iOS 7 How-to: Blocking FaceTime calls, Phone calls, and iMessages

Before iOS 7 it was rather inconvenient to block a phone number, and there was nothing built into iOS that would allow you do so. If you got phone calls from Telemarketers you can always register your number for free on the National Do Not Call Registry. If you wanted to block specific people, you had to contact your carrier to do so. For example, with AT&T, you can pay $4.99 per month per line to block up to 30 numbers with their Smart Limits. With Verizon Wireless, you are able to block up to five phone numbers per line with no charge. With Sprint you fill out a form on their website and it appears there is no additional fee.

Dealing with your carrier can be a rather tedious, and with the new iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch operating system, you no longer have to…

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Walmart iPhone pre-orders start tomorrow, 5c at $79, 5s at $189

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Walmart has announced that it will be offering both of the new iPhone models in their 16Gb versions, the 5c at $79 (a $20 saving) and the 5s at $189 (a $10 savings). Walmart offers the phones on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.

What’s interesting here is that Apple Stores usually do price matching so it might be worth a try after waiting on line on launch day. Best Buy will also price match often, so this could trigger markdowns all over …  Read more

Sprint debuts new unlimited plans with lifetime guarantee, ‘My Way’ feature

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Following T-Mobile’s new “Jump” plan announcement, and preceding AT&T’s forthcoming network-related announcement, U.S. carrier Sprint has announced new versions of its unlimited plans. The new service goes into effect tomorrow.

The first element of the new offering is a lifetime guarantee (for the life of your service line) to receive unlimited calling, texting, and data. Sprint has also introduced a new My Way plan, that starts at as little as $80 for unlimited usage, that allows flexibility and additional savings when it comes to multiple lines begin attached to the plan:

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iPhone closes gap on Android during May, grabs 31% of T-Mobile smartphone sales

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Following stats from comScore late last month for smartphone market share by vendor and OS, research firm Kantar Worldpanel is out today with its own numbers for the three month period ending in May. While Kantar puts Android at the same 52% of the market during May as comScore, it has Apple slightly higher at 41.9% of the market (up 3.5% from the same period last year) compared to the 39% comScore reported:

Through the 3 month period ending May 2013, Android continues to lead smartphone sales at 52%. Close behind is iOS with 41.9% of sales.

Kantar notes that Apple’s increase is thanks to T-Mobile picking up the iPhone 5, which is now the best selling smartphone at the carrier despite only being available since mid April. Thanks to iPhone, T-Mobile could soon increase its share of smartphone sales in the US, as Kantar notes all iPhone models counted for 31% of the carrier’s smartphone sales during the quarter. Currently the carrier holds just 10.1% behind Verizon (34.6%), AT&T (29%), and Sprint (12.7%).

The report notes T-Mobile has been attracting a lot of first time smartphone buyers since getting the iPhone with around 53% upgrading from feature phones: Read more

Walmart reportedly slashing iPhone 5 price indefinitely to $129 beginning Saturday

Walmart is set to dramatically cut iPhone prices starting Saturday, according to Mashable, which points to an impending iPhone hardware refresh in the coming months. Walmart will reportedly slash the already low iPhone 5 cost from $189 to $129 and the iPhone 4S will go from $89 to $39 on contract with AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon (Uncarrier T-Mobile, which Walmart doesn’t support, is not included in the deal).

Walmart isn’t the only retailer jumping on the discounted iPhone wagon. Best Buy will reportedly offer substantial discounts to iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 customers offering in-store credit or credit toward the purchase of a new iPhone. Such promotions tend to hint at upcoming hardware refreshes as retailers look to move out existing inventory. Read more

AT&T explains its new 61 cent/month administrative fee policy

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Thanks reader Kory for screenshot

AT&T started this month charging an administrative fee of $.61/month/user for its mobile customers in addition to its current fees. While the fee may be small, as the Verge notes it adds ‘up to hundreds of millions of dollars’ over 24 month contracts and millions of customers. What gives?  An AT&T spokesperson told us:

Consistent with similar fees charged by other carriers, the monthly fee of 61 cents per line will help cover certain expenses, such as interconnection and cell site rents and maintenance

The fee applies to consumer mobility lines as well as IRU lines –  the kind of business lines where the employee pays the bill directly.

AT&T isn’t alone in this endeavor. Verizon charges admin fees of $0.91 and Sprint charges $1.99.  (Plus more for regulatory fees.)  T-Mobile’s combined regulatory programs fee is $1.61.  On this basis, AT&T’s is still the lowest of all carriers.  It still sucks though. “expenses, such as interconnection and cell site rents and maintenance” seems like it should be part of the current fees and that fee is easier to raise because it isn’t part of the publicized rate plan.

Update: TheTechBlock notes that you may be able to cancel your plan because of this fee. A nice way to slip out of your subsidized plan? Read more

‘Zact’ launches customizable, no-contract data plans on Sprint, coming to iOS soon

Earlier this month we told you that Verizon-backed ItsOn, a company building software for carriers that provides users with dynamic pricing plans on mobile devices, was planning on introducing a new mobile service that takes advantage of its software. Today ItsOn has officially announced Zact, a mobile service that provides flexible, adjustable data plans that allows users to pay for only what they use, customize voice, text, and data plans in real-time at any time, and share data on an unlimited amount of devices: Read more

How much does T-Mobile’s contract-free iPhone plan save over two years?

Now that T-Mobile offers the iPhone, how do the four national carriers compare in terms of costs? A couple of websites have done the sums.

Our friends over at Zagg did a blog post that suggested three of the four networks come out at exactly the same annual cost when attempting to get as close as possible to like-for-like tariffs, while going with T-Mobile’s contract-free option will save you $580 over two years.

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Based on unlimited talk and text, and 4GB of data per month. Sprint offers only ‘unlimited’ data (claiming not to throttle), though is not noted anyway for fast data speeds.

While this is true for individuals, it doesn’t tell the whole story … Read more

Sprint buys $480M in spectrum/customers from US Cellular, FCC fines AT&T $700K for overbilling

A couple carriers are making headlines today for different reasons. Sprint, which could soon be scooped up by Softbank, announced today (via Engadget) it is spending $480 million to acquire PCS spectrum and 585,000 customers from U.S. cellular across the Midwest. As always, the deal is subject to approval from government officials in the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission, but Sprint could take over the spectrum and customers in “parts of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio including the Chicago and St. Louis markets” by sometime next year:

Under the terms of the agreement, Sprint will acquire 20 MHz of PCS spectrum in the 1900 MHz band in various Midwest markets including Chicago, South Bend, Ind. and Champaign, Ill. and 10 MHz of PCS spectrum in the St. Louis market.

AT&T is also making the news today with the FCC announcing the carrier will pay a $700,000 fine to put an end to the agency’s investigation into how the carrier handled its transition to mandatory monthly data plans (via BGR). The investigation followed complaints from consumers that AT&T had switched them from grandfathered pay-as-you-go plans to its new monthly plans as far back as 2009. According to the FCC, as part of the settlement, AT&T “has agreed to refund excess charges paid by individual customers, which could be as much as $25 to $30 a month, depending on data use”: Read more

Sprint to carry fourth-generation iPad and new iPad mini on its 4G network, no release date given

As we highlighted earlier when Apple announced the news, the nation’s third-largest carrier Sprint will add the new fourth-generation iPad and new iPad mini to its list of 4G-enabled devices. Sprint confirmed the news in a press release this afternoon, as seen after the break.

Sprint was left out when the third-generation iPad was announced last spring, due to its 4G network not being available until this summer. The iPhone 5, released in September, was the first 4G device from Apple available on Sprint’s network.

The iPad mini Wi-Fi model will be available for pre-order Oct. 26 and shipping Nov. 2. There has not been any word on the release date of the LTE models, but they’re priced at $459, $559, and $659 for 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB storage capacities (respectively). It should only be a few weeks after. Catch up on more iPad Mini news here.

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AT&T now out of opening day iPhone 5 stock, orders now pushed back to ’14-21 business days’

AT&T just ran out of Sept. 21 stock for the iPhone 5. The delivery page has now pushed sales to “14-21 business days,” which equals almost three to five weeks. Verizon ran out of stock earlier today, but it is hard to determine if this shows demand per carrier since AT&T is such a big legacy iPhone carrier and Apple obviously gave it a lot more stock than others.

Both big carriers have downsides: AT&T will not run FaceTime unless you buy a Mobile Share plan, while Verizon will run FaceTime on all of its iPhones—but new customers must sign up for a Mobile Share plan (no matter what). In addition, the CDMA version of the iPhone, which Verizon and Sprint both carry, will not support simultaneous talk and data. Speaking of Sprint, it is still advertising ship dates of Sept. 21.

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Which iPhone carrier has the fastest network in your area? AT&T, Verizon, & Sprint get accurate comparison by city

The argument over which carrier has the fastest network speed in any given location in the United States is still up for debate. Putting network speed comparisons aside, which are often not an accurate representation of speeds, you will receive in your specific area, a new app from startup SwayMarkets aims to provide a more realistic comparison.

The app, CarrierCompare, allows users to test the network speed of their current carrier against the two other major iPhone providers. CNNMoney went hands-on when the app released last month and just posted the user data it obtained that compares major iPhone carriers in multiple locations.

Analyzing user-generated data from Boston, New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, these were the results:

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