Posts Tagged News and Rumors

Samsung Galaxy S20 sales see flagship getting $200 discount

Samsung has dropped the price of its Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20+ phones by some $200 at a couple of major retailers. With the discount it puts the starting prices of each model at just $800 and $1,000, respectively.

Whether related to the coronavirus or not, the lower price comes quickly. The phones were just released a few weeks back (March 6) so the timing is interesting.

Given the current economic uncertainty, and the fact that people aren’t all too excited to fork over huge chunks of money right now, we can understand why Samsung might drop the price.

It’s not clear how long Samsung will keep this price down. It hasn’t exactly advertised the $200 discount so we’d assume it’s short term.

If you want to take advantage of the major savings, head to Amazon and Best Buy before it ends. Look for the phone in a variety of colors and storage options.

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Verizon adds extra 15GB data for consumer and small business plans

Verizon is giving its consumers and small business users an extra 15GB of high speed data at no cost. The move, which comes as a direct result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, automatically adds the data with no customer action needed.

Also announced this week, low-income customers on Verizon’s Lifeline program will have their internet and voice service charges waived for two months.

A post on Verizon’s website shares other details as to what the carrier is doing to help combat the struggles facing consumers and small business owners. After already dialing down the number of retail stores open in the US, the remaining locations have adjusted work hours (11AM-4PM), including closing on Sundays.

The new Verizon retail experience looks like this, at least for a few weeks:

  • All Verizon owned and operated stores will be closed on Sundays through April 12.
  • Stores that are open will operate on further reduced hours Monday thru Saturday, 11 AM-4 PM.
  • In order to increase social distancing and allow more employees to take advantage of work from home, we’ve reduced by 50 percent, the number of employees working shifts in our retail locations and we are paying employees for any shifts they may miss due to these scheduling changes.
  • The number of customers in a store may not exceed the number of employees working at any given time in order to promote social distancing.


Google Assistant now answers your Coronavirus related questions

Google has added a new function to its Google assistant called ‘Coronavirus tips’ which is a shortcut that could be accessed by either clicking on the shortcut from the Google Assistant app or by using the command ‘Do I have Coronavirus’. Once you use the command, your Google Assistant will show you a symptoms page for the Coronavirus where you could get detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and prevention for the virus.

The Google Assistant also responds with a short voice message giving you information about the Coronavirus, the symptoms, and the latest updates. You can also click on other useful links provided on the results page to learn more about the virus and get the latest news. The new Coronavirus tips function in the Google Assistant could also be accessed by clicking on the ‘Coronavirus tips’ shortcut on the home page or the discover page of the Google Assistant.

Google assistant

You can also select other relevant shortcuts like tips for working from home, how to wash your hands, and even set a reminder to wash your hands. Google Assistant will also provide you with the latest news updates in the relevant topics once you use the Coronavirus tips shortcut from the home page of the app. The aim of this new shortcut is to spread as much awareness as possible and also help people to get the right information especially with so many misinformation and fake news about the virus out there.

Apple also has added a similar function to its digital assistant Siri, which essentially asks you a series of questions about the Coronavirus symptoms to help you to self-diagnose yourself or to just learn more about the virus. While the Google Assistant just redirects you to relevant websites with information about Coronavirus, hopefully, we can see a similar functionality added to it soon by Google.

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T-Mobile launches $15 Connect plan ahead of schedule

T-Mobile will make its its budget-minded Connect plan available on March 25th well ahead of its intended debut. Originally expected after the finalization of the Sprint merger, the new option arrives at an all-important time.

Intended for Americans who work with tight budgets or who have very minimal needs, the $15 Connect plan provides for unlimited talk and text with 2GB data. A $25 monthly option allows for up to 5GB of data.

Right now, having a reliable, low-cost connection is absolutely crucial for Americans, and with many facing financial strain, time is of the essence.. With T-Mobile Connect, we’re giving those hardest hit an even more affordable way to stay in touch…”

There are some fairly significant differences between the standard plans and what’s available in the Connect options. Video streaming is limited to 480p, for instance, and there’s no hotspot capabilities. Moreover, there’s no option to add data should you use your allotted amount.

As a perk, T-Mobile customers on these new plans will receive an additional 500MB of monthly data every year at no additional cost. This is promised for the next five years.

T-Mobile’s prepaid brand, Metro, will also offer discounted rate plans and incentives starting March 25. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect.

  • For the next two months, Metro is offering a $15 plan – that’s half the price of the current most affordable plan. For 60 days after customers activate, it’s just $15 per month for unlimited talk and text plus 2GB of high-speed smartphone data.
  • New and current Metro customers with any voice line can also get a free 8” tablet (via rebate redemption) with a $15 unlimited tablet data plan.
  • MetroSmart Hotspot devices will be half off, and the $35 per month data plan will include 20GB — double the normal monthly data — for the next 60 days.


Nokia unveils a trio of phones, including a global-friendly 5G handset

HMD Global this week unveiled three new phones under the Nokia brand which were originally slated to appear at Mobile World Congress. With COVID-19 spreading across the globe, however, the introduction was more muted and relegated to not much more than a press release.

Nokia’s new models range from a high-end 5G experience all the way down to a no-frills Android Go device for entry-level needs.

Nokia 8.3 5G

First up is the company’s first 5G phone, the Nokia 8.3 5G. Set to ship globally this summer, it supports 12 different frequency bands in both standalone and non-standalone 5G networks.

With a 6.8-inch full HD display and a 4500mAh battery, the Nokia 8.3 5G should sit nicely in the upper-middle range.

It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor with 6GB-8GB RAM and 64GB-128GB storage capacities.

The rear has four cameras, including a 64-megapixel sensor with Zeiss optics. The other three are a 12-megapixel ultra-wide, 2-megapixel depth sensor, and 2-megapixel macro sensor. Around front is a 24-megapixel shooter, located in a hole-punch cutout in the corner.

Other details include a dedicated Google Assistant button, a fingerprint reader on the side, USB Type-C, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The Nokia 8.3 5G is an Android (10) One phone, meaning two years of system updates and three years of security updates. Pricing is anticipated to be 599 Euros (~ $640 USD)

Nokia 5.3

Slightly more in line with a mid-range device for 2020, the Nokia 5.3 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 processor with a quad-camera configuration.

Sensors here include a 13-megapixel main, 5-megapixel ultra-wide, 2-megapixel macro, and 2-megapixel depth sensor. The front has an 8-megapixel camera located in a water drop cutout.

Slightly smaller than the 8.3 5G, the Nokia 5.3 offers up a 6.55-inch display and 4,000mAh battery. Still, that’s plenty big in both departments if you ask us.

Rounding out the notable hardware are USB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone jack, rear fingerprint scanner, and dedicated Google Assistant button. It, too will run Android 10 under the One program and get two years of OS updates and three years of security patches.

The Nokia 5.3 starts at 189 Euros (~$200 USD) for the 3GB RAM/64GB storage option when it goes on sale in April.

Nokia 1.3

The entry-level Nokia 1.3 brings about a 5.71-inch Android (10) Go experience with a respectable smattering of hardware.

Specs include a Snapdragon 215 processor with 1GB RAM and 16GB storage, an 8-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front-facing camera. In terms of batteries, there’s a 3,000mAh power source which should be good enough for about two days usage for basic needs. The Nokia will cost just 95 Euros (~$100 USD) with an expected April launch.

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Nearly 200 telecoms pledge to keep Americans connected

If you’re worried about service interruptions on your mobile phone service over the next few weeks, fear not. Nearly 200 wireless service providers have agreed to the “Keep Americans Connected Pledge”.

Created by the FCC, and signed by pretty much every name in the space, it’s a promise to US subscribers that they won’t be disconnected over late fees and inability to pay bills.

Drafted on March 13, the pledge says that wireless providers will adhere to the following guidelines over the next 60 days.

  • not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their
    inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic;
  • waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of
    their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and
  • open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.

You can check here and here for a list of carriers who have pledged to keep things rolling along during the pandemic period. Suffice it to say, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular are among them.

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US carriers continue scaling retail experience

Several of the largest wireless service providers have taken steps to help keep US customers safer, including temporary closure of retail stores.

AT&T further tightened things up, opting to keep one location open in each 20-mile radius in urban and suburban areas. For rural areas, AT&T widens the radius to 30 miles. Learn more at AT&T’s website.

Previously: AT&T plans to close around 40% of its company owned retail stores around the country. What’s more, those that do remain open will have limited business hours and operate using safety measures.

Verizon recently indicated that it will reduce the number of Verizon stores which are open, but did not lay out hard numbers or locations. As for the stores which will remain in operation, they’ll have limited working hours. They’ll be closed on Sunday and only open to public from 11AM-4PM on other days.

T-Mobile, for its part, says it is closing down approximately 80% of its stores, leaving just one in five open to help service customers.

Sprint is closing down roughly 71% of its retail stores across the country, leaving open its most vital locations. Among the closures are stores located in Walgreen’s malls, and all stores in Puerto Rico. Even then, the stores that will stay open are going to see reduced hours of operation.

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Mint Mobile offering unlimited high-speed data to offset virus impact

Mint Mobile, recognizing that Americans are being put through a serious amount of stress, is giving its customers a reprieve.

Starting immediately, and running through April 14, any new or existing Mint Mobile subscriber will receive free data add-ons for unlimited high speed data.

This will be helpful for customers who might need to spend more time on a phone or tablet as a result of additional work or home schooling.

All one has to do is open the most recent version of the Mint Mobile app (Android, iOS) and “buy more data”. They can do so in increments of 3GB; at least 95% of the previous add-on must be consumed before adding a new one.

Credit cards will show the charge but it will be refunded with 24 hours. Please allow for additional time when using a bank card.

Mint Mobile is a prepaid carrier which operates on T-Mobile’s network. Introductory rate plans start as low as $15 per month and include 3GB of high speed data — or unlimited for the first month.

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T-Mobile and Metro offering unlimited data, other perks in response to pandemic

T-Mobile on Friday announced it is implementing temporary changes to help workers and students who will need to operate from home during the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

For the next 60 days, T-Mobile and Metro is giving all customers unlimited and/or increased data allotments. Additionally, T-Mobile is making international calling free from the US to countries heavily impacted by the virus.

Now, more than ever, as school and workplace closures are happening each day, reliable internet connectivity is crucial. So today we are stepping up to take measures that will ensure that ALL current T-Mobile customers on plans that currently have data are provided the unlimited connectivity they need to learn and work.

Indeed, T-Mobile and Metro subscribers with any data plan will have unlimited smartphone data for the next 60 days. Moreover, the same customers will soon have an extra 20GB of mobile hotspot data to use.

Lifeline program participants on the T-Mobile network get an extra 5GB of data per month during the same period. T-Mobile is also upping the data allowance for schools and students who use the EmpowerED digital learning program.

While T-Mobile stores will remain open, customers who are quarantined, or who wish to avoid going out in public, can take advantage of free two-day shipping for the next 60 days.


YouTube replaces Trending tab in Mobile app with Explore tab

The trending tab in the YouTube Android and the iOS app found in the bottom navigation pane has finally been replaced by a new Explore tab, after almost a year of testing and development. The Explore tab is like an advanced version of the trending page where you can not just see the latest trending videos on YouTube but also browse videos from popular categories like Music, Gaming, News, Fashion and others.

YouTube explore tab

Google has mentioned in the official support page for YouTube that the new change is mainly focussed on giving easy access to YouTube users to the destination pages of their choice. In this way, users would be able to access videos of different categories like Music, News, Learning, Fashion, Movies or Gaming based on their preferences in a timely manner.

explore tab
explore tab

This will also help in filtering and categorizing the videos so the users can easily consume the content that is of interest to them while avoiding the ones they do not like. This change also makes sure that independent creators and artists on YouTube would be more prominently displayed to the users by adding tags like creator or artist on the rise tags to their videos and displaying them before the other general trending videos on YouTube.

While the new explore tab is already visible for a lot of Android and iOS users in the YouTube app and it has replaced the trending tab, it will take a while before the change is reflected on the YouTube app of all the smartphones out there. The new update also seems to be a server-side one, so it might not appear on your YouTube app even if you update it to the latest version.

You can find out more information about the new changes and how the trending tab in YouTube works and how YouTube decides what goes in the trending and explore pages in the official YouTube support page over here.

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