How a company sends a message can be as important as the message itself, but we first have to be ready to listen.

It’s easy (and fun) to manufacture a controversy, especially when it’s about a company with a past that thrived on controversy to begin with. I’m talking about OnePlus of course, and before you decide you’ve heard enough about OnePlus this week I’ll urge you to stop, take a few minutes and read just one more thing.

I recently wrote an article that parrots the thoughts of a lot of folks by saying not to buy a phone from OnePlus right now because of all the privacy and user data-handling concerns that seem to have surrounded the company lately. A credit card breach, some user data moving out of the phone and into the internet, and a clipboard that was being monitored by another app was just too much to swallow in such a short time and from just one company. We deserve better.

Drama and smartphones go hand-in-hand on the internet.

No company likes seeing those kinds of words written about it, especially when its side of the story isn’t nearly as worrying and isn’t getting out past all the noise the internet is so good at making. And I include myself and Android Central here — we make our fair share of noise whenever we think some noise needs to be made. In any case, OnePlus reached out to me and after a friendly and informative chat, I’ve realized a few things: not everything can be taken at face value; transparency is important; and blowing things out of proportion is awfully easy to do when an army of people are willing to do it.

Pointing a finger is easy, too. I can point one at myself and say I should have heard out OnePlus before I took to the keyboard, I can point one at all of us and say we make up our minds and tune out anything that doesn’t match up with our narrative, and I can point one at OnePlus to say that all this could be avoided if it were more transparent and got in front of it all with a candid statement from the top.

It’s not my place to make you feel at ease regarding privacy concerns with OnePlus. It is my place to explain my issues and why I feel differently today. After reading through a mountain of forum posts, tweets, obscure articles and subsequent retractions, it looks like OnePlus fell victim to what the internet is good at — getting outraged, then moving on when the next thing caught our attention. A big part of it is human nature. Juicy gossip is more interesting to read and share than the boring follow-up that clears the air. To that end, articles and forum threads about OnePlus stealing data or credit card numbers (both are absolutely false) get passed around a lot more than the explanation or retractions to those articles.

I can say that the two biggest issues I had were about the way the clipboard was monitoring what users were typing, and how long it took for OnePlus to respond once it realized their payment system had been breached. Turns out that the clipboard thing is part misunderstanding, part fabrication and part signal-to-noise ratio. It’s done to be helpful, and users in China are faced with one company’s app blocking URLs to another company’s content — just like OnePlus claimed it was and nobody listened because it did not get the message out. And I’ve been assured that the investigation into the credit card data breach is still in full force, was a priority since it was exposed, and even if the message didn’t make it through, OnePlus did what was necessary to make sure no more financial data was getting mishandled as soon as the breach came to light.

Consider this my retraction. I hope it gets as much attention as the original.

This puts me back where I used to be when it comes to buying one of the company’s products. Do I trust in OnePlus? Heavens no, but I don’t have implicit trust in any for-profit corporation to do anything except keep being for-profit. I just won’t write the company off as not caring or being capable of managing user data when it comes to its phones. It’s obvious that someone there cares, and all of this is really hard to do. It’s equally obvious that even news we want to hear can be buried so deeply that we never get to hear it, and that problem is bigger than just OnePlus.

That leaves me with a new issue. It’s fine to make me feel at ease by reaching out for a one-to-one chat, but that doesn’t help you unless a company plans to reach out to everyone that way. OnePlus is no stranger to controversy, which makes it a lot easier to build a case against it. The company needs to find a way to get the message out when there is something important to say. While recording our latest podcast, Managing Editor, Daniel Bader, said this needed Carl Pei (OnePlus co-founder and face of the company in much of its early marketing) to come forward with the company’s statement. That’s a grand idea, and when you are marketing a phone to a group of people who are enthusiasts and apt to tear it all apart to find things like this, it might work. It would definitely work better than responding in a forum post that gets buried under all the accusations.

OnePlus wants you to buy a phone from them, not steal your SMS history.

We can do our part, too. Yes, OnePlus has had its fair share of bad press, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore one side of any future fiasco in the making. For example, OnePlus forum users are concerned about an app called MKey that’s part of the Oreo update for the OnePlus 5T in India. It asks for permission to use the phone, send SMS, read contacts and media. It should, because it’s a keyboard designed to make it easier for multi-language users employing India-specific fonts — and it can send SMS messages. It’s like an emoji keyboard but not written for fun as much as utility. OnePlus explained what the app in question was and what it can do directly to the forum-goers who had those questions. The explanation was (and still is) ignored and claims of shipping data for Indian customers to China are still being thrown around. If you see an article that makes these claims, ask the author to talk to OnePlus.

And OnePlus, I’m asking you to talk to your customers. Don’t just respond in kind with a forum post or a PR message on your blog, because that’s not working. If we, as Android fans and enthusiasts, do our part, you’ll need to do yours.

I’m still not ready to call the OnePlus 5T the best phone you can buy, but it is a phone you’ll probably love if you do buy one. And OnePlus is trying hard to protect your data even if it has a difficult time convincing the internet at large.

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Faster data speeds are on the way, but you’ll need to pay more for them.

Wireless carriers in the United States are currently in a race to offer truly 5G networks and Sprint just announced that it plans on being the first one to roll out nationwide 5G coverage during the first half of 2019.

To achieve this, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure says the carrier will add new antennas to its towers that are capable of sending and receiving large MIMO transmissions. 5G support will be added to the towers/antennas with a software update, and unlike other carriers, Sprint will be deploying its 5G network through its 2.5GHz spectrum.

Over half of Sprint’s towers already support the 2.5GHz standard, and the goal is to expand this to all operating towers by the end of 2018. Furthermore, to help ensure the 5G network’s expansion, Sprint will utilize the power of 40,000 “outdoor small cell solutions” 15,000 strand-mounted cells, and as many as 1 million of the network’s Sprint Magic Boxes (small signal boosters that customers can purchase and use in their homes).

According to Marcelo –

Sprint is the only carrier that doesn’t have to compromise what 5G can deliver because we can deliver super wide channels of more than 100 MHz while still delivering mid-band coverage characteristics.

Another thing worth noting is the fact that Sprint’s 5G network is expected to cost more than what it currently charges for unlimited 4G LTE speeds. This is something the market saw during the transition from 3G to 4G networks, and while Sprint says it’ll continue to be a “price leader” before its 5G rollout, customers are going to “potentially see some modest price increases in the next year, but nothing substantial.”

Speaking more on the 5G price hike, Marcelo states that –

It’s going to be very difficult for our competitors to increase the price of unlimited, but we’re going to have a lot of room to increase our price of unlimited to get to similar prices as Verizon and AT&T in the future. You get that by having that amazing network. You get that by being the first one to launch 5G. So we’re looking at 5G as an amazing opportunity for the company not only for the position of the company, but also to charge for the blazing fast speeds.

In early January, AT&T announced that it would introduce a genuine 5G network to 12 markets across the U.S. by the end of 2018. T-Mobile is expected to start deploying its 5G network at some point in 2019, and Verizon will launch its 5G service in a handful of cities this year.

With 5G just on the horizon of finally becoming a reality, what are looking forward to the most with these increased speeds?

A 5G network owned by the United States government? It’s not going to happen

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The kick is up, and it’s good!

There are a few things that are 100% wholly American. One of them is using “American” when you really mean the United States, and another is the Super Bowl. It’s a weekend holiday in almost every way and even if you’re not into American Football you can’t help but see and hear about the teams, the drama, and the commercials.

Once you have all the snacks and beverages purchased, the recliners oiled and ready for action, and your television screen sparkly clean and streak-free, take a minute and say hey in the weekend comments!

I’m not the biggest football fan, and “my” team will be watching the Super Bowl from home just like most of us will be, but I’ll probably be tuned in. I don’t want to miss the spectacle and not have a clue when everyone is talking about what happened come Monday. I even have a friendly wager with my neighbor and will be looking forward to the next snowfall so he can shovel my driveway when the Patriots win by 7.

What’s your line on the game? Will the Patriots find a new way to bend the rules so they win again or will Philly feed on all the excitement and go Hulksmash to win big? And who will have the best commercial? Jump into the comments and talk about it!

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We’ve teamed up with HTC and have not one but two red HTC U11 phones to give away to you and your sweetheart!

HTC often runs some sort of sale with each major holiday, and just in time for Valentine’s Day, the company has announced its latest promotion. Now through February 15th you can score a new HTC U11 with a $100 discount, which is a smoking deal. On top of that, we’ve teamed up with HTC and have not one but TWO red HTC U11 phones to give away! Keep reading to get yourself entered!

THE GIVEAWAY: Head down to the widget at the bottom of this page. There are multiple ways to enter, each with varying point values. Complete all of the tasks for maximum entries and your best shot at winning! Keep in mind that all winning entries are verified and if the task was not completed or cannot be verified, a new winner will be chosen. The prize does not include service, and we cannot guarantee that the device will work on all carriers. International winners will be responsible for any customs fees incurred during shipping.

The giveaway is open until February 13, 2018, and the winner will be announced right here on Valentine’s Day. Good luck!

Win a red HTC U11 for you and your sweetheart in this Valentine’s Day giveaway!

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