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Category: T-Mobile

Nokia Lumia 710 Windows Phone is free at Wal-Mart with contract

Nokia Lumia 710

The Lumia 710, Nokia's first Windows Phone to hit the U.S., barely went on sale on Jan. 11 and already Wal-Mart is undercutting other retailers by giving the new phone away for free on a two-year contract.

T-Mobile USA, which launched the phone, sells the Lumia 710 for $49.99 on a two-year data plan, as do other retailers such as Best Buy. The price drop by Wal-Mart is a fast one and it's unclear if other retailers or T-Mobile itself will follow suit.

But if we do see more price drops on the Lumia 710, they will probably be motivated in part by the pending arrival of the new Lumia 900 at AT&T, which is rumored for sometime in March. An official release date and price haven't yet been disclosed for the Lumia 900.

The Lumia 900, which made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, has  a 4.3-inch display and a unique polycarbonate body.

But while the 900 packs a larger screen and a bit more style, it and the 710 are very similar on the inside, with both phones running Windows Phone 7.5 Mango on a 1.4-gigahertz Qualcomm processor and 512-megabytes of RAM.

The Lumia 710 has 8 gigabytes of built-in storage, while the Lumia 900 has 16 gigabytes. And the Lumia 710 features a 5-megapixel camera with a single-LED flash, while the Lumia 900 has an 8-megapixel camera with a dual-LED flash.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: The Nokia Lumia 710 Windows Phone from T-Mobile USA. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles TImes

Lumia 710, Nokia's first U.S. Windows Phone -- review

The Nokia Lumia 710 is a small, low-cost smartphone with some big, high-cost bets riding on its success.

The Lumia 710 is Nokia's first phone to hit the U.S. running Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system -- more specifically, Windows Phone 7.5 Mango. It's also the first tangible product to hit store shelves, in this case T-Mobile stores, as a result of a deal between Nokia and Microsoft announced in February and signed in April that's reportedly worth billions of dollars.

So is the Lumia 710 a good smartphone or not? Simply put, it is. It's a simple, low-end phone, but it's a solid little phone worth your consideration if you're new to smartphones or looking for an affordable Windows Phone handset. The Lumia 710 runs $49.99 on a 2-year contract with T-Mobile starting Jan. 11.

The specifications match-up with most entry-level Windows Phone handsets -- namely the Samsung Focus Flash and the HTC Radar 4G.

Nokia Lumia 710The Lumia 710 isn't thin by today's smartphone standards, coming in at 0.49-inch thick, but it doesn't feel bloated by any means, weighing 4.4 ounces.

A 3.7-inch touch screen is featured on the new Nokia, which looks good but results, disappointingly, in a bit of color distortion at extreme angles. The resolution of the screen, which is responsive and very fingerprint prone in the black colorway I tested, is 800 x 480 pixels. Video playback, apps, photos and websites all looked great on the Lumia 710.

The phone is powered by a single-core 1.4-gigahertz Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm, and 512 megabytes of RAM and 8 gigabytes of built-in storage are included. There is no microSD card slot for storage expansion and there is no front-facing camera for video chatting -- which falls in line with the lower-end expectations the Lumia 710's price reflects. Though it should be noted that the HTC Radar 4G, which sells for the same price from T-Mobile, does include a front-facing camera.

On the back is a 5-megapixel camera with a single LED flash, which takes clear, detailed photos and can also shoot 720p video. The camera can't match the 8-megapixel shooters found on higher end smartphones, but again, the Lumia 710 isn't a high-end $200 or $300 smartphone.

The Lumia 710 was fast and performed well. I won't go too deep into Windows Phone Mango (for more on that, check out my October review of Mango), but while it isn't the most complicated or power-demanding operating system out there, the Lumia 710 handled everything I threw at it. In about two weeks of testing, I never had an app freeze or crash on me. Call quality was good with voices sounding clear and no dropped calls experienced. T-Mobile's 4G network offered up fast downloads and uploads on the Lumia 710. Battery life was also great: I consistently got a day's worth of charge, no problem.

Stylistically, the Lumia 710 is a bit plain, though not at all unattractive. The curved back plate on the phone is coated in a rubberized plastic that is grippy and comfortable to hold in the hand no matter what you're doing on the phone. The back plate is removable and Nokia is selling different colors -- cyan, magenta, yellow, black and white -- which thankfully can help add a bit of style.

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Sprint announces first 4G LTE cities for mid-2012 -- no L.A. yet

The Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch, which runs on Sprint's 4G WiMax network. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles Times

Later this year, Sprint plans to launch its 4G LTE network in the cities of Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio; no plans for Los Angeles have been announced as of yet.

So what does that mean for Sprint customers? Hopefully, noticeably faster download and upload speeds on smartphones, tablets and mobile hotspots.

Sprint's first LTE markets are to be activated "in the first half of 2012" along with improved 3G coverage and improvements in "boosting voice and data quality," Sprint said in a statement. In December, Sprint also began testing its LTE towers in Kankakee, Ill.

Of course, once Sprint begins its move over to an LTE network, its current customers with 4G WiMax phones may be left wondering what will happen to their devices -- and maybe even what the difference between WiMax and LTE is.

Sprint's current WiMax network offers users average download speeds of about 3 to 6 megabytes per second, which is about four times faster than 3G service. LTE, which uses different cellular-tower and in-phone-chip technology to build out the network (among other differences), offers higher top speeds than WiMax or the 4G HSPA networks AT&T and T-Mobile use.

LTE networks promise speeds that can be as much as 10 times faster than 3G service, with theoretical peaks of 300 megabytes per second for downloads and 75 megabytes per second for uploads. Among the nation's four largest carriers, only Verizon and AT&T currently have LTE networks up and running.

Sprint said that it planned to launch up to 15 devices, "including handsets, tablets and data cards," in 2012 that would be able to run on its LTE network and its 3G CDMA network if LTE was out of range.

Current WiMax devices won't suddenly be downgraded to 3G service or anything like that, Sprint said, adding that it "remains committed to our WiMax customers and plans to sell WiMax devices with two-year contracts through 2012."

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: The Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch, which runs on Sprint's 4G WiMax network. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles Times

T-Mobile to gain licenses to AT&T wireless spectrum

T-Mobile gains from AT&T merger break-up

When AT&T gave up its $39-billion bid to buy T-Mobile USA on Monday, a $4-billion pre-tax break-up fee wasn't all the telecommunications giant lost.

Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile USA's German parent, will also receive licenses to AT&T-owned wireless spectrum -- known as AWS, or Advanced Wireless Solutions spectrum -- in major U.S. markets, and the ability to allow its customers to roam on parts of AT&T's wireless network.

"Both companies are in agreement that the broad opposition by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) and the U.S. telecommunications regulator (FCC) is making it increasingly unlikely that the transaction will close," Deutsche Telekom said in a statement on Tuesday.

"As part of the break-up fee, T-Mobile USA will receive a large package of AWS mobile spectrum in 128 Cellular Market Areas (CMAs), including 12 of the top 20 markets (Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Phoenix, San Diego, Denver, Baltimore and Seattle)," Deutsche Telekom said.

AT&T also agreed to a seven-year roaming service deal with Deutsche Telekom that will result in T-Mobile's coverage area growing "from 230 million potential customers at present to 280 million.

"As a result of the agreement with AT&T, coverage will be extended to many regions of the U.S. in which T-Mobile USA previously had neither its own high-speed mobile communications network nor the associated roaming agreements."

RELATED:

AT&T pulls out of T-Mobile acquisition deal

Skeptical federal judge calls AT&T 'presumptuous'

AT&T, T-Mobile deal: Judge to delay California probe indefinitely

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: A T-Mobile billboard near the Bellevue, Wash., headquarters of T-Mobile USA. Credit: Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

AT&T pulls out of T-Mobile acquisition deal

Att-tmobile
AT&T will hang up the phone on its embattled bid to take over T-Mobile USA for $39 billion.

The company is calling off the deal, which has hit a series of increasingly serious state and federal roadblocks, and said it would take a $4 billion pre-tax charge as part of its breakup fee to T-Mobile.

In a news release about the end of the deal, AT&T cited the opposition of the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission, which had opposed the deal on the grounds that it would create a less competitive wireless industry and potentially lead to higher prices for consumers.

But AT&T said that the acquisition would have helped the wireless industry, and consumers, by allowing the company to continue building out its network and avoiding what it sees as a coming shortage of wireless airwaves, or spectrum, that companies believe is threatening the industry.

"The AT&T and T-Mobile USA combination would have offered an interim solution to this spectrum shortage," the company said in its statement.  "In the absence of such steps, customers will be harmed and needed investment will be stifled."

The deal's end comes after an uptick in regulatory and legal action against the acquisition.  Late last month, AT&T withdrew a crucial clearance application from the FCC, and soon after, the Justice Department argued its case to block the deal on antitrust grounds was no longer necessary, as the deal could only go through with FCC approval.

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-- David Sarno

Photo: AT&T executives at a news conference in March when it announced it was buying wireless rival T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom AG for $39 billion in cash. Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

AT&T, T-Mobile deal: Judge to delay California probe indefinitely

T-mobile-outside

Citing uncertainty about the fate of AT&T's $39-billion deal to take over T-Mobile, a California judge has indefinitely postponed proceedings in a 6-month-old state investigation of the deal.

In June, the California Public Utilities Commission began officially looking into how the deal would affect California consumers, including whether creating a wireless titan was in the public interest.

But on Thursday, a CPUC administrative law judge, Jessica Hecht, said she was eliminating an upcoming deadline in the case "in recognition of recent developments related to the underlying merger proposal." 

"I will continue to monitor developments related to the proposed merger," she wrote, and "will issue a new schedule for these comments or other activities in the future, if appropriate."

The delay came after the CPUC received requests earlier this week from AT&T and T-Mobile to put a hold on the proceedings, she wrote.

The companies' plans have hit a series of obstacles recently, including a delay in a critical Justice Department lawsuit over the deal. AT&T also withdrew a key application from the FCC last month.

The deal cannot be completed until it is approved by the FCC, and the Justice Department's antitrust lawsuit is resolved.

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-- David Sarno

twitter.com/dsarno

Image: A T-Mobile store in New York. Credit: Mark Lennihan / Associated Press

T-Mobile to bring Nokia Lumia 710 smartphone to U.S. in January

T-Mobile is bringing the Nokia Lumia 710 smart phone to the U.S. in January, the companies announced Wednesday
T-Mobile is bringing the Nokia Lumia 710 smartphone to the U.S. in January, the companies announced Wednesday.

The entry-level phone is the first Windows Phone from Nokia in the U.S. and is targeted at the 150 million Americans who have yet to make the transition to smartphones. 

The Nokia Lumia 710, capable of running on T-Mobile's 4G network, "delivers high-performance hardware, Nokia's best social and Internet experience, and access to popular smartphone applications and services from Windows Phone Marketplace," the companies said in a statement.

The phone provides one-click access services such as Netflix and also gives users access to signature Nokia experiences, including voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation. 

"Windows Phone offers a compelling mobile OS choice for people who want a smartphone built around them, their family and friends," said Cole Brodman, chief marketing officer of T-Mobile USA. "We expect it to play a more prominent role in our lineup and marketing efforts in 2012."

Brodman noted that the company's research showed "nearly everybody in the U.S. wants a smartphone," but many couldn't afford one. 

Chris Weber, president of Nokia Americas, said the Nokia Lumia 710 was the ideal "first-time smartphone" that delivered the most compelling Windows Phone experience in its price range.

"This is the perfect first Nokia Lumia experience and the start of our reentry into the U.S. smartphone market," Weber said. 

Available in a black or white finish, the Nokia Lumia 710 features a 3.7-inch scratch-resistant display and a Qualcomm 1.4 GHz Snapdragon processor. It also has a 5-megapixel camera with Nokia's camera technology, enabling people to take pictures in almost any light and share the shot on social networks in seconds. 

The Nokia Lumia 710 is scheduled to be available online and at T-Mobile retail stores, select dealers and retailers nationwide starting Jan. 11. The smartphone is expected to cost $49.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate card, with a two-year service agreement and qualifying Classic voice-and-data plan.

RELATED:

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Nokia's first Windows Phones: the Lumia 710, Lumia 800

T-Mobile may offer Nokia's Lumia Windows Phone handsets

-- Andrea Chang

Twitter.com/byandreachang

Image: Nokia's Lumia 710 smartphone. Credit: Nokia and T-Mobile

Skeptical federal judge calls AT&T 'presumptuous' [TRANSCRIPT]

T-mobile-att

Today a government suit to block AT&T's $39-billion acquisition of T-Mobile was delayed until mid-January, with a federal judge asking the companies to file a brief "describing the status of their proposed transaction, including discussion of whether they intend to proceed with the transaction at issue in this litigation."

The delay was the newest obstacle to AT&T's embattled merger plans.  On Friday, federal U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle grilled the company's lawyers over whether the suit was wasting the court's time and taxpayer money. Of concern is the fading likelihood that the planned acquisition will gain legal and regulatory clearance by next September, when the deal contractually expires. At that point, AT&T would be obligated to pay T-Mobile a $4-billion breakup fee.

The transcript of Friday's hearing makes clear the judge's skepticism -- and even frustration -- as she repeatedly refers to the strategy of AT&T's lawyers as "presumptuous."  At the core of the issue is that, in order to complete its deal, AT&T must not only win or settle the Justice Department's antitrust case, but must also gain approval from the Federal Communications Commission, which controls national spectrum licenses. 

But AT&T withdrew its clearance application from the FCC last month.  So, Huvelle repeatedly asks, why should the case proceed in her courtroom if the company is no longer trying to get the necessary FCC approval, especially as the clock ticks closer to September?

Huvelle appears particularly piqued by the idea that AT&T is asking the court to hurry up so the company can use her ruling as leverage to get the FCC's clearance. 

The following are edited excerpts from the hearing, the entirety of which is transcribed here.

The judge's concerns

Judge Huvelle:  ...I have no assurance that you're gonna proceed with the FCC in any way to get this resolved in a timely manner. So to ask me to issue an opinion with enough time to allow for an appeal for the FCC, which we don't know what their timetable is -- you've had no discussion, I'm sure, or assurances from them, I suspect, unless you want to tell me otherwise. If I had assurances, I might be willing.

...But it's a bit presumptuous to say nothing has changed [since the withdrawal of the FCC application] and you should just keep doing what we convinced you to do over the objection of certainly the Department of Justice without me knowing for sure that the deal will be the deal. I mean, you could change the deal in a month and everybody's time will be wasted, including the third party [Sprint and others, which have also filed their own suit against the acquisition.].

...We don't have any confidence that we are spending the time and effort and the taxpayers' money as well as the money of these other parties, we have no confidence that we're not being spun.

AT&T's argument: the trial will help with FCC approval

AT&T's counsel: ...By having their complaint out there and unresolved, [the Justice Department is] having a pocket veto over our deal. In other words, if this trial gets pushed back, if all the things get pushed back, we don't make thresholds, [the] deal has to blow up. We have no alternative. Yet the government has never proved a single thing in court.

...With all respect, Your Honor, I understand Your Honor's concerns, but from the perspective of having a committed transaction with contractually set dates, we've all gated our expectations. We are moving forward with trial. We're making progress, and it will be of assistance to the FCC to have a decided case on the antitrust issues. It just will. And it will put us in a position --

Judge Huvelle: Nobody there said that to me. Have they said that to you?

AT&T's counsel: Pardon me, Your Honor?

Judge Huvelle: I said has anyone said that to you? Honestly. I mean, you think it will if you win, but --  

AT&T's counsel: Many people have that said to me.

Judge Huvelle: From the FCC?

AT&T: I have not spoken to the FCC, Your Honor. But, truthfully, it only makes sense that
if this court has decided the antitrust issues, the same government will be bound by those decisions as to the antitrust issues. There just doesn't seem to be -- I don't think that's a live issue.

"Use" the ruling to sway the FCC?

AT&T's counsel: We need to get those issues clear, and we need to move with the FCC as well. But the fact that we have chosen not to have parallel proceedings, but rather have chosen as a matter of -- pardon me. To essentially get those issues resolved here and use that --

Judge Huvelle: Yeah, use it. I understand that.

AT&T's counsel: -- with the FCC, but to have this court's guidance. And we think with this court's --

Judge Huvelle: You could have the FCC's guidance because they have a broader jurisdiction than this  court. And they could go first, and it would certainly be very persuasive, if not, according to you, collateral estoppel [a legal basis to avoid trying the same issues twice] because it's the government. So if you wanted the FCC, you win the whole nine yards, whereas here you don't make nine yards no matter what. I'm just one person along the way that you would like to have a decision to use. I agree.

AT&T's counsel: Not to use, to have our day in court.

AT&T's "self-made" problem?

AT&T's counsel: Your Honor, all that's happened with the FCC --

Judge Huvelle: I know. I know what's happened.

AT&T's counsel: -- is strategy for how to gain approval.

Judge Huvelle: I know. But don't you understand from those of us who are not one of the parties, that this "strategy" has a slight aura of using -- I think is the word that you used -- the court to some extent, and the third parties and the Justice Department?

Judge Huvelle: Your problem is also self-made with the FCC.

AT&T's counsel: No, Your Honor, we don't think it's self-made because we have to get this trial done. Forget about the FCC for a minute.

Judge Huvelle: That's what you may have done. I'm not doing that. I'm sorry.

'No reason' to keep going

Justice Department attorney Joseph Wayland: ... We filed [our lawsuit] in August thinking that we needed to do so because the FCC might complete its process, and we needed to be ready.

And that's what Section 7 [ an antitrust law] does. It gives us a right to block. We don't have to approve. The court doesn't have to approve. It's simply a blocking statute. We invoke it when we think we need to stop a transaction.

Right now, Your Honor, there's absolutely no reason to invoke it because this transaction cannot close, and they cannot get it closed until they file with the FCC.

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-- David Sarno

Image: AT&T and T-Mobile phones at a RadioShack in Los Angeles. Credit: Danny Moloshok / Reuters

T-Mobile may offer Nokia's Lumia Windows Phone handsets

Nokia Lumia 800, running Microsoft Windows Phone software

T-Mobile and Nokia are expected to announce next week that the Lumia 710 Windows Phone, and possibly the Lumia 800 as well, is headed to the U.S.

TmoNokiaNokia's Lumia phones are the handset maker's first devices to run Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system, the product of a deal between Nokia and Microsoft announced in February and signed in April that's reportedly worth billions of dollars.

The colorful new handsets are already available in Europe, but so far Nokia hasn't announced a U.S. carrier for the Lumia, despite saying that its intent is to have at least the Lumia 710 available in America by sometime next year.

Nokia hasn't yet said whether the Lumia 800 will also be available stateside. Nokia also hasn't introduced any other planned Windows Phone devices outside of the Lumia 710 and Lumia 800.

On Friday, T-Mobile sent an invitation to the press for an event in New York on Wednesday, Dec. 14, that reads "T-Mobile and Nokia have something exciting in the works. Be amongst the first to experience it."

The band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, as well as DJ Sam French, will perform at the event.

For details on the Lumia 710 and the Lumia 800, check out our previous coverage of the handsets here.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: The Nokia Lumia 800, running Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.5 Mango operating system. Credit: Nokia

China's ZTE to launch high-end Android or Windows phone in U.S.

ZTEusa.com AT&T Avail Android smartphone

If you're familiar with ZTE in the U.S., then you're familiar with low-cost or free phones from prepaid or contract carriers such as Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS, and from major carriers such as AT&T.

And you'd also know that ZTE's phones are nowhere near challenging top-tier handsets such as the Apple iPhone, or Androids such as the Samsung Galaxy S II and the Motorola Droid Razr. Like HTC used to do, ZTE often makes products devoid of their own brand for carriers looking for entry-level devices.

But next year, the Chinese company is looking to change things up and launch a high-end smartphone in the U.S., according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

A high-end ZTE handset, running on speedy 4G LTE networks, could arrive toward the middle of next year and "by 2015, we expect the U.S. to be the largest market for handsets for ZTE," said Lixin Cheng, ZTE's North American president, in a Hong Kong interview with the Journal.

Such a smartphone would offer iPhone-like features at a price still somewhat lower than Apple's handset, Cheng told the Journal, declining to go into specifics about price.

The newest version of the iPhone, the iPhone 4S, starts at $199 for a unit with 16 gigabytes of built-in storage, increasing to $299 for 32 gigabytes and $399 for 64 gigabytes.

The idea may seem a bit far-fetched if you've never heard of ZTE before, but the company's growth is very real. As noted by the Journal, ZTE grew to a 5% share of global cellphone shipments in the third quarter of the year.

That recent push propelled ZTE to pass Apple as the No. 4 shipper of cellphones (not just smartphones) in the world, according to the research firm Strategy Analytics. Aside from phones, ZTE also makes mobile hotspot and USB-wireless dongles for carriers such as T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon.

ZTE is "in talks" with U.S. carriers about selling its high-end phones, which may run either Google's Android operating system or Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 software, Cheng said in the report.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screen shot of ZTEusa.com, ZTE's website for the U.S. market, which displays the AT&T Avail, an Android smartphone ZTE builds for AT&T. Credit: ZTE

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