Google, Android manufacturers agree to participate in “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment” program

 

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Google has agreed to back a new initiative along with a host of Android manufacturers and all of the major U.S. cellular carriers that would require all smartphones manufactured after July 2015 to come with specific anti-theft features. The program is the latest attempt to prevent theft of smartphones, which some have blamed for increasing crime rates.

To this end, Google introduced the Android Device Manager application last year, allowing users to locate or wipe lost or stolen devices. Today’s agreement between the carriers and handset manufacturers essentially states that all parties will ship this type of system on new phones.

Specifically, the required anti-theft measures are broken into four kinds:
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How to use Samsung’s Gear Fit smartwatch with other Android devices

geafit Samsung’s Gear Fit smartwatch/fitness band is finally available online and in stores, but unfortunately, its Android compatibility is still very limited. According to Samsung, the Gear Fit will only work with 17 different Galaxy devices including the new Galaxy S5. Once again, Samsung is keeping its Gear line within the family, but luckily we’ve found a way around this small problem. Read more

Samsung Galaxy S5 pricing & availability confirmed as Verizon opens pre-orders

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Verizon has started accepting pre-orders for the Galaxy S5, confirming pricing at $199.99 on a two-year contract (after $50 mail-in rebate), or $599.99 full retail without contract, with shipping from 11th April. These are similar deals to those already announced by AT&TT-Mobile and Sprint.

Verizon has also extended its HTC One and Samsung ATIV buy-one, get-one-free deal to the S5 – though only if you sign a two-year contract for each …  Read more

AT&T announces new family plan tier with unlimited talk/text, 10GB of data

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 2.08.50 PMAT&T has just announced a new tier for its family plan customers that ups the amount of data offered. The carrier is now offering a family plan that includes unlimited talk and text, as well as 10GB of data. The 10GB of data is available to anyone that is apart of the family plan.

Here’s an example: Today, Verizon charges $260 monthly for a comparable plan that’s now $160 from AT&T. A family with four smartphones with unlimited talk and text, and a shared 10GB bucket of data, could switch to AT&T from Verizon and save $100 a month.  Current AT&T customers can save big with these new plans, too, when they choose a 10GB or larger bucket of data. For example, a family or small business with four smartphones could move to this new plan and save between $40 and $100 per month, depending on their current plan.

This new plan starts at $130 a month for 2 lines and increases in $15 iterations for each additional line.

Back in December, AT&T launched new ‘Mobile Share Value Plans‘ that offered pretty steep discounts to customers to compete with T-Mobile’s Uncarrier offerings. AT&T also began offering $100 credits to new customers, as a preemptive jab at T-Mobile, as well.

Review: LG’s Flex – There is no reason to curve this otherwise OK phablet

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Android phone makers are running out of ways to differentiate their devices from the crowd.  It’s all coming down to a rectangular screen, as little chrome around the edges as possible and a curved round back.  Pretty much every smartphone looks the same at this point with slight varying dimensions.

So that’s why LG’s curved Flex is an interesting newcomer. The LG Flex actually makes a somewhat flexible 6-inch display that defaults to a slight curve.  What are the supposed benefits of that?

  • It contours to your leg, sort of, in your pocket.
  • It reduces glare, sort of, outside
  • The curved phone is supposed to make calling feel more natural
  • Reading is a bit easier, not really
  • It is a cool party trick, good for 20-30 seconds of amusement

I’m a huge fan of the Nexus 5 and G2 and even AT&T’s 4G LTE network of late so I was genuinely looking forward to see what this could do… Read more

LG Flex pre-orders start January 24th for AT&T customers, hitting 20 European countries next month

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We’ve previously reported AT&T picking up the LG Flex, a massive phone with a curved display and tough reviews, and today the carrier officially announced plans for pre-order sales.

Starting Friday, January 24th, AT&T customers will be able to pre-order the LG Flex with its 6″ curved display for $299 with a two-year contract.

“We’re proud to offer the LG G Flex, our first smartphone with a curved screen, in the U.S. and add the device to the nation’s most reliable 4G LTE network,” said Jeff Bradley, senior vice president – Devices, AT&T. “We offer smartphones and devices to fit every lifestyle. There’s nothing quite like the LG G Flex to enhance viewing video and images. The unique design is great when using your thumbs to type a message and at the same time, delivers a great experience for video enthusiasts. Combined with AT&T’s premium network, the nation’s most reliable wireless service, you have an unbeatable combination of features and value.”

AT&T also says customers can purchase the device using its EDGE program: “Customers also have the option of paying $26.74 per month with AT&T Next 18 or  $34.75 per month with AT&T Next 12.” The hardware is quite different from other handset offerings with a power/volume toggle on the backside just under the camera in addition to the ability to “tap” the display on and off.

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