Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–December 1, 2014

Simple Circuit Could Double Cell Phone Data Speeds
A relatively simple circuit invented by researchers at the University of Texas could let smartphones and other wireless devices send and receive data twice as fast as they do now. The circuit makes it possible for a radio to send and receive signals on the same channel simultaneously – something known as “full-duplex” communications. That should translate to a doubling of the rate at which information can be moved around wirelessly. Story by Tom Simonite for Technology Review.

New Machine Dries Out Wet Cellphones
Setting aside the question of how your new iPhone ended up in the toilet, it’s a safe bet that such a situation isn’t going to turn out well. Water and electricity don’t mix, as many owners of soggy electronic devices can attest. Yet there’s hope. And it doesn’t come in a 5-pound bag of rice. Three former University of Denver graduate students have patented a process that in just 20 minutes will dry out a cellphone or laptop computer after a dunking. They’re just starting to deploy the TekDry system. Story by Craig Young for the Reporter-Herald.

Drivers Talk on Cell Phones Less but Surf, Email More
Despite nearly a decade-long national fight against distracted driving, the percentage of drivers engaging in smart phone-related activities behind the wheel has steadily increased over the past six years, a new study shows. Since 2009, the percentage of drivers who report talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving has decreased, and those who admit to texting behind the wheel has remained stable. But some equally risky behaviors have increased significantly. The percentage of drivers who acknowledge accessing the Internet while driving has doubled, from 13% in 2009 to 26% this year. Similarly, in 2009, 15% said they read email while driving; 25% admitted doing so this year. The share of drivers who say they read social media networks such as Twitter behind the wheel rose from 9% in 2009 to 20% this year. Story by Larry Copeland for USA Today.

Teenagers to Use Their Mobile Phones to Battle Depression
In England, teenagers suffering from depression will be encouraged to use their mobile phones to help battle the illness, ministers have announced. The government wants young people to be able to access treatment for mental health problems online through apps on mobile devices. Online tools would include cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling and peer support. Story by Bill Gardner for The Telegraph.

Samsung Considers Mobile Exec Shake-Up
Samsung Electronics Co. is considering a major leadership shake-up, according to people familiar with the matter, part of an attempt to revive its fortunes after a difficult year that has hurt its profitability, market share and stock price. The internal restructuring, the details of which could still change amid an ongoing annual review, would be a sign of Samsung’s attempts to find its footing after a brutal year in which third-quarter profit fell 60% amid market-share declines in smartphones around the world. Story by Jonathan Cheng and Sam Schechner for The Wall Street Journal.

Sony’s Smartphone Unit Lost Billions in 2014. What’s Next?
In September, Sony told analysts that it expected to lose over $2 billion in 2014 thanks to an underperforming smartphone division. Obviously, that’s not sustainable. How is Sony going to turn around a business that’s currently losing billions? One first step is to slash its mobile phone line-up and reduce the number of regions where Sony sells phones. That will likely result in job cuts. Samsung announced a similar plan earlier this month. The emphasis on profits also indicates that Sony is likely to keep its high-end, high-margin Android phones around–like the Xperia Z3, a lovely device that is worth its premium. However, most of the expected growth in smartphone sales is in the low end. Story by Kif Leswing for Gigaom.

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.