Tag: smartphone

Look out Apple and Samsung! Huawei is here

William Xu, HuaweiChinese smarphone maker Huawei wants to get into the high end of the smartphone market, which should put the fear of Jobs into Apple and Samsung.

Dubbed the Mate S, launched on the sidelines of Europe’s biggest consumer electronics show, IFA, in Berlin, has a 5.5-inch display, a 13 mega pixel rear camera and fingerprint security. Huawei says it is one of the first smartphones to include a Force Touch display, which can distinguish between a light tap and deep press, enabling access to more functions just by pressing harder.

Huawei became the world’s third-biggest smartphone company by sales last month, overtaking Chinese rival Lenovo.

But it is still far behind Samsung, which had 21.9 percent of the market in the second quarter, and Apple, on 14.6 percent. Huawei’s share rose to 7.8 percent from 5.4 percent in the first quarter.

Huawei’s Mate S phone will retail for $732 which is slightly cheaper than some of the higher-end Apple iPhone 6 series models.

Its Mate S will be available in more than 30 countries including China, Germany, Israel, Japan, France, Germany and Spain and can be pre-ordered in Western Europe from September 15.


Google delays modular smartphone project

legiofkSearch engine outfit Google has confirmed that its modular smartphone plans have been delayed.

The pilot for Project Ara, which was to start in Puerto Rico later this year, will instead be delayed until 2016.

Project Ara was the product of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group. The aim was to create an Android-based smartphone platform where nearly every piece of hardware, including the battery, processor and camera, is a separate piece of the handset that can be replaced or customised without upgrading to a completely new device.

Google said the latest plan is to bring its modular smartphones to a “few locations” in the mainland United States for the initial rollout, but did not elaborate on the cause of the delay or the change of location.

The news comes less than a week after the company confirmed it would “re-route” the planned Puerto Rico pilot to a new location. Puerto Rico was chosen as a test ground for the experimental phones due to the island’s “incredibly diverse” population, which is divided almost equally between smartphone users and more basic feature phone users.

The company had planned to make handsets available through the territory’s two largest carriers, with a variety of devices sold via food truck-like storefronts.

It’s not yet clear how or where Google plans to distribute Project Ara devices during the mainland US rollout, but the company says more details about the changes will be coming soon.

Kyocera invites you to swim with your phone

Kyocera WaveKyocera said it has introduced a waterproof 4G LTE Android phone – the Hydro Wave.

It’s not clear if and when it will be available in Europe, but Kyocera said the $150 phone is also drop proof and “impact resistant”.

The phone will cost $150 in America, and be initially sold through T-Mobile shops from today.

The device as a five inch screen and Kyocera claims that water damage and dropped phones are top of the list of causes of smartphone disasters.

The company claimed the Wave will survive showers or even total immersion for up to 30 minutes a metre of water – better still, you can use the phone while it’s still wet.

The shock proofing comforms to the US military 810G certification and it’s also got a dustproof rating too.

The phone also has a five megapixel camera that can capture 720p HD video, and stereo Bluetooth.

It uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip.

Hancock has his half hour of fame

Tony Hancock, WIkimedia CommonsThe minister in charge of the UK government’s digital service made a keynote speech at the National Digital Conference 2015 today.

Matthew Hancock, who lives in the Cabinet Office, described the smartphone as “one of the most profound symbols of digital transformation the world has ever seen”.

He said the smartphone is a miniature office, a digital camera and a fitness monitor. He said that some of his younger officials use the smartphone as a dating agency.

He claimed that if you tried to get the same functionality in 1990, the memory and components alone “would cost around $3.6 million”.

He said that the last coalition government aimed to make important transactions digital by default – citing for example apps to view your driving licence and visiting prisons.

He said there are about 700 interactions between government and UK citizens and many could be digitised but it’s time consuming and expensive to build the infrastructure.

He claimed that the introduction of “government as a platform” includes building “core digital plumbing” which can be used by different government departments.

The UK government is prototyping a status tracking platform that can be used by any service.

He claimed that Intel’s Moore’s Law means “you really can do more of less, if you use technology”.

He said that the symbol of transformation “is no longer the iPhone in your hand, but here, miniaturised in the iWatch on your wrist”.

Huawei sells 50 million phones in 2015

William Xu, HuaweiHuawei has sold  50 million phone sales so far this year which is 46 percent more than the same time last year.

And that figure has been managed by ignoring the US market completely and concentrating on the Asian and European markets.

Revenue during the same six month period came to approximately $6.9 billion US dollars.

What is also amazing is that Huawei just rolled out its latest flagship device in April in a couple of Asian territories and this would not have affected the figures.

The 5.2-inch P8 has not hit Europe yet although a 5 inch P8 lite version is available on Amazon at $250. The 6.8-inch P8 max, which Huawei says will cost  $610 in China for a July release has not come out yet either.

The Huawei P8 Max is powered by an octa-core Kirin 935 processor with four cores clocked at 2.2GHz and four more at 1.5GHz. The P8 Max comes with 3GB RAM and 64GB internal storage – there’s no other storage options unlike the P8 which comes in Standard (16GB) and Premium (64GB) variants – while the microSD card can expand the storage by up to 64GB and doubles up as a secondary SIM card slot.

The Honor 7, fast charging, Google blessed Nexus which Huawei is running next is also coming. Either way it is looking like Huawei is going to have a busy year with or without the US. [That’s enough about phones, Ed.]

Forget the Apple Watch, analysts say

Withings Activite PopThe people at ABI Research have torn apart the Withings Activite Pop watch and described it as elegant and simple.

The watch, said Jim Mielke, VP of Teardowns, at ABI, provides eight months battery life and uses micro amps of current. The watch is a combination of semiconductor tech and mechanical hand movement mechanisms.

Mielke said the battery life is impressive because most time or activity trackers “are working hard just to get a few days of battery life”.

The machine has a Bluetooth system on a chip, and an accelerometer built into its design. It retails in the UK for about £120.

Mielke said: ‘This merger of technology could become the standard for a long battery life, always on smart watch and or fitness trackers, especially for traditional watch makers. Enabling a long batter life provides clear advantages over the smart watches coming from smartphone vendors.”

The watch synchronises with your smartphone clock. It’s compatible with both Apple iOS and Android operating systems and connects to the smartphones using Bluetooth.

Addicted to smartphones don’t ya know that they’re toxic?

Britney_Spears_Toxic-e1428916575934A Japanese University president has told his students that smartphones are toxic and they should quit their smartphones or quit school.

Channelling Britney Spears Shinshu University President Kiyohito Yamasawa told his students that their addiction to smartphones was “toxic.”

“Smartphone addiction slows down brain functions and wastes precious time,” he added.

Yamasawa’s comments are being seen as a split from students and other college heads, with some saying that smartphones were useful for finding information.

A government survey released in March shows that over 80 per cent of high school students who own a mobile phone use a smartphone. Smartphone users aged between 10 and 17 spend an average of 133 minutes on the Web per weekday using their device, the study also showed.

Another head, Hiroshi Hosoi, the president of Nara Medical University in western Japan,referred to Yamasawa’s comments while speaking to his freshmen at another ceremony.

He said that it was true that spending time reading books is probably better for developing one’s character, but the important thing was to learn how to use smartphones properly, because they are tools.

The phones not the students, we guess.

Patent trolls making smartphones too pricey

The cost of the existing system of patents is pricing smartphones off the market as manufacturers are spending a bomb trying to avoid trolls.

A new report  compiled by Ann Armstrong, Joseph Mueller and Timothy Syrett said that it costs manufacturers more to buy patents for their products than it does to make the gear.

There has been a focus on “royalty stacking,” in which the demands of patent holders across the relevant technology or the device threaten to make it economically unviable to offer the product, the report said.

“The data show that royalty stacking is not a theoretical concern. Indeed, setting aside off-sets such as “payments” made in the form of cross-licences and patent exhaustion arising from licensed sales by component suppliers, we estimate potential patent royalties in excess of $120 on a hypothetical $400 smartphone—which is almost equal to the cost of device’s components,” the report said.

The result is that the smartphone royalty stack across standardised and non-standardised technology is significant, and those costs may be undermining industry profitability—and, in turn, diminishing incentives to invest and compete, it said.

The report added that the magnitude of the potential royalty burdens on a smartphone were getting extremely high. The smartphone royalty stack may be one important reason why selling smartphones is currently a profitable endeavour for only a small number of suppliers who already own shedloads of patents.

Many of the largest royalty demands rely on the methodology of seeking a royalty based on a percentage of the sales price of the entire smartphone, as opposed to the modest price of the component within the phone itself. 

Smartphone is not stuffed

Despite a belief that the golden age of smartphones are gone, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf, its new chief executive, claimed the outfit is developing technologies that will drive continued demand for smartphones.

Mollenkopf took over as chief executive officer at the company’s annual shareholders meeting on Tuesday. He was named in December to replace Paul Jacobs, the son of a Qualcomm co-founder.

Mollenkopf told the shareholders’ meeting that while it is true that there were some parts of the world where everyone has a smartphone, there were parts where no one had them.

He said that there are a lot more smartphones waiting to be made and Qualcomm has the chips to put inside them.

Mollenkopf pointed to wireless connectivity, cameras, sensors and audio as key smartphone technologies Qualcomm is improving and which he said will help drive demand.

“We’re working on technologies that emulate how the brain processes information. Ultimately, I think you get to the point where the phone becomes an extension of all of your senses,” Mollenkopf said.

He said that China’s local market is becoming increasingly important for Qualcomm as China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier, rolls out an advanced network this year based on technology the U.S. chipmaker effectively dominates.

Of course, the fact that the Chinese want to sue Qualcomm for anti-trust behaviour is not something that Mollenkopf mentioned. 

Smartphone shipments expected to fall

The mobile revolution appears to be grinding to a halt as IDC expects a slow down in smartphone shipments at least until 2018.

Beancounters at IDC have been shuffling their Tarot cards and see that there will be a sharp drop in the growth in global smartphone shipments this year and keep slowing through 2018.

The report predicts that average prices will drop significantly as demand shifts to China and other developing countries.

Annual growth in 2014 is expected to be 19.3 percent and then decline to 6.2 percent in 2018, IDC said in a report. That follows a 39.2 percent jump in 2013 when smartphone shipments topped 1 billion units for the first time.

This reinforces concerns on Wall Street that the explosion in is coming to an end, at least in the United States and other developed countries where consumers favour pricey, top-tier handsets.

Smartphone growth in North America and Europe is expected to shrink to single digits and Japan could even see a slight slowdown in shipments in the next few years, IDC said.

Manufacturers are increasingly focusing on China where many consumers are upgrading from basic mobiles to smartphones selling for under $300.

“New markets for growth bring different rules to play by and ‘premium’ will not be a major factor in the regions driving overall market growth,” IDC analyst Ryan Reith said in a report.

The average selling price for smarpthones last year was $335, already far below flagship devices like the iPhone 5S or Samsung Galaxy S4, and will fall to $260 by 2018, IDC said.