Weekly Cell Phone News in Review—November 13, 2017

US Smartphone Shipments Dip in Third Quarter
Smartphone shipments in the US dipped 2% year-over-year (YoY) in Q3 2017 to 39.5 million units, down from 6% YoY growth and 40 million units in the year-ago quarter, according to Strategy Analytics. The decelerating shipments growth is likely a result of a saturated US smartphone market, and confirms the US as the world’s third-largest smartphone market by shipment volume after India was reported to have overtaken it it last week. Lackluster growth in smartphone shipments was likely partly due to consumers waiting to upgrade to the next generation of iPhones. Because of high levels of smartphone saturation in the US, most shipment growth comes from users upgrading their handsets, rather than from new purchases of smartphones. Story by Rayna Hollander for Business Insider

Holiday Season to Hit $100 Billion in Online Sales, Mostly Via Mobile
Retailers’ days could be especially bright this holiday season, as online sales are expected to hit $100 billion for the first time ever, said Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen. Last year, online holiday sales reached $91.7 billion, topping Adobe’s initial estimates. Adobe also expects this year’s Cyber Monday–the Monday after Thanksgiving during which retailers offer deep discounts on online purchases–to be the biggest online shopping day ever. Story by Elizabeth Gurdus for CNBC

Congress is Looking to Stem the Illegal Flow of Cellphones into Jails, Prisons
A growing number of crimes committed by inmates using contraband cellphones has sparked a bipartisan movement in Congress to stem the illegal flow of the devices into the nation’s jails and prisons. The federal Bureau of Prisons confiscated 5,116 cellphones from its facilities in 2016. Based on data available for the first six months of this year, the agency projects that the number of confiscations will jump by 28 percent in 2017. The problem is significantly worse in state and local correctional facilities. Most, if not all, corrections systems bar prisoners from using cellphones, but inmates have had no trouble getting their hands on the sought-after devices. Story by Michael Collins for USA Today

FreedomPop Launches in 1,100 Target Stores in Major Retail Expansion
FreedomPop is partnering with Target to up its retail game in a very big way. The MVNO said this morning its handsets and services are now available in more than 1,100 Target stores across the nation, as well as on the retailer’s website. Target will sell FreedomPop SIM cards for $5 and Android phones starting at $59 as the retail giant aims to take on Walmart-a major player in the prepaid wireless retail space-and others just ahead of the holiday shopping season. FreedomPop doesn’t disclose subscriber figures, but the company appears to continue to be gaining traction by using a freemium model to entice users, then upselling them into bigger packages or other value-added services such as additional local numbers for users in foreign lands or a “safety mode” that prevents overage charges. It sells handsets as well as SIM cards enabling customers to activate their own phones. Story by Colin Gibbs for Fierce Wireless

iPhone X’s Screen Doesn’t Like Sudden Cold But Apple’s Working to Fix the Bug
Apple is working on a software fix for a mystery bug that causes the iPhone X’s display to become unresponsive in cold weather. The fix is coming in response to complaints that the screen doesn’t detect touches when the device is in cold weather. Apple has acknowledged the issue and says it surfaces when the iPhone X faces a rapid change in temperature. The software update suggests the problem is not an issue with the iPhone X’s OLED display. Story by Liam Tung for ZD Net

Musical.ly Lip-Syncing App Acquired for Up to $1 Billion
Musical.ly, a lip-syncing app popular with young people, has been sold to Chinese tech giant Bytedance in a deal worth up to $1 billion. Shanghai-based Musical.ly, founded three years ago, claims over 60 million monthly active users. It’s the first Chinese social media app to make it big in North America and Europe. The move could help both firms expand their market reach and tap into each other’s technological capabilities. Story in the BBC

T-Mobile’s Gigabit Network Push Reaches 430 Markets in US
T-Mobile now offers 1-gigabit-per-second mobile networks in 430 markets, an expansion it hopes will help it woo subscribers away from Verizon and AT&T. Today’s mobile networks are powered by a technology called LTE (Long Term Evolution), and T-Mobile has brought an updated version called LTE Advanced to 920 US markets. In nearly half of those markets, T-Mobile has the equipment and radio airwaves available to offer an even faster version gigabit download speeds. Story by Stephen Shankland for CNet

Mobile-App Errors Expose Data on 180 Million Phones
A simple coding error in at least 685 apps put millions of smartphone users at risk of having some of their calls and text messages intercepted by hackers, cyber-security firm Appthority warned. Developers mistakenly coded credentials for accessing text messaging, calling and other services provided by Twilio, said Appthority’s director of security research, Seth Hardy. Hackers could access those credentials by reviewing the code in the apps, then gain access to data sent over those services, he said. Affected apps include the AT&T Navigator app pre-installed on many Android phones and more than a dozen GPS navigation apps published by Telenav. Such apps have been installed as many as 180 million times on Android phones and an unknown number of times on Apple’s iOS-based devices. Story by Stephen Nellis for Reuters

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Active is Officially Making Its Way to T-Mobile and Sprint
Samsung’s Active series of smartphones have primarily been exclusive to AT&T since its debut. Now, after a few generations, that’s changing, as the company has announced that the ultra-rugged Galaxy S8 Active will be making its way to T-Mobile and Sprint later this month. If you need a refresher, the Galaxy S8 Active is basically Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S8 but in a military-grade casing and with a flat display. These two changes make it less susceptible to damage thanks to the rubber bumpers rather than curved glass on the front and back of the handset. Story by Justin Duino for 9 to 5 Google

Pope Francis: Mass Is for Lifting Hearts, Not Cellphones
Pope Francis has a message for Catholics: Put down your smartphone during Mass. During a general audience at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City on Wednesday morning, Francis chastised Catholics who use their phones during Mass. “At some point, the priest during the Mass says, ‘Lift up your hearts,'” the pontiff said. “He does not say, ‘Lift up your cellphones to take pictures.'” The remarks drew applause, particularly after Francis called the use of phones during services a “very ugly thing.” Story by Megan Specia for The New York 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.