Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–June 29, 2015

Study Tells Pollsters: Call More Cell Phones
Pollsters must abandon their traditional methodology or risk survey inaccuracies like they had in 2012. That’s according to Ole Forsberg and Mark Payton, professors in the department of statistics at Oklahoma State University who published a study that explored how pre-Election Day battleground state polling in the 2012 cycle wound up favoring Mitt Romney over President Obama. The culprit, they said in their study published on the website of Statistics and Public Policy, is cellphones. While state polling tended to be accurate in 2004 and 2008, last presidential cycle many public surveys of battleground states had Romney winning. A post-election analysis by Nate Silver noted pollsters “that called only landlines or took other methodological shortcuts, performed poorly and showed a more Republican-leaning electorate than the one that actually turned out.” Story by Sean J. Miller for Campaigns and Elections.

From California to New York, Cell Phone Location Records Are Private
Across the country, a vigorous debate is taking place in federal and state courthouses about how privacy protections should apply to modern technologies. One of the most spirited issues in this debate is whether the Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement to get a warrant to track a person’s location via their cell phone. This week EFF filed two new amicus brief that answer that question with a resounding yes. Last month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a disappointing decision in United States v. Davis, finding that because people share cell site location information-the cell phone service provider’s record of which cell phone tower a customer connects to-with their phone company, they have no expectation of privacy over this information, and police don’t need a search warrant to get this sensitive location data. Story by Hanni Fakhoury for Electronic Frontier Foundation.

T-Mobile Offers Free Phone Upgrades Whenever You Want
T-Mobile’s new plan lets customers upgrade their phones whenever they want, up to three times a year. The “Jump On Demand” program is essentially a phone leasing program. You can trade in your borrowed phone for another one as long as you keep paying your monthly wireless bill to T-Mobile. It’s kind of like a car lease. You can choose to never own the device (always returning it to T-Mobile when you’re done with it). Or you can pay off the remaining balance at the end of the lease. Story by David Goldman and Jose Pagliery for CNN Money.

Kill Switch Drastically Reduced Smartphone Thefts Last Year
Smartphone thefts have dropped dramatically since the adoption of kill switches last year, according to a survey from Consumer Reports. Their latest data shows that there were one million fewer thefts in 2014 compared to 2013. The Consumer Reports 2013 survey revealed an estimated 3.1 million smartphone thefts, but that number dropped to 2.1 million in 2014. These numbers are consistent with other reports from earlier this year that showed a 25-40% theft decline in major cities in the United States. Story by John Oldshue for SaveOnPhone.com.

Chinese Mobile Phone-Makers Storm India
Not too long back Indian brands like Micromax, Karbonn and Lava were celebrating their success in giving global companies such as Samsung and Nokia a run for their money with their cheap phones thanks to imports from China. Now some of those very Chinese manufacturers, who helped these brands make inroads into India’s more than $14 billion mobile phone market, are competing with them on their home soil. The Chinese are offering Indian consumers the latest technology at very affordable prices, say industry experts. And they are doing that by leveraging their manufacturing ecosystem back home and keeping costs low by selling through e-commerce platforms like Flipkart, Snapdeal or Amazon. Story by Gauri Bhatia for CNBC.

Children, Tech Compete for Parents’ Attention
A global study revealed that 54% of children felt their parents spent too much time on their phone. Parents agreed, with 52% saying it was too frequent and worrying about what it looked like to the younger generation, according to the study on the relationship between a parent, a child, and their devices. Children had to compete with devices for their parents’ attention. The study said 32% of children felt unimportant when phones distracted their parents, citing situations such as having dinner, watching television, playing outside, and even engaging in conversation. Story by Mark Vincent Villa for Rappler.

Mobile Payments are Making People Tip More at Meals
Mobile payments are set to explode over the next few years and while tech companies might be excited by the profits to come, there is a another group of people also looking forward to the technology–restaurant waiting staff. Restaurants and mobile payments companies told CNBC they have seen a boost in customers tipping when using apps on their smartphones to pay for meals. Story by Arjun Kharpal for CNBC.

How Phone Companies Redline Cell Phone Customers into Digital Ghettos
Why can’t most inexpensive cell phones receive life-saving emergency weather alerts? Why, unlike people in the rest of the world, can’t Americans listen to emergency information broadcasts on their cell phones? These are not accidents or unanticipated consequences. These are the results of deliberate decisions that have been made on the design, regulation and operation of the U.S. cell phone system. Story by Adam Clayton Powell III for The Hill.

Meet Marty Cooper, the Forefather of Your Cell Phone
If I were the brains behind a revolutionary invention that would reshape the world as we know it, I’d brag about it to everyone, but not before rubbing it in the face of my fiercest competitor. And that’s almost exactly what Martin “Marty” Copper, inventor of the cell phone, did when he created the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, the world’s first ever handheld portable telephone. It was 1973 and Marty was walking through the streets of New York as journalists faithfully watched him make the first handheld mobile phone call to none other than AT&T’s cellular network engineer and chief nemesis in the cellular race, Joel Engel. Marty revealed to us that when Joel picked up there was silence at the other end of the line, “I suspected he was gritting his teeth,” Marty says with a light-hearted smile and a grain of cheekiness. After that moment, our way of communicating as a society–from butt-dials to GIF texts–would never be the same again. Story by Xavier Aaronson for MotherBoard.

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.