Archive for September, 2011
Unlimited data is a thing of the past. AT&T started it, capping their services at 2GB in 2010. Verizon and T-Mobile followed about a year later, though both added higher-tier options for heavy data consumers. But the point remains: gone are the days where you could browse, download, and stream with abandon. That is, unless you’re on Sprint. Throughout this ordeal they’ve not only retained their unlimited data plans, but they’ve continually reassured customers that they will, indeed, stay unlimited. The latest comes from CTO Stephen Bye (via CNET). He stated the challenges of maintaining unlimited plans, but also said that Sprint is willing to face that challenge.
This is plenty good news for not only Sprint customers, but customers wishing to jump ship. Customers grandfathered into unlimited plans with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon won’t keep that plan forever. There will come a time when they will move everyone to a tiered plan. True, by then Sprint could follow suit. But it does seem that they’re committed to keeping this thing unlimited — even as they’re reportedly adding the iPhone, a device that could post them network capacity issues.
On October 16th you’ll see the above-pictured device on store shelves. It looks like a normal Android smartphone, but it lacks one key element: a cellular radio. Instead, it’s a WiFi-based Android that essentially mimics Apple’s iPod Touch. It’ll come in two sizes: the four-inch screen will cost $ 229, while the five-inch screen will cost $ 269. Those are reasonable prices for devices that will carry no monthly service commitments. But I have to wonder if the Android platform is ready for this type of device.
One reason the iPod continues to sell, even with the iPhone in play, is music management. Apple makes it easy to move items from your iTunes library to the iPod. True, Windows users have a tougher time with it; iTunes works considerably better on a Mac. The management system isn’t quite as clean with Google Music. It could be what holds back the device. On the other hand, if Google created its own simple music player — perhaps one that lays over iTunes, such as doubleTwist — they could create the necessary interface for a device like this.
T-Mobile customers might be able to keep their rate plans even if AT&T acquires the company, but even a new clause doesn’t make the reality much better. Soon after AT&T announced its bid to buy T-Mobile, it eased T-Mobile customer concerns by saying they could keep their current rate plans. Of course, that all figured to change once a customer’s contract expired. Earlier this week TmoNews.com reported that T-Mobile employees got an update on that front. Not only will T-Mobile customers keep their current rate plans, but they can keep them “even when their term ends and the service continues on a month-to-month basis.” (Emphasis mine.)That’s all fine and good, but it doesn’t help people who intend to upgrade.
Upgrading has become a regular part of the cell phone industry. It’s the payoff after two years spent with a wireless carrier. You pledge your loyalty for another two years, and they give you a hefty discount on a handset. From the sounds of the T-Mobile employee FAQ, that’s when things will start to migrate towards AT&T. Since there is no mention of what happens when a customer wants a new phone, we can presume that they’ll have to pick something from the AT&T side.
Google is full of neat, futuristic ideas, but none has appealed to me to the same degree that Google Wallet has. It’s a practical, easy solution that will, in time, allow me to carry one less bulky item. You can watch the above video for a quick introduction to Google Wallet, and then read on for some perspective.
For those who didn’t watch the video: Google Wallet is basically a credit and debit card (plus more), right on your Android phone. Right now it works with the Citi MasterCard, but at launch Google announced partnerships with Visa, American Express, and Discover. Wallet will eventually work with all those platforms, which gives everyone more payment options. More importantly, it will likely hasten the retail adoption of NFC readers. That’s the key, really. The idea of NFC payments is nice, but if stores and restaurants don’t have the proper equipment to read them it’s worthless.
The Samsung Transform Ultra is the latest Android phone headed to Boost Mobile, and it’s their best one yet. Armed with a 1GHz processor and a 3.5-inch touchscreen, the Transform Ultra falls somewhere between a mid-range and high-end Android handset, giving it an easy leg up on the Galaxy Prevail, Boost’s other Android. It comes in at a decent price, too, $ 229.99, which is slightly more than you’d expect to pay for the same phone on contract. It drops on October 7th, which is soon enough. There is, however, one catch. Starting on that same date, Boost is adding a $ 5 monthly surcharge for Android phones. It makes sense, given how much data they can consume. So that will be $ 55 per month for unlimited talk, text, and data. Not bad, considering it uses Sprint’s nationwide network.
Via Phone Scoop.
This post originated at AndGeeks.com – home to all things Android! Also a great source of info about Android Phones.
Boost Mobile gets new Android, adds monthly surcharge
The time for downloading NFL apps is pretty much over. The league kicked off the 2011 season on Thursday and had its first full Sunday of action yesterday, so the diehards are already set up with apps. If you have DirecTV, chances are you’ve already signed up for the Sunday Ticket. If you’re a Honeycomb tablet owner, however, there’s one more app you absolutely need. DirecTV has released a Sunday Ticket app for Android tablets, and it’s available for free now at the Market. It provides streams of every Sunday game (excepting blacked out games) and the Red Zone Channel. You can also get stats and highlights from around the league — though you better get the highlight watching in before 8:15 p.m. ET on Sundays, when NBC gets the exclusive rights to those. Again, it’s free for Sunday Ticket subscribers, so head to the Market and download Sunday Ticket for Tablets today.
Via Android Police.
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If that looks like a recycled image, it’s for good reason. About a month ago we learned that MetroPCS would launch the Samsung Admire, a mid-range Android handset. It checks in at $ 150, which is decent for an Android for prepaid. For someone looking at it in terms of bang for the buck, it could work out. As happens in many cases, Cricket will also offer the Vitality. Only it adds another level to the offering: Muve Music. Read on if you’re not yet familiar with Cricket’s music plan.
Muve Music is available only on select handsets. The Vitality is the first one that also runs Android. Each Muve-compatible handset comes with a special microSD card. Subscribers can download all the music they want right to that card, so they can listen to tunes at any times. This covers unlimited music from a library containing millions of songs.
The only downside is that it costs $ 10 more per month. That’s what Rhapsody, Napster, and Spotify premium charge, so it’s not as though the Muve plan adds a ton of value for Android users. Plus, those services offer streaming, which make free memory easier to handle.
Today Sprint released the Kyocera Milano, a low-cost touchscreen slider device that runs Android 2.3. We’ve seen many carriers opt for mid-range handsets lately, which again highlights one of Android’s major advantages. They not only have high-end devices, such as the recently released Droid Bionic, but they can also play to other demographics. This helps it stand out in a market that Apple has long shaped. The Milano provides another example of what’s possible when a low-cost manufacturer decides to install Android on its device.
The Milano is really nothing special. It’s a little undersized, with a 3-inch screen at 240 x 320 pixels. Yet it’s also a little heavy, weighing 5.6 ounces. That’s quite a deal heavier than many of the lower-end Android handsets we’ve seen popping up. Of course, it’s all a trade-off for the rest of the features. As expected, it doesn’t have a top of the line processor, but it has a manageable single core 800 MHz chip and 512MB of RAM. That is, it’ll run fast enough, but it won’t blaze through operations sans lag. Again, it’s all about the trade-offs.
Pictured above is the Huawei Impulse, the latest Android handset announced for the AT&T network. As suggested in the headline, it’s not what you would call a state of the art device — though it does run on AT&T’s HSPA+ network. In fact, it’s more along the lines of the prepaid devices you see from Cricket and MetroPCS. (Huawei has manufactured almost exclusively for those two carriers in the past.) The good news for AT&T customers is that this sheds the normal trend of $ 150 to $ 200 postpaid Android handsets. This one checks in at just $ 30, making it just as affordable as many feature phones. You’ll have to pay the smartphone rate, of course, but this one could still be worth the money. Here’s a rundown of the two-year cost of ownership.
If you’re really budget conscious, you’ll take advantage of AT&T’s $ 15 data plan, which covers 200MB of monthly usage. That can be rough on an Android user, but it’s definitely do-able if you put your mind to it. (That is, use WiFi whenever possible and cut down on streaming media.) Combine that with the $ 40 plan, which includes 450 anytime minutes plus unlimited nights and weekends, plus the $ 20 unlimited messaging plan, and you come to a two-year cost of $ 1,830, plus monthly taxes and fees.