T-Mobile + Sprint Merger Can Proceed, Rules Judge

A multi-state anti-trust lawsuit to stop the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile has failed. New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a statement saying “There is no doubt that reducing the mobile market from four to three will be bad for consumers, bad for workers, and bad for innovation, which is why the states stepped up and led this lawsuit. … As we review our options, including a possible appeal, Americans should continue to hold the companies to account for their promises.” If the states do no not appeal, the merger is likely to be completed as soon as April 1, 2020, according to a statement from the two companies. The ruling was issued today by the Hon. Victor Marrero of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. New York and California led the coalition of 14 state Attorneys General opposing the merger. The FCC and DoJ approved the merger last year. Some assets from Sprint — including the Boost Mobile brand and customers — will be transferred to Dish, which has promised to use them build its own new 5G network.

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Samsung Shows New Foldable in Oscars Ad

Samsung aired a television commercial during the Oscars award show tonight that showed the company’s next, unannounced foldable phone in detail. The ad was rich in visuals but light on details, encouraging viewers to tune in to the company’s Unpacked event on Tuesday. Rumors say the phone will be called the Galaxy Z Flip. The flexible-screen form factor is roughly similar to that of the Moto razr. The ad shows a small, full-color outer touch-screen, and a hinge mechanism that can hold in place at multiple angles.

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Sprint Intros New Watch for Kids

Sprint today announced WatchMeGo, a new watch device for kids that offers two-way communication and location tracking. The watch offers GPS, two-way voice messaging, and can receive text messages from parents. The companion app for parents (available for both Android and iOS) lets them see their child’s location and set up geo-fenced “safety zones” so they’re notified when their child enters and exits specified areas. Location history data is saved for 14 days. Parents can be alerted when the watch is taken off. The watch is rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, has a durable Gorilla Glass face, and has an SOS button that will instantly alert parents. It has a 400 mAh battery, LTE, and a large 1.39″ touch screen. The watch also has Bluetooth and a music player that can play music loaded over USB. The unique charger clips around the side of the watch. WatchMeGo is available starting today for $144. Service costs $10/month with auto-pay.

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Android February Security Patch Fixes Critical Bluetooth Vulnerability

A security flaw has been found in Android that allows attackers to access a phone via Bluetooth with no user interaction required. Android’s most recent monthly security update, released on February 3rd, fixes the flaw. The vulnerability is rated “critical” — the highest rating — for Android versions 8 and 9. In Android 10, the same bug allows a remote attacker to crash the Bluetooth system, but does not present the same security vulnerability. Attackers must be within Bluetooth range (typically around 30 feet) to exploit the flaw. Users can ensure they’re not vulnerable by turning off Bluetooth until their phone receives the February update. There are ways to continue using Bluetooth in public while making it difficult to exploit the flaw. Attackers need to know your Bluetooth MAC address (device ID). This can be obtained in two ways: The first is if your phone is in Bluetooth “discoverable” (pairing) mode. Also, on some devices, the Bluetooth MAC address can be deduced from the Wi-Fi MAC address. Therefore users with a non-updated Android phone who are concerned about the issue should avoid pairing new Bluetooth devices while near any public areas, and keep Wi-Fi turned off on their phone.

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New Moto g Series Lets You Choose: Stylus or Jumbo Battery

Motorola has unveiled two new g-series phones for 2020: the Moto g Stylus and Moto g Power. The two phones are very similar, except the g Stylus has a built-in stylus pen and higher-end main camera, while the g Power has a larger battery. Both phones have a 6.4-inch full-HD+ display with a “hole punch” in the corner for the 16-megapixel selfie camera. Both are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 chip paired with 4 GB of RAM and running Android 10. Both have a water-repellent design, stereo speakers, dual-band Wi-Fi, fingerprint reader, memory card slot, USB-C, 10W fast charging, 3.5mm headphone jack, and FM radio. Both have excellent support for all US 4G networks — including bands 13, 14, 25, 26, 29, 30, 41, 66, and 71 — with LTE Cat. 13 speeds. Motorola also has a new feature that limits interruptions while gaming. The few differences between the phones are:

  • Moto g Stylus: Has a built-in stylus pen designed to help you edit photos, jot down notes, sketch artwork, copy and paste text, and mark up screenshots. Removing the stylus while the phone is idle will automatically start the new Moto Note app, which lets you take quick notes without unlocking the phone. It has a 4,000 mAh battery and 128 GB of storage. The main camera has a 48-megapixel sensor and f/1.7 aperture, with laser auto-focus. It also has a 2-megapixel macro camera and 16-megapixel “action” camera that takes ultra-wide video in landscape orientation while holding the phone vertically. The Moto g Stylus will be available unlocked “this spring” for $300, and subsequently at Verizon, Metro, and Republic.
  • Moto g Power: Has an extra-large 5,000 mAh battery that Motorola claims can power the phone for three days. It also has three rear cameras, but the main camera is 16 megapixel (f/1.7) and the wide-angle camera is 8-megapixel with standard orientation. Like the g Stylus, it has a 2-megapixel macro camera that can focus on objects just 2cm from the lens. It has 64 GB of storage. The Moto g Power will be available unlocked “this spring” for $250, and subsequently at Verizon, Xfinity Mobile, US Cellular, Consumer Cellular, and Republic.

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New Mophie Powerstations are Optimized for iPhone 11 Series

Mophie has a new line of Powerstation portable battery packs that are designed specifically to support the connectors and charging options of the iPhone 11 series. All three of the new Powerstations can charge an iPhone quickly using 18W fast charging. The Powerstations themselves are charged with a built-in Lightning power input, for easy use with existing Apple chargers. The standard Powerstation has a 6,000 mAh battery and outputs power via a USB-C port designed to work with the USB-C-to-Lightning cable included with the newest iPhones. The step-up Powerstation Plus is similar except it has a built-in Lightning cable instead of USB-C port. The larger PowerStation Plus XL is similar to the smaller Powerstation Plus, but has an 8,000 mAh battery and adds Qi wireless charging (at 5W) for charging an additional device. All three new Powerstations also have a full-size USB port for charging other devices using common USB-A cables. All three are available now in black, gray, navy, and pink, from mophie.com, apple.com and in select Apple stores. The Powerstation is priced at $60; the Powerstation Plus at $80; and the Powerstation Plus XL at $100.

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FCC Releases Draft Rules for Mid-Band 5G Auction

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has released details of the FCC’s proposal to re-arrange the C band, making available 280 MHz of additional radio spectrum for 5G in the US. The C band is a 500 MHz segment of spectrum from 3.7 to 4.2 GHz, which is currently used by fixed satellite companies to beam content to video and audio broadcasters, cable systems, etc. The FCC’s proposal would move all existing users into the upper 200 MHz of that band, freeing up the lower portion (3.7 – 3.98 GHz) to be auctioned for new 5G service in the US. Moving the existing users will be costly and time-consuming, as it will require the launch of new satellites in some cases. The FCC will pay those costs, plus additional incentive payments of up to $9.7 billion if accelerated deadlines are met. If all of those deadlines are met, the first 100 Mhz of newly-allocated spectrum could be in use for 5G service as soon as September 2021, with the remaining 180 MHz in use as soon as September 2023. The incentive payments would be paid by 5G auction winners.

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Google Maps Gains Tabbed Interface

Google has updated its Maps app for iOS and Android with a new tab bar. The standard default view is now the “Explore” tab. A new “Commute” tab lets you specify your daily commute route and receive real-time traffic updates, travel times, and suggestions for alternative routes. It works for both driving and public transit. A “Saved” tab lets you see lists of your saved places, as well as upcoming reservations flagged by Gmail, and your saved maps. The new “Contribute” tab makes it easier to send Google reviews, recommendations, corrections, and photos to make Maps better. Finally, the new Updates tab highlights new places nearby, and new articles about places nearby.

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Nokia 2.3 Offers 2-Day Battery for $129

The newest entry-level Nokia Android phone from HMD Global is the Nokia 2.3, which contains a 4,000 mAh battery that HMD claims can last through two days of use. It also has a 6.2-inch, 19:9, HD screen with small notch, MediaTek Helio A22 processor, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, memory card slot, and 3.5mm headset jack. It has a 13 megapixel camera on the back plus depth camera for portrait mode, and a 5 megapixel camera on the front. An AI-powered “Recommended Shot” feature automatically captures alternate images before and after the shutter button is pressed and suggests the best one. It also has a multi-frame night mode. The frame is aluminum and the back has a “3D nano-textured” design. The 2.3 comes with Android 9 and two years of OS updates (including Android 10) plus three years of monthly security updates. The US version supports LTE in US bands 2, 4, 5, 12, and 66, which means basic support for AT&T and T-Mobile networks (including Cricket and Metro brands). The Nokia 2.3 will come in Sand and Charcoal in the US. It will be available unlocked from Amazon and Best Buy for $129 starting February 9th.

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AT&T Lights up 5G for Consumers in 13 new Cities

AT&T is launching sub-6 GHz 5G service for consumers in 13 new markets this week. In California, the new markets are Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, and Modesto. In Massachusetts, Boston and Bedford are getting 5G this week. The remaining markets are Liberty, GA; Wichita, KS; Frederick, MD; St. Louis, MO; Atlantic City, NJ; and Dayton, OH. With these new launches, AT&T’s 5G network for consumers will cover 50 million people across 32 markets. AT&T says it remains on track to offer the service nationwide by the middle of 2020. Separately, AT&T’s “5G+” service for businesses is now available in parts of 35 cities across the US. AT&T’s “5G+” service uses new mmWave frequencies, which offer high speeds but limited coverage. AT&T’s “5G” service for consumers uses more traditional cellular frequencies below 6 GHz (specifically, band 5 at 850 MHz), offering better coverage than mmWave, and speeds that are faster than 4G but not as fast as mmWave 5G. The only phone currently offered by AT&T that supports its consumer 5G network is the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G.

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