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printed October 25, 2016
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Hands-On with Xiaomi MIX

Today, 9:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Xiaomi calls the MIX a "concept" phone even though it will ship in early November. This handset is similar to small-batch bourbon in that it is refined in a way no other device can be and is meant for a small number of people who appreciate the nicer things. Here are our initial impressions.

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Hands-On with Xiaomi Mi Note 2

Today, 8:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Mi Note 2 is Xiaomi's new flagship handset. It combines premium design and materials with top-notch specifications and capabilities. If you're looking for a big-screen device that has it all, the Note 2 from Xiaomi certainly impresses. Here is Phonescoop's first look.

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BlackBerry DTEK60 Boasts Fingerprint Sensor and Top Specs

Today, 8:21 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Today, 8:23 AM

BlackBerry today announced the DTEK60, the company's new flagship non-keyboard phone. The DTEK60 is based on the Alcatel Idol 4S and looks similar, but actually has significantly upgraded specs in nearly every respect. (The DTEK50 is essentially a rebranded Alcatel Idol 4.) The DTEK60 sports a fingerprint sensor, Quad-HD 5.5-inch display, 3,000 mAh battery, NFC, and a memory card slot. Unlike the Idol 4S, it also packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4 GB of RAM, 21 megapixel camera, and a USB Type-C connector with Quick Charge 3.0. The DTEK60 maintains the same 7mm thin profile as the Idol 4S, although with a larger camera bump for the upgraded sensor. As with all of BlackBerry's new phones, the DTEK60 runs Android with BlackBerry messaging and security software added. The phone supports LTE networks including those of T-Mobile and AT&T (including band 29.) The DTEK60 is available today directly from BlackBerry for $500 unlocked. Customers who order within the next two weeks will receive a free "soft shell" case and rapid charger.

Xiaomi’s MIX Boasts 91% Screen Ratio, Ceramic Body

Today, 6:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Xiaomi today revealed the Mix, a nearly bezel-less handset that targets the ultra premium market. The company calls the MIX a "concept" that will be sold in extremely limited numbers. It is meant to showcase the direction in which Xiaomi’s design and technology are headed. Xiaomi worked hard to maximize the screen size and also reduce the amount of surrounding bezel. The 6.4-inch screen stretches fully from side to side and all the way to the top edge. In order to accommodate the design, Xiaomi had to tackle several other logistical issues. For example, it moved the selfie camera to the bottom bezel, dropped the proximity sensor in favor of an ultrasonic sensor, and added a piezo-electric actuator (internal vibration) for reproducing earpiece sound. The result is a device that’s nearly all screen on front, with a ratio of 91.3%. Rather than use metal or glass materials for the back and sides, Xiaomi selected high-quality ceramic that is created in layers. The premium design relies on top components that mirror those of the Mi Note 2, including the Snapdragon 821 processor, 4 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, 16-megapixel Sony Exmor camera, and 4,400mAh battery with Quick Charge. The price will be about $675, but sales will limited to China.

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Xiaomi Reveals the Mi Note 2 Flagship

Today, 5:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Xiaomi today announced the Mi Note 2, a high-end flagship phone with curved glass surfaces similar to the Galaxy Note 7. The device features an aluminum frame sandwiched between two pieces of shaped glass. The premium metal-and-glass materials are complimented by top specs. The phone has a 5.7-inch full HD screen and a Snapdragon 821 processor with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. The phone relies on a 23-megapixel Sony Exmor IMX318 sensor with 1.55micron pixels and an aperture of f/2.0. The camera captures video up to 4K and includes electronic image stabilization, but not optical images stabilization. The front cam snags 8-megapixel images at f/2.4, but is unique in that it includes auto-focus for sharper selfies. Xiaomi packed a 4,070mAh battery into the Mi Note 2 and it supports Quick Charge 3.0 for rapid power ups. The phone comes in several variants, including a world version with wide support for U.S. LTE bands. It runs Android, but the user interface is dominated by the MIUI. The Mi Note 2 goes on sale in November 1. Pricing for the world variant is about $500, with other models costing closer to $400. The Mi Note 2 will only be sold in China; Xiaomi says it made the multi-LTE band variant specifically for its China-based customers who often travel to the U.S.

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WiFi Alliance to Start Certifying WiGig Gear

Yesterday, 8:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The WiFi Alliance today said much faster WiFi is coming to smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other gear starting next year. The organization announced the WiFi Certified WiGig program, which will ensure compatibility between various WiFi technologies. WiGig operates in the 60 GHz band and allows for multi-gigabit speeds (up to 8Gbps) over shorter distances. The Certified WiGig program will allow WiGig equipment to work smoothly with other WiFi gear that operates in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, allowing for seamless handoffs between them. WiGig relies on beamforming to minimize interference and operates at distances up to 10 meters (33 feet). The WiFi Alliance says WiGig is ideal for in-room and other line-of-sight use cases such as virtual reality, gaming, and multimedia streaming. For example, WiGig would allow people to download an HD movie wirelessly in several seconds. The organization has already approved a handful of WiGig devices for testing purposes, including a Dell laptop, Intel modem, Peraso USB modem, Qualcomm WiFi router, and Socionext reference adapter. The WiFi Alliances says WiGig radios will appear in mobile devices next year, and expects half of all smartphones to include the technology by 2021.

iOS 10.1 Fixes Major Security Vulnerabilities

Yesterday, 5:52 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple's iOS 10.1 — released today — fixes several potentially-major security vulnerabilities in iOS. At least two of the issues could potentially allow an attacker complete control of the device after the user merely visits a web page with malicious code. All users should upgrade to iOS 10.1 immediately. In one issue with the "CoreGraphics" system software, viewing "a maliciously crafted JPEG file may lead to arbitrary code execution". JPEG is the most popular image format for photographic content, both on and off the web. In a separate issue with WebKit — which a large number of popular apps use to display web pages — "Processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to arbitrary code execution". A number of other security and privacy issues are fixed by the 10.2 update, although most would be more difficult to exploit. iPhone and iPad users can update to 10.1 by going to Settings > General > Software Update.

iOS 10.1 Available Today

Yesterday, 12:32 PM   by Rich Brome

iPhone and iPad users can now use the Software Update feature to get the final version of iOS 10.0, which adds Portrait Mode (blurred backgrounds) to the iPhone 7 Plus. Today also sees the release of watchOS 3.1 for the Apple Watch.

ZTE Tempo Lands At Boost for $70

Yesterday, 12:19 PM   by Rich Brome

ZTE and Boost Mobile today announced the ZTE Tempo, an Android phone that sells for just $69.99. The Tempo supports more LTE bands than many Boost phones — plus WCDMA and GSM — in bands suitable for Boost's Mexico roaming offering. The specs are otherwise what one might expect from an entry-level Android phone today, including a 4.5-inch display (not HD), 5-megapixel main camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 8 GB of storage, memory card slot, 1 GB of RAM, 2,200 mAh battery, and a Snapdragon 210 processor. It does support HD Voice and has an FM radio. It's available immediately.

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AT&T to Buy Time Warner for $85.4 Billion

Sunday, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T has agreed to purchase Time Warner for $85.4 billion in a stock-and-cash deal that will merge AT&T's delivery networks with Time Warner's vast catalog of content. AT&T believes the combined companies will be able to save $1 billion per year once fully merged. The company says the acquisition will diversify its revenue mix thanks to the lower-cost, less-regulated content business from Time Warner. This will balance out the high cap-ex model currently run by AT&T and its wired and wireless networks, and DirecTV satellite service, which are all heavily regulated. The merger has been approved unanimously by both boards, but will require regulatory approval from the U.S. Department of Justice and the FCC. The transaction is expected to close before year-end 2017. The combined entity will compete with Verizon-AOL.

Review: Blu Life One X2

Friday, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Blu's latest Android smartphone is the inexpensive Life One X2. It offers a premium metal-and-glass appearance paired with mid-range specs and performance. This unlocked handset could be ideal for Cricket or MetroPCS customers. Here is Phonescoop's in-depth review.

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T-Mobile Customers Can Now Roam In Cuba

Friday, 8:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today kicked off roaming cellular service in Cuba. T-Mobile customers will be able to use their T-Mobile phones to make calls, send messages, and surf the 'net when traveling in the Caribbean island nation. Voice calls cost $2 per minute, text and multimedia messages cost $0.50 to send but are free to receive, and data costs $2 per megabyte. T-Mobile's Cuba roaming costs are slightly cheaper than AT&T's, which also became available this week. T-Mobile says customers can use WiFi networks in Cuba to call back to the U.S. for free. T-Mobile customers have been able to place calls from the U.S. to Cuba since May.

Alcatel's Pop 4 and Pixi 4 Series Reach Amazon and Best Buy

Thursday, 6:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today said and Best Buy have agreed to sell four of its low-cost Android smartphones from the Pop and Pixi families. The Pop 4S costs $170, the Pop 4 Plus costs $120, the Pixi 4 (6-inch) costs $120, and the Pixi 4 (5-inch) costs $80. All four handsets are being sold unlocked with support for GSM/LTE networks such as those operated by AT&T and T-Mobile. The phones were announced earlier this year.

ZTE's Project CSX Picks Eyeball-Controlled, Sticky Phone

Thursday, 5:39 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today announced that the winning entry of its Project CSX crowd-sourced competition is an eye-controlled smartphone. Owners of the device, which will be built by ZTE over the course of the next year, will be able to control the handset by moving their eyes around. The phone will also include a self-adhesive rear panel so it sticks to surfaces like car dashboards without help. Thousands of voters selected from dozens of initial entries that were narrowed down to five entries this week. "We are overwhelmed with the amount of consumer participation and positive reception to Project CSX," said Lixin Cheng, chairman and CEO of ZTE USA. "As the first smartphone manufacturer to take on crowdsourcing its next mobile device from start to finish, we are proud of how this project pushed the envelope, and that consumers from around the world have chosen to be part of this industry-disrupting process." The eye-controlled, self-adhesive phone won with 36% of the vote. ZTE will work with the winner to design, engineer, and manufacture the device, which it hopes to bring to market by late 2017.

iPhone 7 Plus Intel Modem Not Equal to Qualcomm Modem

Oct 20, 2016, 11:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Under poor network conditions, the iPhone 7 Plus with Intel inside does not perform as well as the iPhone 7 Plus with Qualcomm inside. Apple sourced the iPhone 7 Plus modem from both Intel and Qualcomm. This represents a major change for the company, which has relied solely on Qualcomm modems for years. The Intel modem (XMM7360) is found in the AT&T and T-Mobile variants of the iPhone 7, while the Qualcomm modem (MDM9645M) is found in the Sprint, Verizon, and unlocked variants of the iPhone 7. Cellular Insights conducted extensive signal tests on the iPhone 7 Plus in LTE Bands 12, 7, and 4 to see if any performance differences exist between the two modems. Under optimal network conditions both the Intel- and Qualcomm-equipped iPhones demonstrated an equal level of performance in speed and maintaining a connection. Under weak network conditions, however, the Intel-equipped iPhone 7 Plus posted speeds that were on average 30% slower than those of the Qualcomm-equipped iPhone 7 Plus. The slower speeds at the cell edge mean the Intel-based iPhone 7 Plus may be more likely to experience dropped VoLTE calls and other, similar behaviors. "In all tests, the iPhone 7 Plus with the Qualcomm modem had a significant performance edge over the iPhone 7 Plus with the Intel modem," said Cellular Insights in its report. Apple has not said why it selected modems from two separate suppliers for the iPhone 7 Plus.

Google Pixel Hits Verizon Stores Today, But Pixel XL 128 GB Sold Out

Oct 20, 2016, 10:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless said the Google Pixel and Pixel XL are available at its stores today. The Pixel 32 GB ($650) and 128 GB ($750), and the Pixel XL 32 GB ($770) are in stores in black, white, and blue. The Pixel XL 128 GB ($870) is sold out and not available. Monthly pricing over two years breaks down to $27.08, $31.24, $32.08, and $36.24, respectively, for the Pixel 32 GB, Pixel 128 GB, Pixel XL 32 GB, and Pixel XL 128 GB. Verizon will offer up to $300 for select trade-ins, including the HTC One M9, iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, LG G4 or V10, Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+ or Note 5. Customers who buy either Pixel device may also preorder the Daydream View virtual reality headset.

BlackBerry Updates Hub+ and Other Android Apps

Oct 20, 2016, 9:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today announced an update to its Hub+ subscription service for Android devices. Hub+ users will now be able add Facebook Messenger to Hub+ and manage Messenger communications directly in the Hub. Hub+ also makes it easier to save inline images and improves support for admin-defined signatures for business users. Beyond Hub+, BlackBerry updated the BlackBerry Android Keyboard, BlackBerry Launcher, and Password Keeper apps. The Keyboard gains new ways to switch languages and global gesture support. The Launcher now includes a dynamic calendar icon that will show the current date. BlackBerry's Password Keeper adds secure lists and support for fingerprint sensors, and makes organizational changes to the settings panel. In addition to the new features, all the apps gain performance improvements. BlackBerry's own Priv and DTEK50 handsets will see speed enhancements in the camera app. BlackBerry's Hub+ and other Android apps are available from the Google Play Store. Hub+ requires a monthly subscription.

Gboard for iPhone Adds 3D Touch Support

Oct 20, 2016, 7:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated its Gboard keyboard app for the iPhone with new 3D Touch-based features. A hard press on the keyboard puts it in cursor mode, allowing users to more easily and accurately move the cursor around the screen for editing. The refreshed app also gains new themes and contacts search. Last, Gboard now includes all the iOS 10 emoji. Gboard is free to download from the iTunes App Store.

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