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Mobile Phones

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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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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The Squeezable HTC U11

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The Squeezable HTC U11

The HTC U11 looks like any regular smartphone, but it does have one surprise up its sleeve-- users can "squeeze" the 5.5-inch handset to control apps, camera and more.

Dubbed "Edge Sense," the system consists of pressure sensors below the volume buttons on the sides. A calibration tool allows users to set a short and long squeeze, and the two actions can be configured in different ways. For instance, one can squeeze the phone to summon the camera, followed by either a short squeeze to take a selfie or a long squeeze to switch to the rear-facing camera.

HTC adds the phone ignores "false squeezes" caused by pockets and the like, while an eventual software update will allow users to configure any app to take advantage of app functionality. The company also suggests one use a squeeze to summon one of the two included voice-controlled assistants, Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.

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Qualcomm Boosts Mobiles With Snapdragon 660, 630 Chips

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Qualcomm Boosts Mobiles With Snapdragon 660, 630 Chips

Qualcomm presents a pair of chipsets for lower-cost smartphones-- the Snapdragon 660 and 630 SoCs, upgrades on the Snapdragon 652 and 625 chips offering more power and faster connectivity.

The Snapdragon 660 and 630 feature the X12 LTE modem found inside the high-end Snapdragon 820 SoC, together with Bluetooth 5 and, in the case of the 660, 2 x 2 MIMO wifi. CPU and GPU speeds get an increase, as Qualcomm says the 660 is 20% faster than the 652, while the 630 is 10% faster.

The two chips are built using a 14nm process, and support up to 8GB of RAM. The 660 has an 8-core Kryo CPU and an Adreno 512 GPU, while the 630 has 8 Cortex A53 cores and an Adreno 508 GPU.

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Google Invests in LG Display?

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Google Invests in LG Display?

The Electronic Times reports Google has invested 1 trillion won (or $880.29 million) in LG Display-- an investiment said to ensure Google gets enough OLED displays for the next Pixel Phone.

Reportedly, display supply was the reason Google faced shipping difficulties with the current Pixel phone. However, the ET adds the investment is not a display purchase order but part of a "strategic relationship" ensuring LG Display has enough capital to produce "flexible OLED panels" at scale.

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Samsung Galaxy S8 Gets Launch

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Samsung Galaxy S8 Gets Launch

After months of stories of phablets spontaneously catching fire Samsung reveals the Galaxy S8 and S8+, a pair of devices promising to be the company's return to mobile device form.

The S8+ is the bigger option with a 6.2-inch screen, but the S8 might be the superior model since it features a 5.8-inch "infinity display"-- a Super AMOLED screen wrapping around the curved front of the phone, making it almost bezel-less. Both displays run at 2960 x 1440 resolution, and phone construction features Gorilla Glass 5 on both front and back with a metal band in between.

Depending on region, the phones are powered by either Qualcomm or Exynox octa-core processors together with 4GB RAM, 64GB internal storage (expandable to 256GB via microSD slot) and a 3000mAH battery (3500mAh in the S8+). Also included is a 12MP duopixel f/1.7 aperture rear-facing camera, 8MP front-facing camera, fingerprint sensor, USB-C port and, in a Samsung first, Bluetooth 5 connectivity.

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Meet Bixby, the Samsung Voice Assistant

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Meet Bixby, the Samsung Voice Assistant

Samsung presents what it claims is a "new way to interact with your phone"-- Bixby, its take on the voice assistant likes of Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant.

The result of the acquisition of Viv, an AI specialist founded by the creators of Siri, Bixby promises to be superior to the competition through 3 specific properties. These are completeness (it can handle "almost" any task one can do using the touchscreen), context awareness (Bixby-enabled apps can summon Bixby at any time, and the assistant carries out tasks specific to the app) and cognitive tolerance (it understands commands with incomplete information, and prompts users to tell it more if necessary).

Bixby will also find use beyond smartphones, since Samsung plans to put it a wide variety of connected devices, including appliances, TV remotes and wearables. In fact, the company states Bixby can work on just about anything with an internet connection and a microphone. Uniting all Bixby-enabled offerings is a dedicated hardware button, which Samsung claims eliminates the "confusion around activating a voice interface."

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Kantar Worldpanel: Life in a Two-OS World

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Kantar Worldpanel: Life in a Two-OS World

According to Kantar Worldpanel the days of a BlackBerry OS, Symbian or Windows Phone making "significant" impact are over, since the mobile industry is all but dominated by iOS-Android duopoly.

The biggest 5 European markets (Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain) are dominated by Android-- the Google OS accounts for 74.3% of smartphone sales in the quarter ending January 2017, a "marginal" increase over the 72.9% of the same period in the previous year. In the meantime iOS holds 22.7%, with the iPhone 7 remaining the top-selling device in Great Britain, France and Germany.

Kantar points out Nokia as a potential success story in the region, as brand owner HMD Global is focusing on quality for cost with well made mid-tier devices. Such smartphones will not rival the iPhone 7 or the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8, but do compete with the likes of the Huawei 8 and P9 Lite, both strong sellers in the price-conscious Italian and Spanish markets.

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Meizu Super mCharges Phones

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Meizu Super mCharges Phones

Meizu claims to slash phone charging times at Mobile World Congress with Super mCharge-- a technology able to fully charge a 3000mAh battery in all of 20 minutes.

Super mCharge technology is rated at 55W (11V, 5A), significantly higher than competing technologies such as Motorola TurboPower (25.5W) or Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 (18W). It also battery temperatures do not exceed 38 °C, which is crucial since batteries can explode if put through much heat.

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