Weekly Cell Phone News in Review—December 4, 2017

US Supreme Court Looks into Cell Phone Tracking
Our mobile phones are troves of personal, private information, and the US Supreme Court weighed on Thursday how easily police should be able to get it. In a case seen as a landmark for privacy protection in the digital age, the court heard arguments over whether, police have the right to obtain the location data of a person’s phone from providers without a search warrant. During the hearing, most of the High Court’s nine justices appeared deeply concerned about how phone companies can track a person’s movements via their device and hand that information, sometimes going back years, to police when asked. Civil libertarians say that information is protected by the US Constitution. But law enforcement officials say the location data transmitted from a phone to a cell tower has been essentially made public and handed over to a third party, giving up any claim the owner might have to privacy. Story in Deccan Chronicle

The White House Wants to Ban Cell Phones, Citing Security Risk
The White House is mulling a personal cell phone ban for employees and possibly visitors, citing cybersecurity concerns. A handful of administration officials have been chatting with the press about the ban in the last couple of days, including White House chief of staff John Kelly, whose smartphone was reportedly hacked by foreign operatives. Kelly noticed his phone wasn’t working properly and handed it over to White House tech support, only for them to find it had been “externally breached.” All mobile devices have since been banned in the West Wing. The new ban is just a proposal for now, according to Yahoo News, and it’s not clear when or if it would be imposed. However, if it does go into effect, it would apply to the personal mobile devices of all White House staffers. The ban would also mean no one would be able to send texts from the White House as official White House-issued mobile devices are not capable of sending texts. Story by Sarah Buhr for Tech Crunch

Smartphone Addiction Could be Changing Your Brain
Cell phone addiction is on the rise, surveys show, and a new study released Thursday adds to a growing body of evidence that smartphone and internet addiction is harming our minds—literally. The latest evidence comes from a small study presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago. The study, which has not been peer-reviewed, indicates that cell phone addiction may affect brain functioning. Researchers from Korea University in Seoul used brain imaging to study the brains of 19 teenage boys who were diagnosed with internet or smartphone addiction. Compared with 19 teenagers who were not addicted, the brains of the addicted boys had significantly higher levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter in the cortex that inhibits neurons, than levels of glutamate-glutamine, a neurotransmitter that energizes brain signals. Story by Sandee LaMotte for CNN

Shoppers Hit the Mall, but More Often Tapped Their Phones
E-commerce’s unrelenting march toward domination of the retail industry accelerated during the Thanksgiving holiday, as Americans spent billions more shopping online than they did last year. Crowds still flocked to stores to scoop up deals on televisions, toys and clothing. But the big driver of America’s five-day shopping spree that starts on Thanksgiving was the mobile phone, not the mall. Americans spent $19.62 billion shopping online over the five days, about $2.6 billion more than they spent during the same period last year, according to Adobe Analytics, which has tracked online shopping for years. Story by Michael Corkery and Tiffany Hsu for The New York Times

Apple Accuses Qualcomm of Patent Infringement in Countersuit
Apple on Wednesday filed a countersuit against Qualcomm, alleging that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon mobile phone chips that power a wide variety of Android-based devices infringe on Apple’s patents, the latest development in a long-running dispute. Qualcomm in July accused Apple of infringing several patents related to helping mobile phones get better battery life.Qualcomm in July accused Apple of infringing several patents related to helping mobile phones get better battery life. Apple has denied the claims that it violated Qualcomm’s battery life patents and alleged that Qualcomm’s patents were invalid, a common move in such cases. But on Wednesday, in a filing in U.S. District Court in San Diego, Apple revised its answer to Qualcomm’s complaint with accusations of its own. Apple alleges it owns at least eight battery life patents that Qualcomm has violated. Story by Stephen Nellis for Reuters

Samsung’s New Battery Technology Could Charge Smartphones In Minutes
Samsung is now looking into making their user’s lives easier by making better and more efficient batteries. Samsung published a research paper via nature.com where they claim to have used graphene instead of lithium. The company developed the carbon allotrope which is being dubbed as a ‘graphene ball’. Samsung claims that a battery made with graphene can hold 45 percent more capacity than a traditional battery and can also be fully recharged in 12 minutes. The new material in the battery can also maintain a stable temperature of 60 degrees celsius, crucial for vehicles and other battery operated machines. Story by Akshay Bhalla for Mens XP

Gartner: Smartphone Market Sees Third-Quarter Growth
Global sales of smartphones hit 383 million units in the third quarter, a 3 percent increase over the same period in 2016, powered by growth among the top vendors, according to a report released Thursday by Stamford-based research firm Gartner. Samsung led the way, with an approximately 19 percent increase in unit sales, to a total of about 85.6 million. The South Korea-based company last recorded double-digit growth in the fourth quarter of 2015. Apple’s sales grew 5.7 percent year over year, to a total of approximately 45.4 million. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company returned to growth in China and also saw strong sales in many of emerging markets, including India. Samsung maintained the largest market share in the third quarter, with 22 percent of smartphone unit sales. Apple placed second at 12 percent. Story by Paul Schott for Stamford Advocate

iPhone Batteries Could Have Apple-Designed Power Management Chips Within Two Years
Apple is designing its own power management chips for use in iPhones within the next two years, according to Nikkei Asian Review. Apple plans to replace around half of the main power management chips that go into iPhones with its own as early as 2018, but the transition could be delayed until 2019. If the report is accurate, it could be a serious blow for Dialog Semiconductor, the British company that exclusively designs the current main power management chip for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch models. Apple reportedly accounted for nearly three quarters of Dialog Semiconductor’s revenue in 2016. Story by Joe Rossignol for Mac Rumors

Google Data-Saving Tool Aims to Help Manage Smartphone Bills
Google is taking aim at the “next billion” internet users with a way to stop smartphone apps from needlessly burning through costly mobile data allowances. A newly release application dubbed Datally made available free at the Google Play Store this week lets people see when games, social networks or other programs are using internet connections in the background, and then put a stop to it. A “Next Billion Users” unit formed by Google chief executive Sundar Pichai set to work on Datally about two years ago, after traveling the world and finding that the cost of mobile data services was a vexation, especially in places where budgets are tight and smartphones are the main way people go online. While smartphones seemed ubiquitous, it was common for them to be in “airplane mode,” severing connections to networks out of fear of runaway mobile data costs. Story in Phys Org

T-Mobile Phone/Tablet Recycling Drive Aims to Turn Your Old, Unwanted Devices into $1 Million
Have an old cell phone or tablet that you no longer use? During the entire month of December, you can drop off your older devices at T-Mobile and the carrier will match the after-cost recycled value of them with a minimum matching donation of $1,000,000. The money will be split evenly between Feeding America and Team Rubicon. Stats from the EPA indicate that 135 million handsets are thrown out every year. But for this month, donating them to T-Mobile instead can help make a difference in some people’s lives. No phone is too old to help someone in need. T-Mobile notes that even an old flip phone, enhanced by the carrier’s matching donation, can generate over 600 meals to the poor and hungry. Story by Alan F. for Phone Arena

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.