The FCC revealed that it expects Sprint and T-Mobile to file on Monday June 18 the necessary paperwork needed for Sprint to transfer control of its spectrum licenses and other assets to T-Mobile. The FCC opened a docket ahead of the expected action. At the same time the FCC filed a protective order concerning the docket. This means much of the information shared between Sprint, T-Mobile, and the FCC will remain confidential as the agency considers whether or not to allow the transaction to take place. The companies announced their intent to merge in April. The deal requires government approval.
Asus today revealed that its ZenFone 5Q phone, first announced in February, is now available for sale in the U.S. The ZenFone 5Q has 2.5D curved class on the front and rear with a plastic frame in between. It boasts a 6-inch full HD+ 18:9 display. The Zenfone 5Q has four cameras, with an ultra-wide, 120-degree lens on each side. The main sensor on the rear captures 16-megapixel images, while the selfie camera has a Sony 20-megapixel sensor. The 5Q features a number of shooting modes, including portrait/bokeh. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 630 processor and comes with 4 GB of memory and 64 GB of storage. The phone ships with a 3,300mAh battery. Other features include NFC, dual SIM, face unlock, Bluetooth 4.1, dual-band wifi, fingerprint reader, speaker, and microUSB. Asus didn't spell out which LTE bands are supported but says the phone is compatible with AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS. The phone runs Android 8 Oreo with Asus ZenUI 5.0. Asus says the ZenFone 5Q in midnight black is immediately available from Abt, Amazon, B&H, Best Buy, and Newegg for $299, while the moonlight white variant is available from Amazon, B&H, and Newegg for the same price.
T-Mobile and partner Nokia today said they successfully completed what they claim was the nation’s first two-way over-the-air 5G data session on a 3GPP-compliant 5G New Radio system. This means the mobile device was able to upload information to the network as well as download information from it. The pair completed the test in a T-Mobile lab using a simulated phone and Nokia's 5G NR equipment in the 28 GHz band. "This test is a big step forward in building real 5G that will work on actual smartphones," said Neville Ray, CTO at T-Mobile. According to T-Mobile, the companies relied on the Nokia AirScale baseband and radio, AirFrame server, and AirScale Cloud RAN with compliant software. They didn't say much about the simulated mobile device. T-Mobile and its competitors are rushing to roll out 5G services in at least some capacity by the end of the year. Each carrier is taking a slightly different approach. The goal of 5G development is to create service with 1 Gbps speeds, minimal latency, and advanced media support, such as augmented/virtual reality. T-Mobile says it will have 5G up and running in some markets by December.
The U.S. Department of Justice is exploring what impact the proposed merger of Sprint and T-Mobile will have on smaller carriers and MVNOs. Sprint and T-Mobile separately serve the prepaid space via their own Boost Mobile and MetroPCS brands, respectively, as well as MVNO's, such as Google-run Project Fi. With reduced competition, the Justice Department is concerned that the tie-up between the two companies could lead to higher prices for prepaid consumers. Reuters says the Justice Department "has been speaking with small wireless operators that buy access to the major wireless networks at wholesale rates, and is seeking their opinions about the merger." David Glickman, CEO of MVNOs Ultra Mobile and Mint Mobile confirmed that he'd been asked similar questions about the merger by the Justice Department. The $26 billion deal was proposed earlier this year and would see the nation's third- and fourth-largest carriers become one. Antitrust investigations are normal for such deals. No one from the Justice Department or T-Mobile commented on the investigation.
ZTE has agreed to preliminary terms with the Commerce Department that will eventually allow it to get back to business. The company has effectively shut down in the wake of a Commerce Department ban that prevents the company from using U.S. components and software in its phones. The company has taken job responsibilities away from select executives, filed official letters of reprimand, and is attempting to take back bonuses paid to some execs, says the Wall Street Journal. ZTE will also have to pay a sizable fine. The deal is not final and is still under review from the Trump administration, which has used the company's plight to invigorate trade talks with China. Even if a deal is struck and ZTE resumes operations, it is facing steep challenges due to disgruntled customers. For example an Italian carrier, called Wind Tre SpA, has demanded $117 million from ZTE due to stalled construction on base stations. Moreover, T-Mobile has walked away from a distribution deal worth more than a billon dollars, according to the Journal, thanks to ZTE's inability to supply it with phones and other gear. ZTE was the fourth-largest supplier of phones in the U.S. before the ban went into effect. It's not clear if or when a deal might be fully signed and put into effect.
T-Mobile today said its 600 MHz LTE is available in some 900 cities and towns across some 32 states. T-Mobile's 600 MHz spectrum, also known as Band 71, is being added to more and more phones. Right now Band 71 is available in six devices, with a dozen more expected to launch by the end of the year. The low-band LTE from T-Mobile competes with the 700 MHz spectrum being used by AT&T and Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile has said it will use Band 71 for some 5G services later this year. Further, the company said it plans to deploy LTE in Band 71 in Puerto Rico this fall. "T-Mobile’s strong commitment to Puerto Rico goes beyond hurricane recovery," said Jorge Martel, Vice President and General Manager of T-Mobile Puerto Rico. "We will continue to invest in the island’s future and in our network to expand and enhance LTE coverage."
Sales of the LG G7 ThinQ phone kicked off in the U.S. today. The phone is being sold by Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Project Fi, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. It costs $749. T-Mobile is offering a BOGO deal on the phone at launch. Features of the G7 ThinQ include a 6.1-inch screen, Snapdragon 845 processor, dual rear cameras with portrait shooting and Google Lens, wireless charging, Boombox sound and quad DAC, and Android 8 Oreo.
TCL today announced that its Alcatel 1x phone, an entry-level Android device that runs Android 8.1 Oreo Go Edition, will be available from Amazon.com starting the first week of June. The unlocked device is priced at $99. It will reach Best Buy and Walmart later in the month. The 1x has a 2:1 ratio 5.3-inch screen with 960 by 480 resolution and it is powered by a quad-core MediaTek processor clocked at 1.28 GHz. The phone ships with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor, while the user-facing camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Other hardware features include Cat 4 LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi; microUSB and memory card slot; and a 2,420mAh battery. The Alcatel 1X includes a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. It includes Go-optimized versions of core apps, including Google Assistant Go, Google Go, Files Go, Google Maps Go, YouTube Go, and Gmail Go, as well as performance optimizations to Chrome, Google Play, and Gboard. The Android Go platform is designed to run on low-spec'd hardware. The Alcatel 1x includes modest support for AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS, though it lacks the newest LTE bands.
Blu Products today announced the Pure View, a premium handset that adopts modern design aesthetics and features. The Pure View has a metal frame and ultraviolet battery cover on the rear in midnight black. The phone has a 5.7-inch HD+ display with an 18:9 aspect ratio and Gorilla Glass 3 for protection. The Pure View is powered by a 1.3 GHz MediaTek octa-core processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The phone features a 13-megapixel main camera at f/2.2 on the rear with flash and dual selfie cameras on the front with flash. Both front cameras have 8-megapixel sensors, one with a standard-view lens and the other with a 120-degree wide-angle lens at f/2.2. Other features include a 3,000mAh battery with rapid charging, fingerprint scanner, face unlock, memory card slot, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, WiFi, and microUSB. The phone is sold unlocked with modest support for AT&T/Cricket Wireless and T-Mobile/MetroPCS. The Blu Pure View retails at $199, but Amazon.com is offering it for $129 for a limited time.
T-Mobile today rolled out a big BOGO deal that sees the company offering free phones across a handful of brands. T-Mobile says the BOGO deal applies to the latest flagships from top-tier device makers including Apple, Samsung, and LG. Each brand has its own eligibility requirements, but there are some rules that apply to all the BOGO offers. First, customers can't mix and match brands, but they can mix and match models from the same brand. The second phone must be of equal or lesser value than the first. Both devices need to be financed on a T-Mobile equipment installment plan. Some of the offers include money back via prepaid card rebate while others are credited monthly on customer bills. T-Mobile customers get free access to Netflix, unlimited LTE on a T-Mobile One plan, T-Mobile Tuesday promos, GoGo in-flight WiFi on some domestic flights, and free data roaming in more than 140 countries. T-Mobile's summer BOGO deals will be available starting June 1.
The personal account details of T-Mobile customers were easily accessible for an unknown time thanks to a bug in T-Mobile's web site. The site in question was a subdomain used by T-Mobile staff to access customer account information when performing customer service tasks. The subdomain, however, was not protected by a password and could be used by anyone who knew how to find it. Using T-Mobile customer phone numbers, anyone could have quickly discovered names, account numbers, addresses, tax information, account payment status, PINs, and more. Security researcher Ryan Stevenson discovered the vulnerability in April and alerted T-Mobile. T-Mobile pulled the API in question and fixed the bug. "The bug bounty program exists so that researchers can alert us to vulnerabilities, which is what happened here, and we support this type of responsible and coordinated disclosure," said T-Mobile in a statement provided to ZDNet. "The bug was patched as soon as possible and we have no evidence that any customer information was accessed." A similar bug was discovered on a different T-Mobile subdomain last year.
FreedomPop today announced the launch of Unreal Mobile, a new MVNO that it says will offer the most competitive unlimited plans available. The company is specifically targeting Sprint and T-Mobile customers ahead of the two corporations' planned merger. "Unreal Mobile is able to provide consumers [with unlimited plans that start at just $15 per month] because of the market conditions created by the proposed merger," explained FreedomPop. "Specifically, while Sprint and T-Mobile are currently working to prove to regulators that competition will flourish under consolidation, they are compelled to accept MVNO models and pricing that historically would have been seen as too competitive to their retail businesses." FreedomPop relies on VoIP and streamlined customer service to compete with Sprint-owned Boost Mobile and AT&T-owned Cricket Wireless. Unreal Mobile, which will run on FreedomPop's platform, will compete directly with Sprint and T-Mobile's postpaid businesses. The company is offering unlimited LTE-based service starting at $15 per month, which includes a VPN, mobile ad blocking, and the ability to use the Unreal phone number on tablets, phones, and computers. FreedomPop says Unreal Mobile will offer top-tier devices, flexible service, and live-agent customer service. Unreal Mobile expects to launch during the summer of 2018. It is accepting beta testers via its web site.
At least one person thinks Sprint and T-Mobile should be required to divest their respective prepaid businesses if they are allowed to merge. Peter Adderton, founder and former CEO of Boost Mobile, firmly believes the market will become less competitive — particularly in the prepaid space — if Sprint and T-Mobile are allowed to merge without any divestitures. “If this merger is approved without the divesture of Boost Mobile and/or MetroPCS, the new combined entity will hold a 40% market share in the prepaid segment — which I would argue has the effect of being a monopoly or extreme dominance in the category,” said Adderton in a press release. “This level of market domination virtually always leads to rising prices, more onerous terms and conditions and lower service quality, and young and credit-challenged prepaid subscribers simply can’t afford that.” Sprint owns and operates Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA, while T-Mobile owns and operates MetroPCS. Sprint and T-Mobile “will have significant incentive to restrict network access to competing MVNOs. If that happens, MVNOs, who already run on extremely tight margins, have little or no opportunity to make a profit, and we can expect many of them to close their doors,” argued Adderton. Boost, Virgin, and MetroPCS do not own or operate their own networks, so it’s unclear how Adderton believes such a divestiture could work. Each would have to be given spectrum and other assets to launch functioning service around the U.S. Though Adderton said “I would love to take control of it, that’s not the driver here.” Instead, he insists his goal is to ensure the wireless market remains competitive. Adderton plans to take his case to Congress as well as the public. Sprint and T-Mobile believe their proposed merger will pass regulatory scrutiny, but the government has yet to make its case.
T-Mobile today revealed launch plans for the LG G7 ThinQ. Pre-sales for the phone begin Friday, May 25, with general retail availability starting June 1. T-Mobile said the LG G7 ThinQ will cost $750. It is asking customers for a $30 down payment followed by monthly payments of $30 for 24 months. Notably, the G7 ThinQ supports T-Mobile's 600 MHz spectrum, on which the carrier is deploying LTE across the nation. The phone supports 4x4 MIMO and 256 QAM for fast wireless performance. During the pre-sale period, T-Mobile is offering a buy-one, get-one deal on the LG G7 ThinQ. Both phones will need to be financed on an equipment installment plan. T-Mobile will make the monthly payments for the second device over a two-year period. T-Mobile says it is the only carrier offering the G7 ThinQ in raspberry rose.
Qualcomm today announced the FSM100xx, a 5G NR product designed for small cells and remote radio heads. Qualcomm says the FSM100xx builds on its existing Qualcomm FSM Platform for 3G and 4G small cells. It supports 5G NR in sub-6 GHz and mmWave spectrum, allowing network operators to make use of whatever spectrum is available to them in a given location. Qualcomm designed the FSM Platform for flexibility. It is based on 10nm mobile technologies for controlling power consumption while allowing for fast performance. Qualcomm says the FSM100xx can address the propagation characteristics of mmWave spectrum in real time, particularly in indoor spaces where small cells are most often deployed. Further, it supports MIMO and multi-gigabit throughout, as well as power-over-ethernet for broader outdoor deployments. Last, the FSM100xx includes a software-defined modem, which gives carriers the flexibility to control and update their hardware when needed to comply with future 3GPP releases of the 5G NR spec. Qualcomm says it expects the FSM100xx to begin sampling in 2019. Meanwhile, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile all claim they will launch 5G in select markets by the end of 2018.
The FCC today said it is investigating reports that a web site leaked the location data of millions of U.S. cell phones. A security researcher claims a company called LocationSmart suffered a leak and made it possible track the whereabouts of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless customers without their consent. Accuracy of the location data was as good as a few hundred yards. On her Twitter account today FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said, "The @FCC needs to investigate. No ifs, ands, or buts." Senator Ron Wyden agreed, saying, "This leak, only days after the lax security at Securus was exposed, shows how little companies throughout the wireless ecosystem value Americans’ security. Wireless carriers and LocationSmart appear to have allowed nearly any hacker with a basic knowledge of web sites to track the location of any American with a cell phone. A hacker could have used this site to know when you were in your house so they would know when to rob it. A predator could have tracked your child’s cell phone to know when they were alone." Wyden demanded an investigation and the FCC appears to agree. The agency has pushed the matter to its enforcement bureau to investigate.
LG today said it has commenced sales of its flagship G7 ThinQ phone in its home market of South Korea. The G7 ThinQ, announced earlier this month, is a premium metal-and-glass phone with a super bright 6.1-inch screen, Snapdragon 845 processor, AI-assisted dual rear cameras, BoomBox speaker, and Android 8 Oreo. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have committed to selling the LG G7 ThinQ beginning later this month. So far, however, U.S. pricing for the phone has been kept a secret. LG says carriers will announce pricing closer to the actual for-sale date. Pre-orders for the G7 ThinQ in the U.S. are expected to begin on or around May 24, with a ship date of June 1.
T-Mobile recently made the LG K30 available for sale from its web site for $225, or $9 per month for 24 months. The K30 is a rebadged variant of the K10, which LG announced earlier this year. The K30 has a U-shaped metal frame and a 5.3-inch 720p display and a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor. The phone features a 13-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel wide-angle front camera. Photo tools include bokeh/portraits and a Low Light Noise mode that works with HDR to reduce grain and provide more contrast in low-light shots. Other features include a 2,880mAh battery and fingerprint reader; LTE with support for Band 71 (600 MHz), GPS, Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, and FM radio; and a microUSB port. It ships with Android 7 Nougat.
AT&T does not plan to sell LG's new flagship phone, the G7 ThinQ, according to The Verge. Instead, the company plans to offer an exclusive phone from LG later this summer. “We offer a strong lineup of devices from LG today. And we’re planning to launch a new LG device this summer only from AT&T," said the company in a statement. AT&T competitors Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular all plan to sell the G7 ThinQ, which will be available for preorder starting on or about May 25. T-Mobile said it will sell the G7 later this spring. AT&T did not provide a reason for skipping the G7 ThinQ.
Following T-Mobile’s lead, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular have all committed to selling the new LG G7 ThinQ phone. Verizon Wireless said it will begin accepting preorders on May 24. Verizon did not specify a ship date. Sprint said it will start taking preorders on May 25, with an expected June 1 ship date. U.S. Cellular said it will take orders for the G7 ThinQ beginning June 1. None of these carriers has indicated what the phone might cost. AT&T is the only major carrier yet to announce launch details for the G7.
T-Mobile has committed to selling LG's new flagship device, the G7 ThinQ, but the Un-carrier didn't specify pricing or availability. Instead, the company said it will offer the phone "later this spring." T-Mobile did note that the G7 ThinQ supports its 600 MHz spectrum (Band 71) for LTE.
The CEOs of T-Mobile and Sprint insist merging the two companies will only lead to good things. "Prices are going down and jobs are going up," said John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, in an interview with CNN. Some worry reducing the number of national carriers from four to three might harm consumers, who could face less choice and less competition. Legere said the company has a history of offering low-price service and will keep it that way if and when the merger closes. Both CEOs claim the merger is needed to compete on a global scale in developing 5G. Building out 5G together could create thousands of jobs at Sprint/T-Mobile, says Legere. The companies hope the $26 billion merger will close during the first half of 2019, pending regulatory approval.
T-Mobile and Sprint today announced plans to merge in an all-stock deal that will create a "New T-Mobile" worth $146 billion. The new company's combined radio spectrum assets will allow it to accelerate deployment of 5G technology. The new T-Mobile plans to spend "up to $40 billion" on its new combined network in the first three years, 46% more than T-Mobile and Sprint spent combined in the past three years. The new company will assume both the T-Mobile brand and most of the T-Mobile leadership. John Legere, current President and CEO of T-Mobile US, will serve as CEO of the new company, and Mike Sievert, current COO of T-Mobile, will serve as President and COO. Tim Höttges, current T-Mobile Chairman of the Board, will serve as Chairman of the Board for the new company. Current Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure will serve on the board. Following closing, the company will be headquartered in Bellevue, Wash., with a "second headquarters" in Overland Park, Kan. The combined company will have lower costs and greater economies of scale, expected to result in run rate cost synergies of $6+ billion. The transaction is expected to close no later than the first half of 2019, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals
T-Mobile and Sprint are once again weighing a merger between the two businesses and may make an announcement as soon as Sunday, according to multiple reports. Unnamed sources cited by Bloomberg, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times all suggest the two companies, which have flirted with one another for years, are back at the table hammering out a deal. T-Mobile and Sprint were in merger discussions as recently as last year, but called off the talks when they couldn't agree which firm would take control of the combined entity. It's unclear what has changed since then, though the regulatory environment in the U.S. will likely pose less of an obstacle than before. The deal, which would see T-Mobile take control of 40% of Sprint along with voting control, may be valued at about $26 billion and would create the third-largest wireless provider in the country with about 127 million connections. The combined company might be more competitive with industry leaders AT&T and Verizon Wireless than either could be on its own. Neither T-Mobile nor Sprint commented on the matter.
Motorola's g-series phones have a long-held reputation for value and quality. With the 2018 incarnation, Moto is trying harder than ever to bring high-end features and design to a low price point. For $250, you get a metal body, curved glass back, full-HD screen with 2:1 ratio, dual camera with portrait mode and object recognition, USB-C, fast charging, a fingerprint reader, an ultrasonic sensor that lights up the screen as you approach. It also has much better support for U.S. LTE networks than most unlocked phones, including Verizon, Sprint, and newer bands used by AT&T and T-Mobile. How does it stack up in person? Here are our first impressions.
Motorola today announced four new affordable Android phones coming to the U.S. market before mid-year. Spread across the Moto e5 and Moto g6 series, all four new phones share the company's evolved design language that debuted with the Moto X4 last year. They also all sport a fingerprint reader, a clean version of Android 8 Oreo, Moto Actions gesture shortcuts, a water-repellent coating, front cameras with an LED flash, 3.5mm audio jacks, and memory card slots. They have Qualcomm Snapdragon 400-series processors supporting Cat. 6 LTE, and excellent support for all major US networks, including Sprint, Verizon, and band 66.
- Moto g6: The highest-end model of the group, it has a curved glass back, metal frame, and a 5.7-inch full-HD display with 2:1 ratio. It's powered by a Snapdragon 450 processor with either 3 or 4 GB of RAM, and 32 or 64 GB of storage. The 3,000 mAh battery supports fast charging via the USB-C port. The 12-megapixel camera (f/1.8) is aided by a 5-megapixel camera for depth sensing, to create portrait effects. The camera app includes object, landmark, and text recognition, as well as slow-motion and time-lapse modes. An ultrasonic system detects when you approach the phone and lights up the display to show the time and notifications. It will be sold unlocked for $249, and via carriers.
- Moto g6 Play: This more affordable model (at $199) has a rounded polycarbonate back and metal frame. The 5.7-inch display with 2:1 ratio is 720p HD resolution. It's powered by a Snapdragon 427 processor with either 2 or 3 GB of RAM and 16 or 32 GB of storage. The 4,000 mAh battery supports fast charging via micro-USB. The main camera is 13-megapixel camera with PDAF, while the front camera is 8-megapixel. Like the g6, it will be sold unlocked and via carriers. It supports all AT&T bands, include LTE 14, 29, and 30.
- Moto e5 Plus: A larger version of the Moto g6 Play. It has the same design and features, except the battery steps up to 5,000 mAh, the display size is bumped to 6 inches, and it adds laser focusing to the camera. The processor is a Snapdragon 435 and there is just one configuration with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. It will be available in the U.S. exclusively from carriers.
- Moto e5 Play: A lower-end model, similar to e-series models of years past. Its plastic shells pops off to reveal a removable (2,800 mAh) battery. Its 5.2-inch display has HD resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio. The Snapdragon 427 processor is accompanied by 2 of RAM and 16 GB of storage. (However at least one variant will have a Snapdragon 425 processor that only supports Cat. 4 LTE.) The cameras are 8 megapixel (rear) and 5 megapixel (front), and it can record 1080p video. Like the other models, it has dual-band Wi-Fi, a fingerprint reader, and gesture shortcuts. It will also be available exclusively from carriers.
T-Mobile today made a significant commitment to support members of the U.S. military and their families. First, the company is offering major discounts for military members. The first line in a family plan will see a discount of 20%, with each subsequent line available for half the normal price. For example, the T-Mobile One Military plan will cost $55 for the first line, $25 for the second line, and then $10 for lines three through six. The plan includes all the normal T-Mobile benefits, such as Netflix, T-Mobile Tuesdays, Simple Global, Mobile Without Borders, Scam ID, and Carrier Freedom. Beyond the reduced service rates, T-Mobile is offering military members 50% off the Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9+ (via monthly bill credits). T-Mobile has committing to hiring 10,000 military veterans and spouses over the next few years. Finally, T-Mobile says it will spend $500 million to boost LTE coverage in and around military communities, while also laying the groundwork in those communities for 5G. The T-Mobile One Military plan and associated benefits will be available starting April 22.
T-Mobile today agreed to pay the FCC a fine of $40 million to settle two separate violations. First, the FCC concluded that T-Mobile failed to connect calls to customers served by three rural phone companies in Wisconsin. Moreover, the FCC found that the problems persisted even though T-Mobile claimed to have resolved the issues. "It is a basic tenet of the nation's phone system that calls be completed to the called party, without a reduction in the call quality — even when the calls pass through intermediate providers," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. "The FCC is committed to ensuring that phone calls to all Americans, including rural Americans, go through." T-Mobile was also hammered for injecting false ring tones into certain calls. It admitted to doing so on hundreds of millions of calls, which violate FCC rules. This settlement marks the sixth for T-Mobile with respect to rural calls. The company did not offer comment on the settlement.
MetroPCS today rolled out a new offer that will give consumers two months of service for free when they meet certain conditions. In order to qualify, new customers will need to port in at least one phone number and select the $50 Unlimited LTE plan, the $60 Unlimited LTE with 10 GB of hotspot data plan, or the $100 4 lines of Unlimited LTE plan. After customers make two on-time monthly payments, they'll be given a $100 prepaid MasterCard, which is enough to cover two months of the $50 Unlimited LTE plan. Further, MetroPCS says new customers can score free phones from LG, Motorola, and Samsung. MetroPCS is owned and operated by T-Mobile. Customers will have to pay a $10 activation fee per new line, as well as sales taxes on new phones. Customers who exceed 35 GB of data per month may see data slowed when the network is congested. Video streams are limited to 480p resolution.
T-Mobile today said its iPhone customers can use the new Apple Business Chat feature to converse directly with T-Mobile customer service representatives. Apple Business Chat is a tool added via iOS 11.3, which Apple distributed to iOS devices last month. Moving forward, T-Mobile customers can message live T-Mobile customer service personnel from iMessage on their iPhone. T-Mobile says subscribers will be able to change their rate plan, change their address, buy a new phone, ask questions, make payments, check their balance, and more — all via chat. The service supports sending screenshots to customer service reps for troubleshooting purposes. Because iMessage is available on iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple Watches, customers can reach out to T-Mobile from whichever device they have on hand. iMessage is the native messaging application on iOS devices. Customers don't need to perform any updates to take advantage of Apple Business Chat. T-Mobile says more features like this are in the works.
ZTE made the Tempo Go available for purchase from its online store. The Tempo Go is a version of the Tempo X that runs the Android Go Oreo platform. Android Go is Google's slimmed-down version of Android for ultra low-cost devices with RAM of 1 GB of less. The Tempo Go has a 5-inch display with 854 by 480 pixels and it is powered by a Snapdragon 210 processor with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. Other features include a 5-megapixel rear camera and 2-megapixel front camera, microUSB, 3.5mm headset jack, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and a 2,200mAh battery. The Tempo Go is sold unlocked with support for the LTE 4G networks of AT&T and T-Mobile. The phone costs $80.
People in the U.S. who own the Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+ can expect to see Android 8 Oreo reach their phone over the coming days. Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and not AT&T are all pushing the system upgrade to their customers. Oreo includes notification dots, picture-in-picture, and autofill. The update brings the S8/S8+ in line with the user experience seen on the newer S9/S9+, which includes updated emoji. It also packs the February 2018 security patch from Google. The update weighs in at a little over 1.5 GB and can be downloaded over WiFi. Samsung has not yet said when it will update the unlocked model of the S8/S8+ to Oreo.
T-Mobile is offering customers a chance to access MLB.tv free for a third year in a row. T-Mobile announced that baseball fans will be able to watch every regular season Major League Baseball game on their smartphones through 2018. T-Mobile has partnered with MLB and is providing customers with a free year of MLB.tv and MLB At Bat Premium. T-Mobile customers can stream every out-of-market regular season game to their Apple or Google smartphone and tablet via the MLB.tv app. At Bat Premium is a mobile sports app for watching home and away broadcasts, and it also includes player stats, highlights, and other information. T-Mobile One customers don't need to worry about streaming on their plan thanks to unlimited data. T-Mobile says games will be streamed in standard definition by default, but can be viewed in HD if customers wish. T-Mobile customers will need to redeem the free subscription via the T-Mobile Tuesdays application between March 27 and April 2, and then sign up for MLB.tv Premium no later than April 2. On March 27, T-Mobile Tuesdays is also offering 25% off purchases made at MLBShop.com and 10 cents off per gallon of gas at Shell stations. T-Mobile has made similar offerings to customers the last two years.
T-Mobile today said it plans to expand its support for Rich Communications Services during the second quarter of the year by adopting the GSMA Universal Profile. This will allow T-Mobile customers to take advantage of RCS-based features, such as video chat and large file transfers, with the native Android Messages texting app on their handset. The GSMA Universal Profile, for example, will let people send files as big as 100MB via messaging in addition to audio notes and more. T-Mobile is working with Google and other carriers around the world to ensure its RCS service is compatible with those used by competing networks, such as Sprint in the U.S., which adopted Google's RCS standard several years ago. This means people will be able to send rich messages to one another without downloading or installing a third-party messaging application, such as WhatsApp. T-Mobile said its customers can expect to see an update to the Android Messaging app arrive during the second quarter of the year. Moreover, the company intends to bring RCS Business Messaging to its network down the road. This will let businesses chat directly with customers for actions such as taking restaurant reservations or setting appointments. T-Mobile already offers RCS service to its own customers and has since 2015. AT&T and Verizon support their own RCS-like messaging services and have not announced plans to support the GSMA Universal Profile for RCS.
Huawei said that its Honor View10 smartphone is available in the U.S. starting today. The phone will be up for preorder between March 12 and March 22, with shipments starting March 22. The View10 has a unibody aluminum chassis with smooth edges and curved glass. The display measures 5.99 inches and adopts the 2:1 aspect ratio with full HD+ resolution. The phone is powered by Huawei's top-of-the-line Kirin 970 processor with 8 cores, 6 GB of memory, and 128 GB of storage. The View10 includes a dual-camera array on the rear. The main camera has a full-color, 16-megapixel sensor and the secondary camera has a monochrome, 20-megapixel sensor. They can tap into PDAF and the Kirin 970's neural processing unit for sharp focus and portrait photos with blurred backgrounds. Other features include a 13-megapixel selfie camera, fingerprint sensor, NFC, dual SIM cards, 3,750mAh battery, 4K video capture, aptX HD, Microsoft Translate, muted notifications during gaming, screen recording, face unlock, and 3.5mm headphone jack. The Honor View10 runs Android 8.1 Oreo with Huawei's EMUI 8 user interface on board. It includes U.S. LTE Bands 2, 4, 5, 7 12, and 17, which gives it average support for AT&T and T-Mobile. Missing are newer bands such as T-Mobile's 66/71. The View10 is being sold in blue and black, unlocked, for $499. Honor is selling the phone from its own web site. The company didn't say if other online retailers, such as Amazon, Best Buy, or B&H, will also sell the phone.
Huawei recently began selling the Mate 10 SE via Amazon and other online retailers. The phone carries over most specs from the Honor 7X, which means it includes an aluminum unibody chassis with 2.5D curved glass and a 5.9-inch 2:1 aspect ratio display. It is powered by Huawei's Kirin 659 processor and has dual cameras, a fingerprint reader, a 3,340mAh battery, and Cat 6 LTE. It runs Android 7 Nougat with Huawei's EMUI 5.1 user interface on board. The one significant change under the hood concerns memory and storage. Where the Honor 7X had 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, the Mate 10 SE has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. The improvement in RAM should give the Mate 10 SE an edge in performance over the Honor 7X. On the exterior, the Mate 10 SE loses the Honor branding in favor of Huawei's, and the dual-camera array is encircled in a single frame rather than two. Amazon is selling the Mate 10 SE in gray and gold for $230 (about $30 more than the Honor 7X). It is unlocked and compatible with AT&T/T-Mobile and their prepaid brands.
All four major carriers in the U.S., AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, are building a "multi-factor authentication" method that will rely on peoples' cell phones to gain account access. The system, which has been in development since last September, is expected to launch before the end of the year. The goal is to cut back on identity theft and fraud enabled by weak or exposed passwords. The carriers said it will employ a "cryptographically verified phone number" that assesses data including device IP, SIM card, account, and how long customers have been with the carrier. "In addition, advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities will be used to help assess risk and protect customers," said the carriers in a statement. How this will be used by people on a day-to-day basis is still unknown. The group expects to provide more information later this year.
T-Mobile Is Building 5G in 30 Markets This Year, Will Launch In New York City In the First Quarter of 2019
T-Mobile today provided more details concerning its forthcoming 5G network. It will be building 5G across 30 cities in the U.S. this year. It will start with New York City in the 600 MHz and mmWave spectrum bands. Other named cities include Dallas, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. The company has been fortifying its LTE 4G network with technologies such as carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, 256 QAM, License Assisted Access, and FD-MIMO with 64 antennas (32 transmit, 32 receive). The company is not going to cap its LTE network in any form, continuing to use it for the foreseeable future. All these technologies have helped the company prepare for 5G. T-Mobile says 5G and 4G are going to coexist and live together. T-Mobile reiterated that it will first use its 600 MHz spectrum for 5G, though it is also eyeing the 3.5 GHz mid-band and 28 GHz mmWave spectrum. The FCC expects to auction off 28GHz later this year. T-Mobile didn't specify what mmWave spectrum it will us for its 5G network. T-Mobile sees 5G encompassing fixed broadband (routers), mobile service (phones, AR/VR, wearables, drones), and IoT (sensors, industrial automation). It will cover every inch of the U.S. with some 5G service by 2020 with equipment from Nokia and Ericsson. The company is already deploying 5G NR-capable hardware in its base stations. T-Mobile expects to debut the first 5G smartphones and other products during the first quarter of 2019.
The Google Phone app for Pixel and Nexus devices now offers Google-powered voicemail transcription for T-Mobile USA users. Google's app will transcribe incoming voicemails and drop the text in the voicemail tab of the app itself. T-Mobile customers who use a Pixel or Nexus can then scan the text without dialing for their voicemails. Google has offered voicemail transcription to its Google Voice customers for years. The company hasn't said if or when the transcription feature might expand to other carriers. Verizon is the only carrier that sells the device directly to consumers. Google sells an unlocked version, compatible with T-Mobile, from its own web store. The app is free to download from the Google Play Store.
MediaTek announced the Helio P60 system-on-a-chip, a processor that adopts artificial intelligence and other advanced features for mid-range devices. The P60 relies on a big.LITTLE architecture with four ARM A73 processors at 2 GH and four ARM A53 processors at 2 GHz. MediaTek says the chip pushes speeds up by 70% and power efficiency by 25% when compared to the P30. It includes an ARM Mali-G72 GPU clocked at 800 MHz for a 12% improvement in mobile gaming. The MediaTek P60 introduce a multi-core AI processing unit that includes facial, object, and scene recognition for security and camera apps. Developers can tap into the MediaTek NeuroPilot AI SDK and Neural Network API to take advantage of these features. MediaTek says the P60 supports dual-camera configurations of up to 20 megapixel and 16 megapixel pairings, or a single camera up to 32 megapixels. The tri-core image signal processor can handle bokeh effects, noise reduction, and support HDR viewing and recording. The P60 is paired with MediaTek's Cat 7 LTE 4G WorldMode Modem with support for dual SIMs, HPUE, and band 71 (for T-Mobile). MediaTek expects to see handsets powered by the Helio P60 reach the market before the end of the second quarter.