T-Mobile Simple Starter subscribers offered 2GB LTE data

T-Mobile, which loves to call itself an “un-carrier” to stand out from its competitors, is offering subscribers to its Simple Starter plan the chance to quadruple its LTE data. While the Simple Starter plan is their entry-level offering for subscribers, there are users out there who would rather up their data rather than the talk and text options that they have. And this is what T-Mobile is basically offering for just a few additional dollars every month.

The Simple Starter plan comes with just 500MB of LTE data (along with unlimited talk and text) for $40 a month, without an annual service contract and domestic overages. But for a lot of mobile users nowadays, 500MB is just not enough. For an additional $5 per month, subscribers will now get 2GB of LTE data, which may just be the cheapest among the major US carriers.

And of course T-Mobile President and CEO John Legere will not waste the chance to compare this to their competitors, calling out Verizon’s $65 charge for 2TB as well, also claiming that they have 70% more network spectrum per customer. They also say that for the past year, they have expanded their LTE coverage from 0 to 233 million Americans and has converted their 2G coverage to 4G. They have also rolled out voice over LTE, the first to do so among the US carriers.

However, not all is fine and dandy on T-Mobile land. Their announcement earlier this month that they will be cracking down on those who use their mobile phones to tether in order to access P2P downloading has been met with mixed views. Some say the usage of “unlimited LTE data” is a misnomer if they will throttle and limit how subscribers use their data. But some welcome the crackdown as it will give equal opportunity for everyone who wants to access their fast network.

SOURCE: T-Mobile

More Samsung Galaxy Alpha models tipped to arrive soon

If you’ve been mulling over getting one of Samsung’s latest metal-clad beauties, you might want to hold off for a bit longer. Insider sources claim that the Korean manufacturer actually has a few other Galaxy Alpha models on the way, possibly making their debut next month or later this year.

The Galaxy Alpha has made quite a stir, not because of hardware specs alone, but also because of the design. Give Samsung plastic fetish, a smartphone with a sturdier and more premium looking metal frame seemed almost like a pipe dream. And yet here we are. That said, the Galaxy Alpha isn’t a bad device either, though not exactly top of the line, which Samsung still reserves for the plastic Galaxy S and Galaxy Note families. A new and powerful Exynos 5430 octa-core, 2 GB of RAM, a 12 megapixel camera, all tucked inside a handy 4.7-inch 720p Super AMOLED display makes for a rather decent offering.

Based on this leak, however, the Galaxy Alpha is true to its “alpha” name, an opening salvo and progenitor to a new “A series” that is believed to bear the same new design. The A300, A500, and A700 have been named as the new models for this line. The SM-A300 is said to bear only a 960×640 qHD display while both the SM-A500 and SM-A700 retain the 720p resolution. So far, only the A500 has been semi-confirmed via the User Agent profile of Samsung’s own website, and it indeed bears a 1280×720 screen though the size is still a mystery.

samsung-galaxy-alpha-sm-a500

Not much else is known about these three A smartphones but, according the source, we might not have to wait long to learn more. These Galaxy Alphas, or whatever name they will bear, are set to appear in Q3 this year. If so, there is a chance that they will debut at IFA 2014. But then again, Samsung will hardly take the spotlight away from the Galaxy Note 4 and what could be a new Gear smartwatch, so the most realistic expectation would be a 2014 Q4 announcement.

VIA: SamMobile

Samsung to out SIM-enabled Gear, round smartwatch coming

More Galaxy Note 4 news, but this one specifically on the partner devices that will launch with it on September 3 at IFA 2014. The Samsung event in Berlin is shaping up to be a big one in terms of new products, as apart from the Gear VR – a virtual reality accessory for the Note 4 – the South Korean gadget giant is reportedly outing a cellular-capable Gear smartwatch.

The Gear Solo, is probably what it is – a smartwatch that is SIM-enabled. A couple of considerations here – Google has not yet given an official greenlight for SIM-capable Android Wear devices, so the Gear Solo will most likely feature Tizen as its OS. Also, battery efficiency is a probable issue for this device. We all understand that network-connected devices drain power a lot more than stand-alone ones. The question remains as to how Samsung has dealt with that issue.

Also, a network-connected Galaxy Note 4 would probably dovetail well enough with a smartwatch that relies on the main device for its connectivity and data. Samsung, of course, has the propensity to try to be different. This is different enough, but will it work? Unit price is reportedly around USD$200.

round_samsung_watch

Lastly, a round-face smartwatch is apparently in the works – as response to the generally great reviews of the Moto 360. LG has commenced planning for a round-face smartwatch as reaction to this, and Samsung will not be left too far behind. We will have to see if these new smartwatches will offer something novel as the Moto 360 did, or if will it be weak competition.

VIA: Sam Mobile

Moto Skip to have Bluetooth connectivity, other functions

A gadget that unlocks your smartphone? Most of us would call that “our fingers” but Motorola believed that having a small and nifty gadget to quickly unlock your Moto X with a tap was something that their users needed. Hence the launch of the Moto X Skip sometime last year. It didn’t really set the market ablaze with its release but it looks like it’s going to get an upgrade of sorts, with Bluetooth connectivity and some other uses rather than just to unlock the phone.

Based on an FCC filing document, the new Moto Skip would still be a clip-on gadget that you can put in your pocket or bag, but this time, instead of using NFC to connect with your smartphone, it will use Bluetooth instead. This may be to keep in line with a lot of devices that use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), which is a power-saving feature of Bluetooth 4.0. The device also has a tiny battery since it’s always on and should be replaced at least once a year.

But more than just unlocking your phone, it can now be used for other functions as well. You can attach the Skip your car or house key ring and just in case you misplace it, you can use the app on your phone to make the Skip beep. Or if you don’t want it to make a sound, you can locate it on your map for the last detected location. Now if it’s your phone that you’ve misplaced, then you can double press the power button of the Skip so your phone will ring.

Motorola-Moto-Skip-2014-user-manual-640x637

But before you get all excited, remember that this works with Motorola phones only. The new Moto Skip might just be revealed during the announcement of the new Moto X+1 during their September 4 event at the IFA in Berlin.

VIA: SlashGear

OnePlus One phone unit burns, injures user

OnePlus One user and forum member “MiYzu” posted his major issue on the OnePlus online forums on August 25, and it was about his OnePlus One phone appearing to just smoke out and burn up without no external causes. We’ve seen a lot of phones do this, one recent “under-the-pillow” incident comes to mind, but this is a very real concern for OnePlus, especially as they begin to build on their early hype.

The user says that the phone had been in his rear pocket when the incident happened, with the phone burning through his pants and causing a burn on the back of his leg, presumably. As we can see from the pictures, it looks like the burning process started from the battery and got hot enough to even burn through the user’s Cruzerlite case.

oneplus_burn1

oneplus_burn2

oneplus_burn3

oneplus_burn4

oneplus_burn5

On reading the thread posts, some forum members did point out that the user had complained of a charger issue beforehand – maybe a few months back – and they pointed out that the issue may have started from the bad charger itself. Be that as it may, there are probably millions of phones out there using defective chargers but do not spontaneously combust on its own.

oneplus_burn6

OnePlus is struggling to find street cred in a very unforgiving market. Things like this – and even misguided sexist marketing ploys – give arguments like “you can’t buy a USD$600 phone for USD$300” and the relative mistrust on Chinese gadget manufacturers more ammunition. OnePlus needs to deal with this issue decisively to move to a position of credibility. As of writing, the user has reported the incident to OnePlus but the company has not posted an official response yet, nor has the user informed the thread of a private one. Worse, the forum thread has been removed, which speaks badly for OnePlus’ handling of criticism and issues.

SOURCE: OnePlus Forums

California “kill switch” bill takes effect July 1, 2015

The once contentious “kill switch” feature, previously blocked and now accepted by the mobile industry, has finally been signed into law, at least in California. But given the practical implications of this new legal mandate, suffice it to say that we would most likely see this anti-theft feature implemented equally across the country, whether or not other states legally require it.

The ability to remotely wipe and lock down a smartphone via some security service is nothing new, at least not recently. Android has had this for quite some time now via the Android Device Manager. iPhones, too, have their Find My iPhone feature. The CTIA Wireless Association, mostly made up of mobile carriers, once disapproved of this method, preferring to simply have a database of stolen devices as a deterrent to theft. Finally, however, they caved in and announced a voluntary commitment to let users install such features. The commitment has already been signed by major carriers and manufacturers, making it practically enforcing.

The difference between these features and California’s new law is one of subtle implementation. While those previously mentioned left the decision up to carriers, manufacturers, and users, California will soon require these kill switches by default. Or to be exact, it will require devices to prompt users to enable the feature during initial setup of the device instead of burying it under dozens of settings. Users of course have the freedom to not enable it (or disable it if it is enabled by default) but should be informed of the potential consequences of that decision. Considering that OEMs, carriers, or other retailers are unlikely to have a special California-only edition, this implementation is as good as nationwide.

The law, however, isn’t overarching. For one, it doesn’t cover smartphones launched before January 1, 2015 that cannot be modified to support the feature, though that set is probably few and far in between. It also doesn’t cover devices that are just being resold in the state of California in secondhand markets. And lastly, perhaps more worryingly, it doesn’t cover tablets. At least not yet. The law goes into effect July 1, 2015 and the penalty for violating it ranges from $500 to $2,500. That’s per smartphone sold.

SOURCE: State of California (PDF)
VIA: SlashGear

CYSPO Omnistation: first wired and wireless charging device

Does your desk or room look like a snake pit because of all the wires criss-crossing in just one extension to charge various devices? A crowd-funded project has come up with what is supposedly the first charging dock that has both wired and wireless capabilities with the CYSPO Omnistation. With the device you can charge your smartphones, tablets, power banks, smartwatches, wearables, etc, all at the same time.

Most people now have multiple devices that are used a lot, and therefore need a lot of charging as well. But sometimes all you have is just two wall outlets, especially when you’re traveling and staying at a hotel. The Omnistation solves that particular problem for you by having just one charging dock for all your chargeable electronic gadgets, both the wired kind and even the wireless ones that are slowly catching on. For the latter, it uses the Qi Standard Multi-Coil Free Positioning wireless charging Transmitter Technology while for wired charging, the device includes 6 customizable USB ports. The adaptors can be interchanged as well so less hassle when you need to be more flexible when charging.

In case you’re not satisfied with those options and you need to add your ebook reader or bluetooth speaker for charging, there are two more USB ports on the side. One of the ports has 2.1A output so you can use that for bigger devices like tablets or phablets since it is faster. And the design of the Omnistation is not bad to look at either, and it is also portable enough that you can carry it whenever you’re traveling.

Their Kickstarter project has already met and exceeded their goal of $30,000 with still 34 days to go. The target date for shipping to backers is by December of this year. Here’s hoping it will also be available in retail stores afterwards.

f93b89c6655b50d40b862fe4fd263670_large

615737d1e77cdb81623f214eaabed9a3_large

a0ca403f40c84d4b29c35c47fbc91bba_large

c61447760bba4b9f0104336ee9ad49a4_large

SOURCE: Kickstarter

Crazy LG G Pad ad: tablets are dangerous

Trying to prove that its rival isn’t the only one with a funny bone, LG has released a video ad that tries to sell its new G Pad series. But like many ads, it’s all fluff, funny fluff mind you, that practically has nothing to do with LG’s tablets until the very last parts of the clip.

The message is clear and brutal from the very beginning: sometimes people make dumb choices. Probably not as brutal as the “accidents” that our tragic hero runs into. Or rather runs into him. The ad does comically point out the dangers of having your face glued to your tablet (or smartphone, for that matter), a fact that we (should) know only too well from real-life incidents.

Funny as the ad may be, one might be left head scratching by the end. Because it never really answers the question that the ad seems to build up. How does an LG G Pad solve the problem of mobile users never looking to appreciate life or appreciate an oncoming bus? The video does touch on some of LG’s key features, like QPair, which is admittedly quite interesting, and Gesture Shot for easy selfies. But none of those, or the G Pad’s other features like Dual Window, QSlide, or Smart Keyboard, really solves the problem, does it? The only corollary we can deduce is that if you’re smart enough to buy an LG G Pad tablet, you’re probably smart enough not to sit next to a dartboard.

Still, the ad is indeed humorous and LG can be given props for trying. And the G Pad tablets are indeed interesting mobile devices that try to straddle performance and price. If you were to direct a funny TV spot for an LG G Pad tablet, how would you spin it? Come share your thoughts and creative musings in the comments below!

Samsung footie app “Kicks” its way to fans’ digital hearts

Now that most of the domestic leagues have started after a few months’ rest from the World Cup, diehard football fans with gadgets are once again relying on various sites and apps to keep abreast of all the action and movement of their favourite players and teams. Samsung’s research shows that the average football fan engages more on online content than actually watching live games. So they came up with an app called Kick that aims to bring all the latest information and statistics in an engaging and visual manner.

For serious football fans, particularly those who participate in fantasy football leagues, having updated statistics of leagues, teams and players is very crucial. Kick has a lot of features that would appeal to those kinds of fans. The VS feature for one is very handy when you have to make important decisions as to which player to put in your team. You can compare any player or team in a head-to-head matchup that is shown on a spider web chart that can even be shared on your favourite social networks. If you like looking at visualisations of games rather than reading actual match reports, the 3D Shot Map gives you a snapshot of the on and off target shots and all the goals of the match that you want to look at. You can enable/disable shot types if you want to focus on certain ones and also share the 3D shot on social media.

One of the coolest features of this app which would only work on Samsung’s Smart TV is to connect the two, which would show the match stats and visualisations on your TV while you’re watching an actual game. The app also has other features common to most football apps, like match overviews, live scores, latest news and editorials on all the major leagues like the EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, etc and major competitions like the World Cup, Champions League, Euros, etc.

For all its great features, the Kick app is a bit limited. It would only work on selected Samsung smartphones, tablets and Smart TVs and is also limited to users in the European region. But if you meet all those criteria, you can enjoy the app for free by downloading it from the Google Play Store.

kick2

kick3

kick4

kick5

kick6

kick7

SOURCE: Samsung

New Moto G2 pics leak showing device with interchangeable back plates

We got our first glimpse at what is expected to be Motorola’s next entry-level smartphone dubbed the Moto G2 earlier this month. We aren’t sure that the Moto G2 will be the name of the device; it could also be called the Moto G+1. Some new images of the smartphone have turned up on the web showing the device from just about every angle.

The G2 has back panels that can be swapped to give the phone a different look. In the images, we see white, pink, and blue back plates. Word on the street is that the Moto G2 will be unveiled officially on September 4.

Along with the new images also comes an unofficial teaser summarizing the specs for the G2. The G2 is expected to get a 5-inch screen with 720p resolution, an 8MP rear camera, front facing stereo speakers, and a microSD card slot.

Rumors point to some decent hardware under the hood with a Snapdragon 400 SoC, 1GB of RAM, and 8 or 16GB of storage. One of the things that the original Moto G lacked that bugged some folks was a microSD card slot for storage expansion, so that is a big upgrade. The screen of the G2 is expected to be about half an inch larger than the original. Pricing details are still unknown, but if September 4 is the launch date we don’t have long to wait to hear more.

motog2

g2-1

g2-2

g2-3

g2-4

g2-5

g2-6

g2-7

SOURCE: PhoneArena