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printed November 18, 2017
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ROK Mobile Offering 3 Months of Unlimited for $99

Yesterday, 9:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ROK Mobile has rolled out a new promotional rate plan that includes three months of unlimited service for $99. The offer is available to new customers only. After the three-month period ends, the plan reverts to the normal monthly rate of $45. ROK Mobile is an MVNO that offers service on AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. Customers can select which carrier they wish to use when they sign up for ROK Mobile. This allows people to use their own device. The $99 promo is only available to new customers who choose service on Sprint or Verizon. Those who select Sprint will be eligible for a free ZTE Prestige smartphone. ROK Mobile started out as a music-focused MVNO but has since transitioned to a more traditional MVNO. Service plans range from $20 to $50 per month, depending on the data bucket. ROK Mobile also offers what it calls Life Plans, a series of services including roadside assistance, accidental death and cremation insurance, family legal services, family telemedicine, and ID theft insurance. These Life Services can be added as extras to any of ROK Mobile's service plans. Pricing ranges from $5 to $15 per month depending on the package.


New York Court Says Police Must Get Warrant to Use Stingrays

Yesterday, 8:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Moving forward, New York law enforcement agencies will need to go before a judge and obtain an eavesdropping warrant if they wish to use stingrays to track suspects' cellphones. Stingrays spoof cell towers and fool cell phones into connecting with them. Police use them in cars or airplanes scanning entire neighborhoods seeking the phone of a single suspect. The issue is that the stingrays are imprecise and sweep up location, call, and messaging data of every cell phone in the vicinity. "The use of a cell-site simulator intrudes upon an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy, acting as an instrument of eavesdropping, and requires a separate warrant supported by probable cause," wrote the Brooklyn judge overseeing the case. The ruling mirrors one made in Washington, D.C. earlier this year. Privacy advocates around the country are pushing back against the use of stingrays. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, the NYPD used stingrays more than 1,000 times between 2008 and 2015, though generally only for the most serious offenses. The Brooklyn ruling will set the tone for cases involving the use of stingrays tried in New York.

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Hands On with the T-Mobile REVVL Plus

Yesterday, 8:30 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile's relatively new REVVL brand is all about affordability and popular features, like large screens and fingerprint readers. The REVVL Plus is the second in the series, made by Coolpad. It has a massive six-inch, 16:9 display, a fingerprint reader, and dual cameras. Otherwise, it's a pretty standard affordable Android phone. What's it like in person? We checked it out.

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Apple Releases iOS 11.1.2 to Clean Up More Bugs

Thursday, 5:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released iOS 11.1.2 for the iPhone and iPad. This minor release primarily fixes bugs. Specifically, it resolves an issue where the iPhone X screen might temporarily freeze up or become unresponsive to touch input after a rapid decrease in temperature. It also addresses an issue that might result in blurry Live Photos captured with the iPhone X. The small update is free to download and install over the air.


Intel Debuts 5G Radios

Thursday, 4:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Intel today announced a range of 5G modems for mobile devices that rely on various technologies to handle the transition from 4G to 5G. The XMM 8000 series will handle multi-mode operations on 600 MHz and mmWave band around the globe and will be ideal for PCs, phones, and fixed wireless equipment. The XMM 8060 will focus on 5G New Radio, though it will also be backward compatible with legacy 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. Intel expects this modem to ship by the middle of 2019. Last, the XMM 7660 is a Cat 19 LTE modem that can handle 1.6 Gbps speeds with MIMO, carrier aggregation, and broad spectrum support. This chip, too, will ship in mid-2019. Intel believes this portfolio of chips will help it remains competitive as wireless technology advances.


T-Mobile Says 5G Network On Deck for 2020

Thursday, 4:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it will deploy 5G across much of the country within a few years using its low-band 600 MHz spectrum. “We’re committed to drive a 5G rollout by 2020 across the nation,” said T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray during an investor conference. That doesn’t mean T-Mobile is ignoring high-band spectrum, which competitors AT&T and Verizon are pursuing. “There’s been a lot of discussion of millimeter wave and the kind of surgical, tactical deployments of 5G, and we’ll be there too. But we’ll deploy in the 600 MHz for 5G as we move into the next decade.” AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are all pushing to deploy 5G technologies as soon as possible even though the standard has not been defined. Al three are already pushing out gigabit LTE, a stepping stone to 5G. AT&T is its own 5G technology in Houston and Indianapolis. T-Mobile didn’t say what markets might see potential 5G service first.


Instagram Improves Mobile Web Features

Thursday, 4:23 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today made its mobile web site a bit more useful. Moving forward, people will be able to take and share photos from instagram.com when using their mobile devices even if the app is not installed. The mobile web also now supports adding text and color to images posted to stories, and saving others’ posts to their favorites. Instagram says these new features will roll out to instagram.com on the mobile web for all users over the next few weeks.


Hands On with the OnePlus 5T

Thursday, 1:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

OnePlus is the latest smartphone maker to adopt the 18:9 aspect ratio display. The OnePlus 5T, an update to the OnePlus 5, increases the screen size while also slimming down the bezels. It carries over most of its predecessor's top specs, including the Snapdragon 835 processor and twin camera array. The result is a more appealing device. Here are our first impressions.

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OnePlus 5T Stretches the Screen to 6 Inches with 2:1 Aspect Ratio

Thursday, 12:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Thursday, 12:05 PM

OnePlus today announced the OnePlus 5T, an update to its 2017 flagship handset that adopts the 2:1 aspect ratio for the display. The new OLED screen measures 6 inches from corner to corner and includes 2,160 by 1,080 pixels. In order to accommodate the new display, OnePlus relocated the fingerprint reader to the rear of the phone. The device adds a facial recognition tool for security. OnePlus says it takes only 0.4 seconds to recognize the owner’s face and unlock. Other than these changes, the 5T is similar in terms of design and specifications to the OnePlus 5 from earlier this year. The 5T boasts a metal unibody design with a slim and rounded profile. The phone carries over the alert slider, USB-C port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and dual-camera array from the OnePlus 5. The camera configuration is changed a bit. The main camera is the same 16-megapixel sensor as the 5, and the secondary relies on a 20-megapixel sensor. Rather than include a telephoto lens, the secondary camera adopts better low-light technology. Both lenses share the same focal length and f/1.7 aperture. The 5T is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor and the handset comes in two memory configurations: 6 GB of RAM with 64 GB of storage, and 8 GB of RAM with 128 GB of storage. Other specs include a 3,300mAh battery with Dash Charge, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS, WiFi, and Cat 12 LTE with 3x carrier aggregation and support for 34 worldwide LTE bands. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat with the latest build of OnePlus' OxygenOS UI on top. OnePlus said the 5T will have access to Android 8 Oreo as a beta in December. The phone goes on sale November 21 for $499.


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

Thursday, 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

Thursday, 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.


Asus ZenFone V Live Lets You Livestream Zit-Free Video

Thursday, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless and Asus today announced the ZenFone V Live, a social media-focused handset that includes a real-time blemish remover. With the ZenFone V Live, people can take advantage of the selfie camera's beautification options to soften complexions and remove skin blemishes when livestreaming to Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube. (Such effects are typically applied to still images after the fact.) Otherwise, the ZenFone V Live is a mid-range handset with curved glass and a metal body design. It has a 5-inch 720p HD display and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor with 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. The 13-megapixel camera includes features such as panorama, slow-motion, time-lapse, and bokeh modes with boosted low-light performance. Additional features include a fingerprint reader, 3,000mAh battery, USB-C, and support for microSD memory cards. It runs Android 7 Nougat. Verizon is selling the Asus Zenfone V Live beginning today for $168, or $7 per month for 24 months.


Google Endows Assistant with More App Smarts

Wednesday, 3:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced a comprehensive update to the Google Assistant. Most of the changes are meant for developers, but everyone will benefit from Assistant's improved ability to interact with third-party applications. To start, Assistant will help people find apps in a more seamless and natural way. For example, updates to the app directory will surface trending sections that change over time. New subcategories are on deck, as well, which will break down directories to provide more fine-tuned results. Google says it is able to do this by using the description developers provide for their apps and keyboard match that text with spoken voice queries made by end users. Finding apps will be aided by implicit discovery, as well, or the ability to connect with an app using contextual queries, such as "fix my bike." Developers will have access to badges that call out family-friendly apps, as well as expanded international support thanks to the addition of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. Other changes target how apps use Assistant to interact directly with people, such as transferring phone calls from the Google Home to a smartphone. Apps will have new powers for handling the end of conversations, such as providing polite or informative farewells, cancelling requests, and finding the right time to suggest account linking. Last, Google wants to ensure developers and their Assistant-powered apps are engaging with users. Moving forward, apps will be able to provide daily updates, gentle suggestions, and push notifications (thanks to a new API.) For example, Google says developers will be able to send alerts via Assistant about upcoming sales or discounts to those who've expressed interest. Google is encouraging developers to put these new tools to use within their Assistant-connected apps. Google hopes the end result will be more useful and informative apps for end users that are discovered and accessed via Google Assistant.


Review: UAG, Speck, and Incipio Cases for the Google Pixel 2 XL

Wednesday, 3:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Need a case for your pricey Google Pixel 2 XL smartphone? Here are three options from UAG, Incipio, and Speck. These will add a dash of style to your handset with varying degrees of protection.

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Review: Google Pixel 2 XL

Wednesday, 2:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Pixel 2 XL is Google's flagship Android handset. Though the software is more important than the hardware, the Pixel 2 XL is a big statement from Google. This high-end handset contains top components that deliver competitive performance across the board. The camera is particularly impressive, allowing the Pixel to go toe-to-toe with the best from Apple, LG, and Samsung. Here is Phone Scoop's in-depth review.

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Google Refreshes Maps to Help Aid Navigation

Wednesday, 1:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced a significant change to the appearance of Google Maps. According to Google, it has updated the look of driving, navigation, and transit maps in a way so ancillary information is more visible, such as gas stations when driving or train stations when riding the rails. Maps now relies on a new color scheme to define its legend and (hopefully) make it easier for people to differentiate between points of interest based on color alone. For example, orange signifies food and drink options, while green is for outdoor spaces, and purple is for roadside services. Google believes once people understand the color scheme, they'll be able to spot what they want or need quicker when using Google Maps. Google says this change will impact all versions of Maps (mobile, desktop), as well as other Google services that rely on Maps, such as Assistant, Search, Earth, and Android Auto. The changes will be rolled out over the next few weeks.


Motorola, Polaroid Partner Up On Insta-Share Printer Moto Mod

Wednesday, 10:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola and Polaroid today announced the Insta-Share Printer, a Moto Mod that lets people instantly print and share images captured with their Moto Z handset. The attachment includes its own dedicated camera button for snapping photos and can print directly from the camera roll, Facebook, Instagram, and Google Photos. The printer includes software for customizing photos with filters, borders, and text. The printer can spit out prints that measure 2 inches by 3 inches. The ink is smudge proof, according to Polaroid, and the adhesive-backed printer paper lets you stick photos anywhere. The Polaroid Insta-Share Printer will be available for $200 at Verizon stores and Motorola.com beginning November 17. Best Buy, B&H, Fry’s, and NewEgg will start taking pre-orders for the mod on December 6 with an expected in-store date of December 13. The Polaroid Insta-Share Printer is compatible with the Z series of devices from Motorola, including the Moto Z2 Play and Moto Z2 Force.


Sprint Adds Free Hulu to Unlimited Plan

Wednesday, 9:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint and Hulu today said they've partnered together so Sprint customers can enjoy access to Hulu's content for free. New and existing Sprint Unlimited Freedom subscribers can add Hulu at no extra charge. Hulu has three services tiers: streaming with limited commercials for $8 per month, streaming with no commercials for $12 per month, and streaming with live TV for $40 per month. The Sprint promotion applies to Hulu's entry-level limited commercials plan. Sprint and Hulu hope to offer an upgrade option for Hulu's sports and news-focused live TV plan in the near future, but potential pricing wasn't revealed. Sprint Unlimited Freedom customers can stream HD content over the network, though only some of Hulu's content is available in HD. Sprint says customers can sign up for free access to Hulu starting November 17. The move by Sprint and Hulu mirrors a similar tie-up between T-Mobile and Netflix.

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