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

verizon

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

HP’s LTE Chromebook 11 to skip on 3G hardware, says chip supplier Altair

hp-chromebook-11

Update: Best Buy is already listing the new model online for $379 (via Liliputing).

Reuters is reporting a claim by Israel’s Altair Semiconductor that HP will be launching a LTE-only Chromebook 11, with connectivity provided by the company’s chips.

“Our solution equips the Chromebook with a dependable and incredibly fast Internet connection,” said Eran Eshed, vice president of marketing and business development at Altair. “By focusing on 100 percent LTE and eliminating costly 3G components, we were able to help our partners lower the cost of this critical LTE connectivity feature” …

Google’s high end Chromebook Pixel is also LTE-only but the move for a more bargain-centric product has some folks scratching their heads…. Read more

WSJ: Sprint could purchase T-Mobile USA next year

(via Flickr)

Almost two years to date since AT&T pulled its bid for T-Mobile USA, rival carrier Sprint is reportedly preparing its own offer to purchase the fourth largest carrier in the US.

That’s according to a The Wall Street Journal report which claims Sprint is currently looking into regulatory concerns that could be voiced if the third largest US carrier acquired the company which runs the fourth largest US carrier.

Sprint hasn’t yet decided whether to move ahead with a bid. Going forward despite regulators’ concerns would be highly risky. Any pursuit of a bid by Sprint could be aimed at testing antitrust officials’ reaction to a deal, and a bad reaction could put an end to the effort.

While Justice Department denied AT&T’s bid for T-Mobile in 2011 after a year long effort, it’s certainly possible a Sprint/T-Mobile merger could prove otherwise considering rival carriers AT&T and Verizon’s position in the market.

As the WSJ report notes, Verizon leads with 95 million postpaid subscribers and AT&T has 72 million subscribers, but such an acquisition would keep Sprint in a distant third place with just 53 million postpaid customers.

Both Sprint and Verizon have proved capable of adding competition in an an industry with so few key players. Sprint has long boasted its unlimited data offer for customers while T-Mobile famously reinvented the 2-year upgrade model with options soon adopted by the competition.

Unlike the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile acquisition bid two years ago, Sprint and T-Mobile operate with different technologies. The former company relies on CDMA technologies while the latter company is built on GSM.

In an unusual turn, Google/Motorola launches Android 4.4 on Verizon variant of Moto X first

Moto X KitKat

Fresh from the Motorola Blog, it appears that Motorola will launch its first Android 4.4 KitKat update on Verizon first, with rollouts starting today. The KitKat update brings:

  • An improved phone dialer. Now you can search for contacts directly from the dial-pad and easily see and tap on those you contact frequently.
  • More gallery goodies. KitKat packs in some cool, new gallery effects—such as Posterize, Highlights, and Edges. You can even use the Draw feature to annotate your photos freehand with your finger.
  • New Hangouts app. All of your conversations now in one place—texts, video calls, and other chats all together in one app. Plus, you can now send animated gifs and share your location.
  • Color emojis. For when words aren’t enough, the Google Keyboard now includes colorful characters to send in text messages and other communications.
  • Drag to focus and expose. An updated camera app lets you control both the focus and exposure of your photos. Simply drag your finger to set just the right exposure and focus point.
  • And more… Restyled status and navigation bars, new full-screen mode, and enhancements to Motorola features like Touchless Control.

I say ‘unusual’ because Verizon is usually the last of the four US carriers to roll out Android updates, usually owing the increased wait to Verizon’s lengthier testing process.

Motorola and Verizon have an unusually close bond however with the Google-owned manufacturer now making all of the carrier’s Droid products as well as pioneering the Droid brand. I anticipate that other carrier versions will follow close behind.

Note that I’m still waiting on the 4.4 update to hit the Google Play edition HTC ONE, and even my Nexus 4 and 10!

I guess Google and Motorola are finally tearing down the firewall. Read more

Verizon no longer the gold standard for mobile data?

Photo: Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
Photo: Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Verizon Wireless, once the gold standard for LTE, has admitted that it is struggling to keep up with demand in the big cities – with some users being dropped down to slower 3G speeds. The carrier’s Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said yesterday:

There are certain pockets where we’re absolutely going to experience that down tick from the LTE network down to 3G because of capacity constraints …  Read more