Mobile (Phones)

Farewell, Windows Phone

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Farewell, Windows Phone

Microsoft brings Windows Phone to an end as it stops support of Windows Phone 8.1, more than three years after the company introduced the update back in April 2014.

A victim of the Android-iOS duopoly controlling the mobile OS arena, Windows Phone 8.1 and its 8/7 predecessors power around 80% of the millions of devices running on the Microsoft software, according to AdDuplex. As a result such devices are now unsupported, and only 20% of Windows phones run on the latest version, Windows 10 Mobile OS.

Currently Microsoft sells a limited number of budget Windows 10 Mobile smartphones, and in any case the OS appears to be receiving little support from the Windows maker. The company has stopped making own Lumia-brand devices, and rumours suggest Windows 10 Mobile will only be maintained until support ends in 2019.

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Camera Maker RED Claims "Holographic" Phone

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Camera Maker RED Claims

The company known as RED might be famous for high-end digital cinema cameras, but it is now also taking on smartphones with the announcement of the Hydrogen One, the "first holographic media machine."

Details on the Hydrogen One are scant. A bombastic press release claims the device features a 5.7-inch screen able to display regular 2D media, stereo 3D media and "4-view content," something RED fails to actually define. The phone should also be able to handle augmented, virtual and mixed reality, all without need for glasses.

Otherwise, the only details officially known about the smartphone are its featuring a USB-C port, microSD card slot and headphone jack. However, the curious can glean more information from the RED patent for “Modular Digital Camera and Cellular Phone,” which describes a strange device featuring rectangular modules (such as a spare battery, speaker, projector and cameras) users can slot on the back or front.

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The First Battery-Free Mobile Phone!

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The First Battery-Free Mobile Phone!

University of Washington researchers present a world first-- a mobile phone that needs no battery to make calls, since it uses so little power it runs on a "few microwatts" harvested from ambient radio signals or light.

In fact, the phone needs just 3.5 microwatts for continuous operation, and makes both regular and Skype calls. The prototype shown by the researchers is built using off-the-shelf components, receives and transmits speech, and communicates with a base station. To achieve such power savings, the team eliminated the need to convert the analog signals making sound into digital data. Instead, the battery-free phone uses the vibrations in a microphone or speaker caused when the user speaks into a phone or listens to a call.

Even the antenna uses no almost no power, since it converts vibrations into changes in standard analog radio signals emitted by a cellular base station, encoding speech patterns into reflected radio signals. To transmit speech, the phone uses vibrations from the microphone to encode speech patterns in the reflected signals. To receive speech, it converts encoded radio signals into sound vibrations picked up by the speaker.

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Three OLED iPhones for 2018?

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Three OLED iPhones for 2018?

Nikkei reports Apple will be using OLED displays in not one, not two, but three new iPhone models, all set to launch sometime "the second half of 2018."

According to unnamed industry sources, Apple is "tentatively looking" to release three iPhones next year, even if such plans are subject to change. After all, the company has a record of tweaking product specifications and lineups in the name of accommodating market sources and component quality.

The grapevine has repeatedly insisted Apple will be using OLED technology in an upcoming iPhone. Nikkei says Apple will only use OLED in one 2017 iPhone, a "premium handset" featuring a "high screen-to-body ratio without the iconic home button." It will also release two other models featuring LCD displays, which are expected to be sold into early 2019.

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New Law to Ban iPhone in Italy?

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New Law to Ban iPhone in Italy?

A bill presented in the Italian senate by entrepreneur and member of the Scelta Civica party Stefano Quintarelli might bring a ban of the iPhone in the country, the newspaper Corriere Della Sera reports.

Dubbed Senate Act 2484, the bill proposes Italians have open access to software, content and services. If put into effect as a law, this would obviously affects iDevices-- after all, Apple insists on its "walled garden" approach to software, whereas the bill states users have the right to download any software, be it proprietary or open source, on any platform.

As a translation of Article Four of the bill reads, "users have the right to, in an appropriate format to the required technology platform […] use fair and non-discriminatory software, proprietary or open source […] content and services of their choice."

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YotaPhone Gets Third Version

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YotaPhone Gets Third Version

Customers in want for an update on the YotaPhone, the curious dual-screen smartphone, are in luck-- Russian phone maker Baoli Yota announces the YotaPhone 3 at the China-Russia Expo in Harbin, China.

Officially the company (a joint venture between investor Baoli and manufacturer Coolpad) does not reveal much about the device. As one might expect the YotaPhone 3 retains the same dual-screen form factor, with a 5.5-inch AMOLED display on the front and a 5.2-inch eInk screen on the back.

However, an anonymous source tells Engadget the handset is fairly mid-range, as it carries the Snapdragon 625 chipset, the same found in the Asus ZenFone 3, Moto Z Play and BlackBerry KEYone. Further specifications include 4GB RAM, 64 or 128GB storage, dual-SIM slots (one of which also serves as a microSD slot), 12MP camera with dual-flash, 3200mAh battery and a USB-C port. The OS of choice is Android Nougat.

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Wistron CEO: Wireless Charging for Next iPhone?

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Wistron CEO: Wireless Charging for Next iPhone?

The CEO of Indian iPhone assembler Wistron, Robert Hwang, suggests the next generation iPhone will include waterproofing and wireless charging, Nikkei reports.

Admittedly, Hwang did not speak directly about the iPhone-- his reference was simply to "upcoming smartphones"-- but rumours do persist on the next iPhone having such features. Wistron is a smaller rival to the likes of Foxconn and Pegatron, and is reportedly building an upcoming 5.5-inch iPhone, as well as the iPhone SE and iPhone 6.

The grapevine currently says Apple will reveal three iPhone models this year-- a flagship "iPhone 8" with a curved OLED display, and a pair of "iPhone 7s" devices. All next generation iPhones are said to carry wireless charging capability, specifically contact-based charging via compatible charging pad or surface.

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Motorola Adds Big Battery to E4 Plus

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Motorola Adds Big Battery to E4 Plus

Lenovo-owned Motorola announces a pair of smartphones aimed at customers on a tighter budget-- the Moto E4 and E4 Plus, with the Plus model offering a sizeable 5000mAh battery.

The Moto E4 is the smaller of the two smartphones, being a 5-inch model with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 or 427 chipset, 2GB RAM, 16GB storage and a 720p display. It also includes  8MP rear-/5MP front-facing cameras and 2800mAh battery, and the OS of choice is Android 7.1 Nougat.

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Qualcomm Presents Quick Charge 4+

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Qualcomm Presents Quick Charge 4+

Qualcomm is quick to present an update on the Quick Charge 4 standard-- Quick Charge 4+, a set of enhancements vendors can add to Quick Charge 4-compliant devices.

The enhancements found in Quick Charge 4+ are Dual Charge (or at least a "more powerful" version of the feature found in the earlier version), Intelligent Thermal Balancing (steers current to the coolest dual charging pathways in order to keep temperatures down) and "advanced safety features" (monitor phone and connector temperature against overheating and short-circuit damage).

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Android Creator Enters Premium Phones with Titanium Flagship

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Android Creator Enters Premium Phones with Titanium Flagship

Can titanium trump aluminium? Android creator and former Google SVP Andy Rubin reveals the Essential, his take on what an Android-powered flagship phone should be.

As a competitor to the iPhone and Galaxy S8, the Essential features a minimalist design, with a 5.5-inch edge-to-edge display wrapping around the front-facing camera. Inside are a Qualcomm 835 chips, 4GB RAM, 3040mAh battery and 128GB storage and 8MP front-/13MP rear-facing cameras, while the OS of choice is Android.

The Essential promises to be very tough-- its construction is titanium and ceramic, a combination of materials the company claims can survive drops "without blemish, unlike the aluminium competitor devices."

Connectivity comes through USB-C and a new  magnetic connector featuring a pair of small pogo pins, similar to the Moto Mod connector found in recent Motorola phones. The 3.5mm jack is, alas, missing.

So far Essential has two accessories using the magnetic connector. The first is a miniature VR camera able to capture 4K 360-degree video at 30fps, while the second is a charging dock.

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Gartner: Q1 2017 Smartphone Sales Up

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Gartner: Q1 2017 Smartphone Sales Up

Gartner reports global smartphone sales total 380 million in Q1 2017-- a 9.1% Y-o-Y increase driven by customers spending more on better phones, leading to an increase in phone ASPs.

This shift in customer spending mainly affects Chinese vendors such as Huawei, Oppo and Vivo, whose strategy involves the offer of desirable features at affordable prices. As such, the combined Q1 2017 market share of the 3 companies totals 24%, up 7 percentage points from Q1 2016.

"The top three Chinese smartphone manufacturers are driving sales with their competitively priced, high quality smartphones equipped with innovative features," the analyst remarks. "Furthermore, aggressive marketing and sales promotion have further helped these brands to take share from other brands in markets such as India, Indonesia and Thailand."

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