Comcast today revealed details of its forthcoming Xfinity Mobile phone service. The company will use Verizon's 4G LTE network for the service, using an existing MVNO agreement. The service will also automatically, seamlessly leverage 16 million Xfinity wi-fi hotspots for free data, capacity, and coverage. The service will initially be available only to customers who use at least one other Comcast Xfinity product, but will be billed separately. Comcast's main goal is customer loyalty. Plans include unlimited data, ranging from $45 to $65 per line, depending on the Xfinity home services the customer uses. Unlimited LTE data is throttled to slower speeds after 20 GB. For metered data, customers can create their own plan at $12/GB of LTE data. Texting and voice are unlimited. A new mobile app will let users monitor usage and change data plans on the fly. Customers can switch from metered to unlimited at any time via the app, even in the middle of a billing period, and the change will be retroactive without penalty. Customer service will be available via text messaging. The company will offer a range of phones, including the Apple iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy S8, and LG X Power. Phones will be available for full price or on an installment plan. The company is launching a large trial of Xfinity Mobile today, open to all Comcast employees. It will launch for consumers in the coming weeks.
Twitter today launched Twitter Lite, an new version of its mobile web site that acts like a full mobile app but is designed for markets with slow and/or expensive data service. The web app uses the latest features of Google Chrome for Android to offer app-like features, such as push notifications, an offline mode, and a home screen icon. Twitter Lite takes up less than 1 MB on a device, and it has a data-saver mode that provides a rough preview of photos and videos — plus size information — so users can manually choose which media to download and view. It is designed with developing markets in mind, but is available to everyone now at mobile.twitter.com.
AD news continues below...
YouTube today launched its YouTube TV service in five major U.S. markets: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. YouTube TV gives cord cutters a way to watch live television online. As of today's launch, YouTube TV offers more than 40 television networks, including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN, USA, FX, Disney Channel, Sprout, E! and Bravo. YouTube TV plans to add AMC, BBC America, IFC, Sundance TV, WE tv, and BBC World News soon. Showtime is available for an extra monthly fee. The monthly service is accessible from mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and PCs, and Android and iOS device users can cast YouTube TV shows to their Chromecast-equipped TV. YouTube TV includes a cloud-based DVR with unlimited storage for saving and accessing shows from practically anywhere. Google allows people to store recordings for free for up to nine months. Each YouTube TV subscription includes up to six individual accounts for personalized recommendations and DVR recording. YouTube TV costs $35 per month and doesn't require any contracts or commitments.
AT&T today said customers who subscribe to its Unlimited Plus wireless plan will be given free access to HBO. There are three ways to watch HBO for free. First, customers who already subscribe to HBO through an AT&T video service (DirecTV, U-Verse) will now get HBO at no cost as long as they also subscribe to Unlimited Plus. HBO will refund the monthly fee directly on customers' bills. Second, AT&T video and wireless customers who don't already subscribe to HBO will automatically receive access to HBO's premium channels through that video service for free. Last, customers who have the AT&T Unlimited Plan, but don't use an AT&T-branded video service, will be able to access HBO via DirecTV Now or the HBO Go apps at no cost. The AT&T Unlimited Plus plan includes a $25 monthly video credit that can be applied to any AT&T video service, such as DirecTV Now, in addition to unlimited data, talk, text, and 10GB of Wi-Fi tethering. Free HBO will be available to Unlimited Plus customers starting April 6.
Huawei hopes to tap into the feedback of power users in a way that will benefit U.S. consumers through the new Honor Beta program. The Honor Beta team will be able to test new features ahead of public release and provide feedback directly to Huawei's R&D team. Those interested in the participating can apply via the Honor brand's Facebook page. Huawei is looking for English speakers who live in the U.S. Huawei expects to review applications and then match them with specific opportunities for testing purposes. The company said those selected to participate may get to use software and hardware that's not slated to reach the market for one to two years. "Honor will explore what U.S. consumers want and adapt products and strategy each step of the way," said the company. "Honor can quickly evolve its products and strategy on a regional level. Honor Beta is one big step in preparing to lead the unlocked smartphone market of tomorrow." The Honor Beta program is accepting submissions starting today.
Huawei today announced the Honor 8 Pro, a flagship handset for its Honor brand. The phone has specs similar to the Huawei P10, but it is much larger thanks to a 5.7-inch quad HD display and 4,000mAh battery. The phone is powered by Huawei's octa-core Kirin 960 processor with 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, and a Mali GPU. Like many of Huawei's recent handsets, the Honor 8 Pro includes two cameras on the rear, each rated at 12 megapixels, one that captures full color and one that captures monochrome. Special shooting modes include slow-motion, time-lapse, panorama, full manual, aperture, and more. The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and some of these same modes. The Honor 8 Pro runs Android 7 Nougat with EMUI 5.1. The phone includes Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi, but LTE support is limited to Bands 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 38, and 40, making it only partially compatible with some U.S. LTE networks. The phone supports rapid charging and memory cards up to 128 GB. The Honor 8 Pro comes in blue, black, or gold for about $585. It will ship with a Cardboard-style VR viewer. Huawei said the phone will be made available in Europe beginning today.
Huawei's mid-sized flagship handset is the P10, a slim Android smartphone that boasts a unibody metal chassis. The P10's hardware impresses, and the phone's core performance ranks with the best. Huawei encountered some software demons when creating the P10's user interface, however, that prevent the P10 from realizing its full potential. Here is Phone Scoop's in-depth review.
Apple today released Apple Music 2.0 for Android handsets and the app introduces a number of features found on the iOS version. To start, Apple Music for Android drops all elements of Google's Material Design in favor of Apple's app design language. The Android app user interface now mirrors that of the iOS version. In-app navigation is simplified thanks to four major sections, called Library, For You, Browse, and Radio. These make it easier for people to move through the app to find their own music or new tunes recommended by Apple. Apple Music 2.0 for Android also adds on-screen song lyrics and larger album art. The app is free to download from the Google Play Store, but the service costs $10 per month.
T-Mobile today improved the appeal of its SyncUp Drive product by adding access to Allstate Motor Club. T-Mobile is updating the mobile app that accompanies its in-car diagnostics and mobile hotspot tool to include free roadside assistance. Customers who have the SyncUp Drive will need to accept the new terms of service and enroll themselves in the Allstate Motor Club through the mobile app. Once signed up, stranded drivers will be able to summon help with tire changes, tows, fuel delivery, lockouts, or jumps. In addition to roadside assistance, SyncUp Drive also offers vehicle diagnostics, speed alerts, location tracking, driver analysis, and an in-vehicle hotspot. The module costs $150, though T-Mobile is offering it for $2 per month when financed over 24 months ($48 in total). The new SyncUp Drive app is rolling out to Android and iOS devices this week.
Sony today made the Xperia XZs smartphone available for preorder from Amazon, Best Buy, and other online retailers. The phone, announced earlier this year, will begin to ship April 5. The XZs has a 5.2-inch full HD screen, a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 256 GB. The phone has a 19-megapixel main camera with 5-axis stabilization, 960fps super slow motion video, predictive focus, and triple-image sensing. The user-facing camera has a 13-megapixel sensor. Sony gave the phone a 2,900mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 and Qnovo adaptive charging to help lengthen the life-span of the battery over multiple charge cycles. Other specs include USB-C, IP68 for waterproofing, high-end audio processing, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, and NFC. The device ships with Android 7.1 Nougat. The phone costs $699 and is sold unlocked. It is compatible with the networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile.