Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–March 30, 2015

Only 6% of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Owners Use Apple Pay
Put all that upbeat news about Apple Pay usage on hold for a moment. A new report says that 85 percent of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners still haven’t used Apple’s mobile payments service. As of this month, 6 percent of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners use Apple Pay, up from 5 percent in November 2014, according to a new study. Meanwhile, 9 percent of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners have tried Apple Pay but aren’t currently using it, up from 4 percent in November. This means 85 percent of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners have never touched Apple Pay. This is down from 91 percent in November, but it still spotlights an uphill battle for adoption. Story by Jason Hahn for Digital Trends.

T-Mobile Targets Small Businesses with Price Cuts
Wireless carrier T-Mobile is now aggressively targeting the small-business market by unveiling its Un-Carrier 9.0 plan. This “Un-Carrier for Business” plan contains a number of significant price cuts to help the carrier capture a larger share of the business market. The rate plan for businesses will begin at 10 lines for $160 per month. If you need 11-20 lines, the price is $16 per line. The price decreases to $15 per line from 21-1,000 lines. After 1,000 lines, companies pay $10 per line. The plans include unlimited talk, text and up to 1 GB of data per line. Another 2 GB of high-speed data costs $10 per line, and unlimited high-speed data is $30 per line. Pooled high-speed data options are available starting at $475 per month for 100 GB. Story by John Oldshue for SaveOnPhone.com.

A Digital Lifeline: The Importance of Cell Phones to Homeless Youth
One of the most important resources homeless teens and young adults can acquire is a cell phone. Imagine for a moment that you are homeless. How would you get a job if an employer could not call you back? How is your social worker going to follow up with you about housing opportunities if they can’t call you back? This is the reality that homeless youth face every day. It turns out that 62 percent of homeless youth own a cell phone. Story by Eric Rice for The Huffington Post.

BlackBerry Shocks with Q4 Profit but CEO Chen Can’t Stop Sales Slide
BlackBerry surprised Wall Street by getting its bottom line back into the black in the fourth quarter, but sales shrunk significantly again, putting in question CEO John Chen’s assertion that the company’s turnaround is on track. BlackBerry is trying to become less dependent on hardware. During the quarter, which ended Feb. 28, software revenue grew 24 percent on a sequential basis and 20 percent year-on-year to US$67 million. However, that’s still only 10 percent of BlackBerry’s overall revenue, which dropped by about 32 percent year-on-year to just $660 million. So even if software revenue is growing, it isn’t growing nearly fast enough to make up for drops in hardware and services revenue. Story by Mikael Ricknäs for CIO.

Banks Have Little Time to Make the Right Mobile Pay Call
The launch of Apple Pay late last year was bound to shake up the crowded and fragmented mobile payments market. Competitors are responding with new partnerships and products. Samsung introduced Samsung Pay at Mobile World Congress, with LoopPay’s magnetic swipe technology enabling mobile transactions on credit card readers. Google acquired mobile wallet Softcard and partnered with AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile to preload Google Wallet on their handsets, and will also launch a new mobile payments application program interface later this summer. How these new developments will impact banks and the rest of the mobile payments market isn’t clear. Questions and barriers remain for Apple, Samsung and Google. And the Merchant Customer Exchange lurks in the background with the anticipated launch of mobile wallet CurrentC later this year. There’s a great deal of customer education that needs to be done for any option to gain wide acceptance. This is still a murky landscape for banks to navigate. Story by Paul Schaus for Payments Source.

Cell Phones May Disrupt Sleep Cycle
A new study has shown that the handy-dandy cell phone can be a prime suspect of sleep deprivation among young people. According to a recent survey by Lookout, Inc., 54 percent of Americans check their phones while they are in bed, either before they go to sleep or upon waking in the middle of the night. According to sleep researchers, 75 percent of young people fall asleep with their phones in reach. Cell phones–along with TVs, computers and other electronic devices–have been proven to disrupt people’s sleep. A recent study found that college students are twice as likely to be sleep deprived as the general population and some suffer from academic and social stress. One of the main causes of stress is a lack of sleep. Story by Thomas Simpson for The Daily Helmsman.

Samsung, HTC Taking Preorders Friday on New Smartphones
The latest flagship smartphones from Samsung and HTC can be preordered starting last Friday. HTC’s HTC One M9 will be available unlocked for $649 at htc.com, just after midnight. It will be sold in stores on April 10. All four major wireless carriers will have the handset in their portfolio and it will be available at other retailers as well. HTC is offering what it calls “UH OH Protection,” a one-time replacement within the first 12 months of purchase for cracked screens or water damage. Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and curved S6 Edge handsets will also be available in stores on April 10 and they too can be preordered Friday. Samsung has done away with the dimpled plastic on prior Galaxy models in favor of a more premium high-grade aluminum construction, and will be introducing Samsung Pay, the company’s answer to Apple Pay on the rival iPhone. The new Galaxy’s will also be available from all the major U.S. wireless providers. Story by Edward C. Baig for USA Today.

The Metals Used To Make Smartphones Could Run Out Soon
When you use your smartphone, you probably don’t think of all the elements, or metals, that go into its production. However, if experts at Yale University are right, those metals could soon be in short supply, meaning that making electronics, such as your smartphone, will get more difficult, as well as more expensive. In a new study, Yale researchers studied the availability of every metal on the Periodic Table of Elements and found that those used in the production of electronics are the most likely to become less available in the future. Story by Robin Burks for Tech Times.

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.