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Entries in Cellphones (16)

Monday
Feb252013

Nokia Debuts Cheaper Windows Phones

Nokia(NEW YORK) -- Back in September, Nokia introduced its new Lumia 820 and 920 phones, which brought features like its PureView camera and wireless charging to its Windows phones.  But if price is what stood in between you and the Lumias, Nokia has now announced the Lumia 520 and 720.

“We’ve cracked the nut with the Lumia 920 and now we’re going for volume and scale,” Susan Sheehan, Nokia’s Senior VP of Communications, told ABC News.

The Lumia 520 will be the cheapest Windows phone, says Nokia, and will be available for around 139 euros (about $183) -- that’s without carrier subsidies.  It will be significantly less when provided by a carrier with a two-year contract.

While it will have lower end specs than the 920, with a dual-core processor and 512MB of RAM, Nokia is equipping the phone with the same f/1.9 aperture Carl Zeiss lens as its higher end phone.  The phone, which has a 4-inch, 800 x 480-resolution screen, will also be available in four colors.

The 720, however, will be slightly more expensive at 249 euros ($328) because of its larger and better quality 4.3-inch screen and improved camera experience, which includes a large f/1.0 aperture Carl Zeiss lens.  The phone, which comes in five colors, doesn’t have built-in wireless charging capabilities, but you will be able to get a snap-on wireless charging cover for it.

The 520 and 720 will be hitting numerous countries this quarter and then others, including China, in the second quarter of 2013.  Nokia isn’t providing details on when they will hit U.S. carriers.

In addition to the Windows Phone 8 Lumias, Nokia has two new phones based on its own Series 40 software.  The Nokia 105 will cost 15 euros and the 301 will go for 65 euros.

“We are trying to show that even at 15 euros we can make a beautiful phone,” Sheehan said.

The 301 is focused around social media and is meant for the younger audience.

But don’t expect these two to hit the United States.  Sheehan says they are targeting consumers in emerging markets with these two.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jan262013

Starting Saturday, It's Illegal to Unlock Your Cellphone

SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- You likely have a cellphone that you bought from a carrier, like AT&T, Verizon or Sprint, and that phone only works on that carrier's cellular and data network -- unless you "unlock" it.

That is a software process that allows the phone to work on other carriers if you put in a new SIM card or want to take the phone to another carrier for service.

If that sounds complicated to you and like something you wouldn't bother with, then Saturday's news won't matter to you. But if that's something you've done before or have thought about doing, then you should know that starting Saturday it is illegal to unlock a subsidized phone or tablet that's bought through a U.S. carrier.

Why now? Starting Saturday, the U.S. Copyright Office and Library of Congress are no longer allowing phone unlocking as an exemption under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

In short, it is illegal to unlock a phone from a carrier unless you have that carrier's permission to do so. If you're wondering what this has to do with copyright, it turns out not much.

"It wasn't a good ruling," Rebecca Jeschke, a digital rights analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), told ABC News. "You should be able to unlock your phone. This law was meant to combat copyright infringement, not to prevent people to do what they want to do with the device they bought."

Of course, the carriers prefer the new rule because it ties your phone to their network. U.S. cellular carriers sell phones at a subsidized or discounted rate with a contract. You pay the network for service on a monthly basis and they give you the phone for a cheaper price than it actually is worth.

When it was legal, people may have unlocked their phone to resell it when they upgraded to a newer model or to use it with an overseas carrier and take advantage of local rates when they traveled abroad.

If your phone has already been unlocked, you are grandfathered in and won't face any legal issues. But what could happen if you unlocked your phone now that it's illegal?

"Violations of the DMCA [unlocking your phone] may be punished with a civil suit or, if the violation was done for commercial gain, it may be prosecuted as a criminal act," Brad Shear, a Washington, D.C.-area attorney and blogger who is an expert on social media and technology law, told ABC News. "A carrier may sue for actual damages or for statutory damages."

The worst-case scenario for an individual or civil offense could be as much as a $2,500 fine. As for those planning to profit off of the act or a criminal offense -- such as a cellphone reseller -- the fine could be as high as $500,000 and include prison time.

"I don't see carriers going aggressively after people, but bottom line is that I would not recommend violating this provision of the law," Shear said.

Jeschke said that the EFF hasn't heard of anybody who faced legal action during an earlier period when it was illegal to unlock phones in the U.S. before a prior rule change made it legal several years ago.

In 2015, there will be another rule making over the exemptions and, according to Jeschke, the question of the legality or illegality of unlocking a phone will likely be revisited.

Until then, your best bet is to buy an unlocked phone.

"It's unfortunate that the copyright office walked back this exemption to the DMCA, but the carriers are already shipping unlocked devices like the iPhone 5, so the impact on average consumers won't be too bad," said Nilay Patel, a former patent attorney and managing editor of The Verge.

Apple offers an unlocked iPhone 5 for $649.00 and the Nexus 4 is available for $299.99 right from Google and T-Mobile.

Those upset with the latest rule change are now signing a "We the People" petition on the White House's website that calls for the Librarian of Congress to "rescind this decision, and failing that, champion a bill that makes unlocking permanently legal."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan142013

‘Real Money’: Shrink Your Cellphone Bill by $1,000 and End ‘Wireless Waste’

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- To stay in touch with his daughters, 11-year-old Reagan and 5-year-old Ava, Phil Barry, a divorced father in Marshfield, Mass., got his eldest an iPhone so they could videochat.

“When they’re with their mom, I try to respect that time, but I still have to talk to them every day,” he said. “I have to see their faces.”

Barry pays for three phones — his iPhone, Reagan’s iPhone and a basic phone for his mother, Susan.  He said his most recent AT&T bill, weighed down by extras like texting and data, had been $311.

“It could go a couple of dollars either way,” he told ABC News recently. “It’s rough. I mean, I think about what most people pay for their cars and that’s what I pay for my cellphone bill. … A lot of it is probably my fault, where I should pay more attention.”

 

J.D. Power and Associates says that U.S. families spend an average of $139 a month on cellphones — $1,668 a year — up from $127 a month in 2009. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that household spending on cellphone services rose by more than 4.5 percent in 2011 and has gone up more than 20 percent since 2006.

ABC News’ “Real Money” team joined forces with Todd Dunphy, a former Verizon employee who co-founded the mobile phone analytics company Validas, which seeks to eliminate what it calls “wireless waste” — unused data, minutes and texts.

Validas, which performs analysis of cellphone usage for large corporations, recently launched Savelovegive.com to provide the same service for free to consumers.

According to Validas, 80 percent of Americans overspend on their monthly cellphone bill by an average of $200 a year.  When Dunphy analyzed Barry’s bill at Savelovegive.com, he immediately found ways to save far more than that.

Although Savelovegive.com automatically prepares an email that users can send to their carriers to switch plans, Barry went into an AT&T store to change his plan in person.  By switching to a MobileShare plan with 6GB of data a month and adding a corporate discount, Barry will save nearly $1,400 over the course of the year.

Below are Dunphy’s tips for making sure your cellphone plan is a perfect fit and possibly shrinking your bill.

1. Let free websites figure it out for you. Just plug in your phone number.

Savelovegive.com takes your bill from your carrier and analyzes it, looking at usage and charges, and then compares it to other available plans. Savelovegive.com currently works for AT&T and Verizon customers, but the site plans to expand to other carriers.  Another analysis site is Billshrink.com.

In Barry’s case, he was buying 8 gigabytes of data monthly but only using 2.5.  By bundling talking and texting into one new plan, he could save nearly $1,200 a year.

2. Look for sneaky charges such as horoscope texts, roadside assistance and 411.

Tiny charges can be added to your bill without your knowledge. On average, it’s more than $5 a month, according to a study by the Citizens Utility Board and Validas.  If you see a charge you’re not familiar with, contact your carrier to have it removed.

3. Get your discount.

Tens of thousands of companies work with cellphone carriers to get their employees discounts.  It’s not just for corporate workers — teachers, government workers and even students can qualify.  But the key is that you have to ask for it, entering your organizational email address on the carrier’s discount web site. Check the discount pages at AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.

Barry’s employer was recently purchased by IBM, so he’ll qualify for a discount of up to 25 percent. The discount could save him another $200 a year.

Dunphy told ABC News that Barry’s situation was typical.

“A lot of it is awareness,” he said. “Awareness of what’s out there and then also trying to figure out what you use and what’s available. … It’s like going and getting a suit or a dress, getting it perfectly tailored to you.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov262012

Survey: 85% of American Adults Own a Cellphone

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Cellphone use continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing down, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center Internet and American Life project.

The project, which has been tracking cellphone use since 2007, reports that 85 percent of American adults own a cellphone, and almost half of them have a smartphone.

The report finds that younger adults, individuals with higher levels of education, and those living in households that have annual earnings of $75,000 or more are more likely than others to have performed various cellphone activities such as taking photos, texting, accessing the Internet, recording video, emailing, downloading apps and mobile banking.

Here are more details on how Americans are using their phones:

  • More than 81 percent of men and women use their phone to take photos.
  • More than 80 percent of men and women use their phone to send or receive text messages.  More than 97 percent of young adults, ages 18-29, text, compared to just 34 percent of cellphone owners over the age of 65.
  • More than 56 percent of men and women use their phone to access the Internet.  Fifty-two percent of individuals earning less than $30,000 do so, compared to 71 percent of those earning more than $75,000 annually.
  • Just about half of all cellphone owners use their devices to send or receive email.  Twenty-four percent of respondents with no high school diploma send email via their phone, compared to 63 percent with a college degree.
  • About 43 percent of men and women use their phones to record video.  Sixty-eight percent of young adults, ages 18-29, do so, compared to just 9 percent of users over the age of 65.
  • Approximately 43 percent of all cellphone owners have downloaded an app to their phone.  Once again, younger adults, those with higher incomes and individuals with college degrees are more likely to download apps.

The report involved two Pew Internet tracking surveys involving more than 5,500 respondents.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov162012

At Movies, CineMode App Makes It Pay to Be Polite and Stop Texting

Ryan McVay/Photodisc(NEW YORK) -- “Shh!”

“Put your phone away. ”

“Excuse me, can you please turn off your phone?”

We’ve all done it once, twice, a hundred times before. You’re sitting in a dark movie theater when, minutes before the film begins, you have a sudden urge to check your phone, update your Facebook status, or text your friend in the lobby to get you a large popcorn with extra butter.

It’s a growing issue at theaters across the nation — movie goers texting during a movie.

Now, a smartphone app is enticing repeat theater texters by offering a reward for switching their phones to vibrate.

CineMark, a major operator of movie theaters, is launching a feature on its app called CineMode.  It encourages movie lovers to stop clicking “Send” in a movie theater by rewarding them with digital coupons directly to their smartphone.

The app is available for download on iPhones and Android smartphones.

After smartphone users download the app, they will be asked to launch CineMode. A brief message will flash on the theater’s screen just before the movie begins. If CineMode is in full use, the screen on your smart phone will dim instantly and customers will be prompted to turn the phone’s volume to vibrate mode.

If moviegoers remain in CineMode for the entire length of the film, they will earn a digital coupon through the app. Users can find their coupons in the ‘Rewards’ section.

Each time moviegoers watch a movie at a CineMark theater, they’ll earn rewards while being courteous to those around them. It’s a win-win.

“At Cinemark, our number one priority is the comfort of our guests,” said James Meredith, Cinemark’s Vice President of Marketing & Communications in a press statement. “It is important to develop tools that maximize and preserve the movie-going experience. For a while, our customers have asked us to design an alternative and creative solution that addresses texting and cell phone issues in our auditoriums.”

According to a recent Pew Research study, 85 percent of U.S. adults own a cellphone. Of those, 53 percent own smartphones.

Of those 53 percent, a whopping 96 percent send text messages. Just how many of those are texting inside a movie theater is tough to say.

Regardless, this new app proves it pays to be courteous.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug222012

T-Mobile to Offer Unlimited 4G Data for Phones Starting Sept. 5

T-Mobile(NEW YORK) -- While AT&T and Verizon move to shared data plans, which allow users to share a bucket of data across multiple devices, T-Mobile has a different approach.

On Wednesday, the U.S. carrier announced that it will begin offering unlimited 4G data plans for smartphones starting on Sept. 5.  The plan will cost $20 a month when added to one of T-Mobile’s value voice and text plans, and $30 when added to a classic voice and texting plan.  T-Mobile will offer an unlimited calling and text plan with the unlimited data for $69.99.

T-Mobile’s unlimited data plan offers unlimited Web surfing and app usage over T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network.  There are no data caps or speed limits.  The plan is only for smartphones, not tablets, laptops, 4G connection cards or mobile hotspots.

In comparison, AT&T’s plans start at $40 a month for just 1GB of data to share across 10 devices and unlimited voice and texting -- and every additional phone you add to the plan costs $45 a month.  AT&T’s highest offering, which includes a cap of 20GB of data, costs $200 a month with unlimited texting and calls.

Since introducing its respective data share plans in July, AT&T and Verizon do not offer unlimited data for new customers.  Sprint offers unlimited 4G, texting and talk for a base of $100.

“AT&T and Verizon are in the costly and confusing camp and Sprint’s offering is limited since their 4G coverage is limited,” T-Mobile’s vice president of marketing, Kevin McLaughlin, told ABC News.

Sprint began offering a limited LTE network this summer in Baltimore and other cities. T-Mobile’s 4G network is not LTE, though it covers much of the country.

T-Mobile plans to roll out its LTE network in 2013, though it notes that its HSPA+ network is faster than even some LTE networks in parts of the country.

T-Mobile has taken a hit in the last couple of years in large part because of the fact that it doesn’t offer the iPhone. The carrier is hopeful that this plan will help pull customers from other networks, even if it doesn’t have Apple’s popular phone.

“We are trying to serve the customers and there is a lot of need in the market with Verizon and AT&T’s new plans,” McLaughlin said. “They are frustrated with the fact that they cannot get unlimited data.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug082012

Starbucks Customers Can Soon Pay With Their Phones

Starbucks Corporation(SEATTLE) -- Caffeine addicts and baristas who work during the frenetic morning rush can now rejoice. Starbucks has announced a partnership with mobile-payment platform Square that will soon allow customers to use Square’s payer app to expedite the process.

Customers will be able to use “Pay with Square” at participating company-operated Starbucks stores, about 7,000 in the United States, “later this fall,” the Seattle-based coffee retailer said.

The premise of Square, which Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey launched in December 2009, is that “everyone should be able to accept credit cards,” Dorsey wrote in a letter announcing the partnership.

The deal includes a $25 million investment by Starbucks and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will join Square’s board of directors.

The company, headquartered in San Francisco, offers users a free app and free Square Card Reader to swipe credit and debit cards. Square takes a 2.75 percent cut per card swipe. Manually entered card numbers cost 3.5 percent plus 15 cents per transaction.

Starbucks fans will also be able to find nearby Starbucks locations and other local businesses within the Square Directory on their cellphones.

With the Square app, available for Apple and Android devices, customers link their credit card to their Square account. When they checkout at a store, their name and photo can appear on the register and a cashier confirms it’s you to complete the sale, according to the Square website.

If Starbucks’ millions of customers download Square and actually use it to pay for coffee, Square hopes more small businesses will sign up and accept Square payments.

“More than 2 million individuals and businesses can already use Square,” Dorsey said in a statement. “This partnership will accelerate our ability to provide them with the tools they need to grow their business and thrive in today’s economy.”

The two companies say more than two-thirds of the 27 million small businesses in the United States do not accept credit or debit cards, “in large part because of the expensive interchange fees associated with payment processing, cumbersome application process and required credit checks.”

“As an entrepreneur, I understand how critical it is for new businesses to have easy and affordable access to card processing while also giving customers a choice in how they pay," Schultz said. "Because Square’s revolutionary technology allows anyone to accept credit and debit cards, it gives entrepreneurs an essential tool to jump-start their business while providing existing small companies access to new customers.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun272012

For Many, Being on the Phone Means Being on the Internet

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Using your mobile phone to only make calls is so landline.

The latest Pew Internet & American Life Project on cellphone use reveals that 88 percent of U.S. adults now own some kind of mobile device and 55 percent of them use their phone to go online.

In fact, 17 percent say that most of their Internet browsing is done on the phone and some admit they use it exclusively to get online, forgoing computers and other devices.

According to Pew, 45 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 do the majority of their browsing on their cellphones while 51 percent of African-Americans and 43 of Latinos rely on their phones go online.

In the phone survey of 2,254 adults 18 and older, the Pew report concluded, “Cellphones are convenient, always available -- 64 percent of cell-mostly Internet users mention factors related to convenience or the always-available nature of mobile phones when asked for the main reason why they do most of their online browsing on their cellphone.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun072012

No-Contract iPhones Coming in Late June

Tony Avelar/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Virgin Mobile USA, one of Sprint's brands for prepaid, no-contract phone service, announced Thursday it will start selling the iPhone later this month.  

For customers looking to purchase the iPhone 4 or 4S without a contract or roaming and activation fees, Virgin Mobile will make the popular Apple smartphone available for as low as $549 dollars for a basic model. The high price of the phone comes with lower monthly charges starting at $30. Cricket, which is set to launch iPhone sales on June 22, will offer the phone for $150 less but with a $55 monthly plan.

Until recently, the iPhone could only be purchased with a contract.  Now wading into the no-contract market, Apple is making its product more accessible to a new set of consumers -- people with lower incomes and shaky credit at best.

Virgin Mobile iPhone sales will begin June 29 at select local retailers, Best Buy, Radio Shack or through its website.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May162012

Virgin Atlantic Allows In-Flight Phone Calls

Virgin Atlantic(NEW YORK) -- The debate over using cellphones in flight is about to ignite once again.  But this time, it's not about safety.

Virgin Atlantic announced it will become the first British airline to provide passengers with a service to make and receive phone calls in the air.  The service is available on the Airbus A330-300s, the airline's new aircraft.  It's aimed at business travelers, but is available throughout the aircraft in all cabins.

The service, called AeroMobile, is available for customers with O2 and Vodafone network providers only.

The service "is intended for use in exceptional situations, when passengers need to send an SMS, make a quick call, or access an email on a Blackberry," said the airline.  It is also limited to six users at one time.

What's not clear is what constitutes an "exceptional circumstance."  Also, what exactly is a "quick" call?

And if more than six people need to make a "quick call" under "exceptional circumstances," who decides which six people get to do so?

While Virgin Atlantic may indeed be the first airline to offer this service, passengers have already demonstrated that it is possible to make in-flight calls from their cellphones without special technology.  Last week, the CEO of a company that developed an app that uses VoIP was escorted off a Delta flight for making a call in-flight.

And while most passengers haven't gone so far as to actually attempt a call, many are guilty of leaving their phone on during flight, whether intentionally or not.  In a recent Airfarewatchdog poll, 24 percent of respondents said they didn't always comply after the cabin door has been closed and a flight attendant has asked for electronic devices to be turned off.

The Federal Aviation Administration was reportedly taking a "fresh look" at its gadget policy in March and said, "As with any regulation, safety is always our top priority, and no changes will be made until we are certain they will not impact safety and security.  For some time, the FAA's rules have permitted an airline to allow passenger use of PEDs if the airline demonstrates the devices will not interfere with aircraft avionics.  The FAA is exploring ways to bring together all of the key stakeholders involved, but, ultimately, testing is the responsibility of each airline."

At the time, John Nance, aviation consultant and retired commercial airline pilot, said to ABC News: "There's absolutely no evidence that any electronics aboard airlines interfere or have interfered in any way."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio