Samsung today said those who buy the Galaxy S9 or S9+ smartphones will have access to classic Disney characters Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse via the phones' cameras. The pair of mice are brought to life in the S9/S9+ device thanks to Samsung's AR Emoji, which uses the front-facing camera to help people animate characters and more. Owners of the S9/S9+ will be able to send animated GIFs of Mickey and Minnie through messaging apps or pin them to their lock screen. "With more than 6 billion emojis sent daily, our goal with developing AR Emoji was to provide a fun, exciting way to communicate and a new way to bring animated images to life,” said Samsung's Younghee Lee. Characters from other Disney films including The Incredibles, Zootopia, and Frozen will roll out throughout the year.
Owners of Samsung's newer high-end phones will soon be able to score same-day repairs for most problems. Samsung has teamed up with uBreakiFix, which has some 370 locations around the country, in order to provide more timely repairs. uBreakiFix offers authorized repairs with genuine Samsung parts. The company says its technicians are all certified by Samsung and repaired devices are restored to factory conditions. uBreakiFix will fix the Note 5 and Note 8, as well as the Galaxy S6, S7, S8, and S9. The partnership officially kicks off March 15. The move helps Samsung become more competitive with Apple, which offers quick iPhone repairs at its Apple Stores.
Microsoft has added the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ to its online store. The devices are pre-configured with Microsoft apps and services. "A Microsoft customization is applied to the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ Microsoft Edition when the devices are unboxed and connected to WiFi," explained Microsoft. When users first boot the device, they will be prompted to download Microsoft apps such as Office, Outlook, OneDrive, Cortana, and Microsoft's launcher for Android. Other than the software, the specs and features of the S9 and S9+ are unchanged from other versions of the phone. When purchased from Microsoft, the S9 and S9+ are unlocked. The S9 costs $720 and the S9+ costs $840.
Cricket Wireless today kicked off a new promotion that drops the price of some smartphones to $19. Customers who switch to Cricket between March 9 and March 16 can buy the Samsung Galaxy Halo 16GB or 32GB, Samsung Amp Prime 2, LG X Charge, LG Stylo 3, or the HTC Desire 555 for $19. Cricket says the promotion is to celebrate its 19th birthday. A number of other promotions are still available and can be combined with the $19 phone offer. For example, customers who switch to Cricket and sign up for the Unlimited 2 plan (normally $55/month) can get a $10 bill credit each month for up to a year, in addition to a $5 monthly Auto Pay credit. These discounts drop the monthly cost to $40. The Unlimited 2 plan offers unlimited calls, messages, and data in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. The company is also offering four lines on the Unlimited 2 Plan for $100. Details are available on Cricket's web site.
Preorders for the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ start today and AT&T hopes its promotion will score with customers. Similar to Sprint's offer, AT&T will give customers up to $500 in account credits through combined promotions. First, customers who port in a number from a competing carrier will be rewarded with a $150 bill credit. Further, those who trade in a smartphone will receive a minimum of $200, and possibly as much as $350, in bill credits. Phones worth $350 on trade are the Apple iPhone 8, 8 Plus or iPhone X; LG V30; Google Pixel 2/XL Phones. Phones worth $300 on trade include any of the Samsung Galaxy S7 variants. With these offers combined, AT&T says the S9 price drops to as low $290, while the S9+ drops to $415. By way of comparison, Sprint is offering $350 off its S9/S9+ lease program and $150 via Visa gift card. The S9 is also sold by T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.
Sprint said those who preorder the Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9+ can save up to $500 on the new handsets. First, Sprint is offering $350 off the Sprint Flex price for those who preorder and trade-in an eligible handset. This knocks the monthly price of the S9 to $13.55 and S9+ to $18.55. Further, Sprint will reward those who port in a number with a $150 Visa gift card. The $150 gift card does not require a trade on its own. Sprint says the deals will be offered for a limited time. Samsung is also offering a $350 promo for consumers who preorder the Galaxy S9 or S9+ with a trade. Preorders for the Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+ kick off on Friday, March 2.
The current state of mobile device security patches is lacking, according to a new report issued today by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC studied how Apple, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, and Samsung support their devices over time. "Our report found significant differences in how the industry deploys security updates and that more needs to be done to make it easier for consumers to ensure their devices are secure," said Acting Director Tom Pahl. The agency notes that many devices are updated infrequently, if at all, and that manufacturers often fail to deliver on promises. It wants phone makers and carriers to improve the situation. The agency suggested each does a better job of explaining mobile device security to consumers (i.e., make it clear to them that the updates are important and worth installing). The FTC also recommended that phone makers consider issuing security patches as stand-alone updates, rather than bundled with general OS upgrades. The FTC noted that companies that make their own operating system, in this case, Apple and Google, are often better at providing timely updates for a longer period of time. The FTC is calling for members of the mobile industry to find a way to bring clarity to consumers and more rapid security updates.
Samsung's Galaxy S9+ has a powerful camera that allows you to really flex your creative muscle. We spent an afternoon strolling La Rambla in Barcelona experimenting with some of the camera modes. Here are some sample images, with a focus on comparing the differences between the f/1.5 and f/2.4 apertures.
Samsung this week provided a bit more information regarding its forthcoming smart speaker. The company says it is targeting the second half of the year to launch the product, and it will be powered by Samsung's Bixby artificial assistant. Samsung warned it won't necessarily be cheap. "When I introduce the first model, I don't want to give the impression that Samsung delivered another affordable mass model. I want to focus on more premium," said Samsung's mobile chief D.J. Koh, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. The speaker will arrive in time for the holidays, but Samsung hasn't said much else. Apple recently released its HomePod speaker, powered by Siri, and Google has released a slew of Google Home speakers powered by Google Assistant.
Samsung today said it partnered with UCSF to create an app that will allow S9 and S9+ owners to gauge their health. The My BP Lab app, which will be free to download from the Google Play Store, uses the optical heart rate monitor of the S9 and S9+ to monitor blood pressure and stress levels. Over time, it can create personalized insights for people so they may try to improve their daily health. People who download the app will be invited to join a UCSF study to track stress and emotions and how each impacts users' well being. Those who opt to participate will need to report about their behavior over a three-week period, such as when they exercise, sleep, and eat. They'll have to take multiple measurements throughout the day in order to create enough data for the study. Samsung says the My BP Lab app will become available starting March 15.
All four major carriers in the U.S. plan to sell the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ beginning in March. Preorders for the phones kick off March 2 and the handset is expected to be available in stores on March 16. Samsung itself is selling the unlocked version via its web site. The S9 costs $720 and the S9+ costs $840. Customers can apply for financing from Samsung to break down the cost of the phone over 24 months. Samsung is offering app to $350 off the price with a qualifying trade-in. Pricing from U.S. carriers varies significantly.
- AT&T: AT&T is asking subscribers to its AT&T Next plans to pay $26.34 per month for 30 months for the S9 (total: $790), or $30.50 per month for 30 months for the S9+ (total: $915). AT&T says business customers can get a $150 activation credit with they by the S9 or S9+ on an installment plan. The devices support Band 14, and thus the AT&T-run FirstNet public safety network. AT&T's prepaid brand, Cricket Wireless, plans to sell the Galaxy S9 and S9+ at full cost.
- Sprint: Sprint is selling the S9 for $33.00 per month with $0 down on a Sprint Flex lease (total: $792). The Galaxy S9+ will be $38.00 per month with $0 down on a Sprint Flex lease (total: $912).
- T-Mobile: T-Mobile is asking customers to pay $30 per month for 24 months for the S9 with $0 down (total: $720), and $30 per month for 24 months for the S9+ with $120 down (total: $840) For a limited time, postpaid customers can get up to $360 off either phone with a qualifying trade-in when the S9 or S9+ is purchased on an equipment installment plan. T-Mobile's prepaid brand, MetroPCS, will sell the Galaxy S9 starting March 16 for full price.
- Verizon Wireless: Last, Verizon Wireless is charging $33.33 per month for 24 months for the S9 (total: $799) and $38.74 per month for 24 months for the S9+ (total: $930). Customers who switch to Verizon, port in their line, and trade in an old phone may get up to $500 in bill credits towards the purchase of a Galaxy S9 or S9+.
Samsung's new flagship handsets, the Galaxy S9 and S9+, are here and they offer lots to be excited about. Samsung took the wining design of last year's phones and upped the ante with improvements to the chassis, cameras, and software. The S9 and S9+ are Samsung's most powerful, and perhaps most fun, smartphones ever. Here are Phone Scoop's first impression.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy S9 and S9+ phones, updates to last year's S8 models. The devices bear a striking resemblance to their predecessors and make only modest changes to the hardware. The S9/S9+ feature 2:1 screens with slightly reduced bezels and glass panels front and back. Most significantly, Samsung rotated the camera/fingerprint module so the reader is in a central location on the rear. The phones also adopt stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos and produce louder sound than the S8/S8+. The S9/S9+ carry over features such as the waterproof chassis, USB-C port, headphone jack, and dedicated Bixby button. Samsung made significant improvements to the camera. The 12-megapixel cameras now include switchable aperture, from f/1.5 to f/2.4, to help with low-light situations. The camera sensor includes embedded DRAM memory — similar to Sony's premium phones — that allows the S9/S9+ to capture 960fps slow-motion. The slow-mo mode includes a motion detection function so it knows when to slow down the video for maximum effect. Each phone also includes an 8-megapixel selfie camera, along with face and iris scanning for security. Samsung added AR Emoji, a tool that echos the Animoji feature on the iPhone X to a certain degree. Users record their face which is then turned into a cartoon avatar and applied to 18 different personalized GIFs. The AR Emoji also let users animate faces such as a devil, and even apply (and purchase) various types of makeup. Further, S9/S9+ owners can easily save and share the AR Emoji with most other devices. Samsung says the S9/S9+ include a more refined version of Bixby that is now able to recognize more actions. More importantly, Bixby Vision now works in real-time, allowing for instant language translation and searches when viewing items through the camera. The devices ship with Android 8 Oreo, the Samsung SmartThings app, and the latest version of Samsung's DeX software. Samsung's SmartThings will allow the S9/S9+ to interact with other connected Samsung devices, such as refrigerators. The DeX software now works with a new dock that lets the phone act as a virtual mouse and/or keyboard. The S9 includes a 5.8-inch quad HD+ screen and 3,000mAh battery, while the S9+ includes a 6.2-inch quad HD+ screen and 3,500mAh battery. The only other difference in the hardware is found on the rear of the S9+, which features a second camera for 2x telephoto images. Both phones rely on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor with 4 or 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. The phones support microSD cards up to 400 GB. Preorders for the Galaxy S9 and S9+ kick off March 2 and the phones will reach stores March 16. Samsung is offering up to $350 for trade-ins when put toward the purchase of an S9/S9+. The phone will be sold in black, purple, and blue in the U.S. AT&T, Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless, and Xfinity Mobile all plan to carry the phone. It will also be available form Best Buy, Amazon, Costco, Sam’s Club, Target, and Walmart. Pricing is about $799 for the S9 and $899 for the S9+.
Google today made ARCore 1.0 available to developers and the public, bringing augmented reality to some 100 million smartphones around the world. Handsets compatible with ARCore include Google’s Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL; Samsung’s Galaxy S8, S8+, Note8, S7, and S7 edge; LGE’s V30 and V30+; Asus’s Zenfone AR; and OnePlus’s OnePlus 5. More devices from Samsung, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Asus, Xiaomi, HMD/Nokia, ZTE, Sony Mobile, and Vivo will be compatible with ARCore later this year. The 1.0 release gives developers an updated set of tools to create virtual content. For example, it features improved environmental understanding that lets people put virtual objects on surfaces like posters, furniture, toy boxes, books, cans, and more. The refreshed Android Studio Beta supports ARCore in the Emulator, so developers can get to work right away. Some of the first brands to offer ARCore content include Porsche, FC Barcelona, and Sotheby's. Google says it is expanding the availability of the Google Lens Preview, which lets you take a picture and gather information about what's in the image. Google says Lens will hit all Google Photos English-language users over the coming weeks. Further, Google is going to add Google Lens to its Google Assistant on select Android flagship devices. Lens lets people create contacts from business cards, recognize plants and animals, and add events to their calendar by taking photos.
Samsung today announced Samsung Max, a free app for Android devices that will provide new data conservation and security tools. The app, a reborn version of the former Opera Max app, includes Data Saving Mode to help people stretch their mobile data buckets a bit further each month. The app can monitor which apps are using data and alert users to apps that consume too much. It also helps by actively compressing images, videos, music files, and web pages within apps and the browser to keep data consumption down. People can fine-tune how Data Saving Mode polices other apps in the advanced settings tools. On the security front, Samsung Max includes Privacy Protection Mode, a VPN for securing phones when on WiFi. It encrypts WiFi traffic with a single tap, blocks trackers and cookies, and includes a Domain Name System masking service to hide the user's location. Samsung says Samsung Max will reach the Google Play Store on February 23. The company will also preinstall it on some devices later this year.
Qualcomm today said it has expanded its long-standing agreement with Samsung to use the company's foundries to manufacture Snapdragon 5G mobile chipsets. Samsung's new 7-nanometer, low power plus (LPP), extreme ultra violet (EUV) lithography techniques produce significantly smaller chips that give phone makers more space in their designs. The 7LPP process also provides significant improvements to battery life. Compared to Samsung's older 10nm FinFET process, the 7LPP EUV process boosts chip efficiency by 40%, with a 10% increase in performance or a 35% drop in power consumption. Neither company provided a timeline for expected manufacturing of the chips, nor did they suggest when such chips might reach phones or other mobile devices.
Samsung has pulled the Android 8 Oreo update for the Galaxy S8 after users reported random reboots. "Following a limited number of cases where Galaxy S8 and S8+ devices have rebooted unexpectedly with the Android 8.0 Oreo, we have temporarily stopped the rollout of the update," said Samsung in a statement provided to SamMobile. "We are investigating the issue internally to ensure that the impact to the affected devices is minimized and the rollout of the update can resume as quickly as possible." Samsung has been rolling out Android 8 slowly over the last few weeks, mostly in European markets. The update had not yet reached the S8 and S8+ in the U.S. Samsung did not say when it expects the make the update available again.
Samsung today suggested that the camera on its forthcoming Galaxy S9 smartphone will be quite different from that of the S8 and previous devices. "Imagine a camera that can see more than your eyes — one that can help you capture every moment and change the way you experience the world," said the company on its web site. "We didn’t just update the camera. We rethought the entire camera experience." The company recently posted several videos to its YouTube channel that highlight different functions of the camera. The first covers high-speed / sports use cases, while the second showcases low-light prowess, and the third suggests the S9 will feature iPhone X-style animoji. Samsung is expected to announce the Galaxy S9 and S9+ on February 25 during the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.
T-Mobile today announced new ways for its postpaid and prepaid customers to save some green. First, T-Mobile has a buy-one, get-one offer on deck for LG handsets. Postpaid customers who buy the G6, V30, or V30+ on a T-Mobile equipment installment plan can snag a second LG phone (of equal or lesser value) for free via monthly bill credits. This BOGO offer is available to new and current customers. Second, prepaid customers who switch from another carrier and port their number to MetroPCS will receive a $150 instant rebate that can be used toward the price of any phone. T-Mobile says the devices such as the Samsung J7 Prime, LG Stylo 3 Plus, ZTE Blade ZMAX, or LG K20 would all be free thanks to the rebate. New customers will have to sign up for MetroPCS' Unlimited LTE plan. Third, existing MetroPCS customers can score a $50 instant rebate when they add a line to an existing Unlimited LTE plan ($60/mo). The $50 rebate can be applied to a phone priced $79 and higher. Last, MetroPCS is still running its four lines for $100 deal. New or existing customers who port in at least one line can get up to four lines of unlimited talk, text, and LTE data for $100. These deals will be available for a limited time.
Qualcomm warned investors that two of its most important customers have threatened to take their business elsewhere should Qualcomm be acquired by Broadcom. Qualcomm didn't name the customers, but said together they contribute a combined $1 billion in chip revenue. Qualcomm's most important customers are Apple and Samsung, followed by Huawei, LG, Sony, Oppo, and Xiaomi. The customers in question cited a lack of confidence in Broadcom's ability to lead a combined Qualcomm-Broadcom entity as the impetus for their decisions. Broadcom made a second offer for Qualcomm this week, but Qualcomm's board rejected it. The two companies will, however, meet over the next few days to discuss the possibilities of a merger. Some of the biggest questions Qualcomm wants answered concern how much more is Broadcom willing to spend on the acquisition, and what will it do to ensure the deal is completed successfully. Qualcomm is also worried about antitrust issues, and pointed to several big deals that have taken more than 18 months to clear regulatory hurdles. Broadcom has offered to pay Qualcomm $8 billion should the merger fail to be approved.
Samsung today introduced new ISOCELL Dual image sensor camera systems that will give mid-level and low-cost phones access to advanced bokeh and low-light features. Samsung's offering is a complete solution that includes the ISOCELL Dual sensors and properly optimized algorithms to match them in a single package. Samsung believes this will make it quicker and less expensive for phone makers to drop the package into devices, bringing a new array of features to their devices. To start, the new ISOCELL Dual combines Samsung's bokeh/portrait software with a 13-megapixel / 5-megapixel pair of sensors, or its low-light shooting software with a pair of 8-megapixel sensors. Phone makers can select one or the other. Samsung didn't say how soon the new ISOCELL Dual software/sensor packages will be available to phone makers.
Sprint will use its 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings to provide the backbone for its planned 5G network, which is on deck to go live during the first half of 2019. The company is already hard at work on what it calls its Next-Gen Network. Sprint plans to deploy 64T64R Massive MIMO 2.5 GHz radios, which it says will increase capacity by as much as 10 times that of current LTE systems, in addition to boosting data speeds. Massive MIMO will support both LTE and 5G New Radio services at the same time on the same towers. The company is already in the process of upgrading its towers in all three spectrum bands (800 MHz, 1.9 GHz, and 2.5 GHz). It plans to build thousands of new cell cites as part of its densification project, and hopes to deploy up to one million Sprint Magic Boxes. The Sprint Magic Boxes are small cells already being used at 80,000 sites across 200 cities. "We’re working with Qualcomm and network and device manufacturers in order to launch the first truly mobile 5G network in the United States by the first half of 2019," said Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure today during the company's quarterly earnings call. Sprint competitors AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have all committed to launching some form of 5G service later this year, though none has a nationwide footprint on deck for launch. Sprint has 160 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum in the top 100 markets around the U.S. Sprint's competitors are eyeing other spectrum bands for their 5G networks. For example, T-Mobile plans to use some of its 600 MHz holdings. Sprint says chipsets and devices are in the works, too. "We have come to an agreement with Qualcomm that they are going to be able to release this toward the later end of 2018, the new chipsets," said Claure. "And we have had a conversation with a leading Korean manufacturer to basically have devices ready by the first half of 2019." LG and Samsung are both based in Korea. Sprint expects to charge more for unlimited 5G service. Claure believes it has more wiggle room with respect to price than its competitors because it currently charges less for unlimited 4G service. In other Sprint news, the company said it added 256,000 postpaid customers during the fourth quarter of 2017, as well as 63,000 prepaid customers.
The Universal Flash Storage version 3.0, approved this week by JEDEC, will eventually lead to faster performance of flash memory chips. UFS 3.0 is optimized for smartphones, tablets, and automotive applications where power consumption needs to be minimized while delivering incredible throughput. JEDEC says UFS 3.0 takes advantage of M-PHY HS-Gear4, which doubles the data rate to 11.6 Gbps per lane when compared to M-PHY HS-Gear3. Tacking on support for the MIPI M-PHY v4.1 and MIPI UniPro v1.8 specifications means UFS 3.0 is able to more reliably form links and monitor for trouble. It carries over support for ultra lower power requirements and supports the latest NAND technology. JEDEC said it expanded the range of temperatures in which the the spec and associated gear can operate to better serve the automative market. Companies that make NAND flash components, such as Samsung, can put UFS 3.0 to work in their future flash storage designs. Operations that might be improved by UFS 3.0 include writing high-definition video to internal storage. It will take time for this technology to reach consumer devices.
Verizon said it is kicking off several new promotions this week that should save customers some money. Starting February 1, customers who subscribe or upgrade to both Verizon’s unlimited wireless plan and its FiOS Gigabit Connection plan will receive a $20 discount per month ($10 off the wireless and $10 off the FiOS.) Verizon said customers will be able keep this discount as long as they remain on both services. The unlimited and Gigabit Connection plans are Verizon’s most expensive. Verizon also plans to discount several products. New and existing customers can score the Samsung Galaxy Note8 for $200 less than the normal price. Customers can save $50 on the JBL Link 10 speaker, as well as save $30 on the Lifeprint Photo & Video printer. These deals will be available through February.
Qualcomm today said it has updated its global patent cross-licensing agreement with Samsung. The patents in question cover mobile devices and telecommunications gear. As part of the deal, Samsung has agreed to withdraw legal complaints it filed against Qualcomm in South Korea. The two firms also announced a renewed strategic relationship that will see them working together across a variety of product categories, including mobile devices and 5G. Financial terms of the new agreements were not disclosed.
Samsung today informed those who use its Samsung Cloud service that it will no longer backup data from third-party applications. Starting February 6, 2018, the company will only backup information stored in Samsung-branded apps, including contacts, calendar, internet, notes, photos, videos, music, and documents. It will also store backups of the home screen, app installation files, and settings. "After this change you will not be able to backup app data or restore it from a previous backup on Samsung Cloud. Any existing data from previous backups will be deleted immediately," explained Samsung in an email. "Users who need to backup app data should do so using Smart Switch or the backup and restore functionality of each third party application, if available." Samsung did not provide a reason for making this change.
Samsung today said its Samsung Pay mobile payment service is now available in Mexico. According to Samsung, its touch-and-go payment tool is accessible in 20 markets around the world, including the U.S. Samsung Pay makes use of both NFC and MST to connect to retail payment terminals. This gives it an advantage over services that use only NFC, such as Apple Pay and Android Pay. In order for Samsung Pay to function in Mexico, the company partnered with a number of card issuers, including American Express, MasterCard, and Visa, and local banks, including Banorte, Banregio, Citibanamex, HSBC, and Santander. Samsung Pay supports credit cards, debit cards, and loyalty cards/programs. It can be secured via iris recognition or fingerprint. Transactions are tokenized in order to maintain security. Samsung Pay is available on many of Samsung's top-tier handsets, such as the Galaxy S8 and Note8.
Verizon Wireless said customers can save big on select smartphones with a new buy-one, get-one offer that kicks off January 23. New and existing customers who add a new line of Verizon Unlimited service will be able to buy the Google Pixel 2, Samsung Galaxy S8, Motorola Moto Z2 Force, or LG V30 and get a second one for free. In order to qualify for the offer, both devices will need to be purchased on a monthly installment plan. The BOGO deal also requires a trade-in, the value of which can be put toward the purchase price of the new phones. Verizon will cover the cost of the second phone via monthly bill credits over the course of 24 months. Customers won't be able to mix and match: the second phone must come from the same manufacturer as the first, though people can opt for the larger Pixel 2 XL or Galaxy S8+ and cover the difference in cost on the second device. The Verizon BOGO deal counters a similar one launched by T-Mobile earlier this month.
Samsung has announced the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games Limited Edition of the Galaxy Note8. The phone maker often supports the Olympic Games and this year created a special version of the Note8 in honor of the Games being held in its home country of Korea. The core features of the phone are unchanged compared to the normal variants. The Olympic-themed version features a new white glass rear panel, wallpapers created from imagery of PyeongChang, and apps meant to help participants make the most of PyeongChang. Samsung plans to distribute some 4,000 Galaxy Note8 handsets to athletes and staff members. The PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games officials begin February 8.
Samsung will ensure that at least some of its future U.S. smartphones ship with active FM radios, says NextRadio. Sometimes Samsung and/or its carrier partners leave FM radios, which are included in nearly all phones, inert. That will change. FM radio makes it possible for hundreds of millions of people to find and listen to local broadcasts for free. NextRadio allows people to listen to local radio stations via their phone's FM radio, in addition to stations from all over the country through their phone's data connection. NextRadio says gaining access to the FM radio on Samsung's phones will translate to huge power and data savings for end users. NextRadio can access FM signals even when cellular data networks are not available. Neither Samsung nor NextRadio said which phones might be the first to benefit from this partnership. Alcatel, LG, and Motorola have already enabled FM radios on their handsets.
T-Mobile today announced a buy-one, get-one deal that sees major discounts on top phones. T-Mobile says 12 flagship devices from the likes of Apple, LG, and Samsung qualify for the promotion, including the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone X, G6, V30, S8, Note8 and others. To qualify, customers will have to activate one new line of service and buy both phones on a monthly installment plan. T-Mobile will make monthly payments for the second device (up to $750) over the course of two years. Customers who want a deal on a single handset can earn a $150 rebate plus the value of a trade-in. Accepted trades include recent flagships from LG and Samsung. Last, T-Mobile is targeting Verizon Wireless customers. It will give Verizon subscribers who leave big red up to $650 and pay off the balance of their Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ and other popular smartphones. Those who switch will need to subscribe to a T-Mobile One Plus plan to get the reimbursement for old phones. All three promotions go into effect January 12.
Samsung plans to announce its 2018 flagship handset at next month's Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona. Some had speculated the company would reveal the phone at CES, but JD Koh, president of Samsung's mobile business, confirmed to ZDNet that the Galaxy S9 will arrive in February. Samsung has used MWC on several occasions to launch is flagship Galaxy S series, most recently the Galaxy S7 in 2016. The Galaxy S8 marked its debut at a stand-alone event in New York City on March 29, 2017. Sales of the new Galaxy S9 could could begin as soon as March of this year. Some reports suggest the new phone will be an upgraded version of the S8 design, with a relocated fingerprint sensor and dual cameras. Samsung has not confirmed any feature of the phone. Koh also noted that Samsung plans to release a foldable smartphone at some point in 2019.
Qualcomm today said a number of leading handset makers have adopted its radio frequency front-end. Some of the OEMs include Google, HTC, LG, Samsung and Sony Mobile. This means these smartphone manufacturers will rely on Qualcomm's hardware to ensure their devices can talk to wireless networks. This is particularly important for T-Mobile, as the RF front end provides comprehensive 600 MHz band (B71) support. T-Mobile is deploying LTE on its 600 MHz spectrum now and plans to use it for 5G service down the road. The RF front end includes a modem-to-antenna system using the new QPM26xx series gallium arsenide-based power amplifier module. The module contains duplexers, envelope tracker, antenna tuners, antenna switches, and discrete and integrated filter modules. Qualcomm says its RF front end supports features such as Gigabit LTE, 4x4 MIMO and LTE Advanced today, and will evolve to handle 5G technologies in 2019.
Samsung today announced the Exynos 9810, its flagship processor for the year, a chip that will likely form the heart of the company's Galaxy S series devices in a few months. The 9810 is built on Samsung's second-generation 10-nanometer FinFET process, which gives it a bump in speed and efficiency. Specifically, the 9810 has a bank of eight customized CPU cores, with four pushed to 2.9 GHz for high-power tasks and four tuned for low-power efficiency. Together with improved cache memory, Samsung says performance is up 40% compared to the 9810's predecessor. Similar to the Huawei Kirin 959 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, the Exynos 9810 includes a measure of artificial intelligence. It is able to use machine learning for object recognition, such as people for face unlock or image search. Samsung claims this will help power advanced camera and security tools in flagship devices. The 9810 include a new high-speed modem, jumping to 1.2 Gbps LTE. It includes Cat 18 LTE for six-channel carrier aggregation along with 4x4 MIMO, 256 QAM, and LTE-LAA for speeds of 1.2 Gbps on the downlink and 200 Mbps on the uplink. The 9810 should improve the media experience on handsets as well, thanks to the new image processor and upgraded multi-format codec. Samsung says these are faster and more energy efficient and can handle 4K video playback at 120fps. Moreover, the added support for 10-bit HEVC and VP9 means the 9810 can render up to 1.07 billion colors. (The Snapdragon 845 carries this same set of improved color capabilities.) Together, the 10-bit HEVC and VP9 support will deliver more accurate color fidelity with wider dynamic range on smartphone displays. Samsung says the Exynos 9 Series 9810 is already in mass production.
Samsung today updated its Galaxy A8 mid-level devices, which now follow closely the pattern set by the S8 and S8+ flagship phones. The A8 series employs glass panels front and back with a metal frame in between. The A8 and A8+ share most every feature and specification, but the latter has a larger screen and battery. Both devices adopt the Samsung 18.5:9 InfinityDisplay with HD+ (2,160 x 1,080) resolution. The A8's display measures 5.6 inches while the A8+'s screen stretches a longer 6 inches across the diagonal. The phones share an octa-core processor, with two cores at 2.2 GHz and six cores at 1.6 GHz. They come with 4 GB / 6 GB of RAM and 32 GB / 64 GB of storage, depending on configuration, with support for microSD cards up to 256 GB. The main camera includes a 16-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/1.7 for better low-light photography. It also adds digital video stabilization for smoother video. The A8 and A8+ put a pair of cameras on the front, a 16-megapixel main sensor and a secondary 8-megapixel sensor, both at f/1.9. Samsung says the phones can produce a range of selfies and portrait effects with Samsung's Live Focus feature for adjusting focus after the fact. Other features include fingerprint reader, USB-C, fast charging, NFC (and MST) for Samsung Pay, Bluetooth 5, WiFi, and LTE Cat 11. The devices are certified IP68 for protection against water and dust up to 1.5 meters, and are the first A series handsets to support Samsung's Gear VR headsets. The A8 includes a 3,000mAh battery and the larger A8+ has a 3,500mAh battery. The 2018 Galaxy A8 series come in black, orchid grey, gold, and blue and run Android 7.1 Nougat. Samsung said they will be available in early January 2018. Pricing wasn't disclosed.
Verizon Wireless plans to let holiday shoppers score a smartphone for free with an upcoming buy-one, get-one deal. Beginning Friday, December 15, customers who buy an Apple iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus, or a Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+ can get a second device for free. Both devices will need to be purchased on a payment plan and at least one must be a new line of service. The second phone must be from the same manufacturer and be of equal or lesser value. The cost of the second device will be reimbursed monthly over a 24-month period. Verizon says the offer is valid for existing customer upgrades, as well as those who switch to Verizon. The buy-one, get-one deal will be available for a limited time.
Synaptics today said of the five largest phone manufacturers in the world has agreed to use its Clear ID FS9500 optical, in-display fingerprint sensor. The FS9500 can scan fingerprints through the full thickness of smartphone cover glass, which means device makers can create sleek, button-free designs and still include a fingerprint reader on the front. Synaptics says the FS9500 was designed with "bezel-free infinity displays" in mind. This latest generation of Synpatics' technology can read fingerprints on wet, dry, or cold fingers, and the reader is always protected by the glass, making it durable and waterproof. Synaptics claims its sensor is twice as fast as 3D facial recognition tools, and comes and goes only when needed to authenticate the user. Synaptics didn't name the phone maker, nor did it suggest when a device with the Clear ID FS9500 might come to market. According to IDC, the top five phone makers in the third quarter of 2017 were Samsung, Apple, Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi.
Qualcomm today named the Snapdragon 845, its flagship processor for 2018. The chip supplants the Snapdragon 835 at the top of Qualcomm's line of mobile processors. The 835 is one of the most popular processors for high-end smartphones from the likes of LG, Samsung, OnePlus, and Huawei. The 845, announced at the Snapdragon Technology Summit, will power not only mobile phones but Windows-based laptops. Qualcomm didn't provide too many details about the chip, other than to say it will be paired with the company's X20 Gigabit LTE modem. It will target augmented reality and virtual reality applications, offer top security, improve battery life, and support faster recharging. The chip is expected to be manufactured by Samsung, relying on Samsung's 10nm process. Qualcomm is expected to share more information about the Snapdragon 845 in the days ahead. Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun said the company will build a flagship handset based on the Snapdragon 845 next year.
Samsung today announced the first part designed for mobile devices that can store 512GB of data. The solution effectively doubles the amount of internal storage a high-end phone can ship with. 512GB is enough for about 20 hours of 4K video. The embedded Universal Flash Storage (eUFS) package is no larger than the company's existing 256 GB solution. The advancement is possible thanks to Samsung's new 64-layer V-NAND chips, of which there are eight in the new part. Samsung's existing 256 GB solution uses 48-layer chips.
Target today made it possible for people to make in-store payments with their smartphones through the Target mobile app. Similar to Walmart’s offering, shoppers can link their debit cart to the new Wallet function within the Target app. At the register, users call up a code on their device that the cashier then scans to complete the sale. Target’s new system does not rely on NFC, used by Apple Pay or Android Pay, or NFC/MST, used by Samsung Pay, for tap and go payments. The new functionality of the Target app can be paired with existing tools, such Cartwheel, for discounts and sales. The new Target app is available to both Android and iOS devices and is free to download.