Your Guide To Free Cellular Service

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Free cellular service… It sounds way too good to be true, but it is a reality for many people in the US thanks to FreedomPop. Instead of spending $400, 500 or even $1000 a year on their personal cellular service, people are taking that money straight to the bank and cutting their bill to zero. While FreedomPop initially suffered from the network choices of their partners in the past, today’s FreedomPop breaks free from those issues with higher speed data, more consistent connections and more powerful hardware that can multitask like never before. While the system may appear simple on the outside, sometimes, getting completely downgraded to the free service can be a bit tough, and that’s why you need to read this guide to getting the most for your free service from FreedomPop.

Purchasing Your Phone

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Starting out, you will want to choose the best plan for you. FreedomPop offers two, but we are going to focus on the best offering right up front. The FreedomPop LTE SIM offering works with any unlocked GSM handset. For the best results, you will want to use a device that has the band 12 and band 30 LTE radios. These are commonly known as AT&T’s frequencies in the US. Some of your best options for handsets are the popular Moto G series, or various handsets from Asus, Huawei or BLU. No matter what handset you go with for the FreedomPop LTE plan, just make sure that it is running Android 4.0 or newer, though a device running 6.0 or newer will give you more bang for the buck as you will not need to replace it in the near future. These phones also should feature more up to date specs to help the system run smoother. It’s also recommended to find a device that has at least 2GB or RAM and 16GB of storage, though 32GB of storage is preferred. Once you have your handset picked out, you can order your FreedomPop LTE SIM card.

Purchasing Your SIM Card

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Placing your order in the FreedomPop system couldn’t be easier. Hit the FreedomPop page by hitting any of the links in this post or at the end of this post. Once you enter your zip code and email address, you will see if service is available for you. If your location qualifies, it will pass you on to step two. Enter your street address and you will be whisked off to the billing screen. Now it’s important to enter the correct billing information as this is where they will ship your SIM card. One of the biggest issues that users encounter with the FreedomPop system is when their SIM card is sent to the wrong address or the wrong billing number. Once you have the billing address filled in, select super saver shipping, which may take up to two weeks to arrive, but the wait and the savings will be worth it.

Downgrading Your Services To Free

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After you receive the notification that your SIM has shipped, there are a few little details to take care of right away to make sure you are never charged more than a $5.00 top off fee with FreedomPop. Your SIM order will include a a free trial to some premium services and a larger 2GB data allotment. After your SIM ships, you can visit https://www.freedompop.com/home.htm and see your account details. From there, you will immediately click on the “My Account” tab and select the “Plan” tab. Click on the details and plan management link and select downgrade on the following page. This link is located at the bottom of the plan management page. Once you downgrade, refuse the offers that come up and you will automatically be downgraded to the free plan. You will not have an opportunity to select it, it will just be automatically downgraded to the free plan.

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When the plan downgrade is complete, you will want to downgrade the premium services that are offered with your introductory offer as well. These will cost you $7.99 to $9.99 a month depending on the plan that is included. Downgrading the services is done in the same way as the plan downgrade. Click the services tab, then select the view details link next to the premium service you are subscribed to. At the bottom of the details page, you will see another downgrade or unsubscribe link to deactivate the services. This should eliminate any monthly charges from your bill as soon as you have it confirmed.

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The final step in setting up your 100% free service is to turn off the auto-top up feature. If your balance falls below $2.00, FreedomPop will place a $15.00 charge onto your card that you have on file to cover data overages or services that are charged to your line. Once you disable the top up feature, you will be asked to pay a $5.00 credit to your account to cover any overages. This is a one time charge and will not be done again until you purchase additional amount of credit to keep your account in good standing. Be aware that data will become suspended under this system when your data usage comes within 100MB of your actual cap. More on this in the next section, but setting a data limit on your device and keeping the auto-top up feature engaged is how we tend to set up our usage.

Using Your Services

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Honestly, once you have the SIM inserted, configured and the Messaging App installed, using FreedomPop works just like any other cellular service. Something you will want to do is change a few Apps out on the home screen of your device. Remove the icon for your stock text messaging App and replace it with the FreedomPop one. Make sure you also make a call from the FreedomPop dialer as well, as this will override the phone App on your device as well. Once that is done, you simply use the messaging App for everything on your phone. From there, calls will be routed seamlessly through the FreedomPop network and you will not see any difference in the performance of the device. Again, text messages must be sent through the FreedomPop messaging App, but that’s a small sacrifice to make for a free bill every month. For those that worry that 500 messages may not be enough, you can supplement your usage with Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or even Google Voice/Hangouts if you need to.

From there, everything is all set. You can visit your FreedomPop account page to verify you plan and billing information any time you need to, but you can skip that step for checking your usage though, the FreedomPop Messaging App as that feature built right into the device menu. You can also make many plan changes and additions via the App as well. There are a few things to keep in mind when using FreedomPop. First, many ‘standard’ features are not included with the service. Picture messaging, voice mail and additional options like data rollover all cost a bit extra, but if you can get by without them, you can stick with a zero cost plan every month. It only took a small amount of time and a bit of creativity to completely replace my $80 a month bill with a freebie from FreedomPop. Stay tuned for a few more tips and tricks to getting even more from your FreedomPop free plan.

 

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Pre-Orders Begin For The Motorola G5 Plus

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Just as quickly as we covered the 2016 generation of Motorola’s G family, we find out today that the presale for the Moto G5 Plus is now here. Priced at just $229.99 for the 2GB/32GB model, the G5 Plus represents a value that has never been seen before in cellular devices. The G5 Plus features a metal body, a first for the G lineup, and a stunningly fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor. The 2GB of RAM is more than enough to keep the standard user running smoothly throughout the day, but if that’s not enough for you, the 4GB/64GB model is available for $70 more.

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Both models of the Moto G5 Plus feature a 5.2” full HD display with a 424 ppi rating. They also have the same 3000 mAh battery with Motorola TurboPower technology that will charge the device enough for 6 hours of usage in just 15 minutes. They are also both carrier friendly, working on every virtually every network found in the US. The 12MP dual autofocus camera also sets a new standard in focus time. The new shooter is about 60% faster than the 16MP shooter on the G4 Plus. The rear shooter also has a list of features that make $1000 flagship devices shudder a bit. Quick capture, auto HDR, professional mode, burst mode, panorama, video stabilization adn even 4K Ultra HD video mode at 30 fps. The camera wow-factor continues around to the front of the G5 Plus with a 5MP, wide angle shooter for selfies and YouTube videos. The front shooter features a display flash, professional mode and beautification mode.

Moving on to the device itself, the G5 Plus feels premium in every way. The solid metal body and exceptional build quality just makes the G5 Plus feel premium in every way. We’re not sure how Motorola packed such a premium device into a $230 price, but color us impressed. The G5 Plus definitely has the right features for the average user, and it represents an unbelievable value for today’s smartphone market. Sure, there are other devices that may offer a deal at the sub $200 price point, but there are very few that offer the premium feel and performance of the G5 Plus. The G5 Plus is available for pre-order from the Motorola website and you can get your own Lunar Gray or Fine Gold G5 Plus as soon as they ship if you pre-order one today.

Motorola.com – Pre-Order your Moto G5 Plus here.

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Meet The Moto G Family

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When you think of the first mobile phones on the planet, the name Motorola is one of the first manufacturers that most recall. From their iconic Star-tac to the cutting edge RAZR, Motorola has been leading the way in mobile tech for quite some time. Of course, 10 years ago, Apple released a device that really did change everything, and Motorola has been struggling to hole their own. After a few buyouts and leadership changes, Motorola has emerged from the battle, like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Today’s Motorola line up is second to none in value, performance and design. From the Moto Z Force to the Moto G4, there’s a Moto for everyone, and just about every size budget. Since this is a budget phone blog, we know it gets confusing, but remember, we are all about saving you, the consumer, some coin every month, we are going to look at the lower end of the Moto spectrum that is out now and the next generation that is coming to find out what your best value really is.

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Starting off the list, there is the Moto G4 Play. Gone are the days of the Moto E and the budget handset, but that’s not a bad thing. The 16GB Moto G4 Play comes in black or white at a low cost of just $149.99. The Moto G4 Play features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor and 2GB of RAM. The 2800mAh battery keeps the 5” display powered up all day long. The 8 MP rear camera doesn’t struggle to capture those instant memories and the 5 MP front shooter will take some excellent selfies to share with your friends. It’s also worth noting that the rear camera also features full 1080p video recording as well. The Moto G4 Play also houses an internal SD slot for expanding the storage capacity another 128GB with a Micro SD card. Overall, if you are looking for an extreme budget phone that will work on the carrier you want (yes, this means Sprint and Verizon customers are good to go as well!) then you have found it in the Moto G4 Play.

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For those needing a bit more punch to their device, meet the Moto G4. The Moto G4 is currently on the moving block since the G5 is on the way. Upgrading almost every aspect of the G4 Play, the Moto G4 features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. It’s 5.5” display has a crystal clear 401 pixels per inch rating and the 3000 mAh battery will keep the Moto G4 powered up all day long. Of course, if you do hammer it into the ground or forget to charge it, the TurboPower charging system will net you about 6 hours of usage in just 15 minutes. The camera on the Moto G4 steps up to 13 MP and the front camera features the display flash feature, which will use the screen to illuminate those selfies in  darker places. Again, just like the Play, the Moto G4 is fully carrier friendly, so it can be used where you want to take it, no matter what. Since the G5 has been announced (more on that in a minute) the original Moto G4 has been marked down to just $179.99.

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For those looking for a bit more power, or with a bit more pop, we bid you welcome to the Moto G4 Plus. The G4 and G4 Plus are very similar handsets from the outside, but with the addition of 4GB of RAM and a 64GB storage option, the Plus really sets itself apart from the crowded sub $300 phone market. The 16 MP camera features laser auto-focus, 1080p video shooting with stabilization and just about everything else you can throw into mobile optics at this point in time. The front camera features all the same features as the G4 above, including the display flash. Really what the Moto G4 Plus delivers to users is a better camera and the ability to take your device to 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. For about $100 more than the G4, it seems like a no brainer to pay the extra to get these features that will do nothing but increase the longevity of your purchase.

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Finally, rounding out the Moto G family, we have the all new 2017 Moto G5 Plus. Since this one isn’t available to purchase yet, we were going to skip listing it, but the value of the Moto G5 Plus is pretty amazing. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 from the previous generation has been replaced with the newer 650 processor. The display has been sized down from 5.5” to 5.2”, which increased the PPI to a whopping 424. The new 12 MP camera performs even better in lower light conditions due to the f/1.7 aperture lens and the dual autofocus pixel system. The new camera also shoots 4k video content as well. It also is slated to ship with Android 7.0 on board, which is a generation newer than you can expect to see currently on the G4 designs. Now the story gets very interesting when we get to the rumored pricing for the Moto G5 Plus. It appears that Motorola has no plans to release the standard G5 in the US market. This makes the Plus the base model, which features 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage a complete steal if the rumored pricing of $229.99 are true. For those needing more, the 4GB/64GB model should come in around the $299.99 range. Again, these are not confirmed prices, but needless to say, the Moto G5 Plus looks to be a killer device for the cash.

Taking all of this into account, our money is still with the Moto G4 Plus until the release date and pricing for the G5 Plus is made official. If you don’t need that kind of storage though, the G4 makes a great argument for being the next device you place in your pocket.

 

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March 2017: Best Value On Each Cellular Network

Finding the best deal on the best network isn’t always easy. Internet searches pull up data from 2011 and list a group of carriers that are no longer in business, or worse yet, include nothing but links to “deals” and “offers” from the writer. To break this trend, we’ve brought back the Best Value In Wireless series. We’ve used this feature in the past to highlight phenomenal deals in the industry and how you can move from a costly monthly plan to something that will keep more money in your pocket. For each of the four major US Networks, you will find our best deals for plans on that network. Please take our advice and check your usage before you assume that unlimited plans are for you. For the most part, they are the biggest waste of money for most people.

AT&T – Net 10 Wireless – Unlimited talk, text and 3GB LTE data for $36 with auto pay.

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Net10 is not a newbie to the wireless game, in fact, when you look at MVNO history, Net10 Wireless is a classic. When plans all cost upward of $100 a month, Net10 was one of the first on the scene with a $50 unlimited offering. Now, times have changed, but Net10 offers a stellar deal for the lighter user at $31.50 for a plan that includes unlimited data with the first 500MB at LTE speeds to the $75 10GB plan for the heavier user. Our pick for best value using the AT&T network is the 3GB plan, which includes unlimited talk, text and 3GB of LTE data before being slowed for a monthly total of $36. Net10 is definitely ahead of the competition on this one and the savings can go directly in your pocket.

Sprint – Sprint Prepaid – Unlimited talk, text and 3GB of LTE data for $40 a month.

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This one was a bit shocking to us as well, but with all the MVNO’s that Sprint has gotten nasty with, Sprint Prepaid has really jumped out into the lead.  From their $40 a month prepaid offering to their multiple line discounts for families, Sprint Prepaid has just about everyone covered. Another bonus to the Sprint Prepaid plans is that after 12 consecutive monthly payments, you are eligible to roll your plan over to a Sprint post paid account, which nets you the ability to finance phones and devices without having to have a credit check performed.  If Sprint is the network with the best coverage in your area, check out Sprint Prepaid – just hit the prepaid link from the main menu.

T-Mobile – Unlimited talk, text and 3GB of data $40 or 100 minutes of talk, unlimited text and 5GB of data for $30.

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T-Mobile has so many deals right now, it’s hard to figure out which one to go with. Some users don’t use the phone to talk to people at all, and for those folks, T-Mobile has a deal for you. The $30 limited plan is something of a beauty in this age of the smartphone. Some may remember using this back in the day with GVoice to create a VoIP account and getting around that 100 minute limit, but this is a true option for those that prefer communicating via messages instead of minutes. If you are a bit more traditional, the $40 3GB plan should be right up your alley. Be aware though, T-Mobile chargers a SIM starter fee on all of their plans, so getting started, even when bringing your own device will set you back $25. This makes the Net10 Wireless offering at $36 a month a very tempting one since the start up cost is far less.

Verizon – Total Wireless – Unlimited talk, text and 5GB of slowed LTE data for $35 a month.

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Verizon, the carrier that seems to react to everyone else rather than setting the pace themselves. We love a great deal on service on the best network in the US, but this one goes without saying – Total Wireless is a steal. For just $35 a month, and an additional discount for auto payment, you get unlimited talk and text along with 5GB of slowed LTE data. We reached out to Total Wireless after reading reports on the internet about the actual data speeds, but the representative said only that speeds will vary based on network conditions and traffic. On average, LTE speeds came in at about 8-9 Mbps, which is more than enough for basic usage and even streaming video. At 5GB for the $35 plan, you’ll save about $200 a year over a like offering from Verizon Wireless when you use Total Wireless.

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The HTC U Ultra–Five Favorite Features

For some strange reason, there is no more polarizing phone on the planet right now than the HTC U Ultra. Those who have actually used the device, are in love with it. Those that have not, seem to bash some of the decisions that HTC has made in the hardware. All of that said, I managed to get my hands on the HTC U Ultra for an extended period of time and have decided that overall, the U Ultra offers an “ultra” premium experience at an ultra premium price point. That said, can I honestly recommend a device that will set most users back $750? You bet I can, and here’s why.

The Secondary Display – Quick access to everything you need. From the hourly weather, to frequently used App, to instant contacts, the secondary display has it all. Probably the best part of this feature is what it does for battery life. 16 hours into the day, I’m still sitting pretty at over 50% left in the tank. I’m sure that passing the notification duties off to the secondary display has quite a bit to do with this.

The Battery Life – I touched on this above, but this thing seriously rocks the power consumption numbers. As I said above, I can easily power through a full day of usage and not have to run for a charger. My Note 5 hardly makes it a half day without needing me to find a power source. In fact, it’s so bad, I put a wireless charging pad on my desk to keep it topped up. Needless to say, that’s not an issue with the U Ultra. Even leaving it off the charger overnight only drains a few percentage points of the battery. I’m not sure how they did it, but frankly, if you are a heavy user, get this phone.

The Processor – HTC has been destroyed in the press/blogs for their decision to launch the Ultra with the Snapdragon 821 processor. That move by the ‘press’ makes me laugh a bit as the 821 is still – to this day – the fastest processor Qualcomm has ever released. Sure, there’s the SD835 coming soon, but for the moment, the SD821 is still the best around. When using the Ultra, there’s no log, no hesitation and no problem running the heaviest of Apps. When you combine this with the fact that the battery usage is so well optimized, I question the need for anything more in the Ultra – ever. It’s simply perfect for this device.

The Camera – Wow, what a bounce back for HTC. The HTC One or M7 as it later became known, began the journey down UltraPixel lane for them. It was a very, very good camera on a great phone. With the M8, they ditched optical image stabilization and went to the DuoCam. It was fun to play with, but I felt it was a step sideways, instead of forwards. The M9 was a complete course reversal as they jumped to a 20MP shooter, which never really did much for me. Then the 10 came along and has one of the top rated cameras in the industry. The Ultra continues this evolution with the finest HTC camera that I have ever used. Fast, clear, colorful. The Ultra camera captures the moment in less than a moment.

The Design – This is where HTC really knocked it out of the park. The Ultra not only looks incredible, but it feels at home in almost every hand that I’ve put it in. Comments like, “It’s so light!” “It feels so smooth.” “I love the feel.” “Is that glass?” “How did they bend the edges?” are just the beginning for what the Ultra will inspire from people. I could complain that they could have made the Ultra a touch thicker to allow for more battery, or ditching the camera hump, the fact of the matter is, the Ultra looks perfect, feels perfect and performs perfect for what 99% of the every day user will toss at it.

When I consider the fact that the HTC U Ultra checks so many of the right boxes for what users want in a phone, I have to wonder why is there such a horrible response from the peanut gallery? From the pricing to availability and the processor to the lack of a headphone jack, people seem to paint the Ultra into a poor light. Here’s a news flash though, I’ve been using a $15 pair of Bluetooth Headphones for years. My Note 5 has a glass bac already. The $31.20 a month price via PayPal Credit is no different than having T-Mobile take the money from me. Oh, and the availability is just fine, you can order your Ultra right now and have it pretty darn quickly. The hard part is deciding what color to get. I will give them this one though, I’d love to see a Verizon variant sooner than later.

If you want to know more about the HTC U Ultra, let me know what you’d like to know in the comments below.

March 2017 FreedomPop Specials

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FreedomPop is back with a stellar phone offering with their FREE LTE plans. This month, the LG G4 is the device of choice. For less than $200 you can land yourself a stellar CPO LG G4 on the Sprint LTE network and a free month of unlimited talk and text along with a GB of data. After the first month, you can downgrade to the free plan that includes 200 minutes, 500 texts and a half GB of data for absolutely nothing! It’s a stellar deal for the one that wants a great smartphone at an even better price, but doesn’t want a huge monthly bill.

100% Free Mobile Phone Service w/ LG G4 – FreedomPop

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If you already have the phone you love, but want to lower that monthly bill, the FreedomPop GSM SIM is the perfect solution for you. Running on the nationwide AT&T LTE network, the GSM SIM will bring you 200 minutes of talk, 500 texts and 200 MB of data completely free each month. With the Freedom Friends program, you can expand this to 700MB of free data each month. If that’s not enough, FreedomPop has plenty of plans to choose from.

100% Free Talk, Text, & 4G LTE Data w/ the NEW 3-in-1 SIM Kit from FreedomPop

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Finally, the month is rounded out with the unbeatable phone for the world traveler. The LG Nexus 5 is GSM unlocked and ready to roll with the FreedomPop Global SIM which works in over 25 countries around the world. Life doesn’t get much better than that for the globetrotting lifestyle. Simply fire the phone up and anywhere you have WiFi you’re connected. Even better, in any of the 25 countries that are covered, you don’t even need to worry about that – your data goes with you around the world. This $99.99 offer is one that should not be missed. The roaming capabilities also make this the perfect “backup” phone as it will roam to multiple networks in the US and abroad.

100% Free Global Talk, Text, & Data w/ Nexus 5 – FreedomPop

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The HTC U Ultra: The Birth Of The Intelligent Phone

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Tech blogs and review sites love to make mountains out of mole hills as much as they love to sing the praises of the companies that send them free handsets. Currently, most of them are all up in arms over the latest offering from HTC, the HTC U Ultra. Comments and pull quotes that highlight the fact that it would be the best phone on the market, if it was 2016, or complaining about the lack of a headphone jack right after reviewing their new Bluetooth headphones, or the choice of processor that HTC put in it when the one they “wish was in it” hasn’t come out yet. They say there’s no such thing as bad press, but when you start off with reviews that are so critical, it’s hard to bounce back. The saddest part of most of these reviews is that the majority of the people writing them have never even seen the device, let alone spent any significant time using it. Keeping that in mind, as someone that has used the device, albeit for a very short time, I have to honestly say that they just don’t get what HTC has gone for with the Ultra, or at least not what I see that they are going for with their latest design.

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Taking a look under the hood on the U Ultra, you will see a very 2016 set of specs, and that is not a bad thing at all. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor features more than enough horsepower to get you through even the toughest multitasking sessions. The 5.7” primary display is supplemented by a secondary “notification screen” that brings the rationale behind the 3000 mAh battery into perspective. The 4GB of internal RAM and 64GB of internal storage are also more than enough for keeping your Apps and basics running all day long. The expandable storage slot (which takes up to 2TB SD cards – if they ever become available) will easily save the photos and videos you take and allow you to load a very large music catalog on to your Ultra without any worry of running low on space. The front is equipped with a fingerprint sensor and 16MP/4UP camera with optical image stabilization. The back features a 12UP shooter with an f/1.8 lens for faster shooting conditions. We move around to the bottom of the device that features a powerful speaker system and that USB-C port that is a “do-it-all” port on the Ultra since there is no 3.5mm headphone jack – more on this choice later. Overall, the blogs and tech reviews have this correct, it is a VERY powerful phone for 2016.

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Unfortunately, it is 2017, which means that that Ultra is flying a bit behind the times in some of those leaked new items like new processors and GPU’s. Devices will be hitting shelves later this year with the newer Snapdragon 835, 6GB of RAM and even more storage options. Of course, the same could be said of 2018 or 2019, there will always be something bigger, better, faster and stronger in the pipeline, so why wouldn’t you wait for the HTC 11 or the Samsung Galaxy S9 instead? The answer lies in something more simple than specs, for the Ultra and for the HTC U Play for that matter, it’s all about you, the user. HTC has been pioneering the software end of smartphones going back to early 2000’s. From their ground breaking Sense OS on Windows Mobile to innovations like Sense Home and that ever popular Weather Clock, HTC has been working up to what the Ultra and Play will bring to the user. Their name for this incredible achievement is Sense Companion, but I’ll just call it what it should be – Life Organizer.

My personal favorite feature of the Ultra is Sense Companion. Sense Companion is a virtual assistant of sorts, that will remember what you do and when you do it, then remind you if you forget. For example, if you leave the office everyday at 5:30 and call your wife, that one day you forget to call, the phone will remind you that you normally call your wife when you leave the office. If you have to get the kids to practice at 4:00 on Tuesday and traffic is bad, Sense Companion will check traffic at 3:30 and let you know you need to leave if you want to be on time. When planning that weekly golf outing, it will let you know that rain is expected in the morning so you can pack your umbrella. The long and the short of it is that Sense Companion isn’t just a digital assistant that will ‘remind you’ of things, but it learns from what you do, so it can be proactive for you and save you time and energy. Imagine how simple organizing your life could be if your phone remembered what you forgot to tell it? To me, this is the future of the smartphone, and despite the fact that ‘everyone’ has one coming this year, I can’t imagine that with the head start that HTC had with their Sense system, anyone will catch them very quickly.

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Moving back to the device itself and the feel of it, I have to admit that the only thing I could say when I held it for the first time, was that the Ultra felt like it was at home in my hand. It is a huge phone, but the craftsmanship that HTC put into the Ultra made it feel much lighter and smaller than it really is. I would use the term, “Balanced,” but that word just doesn’t go far enough. Between the curved glass edges and the solid metal banding around the device, the Ultra fits so well in the palm of so many sized hands that it’s hard to imagine one person not loving the feel of it. HTC accomplished this by stretching the screen further vertically, rather than horizontally, which gives the device a taller, but narrower design. In simple terms, they made the device hand sized, but made a gargantuan sized screen that fit it perfectly. The ergonomics of the Ultra also leads us to the biggest question mark in the design of the Ultra, the 3000 mAh battery.

In a time when Phablets are getting larger and larger, their batteries are growing with them. These days, it’s not uncommon to see a 4,000 or even a 5,000 mAh battery in a 5.7+ inch screen device. When I was first made aware that the Ultra was only packing 3,000 mAh and didn’t feature wireless charging, my heart sank a bit. But after using it for a while, I realized that the secondary display really helped save on the battery usage. Instead of powering on a 5.7” display to read a text and reply, the Ultra only has to power on the tiny secondary display that sits along the top edge of the larger display. After seeing how little battery is used by the secondary display, I believe that the 3,000 mAh battery should make it through an average day of work for me without any issue. For those nights that I need a bit of a boost, the Ultra features Quick Charge 3.0 technology that will top off the battery in almost no time at all. Worse case scenario, a quick trip to the charger at lunch time or right before I head out the door for home should get me through a long evening out.

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This brings me back to what really sets the Ultra apart, and really any HTC handset coming in the near future, the Sense Companion feature. I don’t think it can ever be stressed enough that higher end smartphones will all do the basic tasks very well. Even mid-range smartphones will handle most of the day to day tasks without any headaches. This begs us to question, what’s next. How fast does an App need to open? How much better can a mobile camera get? How much more storage does a device need? The HTC Ultra has plenty of horsepower to open those apps and keep then running along at a very impressive pace. The camera on the Ultra is second to none and should provide a shooting experience that even the most demanding mobile photographers can enjoy. The 64GB of storage is starting to look a bit long in the tooth, but again, expandable memory will help this along quite nicely and it’s more than devices like the Galaxy S7 or Note 5 have on board. Sense Companion though, that’s where the action is taken to the next level. By learning from you and adapting your phone to your needs, HTC is taking the smartphone and turning into what’s next, the Intelligent Phone.

The birth of the intelligent phone takes the concept of the smartphone to the next level. It’s not a phone that needs to have monster specs or one amazing stand out feature. It’s a phone that needs to understand you and what you need. That’s what HTC has created in the U Ultra, and for that matter, in the U Play. It’s a device that anticipates you, that understands your needs. It’s a device that knows you, that helps you organize your life. Maybe that’s where the U name comes from, at least that makes the most sense to me. The U Ultra will is available for pre-order at htc.com for $749.99 and includes a crystal clear case and a pair of USonic Earphones in the box. It’s currently only being offered as an unlocked GSM device, so Verizon and Sprint users may have to wait a bit to see if a CDMA/LTE version hits the HTC store.