Cricket Wireless today rolled out a new promotion that will give free phones to people who switch from another network. The phones on offer are the LG Fortune and the Alcatel Verso, entry-level Android handsets. People who switch can score the two free phones as well as two lines of unlimited service for $80 per month. Families of four can earn free phones, too, with a monthly service bill of just $100 for unlimited data. In this case, unlimited data is limited to 3 Mbps and video is limited to standard definition. Those who exceed 22 GB of data per month will see speeds slowed for the remainder of the billing period. The free phone promo is available through April 12 or while supplies last.
In a shift of strategy, LG this week said it will cease bringing new flagship devices to market each year as it has done the last five or so years. “We will unveil new smartphones when it is needed. But we will not launch it just because other rivals do,” said Cho Sung-jin, LG Electronics Vice Chairman, during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. "We plan to retain existing models longer by, for instance, unveiling more variant models of the G series or V series." The LG G6 is nearing its first birthday, while the V30 is not quite six months old. The company earlier said it will also change the naming conventions for these flagship devices going forward. LG's mobile business has lost money 11 quarters in a row. Budget phones, rather than flagships, generate the bulk of LG's mobile business earnings. The company is estimated to have lost about $650 million during the last three months of 2017. At CES 2018, the only phones on display at LG's booth were last year's V30 and V30+.
T-Mobile today announced a buy-one, get-one deal that sees major discounts on top phones. T-Mobile says 12 flagship devices from the likes of Apple, LG, and Samsung qualify for the promotion, including the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone X, G6, V30, S8, Note8 and others. To qualify, customers will have to activate one new line of service and buy both phones on a monthly installment plan. T-Mobile will make monthly payments for the second device (up to $750) over the course of two years. Customers who want a deal on a single handset can earn a $150 rebate plus the value of a trade-in. Accepted trades include recent flagships from LG and Samsung. Last, T-Mobile is targeting Verizon Wireless customers. It will give Verizon subscribers who leave big red up to $650 and pay off the balance of their Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ and other popular smartphones. Those who switch will need to subscribe to a T-Mobile One Plus plan to get the reimbursement for old phones. All three promotions go into effect January 12.
Qualcomm today said a number of leading handset makers have adopted its radio frequency front-end. Some of the OEMs include Google, HTC, LG, Samsung and Sony Mobile. This means these smartphone manufacturers will rely on Qualcomm's hardware to ensure their devices can talk to wireless networks. This is particularly important for T-Mobile, as the RF front end provides comprehensive 600 MHz band (B71) support. T-Mobile is deploying LTE on its 600 MHz spectrum now and plans to use it for 5G service down the road. The RF front end includes a modem-to-antenna system using the new QPM26xx series gallium arsenide-based power amplifier module. The module contains duplexers, envelope tracker, antenna tuners, antenna switches, and discrete and integrated filter modules. Qualcomm says its RF front end supports features such as Gigabit LTE, 4x4 MIMO and LTE Advanced today, and will evolve to handle 5G technologies in 2019.
Boost Mobile recently added the LG Tribute Dynasty to its lineup of affordable Android smartphones. This device includes a 5-inch HD display and is powered by a 1.5 GHz octa-core MediaTek processor with 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. The Tribute Dynasty has an 8-megapixel main camera with LED flash and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. Other features include a 2,500mAh battery; Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and LTE; and microUSB and headphone jack. It runs Android 7.1 Nougat. The LG Tribute Dynasty costs $100, but is on sale at the moment for $60. The phone is already available at Boost Mobile stores. Sprint said it will carry the phone starting Jan. 12.
T-Mobile has significantly expanded the availability of LTE service on its 600 MHz (Band 71) spectrum around the country. The Un-carrier debuted its 600 MHz service in Cheyenne, Wyo., last August. Since then, T-Mobile has lit up LTE on 600 MHz in 586 cities and towns around the country, including 156 new markets over the last few days. T-Mobile did not share the names of these new markets, though it had previously said it would first target rural markets with its 600 MHz spectrum. Few devices are able to use Band 71 just yet. One example is the LG V30 smartphone. T-Mobile plans to launch more than a dozen new 600 MHz capable smartphones this year, ranging from entry-level to flagship devices. In terms of T-Mobile's total coverage, the company now claims to provide access to 322 million people, up from 315 million last year. T-Mobile now covers 99% as many Americans as Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile plans to deploy some 5G service on its 600 MHz spectrum, where is has 31 MHz across much of the country, as soon as 2020. Last, T-Mobile said it closed its agreement to purchase the remaining interest of Iowa Wireless from Aureon on January 2. This will give T-Mobile more coverage in Iowa and western Illinois.
LG has confirmed plans to rebrand its line of flagship handsets. The company will drop the "G" naming convention that it has used since 2012 in favor of a new brand. The most recent handsets to make use of the G brand include the 2017 G6 and the 2016 G5. "LG is preparing a new brand strategy for the G series in the first half of the year. Numbering the phone with a two-digit number and rebranding the phone with a new name are some of the options on the table," said LG in statement provided to Digital Daily. "Rebranding flagship models is nothing new, and Samsung and Apple have done so for their own flagships," said a representative to The Investor. The company has typically introduced its G-branded flagships during the first quarter of the year and its V-branded flagships during the third quarter. LG hasn't said what new branding it might select to replace the G series, or if it will also change the branding for its V series phones. LG may debut the successor to the G6 at the Mobile World Congress trade show scheduled for February.
LG today showed off a new smart speaker that will be available in early 2018. LG is calling the ThinQ Speaker its "first premium smart AI audio product" thanks to the addition of the Google Assistant. With Assistant on board, the Thinq Speaker will behave a lot like the Google Home product by performing voice-based searches. In addition to playing music, the ThinQ Speaker can interact with LG's other smart home appliances, such as television sets, air purifiers, and refrigerators. LG says the speaker includes Meridian Audio technology to ensure support for high-quality, lossless file playback for the best possible sound. LG will share more information about the ThinQ Speaker during its CES press conference scheduled for January 8. Google is encouraging its hardware partners to put Google Assistant, which first launched on mobile devices, in a variety of products. Amazon has done the same with its Alexa artificial intelligence.
LG today said it is creating a single brand to help identify devices that include artificial intelligence. That brand is called ThinQ. According to LG, ThinQ will apply to "all of its 2018 home appliances, consumer electronics and services" that use AI. These products will have higher analytical powers and the ability to communicate with one another. ThinQ can "recognize, deduce and learn from voice, video and sensors," says LG. LG first detailed its AI efforts in January 2017, and later committed to putting WiFi in most major appliances. The company didn't specify how or if its mobile devices will adopt ThinQ or play a role within its AI-assisted ecosystem. The company is expected to provide more details during the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2018.
Verizon Wireless today began selling the Google Home Max in-home assistant and speaker. The Max relies on the same Google Assistant that powers the Google Home and Google Home Mini devices, but packages the voice-based tool in a larger, music-focused box. The Max has twin 4.5-inch woofers and can analyze the room to automatically adjust its tuning for the best possible sound. It supports streaming services such as Google Play Music, YouTube Music, Pandora, and Spotify, and can interact with Chromecasts and other cast-enabled devices. The Google Home Max is available online from Verizon and Best Buy. Verizon Wireless also rolled out a promotion for the LG V30. Customers can snag a $300 discount on the phone when purchased on a 24-month payment plan. The $300 discount is applied monthly until the phone is paid off. The LG V30 deal is only available online.
Google recently provided a list of Android-based wearables that have or will receive the Android 8 Oreo update. According to Google, Oreo is already available to the Fossil Q Venture, LG Watch Sport, Louis Vuitton Tambour, Michael Kors Sofie, and the Montblanc Summit. Watches that are testing Oreo include selections from Casio, Diesel, Emporio, Fossil, Guess, Huawei, Hugo Boss, LG, Michael Kors, Movado, Polar, Tag Heuer, Tommy Hilfiger, and ZTE. As always, the exact timing of the update is up to each individual manufacturer. Android 8 Oreo for Android Wear is a minor update that tweaks some notification behaviors and vibration settings, and adds new languages and notification channels for improved battery life.
Qualcomm today named the Snapdragon 845, its flagship processor for 2018. The chip supplants the Snapdragon 835 at the top of Qualcomm's line of mobile processors. The 835 is one of the most popular processors for high-end smartphones from the likes of LG, Samsung, OnePlus, and Huawei. The 845, announced at the Snapdragon Technology Summit, will power not only mobile phones but Windows-based laptops. Qualcomm didn't provide too many details about the chip, other than to say it will be paired with the company's X20 Gigabit LTE modem. It will target augmented reality and virtual reality applications, offer top security, improve battery life, and support faster recharging. The chip is expected to be manufactured by Samsung, relying on Samsung's 10nm process. Qualcomm is expected to share more information about the Snapdragon 845 in the days ahead. Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun said the company will build a flagship handset based on the Snapdragon 845 next year.
LG today announced a handful of changes to its leadership that the company hopes will lead to stronger performance of its mobile phone business. The company named Hwang Jeong-hwan as president and CEO of LG Mobile Communications. Juno Cho, the previous president, will take a new role within LG Corp. LG has also named Dr. Park Il-pyung as CTO. Prior to his appointment as CTO, Dr. Park served as the head of LG's software business. Dr. Skott Ahn, the previous CTO, will tackle new responsibilities at LG Corp. In another change, Han Chang-hee was named head of the Global Marketing Center. Last, LG is creating a B2B company to handle sales to businesses. All the appointments are effective December 1. LG's mobile phone business marked a loss of $117 million in its most recent quarterly earnings report, despite bringing capable handsets such as the G6 and V30 to the market this year.
Cricket Wireless is offering a number of free and discounted smartphones starting today. New customers who port in their number can snag either the LG Fortune or ZTE Overture 3 for free with an accompanying service plan. Customers looking for something slightly more powerful can grab the ZTE Blade X for $50 or the ZTE Blade X Max for $100. The discounts are available to new customers, though existing customers can get the same low prices if they pay a $25 upgrade fee. Other offers include the LG Fortune (free for switchers, $29.99 for existing customers), the LG X Charge ($49.99 for switchers, $99.99 for existing customers), LG Stylo 3 ($29.99 for switchers, $129.99 existing customers), and the LG Harmony ($9.99 for switchers, $59.99 for existing customers). Cricket says the sales prices are good through November 26 or as long as supplies last.
U.S. Cellular today announced a holiday offering that will provide customers with a free flagship smartphone. The company will give customers a free Samsung Galaxy S8, iPhone 8, LG G6, or Motorola Moto Z Force when they sign up for an unlimited plan between November 22 and November 27. Customers will need to trade-in a recent flagship, such as the Galaxy S6, iPhone 6, or V20, to score the free phone. The free handset will be comped through monthly rebates over a period of 30 months. Customers who don't have a device to trade in can get a reduced-cost flagship for a monthly payment of just $10 in addition to the unlimited plan. U.S. Cellular's unlimited plan costs $70 for a single line, though multi-line discounts are available. U.S. Cellular offers up to 22 GB of high-speed data per billing cycle. Customers who exceed that limit will see speeds reduced to 2G for the remained of the month. The company is also offering discounts on Google Home, LG Tones, and Parrot Drones during its holiday sale. Last, customers who refer a family member or friend who signs up for service can score a $50 reward.
T-Mobile 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.
T-Mobile today said more customers around the country should have access to faster wireless speeds. The company has reached several new milestones with respect to its wireless network. First, it has doubled its LTE-Advanced footprint to more than 920 markets. The company has deployed a trio of LTE-A technologies, including carrier aggregation, 4X4 MIMO, and 256 QAM, in 430 of those markets. Gigabit LTE relies on a combination of these three LTE-A technologies along with certain on-device components and proper backhaul. Together, these technologies are able to improve spectral efficiency, reduce congestion, and deliver the highest-possible speeds to handsets. Only a few devices equipped with the Snapdragon 835 processor with X16 LTE modem can access Gigabit LTE, including the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note8, the Motorola Moto Z2 Force Edition, and the LG V30. T-Mobile customers who own these devices and live in the 430 markets with carrier aggregation, 4X4 MIMO, and 256 QAM may be able to tap into Gigatbit LTE download speeds (800 Mbps). Gigabit LTE is a stepping stone to 5G and T-Mobile plans to keep moving forward. The company is prepared to launch LTE-License Assisted Access (LTE-LAA) later this year. LTE-LAA makes better use of unlicensed spectrum on small cells. T-Mobile did not provide a timeline for these network upgrades.
T-Mobile today said it plans to sell the LG V30+ later this month. The V30+ differs from the V30 in that it has double the internal storage — 128 GB instead of 64 GB. Other features of the V30+, including support for T-Mobile's Band 71 600 MHz spectrum, remain unchanged. The phone has a 6-inch quad HD+ display, Snapdragon 835 processor, wide-angle and standard cameras, and a 3,300mAh battery. The LG V30+ will be available in limited quantity for $130 down and $30 a month for 24 months. It goes on sale November 17. Until now, the V30+ has been a Sprint exclusive.
Amazon today announced that it will soon offer a slew of LG Android smartphones through its Amazon Prime Exclusives program. Among them is the LG Q6 (pictured), marking the first time this particular phone is being made available to U.S. consumers. The Q6, announced in July, features a 5.5-inch, 18:9 display with full HD+ resolution, curved aluminum frame, and minimized bezels. It runs Android 7.1 Nougat and includes Google Assistant and facial recognition for unlocking the phone. The main camera has a standard-angle 13-megapixel sensor and the front camera has a 100-degree, wide-angle 5-megapixel sensor. The Q6 is powered by a Snapdragon 435 processor and includes a 3,000mAh battery and NFC. The Q6 costs $300, but Amazon Prime members can buy it for $230 through Amazon Prime Exclusives. Handsets sold under the Prime Exclusives banner cost less because users agree to view advertisements on the lock screen. Amazon said the Q6 will become available in the coming months. Amazon is also slated to sell the LG G6 ($400), G6+ ($500), and X charge ($150), all of which have been for sale directly from carriers since earlier this year. All four phones are sold unlocked with support for AT&T and T-Mobile.
Documents seen on the FCC web site suggest the Galaxy S8 Active will be Samsung's first Band 71-compatible smartphone for T-Mobile. The government agency recently approved a new version of the SM-G892U, already sold as the Galaxy S8 Active by AT&T, this time with Band 66 and Band 71 aboard. These bands are only used by T-Mobile in the U.S. Band 71, in particular, is the new 600 MHz spectrum that T-Mobile is slowly deploying this year. T-Mobile had promised to release Band 71 devices from LG and Samsung before the end of the year. The V30 from LG was the first to arrive and it appears the Galaxy S8 Active from Samsung is the second. Neither Samsung nor T-Mobile has publicly announced this device and there's no indication of when it might go on sale.
Verizon Wireless today shared details concerning its variant of the LG V30. The phone is available from today for $35 per month for 24 months on a Verizon device payment plan. The total cost of the monthly payments comes to $840, which is about $40 more than what AT&T and T-Mobile ask for the handset. Verizon has several promotions on deck. First, people who purchase a V30 are eligible for a free Google Daydream View headset. Further, those who purchase a V30 between October 5 and November 6 can score a $200 Visa prepaid card. The LG V30 features a metal-and-glass design, 6-inch quad HD+ display, dual cameras, and a Snapdragon 835 processor.
Google today announced the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones. Both devices run Android 8 Oreo and feature a new Assistant bar that is placed at the bottom of the home screen. Assistant is always available and working in the background to tie together the various things people do throughout the day, such as home-bound commutes. One of the key features is a carryover from the HTC U11: squeezing the sides of the phone will activate Google Assistant. The devices share most hardware features, including aluminum designs, glass front and rear panels, 12-megapixel main cameras, 8-megapixel selfie cameras, and rear-mounted fingerprint sensors. The camera has the ability to to optical and electronic video stabilization at the same time and the lens has an aperture of f/1.8. It includes a feature called Motion Photos, which are similar to the iPhone's Live Photos. The Pixel 2 has a 5-inch display, while the Pixel 2 XL has a 6-inch 18:9 quad HD+ plastic AMOLED display (similar to the LG V30). The phones meet IP67 for protection agains water and dust ingress. Google says the devices will receive up to three years of software support. Other specs include a Snapdragon 835 processor with 4 GB of RAM, stereo speakers, Bluetooth 5, and Daydream capability. The smaller Pixel 2 comes in black, blue, and white and costs $649, while the larger Pixel 2 XL comes in just black and white and costs $849. They include 64 GB of storage, but a 128 GB option is available for an additional $100 for each model. The device is available for pre-order starting today and ships October 17. For a limited time, Googe will give those who buy the Pixel 2 / XL a free Google Home Mini.
Google today made a fresh beta build available of Android Wear. This pre-release operating system is compatible with a single device, the LG Watch Sport. Google says the beta targets several behaviors and refinements within API level 26, specifically notification channels and background limits. For example, this new Android beta makes it possible for users to choose the types of notifications they receive on their wearable, as well as separate those generated by watch apps and those generated by phone apps. Moreover, the Android beta improves upon background limits to restrict apps running in the background. The end result should be better battery life. Google stopped short of giving the beta a number designation, though because it is an upgrade of API level 26 it is like Android Wear 2.x.
Sprint will offer LG's new flagship V30+ phone starting on October 13th. The V30+ is exclusive to Sprint in the U.S.; other carriers will offer the standard V30. The V30+ has 128 GB of internal storage, twice that of the standard V30. It will also come with LG QuadPlay high-quality earbuds. For a limited time, it will also come with a free Google Daydream VR headset. The V30 is one of the first LG-branded phones compatible with Daydream. Sprint is selling the phone for $912, or leasing it for $38/month. For a limited time, Sprint is offering 2-for-1 on the $38/month lease.
LG and its carrier partners today announced pricing and availability for the V30 smartphone. Preorders for the handset commence October 5th, with an expected ship and in-store date of October 6th for AT&T, or 13th for T-Mobile. Exact pricing varies a bit by carrier, but the average retail price of the phone comes in at $800. T-Mobile, for example, is seeking $80 down and $30 a month on T-Mobile’s Equipment Installment Plan. AT&T is charging $27 per month for 30 months on AT&T Next. AT&T has a limited buy-one, get-one deal on the V30, though it requires at least one port in and a subscription to DirecTV. The V30 is LG's camera-focused flagship. It has a 6-inch FullVision display, glass-and-metal design, and twin rear-mounted cameras.
LG's X Venture was originally exclusive to AT&T, but is now available from U.S. Cellular as well. The mid-range Android phone has a large 4,100 mAh battery and a rugged design.
LG today said it will begin shipping its V30 flagship handset to customers in South Korea this week. The phone will arrive in North America, Europe, and other markets "in the days and weeks to come." LG didn't provide an exact launch window for the U.S., and LG's U.S. carrier partners have yet to announce pricing plans for the high-end phone. The V30 is the latest to adopt LG's 18:9 FullVision display with a plastic OLED panel and Gorilla Glass 5 covering the quad HD+, 6-inch screen. The phone boasts a twin-camera design with wide-angle and standard view lenses, high-resolution audio capture, wireless charging, and support for Google Daydream VR. The V30 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and it runs Android 7 Nougat.
Google today kicked off a teaser campaign for a phone-based announcement that will take place on October 4. The company launched a web site with the address of madeby.google.com, and it specifically asks people what they want from their phones. A similar-themed billboard appeared in Boston in recent days, more or less confirming that the company will announce its 2017 smartphones on October 4. At the same time, a new handset from LG was recently approved by the FCC that could be a new Pixel model. Though the FCC documentation reveals no details about the handset itself, the FCC does potentially give away the name. The LG phone approved by the FCC this week carries the FCC ID of ZNFG011C, which is similar to that of the HTC-made NM8G011A. In this naming convention it is important to note that the first three digits are the manufacturer codes (ZNF for LG, NM8 for HTC) while the latter five digits (G011A and G011C) are the model numbers. The HTC G011A, approved by the FCC in August, is believed to be a Pixel-branded device for Google similar to the HTC U11. The newly-approved LG G011C could be a variant of the LG G6 or V30, or a completely new handset. Google has relied on both HTC and LG to make Nexus- and Pixel-branded handsets in the past.
Netflix recently added the Samsung Galaxy Note8, Sony Xperia XZ1, and the LG V30 to the short list of those able to play back high-definition video in HDR. High-dynamic range content offers better contrast than standard content. The only other handsets capable of supporting Netflix HDR are the LG G6 and Xperia XZ Premium, which have the needed HDR displays. In order to view HDR content on these handsets, owners have to subscribe to the $12 premium Netflix plan (streaming on four screens and ultra HD resolution). They'll also have to ensure the latest version of the app is installed on their phone, and select "high definition" for video playback quality.
LG and T-Mobile today said the new V30 flagship smartphone will be the first device capable of operating on T-Mobile's brand new 600 MHz spectrum, or Band 71. T-Mobile kicked off 600 MHz service in Cheyenne, Wyo., two weeks ago and today added Scarborough, Maine. T-Mobile is using the spectrum to provide LTE coverage to rural markets first, though it will also eventually deploy 5G technologies on that spectrum. T-Mobile's 600 MHz spectrum holdings give it nationwide coverage. The LG V30 is slated to reach T-Mobile later this year.
The V30 is LG's new top-end flagship, for people who want something even more cutting-edge than the G6. As with previous V-series phones, it sports a huge screen. But the incredibly tiny bezels let LG make the screen much larger, but the phone much smaller, compared to last year's V20. LG has taken all of the features of the G6 and improved them, including a better dual-camera setup, faster processor, and OLED screen capable of VR. The V series continues to support advanced audio, but the V30 adds advanced video features as well, including a feature similar to RAW mode for video. We spent some time with the V30; read on for our first impressions.
LG today fully revealed the V30, a phone it has been teasing in bits and pieces over the last few weeks. This flagship-class handset has a metal frame and glass front and rear panels. The V30 does away with the secondary display that adorned the front of the V10 and V20. In its place, LG created what it calls the Floating Bar, a semi-transparent strip that gives V30 owners access to frequently used functions, such as contacts and settings. The phone is among the first to use a plastic OLED FullVision display, though it is protected by Gorilla Glass 5. The 6-inch panel has 2,880 by 1,440 pixels, or a 2:1 (18:9) aspect ratio, and nearly non-existent side bezels. LG reduced the phone's upper and lower bezels by 20% and 50%, respectively, when compared to the V20. The phone makes use of an f/1.6 aperture camera at 16 megapixels, a first according to LG. The f/1.6 lens allows 25% more light to reach the sensor when compared to an f/1.8 lens. Further, LG is adopting what it calls a Crystal Clear Lens that's made of glass, rather than plastic. The glass permits more light to travel through it, while also allowing for better color reproduction. Like the V20 and G6, the V30 has a dual camera array with one wide-angle lens and one standard-angle lens with optical image stabilization, laser autofocus, and electronic image stabilization. The secondary lens has a 13-megapixel resolution at f/1.9 and 120-degree field of view. The phone has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor at its core with 4 GB of memory and 64 GB of storage (the V30+ jumps to 128 GB of storage). Other specs include a 3,400mAh battery with wireless charging and an IP68 rating for protection from water and dust. The Always On Display is more customizable than before and includes shortcuts to Quick Tools, the music player, and even photos. Additional software features baked into LG UX 6.0 include Face Recognition that LG says unlocks the phone instantly even when the display is off. Voice Recognition now uses a combination of the user's voice and self-generated keywords to unlock the phone without any button presses. The V30's camera gains access to Graphy, a tool for applying professional-looking styles to photos and V30 owners will be able to create GIFs or movies by pasting together photos and/or video files. Last, LG said the V30 adopts a 32-bit advanced hi-fi quad DAC from ESS Technology, which reproduces music as close to the original source as possible. It includes high-resolution audio streaming thanks to technology from MQA Ltd. On the recording front, the V30's HD Audio Recorder can use the handset's audio receiver as a microphone. LG says this lets the phone record a wider dynamic range of sound, "from a whisper to a thunderstorm," without distortion. The LG V30 will go on sale in Korea starting September 21 with other markets, including North America, to follow soon thereafter. Pricing was not immediately disclosed.
Google today said the Google Assistant will soon be available across a wider variety of devices. Google Assistant, the voice-powered helper, is already available on Android smartphones and smartwatches, and the Google Home speaker. The Assistant is coming to a handful of third-party speakers from the likes of Anker, Mobvoi (pictured), and Panasonic. Just like Google Home, people who own any of these new speakers will be able to say "Hey, Google" to initiate any query. Google said each manufacturer will announce pricing and availability of their hardware separately. Google Assistant is also heading to smart appliances. For example, Google has partnered with LG which is adding Assistant to its washers, dryers, and vacuums. Google says Assistant will come to even more devices in the near future.
LG today said its forthcoming V30 flagship handset will be its most advanced device yet when it comes to audio reproduction and recording. To start, the phone adopts a 32-bit advanced hi-fi quad DAC from ESS Technology. It builds on LG's original hi-fi quad DAC, which reproduces music as close to the original source as possible. The ESS Sabre ES9218P audio processor introduces digital filters and sound presets. According to LG, the digital filters improve the pre- and post-ringing of the impulse response in such a way that they can be easily customized by end users. This works hand in hand with the new pre-programmed presets (enhanced, detailed, live, and bass), allowing even inexpensive headphones to reproduce high-quality music. Moreover, the hi-fi quad DAC manages the left and right audio signals separately, dynamically adjusting balance to ensure listeners remain centered. The new DAC cuts the distortion rate down to 0.0002%, meaning it reproduces the cleanest and most accurate signal possible. Last, the V30 introduces high-resolution audio streaming thanks to technology from MQA Ltd. LG says its advanced hi-fi quad DAC and MQA tech will work together to bring the best sound to music streamed from sources such as Spotify and Google Play Music. On the recording front, the V30's HD Audio Recorder can use the handset's audio receiver as a microphone (Receiver-as-a-Mic or RAM). LG says this lets the phone record a wider dynamic range of sound, "from a whisper to a thunderstorm," without distortion. LG is expected to announce the V30 on August 31 during the IFA trade show in Berlin.
Sprint and T-Mobile today both introduced promotions that make LG's flagship handsets more affordable. Sprint, for example, dropped the lease price of the G6 from $29.50 per month to $20 per month. That cuts the full cost of the phone from about $700 to $480, or a savings of $220 over time. T-Mobile is offering a buy-one, get-one promo on the G6 and V20. Customers who buy either phone on an equipment installment plan can get a second for free with the activation of a new line. T-Mobile sells the G6 for $20 down and $20 per month, or $500 in total. It sells the V20 for $0 down and $20 per month, or $480 in total. Customers will need to buy both devices and then register to receive a rebate to cover the cost of the second phone. The rebate comes in the form of a prepaid MasterCard for up to $500. LG is widely expected to replace the V20 with its new V30 flagship later this month.
T-Mobile today said it has activated its first 600 MHz cell site in Cheyenne, Wyo. T-Mobile is using Nokia equipment to provide LTE coverage across Cheyenne in the 600 MHz band. The Un-carrier plans to light up 600 MHz service in rural areas around the country first. Markets that can expect to see 600 MHz service by the end of the year include Wyoming, Northwest Oregon, West Texas, Southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, Western North Dakota, Maine, Coastal North Carolina, Central Pennsylvania, Central Virginia, and Eastern Washington. T-Mobile says deploying LTE on 600 MHz in these markets will improve its coverage from 315 million POPs today to 321 million by year's end. T-Mobile won the spectrum licenses in the reverse auction that concluded earlier this year. The government gave T-Mobile the licenses just two months ago. The company plans to deploy service on the 600 MHz airwaves as quickly as it can to help shore up weak coverage areas. The service may be up and running, but there are no devices yet that can use it. According to T-Mobile, Samsung and LG plan to release compatible handsets during the fourth quarter of the year.
LG has revealed details about the user interface that will front the forthcoming V30 handset, and the company has fully done away with the Second Screen that appeared on the V10 and V20 devices. The V30 adopts LG's FullVision display aspect ratio (18:9) and the company no longer feels the Second Screen — a small display that sat above the main display — is necessary. In the Second Screen's place will be what LG calls a Floating Bar, a semi-transparent strip that will give V30 owners access to frequently used functions, such as contacts and settings. LG says the Floating Bar can be dragged off the screen entirely when not needed. LG has changed up the Always On Display, too, which is more customizable than before and includes shortcuts to Quick Tools, the music player, and even photos. Other software features baked into LG UX 6.0 include Face Recognition that LG says unlocks the phone instantly even when the display is off. Further, Voice Recognition uses a combination of the user's voice and self-generated keywords to unlock the phone without any button presses. The V30's camera gains access to Graphy, a tool for applying professional-looking styles to photos. LG explains that Graphy lets users pick the stylized filters or moods created by pros and apply the settings (white balance, shutter speed, aperture, ISO) to their own photos in order to achieve the same look. Moreover, V30 owners will be able to create GIFs or movies by pasting together photos and/or video files, as well as customize the feel of haptic vibration and other settings. LG is expected to announce the V30 at an event scheduled on August 31 during the IFA trade show in Berlin.
LG today said it will ensure that all its future smartphones ship with active FM radios. Sometimes LG and/or its carrier partners leave FM radios, included in nearly all phones, inert. That will change, particularly for handsets headed to the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. FM radio makes it possible for hundreds of millions of people to find and listen to local broadcasts for free. Moreover, LG has signed an agreement with NextRadio, which will be preloaded on a significant number of LG handsets moving forward. NextRadio allows people to listen to local radio stations via their phone's FM radio, in addition to stations from all over the country through their phone's data connection. NextRadio says gaining access to the FM radio on LG's phones will translate to huge power and data savings for end users. NextRadio can access FM signals even when cellular data networks are not available. Neither LG nor NextRadio said which phones might be the first to benefit from this partnership.
LG's forthcoming V30 flagship will be the first to make use of an f/1.6 aperture camera, according to the company. LG says the device will include several camera innovations to improve its photography and videography performance. The f/1.6 lens in a significant start, as it allows 25% more light to reach the sensor when compared to an f/1.8 lens. This will dramatically help with low-light photography. Further, LG is adopting what it calls a Crystal Clear Lens that's made of glass, rather than plastic. The glass permits more light to travel through it, while also allowing for better color reproduction. Like the V20, G5, and G6, the V30 will have a dual camera array with one wide-angle lens and one standard-angle lens. LG said it was able to cut down on edge distortion by 33% in the V30's wide-angle camera when compared to the V20. Last, the V30 camera module is 30% smaller than that of the V20 while still including optical image stabilization, laser autofocus, and electronic image stabilization. Together, all these advancements will make the V30 a better photography device than the V20. LG has already said the V30 will adopt a curved, plastic OLED FullVision display with a 2:1 aspect ratio and minimal bezels. LG is expected to reveal the V30 in full at an event scheduled on August 31 at the IFA trade show in Berlin.
T-Mobile today improved its Jump On Demand program with the introduction of T-Mobile Smartpicks. The Smartpicks program is a leasing option that lets people score affordable phones with low monthly payments. The company described Smartpicks as "exactly what a huge portion of our customer base are looking for — these are devices with awesome screens, great cameras, and powerful processors that can run all the latest apps." T-Mobile says most Smartpick devices cost $7 or $8 per month with a small down payment. Alternately, the devices can be paired with the Jump On Demand program, which allows people to upgrade their phone more often. Customers who keep their Jump On Demand phone the full 18 months can return it for a new one or pay off the remaining balance to own it out right. Some of the phones available via the Smartpicks and Jump On Demand program include the new T-Mobile Revvl for $0 down and $5 per month, the Samsung Galaxy J3 Prime for $0 down and $7 per month, the LG K20 Plus for $0 down and $8 a month, the LG Aristo $0 down and $7 a month, and the ZTE ZMAX Pro for $0 down and $8 a month. The T-Mobile Revvl goes on sale August 10. All the other phones mentioned above are already available.