Mobile (Phones)

Razer Buys Cloud Smartphone Maker Nextbit

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Razer Buys Cloud Smartphone Maker Nextbit

Gaming peripheral maker Razer buys into smartphones with Nextbit, the small startup behind the Robin "cloud smartphone" founded by former HTC, Google and Amazon employees.

According to the new owner, Nextbit will operate as a "standalone business unit under its own management" with a staff of 30. It should also continue providing Robin owners with product support and software updates (including a leap to Android 7.0) while working on more products under the Nextbit brand.

“Nextbit is one of the most exciting companies in the mobile space,” Razer says. “Razer has a track record of disrupting industries where our technology and ability to design and innovate have allowed us to dominate categories with longstanding incumbents, such as the peripherals and laptop categories. With the talent that Nextbit brings to Razer, we look forward to unleashing more disruption and growing our business in new areas.”

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Flexible LCDs for Next iPhone?

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Flexible LCDs for Next iPhone?

Japan Display is working on a rival to OLED displays, the Wall Street Journal reports-- flexible LCD panels set for use by "some smartphone makers."

The company supplies display panels to Apple, and the iPhone maker is reportedly "looking at the displays for possible future iPhone models." According to the WSJ the Japan Displays panels are made using a layer of plastic and, while "not as flexible as OLED," should be bendy enough for smartphones with a screen design like that seen in Samsung Galaxy Edge devices.

"Bendable displays could help revive growth in a smartphone market that is beginning to get saturated," the WSJ adds.

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LG Leaks G6 Flagship

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LG Leaks G6 Flagship

The Verge obtains a first image of the upcoming LG smartphone flagship-- the G6, a handset featuring a typically sleek design replete with rounded corners and minimal bezels.

As apparently confirmed by LG Display, the G6 has a 5.7-inch display with an unusual 2:1 aspect ratio and a screen-to-bezel ratio greater than 90%. LG appears to have abandoned the modular design of last year's G5 in favour of minimalist glass and metal construction with a non-replaceable battery. The Verge adds a headphone jack is included.

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What Caused the Galaxy Note 7 Fires?

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What Caused the Galaxy Note 7 Fires?

Samsung details why the Galaxy Note 7 phablet shipped with the unfortunate tendency to catch fire-- an investigation explains the reason boils down to two distinct battery flaws, not a hardware or software issue.

According to the company the batteries had two major flaws. The first is a casing too small to actually fit the electrode assembly, leading to short circuits. Samsung suppliers realised the problem and replaced the batteries with a safer version, only in their haste they brought about welding defects that also lead to short circuits. Either way, the smartphones started overheating, and catching fire.

Samsung insists it built a stand-alone testing lab to look into all potential causes of overheating, including wired and wireless charging, the USB-C port and the iris-scanning functionality. TUV Rheinland was also hired to check if storage or transport processes affected the batteries.

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ZTE Details Crowdsourced Hawkeye Phone

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ZTE Details Crowdsourced Hawkeye Phone

Back in October 2016 ZTE announced plans to take the people's advice for the development of its next phone. Now the company is ready to reveal the results-- the Hawkeye, an eye-tracking, self-adhesive smartphone.

The result of an online voting campaign, the Hawkeye has some unusual capabilities. Apparently potential customers demanded a phone with self-adhesive polymers on the back, meaning one can stick it on any stable surface. It also incorporates eye tracking via pair of front-facing cameras, allowing users to scroll through websites and the like without using their fingers.

Another odd, if interesting, feature is a display with a split screen design that is only visible to users directly in front of it. This prevents others from trying to look at what is on screen.

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Nokia Brand Launches First Android Smartphone

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Nokia Brand Launches First Android Smartphone

A first Android smartphone featuring Nokia branding emerges-- Finnish brand owner HMD Global announces the Nokia 6, a 5.5-inch handset complete with Snapdragon 430 processor.

Further specifications include LTE connectivity, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage,and 16MP rear-/8MP front-facing cameras. Audio comes through Dolby Atmos-equipped dual amplifiers, and the cameras feature f/2.0 lenses.

“Just a short while ago we announced the launch of HMD Global. From the outset we have stated that we intend to move with speed to establish a position as a player in the smartphone category and create products that truly meet consumer needs," the company says. "The Nokia 6 is a result of listening to our consumers who desire a beautifully crafted handset with exceptional durability, entertainment and display features."

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Big Phones Take Big Holiday Sales Share

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Big Phones Take Big Holiday Sales Share

Big smartphones continue to sell bigly during the holidays, analytics firm Flurry reports-- phablets (phones with displays 5-6.9-inch in size) see the biggest increase in activations during the 19-25 December period.

Such an increase probably cannibalises into the sales of smaller (3.5-4.9-inch) smartphones, since the activations of such devices either see Y-o-Y decreases or simply remain flat. One example is the regular iPhone, whose market share has decreased over the past 3 years. Interestingly medium-size smartphones see the biggest increase in activations during the week leading to the holidays, but Flurry insists phablets are set to become the "dominant form factor" in the near future.

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The Synaptics All-In-One Biometrics Engine

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The Synaptics All-In-One Biometrics Engine

Synaptics announces a multi-factor biometric engine at CES 2017-- a collaboration with security specialist KeyLemon incorporating both fingerprint and facial recognition.

Designed for smartphones, tablets and notebook PCs, the system allows users to unlock devices in multiple ways. It also adds more security for financial transactions and operations using sensitive information, as the two modes of authentication can be required. "Unique" AI can recognise between fake and actual fingers, while anti-spoofing tools can check for combinations of eye blinking and head movements.

"The Synaptics multi-factor fusion engine combines authentication scores from multiple biometrics to determine verification," the company says. "This increases overall system security as both fingerprint and facial factors have to meet minimum threshold requirements before authentication. In addition, the fusion engine improves usability as lower individual verification thresholds still result in greater security."

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Qualcomm (Accidentally) Details Snapdragon 835 CPU

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Qualcomm (Accidentally) Details Snapdragon 835 CPU

Sharp-eyed journalist Evan Blass (aka @evleaks) leaks details of the upcoming Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip ahead of CES 2017-- a mobile CPU designed to improve both battery life and 3D graphics.

The successor to the 821 processor, the 835 uses 40% less power while providing "up to a 27% performance increase" compared to previous chipsets. Built using a 10nm design featuring over 3 billion transistors, it combines a Kyro 280 CPU, Adreno 540 GPU and Hexagon DSP. According to Blas the 835 is ideal ideal for even thinner smartphones with larger batteries, and offers users with over a day's worth of talk time, 5 days of music playback and over 7 hours of 4K video streaming.

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HMD Global Presents Nokia 150

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HMD Global Presents Nokia 150

HMD Global announces a first device featuring the Nokia name-- the Nokia 150, a bare-bones feature phone near identical to the Nokia 216, the last device released by Microsoft bearing the brand.

Being a basic phone, the Nokia 150 does not offer much in terms of features. It has a 2.4-inch display, VGA camera, a battery offering up to 22 hours of talk time on a single charge, FM Radio, MP3 player and a choice of single- or dual-SIM connectivity. Production comes through Foxconn subsidiary FIH.

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Meizu Intros M5 Note

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Meizu Intros M5 Note

Meizu announces an update on last year's M3 Note-- the M5 Note, a 5.5-inch handset featuring a design 0.1mm thinner than its predecessor, together with 4GB RAM and up to 64GB of storage.

Interestingly, the M5 Note as a smaller battery compared to the previous model, since it has a 400mAh number compared to the 4100mAh battery powering the M3 Note. However the M5 Note does add 18W fast charging, and according to Meizu it can be fully charged in just 90 minutes. Other features derived from the M3 Note include the 1080p 5.5-inch display, Helio P10 chipset, 13MP rear-facing camera and fingerprint sensor in the back.

The OS of choice is Android 6.0, and connectivity comes through hybrid dual-SIM (nano+nano/microSD).

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