Study claims AT&T's fake 5G is slower than other carrier's regular 4G

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AT&T has been accused of slapping a 5G label on top of what is effectively still a 4G LTE network, and now there appears to be some evidence to support that theory. According to a study conducted by OpenSignal, AT&T’s so-called 5G E network offers similar speeds to LTE and actually clocked in just a tick slower than enhanced 4G services from Verizon and T-Mobile.

AT&T promises in its marketing materials that its 5G E service is a “first step on the road to 5G” and can offer “up to up to 2x faster than standard LTE.” However, the speed tests from OpenSignal seems to indicate that isn’t the case. The company collected data from 5G E capable phones on AT&T’s recently rolled-out 5G E network to smartphone users getting standard 4G LTE services from other carriers. While it found AT&T was providing solid speeds, an average of 28.8Mbps download rates, it offered no discernible difference when compared to most LTE networks. T-Mobile achieved download speeds of 29.4Mbps, while Verizon users averaged 29.9Mbps.

In a statement provided to Engadget, AT&T contends that OpenSignal’s study is inaccurate. “OpenSignal’s note reveals their methodology is flawed,” a spokesperson for AT&T said. “Speed test data purporting to show the ‘real-world experience of 5G Evolution’ without verifying the capable devices were tested in a 5G Evolution coverage area as shown by the indicator does not accurately represent the 5G Evolution user experience.”

AT&T has been all in on the 5G E network despite criticism. The company has introduced a 5G E indicator for smartphones on its network and opened up the pseudo-5G service in more than 100 locations so far. Competing carriers have taken shots at the company over the service, and Sprint has gone so far as to sue over the branding.

Verizon owns Engadget’s parent company, Verizon Media. Rest assured, Verizon has no control over our coverage. Engadget remains editorially independent.

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Crunchyroll raises its monthly subscription price to $7.99

Crunchyroll is announcing its first major price increase since the anime streaming service launched in 2006.

Prices for its premium subscription will go up in the United States, Great Britain, Australia and the Nordics — in the U.S. and Australia, the monthly price will increase from $6.95 to $7.99 (or $79.99 per year), while British subscribers will see their bill go up from £4.99 to £6.50 (or £64.99 per year).

You don’t need to pay to watch Crunchyroll content, but a subscription gives you access to an ad-free experience, simulcasts shortly after a program airs in Japan and full access to the Crunchyroll library.

The company says it has 12 million active monthly users and 2 million paying subscribers.

As for why it’s raising prices after so many years, a spokesperson suggested this is a natural part of Crunchyroll’s evolution, as it has transformed from a site that depended on fans for (often-pirated) content to one that works with all the major Japanese licensors, and claims to hold more than 90 percent of the world’s anime content in its library.

“Crunchyroll has the world’s largest collection of anime and we are grateful to have focused on building out such a robust library for over the last decade, without a significant price change in our company history,” the spokesperson said. “However, due to rising costs of content and infrastructure, now is the time to introduce new subscription pricing. This price increase will help us bring our community more of their favorite shows, allowing us to create even more experiences for them to connect with each other and through shared passion for anime.”

Current monthly subscribers will be able to continue paying their current price for another three months, while annual subscribers will be “grandfathered” at their current price for another year.

This comes amidst broader corporate changes. Following AT&T’s acquisition of the company now called WarnerMedia, it also took full ownership of Otter Media. And WarnerMedia has clearly been rethinking the strategy behind its individual streaming sites as it plans to launch a more comprehensive service later this year.

Updated with a revised quote from Crunchyroll

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Talk about the big news from GDC with TechCrunch writers

The Game Developers Conference concludes today in San Francisco but that doesn’t mean our coverage is over.

TechCrunch writer Lucas Matney and Extra Crunch contributor Eric Peckham were at the Moscone Center and got a first-hand glimpse into what is coming up for gamers and developers alike. And at noon PT today they’ll be sharing what they saw with Extra Crunch members on a conference call.

First, there can be no discussion about gaming news this week without mentioning Google’s new game-streaming service Stadia. As Lucas wrote this week, the service will let gamers leave their hefty GPUs and expensive systems behind … and the service can be used on devices with a Chrome browser and an internet connection.

They’ll also be discussing the latest about game engines, VR and voice-based gaming.

To listen to the call and the opportunity to participate in future conference calls, become a member of Extra Crunch. Learn more and try it for free. 

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Firefox is now a better iPad browser

Mozilla today announced a new iOS version of Firefox that has been specifically optimized for Apple’s iPad. Given the launch of the new iPad mini this week, that’s impeccable timing. It’s also an admission that building a browser for tablets is different from building a browser for phones, which is what Mozilla mostly focused on in recent years.

“We know that iPads aren’t just bigger versions of iPhones,” Mozilla writes in today’s announcement. “You use them differently, you need them for different things. So rather than just make a bigger version of our browser for iOS, we made Firefox for iPad look and feel like it was custom made for a tablet.”

So with this new version, Firefox for iPad gets support for iOS features like split screen and the ability to set Firefox as the default browser in Outlook for iOS. The team also optimized tab management for these larger screens, including the option to see tabs as large tiles, “making it easy to see what they are, see if they spark joy and close with a tap if not.” And if you have a few tabs you want to share, then you can do so with the Send Tabs feature Mozilla introduced earlier this year.

Starting a private browsing session on iOS always took a few extra tabs. The iPad version makes this a one-tap affair as it prominently highlights this feature in the tab bar.

Because quite a few iPad users also use a keyboard, it’s no surprise that this version of Firefox also supports keyboard shortcuts.

If you are an iPad user in search of an alternative browser, Firefox may now be a viable option for you. Give it a try and let us know what you think in the comments (just don’t remind us how you work from home for only a few hours a day and make good money… believe me, we’re aware).

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Long-term impressions: Jabra Elite 65t wireless earbuds

Change is tough for most people, but there comes a time when dated technology deserves to be relegated to the back of the closet. After several years with a pair of Klipsch S4 earbuds and then around two years with various pairs of Audio-Technica earbuds that did not hold up well, it was time to go wireless. Enter the Jabra Elite 65t true wireless earbuds.

After combing the internet and looking through practically every pair of wireless earbuds in existence, Jabra’s offering won out. The Elite 65t earbuds do many things well, but may not be the absolute best in any one given category.

For any pair of earbuds, comfort is one of the most noticeable characteristics the moment they are tried on for the first time. It was a little awkward getting used to the twisting motion required to properly lodge the earbuds in such a way that they comfortably sit without feeling like they are going to fall out. After a few weeks, the Elite 65t’s had no problem staying in place for the duration of their battery life. Although not perfect, comfort is more than adequate for everyday use.

In the battery department, Jabra claims that the Elite 65t earbuds can achieve 5 hours of use, and then can be recharged twice using the case for a total of 15 hours. In practice, actual use time tends to run closer to the 4-hour mark, with the total runtime clocking in around 12-13 hours depending on usage. Strictly listening to music at a medium volume for a few hours at a time, then allowing time for a full recharge can in fact get pretty close to specified use time.

Should you wish to rock out a bit and listen at louder volumes, Jabra has got you covered on this front. Not only are the Elite 65t capable of getting uncomfortably loud, they do not distort audio at any volume that reasonable humans are willing to put into their ears. Volume controls on the left earbud adjust the volume on the earbuds themselves, not the output volume of the device they are paired with.

One of the biggest drawbacks of the storage and charging case is the fact that is still has a microUSB port on it. Jabra really needs to start selling a replacement case with USB-C on it. The case also is difficult to keep clean internally. The soft touch material feels nice, but it is very difficult to remove trace amounts of earwax from. On the outside, the semi-glossy black shows fingerprints as expected, but at least the exterior is easily cleaned with a cloth.

Unlike AirPods that dangle freely in your ears, Jabra’s Elite 65t buds form a good seal that passively blocks out most ambient noise. Even though they are not noise cancelling, they are good enough for use on airplanes and while walking through noisy city streets.

While still on the topic of AirPods, call quality is an area that Jabra falls a little short in. Jabra does make drastically better sounding earbuds, but Apple wins on clarity of phone calls. As a wearer of the earbuds, everything sounds just fine. However, recipients of calls will be subjected to mediocre noise canceling effects. Having a total of four microphones to work with still does not make the Elite 65t good enough for phone calls.

For those that listen to audio while they work, the noise isolation might be too good for office work. To avoid being startled by coworkers, one of the unique features is an audio pass through feature using the dual microphones found in each earbud. Admittedly, this is a feature that does not work as well as it should, but it does the job. Voices sound tinny and seem very inconsistent in volume. It is still preferable to just take out the earbuds if you are going to hold a conversation with someone.

Over time, sound quality has remained excellent. These are not audiophile cans, but they are certainly leagues above dollar store earbuds. Lows are reproduced as good as can be expected from tiny drivers, with mids and highs displaying clarity that matches equally expensive wired earbuds.

The Jabra Sound+ app allows for greater control of the Elite 65t. Customizable equalizers and access to additional settings such as which voice assistant can be activated are available. It is possible to avoid using the app entirely, but it is at least worth checking out early on. Over time, the app has been used less and less. It is now hidden in the depths of my app drawer just taking up space.

Unfortunately, wireless connectivity does have its downfalls. Jabra has not created the perfect wireless system. There will be times when audio stops for a second or encounters some unwanted noise. Although not all that frequent, it happens often enough to wish that the connection was better. Jabra offers no real advice for this phenomenon.

When using the Elite 65t with different devices, your mileage will vary greatly. Connecting to smartphones and tablets that only have Bluetooth 4.x will result in a significantly worse experience full of stuttering audio. Connecting to a laptop with Bluetooth 4.0 was practically useless. The audio quality sounded like holding a payphone handset next to each ear. In all fairness, Jabra does state that “Bluetooth is not optimized for audio streaming on many computers.” Trying again with a newer laptop that has Bluetooth 5.0, the audio quality was still pretty poor, but at least usable in a pinch.

The privilege of using nearly identical wireless earbuds for Skype calls and video conferencing will cost you almost twice as much. Jabra’s Evolve 65t earbuds are the business version of the Elite 65t gaining a Bluetooth USB adapter specifically for audio streaming. Aside from that, they look almost identical. Elite Active 65t and Elite Sport models add full protection against sweat and heart rate monitoring respectively if there are any serious fitness readers here. For casual trips to the gym, the standard Elite 65t buds have IP55 protection and in my case have held up just fine.

With all that said, would I buy the Jabra Elite 65t again? In short, yes. If you are able to look past some minor annoyances associated with wireless connectivity, it is liberating to never feel the tug of wires at your ears. Apple users will not get quite the same fluid experience with third-party hardware, but they can benefit from far superior audio. Android users should strongly consider the Elite 65t with few reservations.

Jabra has the Elite 65t earbuds listed at $169.99 on their website and sells them directly on Amazon and Best Buy but they’re closer to $150 on the retailers with a few sales bringing them even a tad lower if you’re in luck and the idea of quality wireless earbuds sounds intriguing but the asking price is just a little more than you are willing to part with.

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