Kyocera's Next Rugged Smartphone Will Have 5G, Might Look Like This

Kyocera is at CES this year showing off mock-ups of 5G devices under development, including their next rugged smartphone for the US, which will have 5G. Kyocera’s Product Planning Manager Curtis Wick confirmed to Phone Scoop that the company is still actively developing rugged smartphones for the US market, similar to the DuraForce Pro 2 that is currently offered by AT&T and Verizon. The mock-up shown at CES is not a functional prototype, nor the final design. But it shows the direction the company is going with its designs.

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Google Assistant Gains New Speaking, Privacy Actions

At CES this year, Google is showing off several new functions coming to Google Assistant on Android phones. Soon, you’ll be able to say “Hey Google, read it” or “Hey Google, read this page” when you’re viewing an article. When you do, it will use “new voice datasets to create more expressive and more natural sounding voices” for reading long-form content. The content can also be translated into 42 languages. Google is also adding two new voice actions for people to easily control their privacy. The first is “Hey Google, that wasn’t for you,” which lets you tell the Assistant to forget what it heard if an unintended activation occurs. The other is “Hey Google, are you saving my audio data?” to learn about your privacy controls and go directly into the settings screen to change your preferences. Google added several other privacy-related commands recently, including “Hey Google, delete everything I said to you this week.”

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Sprint Kills Off Virgin Mobile

Sprint is shutting down its Virgin Mobile prepaid brand. Starting the week of February 2nd, Sprint will move current Virgin Mobile customers to Sprint’s other prepaid brand, Boost Mobile. According to a Sprint statement to FierceWireless, “In most circumstances, customers can keep their current phone and will receive a comparable or better Boost Mobile service plan with no extra cost”. All of Sprint’s business plans are currently in a kind of limbo as the company awaits a court verdict on whether it will be allowed to merge with T-Mobile. The pending merger has put a pause on all major investments and strategic moves, which in turn has hurt business units such as Virgin Mobile.

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Razer's Kishi Adds Full Game Controls to More Phones (Hands On)

Razer has introduced a new accessory that adds full-size physical game controls to a much wider range of phones than its previous Junglecat accessory. The Kishi comes in versions for both iOS and Android. The iOS version has a Lightning connector and is compatible with the iPhone 7 and newer. The Android version is designed to work with most phones that have a centered USB-C connector on the bottom. Kishi’s controls are full-size and close to the ergonomics of a typical console game controller. The bottom of the right controller has a USB-C (or Lightning) connector for pass-through charging. The Kishi is powered directly by the phone, so it never needs charging. Kishi will be available in a few months for a price in roughly the same range as the Junglecat, which currently sells for $100. Read on for our hands-on impressions and notes.

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Coolpad Bringing Unlocked 5G Phone to US for Under $400

Coolpad’s first 5G phone will be offered as an unlocked phone in the US with wide support for most US 5G networks. It will sell for under $400, making it the most affordable 5G phone to date in the US. It will be fully compatible with the current and planned sub-6 GHz 5G networks of AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, supporting 5G NR in frequency bands 2, 5, 12, 25, 41, 66, and 71. That is, by far, the largest number of US 5G bands supported in a single phone announced to date. (It won’t support the faster mmWave 5G networks offered by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, although those networks offer limited coverage in only the densest area of major cities.) This new phone will feature a 6.53-inch Full-HD+ display with HDR10 and a small notch, Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 chip, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB storage, 4,000 mAh battery, and 18W fast charging. For cameras, it will have a 48 megapixel main, 8 megapixel wide, and a 16 megapixel front camera. It will also come with Android 10, 3.5mm headphone jack, THX-certified stereo speakers, and a memory card slot. A unique color gradient on the back fades from denim to sand. It will be available in the second quarter of 2020. The exact model name and additional details will be announced later.

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Aukey's Omnia Chargers Deliver Huge Wattage in Tiny Packages

Aukey’s new Omnia USB-PD chargers use GaN technology to offer fast charging for all types of USB-C devices in unusually compact form factors. Aukey claims they are “the world’s smallest PD chargers”. The smallest is the size of an average phone charger, but offers up to 61 watts of power, enough to charge a standard laptop at full speed. It has a single USB-C output. Also available are slightly-larger 65W models with either two USB-C ports or one USB-C and one USB-A. The 100W models are slightly larger still, and come with either one or two USB-C ports. Chargers like these allow road warriors to carry a single compact charger for both their phone and laptop. All Omnia chargers feature foldaway wall prongs for compact stowage. The new chargers will be available in the second quarter of 2020. Pricing is yet to be determined.

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Bluetooth Audio Gets Complete Overhaul with New Features and Better Performance

The Bluetooth SIG today announced Bluetooth LE Audio, a new part of the Bluetooth standard designed to replace all previous audio profiles, which will now be referred to as “Classic Audio”. LE Audio uses the Bluetooth LE radio, a version of Bluetooth optimized for low power consumption. LE Audio takes advantage of the broadcast capability of Bluetooth LE, which will allow one audio source to transmit to an unlimited number of Bluetooth devices nearby. Individuals will be able to use this feature to listen to music or watch video together. The broadcast feature is also designed for buildings such as theaters, airports, museums, gyms, and convention centers. Users will be able to choose a public (or password-protected) Bluetooth LE audio stream, much the same as choosing Wi-Fi networks today, and listen to the audio channel (or language) of their choice. Because it uses the LE radio and also a new “LC3” codec, LE Audio devices should use up to 50% less power compared to Classic Audio devices. Alternately, device makers can choose to offer much better sound quality using the same amount of power as Classic Audio devices. LE Audio also supports multi-stream and stream syncing. This will provide better native support for stereo true wireless earbuds, and allow earbuds to remain connected to multiple source devices simultaneously. The LE Audio spec also includes specific features to better support Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids. LE Audio requires Bluetooth 5.2, a new version of the core Bluetooth spec that was formally adopted and published earlier today. The first LE Audio devices are expected to ship around the end of 2020.

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iFrogz Fills Out Bluetooth Lineup with Sport and ANC Models

iFrogz has new affordable Bluetooth headphones to address new categories. The Airtime Sport are the company’s first true wireless earbuds with a fitness/sport focus, featuring “around-the-ear sport wings”. The Airtime Sport also feature 6mm drivers, touch controls, and a charging case with USB-C connector. iFrogz also offers free replacement earbud tips for life. They will sell for $80 and be available later this quarter. The Airtime Vibe are the company’s first with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), to reduce outside noise by approx. 20 dB. These over-ear cans also feature up to 30 hours of battery life, or 25 when using ANC. They’re rated IPx2 for light water resistance and support wired mode as well. They will go on sale later this quarter for $100.

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Jabra Elite Active 75t Are Smaller, Longer-Lasting, and More Waterproof

Jabra has unveiled its latest high-end true wireless earbuds for “active lifestyles”. The Elite Active 75t are based on the standard Elite 75t, but “enhanced for durability and optimized for workout and fitness use.” They replace the Elite Active 65t. Compared that previous model, the new model is 22% smaller, features 89% more battery life, and has an improved IP57 rating for dust and water resistance. Like its predecessor, the Elite Active 75t has passive noise isolation with an optional HearThrough feature to hear important ambient noise for safety. The buds alone can last for 7.5 hours on a single charge, and the USB-C charging case allows up to 28 hours of battery life. A software update coming in Q2 will enable single-earbud mode, and also add a calibration feature that can actively tune the earbuds to your specific ears and hearing. The Elite Active 75t will be available in February for $199. The earbuds will be available in three colors at launch: Navy, Copper Black (Amazon exclusive), and Titanium Black (Best Buy
exclusive). In March-April, three additional colors will become available: Grey, Sienna, and Mint.

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Galaxy S10 Lite and Note10 Lite Carve Out New Space in Samsung's Lineup

Samsung today announced two new phones: the Galaxy S10 Lite and Galaxy Note10 Lite. In spite of the naming scheme, the two new models are quite similar to each other. Both have a 6.7-inch, full-HD Super AMOLED display, 4,500 mAh battery, fast charging, in-display fingerprint reader, 6 or 8 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, memory card slot, and a 32-megapixel front camera in a centered hole-punch in the display. The phones differ in processor (not specified), rear camera specs, and of course the Note10 Lite has a stylus. The S10 Lite has standard, wide, and macro cameras on the back (48, 12, and 5 megapixel, respectively.) The Note10 Lite has standard, wide, and telephoto cameras (all 12 megapixel.) Pricing, regions, and launch date were not announced. The FCC has approved a version of the Galaxy Note10 Lite that could be offered by Verizon, but no other versions compatible with US carriers have been approved to date.

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