While watching the latest episode of Breaking Bad today (which I must say is one of the best shows on TV right now), I witnessed the latest Verizon Wireless Best Buy commercial advertising Verizon Wireless phones, boasting VZW's incredible network coverage, ultra speeds, and reliability.
It was going so well until I saw a close-up of the phone that lasted a good number of seconds for everyone to witness... no, not the 4G LTE symbol, and not even the 3G symbol.
A new month, a new batch of cities all lined up to get the LTE treatment, courtesy of Big Red. This go around, we're hearing that at least 21 new cities will be getting blanketed in VZW's ultra-fast LTE network, a follow up to the 26 that were just activated. The list of cities isn't available in its entirety just yet, but here's what we have so far:
Modesto and Stockton, CA
Fort Myers, FL
Bloomington, Elkhart, Evansville, South Bend and Terre Haute, IN
Sioux City, IA
Albuquerque and Santa Fe, NM
Jackson and Martin, TN
Greater Hampton Roads and Richmond, VA
Green Bay, WI
San Diego and Los Angeles, CA are said to be getting an expanded coverage area, as well.
Ah, the data saga continues. Throttling has been a long-time practice of T-Mobile, which drastically slows data speeds for users who go over their set-amount of high-speed access. AT&T recently announced a similar practice, slowing the top 5% of users who were grandfathered in on unlimited data plans.
Verizon also made a drastic change to its smartphone data packages recently, switching from an unlimited-only offering to a tiered setup. Now, even furthering the changes to its data structuring, Big Red will begin implementing "network optimizations" to all existing customers with unlimited plans on 3G devices in September.
If there's one thing to be said about Verizon's 4G LTE network - aside from the speed, of course - it's that the devices equipped to run on it have been less than economically priced up to this point. Each device released with LTE connectivity has dropped with an initial price of at least $250 (usually more) -- a less than ideal price considering the accompanying two-year agreement.
Enter the Pantech Breakout, VZW's first affordable LTE handset.
RadioShack seems awfully pleased with its new partnership with Verizon, and to express its sentiment it is giving a $100 instant rebate for every Verizon smartphone activated with a 2-year contract. Those averse to arduous rebate policies (i.e. mailing in the form) will be pleased to know that the entire process of activation and rebate approval will be taken care of by an "awesome" RadioShack associate on the spot. The selected handsets include the HTC Thunderbolt, the Samsung Droid Charge, the Motorola Droid X2 and Droid Bionic.
If you have not already made the switch to Verizon's 4G LTE network, the deal announced today from AmazonWireless may finally tip the balance. Starting today and running till September 26th, AmazonWireless will give a $50 gift card to Amazon.com with every purchase of a Verizon phone or mobile broadband device (i.e. a MiFi) together with a contract.
This deal is applicable with a purchase of any Verizon device available through AmazonWireless, including popular Android phones such as the Motorola Droid Bionic 4G, the HTC Droid Incredible 2 and the HTC ThunderBolt 4G.
The Android dev community has a well-deserved reputation for releasing new versions of ROMs at breakneck speeds, and they're not slowing down with the newest kid on the block, the Motorola DROID BIONIC. In fact, @cvpcs has already ported CyanogenMod 7 to the device, and though he isn't ready to release it just yet, he has put out a video to whet our appetites:
Of course, since this is the very first time the BIONIC has successfully booted into CM7, there are plenty of bugs, including:
No radio connectivity
Issues with battery reporting
Regardless, this is certainly a viable first chapter in the BIONIC's ROM development, and we look forward to the continuation of the saga.
Verizon just keeps pumping out LTE connectivity in new areas across the country -- we saw no less than 15 cities get their piece of the LTE pie last month, and now 26 more are all set to get lit up tomorrow, September 15th. VZW already dropped the names of 15 of those cities last month, but here's the list in its entirety:
Fort Smith and Jonesboro, AR
San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, CA
Bloomington, Champaign/Urbana, Rockford and Springfield, IL
the Quad Cities, IL/IA; Iowa City, IA
Kalamazoo and Saginaw, MI
Las Cruces, NM
Canton, Lima and Mansfield, OH
the Tri-Cities, TN/VA
Austin, Beaumont/Port Arthur, Wichita Falls and El Paso, TX.
VZW customers in San Francisco, CA; Indianapolis, IN; and Cleveland/Akron, OH can also expect an expanded LTE coverage area.
The DROID BIONIC has probably been the single most anticipated Android smartphone in the US. Since its unveiling at CES, subsequent total re-design, and sort-of-delayed release, it has been a long and winding road for Motorola's newest flagship handset. Verizon's massive marketing arm hasn't failed to promote this thing, either - walk into any Verizon store and you'll see employees garbed in BIONIC t-shirts, armed with BIONIC accessory display boxes and a tailor-made marketing spiel, ready to meet you with more LTE and dual-core madness than you can shake a stick at.
I've had the BIONIC just about 24 hours now, and that's enough time to draw a few, basic conclusions about the phone. It's not sufficient for a full review, obviously, but if you're itching to know more about how using the BIONIC is from an Android addict's perspective, you might want to check out my first impressions video.
Basically, I discuss the phone's hand feel, display, performance, and a few other less noteworthy items.