizes such as television sets. Sprint says Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile will offer the phone on April 21.
  • Verizon Wireless: Verizon is offering the S8/S8+ for as low as $15 per month with an eligible (flagship-level) trade-in. Without a trade-in, the S8 will cost $30 per month and the S8+ will cost $35 per month for 24 months.
The Galaxy S8 and S8+ have 5.8- and 6.2-inch screens, respectively, Snapdragon 835 processors, 12-megapixel cameras, and Samsung's Bixby voice interface.


Samsung Galaxy S8 to Be First Gigabit LTE Phone

Mar 29, 2017, 10:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 29, 2017, 3:23 PM

Samsung and Qualcomm today said the Galaxy S8 and S8+ will be the first handsets to ship with Gigabit LTE capabilities. The high-speed data connection is possible thanks in part to the Snapdragon 835 processor and accompanying X16 LTE modem. Together with Qualcomm's TruSignal adaptive antenna tuning technology, 4x4 MIMO, carrier aggregation and 256 QAM, the S8 and S8+ will feature the fastest-possible cellular data speeds. AT&T and T-Mobile said the S8 will be able to take advantage of these higher speeds on their pre-5G networks later this year. Sprint, also indicated that its variant of the phone will support HPUE for better 2.5 GHz LTE performance.


Samsung DeX Turns Galaxy S8 Into an Android Desktop

Mar 29, 2017, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 29, 2017, 3:38 PM

Samsung today announced DeX, a desktop accessory for the Galaxy S8 and S8+ that allows them to function as computers when attached to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. DeX is similar in concept to Microsoft's Continuum product. For the S8 and S8+, the DeX includes HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, Ethernet, and cooling functions. The software relies on features baked into Nougat to help scale the Android user interface for desktop screens. It supports full multitasking with moveable windows and runs most standard Android apps. Phone apps, text messaging, and other essential mobile communications will all function normally. DeX and the S8/S8+ support Microsoft Office, with Adobe Lightroom and PhotoShop Express coming soon. A special Samsung browser provides a full desktop internet experience. Pricing and availability of the DeX are to be announced at a later date.


Samsung's Bixby Is Far More than A Voice Assistant for the Galaxy S8

Mar 29, 2017, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones feature Bixby, a voice-based user interface developed by Samsung. It's more advanced than a simple voice assistant, as it voice-enables every function of an app. At its core, anything you can do with touch on the phone you can do with voice through Bixby. That means opening apps, but then also selecting menu items or other on-screen controls within those apps. Bixby is also able to take advantage of the camera for what Samsung calls Bixby Vision. It can translate languages, read business cards, recognize landmarks, and read QR codes. Samsung said it developed Bixby in order to minimize friction between the user and the phone in terms of how voice commands are issued and understood. Samsung calls Bixby a user interface that relies on artificial intelligence. Samsung adapted Bixby's ability to listen and understand commands based on how people speak, rather than force people to issue specific commands. Bixby embraces something it calls "completeness" — meaning if an app is Bixby enabled, Bixby will be able to interact with nearly every task that app is capable of completing. Bixby is contextual, which means it will work seamlessly in voice mode or touch screen mode without forcing people to start over or lose their place within a command sequence. Last, Bixby will include cognitive tolerance, or the ability to "understand commands with incomplete information and execute the commanded task to the best of its knowledge." The Galaxy S8 and S8+ each include a dedicated Bixby button. Owners can press the Bixby button and issue the command they want without first unlocking the phone. Samsung says a small subset of apps on the Galaxy S8 are Bixby-enabeld at launch, though it expects to add more over time. The company will release an SDK so third-party developers can add Bixby functionality to their own apps.

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Hands On with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Mar 29, 2017, 10:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Mar 30, 2017, 11:58 AM

The S8 is Samsung's flagship phone for 2017, and it combines absolutely every idea Samsung has ever come up with for a high-end phone, plus a couple of new ones. From the extra-tall curved display to the iris scanner, to a new voice assistant, Samsung is throwing down the gauntlet. It aims to be a sexy, no-compromise monster. How well does it deliver? We find out in our hands-on. Read on.

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Samsung's Galaxy S8 and S8+ Go for Broke

Mar 29, 2017, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 29, 2017, 4:00 PM

Samsung today announced the Galaxy S8 and S8+, its flagship smartphones for 2017. The phones marry aluminum frames to curved glass panels as they adopt what Samsung calls its Infinity Display. The Infinity Display moves from the industry standard 16:9 aspect ratio to a taller 18.5:9 ratio with 2,960 by 1,440 pixels. The devices share nearly all features other than size and battery capacity. Where the S8 has a 5.8-inch display and 3,000mAh battery, the S8+ boasts a massive 6.2-inch screen and 3,500mAh battery. The phones see Samsung drop the physical home button that has long adorned the front of its handsets in favor of on-screen controls and a virtual home button that's unmarked in the area below the screen. This allowed Samsung to reduce bezels along the top, sides, and bottom edges, meaning the front is 83% display. Samsung says the displays are mobile HDR certified and offer more room for multitasking. Core features include Snapdragon 835 processors with 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, and support for memory cards. The phones are rated IP68 for protection against water and dust. They include rear-mounted fingerprint readers, front-mounted iris scanners, as well as wireless and rapid charging. The main camera has a 12-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization and an aperture of f/1.7. The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and also an aperture of f/1.7 with autofocus and face detection. Ports include USB-C and 3.5mm headphone jack. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ run Android 7 Nougat with Samsung's new Bixby voice-enabled user interface, as well as improved Samsung Health, Samsung Connect, and Samsung Knox apps. The U.S. version will come in black, silver, or purple. The phone is expected to go on sale next month. Pricing will be set by carriers.


Samsung Says No Refurbished Galaxy Note7s In the US

Mar 28, 2017, 8:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Galaxy Note7 fans in the U.S. will not be able to buy a refurbished model, reports Reuters. Samsung "will not be offering refurbished Galaxy Note7 devices for rent or sale in the U.S.," according to a statement provided by the company. On Monday, Samsung announced plans to sell reconditioned Note7s in select markets, though it has yet to say where. Phones that cannot be reconditioned will be broken down into their individual components so Samsung can scavenge them for use in other devices.


Samsung Plans to Sell Refurbished Galaxy Note7

Mar 27, 2017, 9:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 27, 2017, 9:42 AM

Samsung plans to bring back the Galaxy Note7, despite the massive recall that spelled the phone's demise last year. The company will sell refurbished versions of the phone, though Samsung is still determining where via talks with regulatory authorities and carriers. Samsung didn't detail exactly how the phone has been refurbished. It was pulled from store shelves shortly after launch due to faulty batteries. Presumably any refurbished units would, at a minimum, include brand new batteries. Note7 units that aren't refurbished for sale will be broken down into individual components so Samsung can recover chips, camera modules, and rare metals found within the phone. Samsung did not say when it expects to resurrect the Note7.


Samsung Galaxy S8 to Include 'Bixby' Voice-Based User Interface

Mar 20, 2017, 8:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 20, 2017, 9:29 AM

Samsung today announced Bixby, a new voice-based user interface that will mark its debut on the Galaxy S8 smartphone. Samsung said it developed Bixby in order to minimize friction between the user and the phone in terms of how voice commands are issued and understood. Samsung calls Bixby a user interface that relies on artificial intelligence. it is not a personal assistant, per se, though it includes those functions. Samsung adapted Bixby's ability to listen and understand commands based on how people speak, rather than force people to issue specific commands (such as "Hey, Bixby") to get the interface working. Samsung is targeting a handful of core behaviors with Bixby. For example, it is embracing something it calls "completeness" — meaning if an app is Bixby enabled, Bixby will be able to interact with nearly every task that app is capable of completing. Bixby is contextual, which means it will work seamlessly in voice mode or touch screen mode without forcing people to start over or lose their place within a command sequence. Last, Bixby will include cognitive tolerance, or the ability to "understand commands with incomplete information and execute the commanded task to the best of its knowledge." The Galaxy S8, which Samsung plans to announce at a March 29 event in New York City, will feature a dedicated Bixby button, something Samsung says will reduce friction in calling upon Bixby for help. Galaxy S8 owners will be able to press the Bixby button and issue the command they want without first unlocking the phone. Samsung says a small subset of apps on the Galaxy S8 will be Bixby-enabeld at launch, though it expects to add more over time. Further, the company will release an SDK so third-party developers can add Bixby functionality to their own apps. Samsung intends to push Bixby across most of its products tline, including tablets, PCs, and even appliances.


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