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AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon now offering free calls to Italy

Verizon Wireless Logo

Verizon Wireless Logo

Following the devastating earthquake in Italy, the top four American carriers are now rallying to offer support to their customers who have relatives in Italy. AT&T and Verizon will offer free calls (mobile & landline) plus texts throughout Italy until August 26.

T-Mobile will also offer free calls and roaming for customers located in Italy, but without texts apparently. TMo will waive the fees for all calls made to Italy until August 28. This will also include the likes of MetroPCS, GoSmart Mobile, and WalMart Family Mobile.

Sprint (including Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile) will offer free mobile/landline calls and texts to and from Italy until the 29th of August, offering a day more than T-Mobile and three days more compared to the top-2 carriers of the U.S. Frankly, one or two days is simply not enough if some of your loved ones are genuinely in trouble there. But it’s a good gesture by the carriers nonetheless.

Via: Android Police

LG Italy confirms impending KitKat updates for Optimus L9 II, G Pro Lite

Lo and behold, ladies and gents, as LG seems to be preparing an additional bombshell this week to the no doubt spectacular, albeit no longer surprising G3 announcement. The Koreans have bumped up the G2 to Android 4.4, the Optimus G Pro, G Flex, G Pad 8.3 and Vu 3 also, and apparently, next in line are two less than stellar handhelds.

KitKat

Namely, the OG Optimus L9 II and massive but mediocre G Pro Lite. The info comes straight from the horse’s mouth, or rather one of the horse’s regional mouths – LG’s official Italian Facebook page. According to the local social team, the L9 II shall score KitKat “in the coming weeks”, and the G Pro Lite towards the end of Q2.

That’s late June, so technically in the next few weeks as well. Also on the list, the long tormented Optimus G, which is still not very close to resolution. Its Android 4.4 update is now slated for Q3, so at some point between July and September.

Remember though, we got a bunch of mixed signals vis-à-vis LG’s yesteryear flagship in the past, so maybe it would be wise to doubt everything we hear in connection to it.

LG-Optimus-L9-II

As far as the other two are concerned, it’s sure surprising to see the L9 II get the royal treatment so soon. Clearly, the 4.7 incher is no pushover, with its 720p display and 1 GB RAM, but it’s fairly old and not that popular as far as we can tell.

Unveiled in August 2013 and rolled out in October, the mid-ranger was never picked up by a single US carrier, unlike its predecessor, available on T-Mobile and MetroPCS. Of course, just because one particular European market is about to see KitKat go live on the device, it doesn’t mean the rest of the world will follow suit immediately.

Besides, we know full well how easily confused Facebook page administrators can be. But let’s be optimistic, and hope the Italian timeline pans out for the G Pro Lite too.

LG-G-Pro-Lite

Launched last November, the gigantic 5.5 incher never landed stateside either, and hardware-wise, it’s even more lackluster than the L9 II. The display boasts sub-par 960 x 540 pixels resolution, and under the hood a dual-core 1 GHz Mediatek chip takes care of raw speed business.

Sounds pretty underwhelming, though at $230 unlocked and with Android 4.4.2, you can’t deny its awfully solid bang for buck factor. You go, LG!

Via [Androidiani]

Italy Investigates Tech Giants For Misleading Free To Play Games

Whenever a new game gets released in any of the major mobile app stores people will often download it immediately as long as it is free. But is it really free? Apparently not since most of these games operate on the free to play concept. This means that downloading the game is free but then it will be offering in-app purchases to users, which for instance requires players to buy certain items to let them continue playing the game.

free to play

Italy has had enough of this practice and its antitrust authority has currently launched an investigation against Google, Apple, and Amazon, and game publisher Gameloft for unfair practices. The investigation will try to determine if the four mentioned companies are deceiving customers by advertising that games are free when in fact purchases are required at a certain point.

The countryed at a certain point.

when in fact purchases iving customers pt. ee? ’s antitrust watchdog said that “Consumers could wrongly believe that the game is entirely free and, in any case, that they would know in advance the full costs of the game. Moreover, insufficient information seems to be provided to consumers about the settings needed to stop or limit the purchases within the app.”

All companies involved declined to comment on this issue save for Gameloft which announced that the company will be looking into this matter.

The investigation is expected to be wrapped up within 7 to 8 months.  The maximum fine of 5 million euros or $6.9 million could be imposed on each company if they are found guilty.

Earlier this year a similar investigation was also conducted by the European Commission which required companies to revise the way they advertise their apps which can be downloaded for free but later on requires purchases. The commission says that more than half of the games available in the European Union are free but later on comes at a cost.

via reuters 

Samsung Galaxy S5 availability and pricing roundup – US, Canada, Europe and India

Prime or no Prime version in the pipeline, Samsung’s “standard” Galaxy S5 is still poised to lead Android smartphone sales for the next six to nine months. Regardless of what analysts anticipate, and increasing competitiveness of rivals LG or Sony, Sammy’s marketing juggernaut is a well enough oiled machine to secure healthy buzz once the 5.2-incher goes up for grabs.

Samsung Galaxy S5

Whether S5 purchases will remain steady, say, through the end of the summer greatly depends on what other antagonists, primarily Apple and HTC, bring to the table. Pricing looks like a key factor too, plus let’s not forget timing.

By timing, we mean S5’s release schedule, but also its obligatory future discounts, and most importantly, Prime’s ETA. Bottom line, the next big thing’s blockbuster potential leans on a stockpile of elements and components, some of which are unraveling as we speak.

samsung-galaxy-s5-in-hand

Without further ado, here’s all we know of possibly the two most vital factors, Galaxy S5 availability and pricing, around the world:

US roundup – when, where, how much

Samsung may have committed to a simultaneous commercial launch on April 11 in roughly 150 countries, which no doubt includes the US of A, however we know better than blindly trust a promise of this nature.

It’s not only their call, so the shipping start might depend on carriers and retailers as well. For now, all big four wireless providers have pre-registration pages set up, with no words on when actual pre-orders will go live.

Galaxy S5 Sprint

T-Mobile and Sprint vaguely hint the Galaxy S5 is “coming April 2014”, whereas Verizon and AT&T are even more discrete, mentioning nada on timelines. Price tags? We wish we had something solid, substantial to give you, but I’m afraid you’ll need to settle for guesses.

Educated guesses, but guesses nevertheless – $200 with two-year pacts across Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, and around $650, maybe $700 full retail price via T-Mo, as well as MetroPCS. Boost and Virgin Mobile are themselves expected to carry the handheld, though they’re part of a second wave of launches, slated for “sometime in Q2”. Translation: May or June.

Galaxy S5 Verizon

Several third-party retailers, including Best Buy and RadioShack, want to update you on availability news as soon as it breaks, but at the moment keep everything on the hush-hush, just like carriers do. Oh, well, odds are pre-orders will begin in one or two weeks, so the mystery shall be shattered before long.

Samsung Galaxy S5 in Canada

Folks looking to score an S5 up north don’t have the full story yet either, however they do know plenty given how early it still is. Eleven carriers around those parts forecast they’ll be able to offer the water-shielded phone starting in April, with Telus, Rogers, Bell, Videotron, Virgin and Wind Mobile leading the pack.

Samsung-Galaxy-S5-colors

Of them all, Telus has come forward with the most detailed information, pretty much confirming the S5 is to cost $249 with pacts, though “prices may change”. Yes, $250 is a little steep, and it’s unsettling from a stateside perspective, but Canadians and US networks are not always on the same wavelength, so don’t panic… yet.

Europe availability and pricing

As usual, the hustle and bustle is underway early on the old continent, as Orange Romania officially became the world’s first operator to accept S5 pre-orders a few days ago. Surprisingly, the Eastern European service provider still lists stocks as “sufficient” and promises delivery around April 11 for €700 outright and €250 and up on-contract.

Meanwhile, multiple regional Amazon branches apparently gear up to charge the same €700 in countries like Germany, Italy or Spain. Too pricey? Then you’ll be happy to hear at least one Dutch seller plans to ask €650 for the 16 GB variant.

galaxy-s5-gold

Rumors from Bulgaria also call for a sub-€700 price tag (€660 or so, to be specific), and in France Bouygues Telecom lists the Galaxy S5 at a fairly reasonable €649. That’s $900 for the record, which may sound anything but reasonable to American ears. Only Europeans are used to cough up such premiums on top-of-the-line Androids, due to high import taxes.

Interestingly, Russia, a notoriously expensive market, is on the verge of nabbing the Samsung Galaxy S5 at €600, or $830, and Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic fall in line with their Western cousins, at €700, or $970.

By the by, pre-orders seem to be live now in a host of nations, via a bunch of retailers, so you may want to secure a place in front of the line.

Galaxy S5 Handtec

Oh, right, I nearly forgot about our UK-based readers. Good news, blokes and gals, early pledges of allegiance can be made on Clove, Expansys, Unlocked-Mobiles and Handtec. Oddly, only two of the four have been bold enough to put a price on the SIM-free 16 GB GS5: £545.99 including VAT at Handtec, and £549.98 all taxes covered at Unlocked-Mobiles.

That’s $910 give or take, which sounds costly, but it’s essentially in the ballpark we expected on British shores. First stock is due April 11 through Clove and Unlocked-Mobiles, while the other two aren’t ready to reveal a date. But it can’t vary too much.

As for on-contract pricing, we’re extremely light on specifics. Not that it’s any big secret – Three, Vodafone, O2, EE and Virgin Media shall “sell” the S5 for no upfront fee on their heftiest monthly plans. Also beginning on or around April 11. Everyone ready to rumble?

Samsung Galaxy S5 in India

Saholic caught everyone off guard when briefly selling the Samsung Galaxy S5 last week for an almost unbelievably low INR 45,500, which translates into $740, or €535. But will that pan out as an official price tag, or did the merchant just try to score some easy, free publicity?

Samsung-Galaxy-S5-Black-and-White

Only one way to find out – wait until April 11, at the latest, for shipping to reboot. Fingers crossed, y’all.

Now, feel free to update us on any new developments we may have missed, and sound off below with a simple “yay” or “nay” if you’re thinking of buying the Galaxy S5 or snubbing it. Is it a must-buy at $650, €700 and £550, or does Samsung need to think about trims already?

Asus Eee Pad Transformer 3G Breaks Cover In Italy

A lot of our twitter followers are upset with the fact that the Asus Eee Pad Transformer didn’t make it onto my list of tablet recommendations yesterday, if I had decided to do four tablets it would have. However that doesn’t discount that the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is a bad ass piece of hardware.  In fact ASUS really shocked a lot of the tech community with the Transformer.

More after the break
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