Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–January 4, 2016

At CDC, a Debate Behind Recommendations on Cellphone Risk
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published new guidelines 18 months ago regarding the radiation risk from cellphones, it used unusually bold language on the topic for the American health agency: “We recommend caution in cellphone use.” The agency’s website previously had said that any risks “likely are comparable to other lifestyle choices we make every day.” Within weeks, though, the C.D.C. reversed course. It no longer recommended caution, and deleted a passage specifically addressing potential risks for children. Mainstream scientific consensus holds that there is little to no evidence that cellphone signals raise the risk of brain cancer or other health problems; rather, behaviors like texting while driving are seen as the real health concerns. Nevertheless, more than 500 pages of internal records obtained by The New York Times, along with interviews with former agency officials, reveal a debate and some disagreement among scientists and health agencies about what guidance to give as the use of mobile devices skyrockets. Story by Danny Hakim for The New York Times.

Danger of ‘Distracted Walking’ While Using Cell Phones on the Rise
The National Safety Council has officially added distracted walking to its annual report of unintentional deaths and injuries. But the NCS isn’t the only concerned party. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that the number of pedestrians injured from being distracted while using cell phones has more than doubled since 2004. A recent report from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association reports that 54% of adult cell phone users have run into something or someone while distracted by their devices, and nearly half of the pedestrians crossing at busy intersections do so while engaged in distracting activities. Story by Nate Church for Breitbart.

Robocalls Won’t Stop at Tardy Debtors’ Cellphones
If you’re behind on your government student loans, your mobile phone may soon begin ringing with calls from debt collectors. Your friends and family may hear from them, too, thanks to Congress. A provision stuck in the spending bill approved last week exempts the U.S. Department of Education from a 1991 law that prevents harassing, automated phone calls. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act barred pre-recorded messages or auto-dialing, known as “robocalls,” made to cellphones without the consent of the person called. Story by Kery Murakami for The Daily Item.

AT&T Says Goodbye to 2-Year Phone Contracts
As of next week, AT&T customers who want new cellphones will have to update their devices by paying the full retail prices upfront or through monthly installment plans. That’s because the carrier is doing away with its previous program that offered new phones to customers who signed two-year contracts for AT&T service. The change was confirmed today by an AT&T spokesperson who told us, “Starting January 8, AT&T Next will be the primary way to get a new smartphone at AT&T.” The spokesperson added that the change doesn’t apply to business customers with qualified wireless service agreements. Story by Shirley Siluk for Top Tech News.

Retailers to Benefit from Growing Mobile Payment System in 2016
In 2016, shoppers will have more opportunities to make purchases via smartphones as big banks and giant retailers thrive for market share compared to giant tech companies such as Apple and Samsung. Companies like Walmart are rolling out their own mobile payment system in 2016 as it is catching on. Bloomberg reported that according to eMarketer by 2019, transactions through cell phones on an in-store terminal will amount to $210 billion, up from $8.7 billion recorded in 2015. Story by Camilla Pritchard for Business Finance News.

Consumer Reports: Customers Of Smaller Cell Phone Service Providers Happier
Most of us still get our cell phone service from one of the four big wireless providers–Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint. But a Consumer Reports survey finds that people who use smaller services tend to be happier. Consumer Reports asked 90,000 of its subscribers to rate their cell service. They were asked about data, texting, voice, customer service, and whether they got good value for the money. Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint got the lowest rating possible for value. T-Mobile is a better deal, but it still ranked lower than some of the smaller providers. Story by Sarah Arbogast for CBS Pittsburgh.

There are Officially More People Doing Their Weekly Banking via Mobile Phones Than Branches
Mobile banking remains a technology in its infancy, but according to Javelin Strategy & Research, it has already eclipsed physical branches in terms of the percentage of US customers using it to take care of their weekly banking needs. Users aren’t just turning to mobile apps and browsers for handling simple services like checking their balance, either. A Javelin study last year found that more Americans are now using digital devices—including smartphones and tablets, as well as desktop computers–rather than visiting local bank branches to apply for credit cards, loans, and investment accounts. These shifts, along with cost pressures on banks, have helped to accelerate branch closings across the country. Story by Ian Kar for Quartz.

LG Announces New K7 and K10 Mid-Range Smartphones
LG has shown its hand at Vegas this year and announced a couple of new mid-tier smartphones for the budget-conscious consumer at CES 2016. LG claims that both of the new devices have been inspired by nature, and are the first to offer the company’s ‘glossy pebble’ design language which is aimed at a younger target market. Both the K10 and K7 run Android. Story by Cam Bunton for 9 to 5 Google.

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.