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printed April 28, 2017
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AT&T Says '5G Evolution' to Reach 20 Markets This Year

Tuesday, 10:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Tuesday, 10:56 AM

AT&T said customers who own the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ will have access to enhanced wireless service in Austin starting today. Austin serves as the first market for what AT&T is calling "5G Evolution" service, an effort to modernize and improve its network ahead of the official adoption of the 5G specification by international standards bodies. AT&T plans to take advantage of improved LTE 4G network technologies such as small cells, network densification, carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, and 256 QAM to provide real-world speed and latency improvements. The company didn't provide any guidance on what sort of speeds S8 and S8+ owners in Austin will actually experience other than to indicate 5G Evolution will be up to twice as fast as its existing LTE 4G service. AT&T will light up 5G Evolution in Indianapolis this summer with markets including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, San Francisco, and others to go live by the end of the year. Further, AT&T said it will have "numerous other" 5G Evolution-capable devices available by the end of the year. All four major carriers are moving forward with 5G technology trials despite the fact that the final standard has not been ratified. AT&T's so-called 5G Evolution is "5G" in name only.


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

Monday, 3:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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

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Samsung to Issue Software Patches for Galaxy S8

Monday, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said it will push two software updates to its Galaxy S8 smartphone to resolve issues with screen tint and WiFi connectivity. Some S8 owners claim their devices have a reddish tint to the screen, while others say they cannot connect to WiFi networks. Samsung insists there are no actual defects in the device itself and that the updates are being distributed "for consumer comfort." The first patch will address the tint issue, giving consumers "a further enhanced ability to adjust the color setting to their preference." The second patch targets phones sold by a specific carrier in South Korea and will be only be issued there. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ went on sale in the U.S. on April 21 and in S. Korea a few days before that. Samsung says pre-orders for the device have been strong, particularly in its home market of Korea. The company did not share first-weekend sales figures. The phones are the first high-end devices to ship from Samsung after its failed Note7 last year, which was recalled due to battery problems.


Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Amp Prime 2 Available from Cricket

Apr 21, 2017, 9:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today added two new Samsung handsets to its list of devices. First, the Galaxy S8 is available for purchase from Cricket stores. Cricket is charging $699.99 for the handset, a $50 savings off list price, when the S8 is activated on a new line. Second, Cricket debuted the Galaxy Amp Prime 2 (pictured), a low-cost Android phone. The Amp Prime 2 features a 5-inch 720p HD screen with a 1.35 GHz quad-core processor and 16 GB of storage. The phone includes 5- and 2-megapixel cameras on the back and front respectively, and a 2,600 mAh battery. Other features include LTE, Bluetooth WiFi, and support for memory cards up to 256 GB. The Samsung Galaxy Amp Prime 2 runs Android 7 Nougat and costs $150.


Google Play Music to Be Default Music Player on All Samsung Devices

Apr 21, 2017, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google and Samsung today said starting with the launch of the Galaxy S8 and S8+, Google Play Music will be the default music player and music service on Samsung phones and tablets globally. Consumers who buy the S8 or S8+ will receive a free three-month trial of Google Play Music, which offers ad-free access to some 40 million tracks. The trial also includes YouTube Red, an ad-free version of YouTube. Moreover, Samsung device owners will receive special features from Google. To start, S8 and S8+ buyers will be able to upload up to 100,000 of their own tracks to Google Play Music for safekeeping (double the standard amount.) Google says more custom features for Samsung phones are on the way. Last, Google Play Music will be compatible with Samsung's Bixby voice assistant when Bixby launchers later this spring. Galaxy S8 and S8+ owners will be able to ask Bixby to play their favorite song and it’ll start playing on Google Play Music instantly. The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ go on sale today.


Sprint Offering Two-For-One Lease On Samsung Galaxy S8

Apr 20, 2017, 11:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today finalized its retail plans for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and there's good news for consumers. The company is offering a two-for-one lease deal on the S8 with a new line activation and one upgrade, or two new line activations. New and existing customers can lease the S8 for $31.25 per month and receive a second leased phone at no additinal cost. The second monthly lease payment will be credited to the account each billing period. The Sprint Galaxy Forever lease program allows people to trade the phone in for the newest Galaxy handset after making 12 lease payments. The S8 and S8+ are both compatible with Sprint's new HPUE technology, which makes them perform much better on the company's 2.5 GHz spectrum. Sprint says this two-for-one lease deal for the Galaxy S8 is good only from April 21 through April 27.


Samsung's 2nd-Gen 10nm Process Delivers Performance Boost

Apr 20, 2017, 9:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung this week said it has finished testing its second-generation 10nm FinFET process and is ready to produce the silicon in volume. The 10LPP (Low Power Plus) technology, used in conjunction with 3D transistors, improves speeds by about 10%, or power efficiency by about 15% when compared to the first-generation 10nm process. Some variants of the Samsung Galaxy S8 rely on the first-gen 10nm process in the Exynos 9 processor, though the U.S. model relies on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835. Samsung expects to begin producing the new 10nm 10LPP circuitry by the fourth quarter. The company didn't say what mobile processors might make use of the new technology.


Samsung's Bixby Voice User Interface Not Ready for Galaxy S8 Debut

Apr 12, 2017, 6:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ will not ship with the Bixby Voice user interface when the devices first go on sale, according to Samsung. "Key features of Bixby, including Vision, Home and Reminder, will be available with the global launch of the Samsung Galaxy S8 on April 21. Bixby Voice will be available in the U.S. on the Galaxy S8 later this spring," said the company in a statement provided to Phone Scoop. Samsung did not offer any explanation for the delay, though the company was not able to offer live demonstrations of Bixby as recently as the S8's splashy March 29 launch event. More than just a voice assistant, Bixby is a voice-based user interface. It allows people to interact with any touch element on the screen, such as opening apps, selecting menu items, toggling controls, and more. Any app that is Bixby-enabled will offer full voice control to S8 and S8+ owners. Bixby Vision, referenced in Samsung's statement, combines the artificial intelligence element of Bixby with the camera for translating languages, reading business cards, recognizing landmarks, and scanning QR codes. Bixby Vision will work when the S8 goes on sale. The S8 and S8+, which include dedicated Bixby buttons, reach stores April 21. It's not clear how long consumers will have to wait before the voice-based interface arrives.

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Sprint Lists Samsung Galaxy J7 Perx for $264

Apr 10, 2017, 11:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint recently added the Samsung Galaxy J7 Perx to its lineup of inexpensive Android handset. The Perx appears to be a minor refresh of last year's J7. It carries over the 5.5-inch 720p HD display, but upgrades to a Snapdragon 625 processor and a 3,300mAh battery. The phone features an 8-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel front camera. It loses the J7's NFC radio, but includes an FM radio. Other specs include 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 256 GB; and Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, WiFi, and support for Sprint's LTE Plus network. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat and is capable of VoLTE and WiFi calling. The phone costs $264 at full retail or $11 per month for 24 months. The Samsung Galaxy J7 Perx is available from Sprint's web site. The FCC has recently approved variants of this phone for all four major carriers, though it has yet to appear elsewhere.


Comcast Details Mobile Phone Service as Xfinity Mobile

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

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


Google, Seeking Patent Peace, Debuts PAX Licensing Network

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

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


5 Things to Like About the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Mar 31, 2017, 2:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 2, 2017, 9:52 PM

Samsung announced the Galaxy S8 and S8+ this week, its flagship smartphones for 2017. These powerful handsets arrive with new screen shapes, slim silhouettes, and bulked up specs. Here's what we like most.

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Microsoft to Sell Customized Versions of Galaxy S8 and S8+

Mar 30, 2017, 10:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft will sell the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ in its brick-and-mortar retail stores beginning April 21, reports ZDNet. Microsoft will customize the S8 and S8+ by adding a number of its own apps and services, though Microsoft declined to state exactly which ones. Likely contenders include OneDrive Cortana, Outlook, and MSOffice. "The new device customization is an example of bringing together Microsoft applications on more devices so customers can work, play and connect from their pockets," said Microsoft in a statement provided to ZDNet. Microsoft has preinstalled its software on Samsung handsets in the past. Microsoft will charge the same $750 and $850 retail prices for the S8 and S8+, respectively, as Samsung and other retailers. Microsoft did not say if the customized phones will be sold unlocked.


Galaxy S8 to Cost $750, S8+ to Cost $850: Carriers Share Launch Details

Mar 29, 2017, 11:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 29, 2017, 3:29 PM

Samsung's new Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones will cost $750 and $850, respectively. The phones share almost all features other than size and both ship with 64 GB of internal storage. All carriers are bundling in the new Gear VR with controller at no added cost ($129 value), and will upgrade the bundle to include a 256 GB memory card and Harmon Kardon headphones for $99. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ will be available for preorder starting March 30 and should reach stores April 21.

  • AT&T: AT&T is offering a buy-one, get-one deal with the S8 and S8+. Monthly prices range from $28 to $36, depending on the length of the installment plan. Further, AT&T is selling the Gear S3 for $50 with an S8/S8+ purchase, provided the customer signs a two-year agreement. Last, AT&T is offering either the Galaxy Tab E or Gear S2 for 99 cents with a service agreement.
  • T-Mobile: The S8 will cost $30 month on a T-Mobile installment plan, and the S8+ will cost $30 per month, too, with a $130 down payment. T-Mobile says MetroPCS customers will have access to the Galaxy S8 when it reaches stores April 21.
  • Sprint: Sprint plans to lease the phones. The S8 will cost $31.25 per month for 18 months while the S8+ will cost $35.42 per month for 18 months. Customers will be able to upgrade to a newer Samsung phone after making 12 payments. People who preorder the phones from Sprint will be entered into a sweepstakes that includes prizes such as television sets. Sprint says Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile will offer the phone on April 21.
  • Verizon Wireless: Verizon is offering the S8/S8+ for as low as $15 per month with an eligible (flagship-level) trade-in. Without a trade-in, the S8 will cost $30 per month and the S8+ will cost $35 per month for 24 months.
The Galaxy S8 and S8+ have 5.8- and 6.2-inch screens, respectively, Snapdragon 835 processors, 12-megapixel cameras, and Samsung's Bixby voice interface.


Samsung Galaxy S8 to Be First Gigabit LTE Phone

Mar 29, 2017, 10:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 29, 2017, 3:23 PM

Samsung and Qualcomm today said the Galaxy S8 and S8+ will be the first handsets to ship with Gigabit LTE capabilities. The high-speed data connection is possible thanks in part to the Snapdragon 835 processor and accompanying X16 LTE modem. Together with Qualcomm's TruSignal adaptive antenna tuning technology, 4x4 MIMO, carrier aggregation and 256 QAM, the S8 and S8+ will feature the fastest-possible cellular data speeds. AT&T and T-Mobile said the S8 will be able to take advantage of these higher speeds on their pre-5G networks later this year. Sprint, also indicated that its variant of the phone will support HPUE for better 2.5 GHz LTE performance.


Samsung DeX Turns Galaxy S8 Into an Android Desktop

Mar 29, 2017, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 29, 2017, 3:38 PM

Samsung today announced DeX, a desktop accessory for the Galaxy S8 and S8+ that allows them to function as computers when attached to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. DeX is similar in concept to Microsoft's Continuum product. For the S8 and S8+, the DeX includes HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, Ethernet, and cooling functions. The software relies on features baked into Nougat to help scale the Android user interface for desktop screens. It supports full multitasking with moveable windows and runs most standard Android apps. Phone apps, text messaging, and other essential mobile communications will all function normally. DeX and the S8/S8+ support Microsoft Office, with Adobe Lightroom and PhotoShop Express coming soon. A special Samsung browser provides a full desktop internet experience. Pricing and availability of the DeX are to be announced at a later date.


Samsung's Bixby Is Far More than A Voice Assistant for the Galaxy S8

Mar 29, 2017, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones feature Bixby, a voice-based user interface developed by Samsung. It's more advanced than a simple voice assistant, as it voice-enables every function of an app. At its core, anything you can do with touch on the phone you can do with voice through Bixby. That means opening apps, but then also selecting menu items or other on-screen controls within those apps. Bixby is also able to take advantage of the camera for what Samsung calls Bixby Vision. It can translate languages, read business cards, recognize landmarks, and read QR codes. Samsung said it developed Bixby in order to minimize friction between the user and the phone in terms of how voice commands are issued and understood. Samsung calls Bixby a user interface that relies on artificial intelligence. Samsung adapted Bixby's ability to listen and understand commands based on how people speak, rather than force people to issue specific commands. Bixby embraces something it calls "completeness" — meaning if an app is Bixby enabled, Bixby will be able to interact with nearly every task that app is capable of completing. Bixby is contextual, which means it will work seamlessly in voice mode or touch screen mode without forcing people to start over or lose their place within a command sequence. Last, Bixby will include cognitive tolerance, or the ability to "understand commands with incomplete information and execute the commanded task to the best of its knowledge." The Galaxy S8 and S8+ each include a dedicated Bixby button. Owners can press the Bixby button and issue the command they want without first unlocking the phone. Samsung says a small subset of apps on the Galaxy S8 are Bixby-enabeld at launch, though it expects to add more over time. The company will release an SDK so third-party developers can add Bixby functionality to their own apps.

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Hands On with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Mar 29, 2017, 10:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Mar 30, 2017, 11:58 AM

The S8 is Samsung's flagship phone for 2017, and it combines absolutely every idea Samsung has ever come up with for a high-end phone, plus a couple of new ones. From the extra-tall curved display to the iris scanner, to a new voice assistant, Samsung is throwing down the gauntlet. It aims to be a sexy, no-compromise monster. How well does it deliver? We find out in our hands-on. Read on.

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Samsung's Galaxy S8 and S8+ Go for Broke

Mar 29, 2017, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 29, 2017, 4:00 PM

Samsung today announced the Galaxy S8 and S8+, its flagship smartphones for 2017. The phones marry aluminum frames to curved glass panels as they adopt what Samsung calls its Infinity Display. The Infinity Display moves from the industry standard 16:9 aspect ratio to a taller 18.5:9 ratio with 2,960 by 1,440 pixels. The devices share nearly all features other than size and battery capacity. Where the S8 has a 5.8-inch display and 3,000mAh battery, the S8+ boasts a massive 6.2-inch screen and 3,500mAh battery. The phones see Samsung drop the physical home button that has long adorned the front of its handsets in favor of on-screen controls and a virtual home button that's unmarked in the area below the screen. This allowed Samsung to reduce bezels along the top, sides, and bottom edges, meaning the front is 83% display. Samsung says the displays are mobile HDR certified and offer more room for multitasking. Core features include Snapdragon 835 processors with 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, and support for memory cards. The phones are rated IP68 for protection against water and dust. They include rear-mounted fingerprint readers, front-mounted iris scanners, as well as wireless and rapid charging. The main camera has a 12-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization and an aperture of f/1.7. The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and also an aperture of f/1.7 with autofocus and face detection. Ports include USB-C and 3.5mm headphone jack. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ run Android 7 Nougat with Samsung's new Bixby voice-enabled user interface, as well as improved Samsung Health, Samsung Connect, and Samsung Knox apps. The U.S. version will come in black, silver, or purple. The phone is expected to go on sale next month. Pricing will be set by carriers.


Samsung Says No Refurbished Galaxy Note7s In the US

Mar 28, 2017, 8:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Galaxy Note7 fans in the U.S. will not be able to buy a refurbished model, reports Reuters. Samsung "will not be offering refurbished Galaxy Note7 devices for rent or sale in the U.S.," according to a statement provided by the company. On Monday, Samsung announced plans to sell reconditioned Note7s in select markets, though it has yet to say where. Phones that cannot be reconditioned will be broken down into their individual components so Samsung can scavenge them for use in other devices.


Samsung Plans to Sell Refurbished Galaxy Note7

Mar 27, 2017, 9:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 27, 2017, 9:42 AM

Samsung plans to bring back the Galaxy Note7, despite the massive recall that spelled the phone's demise last year. The company will sell refurbished versions of the phone, though Samsung is still determining where via talks with regulatory authorities and carriers. Samsung didn't detail exactly how the phone has been refurbished. It was pulled from store shelves shortly after launch due to faulty batteries. Presumably any refurbished units would, at a minimum, include brand new batteries. Note7 units that aren't refurbished for sale will be broken down into individual components so Samsung can recover chips, camera modules, and rare metals found within the phone. Samsung did not say when it expects to resurrect the Note7.


Samsung Galaxy S8 to Include 'Bixby' Voice-Based User Interface

Mar 20, 2017, 8:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 20, 2017, 9:29 AM

Samsung today announced Bixby, a new voice-based user interface that will mark its debut on the Galaxy S8 smartphone. Samsung said it developed Bixby in order to minimize friction between the user and the phone in terms of how voice commands are issued and understood. Samsung calls Bixby a user interface that relies on artificial intelligence. it is not a personal assistant, per se, though it includes those functions. Samsung adapted Bixby's ability to listen and understand commands based on how people speak, rather than force people to issue specific commands (such as "Hey, Bixby") to get the interface working. Samsung is targeting a handful of core behaviors with Bixby. For example, it is embracing something it calls "completeness" — meaning if an app is Bixby enabled, Bixby will be able to interact with nearly every task that app is capable of completing. Bixby is contextual, which means it will work seamlessly in voice mode or touch screen mode without forcing people to start over or lose their place within a command sequence. Last, Bixby will include cognitive tolerance, or the ability to "understand commands with incomplete information and execute the commanded task to the best of its knowledge." The Galaxy S8, which Samsung plans to announce at a March 29 event in New York City, will feature a dedicated Bixby button, something Samsung says will reduce friction in calling upon Bixby for help. Galaxy S8 owners will be able to press the Bixby button and issue the command they want without first unlocking the phone. Samsung says a small subset of apps on the Galaxy S8 will be Bixby-enabeld at launch, though it expects to add more over time. Further, the company will release an SDK so third-party developers can add Bixby functionality to their own apps. Samsung intends to push Bixby across most of its products tline, including tablets, PCs, and even appliances.


Samsung to More Consistently Update Unlocked Galaxy Phones

Mar 14, 2017, 9:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung said it plans to update unlocked devices as often as monthly, according to ZDNet. "Due to various circumstances, we have been releasing security updates for unlocked (open) Galaxy devices in the U.S. on a quarterly basis," said the company in an emailed statement. "However, we have now resolved the challenges; and we are committed to releasing security updates for those devices on a monthly basis." Unlocked models of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge were last updated in December, but Samsung said it will push the March update to those devices soon. Samsung didn't say whether or not the update will include Android 7 Nougat. Carrier variants of the S7 and S7 edge have already begun to receive Nougat.


FCC Reveals Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Edge

Mar 9, 2017, 3:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC recently published a few details about two unreleased Samsung phones that are likely the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 edge. The FCC approved the SM-G950 (S8) and SM-G955 (S8 edge) and confirmed some features shared by the handsets. For example, the phones include wide support for U.S. 4G networks, including LTE Bands 29, 30, and 66, which are among the newest used by AT&T and T-Mobile. The FCC shows two versions of the phones so far, one with CDMA and one without. The CDMA variant is compatible with the networks operated by Sprint and Verizon Wireless, but also includes LTE support for AT&T and T-Mobile. The FCC confirmed additional radios, including NFC, Bluetooth, and WiFi. Photos and detailed specifications of the phones remain unknown. Samsung plans to unveil the Galaxy S8 and S8 edge at an event in New York City scheduled for March 29.


Samsung Exec Denies All Charges

Mar 9, 2017, 8:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Jay Y. Lee, the chief of Samsung, pled not guilty in court today. Lee is charged with bribery and embezzlement in a case that has also ensnared South Korea President Park Geun-hye. Lee's lawyers claim the prosecution's case is built on conversations and other evidence that was not witnessed first hand. "It is unclear what kind of order Lee Jae-yong is supposed to have given" regarding the bribes, said Lee's lawyer, Song Wu-cheol. Samsung itself and other executives caught up in the case also denied any wrongdoing. The office for the special prosecutor believes Lee arranged for about $36 million in bribes to be paid to the office of President Park to facilitate certain low-level mergers. Park herself was impeached in December and has no governmental powers pending a review of the case by Korea's Constitutional Court. The prosecutors believe the case against Lee, which they are calling the "trial of the century," will be wrapped up by the end of May.


Facebook Trots Out Virtual Reality App for Samsung Gear VR

Mar 8, 2017, 1:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today announced Facebook 360 for Gear VR, a dedicated app to help Samsung device owners find and consume 360-degree Facebook content. The app is available to compatible Galaxy devices, such as the Note 5, S7, and S7 edge. The app features four main feeds for finding VR content. The Explore tab lets people find the most popular VR content from media companies and organizations, while the Following tab lets people find the content created and shared by their friends and family. The app also allows people to save 360-degree content from their News Feed into a dedicated folder, as well as relive memories via the Timeline function, which highlights the user's own 360-degree photos and videos. The Facebook 360 for Gear VR app also supports social interactions, such as likes. Facebook claims there are more than 25 million 360-degree photos and more than 1 million 360-degree videos available on Facebook. The Facebook 360 for Gear VR app can be found within the Oculus app on compatible Samsung Galaxy smartphones.


Verizon's Galaxy S7 and S7 edge Earn Android 7 Nougat

Mar 6, 2017, 10:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today made Android 7 Nougat available to its variants of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge smartphones. Android 7 brings native split-screen multitasking, and myriad other features to the year-old Galaxy devices. Some of the new tools include: better battery management software; photo effects previews; more ways to customize the always-on display; Samsung Pass for additional fingerprint-based security; performance mode for adjusting processor output; a revised keyboard with more language options; and more control over mobile hotspot connections. Notably, the update also removes Verizon's go90 mobile video application. Verizon recommends users download the operating system update via WiFi. Android 7 Nougat is rolling out the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge over the next few days.


Samsung Exec's Bribery Trial to Start Next Week

Mar 3, 2017, 8:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung said executive Jay Y. Lee, arrested last month on embezzlement and bribery charges, is scheduled to go on trial as soon as March 9. Lee was indicted on the charges this week, following his Feb. 17 arrest. The South Korea special prosecutor alleges that Lee paid the office of Korean President Park Geun-hye about $37 million in bribes to facilitate government approval of certain business deals. Those deals gave Lee the leverage he needed to ascend to the company's top executive spot. Samsung has denied that the company and Lee acted improperly, even though President Park Geun-hye herself has been impeached by the Korean government. Special prosecutor Park Young-soo suggested to reporters that "the upcoming Samsung trial could be the trial of the century, that the entire world will be watching." Samsung is South Korea's largest business.


Cricket Drops Price of Unlimited Plan, Says HD Voice On the Way

Mar 1, 2017, 10:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today lowered the price of its unlimited service plan to $60 per month for a single line. The plan offers unlimited talk, text, and data (speeds capped at 8Mbps), with taxes and fees included. Families can save on additional lines; a second line costs $50 per month, a third line costs $40, a fourth line costs $30, and a fifth line costs $20. Together, families can get four lines of unlimited service for $180 or five lines for $200. The company is offering a choice of several free handsets to those who switch to Cricket, including the Samsung Galaxy Amp 2, the LG Spree, the ZTE Sonata, or the Alcatel Streak. Last, Cricket plans to improve its service in the months ahead with new features, including HD Voice and WiFi calling.


Samsung to Push RCS Messaging On Its Own Handsets

Feb 28, 2017, 8:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said it intends to adopt Rich Communications Services messaging on its smartphones. RCS is a more advanced messaging standard that supports group chats, video messaging, and more. Samsung acquired RCS technology when it picked up NewNet late last year. Samsung plans to work with overseas carriers such as Deutsche Telekom, Korea Telecom, SK Telecom, T-Mobile, and Vodafone to enable RCS on its devices. Samsung's move follows a similar one made by Google, which is working with a wider selection of phone makers and carriers to bring RCS to Android devices around the world. Samsung is one of only a few device makers not supporting Google's RCS push, and now we know why.


Samsung Executive to Be Charged with Bribery

Feb 28, 2017, 3:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The special prosecutor's office in South Korea today said it will charge Samsung Executive Jay Y. Lee in a bribery case that has shaken the country. Lee isn't standing alone, however, as the special prosecutor is eying four other Samsung executives. "The five executives will face charges including bribery, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas," said Lee Kyu-chul, a spokesperson for the prosecutor's office. Samsung's Lee was arrested earlier this month on the charges. The case also involves President Park Geun-hye, who was impeached by the Korean government in December 2016. Lee and others are alleged to have paid Park to help facilitate certain business dealings. One March 6, the special prosecutor plans to make an announcement regarding its investigation into President Park. Samsung SDI, the company's memory and business, today named Jun Young-hyun as CEO. Jun will be officially appointed next month.


Samsung Talks Up 5G Ecosystem, Verizon Teases 5G Phone

Feb 26, 2017, 4:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today revealed a number of 5G-related projects it is working on, including a home router, a base station, core network infrastructure, and a mobile chipset. The 5G Home Router is of particular interest, as Samsung said it would serve as an in-home replacement for fiber-to-the-home for broadband service. The router would sit in a window and communicate with a nearby 5G Radio Base Station and deliver 1 Gbps speeds to the home. Samsung likened the setup to today's LTE small cells, which have helped carriers densify their networks in urban areas. Verizon Wireless personnel joined Samsung on stage during the presentation and mentioned that the company hopes to see a phone able to use Samsung's 5G in-home gear by this time next year. Verizon is already planning to trial its own fixed 5G service in 11 markets in the new few weeks. Samsung went on to say that it will use 3GPP Release 16 specs for now while the ITU continues its work on the 5G standard. Samsung hopes to be able to upgrade its equipment along the way until the 5G standard is ratified.


Samsung Adds a Controller to Its Oculus-Designed Gear VR Headset

Feb 26, 2017, 3:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced a new version of its Gear VR headset, which now comes with a controller in tow. Controllers dramatically help the VR experience by allowing people to interact with a wider range of content when exploring new worlds. Samsung says the controller includes home, volume, and back keys and features a comfortable grip so it is easy to hold securely. The controller attaches to a strap on the headset for safekeeping when not in use. The Gear VR headset has 42mm lenses with 101-degree field of view and distortion correction to help minimize motion sickness. It supports both micro USB and USB Type-C ports. Samsung didn't list the price nor mention the release date.


Samsung to Announce Galaxy S8 On March 29 In NYC

Feb 26, 2017, 3:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung used its press conference at Mobile World Congress to tell everyone that the Galaxy S8 is right around the corner. In a short teaser video, Samsung said the phone will make its worldwide debut on March 29 at Lincoln Center in New York City. The company shared a silhouette of a device with the words "Unbox Your Phone" in the invitation. The Galaxy S8 will replace the Galaxy S7 at the top of Samsung's lineup and serve as the company's flagship for 2017. The phone will go head-to-head with the LG G6, which was announced earlier today, and the Apple iPhone 7.


Samsung Makes Its Secure Folder A Downloadable App

Feb 24, 2017, 1:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today released its Secure Folder through the Galaxy Apps Store. Secure Folder is a protected space for smartphones that can store files, documents, images, videos, or other content that the owner wishes to lock away. Samsung says the Secure Folder can act as a way for people to set up separate profiles for apps on the phone, as well, ensuring that only the protected content is available to those profiles. Samsung expects people will use standard tools such as PIN, pattern, passcode, or biometric verification (fingerprint) to access and manage the Secure Folder. The Samsung Secure Folder has ben around for a while, but it has always been preloaded directly to devices by Samsung. This marks the first time the app is available on its own as a separate download. Samsung is making the app available to the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge first, with other models to follow later.


More Carriers and Phone Makers Agree to Adopt Google's RCS-Based 'Android Messages' Service

Feb 24, 2017, 7:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said more wireless network operators and handset manufacturers will use Android Messages, its RCS-based messaging service, as the default SMS/MMS tool on their phones. (Android Messages was previously known as Google Messenger.) Some of the features of RCS, which is a global standard, include group chat, high-resolution photo sharing, advanced calling features, and read receipts. It has been improved lately with more interactive tools, such as the ability to check into flights. Google says a number of brands plan to use RCS in order to enhance their own services and help spur adoption. Some of the brands include Walgreens, Baskin-Robbins, FICO, Gamestop, Sonic, Subway, and Time. Moving forward, the Android Messages app with RCS will be preloaded by LG, Motorola, Sony, HTC, ZTE, Micromax, HMD Global, Archos, BQ, Cherry Mobile, Condor, Fly, General Mobile, Lanix, LeEco, Lava, Kyocera, MyPhone, QMobile, Symphony, and Wiko, along with Google's own Pixel and Android One devices. Further, Google was already working with carriers Sprint, Rogers, and Telenor, and today added Vodafone, Orange, Deutsche Telekom, and Globe. Notably absent fro the list of phone makers is Samsung, while AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have also yet to commit. Phones with Android Messages on board will still be able to interact with Samsung handsets and those running on non-Sprint networks of course, but will lose the advanced features available via RCS. Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon haven't said if or when they might adopt Google's Android Messages, though T-Mobile and Verizon already use their own RCS-like messaging platforms.


Samsung's Exynos 9 Chip Uses 10nm Process, Boasts Gigabit Modem

Feb 23, 2017, 11:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the Exynos 9 Series 8895 application processor for premium mobile devices. The chip relies on Samsung's 10nm FinFET process with 3D transistors. This results in a 27% performance boost while chewing through 40% less power when put up against Samsung's 14nm tech. The 8895 bakes in support for Category 16 LTE with 5xCA for 1 Gbps downloads, and Cat 13 LTE with 2xCA for 225 Mbps uploads. Samsung says the Exynos 9 Series 8895 has an octa-core design with four of Samsung's own CPUs paired with four ARM Cortex A53 cores. It supports the ARM Mali G71 GPU for 3D graphics, 4K quality virtual reality, and 4K video playback up to 120fps. A separate processing unit handles biometric security (iris and fingerprint) for protecting mobile payments, and a Vision Processing Unit is able to scan and recognize its surroundings for panoramic image processing and machine vision. The Exynos 9 Series 8895 is already in mass production and Samsung said it will appear in devices soon. The company is widely expected to debut its 2017 flagship phone, the Galaxy S8, in March. The Galaxy S8 will likely rely on the Exynos 9 Series 8895 processor.


Samsung Heir Arrested On Bribery Charges

Feb 17, 2017, 8:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Jay Y. Lee, a top executive at Samsung, has been arrested after a judge agreed that the special prosecutor's allegations of corruption warranted legal action. Lee has been under investigation for months over $37 million in payments that investigators say were used as bribes. The special prosecutor is also charging Lee with perjury, embezzlement, and hiding assets overseas. Lee has for the last several years been groomed to take over the company following the heart attack of his father. Some of the money, allege the prosecutors, was used to grease a contentious merger between two Samsung businesses that helped pave the way for Lee's ascension. The scandal has gripped South Korea since last year, as President Park Geun-hye is also involved. In a brief statement, Samsung said, "We will do our best to ensure that the truth is revealed in future court proceedings." Lee wasn't necessarily involved in managing the day-to-day operations of the company, but was involved in top-level decision making. Samsung may have to reorganize its executive structure to account for Lee's potential absence.


Korea Prosecutors Take Second Stab at Samsung Exec

Feb 14, 2017, 8:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

South Korea's special prosecutor's office is taking another run at arresting and charging Samsung executive Jay Y. Lee. Lee faces possible embezzlement, bribery, and asset-related charges tied to S. Korea President Park Geun-hye. Specifically, the prosecutor's office believes Lee payed Park to facilitate a merger of two lesser Samsung businesses that, in turn, helped pave the way for Lee's succession within the organization. "Samsung has absolutely never bribed the president seeking something in return or sought illicit favors," said Samsung Group in a statement. Last month, a Seoul-based court rejected the procesutor's attempt to charge Lee. Lee is a member of the family that controls a majority stake in Samsung and has been groomed to lead the organization. A court will have to approve the presecutor's new request.


Apple Backs Qi Wireless Charging Standard

Feb 13, 2017, 3:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has joined the Wireless Power Consortium, according to IHS Technologies and the WPC's own web site. Apple is listed as a backing member of the organization, which is behind the Qi wireless charging standard. This is the first time Apple has appeared to support either of the two competing standards. Apple is not backing the AirFuel Alliance (formerly the Power Matters Alliance) wireless charging standard, at least not according to the Alliance's web site, where Apple is not listed as a member. Apple's membership in the WPC does not necessarily mean the company plans to bring wireless charging technology to its mobile devices; rather, it means Apple can contribute its own technology to the standard, as well as take advantage of the standard's existing feature set. Many of Apple's competitors already back at least one of the two major wireless charging standards. Samsung, for example, supports both Qi and AirFuel, which makes its devices compatible with most wireless chargers. Wireless charging is one of a handful of technologies that Apple's iPhone has yet to adopt.


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