Sprint is continuing to expand the reach of its 4G LTE network, and today it has unveiled that faster data speeds are now available in seventeen new markets. Areas affected by this expansion stretch from coast to coast, though a third of them are concentrated in the Northeast. Both New York and Pennsylvania see three markets apiece join the ranks, with the large Buffalo and Pittsburgh metropolitan areas accounting for the most people.
Sprint's Virgin Mobile pre-paid brand is announcing a new plan option today called Virgin Mobile Custom. Can you guess what the hook is from the name? Yes, it's a cell phone plan that you can customize. The plans come with a basic level of service, then you choose what extras to add. The catch is that you'll only be able to get these plans at Walmart stores.
Not everything in the Android world is super-high-end, and if your carrier is building a brand on being cheaper than the other guys, perhaps having a few cheap phones around isn't a bad idea. Say hello to the Samsung Galaxy Avant, the latest addition to T-Mobile's hardware lineup. The internal specs won't blow anyone away, but with an off-contract price of just $216 (or $9 a month for two years on Jump), they don't need to.
It's never a bad thing when phones get the latest version of Android software, and Motorola seems committed to sending it to their devices sooner rather than later. After the usual Verizon soak test a couple of weeks ago, the updated ROMs are ready and apparently flying out to both the high-end Moto X and Verizon's customized CDMA Moto G. If you don't see the update alert in your notification bar, you should sometime over the next few days.
In an angsty blog post today eviscerating the prices AT&T and other carriers charge for family plans, T-Mobile CEO John Legere announced that his company was going to provide customers with even more bang for their buck. From July 30th through September, the carrier will offer a family of four up to 10GB of data for $100. For people who sign up during this time, these rates will last until 2016.
It's impossible for new customers to buy unlimited mobile data from Verizon. But this wasn't always the case: back in the glory days of, uh, 2010 and earlier, Verizon Wireless was still offering true unlimited data for as little as $30 a month. It's been increasingly hard for users who want to keep their unlimited data to do so: since late 2012, they haven't been able to buy a new subsidized phone without switching over to a plan with a data cap, and the "grandfathered" unlimited data customers who download the most are already subject to "network optimization" when using Verizon's 3G network.
The Amazon Fire phone is interesting for a number of reasons. It's the company's first attempt at a smartphone. It crams Fire OS into a smaller form factor than it's had to accommodate before. It has five - yes, five - front-facing cameras, four of which serve as the backbone for what Amazon calls Dynamic Perspective. One thing the phone is not interesting for, however, is being a good deal (more on that below).
Update, 7-25-14: It looks like this over-the-air update was delayed for some reason. Samsung says it's coming in now.
KitKat is making its way to the Galaxy Note II. We've seen it come to Sprint, and just yesterday it started rolling out to Verizon's version of the handset. Now US Cellular has updated the support page for its Note II to say that KitKat is on its way.
Big Red is welcoming two new devices to its stable today: HTC's mid-range
One Mini 2 One Remix, and Samsung's 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 4. Both are available on the Verizon website right now, and should be in retail stores today or soon thereafter. The One Remix costs $49.99 on-contract (half of what we expected), or $449.99 without the commitment, which actually isn't bad as far as Verizon phones go.