Cricket Expands Android Go Lineup with Alcatel Insight

Cricket now offers two different $80 phones running Android 9 Go Edition. The company launched the Alcatel Insight today, and the Cricket Icon on Monday. Both phones have a MediaTek MT6739 processor, FWVGA+ LCD display, 5 megapixel main camera, and 2 megapixel front camera. Go Edition is a special version of Android designed for entry-level phones with less than 2 GB of RAM and limited storage. Both the Icon and Insight have 16 GB of storage, but do have a memory card slot. The Alcatel Insight also has Google Lens, full-HD video recording, and a 2,200 mAh battery with Battery Saver Mode.

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OnePlus 7T Offers Best of 7 Pro and More, for a Lower Price

OnePlus today revealed the OnePlus 7T, a new model that’s a blend of the 6T and 7 Pro, offering most of the best features of both, for less money than the 7 Pro. It has a small-notch screen design like the 6T, but in an extra-tall 20:9 ratio with full-HD resolution and HDR10+. The 20:9 ratio allows the 7T to be slightly narrower than the 7 Pro. It also has the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ processor, a slightly faster, gaming-optimized version of the top-end 855. Like the 7 Pro, it has three rear cameras (standard, wide, and telephoto) including a 48-megapixel main sensor, but the telephoto camera has been upgraded from 8 megapixels to 12. A new Macro Mode lets users to get up close to a focus distance of 2.5cm. Also like the 7 Pro, it has 90 Hz display refresh rate, “Warp Charge” fast charging, 128 GB of UFS 3.0 storage, Cat 18 LTE, and an in-display fingerprint reader. The 7T has 8 GB of RAM and a 3,800 mAh battery. It will ship with the just-released Android 10. Available color options are Glacier Blue and Frosted Silver. It will sell for $599 unlocked starting October 18th, and T-Mobile will be the exclusive US carrier for it.

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Amazon Echo Buds Offer Alexa, Bose ANR, Passthrough Mode

Amazon’s new Echo Buds are true wireless Bluetooth earbuds with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, although they are also compatible with Siri and Google Assistant. Using three microphones in each bud, they offer Bose Active Noise Reduction, as well as Passthrough Mode for bringing in ambient noise when desired. Each bud has two premium, balanced armature drivers for better sound. They’re rated IPX4 to withstand “splashes, sweat, or light rain.” The buds alone last 4-5 hours, and the case provides three additional charges. Using Alexa requires the Alexa app on your connected phone. Echo Buds will cost $130. They are available for pre-order now and will ship October 30th.

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Anker Moves Soundcore Beyond Budget Earbuds

Anker today introduced a new range of Spirit and Liberty Bluetooth earbuds. The new buds are much-improved over the original Spirit and Liberty series, but also much more expensive. While last year’s Liberty models were all well under $100, the new Liberty 2 models range in cost from $100-150. Similarly, last year’s Spirit models were all under $50, but the new Spirit 2 models range in cost from $60-100. All six new products charge via USB-C. The new Liberty 2 lineup are true wireless buds with enhanced sound quality. They all feature 4-mic noise cancellation and HearID personalized tuning.

  • The top-end Liberty 2 Pro feature Anker’s unique Astria Coaxial Acoustic Architecture for better sound quality. Anker collaborated with 10 Grammy-winning audio producers to tune the sound to match professional studio monitor speakers. The buds alone last for eight hours, and the buds+case lasts for 32 hours. Ten minutes of charging in the case provides two hours of listening time. They will sell for $150.
  • The $100 Liberty 2 have the same design, features and specs as the Pro model, just swapping the Astria drivers for diamond-coated drivers of a more traditional design.
  • The Liberty Air 2 have specs and features similar to the Liberty 2, but in a style closer to Apple’s AirPods, including the case. They also add wireless charging for the case, but still cost $100.

The Spirit line are relatively affordable buds with sweat protection (rated IPX7 or better), extra-secure fit, and BassUp, which analyzes and tunes audio in real time for more intense bass.

  • The Spirit 2 are the most affordable in the new range at $50. Like the original Spirit, they have a wire connecting the two buds behind the neck. But this year’s edition has improved battery life (14 hours vs. 8), better waterproofing (IP68), and a built-in USB-C connector that can deliver two hours of juice after just fives minutes of charging.
  • The Spirit Dot 2 are small true wireless earbuds with a charging case. Their unique design has “Zero-Pressure AirWings” integrated into one end of each bud, so that the part that would normally stick out instead clips into your ear to hold them in place. The buds alone last for 5.5 hours, and the buds+case lasts for 16 hours. Diamond-coated composite drivers deliver superior sound. They will run $80.
  • The Spirit X2 are also a true wireless model, but with an over-ear loop, beefier 12mm drivers, better battery life at nine hours (36 with case), and an IP68 waterproof rating. They will sell for $100.

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Alleged Gov't Subsidy Fraud by Sprint Threatens Merger with T-Mobile

The FCC this week launched an investigation into allegations that Sprint collected federal subsidy payments for 885,000 subscribers that were not actively using Sprint service, violating a key rule of the Lifeline program for low-income consumers. If true, this would amount to Sprint collecting over $8 million/month of taxpayer money that it was not entitled to. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the investigation yesterday. Today, FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks released a statement saying that the investigation “directly impacts our review of the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile, one of the largest wireless transactions in FCC history. Given the enormity of the apparent wrongdoing committed here, we must pause our Commission review. … There is no credible way that the merger before us can proceed until this Lifeline investigation is resolved and responsible parties are held accountable.”

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Cricket Offering Free Phones To New Customers

Cricket is offering a choice of eight different phones for free to new customers through the end of the month, and two models after that. Until October 1st, the free choices include several mid-range models such as the Moto g7 Supra, LG Stylo 5, and Nokia 3.1 Plus. Also free are the Samsung Galaxy J2 Pure, LG Harmony 2, LG Fortune 2, Moto e5 Cruise, and Nokia 3.1 C. After Oct. 1st, the Moto e5 Cruise will continue to be free until Nov. 21. The Samsung J2 Pure will be free again Oct. 11 – Nov. 21.

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Google Play Pass Bundles 350+ Games & Apps for $5/Month

Google today launched Play Pass, a new $5/month subscription service for Android users that provides full access to over 350 games and apps, ad-free and without in-app purchases. Google is offering a ten-day free trial as well as special intro pricing of just $2/month for the first 12 months. The collection of games and apps is curated by Google. Games and apps part of Play Pass at launch include Terraria, Monument Valley, Risk, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, AccuWeather, and many more. Google will add new titles every month. Developers are invited to express interest, but Google decides which developers to invite into the program. The service is similar to Apple Arcade, a $5/month subscription games service Apple just launched for devices using its platforms. Google is leveraging existing titles while Apple Arcade games are all exclusive to that service.

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Cricket Launches First Own-Brand Phone Made by Emblem

Cricket has launched the Icon — a Cricket-branded, entry-level phone — for $80. The phone is made by Emblem Solutions, which launched a little under a year ago with a financial investment and strategic agreement from AT&T to provide exclusive phones and tablets to AT&T. Cricket is a brand of AT&T. Cricket is offering a unique 2-year warranty on the phone. The Icon runs Android 9 Go Edition. It has a 5.5-inch display, 2,500 mAh battery, 5 megapixel rear camera, 2 megapixel front camera, MediaTek 6739 processor, 16 GB of storage, and a memory card slot.

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Samsung Releasing Galaxy Fold on Friday

Samsung has finally set a US release date for its delayed and tweaked Galaxy Fold: this Friday, Sept. 27th. While T-Mobile had originally planned to offer the Fold, now it will only be available from AT&T and in an unlocked version. Select Best Buy and Samsung Experience Stores will sell both the unlocked version and the AT&T version. The Fold will come with a special support offering called Galaxy Fold Premier Service. This will include a dedicated phone number, video chat service, and in-person support. “Samsung experts” will be available for complimentary “onboarding” as well as ongoing support. The Galaxy Fold is the first smartphone for the US with a flexible pOLED screen that actually folds in half. It also has a full touchscreen interface on the outside. Its specs are similar to the high-end Galaxy S10+, including a top-end Snapdragon 855 processor, 12 GB of RAM, and triple rear cameras (wide, standard, and telephoto.) The Fold was originally slated to launch April 26th of this year, but the launch was delayed after multiple reviewers experienced serious issues soon after receiving the phone. The design has since been improved to address the issues seen on the original design.

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