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Mobile Phones

The Tough Land Rover Explore Smartphone

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The Tough Land Rover Explore Smartphone

Land Rover lends its name to another ruggedised smartphone-- the Explore, a handset the company describes describes as the toughest yet, "built to work in places other phones can't reach."

The work of British smartphone maker Bullitt (who made devices branded by the likes of Caterpillar, Kodak and JCB), the Explore includes a factory-fitted screen protector and protective casing allowing it to survive dives of up to 1.8m in salt water and drops of up to 1.8m. The phone also has an IP86 rating for splash, water and dust resistance, and includes the ViewRanger mapping app for customers wanting to take their Land Rover (the car, not the phone) off the beaten track.

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The First In-Display Fingerprint Sensor for Smartphones

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The First In-Display Fingerprint Sensor for Smartphones

Synaptics announces mass production with a "top five OEM" of the Clear ID FS9500 family of optical in-display fingerprint sensors-- a vendor Forbes reveals is no other than Vivo.

The Synaptics sensors promise "one-touch high-resolution scanning through full cover glass." They should enable button-free, bezel-free infinity displays, and since the sensor is covered by glass it operates with wet, dry and cold fingers. In addition, Synaptics claims the sensor is "twice as fast" as 3D facial recognition, and requires just one touch to operate.

On the security front, the sensors carry a range of authentication technologies, such as Quantum Matcher (for adaptive fingerprint template matching and authentication), PurePrint (anti-spoof technology) and SecureLink (combines support for TLS protocol with ECC authentication and AES encryption).

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Qualcomm Details Snapdragon 845

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Qualcomm Details Snapdragon 845

Qualcomm announces the next generation of flagship Snapdragon mobile processor-- the Snapdragon 845, a direct successor to the 835 with features including 4K HDR video capture at up to 60fps.

The Snapdragon 845 combines a 2.8GHz 8-core Kyro 385 CPU and an Adreno 630 GPU. The GPU promises a 30% improvement in graphics, as well as 30% better power efficiency, 2.5x faster display throughput and support for room-scale 6DOF and room mapping for VR and AR applications.

On the photography side, the chip offers a Spectra 280 ISP performs multiframe noise reduction on 16MP images at 60fps, with support for the Rec. 2020 colour gamut and 10-bit colour depth. As mentioned earlier, it also allows for 4K video capture with HDR at 60fps, as well as slo-mo 720p video at 480fps and 1080p video at 240fps.

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Ericsson: 5G Subscriptions Reach 1bn in 2023

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Ericsson: 5G Subscriptions Reach 1bn in 2023

According to the Ericsson Mobility Report 5G subscriptions will reach 1 billion by 2023, with 5G covering over 20% of the world population just 4 years after the first commercial 5G New Radio (NR) networks go live in 2019.

A number of perhaps predictable markets will get the first 5G deployments-- namely the US, S. Korea, Japan and China-- all based in dense urban areas. The forecast period also involves an 8X surge in mobile data traffic, reaching 110 Exabytes per month (or 5.5 million years of HD video streaming) per month.

The mention of streaming is relevant, since video is a main driver of mobile broadband traffic. Young millennials (in the 15-24 age bracket) stream 2.5X more than people over 45 years of age, and higher resolution and immersive 360-degree video will further impact data traffic consumption volumes.

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The Foldable Dual-Screen ZTE Axon M

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The Foldable Dual-Screen ZTE Axon M

ZTE claims the Axon M brings nothing less than "a new smartphone category"-- or in the least something rather interesting, since it features a foldable design with two full-size displays.

The Axon M has a pair of 5.2-inch 1920 x 1080 displays, one in the front and the other in the back. A hinge connects the two, allowing users to flip the rear display and slot it next to the front one, creating a single 6.75-inch display. Users can then either stretch apps across the larger display or take advantage of Android split-screen features to run two apps simultaneously, one on each screen. Users can even watch two different videos on the two screens, switching between audio streams as they want.

In addition, one can also "tent" the phone and mirror the displays, allowing two people to look at the same content from the front and back. ZTE promises the "top 100" Android apps work on the Axon M, with the tablet version of the app (if one exists, obviously) running when the it is in "extended" mode.

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No Keyboard for BlackBerry Motion

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No Keyboard for BlackBerry Motion

TCL unveils a new BlackBerry-branded smartphone at GITEX Technology Week, Dubai-- the Motion, a handset replacing the physical keyboard BlackBerry devices are best known for with an all-touchscreen design.

The Motion is somewhat similar to the KEYOne, the keyboard-equipped BlackBerry smartphone released back in 2016. It carries a 5.5-inch LCD display, Snapdragon 625 processor, 4GB RAM, 32GB storage, 12MP rear-/8MP front-facing cameras and a 4000mAh battery inside a body featuring an IP67 rating for protection against water and dust.

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Google Pixel Smartphone Gets Sequel

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Google Pixel Smartphone Gets Sequel

Google might be serious about different kinds of devices, but the man focus of the Pixel 2 is event obviously the Pixel 2, the sequel to last year's flagship smartphone from the search giant.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the Pixel 2 is less an revolution and more a revolution of the previous model. It comes in 2 versions, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, with display size marking the only difference between the two-- the regular Pixel 2 has a 5-inch 1920 x 1080 OLED display, while the 6-inch Pixel 2 XL has a 2880 x 1440 OLED screen.

On the specs side, both the Pixel 2 models carry a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB RAM, 64/128GB storage, dual front-facing speakers, 12.2MP rear-facing camera with an autofocus using a laser and dual-pixel phase detection, 8MP fixed-focus front-facing camera, Bluetooth 5.0 wireless and USB-C connectivity.

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Google Buys HTC Pixel Team

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Google Buys HTC Pixel Team

Google and HTC announce a $1.1 billion "cooperation agreement"-- one where the search giant buys "certain HTC employees," many of whom with experience working on the Pixel smartphone line.

The search giant also gets a non-exclusive license for a good chunk HTC IP in order to support the Pixel smartphone family.

“Our unmatched smartphone value chain, including our IP portfolio, and world-class talent and system integration capabilities, have supported Google in bolstering the Android market,” HTC CEO Cher Wang says. “This agreement is a brilliant next step in our longstanding partnership, enabling Google to supercharge their hardware business while ensuring continued innovation within our HTC smartphone and VIVE virtual reality businesses."

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Huawei Takes on Apple With "Real AI Phone" Promise

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Huawei Takes on Apple With

Were you impressed by the iPhone X's Neural Engine-powered face-recognition? Huawei insists it isn't, as it posts a video on its Facebook page stating "facial recognition isn't for everyone."

Following that, the video also claims it will unveil a "real AI phone" on 16 October 2017-- meaning its latest flagship, the Mate 10.

Marketing bombast aside, Huawei might have something actually interesting to show off with the Mate 10. After all, it will be the first phone powered with the Chinese company's latest system-on-a-chip, the Kirin 970. Presented at IFA 2017, the Kirin 970 carries a "Neural Processing Unit" (NPU), a set of processing cores dedicated to AI tasks.

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