It seems there's been some renewed interest in the subject of Block C LTE "no locking" provisions after news that the Motorola RAZR will come equipped with a locked bootloader per Verizon's request. About four months ago, I published an article on this very topic. To summarize: Verizon can basically do almost anything it wants with handsets on its network in the name of reasonable network management - subject to a few limitations and caveats.
But before we get into the reasoning for this, let's talk history.
The Block C Auction Of 2008
Back in 2008, the FCC auctioned off a block of the 700MHz wireless spectrum dubbed "Block C." Verizon was the sole purchaser of the block, having bid $4.7 billion to acquire the chunk of spectrum.
The clever folks over at WirelessGoodness located an FCC filing today that indicates with a fair degree of certainty that a GSM version of the upcoming DROID RAZR is headed to either AT&T or US regional carriers, as the phone does not support T-Mobile frequencies. The filing doesn't say anything about the RAZR itself, but it does contain a part number matching the RAZR's unique non-removable battery, the first on a Motorola smartphone.
While the phone will likely be renamed for regional carriers or an AT&T release, there's every reason to think it'll otherwise be pretty much the same phone. In fact, with the LTE radio removed, the GSM version of the RAZR could be even thinner than it's already svelte 7.1mm Verizon sibling, due to come out early next month (November).
So, you want to jump over to Sprint, but don't need the fastest device on the planet? Both Amazon Wireless and Wirefly have a good deal going on the just released EVO Design 4G by HTC: $50. Update:It's still $50 at Wirefly, but Amazon Wireless just dropped the price to $30. Of course, this requires a new two-year contract, so all current Sprintsters will be stuck paying $80, which still saves about $20 over the in-store price.
4-inch qHD display
1.2GHz single-core Snapdragon processor
5MP rear shooter with HD video capture (720p), 1.3MP front cam
The mid-range Samsung Transform Ultra was recently announced for Boost Mobile, a pre-paid subsidiary of Sprint. It looks like the Now Network loved this little guy so much, though, that it just had to snag its own version, too -- but don't expect many (or any, really) changes over the Boost Version.
The Transform Ultra is sporting a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 512MB RAM, a 3MP rear camera and VGA front-facing, with a 3.5-inch display, slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and Android 2.3. Neither pricing nor availability were included in the announcement.
Perhaps you've heard of an upcoming phone called the Galaxy Nexus. It's just a little piece of awesome sent down from the Android Gods to bring in the newest version of Android: Ice Cream Sandwich. Ever since it was officially unveiled on Tuesday night, there have been rumors flying around that Big Red may not be the network that will get this oh-so spectacular device -- but, thankfully, we can now put all that crap to rest, because Verizon just officially announced it.
There's no word on an official launch date or price yet, only that it will be available sometime "this year" -- either way, this is still good news.
If there's one thing the iPhone 4S seems to be screwing up after its very successful debut, it would seem to be Sprint's 3G. Since the launch of Apple's newest iThing, Sprint 3G speeds have absolutely tanked for users in many areas. How widespread is the problem? Well, this 45-page (and growing) thread with nearly 700 replies over on the Sprint Community forums would seem to indicate the answer is "very."
The problem has affected everyone - as shown by lackluster results from some of our own Sprint devices of late while on 3G.
Samsung Epic 4G:
Motorola Photon 4G:
iPhone 4S users are reporting speeds even lower than these, sometimes much lower (like 50kbps).
If you're a Sprint customer who has been waiting for an Android device that incorporates Direct Connect functionality, then the Motorola Admiral has your name written all over it. This Blackberry-esque handset is the first Android-powered device to rock Sprint's push-to-talk functionality, wrapped in a rugged shell:
1.2GHz single-core processor
5MP rear shooter
4GB internal storage, microSD card slot
Dust, shock, vibration, solar radiation, low pressure, and high/low temperature resistant
I have to say, I'm actually impressed with the look of this device. It's by far the most elegant looking solution in Sprint's Direct Connect lineup of phones.
Update: Unfortunately, Verizon pulled the ads. When we asked them why, their official response was: "The ads were pulled because some of the professional service agreements have expired."
It's no secret that Verizon's LTE network is the fastest and largest mobile data network in the U.S. (can't say it's the most reliable though), but to make sure every Tom, Dick, and Harry knows about this, the company has rolled out a batch of LTE commercials featuring slogans such as "Instant Results," "Just Like That," "What You Want. Now," and "It's That Fast."
And what do you know - they're actually quite funny.
We've been hearing rumors of the Droid RAZR for some time now, and it's finally official. Like previously suggested, this is a super-thin, ultra-light powerhouse of a device, with some pretty impressive features tucked away under its sleek, stainless steel frame:
The Droid RAZR packs some new software features, as well, like Motorola Smart Actions, a Tasker or Locale-like automation system that can toggle radios, adjust brightness, clock speed, and more, all of which are user definable and will activate given a certain situation.
After yesterday's absolutely insane phone announcement-bomb, HTC and Sprint have subtly unveiled the EVO Design 4G. If you're looking for an upper mid-range device that won't break the bank, the Design 4G has your number, as it's packing decent, but not (yet) outdated hardware:
4-inch qHD display
1.2Ghz single-core Snapdragon processor
5MP rear shooter with HD video capture (720p), 1.3MP ffc
Android 2.3.5 with Sense
Sure, it doesn't compare to the recently announced Motorola Droid RAZR or the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, but at $200 cheaper it definitely has its appeal. If the Design is calling your name, it will be available on October 23rd for $99 with a two-year agreement.