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Two U.S. carriers to halt all sales, exchanges of Note 7 [UPDATED]

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Samsung can’t put the second half of the year behind it fast enough. And its troubles are yet to subside; quite the contrary, they are worsening.

Two major U.S. carriers — AT&T and T-Mobile — on Sunday said they would halt all sales and exchanges of the troubled Samsung phone following reports of fires caused by new and “safe” Note 7 units.

“Based on recent reports, we’re no longer exchanging new Note 7s at this time, pending further investigation of these reported incidents,” AT&T said in an email sent to The Verge Sunday. “We still encourage customers with a recalled Note 7 to visit an AT&T location to exchange that device for another Samsung smartphone or other smartphone of their choice.”

T-Mobile head John Legere on Twitter said his company would stop selling and exchanging the Note 7 “out of an abundance of caution for our customers.” The carrier encourages subscribers to exchange their Note 7s with another device on T-Mobile and is giving a $25 credit on their bill.

U.S regulators are currently investigating the replacement Note 7 handset that caught fire on a Southwest Airlines flight on October 5. The plane was evacuated prior to take-off and no injuries were reported. At least four other incidents of replacement Note 7s catching fire have been reported in the U.S. alone.

In Minnesota, a young girl said she experienced a “weird, burning sensation” while holding her device; the phone later showed burn marks that were consistent with previous cases of Note 7s that were literally too hot to handle.

A man from Kentucky told local news outlet WKYT he woke up to find his bedroom filled with black smoke from his burnt Note 7. The man went on to say Samsung knew about it and didn’t say anything.

Even more damning, a Samsung representative allegedly sent him an inadvertent text message (likely intended for another company official) which said: “Just now got this. I can try and slow him down if we think it will matter, or we just let him do what he keeps threatening to do and see if he does it.”

The fourth incident involves a man in Virginia whose replacement Note 7 “burst into flames” on his nightstand on October 9th. The man provided The Verge with copies of his receipts and photographs of his Note 7 box to corroborate his story.

The latest reported incident came from a Texas family who witnessed their device catch fire on a table. It had been replaced at a retail store in September.

Samsung has since issued a statement in which it said it is investigating the fires and working with U.S. authorities — in particular, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) — throughout the investigation. The company promises to share its findings “as soon as possible.” You can read the full statement below.

Samsung understands the concern our carriers and consumers must be feeling after recent reports have raised questions about our newly released replacement Note 7 devices.

We continue to move quickly to investigate the reported case to determine the cause and will share findings as soon as possible.

We remain in close contact with the CPSC throughout this process.

If we conclude a safety issue exists, we will work with the CPSC to take immediate steps to address the situation.

We want to reassure our customers that we take every report seriously and we appreciate their patience as we work diligently through this process.

At this point, it seems almost certain that we’ll hear about another global recall soon, and that the once-promising flagship will be pulled from shelves for good this time.

If the reports are indeed accurate, Samsung should cut its losses and discontinue the Note 7, and focus its efforts on making amends with affected customers. And it has to knock everyone’s socks off with next year’s S8 to even have a chance at winning back public opinion. That phone ought to be capable of doing more than just scanning irises and taking pictures with two rear cameras.

UPDATE, October 10: Verizon also announced today it would stop issuing replacement Note 7 phones to its customers. The company has the most wireless subscribers in the U.S.

UPDATE 2, October 11: The Galaxy Note 7 is done for. Samsung has asked all carriers and retail partners to “stop sales and exchanges” of the phone. Here’s the latest statement from the company.

We are working with relevant regulatory bodies to investigate the recently reported cases involving the Galaxy Note 7. Because consumers’ safety remains our top priority, Samsung will ask all carrier and retail partners globally to stop sales and exchanges of the Galaxy Note 7 while the investigation is taking place.

We remain committed to working diligently with appropriate regulatory authorities to take all necessary steps to resolve the situation. Consumers with either an original Galaxy Note 7 or replacement Galaxy Note 7 device should power down and stop using the device and take advantage of the remedies available.

UPDATE 3, October 12: Samsung said on Tuesday it would permanently cease production and sales of the Galaxy Note 7, The Wall Street Journal reports. To quote the company’s statement:

Taking our customer’s safety as our highest priority, we have decided to halt sales and production of the Galaxy Note 7.

The move effectively ends the phablet’s brief and embattled existence. Analysts said it could cost the company $17 billion in losses and forgone sales.

Source: The Verge, Samsung

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Essential Phone is down to only $250, making it a steal of a deal

Cheaper than most midrange phones

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When we first reviewed the Essential Phone, it cost US$ 700. When we reviewed it again, it retailed for US$ 500. Now, it’s down to a mouthwatering US$ 250 on Amazon’s Prime Day sale!

That’s an unbelievable price for a phone that has flagship-grade specs from last year, along with impeccable build quality thanks to the combination of titanium and ceramic.

This phone receives great software support, too. It’s currently part of the Android P Beta program and it even gets monthly security patches before Google’s own Pixel phones at times.

When we reviewed it as a US$ 500 device, we already called it the best deal you can get at that price point. Bringing it down to US$ 250 is just cheating.

Andy Rubin, Essential’s founder, fully endorses the major discount:

Sure, the Essential Phone isn’t perfect — the cameras are sub-par and it lacks certain essentials — but you really can’t complain for such value. It’s safe to say it’s the best smartphone deal you can snatch today, if you can order fast enough through Amazon, that is.

With no follow-up in sight, it’s a safe bet to go for this without any immediate buyer’s remorse. If anything, you get a premium 2017 flagship for the price of a typical midrange phone.

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Singtel introduces PVP eSports Championship

The telco’s next step in the world of gaming

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Singaporean telco giant Singtel has announced its latest eSports initiative, the PVP eSports Championship. It will be a multi-title regional eSports league from October 5 to 7, 2018 with a prize pool of US$ 300,000. For executives, the tournament is part of their efforts towards gaming within the Asia-Pacific region.

The tournament is done in partnership with industry players Razer, MET, Garena, and Blizzard. It will feature the popular PC game Dota 2 and Garena’s popular mobile game Arena of Valor. The Singapore leg of Blizzard’s global tour will also feature their popular game Hearthstone during the tournament.

Teams from Australia, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines will compete in local qualifiers organized by Singtel. The winning teams will then move on to the Grand Finals in Singapore, where they will compete against professional teams from North America, Europe, and China. The tournament also serves as Singtel’s opportunity to scout for Singapore’s own eSports team, which they wish to sponsor for future competitions.

Singtel hopes that the tournament builds upon current gaming initiatives from telcos like Globe in the Philippines and Telkomsel in Indonesia. Singtel CEO Arthur Lang recognizes the power of mobile gaming within the region, with smartphones being the main gaming device. “Telcos have every right to play in the growing gaming ecosystem,” Lang said in a statement.

To know more about the upcoming tournament and how to get there, you can visit its official website or MET’s official post. Singtel will provide details on streaming services for the tournament in the future.

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Samsung will launch three S10 variants, report says

Will have a feature that Apple doesn’t have yet

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If you’ve followed the tech industry closely, you would have noticed a troubling trend. Someone is always copying someone else. Features are almost always shared between brands. Hence, we have ubiquitous notches, dual cameras, and AI features.

As such, it comes as no surprise that Samsung might copy Apple’s lineup next year.

Renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has reported that Samsung will adopt Apple’s three-model lineup from this year. (Despite Kuo’s infamy with Apple, he has recently opened his repertoire up to other brands.)

Previously, multiple rumors suggest that Apple’s 2018 lineup consists of three phones for different markets. This includes 5.8-inch, 6.1-inch, and 6.5-inch models. More succinctly, these three models will fit into traditional market classifications: affordable, regular, and premium.

Likewise, Samsung might launch the same structure next year. Already, rumors have speculated on the features that will grace the Galaxy S10 and S10+.

For example, the premium Galaxy S10+ will likely pack in five cameras, including a rear triple-camera system. This year’s premium iPhone offering may also feature Apple’s take on the triple-camera system introduced by Huawei.

Additionally, Kuo reports that Samsung will introduce a more accurate ultrasonic, under-screen fingerprint reader for next year. Amid rumors that Samsung is copying Apple, this is a new feature that has not graced Apple’s phones yet.

Regardless of the new features, the company has traditionally released two models anyway. Arguably, the more surprising part of Kuo’s report is the lower-end Galaxy model. Samsung has usually relegated their midrange and budget models to other lineups.

If Samsung does copy Apple’s three-models strategy, it adds another page to the “Samsung is copying Apple” saga. Regardless, Samsung will announce their new Galaxy lineup early next year at MWC 2019. Prior to that, the company will launch the highly awaited Galaxy Note 9 at this year’s Unpacked event happening in a few weeks’ time.

SEE ALSO: Galaxy S9 is Samsung’s least popular phone since the Galaxy S3

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