Category: Mobiles

Nokia gets back into smartphones

 

wellington-bootFormer rubber boot maker Nokia is back in the smartphone game and launched a mid-range smartphone for the Chinese market.

The Nokia 6 is an Android smartphone and is being made by HMD which owns the rights to use Nokia’s brand on mobile phones.

The Nokia 6, which runs the newest version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android Nougat, sports a 5.5-inch full HD (1920×1080 pixels) display. With metal on the sides and a rounded rectangular fingerprint scanner housed on the front, the Nokia 6 seems reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy S7.

It is powered by a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor and will compete with the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy A series models and other mid-end smartphones. The smartphone is manufactured by Foxconn.

On the face of it there is not much to see there, but really there is not much to see in many mid-range smartphones anywhere. It does have dual amplifiers which it claims can deliver a louder sound but the innovation seems to stop there.

The Nokia 6 will exclusively sell in China through ecommerce giant JD.com for $250. HMD says it will launch more products in the first half of this year.

“China is the largest and most competitive smartphone market in the world,” the company said in a press note, justifying why its long-anticipated smartphone is limited to the Chinese market. “Our ambition is to deliver a premium product, which meets consumer needs at every price point, in every market.”

The idea is to get its brand into China where it can be noticed. The price point of Nokia 6 is very close to the average selling price offered by the top three Chinese players. The mid-end smartphone market is growing 12 percent year-on-year.

 

Chinese ZTE in big trouble

big-trouble-in-little-chinaChinese telecom equipment maker ZTE is slashing about 3,000 jobs, including a fifth of positions in its struggling handset business in China.

The company is already facing US trade sanctions that could severely disrupt its supply chain and is getting rid of about five percent of its 60,000 stron global workforce.

Its global handset operations will shed 600 jobs, or 10 percent of the total, with the cuts concentrated in China. Things have not been going very well in China and the outfit is losing market share.

A local manager in one of the company’s overseas branches said a 10 percent quota was given to shed staff in his department by the end of January.

The US Commerce Department first announced in March that it would impose a ban on exports by US companies to ZTE for allegedly breaking Washington’s sanctions on sales to Iran.

While this has not happened yet it could nobble the company’s supply chain because it relies on US companies including Qualcomm, Microsoft and Intel for about a third of its components.

 

Samsung laughing despite melting phones

laughing-camelSamsung is likely to forecast its best quarterly profit in nearly three years this week thanks mostly to good memory chip sales.

It would have been a lot better had it not for those pesky melting smartphones it released. The South Korean firm discontinued sales of the Galaxy Note 7 phones after some of the devices caught fire, warning of a $2.1 billion hit to its profit in the fourth quarter of 2016 due to expenses tied to an ongoing global recall and lost sales.

But a surge in sales of memory chips and organic light-emitting diode screens for smartphones will provide Samsung with a pile more cash than expected.

Samsung’s operating profit likely rose for a second straight quarter to $7 billion over October-December this is up 37 percent from a year ago, and the highest since the first quarter of 2014.

Memory chip prices have spiked recently on demand for more firepower on mobile devices. But it is the sales of the higher-end 3D NAND chips which have rallied significantly, helping Samsung rake in profits given it is ahead of its rivals such as Toshiba Corp and SK Hynix in the mass production of these chips.

Much depends on how badly the mobile business does with the incredible melting smartphone but most expect Samsung to make a huge profit this year.

For the recently ended quarter, Samsung’s mobile earnings likely rebounded from the dismal third quarter on healthy sales of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge smartphones, analysts said.

Shares in the company have increased by 43 per cent in 2016 suggesting investors did not expect a serious business impact from Samsung’s name being dragged into a growing political scandal in the country.

Apple sued over fatal crash in Texas

US court in texas

US court in texas

Apple is being sued over a fatal car crash in which a driver was distracted by FaceTime.

The plaintiffs claim Apple failed to introduce technology it had a patent for that could potentially have prevented the driver from using the app. The accident happened  on Christmas Eve, 2014.

Bethany and James Modisette, and their two children — Isabella and Moriah were in the car at the time. The family sustained serious injuries, and five year old Moriah died of her injuries in hospital.

Modisette’s lawyers claim Apple sat on the tech  that could have prevented it but failed to implement it.

The court filings point to a patent that Apple applied for in 2008 (and was granted in 2014) that would “lock out the ability of drivers to use the ‘FaceTime’ application on the Apple iPhone while using a motor vehicle.”

The case alleges that by failing to incorporate this patent, Apple contributed to the death of Moriah and the injuries of the rest of the family.

The company’s “failure to design, manufacture, and sell the iPhone 6 Plus with the patented, safer, alternative design technology already available to it … and failure to warn users that the product was likely to be dangerous when used or misused in a reasonably foreseeable manner … rendered the Apple iPhone 6 defective when it left defendant APPLE INC.’s possession, and were therefore a substantial factor in causing plaintiffs’ injuries and the decedent’s death,” the Modisettes’ lawyers allege.

Pixel has battery woes

lemon batteryGoogle’s Pixel phone might be rather nice, but it appears to be suffering from battery problems.

While these problems do not mean that they do a Note 7 and spontaneously combust, it does mean that they do an Apple and shut down when they still have 35 per cent of their power left.

It looks like they are suffering from the same shutdown bug that plagued the Nexus 6P where the device would prematurely turn off at 25 to 35 percent.

A few Reddit users are reporting that their Pixel devices are also suffering from the same shutdown bug. Some Pixel phones would prematurely shut down at or around 30 percent and would not turn back on until a charger is connected.

Vrski_15, who started the thread claimed that twice in last five days, has the phone shutdown abruptly while he was in middle of something. In both instances, battery was between 25-35 percent, and the phone under normal conditions should have lasted for at least next 3-4 hours.

In the case of the Nexus 6P, Huawei said that this was not a hardware problem but a software-related one. However, users found that the problem persisted even after downgrading to Android Marshmallow. This led Huawei to investigate further with Google, and although the company hasn’t revealed the cause yet, it is probably related to the problem that these Pixel users have been experiencing.

Blackberry licenses tech to China

BlackberryTroubled smartphone maker BlackBerry has done a deal with China’s TCL Communication to make and sell BlackBerry-branded mobile devices globally.

It is the outfit’s first licensing deal since it decided to become a software company.

TCL, which also makes Alcatel-branded mobile devices, will be coupled with BlackBerry’s security software and service suite, Blackberry said.

BlackBerry is betting its future on the more profitable business of making software and managing mobile devices after largely giving up on smartphones.

BlackBerry said in September that would outsource the development of its smartphones, and a month later launched its last mobile device – the Android-based DTEK60, which was made under an agreement with TCL.

The new agreement gives TCL, the fourth-largest handset maker in North America, the right to make and sell BlackBerry-branded smartphones in all countries except India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia, some of BlackBerry’s biggest handset markets.

BlackBerry in September signed a deal giving Indonesia’s BB Merah Putih the rights to make and sell new devices in that country, its largest handset market.

 

Nokia releases two basic handsets

bokbild20HMD Global, the Finnish outfit that owns the rights to use the Nokia brand on mobile phones, has released two basic handsets without internet access priced at $26 before local taxes and subsidies.

The Nokia 150 and Nokia 150 Dual SIM could go on sale in selected markets early next year.

The outfit, which is led by former Nokia refugees who took over the Nokia basic phone business from Microsoft and has struck a licensing deal with Nokia Oyj to bring the brand back from the dead.

The basic phone business makes most of its sales in India, elsewhere in Asia and eastern Europe. The business model will be based on making phones for the poorer countries and burners.  This will provide a base for more expensive Nokia smartphones.

The company is staffed by many employees who were let go when Microsoft’s love affair with mobile phones ended up in an expensive divorce. HMD Global is based in Finland, which is Nokia’s old stomping ground.

 

All in all the Note 7 is going to be another brick in the wall

another_brick_in_the_wall_by_rafdogThose who insist on hanging onto the Samsung Note 7s despite the warnings that they will catch fire will wake up to find their phones bricked soon.

Samsung announced that it will be issuing a software update to US Note 7s that will prevent the phone from charging or working as mobile devices.

The move comes a little over a month after Samsung capped charging on US Note 7s at 60 percent, and two months after Samsung fully recalled the phone because of explosions.

Samsung has done its best to get the phones back and offered customers financial incentives to exchange their phones and has issued updates in various countries that have made the phones less useful.

But there are still people that have decided to keep their melting phones.

Samsung said the software update will be released starting on 19 December and will be distributed within 30 days.

This software update will prevent US Galaxy Note7 devices from charging and will eliminate their ability to work as mobile devices. “Together with our carrier partners, we will be notifying consumers through multiple touchpoints to encourage any remaining Galaxy Note7 owners to participate in the programme and to take advantage of the financial incentives available.”

Supremes back Samsung against Apple

supremesThe US Supreme Court backed Samsung in the great battle over the rounded rectangle smartphone.

It threw out an appeals court ruling that the South Korean company had to pay a $399 million penalty to its American rival for copying key iPhone designs.

The 8-0 ruling, written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, held that a patent violator does not always have to fork over its entire profits from the sales of products using stolen designs, if the designs covered only certain components and not the whole thing.

The justices sent the case back to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington to determine how much Samsung must pay. But they did not provide a road map to juries and lower courts on how to navigate similar disputes in the future.

Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock said in a statement that the U.S. company remained “optimistic that the lower courts will again send a powerful signal that stealing isn’t right”.

Samsung said that the ruling was a “victory for Samsung and for all those who promote creativity, innovation and fair competition in the marketplace”.

For those who came in in late a 2012 jury verdict favoured the tax-dodging cargo cult and hit Samsung initially with nearly $930 million in penalties, later cut by $382 million, for infringing Apple’s iPhone patents and mimicking its distinctive “rounded rectangle” appearance.

Samsung in December 2015 paid its Cupertino, California-based rival $548 million but Samsung took the matter to the Supreme Court, saying it should not have had to make $399 million of that payout for copying the patented designs of the iPhone’s rounded-corner front face, bezel and colourful grid of icons that represent programs and applications.

Apple wanted more cash because Samsung presented no evidence that the article of manufacture in this case was anything less than its entire smartphone as sold. Samsung, meanwhile, said that it did not have to present such evidence as it was bloody obvious.

Samsung argued that it should not have had to turn over all its profits, saying that design elements contributed only marginally to a complex product with thousands of patented features.

The Supremes agreed completely and said that the term “article of manufacture was broad enough to encompass both a product sold to a consumer as well as a component of that product”.

The justices nevertheless refused to devise a test for juries and lower courts to use to discern what a relevant article of manufacture is in a case, a task that could be fraught with difficulty when considering high-tech products.

iPhone 6 battery fault is coming in the air tonight – oh lord.

tumblr_mv4z33OR101qdqzl4o1_500Fruity tax-dodging cargo-cult Apple has come up with another of its legendary stupid reasons for its products to fail.

Before it has covered up its poor designs by claiming that users were “holding their phones wrong” but the latest excuse really must take the cake – it is blaming the air.

Those who paid a lot of cash for an iPhone 6 found that it was starting to switch itself off a year later – coincidently just before Apple launched its iPhone 7. The batteries could cause the phones to shutdown without warning, an issue that Apple now says was caused by overexposure to “controlled ambient air”.

Apple probably means they sat out in the open in some warehouse for longer than they should have. Even if this were the case you would think that the design genii at Apple could handle the Air, after all there is rather a lot of air out there.

Apple isn’t replacing those batteries just yet, but the company says that an iOS update “available next week” will add “additional diagnostic capability” that will allow Apple to better track down and diagnose the causes of these shutdowns. Yep it it is offering an air detector, we think even Apple could write software which could do that.

It “may potentially help Apple improve the algorithms used to manage battery performance and shutdown,” as well. Those improvements will be included in future iOS updates.

In the meantime don’t breathe on your iPhone 6, it is a delicate flower and does not like it.