First, it was the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in the 1990s and early 2000s. Then came the CTIA (Cellular Telephone Industry Association) Show. Recently, it seems like the Mobile Congress Show in Barcelona Spain has become the big one. This week, many of the leading manufacturers launched new models.
Samsung's Galaxy S7 and S7 EDGE look pretty awesome. The Waterproof feature from the S5 has returned. This device comes standard with 32GB RAM which is double that of the standard iPhone. More significantly though, you can add memory with the removable MicroSD slot, also back from the S5 model. Samsung is also pushing virtual reality. T-Mobile is even taking S7 preorders and offering a FREE Virtual reality accessory.
LG introduced the LG G5 which is an interesting device that includes modules. It's not quite as simple as the "Project Ara" module phone project but it allows usage of the peripherals in the above picture which includes a 360 degree camera and a few other goodies.
How about sneakers for your kids with GPS and Geo-Fencing? As kids lose just about everything else, they usually come home with their shoes.
There's even a new ruggedized SmartPhone with an infrared camera that can detect and shoot heat sources. This may be the ultimate device for electricians, plumbers & those in the heating industry.
We have our water purified, why not our wifi. Keezel has come out with a product that makes it safe to use public wifi by encrypting it for you.
There was a very cool new Windows 10 5" LUMIA 650 model with an aluminum casing for under $200, and an amazing SONY X Professional SmartPhone that is waterproof with an amazing camera. We will cover more products as they are released...
Unless you have been out of the country, you must be aware that the FBI has an iPhone 5c from the San Bernardino terrorists. The problem is they cannot unlock the device. Like the BlackBerry devices that proceeded them, Apple has designed these devices to automatically reset and wipe all content after 10 failed password attempts. I'm guessing they are at 8 or 9 and cannot afford any more mistakes.
In a perfect world, this guy would have had the iPhone 5s, instead of 5c model. That's the model with the biometric fingerprint sensor for unlocking. The FBI could have chopped his finger off and used it to unlock the device. I saw that in an episode of "24" and it worked for Jack Bauer. Then again, if the guy had a brain in his head, he would have disabled this feature before the terror attack.
My wife was shocked that Apple would not capitulate to help the government. I had to explain that I have bank information, passwords and other content that I cannot afford the bad guys to get. If you make a back door, you've opened Pandora's box. Not only will the government expect this every time they need help, the hackers will also have an opening. Tim Cook understands that one of the reasons Apple is so successful is the public trusts them to protect their content. When you look at the pros and cons of this, you begin to realize that, more than likely, it would be far more dangerous to comply with the government than anything that they might find on this device.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who has noticed that Apple has been dropping the ball in regards to seamless software integration between devices. Steve Jobs must be rolling over in his grave because there is currently tremendous discontent among Apple users. I have found that Apple's software upgrades often cause as many problems as they fix. I always do a google search a week after their software releases to see whether there are any major problems. Trust me, when there is, there are enough Apple users out there to immediately light up all the chat boards.
Several respected wireless analysts recently noted that Apple seems to be pushing new apps that nobody is interested in. Worse yet, there traditional core apps that are being vastly out performed by third party apps. Engadget's Nathan Ingraham wrote last week, " Raise your hand if you have a folder on your iPhone full of native apps you never use...yup, that's a lot of you. Now raise your hand if you use iCloud Mail, iCloud Drive or the default reminders or notes apps instead of 3rd party options like G-Mail, Dropbox, Wunderlist, Evernote and so on. Not nearly as many of you are raising your hand this time."
Another colleague pointed out that he hated Preview, the document program that comes on every iMac and MacBook for reading and editing documents. I have the same issues. Half the time, I forget to export to PDF or word. If I just save and send, the other party can never open the document. If I do try to export, my computer often freezes and I have to restart it. I have a built-in BlueTooth system in my vehicle. In a perfect world, I could press iTunes and access my library. Now, I get all kinds of crap Apple is trying to sell me. It has become too dangerous for me to launch my iTunes while driving that I find myself using Amazon Music. This is another example of Apple blowing it and 3rd party developers doing a much better job.
Other analysts claim that new devices are coming out to quickly for the engineers to fine tune everything. Regardless, I remember a time when Microsoft owned the computer market and Palm and BlackBerry owned the SmartPhone markets. Nothing lasts forever and Apple better wake up soon, or end up losing major market share to Windows 10 or Android.
Lately, it seems that Apple is not content being the premier device manufacturer. They recently try to make as much proprietary products as possible and rumor has it that the industry standard 3.5mm plug in headset jack is gone on the upcoming iPhone 7. No problem for Apple as they own BEATS and plan on selling lots of their product. For us, it means using a clunky adapter or tossing or expensive BOSE, JBL, KOSS, Klipsch or Altech Lansing headsets.
In the beginning, two year contracts got you the "FREE" Phone or $450 Instant discount towards one. Contracts also insured that whatever deal and/or promotions that you signed up for would remain available, even after the contract lapsed. The beauty of this is, if a better plan became available, it's yours for the asking. Once a carrier stops offering a plan though, those who signed up for it can keep it as long as they want, even after their contract is fulfilled and it reverts to a month-to-month situation. A perfect example of this is all of Verizon's legacy subscribers that still have their UNLIMITED Data plans, even though Verizon stopped offering these over four years ago. Verizon tried nearly every trick in the book possible to induce these subscribers to give up these plans, most notably by removing device subsidies for them.
In the old days, there were competing digital carrier technologies like EDGE, TDMA, CDMA, HSDPA, WiMAX and LTE (Long Term Evolution). Today, everybody supports one standard, LTE. True, there are 23 different LTE frequencies but we are moving to the point where one device will work with all carriers. For the last two decades, that dreaded two year contract with the $350 Early Termination Fees was more than enough to insure even the most unhappy subscribers "did their time".
T-Mobile brilliantly did away with contracts about three years ago. They then reduced their plan costs by $20 per month, and made all of their plans month-to-month. TM then moved "The Contract", from the plan, to the actual device. They then brilliantly encouraged users to "Bring Their Own Device", by either buying it at Apple, or having them bring their current devices over.
Subsequently, all of the carriers followed suit. They all now offer zero interest finance programs. Some also offer lease deals and/or "early upgrade" programs which essentially turn a financed device into a lease deal. While these deals all look very similar with their iPhone 6s/16GB for $27.09 x 24 months, there are some distinctions. Only T-Mobile lets subscribers double up on finance payments to pay off the finance contract early. With the others, you can pay it off in full early, or pay 24 months. Nothing in between!
The Playing field has finally been leveled and the carriers don't like it!
Have you noticed how all of the carriers are now trying to convince their subscribers that contacts on plans are no good and device contracts are much better? Much better for them and here is why...
If you are under contract, the carrier can not change your plan, terms, or conditions, even after it reverts to month-to-month. If your plan is monthly and the contract is on the device, your carrier can change the plan anytime they wish. The reality is the consumer now wins with the contract plan model. They are guaranteed that their current plan stays the same, even if the carrier comes out with new, less generous plans. On the other hand, should their carrier come out with a better deal, the contract users can always jump on it anytime for a WIN/WIN situation.
If you can still find a contract, take it! Consumers have never been better protected by contracts. Dr Wireless still offers contracts for Verizon and Sprint, in some cases. The biggest reason why contracts are now so great is they have never been easier to break. All four of the major carriers will now buy out your current contract, for up to $650 worth per line. That means an early termination fee of $350 means absolutely nothing now. Furthermore, since almost all SmartPhones operate on LTE technology, it has never been easier to move your current number, along with your current device to another carrier, termination fees, or not.
The other great argument for contracts is transparency. In the old days, the carriers built in that hidden extra $20 per month to help compensate for that $450 device credit they had to give every two years. They made an extra $30 per month on those folks who were not savvy enough to know to immediately upgrade their devices on month 25.
Ironically, now that Verizon discloses exactly what everything costs on their newest S, M, L, XL and XXL plans, I now love their contract plans more than ever for all of the above reasons. Believe it or not, while Verizon does not offer these plans with contracts in their stores, they still allow Dr Wireless to continue to offer them to both new and existing users. Yup! That means that $650 iPhone 6s/16GB is only $199.99 from Dr Wireless. Of course they would rather have you sign up for a month-to-month deal and save the $450 subsidy.
The way it now works in the stores and online is the above Data plans come with Unlimited Voice and Text. Verizon wants you to finance a device from them and they will charge $20 per line on top of the data plan cost and monthly device costs. With our program, Verizon charges $40 per line with two year contract, but gives the $450 instant device credit. If you do the math, you end up paying exactly $30 more for the contract plan vs the monthly plan over 24 months. Since Verizon will not change, or monkey around with contract plans, this secures your plan, even if they come out with more expensive plans for new users. It actually even gets better for our business subscribers who move their numbers over from another carrier. That's because Verizon will give an extra $150 port-in credit. Ask me for details.
Apple iPhone 7 Update...
The apple iPhone Rumor mill has been pumping and if what we are hearing is true, the new iPhone 7 will blow the doors off previous iPhone cameras. We are hearing reports that Asian lens makers are sending in their dual lens offerings to Apple for evaluation. Not long ago, Apple bought a company called LinX Imaging. That company describes itself as a “pioneer in the development of multi-aperture imaging technologies". In English, this means that, up until now, iPhones only offered crappy digital zoom. On a digital camera, optical zoom is a true zoom feature. It allows you to zoom in (or out) on the subject in the LCD or viewfinder. This will enable you to get a closer view of the subject before taking your picture. So, I would like to think that Apple bought this company to improve their camera quality, like Samsung has also been doing. We are also hearing that the bulge on the back from the camera will be going away as the newer camera will be flush against the back and not protruding. I never really noticed that until hearing this.
We have also been hearing about a new water resistant composite material. The addition of Li-Fi technology: Li-Fi (Light Fidelity) is similar to Wi-Fibut apparently "light years" ahead of wifi in terms of speeds. My guess is that they are still in the testing and evaluation stage. That means we are not likely to see this model before the third week of September. We are likely to see a new low-budget smaller iPhone 6 model for those who prefer one-handed operation and don't care about giant screen size. I will report anything new but that's it for now on the iPhone 7...
There is really no way to totally eliminate SPAM. There are several good ways to minimize it though. First, you need to understand that SPAM is illegal. That means that everyone sending bulk distributions must abide by the law and have an opt-out/Unsubscribe option. This is where the bad guys have turned this law from a lemon to lemonade situation for them. I decided to write about SPAM after reading an article from a colleague that I totally disagreed with. His solution to eliminate SPAM was to opt-out every time he received a SPAM e-mail. From personal experience and that of many others, I have determined that the absolute dumbest thing that you can do is respond to SPAM. The dirtbags are not giving you an opportunity to remove your address. They are validating that your e-mail address is "live". If you think you got a lot of e-mail previously, just wait to see what happens now. The exception to this rule is if you get a legitimate company that solicits you, their opt-out will likely be safe. When I see the following signs, I know the dirtbags are trying to get me. Watch out for:
1) When an e-mail is offering a reward, voucher or certificate from a national brand. Run your mouse over the sender's address. It will usually have the legitimate brand name and then a personal address at g-mail, yahoo, .uk or some other wacky extension. Do not respond to these! Ignore and delete only.
2) Scroll down below the Opt-Out to see if there is a ton of gibberish print. If there is, it's spam and this is included to fool the SPAM detectors. Do not respond, just delete.
3) Anytime you click on the opt-out link and you see a weird address like sixtofouryellow.com, do not do it. The biggest tip off that these are scams is the fact that when you opt out, they ask you to fill in your e-mail address. Duh! If they are legit, they know your e-mail address and don't need to ask for it.
4) Same goes with the opt-out links. The really bad guys are doing far more than cluttering up your in box. In some cases, clicking on an opt-out link can trigger Malware or Viruses to be downloaded to your computer. Run your mouse over the opt-out and if it gives you a bogus URL weblink, don't do it.
I try to set up filters and rules but the spammers are always one step ahead. If your e-mail program has a "bounce" option, this is a good idea as the spammer only wants to resell legit e-mail addresses. When you see a bogus e-mail address with a name brand, you should feel even worse for that person. Chances are their e-mail address was hijacked and is associated to the SPAM you just received.
Fortunately, G-Mail has the latest SPAM filters and eliminates this crap before it even hits their users mailboxes. SPAM will be placed in your SPAM box for 30 days before being deleted. It's a good idea to go in there periodically to look for legit e-mails that went in by accident. Yahoo also has a pretty good SPAM filter system. In the case of Outlook, they provide a Junk filter that is set for low by default. You can increase the strength of the filter by clicking the Home tab and then clicking Junk. Select the “Junk E-mail Options”. Then click the Options tab and set the filter to the strength you want. Again, you will likely find legitimate e-mails that matched the profile of SPAM so check your JUNK daily. The Spammers are utilizing the opt-out law and human nature. Most people are angry and want to immediately demand to be removed. I had to laugh because I just read about another colleague who made the exact same mistake recently that I made over 5 years ago. He not only requested removal but signed it Mr F**K You. I'm semi-embarrassed to admit I did the exact same thing right down to the name, except I was, Dr F**K You. I received 10 times more e-mail, much of it addressed to Dr You.
If you want pay back, before you delete your spam, forward it to: firstname.lastname@example.org. This is the Spam box for the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). They say mail sent to this box is investigated. If it is indeed spam, the original sender could be charged $500 per email. The more mail they get from different users but same spammer, the more it's likely to be investigated. This couldn't hurt!
Joel "Dr Wireless" Saltzman is a long-time wireless analyst. He produces a wireless news segment and is live every Wednesday afternoon @ 4:00pm with the latest Wireless Industry News on the Robert Cardoza Live Show.
Joel Saltzman has over twenty years of wireless industry experience. He is currently CEO and Chief Wireless Analyst for Dr Wireless.