Much of the innovation in Android right now is happening on the budget side of things. At a time when high-end phones are making largely incremental improvements over previous models, low-end handsets have gone from being barely functional iPhone sales pieces to compelling devices that make for great starter phones.
The original ZTE Imperial was certainly not top-of-the-line, but the phone was affordable and its specs weren't particularly embarrassing at the time. Now a successor is available from US Cellular that delivers more phone for even less money.
Airtel is the largest mobile carrier in India, but even that kind of market position wasn't enough to push through a change the carrier desperately wanted. After announcing last week it would begin charging extra for VoIP data, Airtel has backed down in the face of bad press and angry customers. VoIP calls will continue to be billed as regular data, at least for now.
The AT&T crapware on the carrier's LTE-equipped Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is playing a game of musical chairs today. An OTA update rolling out to the device moves around some icons and basically just does weird stuff, but leaves it on Android 4.4.2.
Bharti Airtel is the largest cellular carrier in India with roughly 200 million subscribers. Basically, it has some weight to throw around, and it's using it to strike a blow against net neutrality. Airtel has amended its terms and conditions to stipulate that its data plans cover standard internet use only, meaning increasingly popular VoIP services like Skype are not included. If you want to make VoIP calls, it costs extra.
ROM flashers and root fanatics who own a few more obscure Android devices have new options this morning. Official, straight from the source builds of the ubiquitous Team Win Recovery Project custom recovery are now available for the unlocked, dual-SIM card version of the HTC One M7, the carrier-customized version of the LG G3 for US Cellular, and the LG Optimus Fuel. Wait, the what? Let me check my notes...
Raise your hand if you like carrier apps added to your phone. Anyone. Go ahead, don't be shy. Well if you don't, here's a great example of why companies like AT&T should leave the software alone. An over-the-air update to 4.4.4 for the carrier-customized version of the Galaxy Note 3 was sent out on November 28th, then unceremoniously pulled. A previous message on the support page explained why:
Update: The software update for Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (SMN900A) is temporarily on hold, effective November 28, 2014.
I have to hand it to you guys who've been using T-Mo's Galaxy Tab 3 - you've been powering through with Jelly Bean (4.2, no less) for...ever. Looks like all your patience is finally paying off, as T-Mo is now sending KitKat to Tab 3s over the air.
That's the only change T-Mo is noting in its changelog, but let's be honest here - do you really need anything else? Nah.
Sometimes you have to wonder if bombastic T-Mobile CEO John Legere actually believes the hyperbolically aggressive language he spews at his competitors. Then you watch something like this "Uncarrier Holiday" video, and you no longer have to wonder. This man appears to have a plush ornament of himself on his Christmas tree.
Legere doesn't tell us anything we don't already know as he lambasts AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint while rhyming about T-Mobile's speed, rollover data, and customer service.
Updates are not only for the latest and greatest phones, but they usually are. It's actually quite unusual to see a phone from a few years ago on a US carrier getting an update, but that's what's happening with the Samsung Galaxy Note II on Sprint. Rather, it will happen on January 6th.
Here's something you don't see every day. American carriers AT&T and Verizon both offer the fourth-generation models of the Galaxy Tab 8.0 and 10.1, and this weekend, they're each updating both versions. That indicates some kind of coordinated effort on the part of Samsung's software engineers... or a remarkable coincidence. In any case, owners should start seeing the over-the-air updates come in today, though some will have to wait a few more days.