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Samsung Halts Galaxy S8 Oreo Update Due to Reboot Bug

Thursday, 9:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has pulled the Android 8 Oreo update for the Galaxy S8 after users reported random reboots. "Following a limited number of cases where Galaxy S8 and S8+ devices have rebooted unexpectedly with the Android 8.0 Oreo, we have temporarily stopped the rollout of the update," said Samsung in a statement provided to SamMobile. "We are investigating the issue internally to ensure that the impact to the affected devices is minimized and the rollout of the update can resume as quickly as possible." Samsung has been rolling out Android 8 slowly over the last few weeks, mostly in European markets. The update had not yet reached the S8 and S8+ in the U.S. Samsung did not say when it expects the make the update available again.


Samsung Teases Reimagined Camera Experience on Galaxy S9

Thursday, 8:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today suggested that the camera on its forthcoming Galaxy S9 smartphone will be quite different from that of the S8 and previous devices. "Imagine a camera that can see more than your eyes — one that can help you capture every moment and change the way you experience the world," said the company on its web site. "We didn’t just update the camera. We rethought the entire camera experience." The company recently posted several videos to its YouTube channel that highlight different functions of the camera. The first covers high-speed / sports use cases, while the second showcases low-light prowess, and the third suggests the S9 will feature iPhone X-style animoji. Samsung is expected to announce the Galaxy S9 and S9+ on February 25 during the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.


T-Mobile Rolls Out More Rebates and Savings

Tuesday, 9:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced new ways for its postpaid and prepaid customers to save some green. First, T-Mobile has a buy-one, get-one offer on deck for LG handsets. Postpaid customers who buy the G6, V30, or V30+ on a T-Mobile equipment installment plan can snag a second LG phone (of equal or lesser value) for free via monthly bill credits. This BOGO offer is available to new and current customers. Second, prepaid customers who switch from another carrier and port their number to MetroPCS will receive a $150 instant rebate that can be used toward the price of any phone. T-Mobile says the devices such as the Samsung J7 Prime, LG Stylo 3 Plus, ZTE Blade ZMAX, or LG K20 would all be free thanks to the rebate. New customers will have to sign up for MetroPCS' Unlimited LTE plan. Third, existing MetroPCS customers can score a $50 instant rebate when they add a line to an existing Unlimited LTE plan ($60/mo). The $50 rebate can be applied to a phone priced $79 and higher. Last, MetroPCS is still running its four lines for $100 deal. New or existing customers who port in at least one line can get up to four lines of unlimited talk, text, and LTE data for $100. These deals will be available for a limited time.


Qualcomm Says Two Big Buyers Likely to Bail Over Broadcom Tie-Up

Feb 10, 2018, 11:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm warned investors that two of its most important customers have threatened to take their business elsewhere should Qualcomm be acquired by Broadcom. Qualcomm didn't name the customers, but said together they contribute a combined $1 billion in chip revenue. Qualcomm's most important customers are Apple and Samsung, followed by Huawei, LG, Sony, Oppo, and Xiaomi. The customers in question cited a lack of confidence in Broadcom's ability to lead a combined Qualcomm-Broadcom entity as the impetus for their decisions. Broadcom made a second offer for Qualcomm this week, but Qualcomm's board rejected it. The two companies will, however, meet over the next few days to discuss the possibilities of a merger. Some of the biggest questions Qualcomm wants answered concern how much more is Broadcom willing to spend on the acquisition, and what will it do to ensure the deal is completed successfully. Qualcomm is also worried about antitrust issues, and pointed to several big deals that have taken more than 18 months to clear regulatory hurdles. Broadcom has offered to pay Qualcomm $8 billion should the merger fail to be approved.


Samsung's ISOCELL Software Brings Portrait Photography to Cheaper Phones

Feb 6, 2018, 8:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today introduced new ISOCELL Dual image sensor camera systems that will give mid-level and low-cost phones access to advanced bokeh and low-light features. Samsung's offering is a complete solution that includes the ISOCELL Dual sensors and properly optimized algorithms to match them in a single package. Samsung believes this will make it quicker and less expensive for phone makers to drop the package into devices, bringing a new array of features to their devices. To start, the new ISOCELL Dual combines Samsung's bokeh/portrait software with a 13-megapixel / 5-megapixel pair of sensors, or its low-light shooting software with a pair of 8-megapixel sensors. Phone makers can select one or the other. Samsung didn't say how soon the new ISOCELL Dual software/sensor packages will be available to phone makers.


Sprint Says It Will Offer Nationwide 5G By Mid-2019

Feb 2, 2018, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


New Spec Means Flash Storage Is About to Get Faster

Feb 1, 2018, 11:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Universal Flash Storage version 3.0, approved this week by JEDEC, will eventually lead to faster performance of flash memory chips. UFS 3.0 is optimized for smartphones, tablets, and automotive applications where power consumption needs to be minimized while delivering incredible throughput. JEDEC says UFS 3.0 takes advantage of M-PHY HS-Gear4, which doubles the data rate to 11.6 Gbps per lane when compared to M-PHY HS-Gear3. Tacking on support for the MIPI M-PHY v4.1 and MIPI UniPro v1.8 specifications means UFS 3.0 is able to more reliably form links and monitor for trouble. It carries over support for ultra lower power requirements and supports the latest NAND technology. JEDEC said it expanded the range of temperatures in which the the spec and associated gear can operate to better serve the automative market. Companies that make NAND flash components, such as Samsung, can put UFS 3.0 to work in their future flash storage designs. Operations that might be improved by UFS 3.0 include writing high-definition video to internal storage. It will take time for this technology to reach consumer devices.


Verizon to Discount Bundled Wireless and FiOS By $20

Jan 31, 2018, 5:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon said it is kicking off several new promotions this week that should save customers some money. Starting February 1, customers who subscribe or upgrade to both Verizon’s unlimited wireless plan and its FiOS Gigabit Connection plan will receive a $20 discount per month ($10 off the wireless and $10 off the FiOS.) Verizon said customers will be able keep this discount as long as they remain on both services. The unlimited and Gigabit Connection plans are Verizon’s most expensive. Verizon also plans to discount several products. New and existing customers can score the Samsung Galaxy Note8 for $200 less than the normal price. Customers can save $50 on the JBL Link 10 speaker, as well as save $30 on the Lifeprint Photo & Video printer. These deals will be available through February.


Qualcomm and Samsung Ink Fresh Licensing Deal

Jan 31, 2018, 5:23 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm today said it has updated its global patent cross-licensing agreement with Samsung. The patents in question cover mobile devices and telecommunications gear. As part of the deal, Samsung has agreed to withdraw legal complaints it filed against Qualcomm in South Korea. The two firms also announced a renewed strategic relationship that will see them working together across a variety of product categories, including mobile devices and 5G. Financial terms of the new agreements were not disclosed.


Samsung to Delete Third-Party Apps from Cloud Backups

Jan 31, 2018, 12:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today informed those who use its Samsung Cloud service that it will no longer backup data from third-party applications. Starting February 6, 2018, the company will only backup information stored in Samsung-branded apps, including contacts, calendar, internet, notes, photos, videos, music, and documents. It will also store backups of the home screen, app installation files, and settings. "After this change you will not be able to backup app data or restore it from a previous backup on Samsung Cloud. Any existing data from previous backups will be deleted immediately," explained Samsung in an email. "Users who need to backup app data should do so using Smart Switch or the backup and restore functionality of each third party application, if available." Samsung did not provide a reason for making this change.


Samsung Pay Expands to Mexico

Jan 29, 2018, 12:50 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said its Samsung Pay mobile payment service is now available in Mexico. According to Samsung, its touch-and-go payment tool is accessible in 20 markets around the world, including the U.S. Samsung Pay makes use of both NFC and MST to connect to retail payment terminals. This gives it an advantage over services that use only NFC, such as Apple Pay and Android Pay. In order for Samsung Pay to function in Mexico, the company partnered with a number of card issuers, including American Express, MasterCard, and Visa, and local banks, including Banorte, Banregio, Citibanamex, HSBC, and Santander. Samsung Pay supports credit cards, debit cards, and loyalty cards/programs. It can be secured via iris recognition or fingerprint. Transactions are tokenized in order to maintain security. Samsung Pay is available on many of Samsung's top-tier handsets, such as the Galaxy S8 and Note8.


Verizon Fires Back at T-Mo with BOGO Of Its Own

Jan 22, 2018, 5:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless said customers can save big on select smartphones with a new buy-one, get-one offer that kicks off January 23. New and existing customers who add a new line of Verizon Unlimited service will be able to buy the Google Pixel 2, Samsung Galaxy S8, Motorola Moto Z2 Force, or LG V30 and get a second one for free. In order to qualify for the offer, both devices will need to be purchased on a monthly installment plan. The BOGO deal also requires a trade-in, the value of which can be put toward the purchase price of the new phones. Verizon will cover the cost of the second phone via monthly bill credits over the course of 24 months. Customers won't be able to mix and match: the second phone must come from the same manufacturer as the first, though people can opt for the larger Pixel 2 XL or Galaxy S8+ and cover the difference in cost on the second device. The Verizon BOGO deal counters a similar one launched by T-Mobile earlier this month.


Samsung Galaxy Note8 Suits Up for the '18 Winter Games

Jan 17, 2018, 8:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has announced the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games Limited Edition of the Galaxy Note8. The phone maker often supports the Olympic Games and this year created a special version of the Note8 in honor of the Games being held in its home country of Korea. The core features of the phone are unchanged compared to the normal variants. The Olympic-themed version features a new white glass rear panel, wallpapers created from imagery of PyeongChang, and apps meant to help participants make the most of PyeongChang. Samsung plans to distribute some 4,000 Galaxy Note8 handsets to athletes and staff members. The PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games officials begin February 8.


NextRadio Deal Will See FM Radios Unlocked On Samsung Phones

Jan 10, 2018, 1:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung will ensure that at least some of its future U.S. smartphones ship with active FM radios, says NextRadio. Sometimes Samsung and/or its carrier partners leave FM radios, which are included in nearly all phones, inert. That will change. FM radio makes it possible for hundreds of millions of people to find and listen to local broadcasts for free. NextRadio allows people to listen to local radio stations via their phone's FM radio, in addition to stations from all over the country through their phone's data connection. NextRadio says gaining access to the FM radio on Samsung's phones will translate to huge power and data savings for end users. NextRadio can access FM signals even when cellular data networks are not available. Neither Samsung nor NextRadio said which phones might be the first to benefit from this partnership. Alcatel, LG, and Motorola have already enabled FM radios on their handsets.


T-Mobile Rolls Out Another BOGO

Jan 10, 2018, 10:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 10, 2018, 1:39 PM

T-Mobile today announced a buy-one, get-one deal that sees major discounts on top phones. T-Mobile says 12 flagship devices from the likes of Apple, LG, and Samsung qualify for the promotion, including the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone X, G6, V30, S8, Note8 and others. To qualify, customers will have to activate one new line of service and buy both phones on a monthly installment plan. T-Mobile will make monthly payments for the second device (up to $750) over the course of two years. Customers who want a deal on a single handset can earn a $150 rebate plus the value of a trade-in. Accepted trades include recent flagships from LG and Samsung. Last, T-Mobile is targeting Verizon Wireless customers. It will give Verizon subscribers who leave big red up to $650 and pay off the balance of their Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ and other popular smartphones. Those who switch will need to subscribe to a T-Mobile One Plus plan to get the reimbursement for old phones. All three promotions go into effect January 12.


Samsung Says the Galaxy S9 Will Debut at MWC

Jan 10, 2018, 10:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung plans to announce its 2018 flagship handset at next month's Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona. Some had speculated the company would reveal the phone at CES, but JD Koh, president of Samsung's mobile business, confirmed to ZDNet that the Galaxy S9 will arrive in February. Samsung has used MWC on several occasions to launch is flagship Galaxy S series, most recently the Galaxy S7 in 2016. The Galaxy S8 marked its debut at a stand-alone event in New York City on March 29, 2017. Sales of the new Galaxy S9 could could begin as soon as March of this year. Some reports suggest the new phone will be an upgraded version of the S8 design, with a relocated fingerprint sensor and dual cameras. Samsung has not confirmed any feature of the phone. Koh also noted that Samsung plans to release a foldable smartphone at some point in 2019.


Qualcomm's RF Front End Popular with Phone Makers

Jan 9, 2018, 12:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm today said a number of leading handset makers have adopted its radio frequency front-end. Some of the OEMs include Google, HTC, LG, Samsung and Sony Mobile. This means these smartphone manufacturers will rely on Qualcomm's hardware to ensure their devices can talk to wireless networks. This is particularly important for T-Mobile, as the RF front end provides comprehensive 600 MHz band (B71) support. T-Mobile is deploying LTE on its 600 MHz spectrum now and plans to use it for 5G service down the road. The RF front end includes a modem-to-antenna system using the new QPM26xx series gallium arsenide-based power amplifier module. The module contains duplexers, envelope tracker, antenna tuners, antenna switches, and discrete and integrated filter modules. Qualcomm says its RF front end supports features such as Gigabit LTE, 4x4 MIMO and LTE Advanced today, and will evolve to handle 5G technologies in 2019.


Samsung's Exynos 9810 Processor Latest Chip to Include Artificial Intelligence

Jan 4, 2018, 8:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the Exynos 9810, its flagship processor for the year, a chip that will likely form the heart of the company's Galaxy S series devices in a few months. The 9810 is built on Samsung's second-generation 10-nanometer FinFET process, which gives it a bump in speed and efficiency. Specifically, the 9810 has a bank of eight customized CPU cores, with four pushed to 2.9 GHz for high-power tasks and four tuned for low-power efficiency. Together with improved cache memory, Samsung says performance is up 40% compared to the 9810's predecessor. Similar to the Huawei Kirin 959 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, the Exynos 9810 includes a measure of artificial intelligence. It is able to use machine learning for object recognition, such as people for face unlock or image search. Samsung claims this will help power advanced camera and security tools in flagship devices. The 9810 include a new high-speed modem, jumping to 1.2 Gbps LTE. It includes Cat 18 LTE for six-channel carrier aggregation along with 4x4 MIMO, 256 QAM, and LTE-LAA for speeds of 1.2 Gbps on the downlink and 200 Mbps on the uplink. The 9810 should improve the media experience on handsets as well, thanks to the new image processor and upgraded multi-format codec. Samsung says these are faster and more energy efficient and can handle 4K video playback at 120fps. Moreover, the added support for 10-bit HEVC and VP9 means the 9810 can render up to 1.07 billion colors. (The Snapdragon 845 carries this same set of improved color capabilities.) Together, the 10-bit HEVC and VP9 support will deliver more accurate color fidelity with wider dynamic range on smartphone displays. Samsung says the Exynos 9 Series 9810 is already in mass production.


Samsung Brings Infinity Display to Mid-Range Galaxy A8 and A8+

Dec 19, 2017, 7:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today updated its Galaxy A8 mid-level devices, which now follow closely the pattern set by the S8 and S8+ flagship phones. The A8 series employs glass panels front and back with a metal frame in between. The A8 and A8+ share most every feature and specification, but the latter has a larger screen and battery. Both devices adopt the Samsung 18.5:9 InfinityDisplay with HD+ (2,160 x 1,080) resolution. The A8's display measures 5.6 inches while the A8+'s screen stretches a longer 6 inches across the diagonal. The phones share an octa-core processor, with two cores at 2.2 GHz and six cores at 1.6 GHz. They come with 4 GB / 6 GB of RAM and 32 GB / 64 GB of storage, depending on configuration, with support for microSD cards up to 256 GB. The main camera includes a 16-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/1.7 for better low-light photography. It also adds digital video stabilization for smoother video. The A8 and A8+ put a pair of cameras on the front, a 16-megapixel main sensor and a secondary 8-megapixel sensor, both at f/1.9. Samsung says the phones can produce a range of selfies and portrait effects with Samsung's Live Focus feature for adjusting focus after the fact. Other features include fingerprint reader, USB-C, fast charging, NFC (and MST) for Samsung Pay, Bluetooth 5, WiFi, and LTE Cat 11. The devices are certified IP68 for protection against water and dust up to 1.5 meters, and are the first A series handsets to support Samsung's Gear VR headsets. The A8 includes a 3,000mAh battery and the larger A8+ has a 3,500mAh battery. The 2018 Galaxy A8 series come in black, orchid grey, gold, and blue and run Android 7.1 Nougat. Samsung said they will be available in early January 2018. Pricing wasn't disclosed.


Verizon to Offer iPhone 8, Galaxy S8 BOGO

Dec 13, 2017, 4:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless plans to let holiday shoppers score a smartphone for free with an upcoming buy-one, get-one deal. Beginning Friday, December 15, customers who buy an Apple iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus, or a Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+ can get a second device for free. Both devices will need to be purchased on a payment plan and at least one must be a new line of service. The second phone must be from the same manufacturer and be of equal or lesser value. The cost of the second device will be reimbursed monthly over a 24-month period. Verizon says the offer is valid for existing customer upgrades, as well as those who switch to Verizon. The buy-one, get-one deal will be available for a limited time.


Synaptics Says A 'Top Five' Phone Company to Use Its Under-the-Glass Fingerprint Reader

Dec 12, 2017, 8:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Synaptics today said of the five largest phone manufacturers in the world has agreed to use its Clear ID FS9500 optical, in-display fingerprint sensor. The FS9500 can scan fingerprints through the full thickness of smartphone cover glass, which means device makers can create sleek, button-free designs and still include a fingerprint reader on the front. Synaptics says the FS9500 was designed with "bezel-free infinity displays" in mind. This latest generation of Synpatics' technology can read fingerprints on wet, dry, or cold fingers, and the reader is always protected by the glass, making it durable and waterproof. Synaptics claims its sensor is twice as fast as 3D facial recognition tools, and comes and goes only when needed to authenticate the user. Synaptics didn't name the phone maker, nor did it suggest when a device with the Clear ID FS9500 might come to market. According to IDC, the top five phone makers in the third quarter of 2017 were Samsung, Apple, Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi.


Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 to Power Laptops and Phones

Dec 5, 2017, 3:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Dec 5, 2017, 4:09 PM

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.


New Samsung Chip Enables Phones with 512GB of Storage

Dec 5, 2017, 9:58 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung today announced the first part designed for mobile devices that can store 512GB of data. The solution effectively doubles the amount of internal storage a high-end phone can ship with. 512GB is enough for about 20 hours of 4K video. The embedded Universal Flash Storage (eUFS) package is no larger than the company's existing 256 GB solution. The advancement is possible thanks to Samsung's new 64-layer V-NAND chips, of which there are eight in the new part. Samsung's existing 256 GB solution uses 48-layer chips.


Target Adds Mobile Payment Feature to its App

Dec 4, 2017, 4:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Target today made it possible for people to make in-store payments with their smartphones through the Target mobile app. Similar to Walmart’s offering, shoppers can link their debit cart to the new Wallet function within the Target app. At the register, users call up a code on their device that the cashier then scans to complete the sale. Target’s new system does not rely on NFC, used by Apple Pay or Android Pay, or NFC/MST, used by Samsung Pay, for tap and go payments. The new functionality of the Target app can be paired with existing tools, such Cartwheel, for discounts and sales. The new Target app is available to both Android and iOS devices and is free to download.


Verizon Debuts In-Home LTE Extender, Pixel 2 Promo

Dec 1, 2017, 12:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced the Samsung 4G LTE Network Extender 2, a device meant to improve wireless coverage at your house or small business. Like many network extenders, the Samsung 4G LTE Network Extender 2 plugs into your home's wired broadband service. It then provides about 7,500 square feet of LTE coverage, with support for up to 14 simultaneous connections. The extender supports LTE service only, and does not provide 1X or CDMA coverage in the home. The device costs $249, but there is no monthly service fee associated with its use. In other Verizon news, the company rolled out a new promotion for the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones. The company will cut the price of either phone by $300 when purchased on a device payment plan. Customers will need to finance the entire cost of the handset. Verizon will then contribute $300 in total over the course of 24 monthly payments (about $12.50 per month). The Pixel 2 promo kicks off on Sunday.


Samsung Says Graphene Balls Help Batteries Charge Quicker

Nov 29, 2017, 12:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung researchers believe graphene balls can make significant improvements to lithium ion batteries. The nano coating delivers a number of benefits. First, batteries that make use of graphene balls are able to charge much faster. For example, a battery that normally takes 60 minutes to recharge would be able to recharge in just 12 minutes. It does this by suppressing detrimental side effects and providing charging pathways that are more efficient. Second, coating lithium ion in graphene creates batteries that are more dense, leading to higher-capacity batteries. Samsung says it can increase density by as much as 27.6%. Last, the graphene does not create any detriments to the number of charging cycles. For example, a battery with graphene balls will retain 78.6% of its capacity after 500 charging cycles. For now, Samsung is hoping to use this technology in batteries for electric vehicles. It may eventually be scaled down to batteries for mobile devices, but Samsung did not say if or when this technology might reach any consumer products.


Samsung Now Selling Burgundy Red Galaxy S8

Nov 28, 2017, 8:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung made a red version of its Galaxy S8 flagship handset available for sale this week. The device is initially being sold in Samsung's home market of S. Korea, and it will eventually be sold in other markets around the globe. Samsung said it will be up to individual carriers within those markets to announce plans to sell the burgundy S8. The phone is already available in black, gray, blue, and gold. Samsung recently made a blue version of the Galaxy Note8 available to U.S. buyers.


US Cellular Offering Free iPhone 8, Galaxy S8, or LG G6

Nov 20, 2017, 1:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Rolls Out Buy-One, Get-One Deal On Flagship Phones

Nov 16, 2017, 9:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


MetroPCS Offering a Year of Amazon Prime for Free

Nov 16, 2017, 9:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said people who switch to MetroPCS and subscribe to an unlimited plan will enjoy a year of Amazon Prime for free. Amazon Prime gives people access to discounted shipping from Amazon.com, as well as access to Amazon's music and video streaming services, online photo storage, and other perks. Amazon Prime typically carries a cost of $99 per year. In addition to Amazon Prime for free, MetroPCS will give those who switch a free Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime smartphone. The free phone also requires customers subscribe to the unlimited plan. MetroPCS is offering four lines of unlimited service for $100. The J7 Prime has a 5.5-inch screen, 1.5 GHz octa-core processor, 8-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front camera, 16 GB of storage, and a 3,300mAh battery. The phone normally sells for $209. MetroPCS said the Amazon Prime and free J7 Prime promos will only be available for a limited time.


Samsung Reveals New Exynos 9 Processor and Camera Sensor

Nov 10, 2017, 11:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung updated its Exynos 9 Series processor and also debuted a fresh camera sensor for smartphones. The Exynos 9 Series 9810 is a flagship-class application processor built on Samsung's second-generation 10nm FinFET process. It uses 10LPP (Low Power Plus) technology in conjunction with 3D transistors to improve speeds by about 10%, or power efficiency by about 15% when compared to Samsung's first-generation 10nm process. The 9810 also includes Samsung's latest LTE modem with support for six carrier aggregation (6CA). The Cat 18 6CA modem includes 4x4 MIMO and higher-order 256 QAM to tap into the high speeds available from technologies such as LTE-LAA. The 9810's modem is 20% faster than the one found in the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ and can reach Gigabit LTE speeds. Samsung did not say what devices might be powered by the Exynos 9810. In addition to the processor, Samsung announced the ISOCELL Slim 2X7, a 24-megapixel image sensor with 0.9μm pixels. The Slim 2X7 uses Tetracell and remosaic technology to reproduce the results that might come from larger pixels while keeping the sensor compact. Samsung says the sensor can be fitted into a thinner camera module, which may negate the need for a raised camera module on handsets. Samsung did not say what devices might eventually rely on the new imaging sensor.


T-Mobile Says Gigabit LTE Available to Select Phones

Nov 9, 2017, 12:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 9, 2017, 12:32 PM

T-Mobile today said more customers around the country should have access to faster wireless speeds. The company has reached several new milestones with respect to its wireless network. First, it has doubled its LTE-Advanced footprint to more than 920 markets. The company has deployed a trio of LTE-A technologies, including carrier aggregation, 4X4 MIMO, and 256 QAM, in 430 of those markets. Gigabit LTE relies on a combination of these three LTE-A technologies along with certain on-device components and proper backhaul. Together, these technologies are able to improve spectral efficiency, reduce congestion, and deliver the highest-possible speeds to handsets. Only a few devices equipped with the Snapdragon 835 processor with X16 LTE modem can access Gigabit LTE, including the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note8, the Motorola Moto Z2 Force Edition, and the LG V30. T-Mobile customers who own these devices and live in the 430 markets with carrier aggregation, 4X4 MIMO, and 256 QAM may be able to tap into Gigatbit LTE download speeds (800 Mbps). Gigabit LTE is a stepping stone to 5G and T-Mobile plans to keep moving forward. The company is prepared to launch LTE-License Assisted Access (LTE-LAA) later this year. LTE-LAA makes better use of unlicensed spectrum on small cells. T-Mobile did not provide a timeline for these network upgrades.


Samsung Makes Deepsea Blue Note8 Available to U.S. Consumers

Nov 8, 2017, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said it will sell the Deepsea Blue color variant of the Galaxy Note8 smartphone in the U.S. Since launch, the device has only be available to U.S. buyers in black or gray. Other than the color, everything about the Deepsee Blue Note8 is identical to the black and gray versions. The phone will be available from Best Buy stores, BestBuy.com, and Samsung.com beginning November 16. Customers will be able to select an AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, or unlocked model. The Note8 has a 6.3-inch Infinity Display, Snapdragon 835 processor, dual camera system, S Pen stylus, 6 GB of RAM, and fast wireless charging. The phone Galaxy Note8 runs Android 7 Nougat and costs $929.


Samsung's Galaxy S8 Active Heads to T-Mobile and Sprint

Nov 7, 2017, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 7, 2017, 9:05 AM

Samsung today said its rugged Galaxy S8 Active will soon be sold by T-Mobile and Sprint. The phone has been available from AT&T since earlier this year. Notably, the T-Mobile variant of the S8 Active supports Band 71, or 600 MHz spectrum, which T-Mobile is slowly lighting up with service in rural areas. Otherwise, the device is unchanged from the AT&T variant. The S8 Active has a metal frame with bumpers that are able to withstand drops up to 5 feet. Samsung says the phone meets mil-spec 810G for protection against abuse in addition to IP68 for protection against water. The phone has a 5.8-inch quad HD+ display with 18.5:9 aspect ratio, but drops the S8's curved glass for a flat piece of hardened glass. Other features unique to the S8 Active include a larger 4,000mAh battery, and Samsung's Activity Zone software for tracking workouts and other activities. The S8 Active is powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor, boasts 12-megapixel main camera and 8-megapixel front camera, and includes a dedicated Bixby key. T-Mobile says the Galaxy S8 Active will require a $100 down payment followed by $30 monthly payments for 24 months. Alternately, customers can lease the phone for $100 down and $29 per month for 18 months. It will be available from T-Mobile's web site starting November 17 and should hit stores November 22. Sprint has yet to share pricing and availability details.


Supreme Court Refusal Means Samsung Owes Apple $120M

Nov 6, 2017, 2:50 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The U.S. Supreme Court today said it will not review an appeal made by Samsung to overturn a $120 million fine owed to Apple for violating the latter's patented technology. In May 2014, a jury found Samsung guilty of infringing on Apple's slide-to-unlock, autocorrect, and quick link patents. Later, a three-judge panel reversed the decision and said Samsung didn't owe Apple damages. In October 2016, that decision was reversed by a higher court because the smaller panel didn't follow the proper guidelines in reviewing the case. Samsung hoped appealing directly to the Supreme Court would negate the reward. By refusing to hear the case, the Supreme Court in effect allowed the lower ruling — and $120 million in damages — to stand. Apple and Samsung have been battling in court over patents for years. This case is separate from a 2011 case that was just ordered back to court over $399 million in damages Samsung owns Apple for violating its design patents.


Samsung Letting Galaxy S8 Owners Test Drive Android 8

Nov 2, 2017, 4:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said select customers will soon be able to beta test Samsung Experience 9.0 before its official release. The Samsung Experience, formerly called TouchWiz, is the user interface that Samsung created for its device ecosystem. Starting November 2, Galaxy S8 and S8+ users based in the U.S., U.K., and South Korea will have access to Samsung Experience 9.0, which is based on Android 8 Oreo. Samsung hopes to use the beta period to assess user feedback and fine-tune the platform before its release for "the next flagship Galaxy device." Interested beta testers will need to have an active Samsung account and meet certain (unspecified) requirements. Samsung said the beta may be distributed via the Samsung+ app in the U.S., which is available from the Google Play Store. People can apply to test Samsung Experience 9.0 through the app.


Samsung Names New Executives

Oct 31, 2017, 9:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today made sweeping changes to its leadership. The news comes several weeks after Kwon Oh-hyun, CEO and Vice President of Samsung Electronics Corp., announced plans to step down from his leadership role with the company. Samsung said Presidents Kinam Kim, Hyunsuk Kim, and Dongjin Koh will succeed Kwon and Presidents Boo-Keun Yoon and Jong-Kyun Shin, respectively, as heads of the display, consumer electronics, and integrated circuit divisions. Samsung said it will maintain a structure with three co-CEOs. Additionally, President Sang-Hoon Lee will leave his position as CFO. The leadership changes are effective immediately. The move helps fill the leadership vacuum left by Kwon and Samsung scion Jay Y. Lee, who was arrested on bribery charges earlier this year.


MTA Approves $573M for Contactless Fare System

Oct 23, 2017, 4:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority plans to do away with the aging MetroCard fare system in favor of one that supports contactless payments, reports the New York Times. The agency has approved a $573 million contract to update the system's turnstiles with new wireless readers that can accept smartphones and certain types of credit/debit cards. The readers will be installed in some 500 subway turnstiles and 600 NYC buses beginning in late 2018, with a projected completion date of late 2020. The new wireless fare payment system will replace MetroCards, though the cards won't be phased out until 2023. The new system will handle fares for the MTA-operated Long Island Railroad and Metro-North train systems, but not Amtrak or NJ Transit. The system will be compatible with Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung pay, as well as cards that carry NFC chips. The MTA first began accepting proposals for a wireless payment system in April 2016.


Apple vs. Samsung Heads Back to Court

Oct 23, 2017, 12:39 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung will get another chance to reduce the amount of money it owes to Apple for copying the look of the iPhone. The original verdict is not in question: Samsung is guilty of violating Apple's design patents in a case that dates back to April 2011. What's at stake is the jury award, which was initially $1.05 billion and, through a series of appeals, whittled down to $399 million. Samsung challenged the $399 million in an appeal that was eventually heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in December 2016. The court agreed with Samsung's position that it should not be forced to forfeit all the profits from the infringing devices because their design is just one aspect. The Supreme Court said the lower courts had improperly calculated the fine and sent the case back to those courts for further deliberation. Today's decision comes from U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, Calif. — the same judge who oversaw the initial case. Koh agrees that the instructions given the jury in 2012 inaccurately informed them on how the damages should be calculated. Apple had hoped to prevent the retrial over the damages from moving forward. Samsung said it was looking forward to the new trial.


FCC Docs Reveal Samsung Galaxy S8 Active with Band 71 for T-Mobile

Oct 21, 2017, 8:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Documents seen on the FCC web site suggest the Galaxy S8 Active will be Samsung's first Band 71-compatible smartphone for T-Mobile. The government agency recently approved a new version of the SM-G892U, already sold as the Galaxy S8 Active by AT&T, this time with Band 66 and Band 71 aboard. These bands are only used by T-Mobile in the U.S. Band 71, in particular, is the new 600 MHz spectrum that T-Mobile is slowly deploying this year. T-Mobile had promised to release Band 71 devices from LG and Samsung before the end of the year. The V30 from LG was the first to arrive and it appears the Galaxy S8 Active from Samsung is the second. Neither Samsung nor T-Mobile has publicly announced this device and there's no indication of when it might go on sale.


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