Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–September 28, 2015

Sprint Aims to Undercut T-Mobile with $1-per-Month iPhone Deal
Watch out, T-Mobile. Sprint is aiming to outmaneuver you in the battle to win over Apple iPhone 6S customers. On Thursday, Sprint announced a new deal in which customers who trade in their existing iPhone 6 can score a 16-gigabyte iPhone 6S by paying $1 a month or a 16 GB iPhone 6s Plus for $5 a month. Available for an unspecified “limited time only” (no end date has been announced), the new offer is part of Sprint’s iPhone Forever program, which lets new or existing customers eligible for a new phone get the latest iPhone as soon as it rolls out. Story by Lance Whitney for CNet.

BlackBerry Announces Secure Android Phone Called Priv
Amid disappointing financial results, BlackBerry chief executive officer John Chen confirmed Friday that the company is coming out with a new Android martphone called Priv. “This phone is the answer for all the BlackBerry users who miss the physical keyboard, but also need apps,” Chen said. The Priv will have a curved, all-touch screen and a slide-out keyboard, and will probably be the most secure Android smartphone on the market. The phone’s name is a reference to BlackBerry’s focus on protecting customer privacy. The high-end phone targeted to the consumer market will be available before Christmas. Story by Terry Pender for The Record.

Google Said to Be Under U.S. Antitrust Scrutiny Over Android
Google is back under U.S. antitrust scrutiny as officials ask whether the tech giant stifled competitors’ access to its Android mobile-operating system, said two people familiar with the matter. The Federal Trade Commission reached an agreement with the Justice Department to spearhead an investigation of Google’s Android business, the people said. FTC officials have met with technology company representatives who say Google gives priority to its own services on the Android platform, while restricting others. Story by David McLaughlin for Bloomberg.

Security Still a Concern for Mobile Payments
The security of mobile payments remains a very big concern for cybersecurity experts. ISACA, a global nonprofit information systems organization, surveyed over 900 cybersecurity experts about mobile payments. These experts are excited about the convenience of mobile payments, but there are still significant concerns about security. In fact, only 23% of respondents said mobile payments are secure, and 87% predict there will be an increasing number of mobile-data payment breaches over the next 12 months. Story by Bill Hardekopf for LowCards.com.

Senior Citizens’ Use of Computers and Mobile Phones Might Shave 10 Years Off Their Mental Age
Everyone fears a decline in mental ability as they age. However, if you are an avid user of technology, that decline could be delayed. A new study, published in the journal Intelligence, found that the use of computers and mobile phones could partly explain why senior citizens today appears to be four to eight years younger, cognitively speaking, than a similar population less than a decade ago. The positive effect stands up even after controlling for factors such as education, gender, and health. Story by Akshat Rathi for Quartz.

Teens’ Test Scores Go Up When Their Schools Ban Cell Phones
Schools that ban mobile phones see a boost in student’s grades, a large-scale U.K. study has found. And European schools are following suit. The research published by the London School of Economics examined 91 schools in Birmingham, London, Leicester, and Manchester, and found that a no-phone zone generated improvements equivalent to students getting five good passes on General Certificates of Secondary Education. That bump–roughly 6 percent across the board–was greater even than schools that allowed students to keep their phones so long as they were switched off. Digging deeper, the effect on underachieving kids was even more significant: a 14 percent increase in test scores. Access to Candy Crush and Snapchat could mean the difference between a four-year university scholarship and taking out loans for community college. Story by Peter Rugg for Inverse.

Judge Blocks Berkeley’s Warning about Cell Phones and Children
A federal judge upheld Berkeley’s authority Monday to require cell phone retailers to tell customers that carrying switched-on phones too close to their bodies might exceed federal radiation-exposure standards, but barred a warning that “this potential risk is greater for children.” The language on children is not based on federal safety guidelines or any scientific consensus on the effects of cell phone radiation, said U.S. District Judge Edward Chen of San Francisco. Story by Bob Egelko for SF Gate.

Oregon Man Hit with $2 Million Cellphone Bill
An Oregon man was told he owes Verizon more than $2 million for a cellphone bill–and the fiasco could cost him his home. Ken Slusher and his girlfriend bought a pair of phones last November and used the Verizon service for just a month before canceling due to billing issues. Slusher thought the issue was behind him until he began receiving letters from collection agencies. That led him to check his Verizon account balance and hear a disturbing figure: $2,156,593.64. Scheduled to close on a new house Monday, Slusher said his mortgage company won’t sign off on the loan he needs because the collection agencies are hounding him. Story by Fox News.

Hillary Clinton Emoji Headed to Cellphones
There is a taco emoji. There is an emoji for Pope Francis throwing a football. And now, there’s emoji for Hillary Clinton’s hair accessories. A New York company called Snaps Inc. is launching a Hillmoji keyboard in the Apple and Android app stores. The emoji feature Mrs. Clinton in three different shades of pantsuit–as well as an image of Mrs. Clinton in a “Brooklyn NYC” t-shirt, reflecting where her campaign is based. The emoji look like a cartoonized, younger version of Mrs. Clinton, with slightly longer blonde hair than she has now, and much heavier pink eye shadow than she wears on the campaign trail. Once downloaded, the Hillmoji keyboard will save on a users’ phone and be available for use in most messaging apps, until removed from a user’s phone. Story by Natalie Andrews for The Wall Street Journal.

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.