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printed August 17, 2017
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T-Mobile Targets Rural Areas for 600 MHz Service, Starting with Cheyenne

Yesterday, 8:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it has activated its first 600 MHz cell site in Cheyenne, Wyo. T-Mobile is using Nokia equipment to provide LTE coverage across Cheyenne in the 600 MHz band. The Un-carrier plans to light up 600 MHz service in rural areas around the country first. Markets that can expect to see 600 MHz service by the end of the year include Wyoming, Northwest Oregon, West Texas, Southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, Western North Dakota, Maine, Coastal North Carolina, Central Pennsylvania, Central Virginia, and Eastern Washington. T-Mobile says deploying LTE on 600 MHz in these markets will improve its coverage from 315 million POPs today to 321 million by year's end. T-Mobile won the spectrum licenses in the reverse auction that concluded earlier this year. The government gave T-Mobile the licenses just two months ago. The company plans to deploy service on the 600 MHz airwaves as quickly as it can to help shore up weak coverage areas. The service may be up and running, but there are no devices yet that can use it. According to T-Mobile, Samsung and LG plan to release compatible handsets during the fourth quarter of the year.


LG V30's Floating Bar Born from the Nixed Second Screen

Monday, 7:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG has revealed details about the user interface that will front the forthcoming V30 handset, and the company has fully done away with the Second Screen that appeared on the V10 and V20 devices. The V30 adopts LG's FullVision display aspect ratio (18:9) and the company no longer feels the Second Screen — a small display that sat above the main display — is necessary. In the Second Screen's place will be what LG calls a Floating Bar, a semi-transparent strip that will give V30 owners access to frequently used functions, such as contacts and settings. LG says the Floating Bar can be dragged off the screen entirely when not needed. LG has changed up the Always On Display, too, which is more customizable than before and includes shortcuts to Quick Tools, the music player, and even photos. Other software features baked into LG UX 6.0 include Face Recognition that LG says unlocks the phone instantly even when the display is off. Further, Voice Recognition uses a combination of the user's voice and self-generated keywords to unlock the phone without any button presses. The V30's camera gains access to Graphy, a tool for applying professional-looking styles to photos. LG explains that Graphy lets users pick the stylized filters or moods created by pros and apply the settings (white balance, shutter speed, aperture, ISO) to their own photos in order to achieve the same look. Moreover, V30 owners will be able to create GIFs or movies by pasting together photos and/or video files, as well as customize the feel of haptic vibration and other settings. LG is expected to announce the V30 at an event scheduled on August 31 during the IFA trade show in Berlin.


LG to Enable FM Radio In All Phones Moving Forward

Aug 10, 2017, 8:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today said it will ensure that all its future smartphones ship with active FM radios. Sometimes LG and/or its carrier partners leave FM radios, included in nearly all phones, inert. That will change, particularly for handsets headed to the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. FM radio makes it possible for hundreds of millions of people to find and listen to local broadcasts for free. Moreover, LG has signed an agreement with NextRadio, which will be preloaded on a significant number of LG handsets moving forward. 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 LG'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 LG nor NextRadio said which phones might be the first to benefit from this partnership.


LG V30 to Feature Camera with F/1.6 Lens Made of Crystal

Aug 10, 2017, 6:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG's forthcoming V30 flagship will be the first to make use of an f/1.6 aperture camera, according to the company. LG says the device will include several camera innovations to improve its photography and videography performance. The f/1.6 lens in a significant start, as it allows 25% more light to reach the sensor when compared to an f/1.8 lens. This will dramatically help with low-light photography. Further, LG is adopting what it calls a Crystal Clear Lens that's made of glass, rather than plastic. The glass permits more light to travel through it, while also allowing for better color reproduction. Like the V20, G5, and G6, the V30 will have a dual camera array with one wide-angle lens and one standard-angle lens. LG said it was able to cut down on edge distortion by 33% in the V30's wide-angle camera when compared to the V20. Last, the V30 camera module is 30% smaller than that of the V20 while still including optical image stabilization, laser autofocus, and electronic image stabilization. Together, all these advancements will make the V30 a better photography device than the V20. LG has already said the V30 will adopt a curved, plastic OLED FullVision display with a 2:1 aspect ratio and minimal bezels. LG is expected to reveal the V30 in full at an event scheduled on August 31 at the IFA trade show in Berlin.


T-Mobile Brings Smartpicks to Jump On Demand

Aug 9, 2017, 12:47 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today improved its Jump On Demand program with the introduction of T-Mobile Smartpicks. The Smartpicks program is a leasing option that lets people score affordable phones with low monthly payments. The company described Smartpicks as "exactly what a huge portion of our customer base are looking for — these are devices with awesome screens, great cameras, and powerful processors that can run all the latest apps." T-Mobile says most Smartpick devices cost $7 or $8 per month with a small down payment. Alternately, the devices can be paired with the Jump On Demand program, which allows people to upgrade their phone more often. Customers who keep their Jump On Demand phone the full 18 months can return it for a new one or pay off the remaining balance to own it out right. Some of the phones available via the Smartpicks and Jump On Demand program include the new T-Mobile Revvl for $0 down and $5 per month, the Samsung Galaxy J3 Prime for $0 down and $7 per month, the LG K20 Plus for $0 down and $8 a month, the LG Aristo $0 down and $7 a month, and the ZTE ZMAX Pro for $0 down and $8 a month. The T-Mobile Revvl goes on sale August 10. All the other phones mentioned above are already available.


Sony Xperia XZ Premium Gains HDR Video from Netflix

Aug 4, 2017, 11:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Netflix recently added the Sony Xperia XZ smartphone to the short list of those able to play back high-definition video in HDR. High-dynamic range content offers better contrast than standard content. The only other handset capable of supporting Netflix HDR is the LG G6. Both the G6 and Xperia XZ have the needed HDR displays. In order to view HDR content on either phone, owners have to subscribe to the $12 premium Netflix plan (streaming on four screens and ultra HD resolution). They'll also have to ensure the latest version of the app is installed on their phone, and select "high definition" for video playback quality.


LG Turning to OLED for V30's FullVision Display

Aug 3, 2017, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today said its "next flagship smartphone" — widely believed to be the V30 — will be the first to adopt a plastic OLED FullVision display. LG has used plastic OLED before, notably on the 2015 Flex 2, which was in fact curved and flexible. LG said it wants to take advantage of the OLED technology it developed for television sets on its smartphones. OLED displays reproduce perfect blacks, offer a wider color array, and have a 10x faster response rate than LCDs, making OLED panels ideal for applications such as virtual reality. LG says it has eliminated burn-in, a problem older OLEDs faced, by adopting advanced encapsulation and pixel-scanning technology. Further, the V30 will adopt LG's FullVision display design, which it introduced on the G6 earlier this year. The 6-inch panel will have 2,880 by 1,440 pixels, or a 2:1 (18:9) aspect ratio, and nearly non-existent side bezels. LG said it reduced the phone's upper and lower bezels by 20% and 50%, respectively, when compared to the V20. LG moved its own logo from the V30's chin to the rear panel in order to help reduce the size of the lower bezel. Last, the plastic OLED display allows LG to create a stronger curve along the edges at a lower cost. LG will protect the V30's display with Gorilla Glass 5. The company is expected to announce the V30 on Aug. 31 at an event scheduled during the IFA trade show in Berlin.


LG Says Its Q6 Smartphone Is Coming to the Americas Soon

Jul 31, 2017, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today said the Q6, the first phone in its new Q series, will soon be more broadly available. The phone is launching in South Korea this week and will follow in key markets in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. The company did not say in which countries the phone will be sold, but indicated that country-specific announcements will be made closer to launch. The Q6 features a 5.5-inch, 18:9 display with full HD+ resolution (2,160 by 1,080 pixels) and minimized bezels. The phone is protected by a 7000 series aluminum frame with rounded corners that match the curvature of the display, much like that of the G6. It carriers over many the G6's software features, such as Android 7.1 Nougat, the square camera, and Google Assistant, while adding facial recognition for unlocking the phone. The main camera has a standard-angle 13-megapixel sensor and the front camera has a 100-degree, wide-angle 5-megapixel sensor. The Q6 is powered by a Snapdragon 435 processor and includes a 3,000mAh battery, microUSB, Bluetooth, WiFi, and NFC.


LG Pins Mobile Hopes On Forthcoming High-End Phone

Jul 27, 2017, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today reported second quarter earnings and the news was mixed. While three of its four business units saw growth, its Mobile Communications Company saw flat income and an operating loss of $117.4 million. LG blamed its quarterly performance on weaker than expected sales of its flagship smartphone, the G6, and an increase in component costs. LG showed off the G6 at the Mobile World Congress event in February and the device reached world markets in April. It's a premium metal-and-glass smartphone with a unique 18:9 display and dual cameras. LG said its mobile unit did see a 13% increase in sales across North America thanks largely to strong performance of its mass-tier handsets, such as the K20 and Stylo 3. LG hopes things will get better. "The introduction of the new Q series and the rollout of a new high-end device in the weeks ahead are expected to bolster the company’s performance in the second half of 2017," it said in a statement. The high-end device in question is likely the V30, a follow-up to last year's V20. LG has a press event scheduled on August 31 during the IFA trade show, which will take place in Berlin.


Google Says More Daydream VR Phones Are On the Way

Jul 25, 2017, 7:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company's handset partners have new Daydream-compatible devices in the pipeline and there should be a total of 11 such phones available by the end of the year. At the moment, only four phones are able to use Google's virtual reality headsets, including the Pixel and Pixel XL, ZTE Axon 7, Motorola Z, and Huawei Mate 9. It's not clear if Pichai was including the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, which are primed to receive Daydream compatibility through a software update. The figure likely does include Google's 2017 Pixel devices, whatever they may be. Daydream has certain hardware requirements, particularly where the display is concerned. For example, the display must be between 4.7 and 6 inches, must have a 60 Hz or greater refresh rate with low-persistence mode, and must have at least full HD resolution, with quad HD preferred. Companies including Motorola, HMD Global, Samsung, Sony, Huawei, and LG all have major device announcements lined up between now and early September. It is possible these forthcoming handsets will be among those supporting Google Daydream.


LG Earmarks the Q8 for Europe and Asia

Jul 24, 2017, 7:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today provided more details about the Q8 smartphone. The handset, which appeared online last week, targets one-handed use and easy portability. LG's intent was to take the high-end features found on the prosumer V20 and put them in a smaller, more affordable package. The Q8 boasts a metal body with a 5.2-inch quad HD display and second screen for alerts and other action items. Other features include a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, 3,000mAh battery, stereo headphone jack and USB-C. LG stepped up the audio with a Hi-Fi Quad DAC from ESS Technology, which LG says can cut down white noise by up to 50%. Moreover, the HD Audio Recorder captures studio-quality audio via 24-bit / 192 kHz in lossless FLAC format. Like the V20, the Q8 has a dual-camera configuration and rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization, while the secondary shooter has an 8-megapixel sensor and a wide-angle lens. The cameras are augmented by a dual LED flash. The front camera has a wide-angle, 5-megapixel sensor. Other specs include Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, WiFi, LTE 4G, and an IP67 rating for protection against water ingress. The LG Q8 will be sold in Europe beginning this week, with Asia to follow. It appears the phone will not be made available in North America.


LG Q8 Appears to Be Smaller Variant of the V20

Jul 21, 2017, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG's Italian web site recently provided details about an unannounced handset called the Q8. The Q8 appears to be a less-expensive, smaller version of the LG V20. The Q8 does not carryover the 2:1 aspect ratio or FullVision display of the new Q series, such as the Q6, which was announced earlier this month. Instead, the Q8 boasts a metal body with a 5.2-inch quad HD display and second screen for alerts and other action items. Other features include a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, 3,000mAh battery, stereo headphone jack and USB-C. Like the V20, the Q8 has a dual-camera configuration and rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with 78-degree lens at f/1.8 and optical image stabilization, while the secondary shooter has an 8-megapixel sensor with 135-degree lens at f/2.4 for wide-angle shots. Both sensors can take advantage of the dual LED flash. The front camera has a wide-angle, 5-megapixel sensor. Other specs include Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, WiFi, LTE 4G, and an IP67 rating for protection against water ingress. The LG Q8 will be sold in European markets soon. LG's U.S. press team would not comment on the phone's potential availability in North America.


Cricket Offering 2 Lines of Unlimited Service for $80

Jul 20, 2017, 4:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today annouced new service and handset promotions meant to entice customers to sign up for the prepaid carrier. To start, Cricket is offering new and existing customers two lines of unlimited service for $80 per month. That includes unlimited mobile data, messaging, and voice calls. Cricket caps data speeds at 3 Mbps, and will throttle unlimited customers who exceed 22 GB of data per billing period. In addition to the new service promo, Cricket has a number of deals on smartphones. For example, the Alcatel PulseMix is $80 with a new activation, or just $30 with a port-in. Similarly, the LG x charge is $130 with a new activation or just $100 with a port-in. Other phones with available discounts include the ZTE Sonata 3 and Blade X Max; LG Fortune, Harmony, and Stylo 3; and the Samsung Galaxy Amp 2. Cricket said the promos are available for a limited time.


T-Mobile Says 600 MHz Service Kicks Off In August

Jul 19, 2017, 3:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 19, 2017, 4:25 PM

T-Mobile today said it plans to begin offering service through its 600 MHz spectrum next month. The company revealed the news in its second quarter earnings statement. T-Mobile claims it will have 10 MHz of 600 MHz spectrum with LTE service blanketing 1.2 million square miles by the end of the year, with devices from LG and Samsung on deck to take advantage of the airwaves. T-Mobile says it plans to deploy 5G service on its 600 MHz spectrum holdings in the 2019/2020 timeframe. T-Mobile claims its 700 MHz deployment is essentially complete, with some 575 markets live around the country. T-Mobile's LTE network covers a total of 315 million people, and the Uncarrier will push coverage to 321 million across its various spectrum bands by the end of the year. The company is on target to open 3,000 stores this year, with 1,500 T-Mobile-branded locations and another 1,500 MetroPCS-branded locations. T-Mobile will have 17,000 points-of-sale available throughout the country by the end of the year. During the second quarter, T-Mobile says it added 1.3 million net connections, with 786,000 postpaid phone customers. The company recorded revenues of $10.2 billion with net income of $581 million.


MetroPCS Intros Summertime Deals on Phones and Service

Jul 11, 2017, 8:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

MetroPCS today announced several promotions that run for a limited time. Customers who switch two lines to MetroPCS, for example, can score two LG K20 Plus handsets for free. Customers who add a line can snag the LG Stylo 3 Plus, or any device priced less than $99, for half price. Last, customers who subscribe to the $40 6 GB plan can add extra lines to their plan for $25 each, or switch to two unlimited lines for $80 per month. The unlimited plan limits video to 480p standard resolution and doesn't permit tethering. During network congestion, MetroPCS will throttle unlimited customers who exceed 32 GB of data in a single billing period. MetroPCS is owned and operated by T-Mobile.


LG Debuts Q Series with FullVision Displays

Jul 11, 2017, 7:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today announced the Q series, a new range of handsets that offer high-end features at more affordable price points. The first devices in the Q series are the Q6+, Q6, and Q6α, which take cues from the G6. All three devices feature a 5.5-inch, 18:9 display with full HD+ resolution (2,160 by 1,080 pixels) and minimized bezels. The phones are protected by 7000 series aluminum frames with rounded corners that match the curvature of the display, much like that of the G6. The Q6 and variants offer many the G6's software features, such as Android 7.1 Nougat, the square camera, and Google Assistant, while adding facial recognition for unlocking the phone. The main camera has a standard-angle 13-megapixel sensor and the front camera has a 100-degree, wide-angle 5-megapixel sensor. The Q6 handsets are powered by a Snapdragon 435 processor and include a 3,000mAh battery, microUSB, Bluetooth, WiFi, and NFC. The Q6+ has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, the Q6 has 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, and the Q6α has 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. These variants allow LG to set different price points for the phones. LG said the Q6 series will go on sale in Asia shortly, followed by Europe, Latin America, and North America.


LG Intros the X charge, an Xfinity Mobile Exclusive

Jun 29, 2017, 10:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 30, 2017, 7:13 AM

LG today announced the X charge, a smartphone that puts a priority on battery life. Similar to last year's X power, the X charge has an enormous battery with a capacity of 4,500mAh. LG claims the battery can push the phone through an "entire weekend" on a single charge. The power cell is embedded within the phone, but it supports rapid charging. Other features include a 5.5-inch 720 display, 1.5 GHz octa-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and the wide-angle selfie camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and LED flash. LG says the X charge also includes Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, and LTE 4G. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat with LG's software features, such as Gesture Shot. The LG X charge reaches Xfinity Mobile stores on June 30. The phone costs $180, or $7.50 per month. Xfinity Mobile is owned and operated by Comcast and runs on Verizon's network.


LG Debuts G6+ with More Storage and Better Music

Jun 19, 2017, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today announced the G6+, a refined version of its flagship smartphone that offers a few under-the-hood improvements. The G6+ ships with 128 GB of on-board storage (rather than 64 GB) and premium headphones from Bang & Olufsen that are better able to take advantage of the 32-bit quad DAC. LG says the result is richer-sounding music. LG made some cosmetic improvements, too; for example, the rear glass panel how has a lenticular film to help create optical effects in the glass, and the bezels surrounding the display have been turned black in order to blend in with the screen (when off). The G6+ and the existing G6 are available in an expanded range of colors, including Optical Astro Black, Optical Marine Blue, and Optical Terra Gold. Beyond the G6+ hardware, LG also announced some new software features. LG plans to update the G6 with a Face Print feature, a new low-power consumption tool, and a covered lens warning. The Face Print feature is a security option that relies on facial recognition. Users hold the G6 up to their face and the user-facing camera will scan them and unlock the phone. The covered-lens warning is meant to tell users that their finger is blocking the camera. The idea is to prevent bad shots. These features will be preloaded on the G6 and G6+ moving forward, and will hit existing phones next month. LG said the timing of the G6+ launch and the software update will vary on a market-by-market basis. Pricing for the G6+ wasn't disclosed.


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

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

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


LG Offers Two-Year Warranty Service for the G6

Jun 15, 2017, 1:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 15, 2017, 3:04 PM

LG today debuted the Second Year Promise program for the G6 smartphone. The program is available in the U.S. to consumers who purchase the G6 through a carrier or other authorized reseller. Owners of the G6 will need to register the device within 90 days of purchase, including their own personal contact details, device identifiers (IMEI), and proof of purchase. LG says the Second Year Promise will provide G6 owners a free replacement device (new or refurbished) if their original is found to have manufacturer defects at any time during the 13th through 24th months of ownership. LG will provide free shipping and promises to get the replacement delivered within two business days. The warranty basically doubles the standard 12-month offering from LG. LG G6 owners can register through LG's web site.


Meet the LG Exalt, Verizon's First LTE-Only Flip Phone

Jun 15, 2017, 10:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless recently added the LG Exalt LTE to its lineup of inexpensive flip phones. The Exalt LTE has the distinction of being Verizon's first 4G LTE basic phone, according to the carrier. The handset includes LTE and UMTS/GSM radios, but the Exalt LTE does not support Verizon's legacy CDMA 3G network. That makes it unique among Verizon flip phones. In addition to LTE, the Exalt includes WiFi and a high-quality speaker for HD voice calls over either LTE or WiFi. The Exalt LTE has a 3.0-inch display with 400 by 240 pixels, a 1,470mAh battery, and a 5-megapixel camera. The Exalt LTE packs 8 GB of internal storage and supports microSD memory cards up to 32 GB. Verizon didn't say what operating system the Exalt LTE runs, nor what processor might be power the phone. The LG Exalt LTE is available online only for $168 at full retail or $7 per month for 24 months.


Google's GBoard App for Android Lets You Draw Emoji

Jun 12, 2017, 11:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today updated its GBoard keyboard application for Android handsets and made it possible for people to draw emoji. In the emoji search tool, GBoard can recognize finger-scrawled pictures and then automatically insert the correct emoji into your text. The keyboard app also introduces phrase suggestions to help speed up texting time. Once users have typed two or more words, the phrase suggestion tool can add several more to complete well-known phrases, such as "looking forward to it." This is available only in English for now, though more languages are on the way. GBoard also picks up expanded search tools. Now, searches performed in GBoard show multiple results cards that can open directly in other apps, such as Google Maps. Last, the app picks up a handful of new languages, pushing to total supported to more than 200. Some of the new ones include: Azerbaijani (Iran), Dhivehi, French (Belgium), Hawaiian, Maori and Samoan. GBoard is free to download from the Play Store.


LG X Venture Delivers Inexpensive, Rugged Performance

May 22, 2017, 9:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 22, 2017, 9:57 AM

LG today announced the X venture, an affordable Android smartphone that can take a beating. The phone has an IP68 rating for protection against water and dust, and a mil-spec 810g rating for durability against drops, bumps, scrapes, and other abuse. The phone features a 5.2-inch full HD screen with glove mode. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 435 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. LG says the main camera has a 16-megapixel sensor with a standard field of view, while the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with a wide-angle lens. The phone packs a massive 4,100mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0 for all-day battery life. Other specs include barometer with outdoorsy software, as well as Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, WiFi, FM radio, and NFC. The phone supports memory cards up to 2 TB and it charges via microUSB. The X venture runs Android 7 Nougat. AT&T plans to sell the LG X venture starting May 26, with support for its ePTT service, for $11 per month for 30 months, or about $330.


Google Updates Daydream to Version 2.0 Euphrates

May 18, 2017, 11:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 18, 2017, 12:20 PM

Google today provided some insight on its Daydream virtual reality platform and says a new version of Daydream will soon make its debut. Daydream 2.0 Euphrates targets standalone VR headsets and is powered by Android O. The entire experience is handled in virtual reality. Daydream 2.0 updates the home experience for standalone headsets and smartphones. Euphrates includes a new dashboard that will appear on top of any app and lets people remain in VR even when checking settings, reading notifications, and multitasking. Euphrates also adds Google Cast support, allowing people to pick a destination and cast from Daydream to other devices such as television sets. Daydream 2.0 makes it possible to capture screenshots and then share them via social networks. Google said there are eight Daydream compatible handsets right now, and it expects that number to increase significantly by the end of the year thanks to new entries from LG, Motorola, Asus, and others. Google believes tens of millions of Daydream devices will be in the market by the end of the year.


Cricket to Sell LG Stylo 3 Starting May 19

May 18, 2017, 11:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 19, 2017, 3:23 PM

Cricket Wireless today said it, too, will sell the LG Stylo 3 beginning May 19. A CDMA version is already available from Sprint and Boost, and a slightly higher-end Stylo 3 Plus is available from T-Mobile. The Stylo 3 has a 5.7-inch 720p HD screen, 13-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel front camera, and fingerprint reader. The phone includes LG's stylus and dedicated pen software. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat. Cricket Wireless has priced the LG Stylo 3 at $170.

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Google Says Samsung Galaxy S8 to Get Daydream

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

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


Verizon Nixes LG Watch Sport

May 17, 2017, 11:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has cancelled plans to sell the LG Watch Sport wearable. The device, announced earlier this year, was meant to reach Verizon's network this spring with LTE support. Verizon did not say why it chose to drop the device, though it is offering those who preordered the smartwatch $100 off other connected wearables. The Watch Sport is a circular, fitness-focused smartwatch that can track workouts and health data, such as distance covered and heart rate. It is still available from AT&T. Verizon is focusing on the Watch24 wearable, which is Verizon-branded smartwatch running Android Wear 2.0.


T-Mobile Kicks Off Sales of LG Stylo 3 Plus

May 17, 2017, 11:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today added the LG Stylo 3 Plus to its lineup of Android smartphones. The device is a minor update to last year's Stylo 3. For example, it improves the 5.7-inch display to full HD resolution and jumps from a MediaTek processor to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 with 3 GB RAM, 32 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 2 TB. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. The phone has a fingerprint reader on the back and include NFC for Android Pay. The Stylo 3 Plus includes a pen stylus and LG's latest pen-based features. It runs Android 7 Nougat. T-Mobile is selling the phone for $225 at full retail or for $9 per month on an installment plan. The LG Stylo 3 Plus will reach MetroPCS stores in June.


Unlocked LG G6 Reaches Amazon and B&H

May 12, 2017, 1:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today said the unlocked version of its G6 flagship handset is now available from select online retailers. The G6 is on Amazon.com for $630 and on B&H.com for $599. Both Amazon and B&H will ship the phone today. LG has listed the unlocked variant on its own site for $699 with shipping dates beginning May 18. LG said the unlocked G6 will also soon be available from BestBuy.com. The unlocked G6 supports CDMA and GSM/LTE networks and is compatible with most U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. The phone features a 5.7-inch 18:9 display, normal and wide-angle cameras, and a metal-and-glass design.


Cricket Wireless Improves Data Offering

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

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


LG Begins Rollout of the X Power2 Battery-Packed Handset

May 9, 2017, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today said the X power2 is now available in North America and other markets. The X power2 features an embedded 4,500mAh battery that LG says delivers 15 hours of video playback, 14 hours of real-time navigation, or 18 hours of web surfing. It includes rapid charging and soaks up 50% of its capacity when plugged in for just one hour. Other specs include a 5.5-inch 720p HD display, 1.5 GHz octa-core processor with 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, LTE, Bluetooth, WiFi, and GPS. The phone has a 13-megapixel main camera and a wide-angle, 5-megapixel user-facing camera with selfie flash. LG says the phone comes in black, gray, gold, and blue. Pricing was not disclosed. None of the U.S. network operators has yet announced specific plans to carry the LG X power2


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

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

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

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LG Harmony Springs Into Cricket's Lineup

Apr 14, 2017, 11:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 14, 2017, 11:46 AM

Cricket Wireless recently added the LG Harmony to its roster of inexpensive Android handsets. The phone, which is a down-spec'd variant of the K20, has a 5.3-inch 720p display and it is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone boasts an 8-megapixel main camera with flash and a 5-megapixel front camera. It can record full HD video. Other features include a removable 2,800mAh battery, microSD memory card slot, and Android 7 Nougat. It includes LG software features such as KnockOn, Knock Code and Gesture Shot. The phone is available in stores and online today. The LG Harmony costs $99 when activated with a new rate plan. Cricket does not require contracts.


LG Smartwatches On Deck for Android Wear 2.0

Apr 10, 2017, 7:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG indicated via its Google+ page that it intends to update a handful of its oldest smartwatches to Android Wear 2.0. First up are the G Watch R and Watch Urbane, which should receive the new operating system this week. The Watch Urbane 2nd Ed. will see Android Wear 2.0 in early May. The new operating system has been wholly rethought by Google. It includes significant usability tweaks, and core features such as messaging and Google Assistant. In February, LG launched some of the first new watches to ship with the revised platform aboard, the Watch Sport and Watch Style. The G Watch R was one of the very first Android-based smartwatches to reach the market.


Comcast Details Mobile Phone Service as Xfinity Mobile

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

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


Google, Seeking Patent Peace, Debuts PAX Licensing Network

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

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


T-Mobile's LG K20 Plus Packs Better Specs

Mar 23, 2017, 2:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 23, 2017, 2:28 PM

T-Mobile recently rolled out its own variant of the LG K20 and the phone has somewhat better specifications when compared to the Verizon variant of the same handset. The T-Mobile K20 includes the same 5.3-inch 720p display and 1.4 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, but improves RAM to 2 GB of RAM and storage to 32 GB. The phone boasts a 13-megapixel main camera with flash and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash. It can record video up to 1080p HD. Other features include a 2,700mAh removable battery, microSD memory card slot, and Android 7 Nougat. The LG K20 Plus is already for sale from T-Mobile for $200. The K20 Plus is also known as the K10 (2017).


LG K20 V Hits Verizon Today for $170

Mar 23, 2017, 1:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today added the low-cost LG K20 V to its lineup of Android smartphones. The K20 V features a metal frame and rear-mounted fingerprint reader for security. The phone has a 5.3-inch 720p display and it is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone boasts a 13-megapixel main camera with flash and a 5-megapixel front camera. It can record video up to 720p HD. Other features include a 2,800mAh removable battery, microSD memory card slot, and Android 7 Nougat. The phone is available in stores and online today. The full retail price is $168, but Verizon is asking for just $99 with a two-year activation.


Verizon Bundling Free TV with LG G6

Mar 16, 2017, 9:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless' launch plans for the LG G6 include a free LG television set. To start, Verizon is asking $28 per month for 24 months, or about $672 in total for the LG G6. For a limited time, customers can get a free LG 43-inch Smart TV when activating an LG G6 on a new Verizon Unlimited service plan. In order to get the TV, customers need to remain with Verizon for at least six months and then submit a claim. The TV will be shipped 8 to 10 weeks after the claim is made. Verizon Wireless is also offering up to $200 on select trade-ins. The trade-ins must be in good, working condition and are limited to the Apple iPhone 6, 6 Plus and SE; the HTC 10; the LG G4, G5, V10, or V20; or the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or 5, S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+, S7, and S7 edge. Last, LG G6 buyers qualify for a free Google Home from LG. Preorders begin March 17 and Verizon will begin shipping the LG G6 on March 30.


AT&T Launching LG G6 with 2-for-1 Offer

Mar 16, 2017, 9:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced its plans to sell the LG G6 and the company is going a step further than competitor T-Mobile. For a limited time, people who purchase an LG G6 can score a second LG G6 when adding a new line. AT&T is asking for $24 per month for 30 months to cover the cost of the phone, or about $720 in total. The offer requires both lines use an AT&T Next installment plan, and the cost of the second device will be covered on a month-to-month basis. In addition to the two-for-one offer, customers who buy the LG G6 before April 30 will be given a free Google Home by LG. Last, AT&T customers who buy an LG G6 can get the LG Watch Sport for $50 with a two-year service agreement on the wearable. AT&T will start taking preorders for the LG G6 on March 17, with orders shipping on April 7.


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