25/02/2014 - AT&T announces free, unlimited international text, picture and video messaging for Mobile Share customers
Starting February 28th, all AT&T Mobile Share and Mobile Share Value users will be able to send text picture and video messages internationally for free. However, there's a not-so ulterior motive behind the announcement (one that's referenced in AT&T's own release), as in comparison "other messaging services or applications will incur cellular data charges," pointing a vague finger at the likes of Hangouts, WhatsApp, Viber, LINE and, well, all the other ones we've forgotten. The full service will be compatible with around 120 countries, while text messages can be sent to over 190 different locales.
Alongside it, AT&T's got another offer for anyone with a global circle of friends, announcing a new international calling plan, World Connect ValueSM. It might not roll off the tongue, but will offer a-cent-per-minute calls to over 35 countries, including neighboring Canada and Mexico. The plan will be on offer to any post-paid AT&T customer, but you'll have to stump up $5 for it when it launches this Friday.
24/02/2014 - AT&T expands LTE roaming to 13 more countries
Mobile World Congress is in Spain, which is lucky, because today's the day that AT&T allows its users to use LTE while they're there. Following the deal with Rogers in Canada, 'Ma Bell has pushed out a list of 13 countries, including Japan, Russia and South Korea, where road warriors can now suck down super-fast data in peace. In order to make sure you're not going over on your plan, the the company has also launched a new travel app for iOS and Android devices that'll alert you if you get close to your cap. Someone should have brought MWC forward by a fortnight -- that way everyone could have used LTE while during the Winter Olympics.
We get it. It's been a year since you got a new phone, and it doesn't have a Super Ultra HD screen, 80MP camera or fancy pants 50-core processor. You pine for the latest and greatest mobile toy, but it's probably going to cost you a lot, right? Well, yes. But in the past year, every major US network has eased the pain by introducing device installment plans, many of which allow you to trade in your current phone for a newer, hipper model. Most of these plans, which are designed to let you pay off your device over several months, are still more expensive than the average two-year contract, regardless of who you sign it with. But whether you like it or not, they're here to stay.
T-Mobile gets credit for starting the movement: Shortly after it announced its installment and early upgrade plans, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint all followed with options of their own. Ever since, the new plans have led to a massive pricing war, and the resulting price drops (most recently from AT&T and Verizon) have made them more tempting. But what does it all mean for you?
AT&T's current Mobile Share plans can be quite expensive for families and small offices that don't want to be tied to a contract. However, service is potentially more affordable through a new plan launching Sunday. The tier starts at $130 per month with two off-contract lines for new customers (existing contract customers can also sign up) and 10GB of shared data, but it costs a more modest $15 per extra line instead of the regular $25; the carrier reckons that a family of four could save anywhere from $40 to $100 per month over the regular rates. You can go for more than 10GB of data if your clan craves extra bandwidth, too. It's not clear if AT&T's deal will be enough to lure families away from low-cost carriers like T-Mobile, but it's certainly a better offer than before.
It was just three weeks ago that Nokia pushed out its Lumia Black software update to the Lumia 925 and 1020, with the promise that other Lumia phones would get updated asap. Well, sure enough, the Lumia 820 and 920 on AT&T have received the software patch, according to WPCentral. As on other Lumia devices, the update brings app folders, Bluetooth 4.0 LE support, an updated Glance screen and the unified Nokia Camera app. No RAW shooting, unfortunately -- that's a luxury reserved for 1020 and 1520 owners -- but you'll otherwise enjoy the same updates as anyone else with a newish Windows Phone 8 device. At any rate, feel free to get your download on, and do let us know in the comments how it all goes.
The wireless industry in the United States is in the midst of some rather significant changes. Ever since T-Mobile implemented its Jump program early last year, the carrier has turned subscriber loss into massive gains. The company's success is rubbing off, too. AT&T's Next program is very similar to Jump, which lets customers pay off their phones in monthly installments and become eligible for upgrades earlier, and is just one example of a major transformation taking place throughout the industry.
According to AT&T's earnings report, the company saw over one million Next sales, which accounted for 15 percent of all smartphones sold in the quarter. AT&T CFO John Stephens elaborated in today's investor call, saying that Next accounted for 20 percent of total sales in December alone. This doesn't sound like much right now, but the big picture shows a different story. Next is actually growing at an incredibly fast pace, and it's unlikely that AT&T will change course anytime soon.
AT&T had a pretty good fourth quarter by pretty much every metric you can imagine. Revenues are up, subscriptions are up and the company sold 1.2 million smartphones -- a record for any US carrier. Those massive smartphone sales show that the market is continuing to accelerate, even as it nears saturation. At this point smartphone owners account for 89 percent of AT&T's 47.1 million postpaid subscribers. While the company added 780,000 postpaid subscribers during the quarter, it did see prepaid customers decline to the tune of 166,000.
If you've been waiting to make NFC payments with little more than your iPhone and an Isis account, we have news for you. A tipster sent us pictures of what looks to be retail packaging for the Incipio Cashwrap, along with supposed pricing information. The Cashwrap enables secure mobile payments via a micro-NFC chip and a mobile app and it'll be available from AT&T for $70 according to our reader, with variants for most of Apple's recent smartphones. What's more, this info aligns nicely with what 9to5Mac learned about the product at CES 2013. Our source says that the case is already in AT&T's inventory too, meaning technically you could buy one right now, but you probably shouldn't press your luck until there's an official announcement. Unlike Incipio's other iPhone protector, it looks like this one will see the light of day. We've reached out to AT&T, Incipio and Isis and will update this post if we hear back.
AT&T is looking to make its Next smartphone payment plan a little more prominent. You'll be eligible to hop on-board the Next bandwagon in a mere six months and start swapping handsets sooner right now if you were under a two-year service agreement before January 18th. If you walked out of an AT&T store this morning with the carrier's typical contract, well, you're stuck with your handset for the next 20 months. We imagine that somewhere, surrounded by magenta, John Legere is smiling.
Sprint was the first out of the gate to announce LG G Flex pricing and availability for the US, but AT&T isn't too far behind. The network just made it be known that the curved smartphone will be available for pre-order online and at retail stores starting January 24th. We haven't been given specifics on when the device will get shipped out to early adopters, nor do we have a date on when it'll be stocked on shelves for everyone else -- but we do know, however, that it'll be all yours for $300 with a two-year contract. If you'd rather get it on a Next plan, you can do so by paying $27 per month (on an 18-month plan) or $35 per month (on a 12-month plan). We're still awaiting word on when T-Mobile's option will come out, but we'd guess that we'll be hearing pretty soon.
16/01/2014 - Moto G Google Play edition hands-on (video)
If Google's strategy of releasing Play edition devices isn't working, the company is sure doing a good job of hiding that fact: In the space of a month the number of smartphones and tablets bestowed with that title has grown from two to five. None of these devices are brand new; they're all existing devices created by popular Android manufacturers. The difference is that each one has been unlocked, stripped of custom firmware features/modifications and blessed with a stock version of the latest Android build. As a result, you get a Nexus-like experience on a wider variety of devices, and you typically receive updates much faster than any other Android gadget out there. Motorola's Moto G is the most recent device to be given this treatment, and at $180 (8GB) or $200 (16GB), it's the least expensive Google Play edition you can buy.
We're the first to applaud the opportunity (and ability to choose) to use flagship devices without pre-installed bloatware, unnecessary features and user experience that's been dictated by the manufacturer. That said, we have to wonder if the Moto G really needs to be turned into a Google Play edition -- after all, the GSM version of the smartphone already comes unlocked, uses a mostly stock Android UI, is void of needless bloatware and has only a few additional software features like Moto Assist, Migrate and a different camera interface. It even got an update to Android 4.4 KitKat shortly after the device's launch. How exactly does the Google Play edition differ from the original, and which one is the better choice? We just got our hands on the new version of the Moto G, so keep reading to find out.
When T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere isn't busy getting himself kicked out of an AT&T party, he's likely putting the finishing touches to his own CES announcement. Rumors have suggested that T-Mobile will soon make it easier for consumers to switch to the UnCarrier from rival operators, and a banner ad spotted by Droid Life suggests its willing to put its hand in its pocket to do so. The advertisement, which briefly appeared on T-Mobile's website before it was unceremoniously pulled, says the operator will "pay you family's termination fees when you trade in your devices," effectively countering AT&T's promotion that gives T-Mobile customers up to $450 if they switch to its NEXT plan.
T-Mobile's small-print says it'll accept ports from AT&T, Verizon or Sprint customers and transfer up to five lines. While the initiative appears costly, it'll look to recoup its outgoings by requiring new customers to trade in their existing smartphone and choose a new phone offered on its UnCarrier plans. Droid Life indicates that the T-Mobile will likely limit the amount it is willing to pay -- we expect Legere and co. to confirm payment caps and all the other details at its UnCarrier 4.0 event when it kicks off at 12:30PM PT.
Via: The Verge
Source: Droid Life
We'll be joined by AT&T Mobility's President of Emerging Enterprises and Partnerships, Glenn Lurie, the executive who helped score the carrier's exclusives on the iPhone and iPad.
Mophie's line of Juice Packs and Powerstations has proven invaluable to anyone who needs their handsets to keep on ticking from dawn 'til dusk, especially at a show like CES. Now the company behind those popular external batteries has introduced the Space Pack, a battery case for the iPhone that also incorporates built-in storage. Designed for the iPhone 5 and the 5s, the Space Pack not only packs a 1,700mAh backup battery, it also comes in either 16GB or 32GB iterations that could potentially double or triple your iPhone's storage capacity. Any file type can be stored and managed on it, from photos and videos to your iTunes library. Mophie also introduced a free iOS app called Space that organizes the files into easy-to-view Collections so you can see what's stored in your Space Pack. The 16GB version retails for $149.95 while the 32GB version will cost you $179.95. So if you've ever been stymied by your iPhone's poor battery life and fixed storage, you can go ahead and pre-order Mophie's Space Pack today as it starts shipping on March 14, 2014.%Gallery-slideshow159828%
06/01/2014 - AT&T planning to launch HD Voice sometime this year
LTE-Advanced? Voice over LTE? HD Voice? This may turn out to be a solid year for AT&T's network. Alongside the announcement of the ASUS PadFone X at the company's Developer Summit, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega specified that HD Voice is in the works, and we should start seeing it on devices later this year.
At AT&T's Developer Summit today, the wireless operator introduced what it calls Sponsored Data, something it likens to a 1-800 number for wireless data. Sounds strange, but the new wireless data model is pretty straightforward. The service, which is mostly geared towards businesses, allows users to test out or view applications, games, upcoming movie trailers and even websites without impacting their monthly data plans.
Sponsored Data is, of course, all about consumer engagement. With unlimited data fast becoming a rarity, consumers need to monitor their data consumption to avoid blowing past caps and that cautious behavior doesn't translate well for businesses looking to hock their virtual wares. Sponsored Data removes that concern, offering users a way to browse the web or test drive new apps freely on their phones with the same 4G speeds they'd normally enjoy. Though consumers won't be charged for taking advantage of Sponsored Data, they will see it appear within their monthly billing statement. The fees, however, are entirely the province of business partners backing that usage.
There's no doubt that the LG G Flex is one of the more unique Android devices we've played with recently, thanks to its curved display, self-healing back and uncanny ability to change its shape. Until now, you've only been able to get it in a couple Asian countries or through an online importer, but it's obviously wowed execs in the US wireless industry -- AT&T has formally announced its intent to carry the G Flex as part of its lineup. In addition, LG just revealed at its live CES 2014 event that the handset will come to Sprint and T-Mobile in the same time frame. The specs will largely be the same as the Korean version, although LTE compatibility in the US is something that we weren't able to enjoy in our initial review. None of the carriers are ready to talk specifics about price or availability yet, but AT&T and LG told us that we could expect it sometime in the first quarter of this year; T-Mobile will have more details to share in the coming weeks. As for how much it'll cost you, we wouldn't count on it being cheap at first: After all, the Korean version goes for more than $900 (unsubsidized) right now.
03/01/2014 - AT&T will give you up to $450 to leave T-Mobile
AT&T is clearly worried that T-Mobile's recent success may be coming at its own expense -- it just launched a promotion that gives T-Mobile customers up to $450 to switch to Big Blue. The deal offers converts a minimum of $200 once they've subscribed to a smartphone plan, plus up to $250 more if they trade in an existing phone. There's no mention of when the promo will end, although it's described as a "limited time" offer. The deal may be tempting if you're already inclined to jump ship, although you'll want to do the math before you leave. T-Mobile is the only carrier of the two that lowers rates once your device is paid off, which could make it cheaper in the long run.
03/01/2014 - LG G Flex for AT&T, T-Mobile shows up in pictures
Just in case you haven't seen enough of LG's limber 6-inch G Flex smartphone, the bowed wonder has appeared in press shots posted by @evleaks. The pictures aren't shocking for a phone we've already had our hands all over and even reviewed as an international model, but after passing through the FCC's database, we suppose this just another step on the way to release. There's no word on a release date or US pricing (the Sprint edition that's surfaced is also missing, but the renders above do show different dates on the phones -- March 17th for AT&T and February 12th for T-Mobile), but we're sure those details will be revealed in due time.%Gallery-slideshow141900%
Source: @evleaks (Twitter)
2013 was a bust! Or so we've been told. Whether you follow that line of thinking or reflect on the last 363 days in a more optimistic light, it's clear the year wasn't all big breakthroughs and great triumphs. This was the year of government surveillance revelations, fallen giants and lackluster product releases. But it was also the year Netflix took on the studios, patent reform became a real priority in DC and two new game consoles hit the scene. No, we won't be riding our hoverboards into the sunset at the close of 2013, but the stories that rocked the industry had a profound impact not only on technology, but also on society as a whole. So let's raise those half-empty glasses and make a toast as we recap the year that was: Here's to the glassholes!
Sometimes, peer pressure can be a beautiful thing. Just hours after Verizon said it would start publishing transparency reports, AT&T has followed suit with plans of its own. Big Blue will largely mirror its rival's moves and publish a semi-annual internet report that breaks down law enforcement requests by type, such as court orders. The initial study, due in early 2014, will summarize the telecom provider's 2013 data. We'd note that AT&T is reversing its attitude from just days earlier, when it was hostile toward shareholders that wanted a similar level of accountability. Still, we don't mind the contradiction if it brings more government surveillance activity to light -- even if it doesn't address thornier issues like warrantless wiretapping.
Via: The Verge
Source: AT&T Public Policy Blog
Nokia likes to bundle Microsoft's Windows Phone updates with a set of its own improvements specific to the Lumia line, and the latest such version -- known as the Black update -- is finally making its way to the Lumia 1020 on AT&T. In addition to the standard firmware enhancements that comes as part of the "GDR3" update to Windows Phone 8 (such as screen rotation lock, custom ringtones for specific types of notifications and the ability to close running apps in the app switcher more easily), you can also enjoy some of the same imaging features that were integrated into the Lumia 1520: the Nokia Camera, which combines the Pro Cam and Smart Cam into one fantastic app, and other unspecified performance enhancements. You'll also get the new and improved Glance Screen also seen on the 1520, Bluetooth 4.0 LE support, better battery monitoring and other miscellaneous stability fixes. The download is hitting our devices right now, but as usual, it may take a while to roll out to everyone.
14/12/2013 - NSA can decode many GSM cellphone calls
The NSA may say that its phone surveillance efforts focus on metadata rather than the associated calls, but we now know that the agency can listen to many of those conversations whenever it wants. Documents leaked to the Washington Post by Edward Snowden confirm that the NSA can decode GSM-based cellphone calls without obtaining the encryption keys. The ability isn't surprising when GSM has known weaknesses, but the document suggests that the NSA (and potentially other US agencies) can easily process cellphone calls worldwide. Not surprisingly, the intelligence branch argues that such cracking is necessary -- folks on both sides of the law use encryption to hide information, after all. The NSA may not have such an easy time in the future, however. AT&T, T-Mobile Germany and other carriers worldwide are moving to tougher encryption methods for their GSM service, and 3G calls are typically more secure as a matter of course. These measures don't prevent eavesdropping, but they do complicate any attempts to snoop on cellular chats.
Source: Washington Post
Isis -- a joint mobile payment venture between AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon -- has partnered up with banking juggernaut Wells Fargo, shortly after it rolled out nationwide. In addition to Chase, American Express, J.P. Morgan, and random loyalty cards, users can now load their mobile wallets with Wells Fargo's Visa consumer credit cards. This allows them to purchase from participating merchants (there are "hundreds of thousands," according to the bank) that accept NFC payments without having to bring their plastic to the store. Want to use the system but don't know where to begin? First things first, make sure you have an Isis-ready Android smartphone from any of the three aforementioned carriers. Once you've received the special SIM and have activated the service, you can start going on nighttime trips to McD's or doing emergency CVS runs with only a phone in hand.
Source: Wells Fargo
About a month ago, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler gave the U.S. wireless industry an ultimatum: choose to get on board with unlocking people's phones or face regulatory action forcing it to do so. Today, the CTIA -- the wireless industry trade association -- and Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular have acceded to Wheeler's demands by recommending that his policies be incorporated into the CTIA Consumer Code for Wireless Service. According to a letter sent to by the CTIA to the FCC, this means that the telcos mentioned above "will move quickly to implement these principles" in total within a year. In case you forgot, this means that within 12 months those companies will:
- provide a clear, concise and readily accessible policy on unlocking
- unlock mobile devices for legitimate owners of those devices once their service contract has been fulfilled
- notify customers when their devices are eligible to be unlocked and/or automatically unlock those devices for free (but they can charge a reasonable if you aren't a current customer)
- unlock devices or provide an explanation of a denial of any unlock requests within two days
- unlock devices for military service men and women upon deployment
For its part, the FCC was gracious in victory, with Chairman Wheeler stating during an open Commission meeting today that he was happy that a cooperative agreement was reached in a speedy manner and that "this is the way things should work." Fellow commissioner Ajit Pai chimed in as well, stating that he was glad that the "specter of jail time for those who unlock their phones" was now removed, but that the policy change isn't enough. Pai went on to call on Congress to fix the flaws with US Copyright law that are the underlying root of the problem, and he hopes that this shift in CTIA policy will "help expedite the legislative process." Time will tell if our governmental's legislative arm heeds the executive's advice -- don't hold your breath.
Source: CTIA letter (PDF)