AT&T today said it has launched what it calls 5G Evolution in 117 new markets, bringing the total of pre-5G markets to 141. The company says its 5G Evolution technology can deliver theoretical speeds up to 400 Mbps to properly equipped phones. AT&T expects to launch 5G service in in a dozen markets, including Dallas and Waco, Texas, and Atlanta, Ga., by the end of the year. Further, AT&T has expanded its LTE-LAA footprint from three markets to parts of seven markets. LTE-LAA can push speeds to theoretical a max of 1 Gbps. The new LTE-LAA markets are Boston, Sacramento and McAllen, Texas. A handful of phones sold by AT&T are LTE-LAA capable, including the Samsung Galaxy S8, S9, S8+, S9+, Note8, and S8 Active, as well as the LG V30 and Moto Z2 Force Edition. AT&T's LTE-LAA is already available in The Loop in Chicago, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, downtown LA, and the business district of San Francisco. AT&T plans to deploy LTE-LAA in at least 24 markets by the end of the year.
Cricket Wireless today kicked off sales of the LG Fortune 2, an affordable Android phone. The Fortune 2 is a rebadged variant of the K8 (2018) and Tribute Defiant (sold by Boost Mobile). The Fortune 2 includes a 5-inch HD screen, quad-core MediaTek processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. The Fortune 2 has an 8-megapixel main camera with LED flash, a 5-megapixel front camera, and a removable 2,500mAh battery. Other features include LTE 4G with HD Voice, WiFi with mobile hotspot and WiFi Calling, Bluetooth 4.2, and GPS. It runs Android 7.1 Nougat. Cricket Wireless is selling the LG Fortune 2 for $100.
Security Research Labs says Android phone makers often miss security patches but still tell owners the phones are up-to-date. Researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell examined the code of some 1,200 phones from more than a dozen phone makers for every security patch released during 2017. They discovered phones from nearly all makers missed at least some patches. Phones from Google, Sony, and Samsung ranked fairly well, missing an average of just one patch. Phones from Xiaomi, Nokia, and OnePlus missed between one and three patches per update, while devices from HTC, Motorola, LG, and Huawei missed three to four, and phones from TCL (Alcatel) and ZTE often missed more than four patches per update. High-end devices with processors from Samsung or Qualcomm were more likely to updated properly, while low-cost devices with processors from MediaTek were less likely to be updated properly. Nohl and Lell say what's worse than the missed patches are the phone makers' claims to the contrary. "We find that there's a gap between patching claims and the actual patches installed on a device. It's small for some devices and pretty significant for others," said Nohl to Wired. "We found several vendors that didn’t install a single patch but changed the patch date forward by several months. That’s deliberate deception." The researchers claim this lulls consumers into a false sense of security, though they admit that hacking into Android phones through any of the missed patches is a difficult task at best. In response to the data, Google argued that not all the devices researched were Android certified, and that modern Android phones have other security measures in place to protect them. "Security updates are one of many layers used to protect Android devices and users," said Scott Roberts, Android product security lead at Google. "Built-in platform protections, such as application sandboxing, and security services, such as Google Play Protect, are just as important." Still, Google said it would work with Security Research Labs to investigate Nohl and Lell's findings.
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.
LG is making a renewed commitment to distributing software updates to its phones in a more timely manner. LG today said it officially opened a new Software Upgrade Center at its Magok-dong facility in South Korea. The Software Upgrade Center is charged with developing and delivering regular system updates to LG phones, as well as ensuring the user experience is consistent from device to device. LG has historically been slower than many of its rivals to release software updates, even for its flagship phones. "Stable and consistent upgrades will demonstrate to our customers that LG smartphones have long and reliable lifespans," said Mr. Jo Seong-jin, CEO of LG Electronics. The first initiative to come from LG's new Software Upgrade Center is to bring Android 8 Oreo to the LG G6. The update will reach G6 devices in Korea later this month with other key markets to follow. LG first launched the G6, a flagship phone, in February 2017.
LG today said it will unveil its next flagship smartphone at a pair of events, one in New York City on May 2 and another in its home city of Seoul, South Korea, on May 3. The G7 ThinQ will be among a new wave of handsets from LG to include what it calls Empathy AI, or the ability to perform more thinking tasks, particularly with respect to the camera. LG says the G7 ThinQ will "upgrade the performance and convenience of 'sympathetic AI', as well as the ability to work with other devices." LG has been adding elements of artificial intelligence to its other product lines, such as television sets and refrigerators. LG hasn't said much else about the G7 ThinQ, though leaked images suggest the phone may have a notch like other devices released over the course of the last year.
AT&T this week released Android 8 Oreo for the LG V30. The phone shipped last fall with Android 7.1 Nougat. The latest software from LG and AT&T boosts the core platform to Oreo, with notification dots, autofill, and picture-in-picture, and the security patch level to March 1, 2018. Neither AT&T nor LG called out any additional features for the phone, though the update includes general bug fixes and performance tweaks. AT&T says V30 owners can download the update via WiFi. Sprint and Verizon variants of the V30 have already received Oreo.
LG today made an open version of the webOS platform available to developers and the public. Anyone can download webOS Open Source Edition from LG's web site and use the the code for whatever they wish. WebOS was originally developed by Palm for smartphones and later cultivated by HP before being purchased by LG. LG chiefly uses the platform to power its connected devices, such as television sets and refrigerators. LG said developers can grab the source code as well as tools and guides. Forums are available online to help developers become more familiar with webOS and all its capabilities. The platform is based on Linux and supports open web standards such as HTML5 and CSS3, so it should be fairly easy to work with. Further, LG is working with the Korean government to encourage entrepreneurs and startups to make use of the operating system. LG will solicit webOS-based business proposals and provide logistical and technical support to help startups commercialize webOS products. "As we move from an app-based environment to a web-based one, we believe the true potential of webOS has yet to be seen," concluded LG.
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.
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.
LG popped out new K series devices this week. LG's K series generally represent entry-level phones. The K10 and K8 definitely fall into that category, but represent a welcome improvement in design and quality. These devices would do well with U.S. carriers as affordable alternatives to today's flagships. Though LG hasn't announced specific plans to sell the phones in the U.S., it's likely variants of them will show up eventually. Here are our first impressions.
LG today updated its V30 smartphone with several new features and is now calling it the V30S ThinQ. The majority of specs of the phone are unchanged. The V30S ThinQ includes 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, while the V30S+ ThinQ includes 6 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. The new handsets ship with Android 8 Oreo, and they are now available in new Moroccan Blue and Platinum Gray colors. Along with Oreo, LG has updated the software to include a handful of new tools under the auspices of its ThinQ artificial intelligence platform. First up is Voice AI, which LG says are custom commands for Google Assistant made available only to the V30S ThinQ. These allow users to run apps and change settings through voice commands alone. For example, V30S ThinQ owners can tell their device to take a panorama, time-lapse, or slow-motion photo, perform an image search, or scan a QR code, among other actions. These new commands join 23 existing commands already available to the original V30. Next, LG is taking aim at the camera with Vision AI, or the ability to recognize objects and adjust shooting parameters to capture better photos. Some of the initial scenes the V30S ThinQ will be able to recognize include portraits, food, pets, landscapes, cityscapes, flowers, sunrises, and sunsets. The camera will automatically analyze the surrounding scene to adjust focus, white balance, and shutter speed based on what it sees. LG says it has scanned some 100 million images to create a database of known objects to compare against. Last, the V30S ThinQ gains a new low-light shooting mode called Bright Mode that should deliver far more accurate results when shooting in the dark. LG says Bright Mode relies on its AI-based algorithms to brighten images by a factor of two for better looking photos without the noise. LG didn't say when the updated V30S ThinQ would go on sale, nor which markets it will be sold in.
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.
Google says its Android Messages app is on the upswing thanks to new RCS-based tools and growing support from phone makers and wireless network operators. To start, brands now have more power to interact with consumers thanks to RCS business messaging. Google says brands can "send more useful and interactive messages" to their customers with photos, videos, and links for purchasing. A number of companies have been testing RCS business messaging via Google's Early Access Program. Some include 1-800 Contacts, 1-800-Flowers.com, Booking.com, SnapTravel, and Subway — all on Sprint in the U.S. Google says more businesses will be deploying richer messaging via the Android Messages app over the coming months. The Android Messages app has gained a lot of traction with phone makers and carriers, and more support is on the way. Moving forward, Alcatel, BlackBerry, Transsion, Blu, Positivo, Multilaser, Mobiwire, Azumi, and Essential will all preload Android Messages as the default SMS/messaging app. A number of phone makers already offer Android Messages, including Huawei, LG, HMD Global, HTC, Kyocera, Motorola, Sony, and ZTE. The app has a growing footprint with carriers, as well. Google says America Movil, AT&T in Mexico, Celcom Axiata Berhad, Freedom Mobile, Oi, Telia Company, and Telefonica have joined Deutsche Telekom, Globe Telecom, Orange, Rogers Communications, Sprint, and Telenor in their commitment to launch RCS messaging. Sprint is the lone U.S. carrier to go all-in with Google's RCS and Android Messages. AT&T and Verizon each offers its own RCS-based messaging client for Android handsets. Google believes this new momentum for RCS and Android Messages will eventually mean a better messaging experience between people, brands, and more.
Google today said the Google Assistant is prepared to grow in a number of significant ways. First, the voice-activated tool is picking up some new languages. Google says Assistant will speak Danish, Dutch, Hindi, Indonesian, Norwegian, Swedish, and Thai on Android phones and iPhones in the next few months, with more languages on the way. Google expects Assistant to understand as many as 30 languages by the end of the year. Further, Google Assistant will be able to understand multiple languages at a time, meaning people can speak both English and German to their Assistant without changing settings. This feature will first be available between English, French, and German, with other languages to follow. Google also noted that it is working more directly from carriers and phone makers to improve Assistant. For example, LG, Sony, and Xiaomi are all prepared to rollout device-specific commands and features based on Google Assistant. Moreover, carriers Sprint, Koodo, Telus, and Vodafone are developing integrations with Assistant. Between the phone makers and carriers, Google expects Assistant to support individual device features, customer service queries, and more. Last, Google Assistant is adding two new tools to help people manage their day. Routines let people issue one command and set off a chain of actions. For example, say "Hey Google, I’m home" and the Assistant on Google Home or phone can turn on the lights, share any home reminders, play your favorite music, and more. Location-based reminders have now expanded to Google Home speakers. People can tell Assistant on their speaker to set reminders for specific locations, such as to get milk when at the store, and the alert will popup when appropriate. Google expects to bring even more features to Assistant throughout the year.
LG today revealed two new handsets, 2018 updates to its K8 and K10 mid-range series. Both phones carry over the previous generations' pebble-shaped contours and 2.5D arc glass, but make advancements in the materials. The K10, for example, has a U-shaped metal frame while the K8 relies on polycarbonate. Shared features between the new K8 and K10 include improved low-light photography thanks to Low Light Noise reduction that's combined with HDR to eliminate grain and provide more luminosity and contrast. The cameras also gain a new Timer Helper feature that uses the flash as a visual guide during timer countdowns. The Flash Jump Shot feature takes one photo every three seconds and pastes them together into a shareable GIF. Shared specs include LTE, GPS, Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, FM radio, microUSB, and Android 7 Nougat.
- K10: The larger of the two phones includes a 5.3-inch 720p display and a 1.5 GHz octa-core processor. It will ship with 2 or 3 GB of RAM and 16 or 32 GB of storage, depending on the variant. The phone features a 13-megapixel main camera and either a 5- or 8-megapixel wide-angle front camera. The selfie camera can capture bokeh-style shots. Other features include a 3,000mAh battery and fingerprint reader.
- K8: The K8 steps down to a 5-inch 720p display and a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The rear camera has an 8-megapixel sensor while the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. It has a 2,500mAh battery.
Google today announced the Android Enterprise Recommended program and an initial batch of handsets that meet the qualifications. Google says the Android Enterprise Recommended program “establishes best practices and common requirements for devices and services, backed by a thorough testing process conducted by Google.” In order to qualify, devices have to meet a number of specifications concerning their hardware, deployment, security updates, and user help programs. For example, devices approved must run at least Android 7 Nougat, and receive security updates no later than 90 days from their release from Google. Further, device makers must commit to offering security patches to unlocked devices for a minimum of three years. Some of the initial devices that meet the requirements — and are thus recommended for business users — include the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL; the BlackBerry KEYone and Motion; the Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro; the LG V30 and G6; the Motorola X4 and Z2 ; the Nokia 8; and the Sony Xperia XZ1, XZ Premium, XA2, and XA2 Ultra. Google says it will update the requirements with each new Android platform release to “raise the bar to ensure we are delivering the best experience for our enterprise customers.”
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.
LG today said it has new features on deck for the V30 handset that will add more artificial intelligence to the device. The company has spent more than a year researching AI and how best to implement it. Some of its ambitions were realized with the release of its ThinQ platform earlier this year. Now, LG is targeting the V30 specifically. First up is Voice AI, what LG says are custom commands for Google Assistant made available only to the V30. The nine new tools allow users to run apps and change settings through voice commands alone. For example, V30 owners can tell their device to take a panorama, time-lapse, or slow-motion photo, perform an image search, or scan a QR code, among actions. These new commands join 23 existing commands already available to the V30. Next, LG is taking aim at the camera with Vision AI, or the ability to recognize objects and adjust shooting parameters to capture better photos. Vision AI will work on the LG V30 a bit like it does Huawei's Mate 10 Pro camera. Some of the initial scenes the V30 will be able to recognize include portraits, food, pets, landscapes, cityscapes, flowers, sunrises, and sunsets. The camera will know what it is shooting and analyze the surrounding scene to adjust focus, white balance, and shutter speed. LG says it has scanned some 100 million images to create a database of known objects to compare against. The V30 also gains a new low-light shooting mode that should deliver far more accurate results when shooting in the dark. "The future for LG lies in AI, not just hardware specs and processing speeds," said Ha Jeung-uk, senior vice president and business unit leader for LG Electronics Mobile Communications. "Creating smarter smartphones will be our focus going forward and we are confident that consumers will appreciate the advanced user experience with the enhanced V30 that many have been asking and waiting for." LG will show off these new functionalities at the Mobile World Congress trade show later this month. LG didn't say when the updated artificial intelligence tools might reach end user devices.
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.
LG has reached an agreement with lawyers representing owners of select smartphones and will offer impacted class members cash. The settlement puts to rest the bootloop problem that plagued a number of LG smartphones, including the G4, G5, V10, V20, and Nexus 5X. Manufacturing defects led the devices to crash and then automatically reboot, rendering them useless. LG is offering members of the class their choice of either a $425 cash settlement or a $700 rebate toward the purchase of a new LG phone. Members of the class can fill out a proof of claim form and should expect to hear directly from the law firm at hand. Payments will be distributed at the beginning of March.
LG today added several new colors to its range of handsets. Starting next month, the LG G6 will be available in Moroccan Blue, Lavender Violet, and Raspberry Rose, while the LG Q6 will be available in Moroccan Blue and Lavender Violet. Both phones are already available in Astro Black, Ice Platinum, Mystic White, Terra Gold, and Marine Blue. The new colors will go on sale in LG's home market of Korea first, with other markets to follow later. The G6 was first announced in February 2017, and the Q6 followed in July 2017. The addition of these colors follows recent reports that LG may not introduce a new flagship handset during the Mobile World Congress trade show in February as initially expected, and will instead do things like upgrade the memory or add colors to its existing lineup.
MetroPCS recently added the LG Aristo 2 to its lineup of inexpensive Android handsets. This device is a minor update to the original Aristo. It improves the memory from 1.5 GB to 2 GB, adds support for LTE band 66, and steps up to dual-band Wi-Fi. It also swaps the original’s silver color for black. Other than these changes, the Aristo 2 carries over all the features of the original Aristo, including a 5-inch HD screen, 1.4 GHz quad-core processor, and 16 GB of internal storage. The phone includes a 13-megapixel main camera with flash and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat. The LG Aristo 2 is available from MetroPCS for $59 after a mail-in rebate. The original Aristo is still available from MetroPCS for $49.
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.
Cricket Wireless today rolled out a new promotion that will give free phones to people who switch from another network. The phones on offer are the LG Fortune and the Alcatel Verso, entry-level Android handsets. People who switch can score the two free phones as well as two lines of unlimited service for $80 per month. Families of four can earn free phones, too, with a monthly service bill of just $100 for unlimited data. In this case, unlimited data is limited to 3 Mbps and video is limited to standard definition. Those who exceed 22 GB of data per month will see speeds slowed for the remainder of the billing period. The free phone promo is available through April 12 or while supplies last.
In a shift of strategy, LG this week said it will cease bringing new flagship devices to market each year as it has done the last five or so years. “We will unveil new smartphones when it is needed. But we will not launch it just because other rivals do,” said Cho Sung-jin, LG Electronics Vice Chairman, during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. "We plan to retain existing models longer by, for instance, unveiling more variant models of the G series or V series." The LG G6 is nearing its first birthday, while the V30 is not quite six months old. The company earlier said it will also change the naming conventions for these flagship devices going forward. LG's mobile business has lost money 11 quarters in a row. Budget phones, rather than flagships, generate the bulk of LG's mobile business earnings. The company is estimated to have lost about $650 million during the last three months of 2017. At CES 2018, the only phones on display at LG's booth were last year's V30 and V30+.
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.
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.
Boost Mobile recently added the LG Tribute Dynasty to its lineup of affordable Android smartphones. This device includes a 5-inch HD display and is powered by a 1.5 GHz octa-core MediaTek processor with 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. The Tribute Dynasty has an 8-megapixel main camera with LED flash and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. Other features include a 2,500mAh battery; Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and LTE; and microUSB and headphone jack. It runs Android 7.1 Nougat. The LG Tribute Dynasty costs $100, but is on sale at the moment for $60. The phone is already available at Boost Mobile stores. Sprint said it will carry the phone starting Jan. 12.
T-Mobile has significantly expanded the availability of LTE service on its 600 MHz (Band 71) spectrum around the country. The Un-carrier debuted its 600 MHz service in Cheyenne, Wyo., last August. Since then, T-Mobile has lit up LTE on 600 MHz in 586 cities and towns around the country, including 156 new markets over the last few days. T-Mobile did not share the names of these new markets, though it had previously said it would first target rural markets with its 600 MHz spectrum. Few devices are able to use Band 71 just yet. One example is the LG V30 smartphone. T-Mobile plans to launch more than a dozen new 600 MHz capable smartphones this year, ranging from entry-level to flagship devices. In terms of T-Mobile's total coverage, the company now claims to provide access to 322 million people, up from 315 million last year. T-Mobile now covers 99% as many Americans as Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile plans to deploy some 5G service on its 600 MHz spectrum, where is has 31 MHz across much of the country, as soon as 2020. Last, T-Mobile said it closed its agreement to purchase the remaining interest of Iowa Wireless from Aureon on January 2. This will give T-Mobile more coverage in Iowa and western Illinois.
LG has confirmed plans to rebrand its line of flagship handsets. The company will drop the "G" naming convention that it has used since 2012 in favor of a new brand. The most recent handsets to make use of the G brand include the 2017 G6 and the 2016 G5. "LG is preparing a new brand strategy for the G series in the first half of the year. Numbering the phone with a two-digit number and rebranding the phone with a new name are some of the options on the table," said LG in statement provided to Digital Daily. "Rebranding flagship models is nothing new, and Samsung and Apple have done so for their own flagships," said a representative to The Investor. The company has typically introduced its G-branded flagships during the first quarter of the year and its V-branded flagships during the third quarter. LG hasn't said what new branding it might select to replace the G series, or if it will also change the branding for its V series phones. LG may debut the successor to the G6 at the Mobile World Congress trade show scheduled for February.
LG today showed off a new smart speaker that will be available in early 2018. LG is calling the ThinQ Speaker its "first premium smart AI audio product" thanks to the addition of the Google Assistant. With Assistant on board, the Thinq Speaker will behave a lot like the Google Home product by performing voice-based searches. In addition to playing music, the ThinQ Speaker can interact with LG's other smart home appliances, such as television sets, air purifiers, and refrigerators. LG says the speaker includes Meridian Audio technology to ensure support for high-quality, lossless file playback for the best possible sound. LG will share more information about the ThinQ Speaker during its CES press conference scheduled for January 8. Google is encouraging its hardware partners to put Google Assistant, which first launched on mobile devices, in a variety of products. Amazon has done the same with its Alexa artificial intelligence.
LG today said it is creating a single brand to help identify devices that include artificial intelligence. That brand is called ThinQ. According to LG, ThinQ will apply to "all of its 2018 home appliances, consumer electronics and services" that use AI. These products will have higher analytical powers and the ability to communicate with one another. ThinQ can "recognize, deduce and learn from voice, video and sensors," says LG. LG first detailed its AI efforts in January 2017, and later committed to putting WiFi in most major appliances. The company didn't specify how or if its mobile devices will adopt ThinQ or play a role within its AI-assisted ecosystem. The company is expected to provide more details during the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2018.
Verizon Wireless today began selling the Google Home Max in-home assistant and speaker. The Max relies on the same Google Assistant that powers the Google Home and Google Home Mini devices, but packages the voice-based tool in a larger, music-focused box. The Max has twin 4.5-inch woofers and can analyze the room to automatically adjust its tuning for the best possible sound. It supports streaming services such as Google Play Music, YouTube Music, Pandora, and Spotify, and can interact with Chromecasts and other cast-enabled devices. The Google Home Max is available online from Verizon and Best Buy. Verizon Wireless also rolled out a promotion for the LG V30. Customers can snag a $300 discount on the phone when purchased on a 24-month payment plan. The $300 discount is applied monthly until the phone is paid off. The LG V30 deal is only available online.
Google recently provided a list of Android-based wearables that have or will receive the Android 8 Oreo update. According to Google, Oreo is already available to the Fossil Q Venture, LG Watch Sport, Louis Vuitton Tambour, Michael Kors Sofie, and the Montblanc Summit. Watches that are testing Oreo include selections from Casio, Diesel, Emporio, Fossil, Guess, Huawei, Hugo Boss, LG, Michael Kors, Movado, Polar, Tag Heuer, Tommy Hilfiger, and ZTE. As always, the exact timing of the update is up to each individual manufacturer. Android 8 Oreo for Android Wear is a minor update that tweaks some notification behaviors and vibration settings, and adds new languages and notification channels for improved battery life.
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.
LG today announced a handful of changes to its leadership that the company hopes will lead to stronger performance of its mobile phone business. The company named Hwang Jeong-hwan as president and CEO of LG Mobile Communications. Juno Cho, the previous president, will take a new role within LG Corp. LG has also named Dr. Park Il-pyung as CTO. Prior to his appointment as CTO, Dr. Park served as the head of LG's software business. Dr. Skott Ahn, the previous CTO, will tackle new responsibilities at LG Corp. In another change, Han Chang-hee was named head of the Global Marketing Center. Last, LG is creating a B2B company to handle sales to businesses. All the appointments are effective December 1. LG's mobile phone business marked a loss of $117 million in its most recent quarterly earnings report, despite bringing capable handsets such as the G6 and V30 to the market this year.
Cricket Wireless is offering a number of free and discounted smartphones starting today. New customers who port in their number can snag either the LG Fortune or ZTE Overture 3 for free with an accompanying service plan. Customers looking for something slightly more powerful can grab the ZTE Blade X for $50 or the ZTE Blade X Max for $100. The discounts are available to new customers, though existing customers can get the same low prices if they pay a $25 upgrade fee. Other offers include the LG Fortune (free for switchers, $29.99 for existing customers), the LG X Charge ($49.99 for switchers, $99.99 for existing customers), LG Stylo 3 ($29.99 for switchers, $129.99 existing customers), and the LG Harmony ($9.99 for switchers, $59.99 for existing customers). Cricket says the sales prices are good through November 26 or as long as supplies last.
U.S. Cellular today announced a holiday offering that will provide customers with a free flagship smartphone. The company will give customers a free Samsung Galaxy S8, iPhone 8, LG G6, or Motorola Moto Z Force when they sign up for an unlimited plan between November 22 and November 27. Customers will need to trade-in a recent flagship, such as the Galaxy S6, iPhone 6, or V20, to score the free phone. The free handset will be comped through monthly rebates over a period of 30 months. Customers who don't have a device to trade in can get a reduced-cost flagship for a monthly payment of just $10 in addition to the unlimited plan. U.S. Cellular's unlimited plan costs $70 for a single line, though multi-line discounts are available. U.S. Cellular offers up to 22 GB of high-speed data per billing cycle. Customers who exceed that limit will see speeds reduced to 2G for the remained of the month. The company is also offering discounts on Google Home, LG Tones, and Parrot Drones during its holiday sale. Last, customers who refer a family member or friend who signs up for service can score a $50 reward.
T-Mobile today revealed a holiday promotion that can net people a free flagship smartphone. Customers who purchase one new phone at full price will be able to snag a second for free, through monthly rebates. Handsets that qualify for the promotion include the Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, Note8, and S8 Active, and the LG G6, V20, V30, and V30+. The first phone will need to be financed through T-Mobile's equipment installment plan. T-Mobile will then make the monthly payments on the second device over a 24-month period. T-Mobile said customers interested in the iPhone X can score up to $300 in rebates with an eligible trade-in, though there's no BOGO deal for the iPhone. The promotion kicks off November 17.