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Roundup of the month – 5 things you may have missed

February has been a busy month in the mobile industry, with most of the important announcements and news coming during last week’s Mobile World Congress. You can’t fail to have noticed high profile news such as a raft of new smartphones, gadgets, and advancements in mobile tech in general, but as always there have been lots of other important, interesting or just plain weird developments.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the month’s other news that may have escaped you in February.

Samsung announces 256 GB memory modules

Samsung 256 GB Memory

You can never have enough storage on a mobile device, despite the ubiquity of cloud-based storage solutions such as iCloud and Google’s offerings.

The price of embedded memory is constantly falling, leading to devices with more storage on which to save movies, pictures, and music.

Earlier this month Samsung announced it has started mass producing 256 GB memory modules using the latest Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 2.0.

Besides the high capacity, the memory can perform reads at 850 MBytes per second, or writes at around 260 MBytes per second. Samsung points out that this is actually quicker than a lot of solid state drives (SSDs) aimed at desktop PC users.

While 256 GBytes might seem great, such memory chips are expensive, which might be why the Galaxy S7 has only 32 GB by default, and also sees the return of the micro SD card that was sadly missing in last year’s S6.

Samsung says in future it will “extend its premium storage line-ups that are based on its advanced V-NAND flash memory including the new 256GB UFS, and increase their production volume in line with increases in global demand”.

All we want now is an iPhone 7 that has more than 16 GB of onboard memory…

Three promises to freeze UK prices for 5 years

Three UK

Customers of Three in the UK might have their bills frozen for five years, in a surprise announcement by Three’s owner Hutchison. The move is aimed at persuading regulators to approve its £10.5 billion merger with O2.

The European Commission is currently considering whether to approve the deal, as others express concerns that the resultant largest operator in the UK would lead to price increases.

Hutchison promised to maintain current unit prices for texts and phone calls for five years, part of its plan to spend a further £5 billion investing in the UK.

If/when the deal goes through, we’ll have just three mobile operators in the UK: Three/O2, BT/EE, and Vodafone.

Good old Three. However, that also could mean that prices won’t come down either…

Most Britons feel ‘unhappy or stressed’ without their mobile phones

No Cellphones

You won’t be surprised to hear that most British people are “unhappy or stressed” without their mobile phones to hand.

According to a survey conducted by Nationwide Building Society’s FlexPlus Current Account, more than half (58%) of people in the UK can’t go for more than a day without their phone, while just 28% were unable to go more 24 hours without talking with their partner.

Indicating just how mobile-addicted we are as a nation, 53% of people in the survey said they check their phone before talking to their partner. What’s worse, is that 42% of people would prefer to forget their anniversary than lose their mobile (if they were forced to choose between the two).

Two thirds of the 2,000 people surveyed said they would feel unhappy, stressed or anxious with their phone.

Verizon has the best mobile network in the US

Top US Network Operators

Across the pond, it was revealed this month that Verizon has the best mobile network in the US. RootMetrics ran its own tests to determine which operator came out trumps, and apparently Verizon came out the clear favourite head of T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T.

Verizon managed to perform best overall with a total rating of 94.5, beating AT&T’s 91.3, Sprint at 86 points and T-Mobile lagging with just 80.9. RootMetrics looked at various factors such as reliability, speed, data performance, call and text performance in all 50 states.

Verizon was also found to have the best network in the most populated metro areas, with AT&T second, followed by Sprint and T-Mobile in last place again.

One area in which Verizon didn’t fare so well was text performance, as it lost to AT&T and scraped past Sprint.

You can read full details about the survey at RootMetrics.

Mobile phone use linked to poor quality sperm!

Mobile in Pocket

It’s been a while since I’ve used the words mobile phone and sperm in the same sentence, but an article in the Daily Mail (and no doubt other publications that jumped on the story) reported that “Men who talk on their mobile phones for an hour a day ‘are twice as likely to have low sperm quality'”.

The study was carried out by researchers from the Carmel Medical Centre in Israel, and published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online.

However, the NHS for one has basically said that based on the research, we still don’t know if there’s a clear link. The men studied were apparently already experiencing fertility problems and has been sent to a clinic for assessment, and give questionnaires to complete, ironically, on their mobile phone.

The researchers did find some interesting facts such as the amount of time spent speaking on the phone, or using it while it was charging. But, the NHS and other authoritative organisations have pointed out the inconclusive nature of the research and overall findings, summarising that “Overall, the question of whether mobile phone use and exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation could be having an adverse effect on male fertility is an important one, but it cannot be answered by this study”.

It may be worth keeping your mobile in a jacket pocket, just to be on the safe side…

You can read more details on the NHS website here.

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