Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–April 6, 2015

Growing Number of Americans Rely on Cellphones as Sole Means of Internet Access
Nearly one in five Americans depends on their cellphone for consistent Internet access, while a small but growing number of people have their phones as their only means of accessing the Web. Those who are younger, poorer and those with less education are more likely to rely on their phones for Internet access, according to a report being released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center. Blacks and Latinos are also more likely than whites to lack other means of accessing the Internet. Story by Ina Fried for Re/code.

How Cell Phone Companies Are Getting You To Pay More
If you think your cell phone bills are out of control–well, you have no idea. A study published earlier this year in the American Economic Review suggests smartphone owners might overpay on their monthly bill because of a U.S. industry policy that’s actually supposed to help people save money. Under the policy, which went into effect in 2013, wireless carriers like Verizon and AT&T send text messages to customers to let them know if they’re burning through their monthly data too quickly. The idea behind this practice is to prevent “bill shock,” that horrible feeling you get when you look at your phone bill and see a much higher charge than you expected because you went over your plan. It’s also supposed to warn customers to curb their data usage so they don’t spill over their monthly limit. But cell phone companies are padding their subscription plans to make up for the fact that they have to warn customers about lucrative overage charges, according to the study. Story by Damon Beres for the Huffington Post.

8 in 10 Americans Believe Cell Phones are Addictive
A public opinion poll from the National Safety Council found more than eight in 10 Americans believe cell phones are addictive, underscoring the need to help drivers kick their cell phone use habit. The organization is launching a national campaign, Calls Kill, to illustrate that hands-free cell phones are not risk free. The campaign launch coincides with Distracted Driving Awareness Month, observed each April. Story in Occupational Health & Safety.

Apple Patents New Camera for Smartphones
Apple has patented a new digital camera for smartphones that could significantly improve color recognition in dimly lit rooms. The new camera has a special light splitter that is able to pick up red, blue and green waves over three separate sensors, rather than one single sensor like the current models. It uses a cube of prisms to pick up on different color spectrums and improve the accuracy of photos captured with the camera. Apple is already ahead of many other smartphone providers when it comes to picture quality, but this new design could give them a greater competitive edge. Story by Lynn Oldshue for SaveOnPhone.com.

LG Rolls Out Four New Midrange Smartphones
LG is launching four new midrange but premium smartphones that it hopes will attract budget-conscious consumers. The global rollout of LG’s new Magna, Spirit, Leon and Joy phones is starting in South America but will be closely followed by Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and North America. Like most mobile-phone makers, LG faces intense pressure in a market dominated by Apple and Android. LG’s flagship G3 and upcoming G4 will compete in the high-end arena against the iPhone 6 and Samsung’s Galaxy S6. But in the wake of that competition, LG also needs to target the global midrange market to reach customers who don’t need phones with all the bells and whistles and high-tech specs. Story by Lance Whitney for CNet.

Xiaomi and Alibaba Group Partner on Mobile Payments for Wearables
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s finance arm and smartphone maker Xiaomi Inc said on Thursday they will jointly develop mobile payment systems using wearable technology, a first for China’s major tech firms. Xiaomi and Ant Financial, an Alibaba affiliate which includes China’s most popular online payment service Alipay, will enable the Alipay Wallet mobile app to link with Xiaomi’s Mi Band smart fitness bracelet. That will let users smooth the process of making payments, bypassing the need for passwords. Story by Reuters.

Germanwings Passengers ‘May Have Made Mobile Phone Calls’ as Plane Crashed in Alps
Passengers may have made phone calls from the stricken Germanwings airliner that crashed in the Alps, it was claimed on Wednesday night. French investigators on Wednesday revealed that they had gathered several mobile phones from the debris of the Airbus A320 brought down by co-pilot Andreas Lubitz after he locked himself in the cockpit, but that none had yet been “analysed”. However, two European news organisations on Wednesday insisted they had viewed footage from inside the cabin taken by a passenger at the back of the plane relaying in a “few seconds” scenes of chaos and passengers screaming “My God” in several languages. The phone had not survived the crash, which killed all 150 people on board when Lubitz deliberately flew the plane into the French Alps, but the memory card on which it was stored had, the two publications insisted. Story by Henry Samuel, Rory Mulholland and Patrick Sawer for The Telegraph.

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of SaveOnPhone.com. He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.