Posts with «telecommunication» label

Is it worth importing the Nothing Phone 1?

It’s tempting to import the Nothing Phone 1. The combination of eye-catching design, well-rounded performance and a reasonable price can make it more appealing than other mid-range smartphones, and even some pricey flagships. But is it really worth the effort to bring the Phone 1 to the US? Not necessarily. There are a number of challenges you’ll have to overcome, even once the device reaches your hands.

Importing may cost more than you think

The Phone 1 is priced at £399 in the UK and €469 in EU countries, or about $478 US as of this writing. However, you can’t just send one to an American shipping address. We haven’t found a major UK or EU retailer that will ship Nothing’s product to the US, and it’s unlikely that you will given the Phone 1 hasn’t received the FCC certification needed for legal sales inside the country.

Unless you know someone willing to serve as a go-between, you’ll need to enlist the help of a package forwarding service that will ship the Phone 1 to a US address. In the UK, your options include companies like Forward2Me, MyUS and Reship. Many of them will handle single shipments, but you may need to sign up for a membership (typically $10 per month). And an individual order can be expensive. Forward2Me, for instance, currently estimates that you’ll pay between $29 to $47 to ship a common smartphone box.

You might not have to pay significant import fees, at least. While US Customs and Border Protection does require a Merchandise Processing Fee (between $2 and $10 for informal entries like this), you can import personal-use products duty- and tax-free when they’re worth less than $800. Package forwarders will handle the paperwork, and will frequently quote the true shipping price. With that said, be sure to read the terms for these services and prepare for the possibility of extra charges.

The phone might not work properly

Mat Smith/Engadget

The expenses may not be the real dealbreaker. If anything, you’ll need to worry more about network compatibility. While the Nothing Phone 1 does support some US carriers’ 5G and LTE frequencies, it lacks long-range bands for T-Mobile and Verizon. You won’t get as robust coverage, and the performance may fall short. In testing, PCMag’s Sascha Segan noticed that the Phone 1 only managed 100Mbps downloads on 5G in areas where other phones reached 400Mbps.

This is assuming you can get the handset to work in the first place. Without certification from the FCC or American carriers, there are no guarantees you’ll get connected. Nothing warns that the Phone 1 can’t place 5G or LTE calls on AT&T as an uncertified device, and Segan lost Verizon service after two hours of use. Don’t expect the functionality to improve, either. As Nothing founder Carl Pei explained to PCMag, US certification wasn’t worth the trouble without a local carrier agreement; any broken connectivity is likely to stay broken.

After-sale support is a problem, too. Nothing’s warranty only covers service within the original purchase region, so you can’t ask for official help. We also wouldn’t expect independent repair shops to fix the Phone 1. You’ll probably have to buy a brand new phone if something breaks, in other words.

What are the alternatives?


Pei has indicated that community investors in the US might get the Phone 1 through a closed beta program. Nothing also has “big plans” to launch a US-friendly phone at some stage. If you’re not part of that beta and aren’t willing to wait for a sequel, though, you’re probably better off buying an alternative device. Thankfully, there are a few viable models in the sub-$500 range.

Google’s Pixel 6a (launching July 28th) may be the easiest choice. It won’t have the Phone 1’s smooth 120Hz screen, wireless charging or dual 50-megapixel rear cameras, but you will get a speedy processor and the latest Google software features for a modest $449. If you crave a high-refresh screen, Motorola’s 144Hz-capable 2021 Edge is on sale for $400 as we write this. And yes, the iPhone 11 is still surprisingly capable if you don’t mind the three-year-old specs.

We’d advise against Samsung’s sluggish Galaxy A53 5G, but it is an option if you’re determined to get a 120Hz display or simply prefer the safety of a large brand’s ecosystem. You might also want to wait awhile. Apple should have a better $500 device when it updates the iPhone lineup in September (possibly the iPhone 12), and the solid Galaxy S21 FE may see further price cuts.

Nothing Phone 1 Review: A remarkable-looking midrange Android phone

When I first pulled the Nothing Phone 1 from its slender retail box, I just stared at it, flipped it over in my hand and scrutinized the see-through bits and pieces. Nothing’s attention to detail was noticeable everywhere. I’ll admit it outright: I love how it looks.

The company may be pushing a narrative of epoch-defining design, but its first phone also comes with decent, if not groundbreaking, specifications and, gasp, a competitive price point. While the aesthetics scream flagship device (and there’s definitely some iPhone DNA here), the price tag, around $476 (£399 here in the UK, no availability in the US), puts it in the arguably more competitive midrange weight class. That puts it up against the iPhone SE, Samsung’s Galaxy A series and Google’s Pixel A devices – don’t forget, the Pixel 6a is just around the corner. Can a literally flashy phone steal your attention away from all these heavy hitters?


Mat Smith / Engadget

Both colors of the Nothing Phone 1 are eye-catching. And, while the white version looks cooler, the black really emphasizes the unique glyph lights. Gorilla Glass covers the front and back, and Nothing has curated what components you can see and smoothed out some of the lines.

Let’s talk about the Glyph interface, as Nothing has coined it. It uses over 900 LEDS to create four different light-up elements across the back of the phone. Some have extra features, which I’ll come back to, but collectively they light and flash to signify phone calls or notifications… and prompt strangers to ask, “what’s going on with your iPhone?” The only thing it attracts more than onlookers is fingerprints. You’ll buff this phone a lot to ensure the transparent design can be properly shown off.

Yeah, it’s eye-catching to all humans within 10 feet, but fortunately, you can reduce the brightness and, well, the severity of a phone call or text from someone. There’s also a thoughtful warning that the Glyph Interface may not be safe for anyone with epilepsy or other light-sensitivity conditions. As I have a history of seizures myself, it’s a nice consideration, but as someone noted, what about the people around me?

Nothing has made 10 unique ringtones with dedicated Glyph patterns that light up in sync to the lo-fi chippy noises – one of several signs that the Teenage Engineering DNA runs deep here. Most of the ringtones and patterns are somehow... just plain cool? I think it’s something to do with the perfect synchronization or the fact that it’s not the hollow, orchestral stirrings of a corporate audio sting.

A light strip at the bottom of the Phone 1 doubles up as a charging gauge when the device is plugged in. You will have to enable the feature within the phone’s Glyph Interface settings. I wish the battery gauge also worked on the power strip even when it wasn’t plugged in. Perhaps we’ll get more Glyph functionality in the future.

Now, for all those claims of a unique smartphone paradigm, besides the back, the phone looks and feels like an iPhone – especially the edges of the recycled aluminum frame. Unlike Apple’s phone, there’s no mute switch, and that might be an intentional design choice to put some distance between Nothing and OnePlus. (Nothing boss Carl Pei co-founded the latter and I’ve made my feelings on the OnePlus alert slider known for some time.)

Like the iPhone, the power button is on the right side, while the volume buttons are along the left. At the bottom edge, you have a single-firing (but loud!) speaker, SIM card slot and USB-C port.

There’s a red LED on the back of the phone to indicate when Phone 1 is recording video, like a camcorder from the ‘90s. It’s equal parts privacy feature and intentional retro nod. Another cute touch: The SIM card remover handle is resin-tipped, and looks like a little transistor.

The Phone 1 is a big phone. It dwarfs my iPhone 13 Pro. Its 6.55-inch 1080p screen puts it closer to the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Pixel 6 Pro. Though, at 8.3mm thick, it’s more substantial than Apple’s biggest iPhone.

The midrange spec creep starts at the display, which has a relatively substantial bezel similar to the Galaxy A53 but it’s unlikely to be a dealbreaker for many. There’s a holepunch camera, (16-megapixel) and the display itself is vivid and bright (up to 1200 nits), while refresh rates can reach 120Hz. Adaptive refresh rates are one of the modern touches that help devices feel (and, well, look) premium.

Mat Smith / Engadget

The Phone 1 feels premium then, despite the next compromise: the mid-range Snapdragon processor ticking away inside. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 778G+ chip has been lightly customized for Nothing, meaning the Phone 1 can offer wireless charging (and reverse wireless charging) capabilities, unlike phones using the standard Snapdragon 778G. The Phone 1 was still able to handle some battles and exploration in Genshin Impact, though it did get rather warm in the process.

Nothing says you can 33-watt fast-charge the Phone 1 to 50 percent battery capacity in 30 minutes, and my testing pretty much replicated this. Wireless charging tops out at 15W, while you can reverse charge at up to 5W from the Phone 1 itself. I wonder if wireless charging is all that desirable? Or was it an issue of having something nice to show off on the transparent back? Something to frame a Glyph around? Perhaps I’m just a cynic. (Ok, definitely.)

In our battery rundown tests, the Phone 1 was able to play a video on loop for just over 16 hours, which is better than several Android phones we’ve tested in the last year, including the OnePlus 10 Pro, although it’s worth noting that Nothing’s has a lower-resolution display.

In typical use, I managed to get a day and half out of a full charge. With more video recording, or gaming or streaming, this would mean I’d be under 10 percent by 9PM. This is ameliorated a little with the fast charging, but a bit more battery life would have been nice.


The dot-matrix ‘Nothing’ font that arrived with the company’s debut earbuds, is peppered around the company’s take on Android 12. There isn’t much different about this “bespoke” interpretation of Google’s mobile OS, though. There are those Glyph-connected ringtones, some monochromatic wallpapers, and unique widgets in the drop-down menu, but otherwise, it’s mostly the Android you know.

A Nothing spokesperson told me that they’re working on expanding features through third-party APIs — one example currently live is the ability to unlock your Tesla from this dropdown menu. You can turn on the AC in advance, flash the lights and a few more lightweight features. But that’s an incredibly tiny slice of Venn diagram overlap: Tesla driver and Nothing Phone 1 owner.

Mat Smith / Engadget

Another obvious display of the company’s partnership with Teenage Engineering, is its voice memo app, which has a minimalist tape deck aesthetic. You can rewind and fast-forward, and there are several noise-canceling options to better isolate voices. It’s not podcast-ready but if you’re recording a meeting or leaving a note for yourself from a loud pub they should at least help.

If there’s one thing I can’t get on board with, it’s Nothing’s addition of a native NFT Gallery. I don’t have any NFTs, but if I did, I’d be able to track their prices and “show them off” in five different sizes on the Phone 1. Let’s move on.

As it’s a new phone from a very new company, I had my reservations about stability. But so far, I’ve had no major issues. Resource-intensive apps may take slightly longer to load compared to flagship phones, but that’s about it. The company has also vowed to bring three years of Android updates to the Phone 1, which should help keep things secure and stable.


Mat Smith / Engadget

If you‘ve been checking out many of our phone reviews over recent years, you’ll have noticed that multi-camera setups often include a dud – a monochrome sensor here, a 2-megapixel macro camera there. There’s a reason why the Pixel 6 and iPhone 13 are still capable of decent photography, despite “only” having two cameras – diminishing returns. This phone also has a dual-camera system. At this mid-range price, this is where things often go awry. But, thankfully, that’s not the case with the Nothing Phone 1.

Nothing has gone for Sony’s IMX766 sensor and combined it with f/1.9 lens with optical image stabilization. If you’re a smartphone obsessive, that might sound familiar, because that’s what you got on Oppo’s Find X3 Pro, a flagship Android phone from last year that was double the price of the Phone 1.

The secondary ultrawide camera uses a 50MP Samsung JN1 sensor with an f/2.2 lens. This doubles as a macro camera, but don’t expect incredible macro photography from a phone.

You can expect crisp images in good lighting, though. I’ve been impressed with the still quality from the Phone 1. There seem to be some image software tweaks here, but they’re relatively light. Comparing daylight shots from the Phone 1 against the Pixel 4a, Google’s seemed to offer more contrast, but it’s hard to call a winner between the two. Both offered up 12-megapixel images, so detail levels were generally a match, Nothing just seems to have gone for slightly more muted colors.

With brighter parts of the image, you will notice some chromatic aberrations: a purplish hue around those bright spots. Night-time photography is decent enough, with the usual night shooting mode in attendance. It didn’t best the top smartphones, but it was able to rescue a few lowlight shots that would have otherwise been a dark patchy mess. Despite the algorithms at work, results were a little noisy.

The Glyph Interface can also be used as a sort-of ring light, to illuminate nearby subjects without the oomph of a standard flash. It added a gentle, slightly blueish hue to photos when enabled. It’s a clever idea but the execution is a little lacking. If Nothing could offer finer color temperature controls, like many ring lights do, this could be genuinely useful.

The Nothing Phone 1's camera (L-R): With Glyph ring light, without flash, with flash.
Mat Smith / Engadget

The camera app offers all the usual imaging features of a phone in 2022: HDR, Portrait mode, timelapse and even an expert mode for finer controls over white balance, ISO and more. I found the basic photo mode more than versatile enough. The biggest limitation was the 2x zoom, which crops part of the image sensor. There’s some digital zoom thrown in if you’re desperate. I started to miss the more expansive telephoto options on other – usually more expensive – smartphones.

The Phone 1 can capture 4K video at 30FPS or 1080p at 60FPS. Video quality was smooth and serviceable. There’s a little bit of rolling shutter wobble when you’re panning around, and in lower light I noticed it hunting for focus if I was moving while recording. It also struggles to balance exposure between a pinkish sky at dusk and a darker street.



Brian Oh / Engadget

At the Nothing Phone 1’s launch event, Carl Pei said that “stability [was] way more important than a ton of flashy features.” It was an odd choice of words when the biggest differentiator of your company’s new phone is literally a flashing feature.

The good news is that all this effort into how the phone looks – and it’s certainly eye-catching when the Glyphs light up – hasn’t been undone by wobbly software, mediocre cameras or disappointing build quality. It’s a competent Android phone.

The price, the style and the attention to detail are all impressive. Nothing is walking a fine line between gimmick and feature at times, but as a new company, it gets to do that. There’s no predecessor phone to replicate, and this goes in Nothing’s favor. Having said that, its biggest rival could be Google’s Pixel 6a, with a similar price point, and its own unique look.

This is a new phone from a new company, so I’ll be keeping an eye on this phone longer term. But, Nothing has made an impressive debut. Don’t believe all the hype, but the Phone makes a compelling argument for mid-range shoppers and anyone that wants a phone that looks different but does things pretty much the same.

The best smartphones you can buy right now

Choosing your next smartphone can be challenging. With so many brands offering similar features at similar prices, it can be hard to understand what device actually has the things you want. If you’ve already determined you only want an iPhone, your decision-making process is slightly easier. (And even then, Apple’s lineup offers more options than ever.) Those also considering Android will have even more options to choose from, and likely more questions. Do you want a camera that can zoom into subjects that are extremely far away, or do you want intuitive AI that can screen your incoming calls for you? Here at Engadget, we test smartphones all year round and can help you make sense of what’s available and what to look out for. And, of course, we’ve included our favorite phones to help you whittle down your shortlist.

Android or iOS?

Each OS has its pros and cons. Apple’s tight-knit ecosystem makes it super easy to share data between iPhones, iPads and Macs or seamlessly hand-off phone calls or music from one device to another. At the same time, you’re effectively locked in, as services like Apple Messages aren’t available on other platforms.

As for Android, there’s a much wider range of handsets from companies like Google, Samsung, Sony and more. However, Android phones don’t enjoy that same length of software support and often have lower trade-in values. In short, there’s no wrong answer. However, you will want to consider how your phone will fit in with the rest of your devices. So unless you’re really fed up with one OS and willing to learn another, it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to switch from iOS to Android (or vice versa) – especially if everyone else in your household is using the same platform.


Since people’s phones often pull double duty as their primary camera, figuring out what kind of photo tools you want is key. Nowadays, practically every phone can take a great picture in bright light. But if you want a long optical zoom, you’ll probably have to upgrade to a more expensive device like the S22 Ultra (which has 10x optical zoom), a Pixel 6 Pro (3x optical zoom) or an iPhone 13 Pro (3x optical zoom). (Note: The standard iPhone 13 doesn’t have a dedicated zoom lens.)

Cherlynn Low / Engadget

Mid-range phones often only have two rear cameras (a primary wide-angle lens and a secondary ultra-wide camera) and can sometimes struggle in low-light situations. Each phone maker also has various features that might be a better fit for your style, with Apple offering four different color presets on the iPhone 13 (warm, vibrant, cool and rich contrast), while Google’s Pixel 6 comes with neat tools like dedicated long exposure and action pan modes.

Will you get 5G or Wi-Fi 6?

The good news is that in 2022, most phones have at least 802.11ac Wi-Fi and support for one or more types of 5G connectivity. However, if you want the fastest wireless speeds you can get, it’s going to cost you a bit more. For example, on certain networks, mmWave 5G offers up to gigabit download speeds, less latency and better bandwidth. But mmWave 5G also requires more sophisticated (and pricier) modems, which means support for it is often missing from budget and mid-range handsets like the iPhone SE and Pixel 5a.

On the bright side, mmWave 5G isn’t as widely available as other versions of 5G, so depending on where you live and what network you’re on, you may not be missing out on much if you buy a phone that doesn’t support it. It’s a similar situation for Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6e, which are available on a number of high-end devices, but harder to find on less expensive handsets. Wi-Fi 6 also requires you have to have a compatible router, so unless you know you need it or have a specific use case in mind, the lack of support for mmWave 5G or Wi-Fi 6E shouldn’t be a dealbreaker when looking for a new phone.

Other features to consider

Because not everyone agrees on what makes an ideal phone, you should think about any other specs that might be extra important for you. Mobile gamers will almost certainly appreciate the 120Hz refresh rates you get on phones like the Galaxy S22 or the iPhone 13 Pro. Alternatively, if long battery life is important, you’ll probably want to go with a larger iPhone or an Android phone with a battery that’s between 4,000 and 5,000 mAh in size. Meanwhile, if you find yourself juggling a lot of devices, it can be really nice to have a phone that supports reverse wireless charging, which on Samsung phones even lets you recharge the company’s Galaxy Watches.

Our picks

Best iOS smartphone: iPhone 13 Pro

David Imel for Engadget

Picking the best iPhone is fairly easy. Of the current lineup, the iPhone 13 Pro offers the best balance of features, size and price. It has a fast-refreshing 120Hz ProMotion screen that makes scrolling a breeze, as well as a versatile camera system and great battery life. I prefer it to the Pro Max since the latter is an absolute anvil of a phone that will probably fracture your skull if it falls on your face. And though the Pro is heavier and pricier than the regular iPhone 13, the additional camera and faster screen is worth the extra money.

All the iPhone 13s are equipped with Apple’s capable A15 Bionic chip, which provides powerful performance. If you don’t need something as high-end as the Pro, consider the iPhone SE 2022, which also uses the same chip but costs a lot less. Though I’m a fan of the iPhone 13 mini’s compact size, I can’t recommend it to anyone looking for a daily driver that will last all day; its limited battery life means you’ll need to at least charge it again in the afternoon for it to stick around till you need to order that Uber at midnight. – Cherlynn Low, Deputy Editor

Buy iPhone 13 Pro at Apple starting at $999

Best Android smartphone: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Cherlynn Low / Engadget

As Samsung’s latest flagship phone and the spiritual successor to the Galaxy Note line, the Galaxy S22 Ultra has every feature power users and more mainstream shoppers could ever need. Its 10x optical zoom camera offers the longest reach you can get on a phone today, while its huge 6.8-inch 120Hz OLED screen makes everything look smooth and colorful. It also has IP68 dust and water resistance, not to mention durable Gorilla Glass Victus+ panels in front and back. And of course, there’s the built-in S-Pen, whose latency has dropped to just 2.8 milliseconds for 2022. This makes drawing, sketching and anything else you do with its stylus feel incredibly responsive. And, thanks to expanded support, Samsung’s Galaxy S will get at least four years of Android updates, which is longer than what Google has pledged for the Pixel 6. – Sam Rutherford, Senior Reporter

Buy Galaxy S22 Ultra at Samsung starting at $1,199

Best midrange Android smartphone: Google Pixel 5a

Terrence O'Brien / Engadget

If all you want is a simple, affordable and easy-to-use phone without any unnecessary bells and whistles, the Pixel 5a is the perfect choice. Starting at $459, the 5a features a colorful 6.34-inch OLED display, while Google’s excellent photo processing produces pics that match what you get from phones that cost twice as much. You also get super handy IP67 dust and water resistance, along with good performance thanks to Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. And, unlike a lot of other mid-range phones, the Pixel 5a enjoys strong software support, with Google promising regular Android and security updates until August 2024.

The main things you won't get compared to more premium handsets are a dedicated telephoto lens, wireless charging and support for mmWave 5G (though you do get sub-6GHz). It’s worth noting that the Pixel 6a is around the corner, and it’ll use Google’s own Tensor chip that uses AI to improve photography, voice recognition and Material You. We’d need to test it to see how it performs in the real world before recommending it, but if you’re not in a hurry to get a new phone, it might be wise to wait for the Pixel 6a. – S.R.

Buy Pixel 5a at Amazon - $459

Best midrange iPhone: iPhone SE (2022)

Cherlynn Low / Engadget

With an A15 Bionic chip and iOS 15, the latest iPhone SE is possibly the most powerful phone you can find for under $450. Sure, it has a dated design, but some folks might actually appreciate the retro look. The best thing about the iPhone SE is its home button: It’s the only new iPhone to have Touch ID. And though it only has a single rear camera, the SE still takes solid pictures. If you can get over the small, low-res screen, the iPhone SE will serve you well. It’s also really the only sub-$500 option for iOS diehards.

If you’re open to considering Android and want to spend less than $400, consider something from Samsung’s Galaxy A-series or the OnePlus Nord N20. Those looking to spend even less can check out the Moto G Power – just be prepared to compromise on features like display and cameras at lower prices. – C.L.

Buy iPhone SE at Apple starting at $429

Best camera on a smartphone: Pixel 6 Pro

David Imel for Engadget

It’s hard for me to leave the house without the Pixel 6 Pro. As long as there’s a chance I might want to take photos, I make sure I’ve brought Google’s latest flagship. The Pixel 6 Pro’s triple rear camera system is versatile enough to capture anything from the largest group shots or wide landscapes to faraway animals (like that time I thought I spotted a whale when staring at a distant blob from Acadia National Park). Google’s Night Sight still outperforms the competition when taking pictures in low light, too, and its computational photography delivers clear, vivid photos.

Of course, Samsung and Apple’s flagships are closing the gap, and these days there is little difference between the photos they deliver. Some people might even prefer the warmer tint on Galaxy devices. But special features like Google’s Magic Eraser and Motion effects make the Pixel 6 Pro the most fun to shoot with. Plus, I love the additional tools you get on Pixels, like Call Screening, Material You theming and Live Captions, among others. The Pixel 6 Pro has some small flaws, including a quirky in-display fingerprint sensor and some early software bugs. But if you’re willing to put up with those issues, in exchange you’ll get the best camera experience around. – C.L.

Buy Pixel 6 Pro at Amazon - $899

Best foldable smartphone: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

David Imel for Engadget

While you won’t find as many options for foldables in the west as you would in Asia, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is widely available in Europe and North America and remains an excellent pick regardless of market. That’s because while its starting price of $1,800 definitely ain’t cheap, the Z Fold 3 has the ability to adjust to your needs. Its exterior cover screen makes it easy to quickly check notifications or a map when you’re on the go, while its huge 7.6-inch main screen delivers a more immersive video experience than practically any other phone out right now. You can even prop the phone on a table and use it as a mini tripod/camera combo.

On top of that, its OLED panel allows the phone to serve as an excellent gadget for reading comics or books, while stylus support lets you sketch or take handwritten notes with ease. (Just remember, the Z Fold 3’s S Pens are optional extras.) And thanks to its innovative hinge, the phone can switch between modes in a snap while still offering five feet of water resistance. In a lot of ways, the Z Fold 3 is a phone, a tablet and an e-reader – all rolled into a single device. Alternatively, if you’re intrigued by flexible screens but prefer something more compact, the $1,000 Z Flip 3 offers similar tech in a smaller device at a more approachable price. – S.R

Buy Galaxy Z Fold 3 at Samsung starting at $1,799

5G voice calls arrive for some T-Mobile customers in Salt Lake City and Portland

Telecoms have been slow to hop on the 5G bandwagon — your smartphone normally relies on 4G or LTE for old-fashioned phone calls. But T-Mobile is venturing forward by launching its commercial Voice over 5G service today in limited areas of Portland and Salt Lake City. For now, only customers with Samsung Galaxy S21 5G phones will be able to access the technology. So while this is a truly small sample size, T-Mobile says it plans to keep rolling out the feature to other areas and other brands of 5G phones later this year. Support for the Samsung Galaxy S22 will arrive later this year.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 with 5G has HD Voice+, but as some customers have noted, there’s no ability to use this nifty feature over 5G. For customers who don’t use T-Mobile, you’ll likely face an even longer wait for 5G voice calls. As FierceWireless noted, both AT&T and Verizon haven’t made 5G voice calls a priority yet. “We plan to implement VoNR when we believe we can offer a voice experience that rivals our HD Voice capabilities,” AT&T toldFierce in a statement.

It’s unlikely customers will notice a wild difference in sound quality between 5G voice calls and LTE voice calls. According to T-Mobile, callers may notice “slightly faster call set-up times," or a shorter amount of time between when they dial a number and the phone starts to ring. But as more carriers build standalone 5G networks, we’re likely to see major advances in voice technology to follow, such as the use of 5G in immersive audio and conference calls.

OnwardMobility is dead, and so are its plans to release a 5G BlackBerry phone

There's won't be a big revival for BlackBerry phones anytime soon. OnwardMobility, the Austin-based startup that announced its plans to release a 5G BlackBerry device with a physical keyboard back in 2020, is shutting down. The company posted a notice of its closure on its website, making it clear that it won't be proceeding with the development of the smartphone. This comes a month after it responded to people asking about the status of the project with a blog post entitled "contrary to popular belief, we are not dead."

While OnwardMobility didn't expound on the reason behind its closure, Android Police reported a few days ago that its license to use the BlackBerry name had been canceled. Apparently, BlackBerry wants to distance itself from its past as a smartphone manufacturer after it sold off its remaining mobile patents for $600 million in the beginning of February. OnwardMobility reportedly decided not to push through with the development of a new smartphone without the BlackBerry name, especially since it won't be easy entering the market with an ongoing global component shortage. 

OnwardMobility was never able to release images of the phone it was developing, but it was reportedly going to take design cues from the BlackBerry Priv. As Android Police notes, the Priv was BlackBerry's first Android phone and the only one it designed in-house before it outsourced the production of its mobile devices to TCL. If BlackBerry, in its current form, truly does want to distance itself from its past, then we might never see a new BlackBerry-branded phone again.

BlackBerry OS devices are pretty much dead after January 4th

Pour one out for the BlackBerry, the former king of mobile. The company has announced that as of January 4th, classic devices running BlackBerry OS 7.1 or earlier, as well as OS 10, will lose key services. And by key, we mean absolutely crucial capabilities, like phone calls, texting, data and even emergency 9-1-1 access. You can also expect to have issues with Wi-Fi and apps like BlackBerry World and Desktop manager, Liliputing reports. January 4th will also mark the end for the PlayBook, the company's ill-fated tablet.

Of course, none of this comes as a surprise. BlackBerry shut down its app store and its popular Messenger (BBM) service in 2019. There really was no coming back from that. If you'll recall, the company was way too late to respond to the threat of the iPhone, and failed to find much success by adopting Android. At least it still has QNX, BlackBerry's modern operating system that powers infotainment systems from Toyota, Audi, Honda, and plenty of other popular car makers.

Boost Mobile's first plans on AT&T's network include a $100 yearly option

Boost Mobile has revealed its first Carrier Crusher plans, which also happen to be its first under AT&T's network. The main Carrier Crusher product is a $100 annual plan designed for customers who use less than 10GB of data a month. It costs $100 a year and will give customers access to unlimited talk and text, as well as 1GB of high speed data. The Dish-owned prepaid mobile carrier cited a couple of studies in its announcement, including one that found that 45 percent of Americans are paying for unlimited data, even though one in three use less than 5GB.

Stephen Stokols, CEO of Boost Mobile, said:

"The US market is set up for the carriers to provide a high price point to all Americans today. It's great for the 15 percent of users who consume over 10 GB of data per month, but for the rest of us, we are subsidizing the bill for those users. You wouldn't pay $70 for an all you can eat buffet if you only wanted a salad, so why are we forced to choose all you can eat in wireless?"

In addition to the $100 annual plan, Boost has also launched a Carrier Crusher product with unlimited talk and text plus 15GB of data. It costs $20 a month, but customers will be billed annually. For those who prefer paying monthly, it now offers a $25 and a $15 plan with unlimited talk and text, as well as 5GB and 2G of data, respectively. 

Dish struck a deal with AT&T back in July, paying the carrier at least $5 billion over 10 years to provide voice, data and messaging services to its Boost Mobile, Ting and Republic Wireless customers. Boost used to be Sprint's prepaid brand until the company had to spin it off as part of its merger with T-Mobile. Prior to its deal with AT&T, Boost was entirely reliant on T-Mobile's network. However, the companies' relationship soured when T-Mobile announced that it was shutting down the Sprint legacy network Boost is using on January 1st, 2022. Dish argued that the deadline doesn't give it enough time to migrate its customers, and T-Mobile ultimately agreed to move it to March 31st next year.

T-Mobile wireless home internet service now costs $10 less

T-Mobile has slashed $10 off the wireless home internet service it launched in April. From $60, it now costs $50 a month, which is the same price it charged customers during the product's pilot program that started back in 2019. The service gives customers access to a gateway router/modem device that converts T-Mobile's 4G LTE and 5G networks into WiFi with typical download speeds of 35 to 115 Mbps. It has no annual contract, no data caps and, as the carrier keeps repeating in its announcement, no hidden fees and charges.

That $50 a month includes taxes and rental for the gateway, which customers have to return if they decide to cancel. They'd have to install it themselves, but the carrier says it will take them as little as 15 minutes. T-Mobile started testing the wireless home internet service in rural and underserved areas a couple of years ago in an invite-only trial for 50,000 homes. It rolled out access to the pilot program to over 130 cities across the US before the service's official launch.

Those interested will have to take note, however, that the price only applies if they pay via AutoPay. Without automatic billing, the price goes up to $55, which is still $10 less than the $65 it used to cost. 

The next iPhone's rumored satellite calls might only work in certain areas

You may have to temper your expectations for the next iPhone's rumored satellite communications. As 9to5Macreports, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman claims in his "Power On" newsletter that emergency satellite calls and messages on the future iPhone (potentially named iPhone 13) will only work in "select markets," and then only in places without cellular coverage. This likely won't serve as a backup when cell service is spotty in your area, then.

Apple reportedly wants to launch its own satellites to provide more data coverage, but any plans for that are "years away," Gurman said. You also won't get to make non-emergency calls any time soon.

The limitations wouldn't be completely surprising. The new iPhone is rumored to use a modified Qualcomm X60 modem for satellite service — it might not be ready to serve as a full-featured satellite phone. Gurman added that costs and carrier objections might prevent Apple from offering a true satellite phone that bypasses conventional networks.

As it stands, there are other reasons to moderate your hopes for Apple's next event. Gurman also says display issues could limit availability for the Apple Watch Series 7. While the wristwear will reportedly debut alongside the next iPhone, some versions of it may be available "late or in small quantities." Your preferred case and band combo may take a while to ship. While this isn't as bad as the delays that stalled the iPhone 12 and other Apple products last year, it could be a far cry from the smooth launches in the pre-pandemic era.

Apple's rumored iPhone satellite support may be for emergency calls and messages

The rumored satellite features for future iPhones are reserved for emergency uses only, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. A few days ago, a report by well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said the next iPhones will come with support for Low Earth Orbit satellite calls and messages. Gurman's sources said, however, that Apple isn't turning its devices into actual satellite phones, at least for now. Instead, the tech giant is reportedly developing at least two emergency-related features relying on satellite networks. 

The first feature is called Emergency Message via Satellite and will be added as a third protocol, alongside iMessage and SMS, to the Messages app. It's apparently codenamed Stewie inside the company and will allow users to text emergency services even when there's no signal, which sounds especially useful during emergencies in remote locations, such as mountains and forests.

The tool will also give users a way to text their emergency contacts simply by typing Emergency SOS in the recipient line. Messages will be restricted to a shorter length, but the senders' contacts will get a notification for them even if their phone is set to Do Not Disturb. Satellite messages will appear as gray bubbles instead of blue or green so they can be easily identified. Eventually, the feature could handle phone calls, as well.

Apple is also reportedly working on a second satellite feature that will allow users to report crisis situations like plane crashes and fires. This system will give users a way to report the incident at length and will ask them specifics, such as if anybody needs search-and-rescue services or if anybody in the vicinity is armed. It can also automatically send authorities the reporter's location and their details from the Health app, such as their medical history, age, medications and information like height and weight. The feature can also a notify the reporter's emergency contacts for them.

While both features sound useful, their availability is restricted by satellite location and reach. They might not work for some regions, and in some cases, users may have to walk outdoors in a certain direction where their iPhone can connect to a satellite. Also, Gurman's sources said it's unlikely that the features will be ready before the year ends, which means the next iPhones expected be announced sometime in September won't be able to send messages via satellite yet.