We missed a show last week due to CTIA so we had a lot to discuss this week. And if the load of Android news from CTIA wasn't enough, Microsoft debuted its first load of Windows 7 devices at a big event in New York City two days ago. Bonnie was there to capture it all with hands-on analysis of the handsets and her predictions about how they'll fare against the other smartphone operating systems on the market. We also get to our latest reviews where, guess what? Bonnie loves the T-Mobile G2! Kent refuses to say "… Read more
If you live in the Midwest, or you're a Chicago White Sox fan, there's a good chance you're familiar with U.S. Cellular. As the sixth largest wireless carrier in the country after the "big four" (Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T) and MetroPCS, U.S. Cellular serves 6.1 million customers in 26 states scattered around the center of the country, New England, the Pacific Northwest, and the Southeast.
For much of its life, Chicago-based U.S. Cellular appeared content with serving its home network area and offering its customers a relatively uninspiring lineup of handsets that you could also find with other CDMA carriers like Verizon Wireless. In the last couple of years, however, the carrier has awakened from its slumber. It secured roaming agreements with other operators to form a nationwide network, it activated 3G data services, and it began to introduce exclusive high-end smartphones like the HTC Desire and Samsung Mesmerize. And just two weeks ago, it introduced the Belief Project, which is a program that rewards long-term customers with a variety of benefits such as quicker phone upgrades and a cap on overage fees.
Last week at CTIA in San Francisco, I chatted briefly with Mary Dillon, U.S. Cellular's president and CEO. Formerly the global chief marketing officer and executive vice president for McDonald's Corporation, Dillon arrived at U.S. Cellular four months ago. She's not only the first female CEO at the company, but also the first woman to take the top spot at a major wireless carrier in the United States. John Coyle, the carrier's senior director of customer strategy, joined us to talk about the Belief Project, 4G, Android, and growing a nationwide network.
Q: Last week U.S. Cellular introduced the Belief Project. What's the story behind it and what do you hope to accomplish? Dillon: We're very excited about the Belief Project because we expect that it will help grow our business. We expect we'll get new customers and, because of what the Belief Project is offering, keep returning customers at an even greater rate. It's all about rewarding customers and addressing that pinpoint in the industry. U.S. Cellular is the first to bring about this rule-changing way of business to the market.
Q: Some of the Belief Project's benefits, like letting customers buy a discounted phone without signing a contract and eliminating upgrade fees, are unusual for the bigger carriers. Will we see more of this? Dillon: Listening to what is on customer's minds is good for business. Being new to the industry, I see there is a real opportunity to have a human relationship to customers instead of it being all about the contract. Our competitors may follow suit down the road, but I think that we can deliver this better than anyone else. While others might try to replicate pieces of it, we're bringing it to life now.
Also, we've just won a J.D. Power call quality award for the tenth consecutive time in [the North central region]. That, along with the Belief Project, gives us a way to differentiate. It's an ongoing way of doing business. … Read more
We admit that we expected CTIA Fall 2010 to be rather slow, as the fall version of the wireless trade show is usually not as eventful as the one in the spring. Boy, were we wrong. More than 10 new devices made their debut this past week, pushing the holiday gadget season into full swing.
Motorola kicked off the festivities with the announcement of five new Android smartphones--three for AT&T and two for Verizon Wireless. They are the Motorola Bravo, the Motorola Flipside, the Motorola Flipout, the Motorola Citrus, and the Motorola Droid Pro. The Motorola Droid … Read more
SAN FRANCISCO--If you feel like you've seen the LG Optimus T before, don't fret. The Optimus T does look a lot like the Optimus One slated for Europe, and it also has very similar specs to the Optimus S for Sprint. The main differences between the Optimus T and the Optimus S are that the T doesn't have Sprint ID of course, and its button placement is slightly different. It also doesn't have the camera button on the side like the Optimus S, and as the Optimus T is slated for T-Mobile, it has the added … Read more
We admit that we were skeptical when Sprint's CEO Dan Hesse launched Sprint ID at the fall CTIA show earlier this week. The service essentially gives Android users an opportunity to swap among five different thematic profiles. It sounds useful at first description, but we quickly wondered if the ID Packs--which contain the wallpaper, widgets, home screen shortcut buttons, and apps--are just another way to spam people with brand advertising. So we took our review units back to the office and out on the streets to get to know Sprint ID.
SAN FRANCISCO--The Sanyo Zio and the Samsung Transform are not the only two new Sprint handsets announced at CTIA Fall 2010. We also had a chance to take a look at the LG Optimus S, which is the other Android smartphone to support the carrier's new Sprint ID user-interface system. It's also notably the only one of the three that ships with Android 2.2.
The Optimus S is the most affordable entry-level one of the three. We quite like its minimal candy-bar style with the soft touch finish on the back and the 3.2-inch HVGA touch-screen … Read more
Though it made its official debut three weeks ago, we haven't had the opportunity to review T-Mobile's new Motorola Defy just yet. So when Moto put the handset on display at the fall CTIA show in San Francisco we took the opportunity to give it a spin.
Moto is pushing the Defy as a rugged handset that is water and scratch resistant. And to prove that point, it showed the obligatory promo video featuring fun-loving hipsters using the handset at a zany pool party. Though those crazy kids splashed a fair amount of water on the Defy while … Read more
Best. Meetup. EVER! A huge thanks to all The 404 fans that came and hung out last night at The Frying Pan in New York City. We all had a great time drinking and chatting with everyone, and great news: nobody fell off the side of the boat!
There's plenty of pictures already posted on the The 404 Meetup.com page, but we want them all, so click over and share them with us! Thanks again to all the fans as well as the Frying Pan for hooking us up with the $20 wristband deal, but don't worry if you weren't able to attend; this was so much fun that we're already planning another one for next year!
Audiophiliac Steve Guttenberg joins us on today's episode with his usual list of things on his mind grapes, starting with a profile of a headphone amp manufacturer with a ambiguously inappropriate name, and it's spelled S-C-H-I-I-T. It's unclear how the founders came up with the name since it's definitely not their last name, but Steve tells us that the amps are certainly of absolute Schitt-y quality.
Steve also gives us a preview of an upcoming Audiophiliac blog post in honor of the President of the United States himself...Mr. Justin Bieber. Steve is putting together a custom Hi-Fi Sound system for our Commander In Chief but he refuses to tell us specifics except that all the products will be made in America. Check back this weekend for the unveiling!Episode 683 Subscribe in iTunes audio | Suscribe to iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS Video… Read more
Even though we heard about the Motorola Flipout earlier this year, we didn't know if it would be coming to the U.S. until this Tuesday when Motorola announced it would be available from AT&T. The square phone reminds us a lot of the Nokia Twist, especially because it swivels open to reveal a QWERTY keyboard.
In person, the phone does feel quite tiny. It's odd to see Android on such a small display (about 2.8 inches diagonally); it reminds us a little of the Motorola Charm in that sense. It ships with Android 2.… Read more
SAN FRANCISCO--In the world of rugged phones, you'd be hard-pressed to find a handset more indestructible than a Sonim model. Indeed, when we reviewed the Sonim XP3 Quest last year, it kept on ticking even after we submerged it in water, dropped it onto a concrete floor from 14.5 feet, and tried to drive a nail into its display. It wasn't the prettiest phone by any measure, but it was one occasion where looks don't matter.