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February 24, 2019
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Global smartphone growth stalled in Q4, up just 1.2% for the full year: Gartner

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Gartner’s smartphone marketshare data for the just gone holiday quarter highlights the challenge for device makers going into the world’s biggest mobile trade show which kicks off in Barcelona next week: The analyst’s data shows global smartphone sales stalled in Q4 2018, with growth of just 0.1 per cent over 2017’s holiday quarter, and 408.4 million units shipped.

tl;dr: high end handset buyers decided not to bother upgrading their shiny slabs of touch-sensitive glass.

Gartner says Apple recorded its worst quarterly decline (11.8 per cent) since Q1 2016, though the iPhone maker retained its second place position with 15.8 per cent marketshare behind market leader Samsung (17.3 per cent). Last month the company warned investors to expect reduced revenue for its fiscal Q1 — and went on to report iPhone sales down 15 per cent year over year.

The South Korean mobile maker also lost share year over year (declining around 5 per cent), with Gartner noting that high end devices such as the Galaxy S9, S9+ and Note9 struggled to drive growth, even as Chinese rivals ate into its mid-tier share.

Huawei was one of the Android rivals causing a headache for Samsung. It bucked the declining share trend of major vendors to close the gap on Apple from its third placed slot — selling more than 60 million smartphones in the holiday quarter and expanding its share from 10.8 per cent in Q4 2017 to 14.8 per cent.

Gartner has dubbed 2018 “the year of Huawei”, saying it achieved the top growth of the top five global smartphone vendors and grew throughout the year.

This growth was not just in Huawei “strongholds” of China and Europe but also in Asia/Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East, via continued investment in those regions, the analyst noted. While its expanded mid-tier Honor series helped the company exploit growth opportunities in the second half of the year “especially in emerging markets”.

By contrast Apple’s double-digit decline made it the worst performer of the holiday quarter among the top five global smartphone vendors, with Gartner saying iPhone demand weakened in most regions, except North America and mature Asia/Pacific.

It said iPhone sales declined most in Greater China, where it found Apple’s market share dropped to 8.8 percent in Q4 (down from 14.6 percent in the corresponding quarter of 2017). For 2018 as a whole iPhone sales were down 2.7 percent, to just over 209 million units, it added.

“Apple has to deal not only with buyers delaying upgrades as they wait for more innovative smartphones. It also continues to face compelling high-price and midprice smartphone alternatives from Chinese vendors. Both these challenges limit Apple’s unit sales growth prospects,” said Gartner’s Anshul Gupta, senior research director, in a statement.

“Demand for entry-level and midprice smartphones remained strong across markets, but demand for high-end smartphones continued to slow in the fourth quarter of 2018. Slowing incremental innovation at the high end, coupled with price increases, deterred replacement decisions for high-end smartphones,” he added.

Further down the smartphone leaderboard, Chinese OEM, Oppo, grew its global smartphone market share in Q4 to bump Chinese upstart, Xiaomi, and bag fourth place — taking 7.7 per cent vs Xiaomi’s 6.8 per cent for the holiday quarter.

The latter had a generally flat Q4, with just a slight decline in units shipped, according to Gartner’s data — underlining Xiaomi’s motivations for teasing a dual folding smartphone.

Because, well, with eye-catching innovation stalled among the usual suspects (who’re nontheless raising high end handset prices), there’s at least an opportunity for buccaneering underdogs to smash through, grab attention and poach bored consumers.

Or that’s the theory. Consumer interest in ‘foldables’ very much remains to be tested.

In 2018 as a whole, the analyst says global sales of smartphones to end users grew by 1.2 percent year over year, with 1.6 billion units shipped.

The worst declines of the year were in North America, mature Asia/Pacific and Greater China (6.8 percent, 3.4 percent and 3.0 percent, respectively), it added.

“In mature markets, demand for smartphones largely relies on the appeal of flagship smartphones from the top three brands — Samsung, Apple and Huawei — and two of them recorded declines in 2018,” noted Gupta.

Overall, smartphone market leader Samsung took 19.0 percent marketshare in 2018, down from 20.9 per cent in 2017; second placed Apple took 13.4 per cent (down from 14.0 per cent in 2017); third placed Huawei took 13.0 per cent (up from 9.8 per cent the year before); while Xiaomi, in fourth, took a 7.9 per cent share (up from 5.8 per cent); and Oppo came in fifth with 7.6 per cent (up from 7.3 per cent).

News Source = techcrunch.com

Here’s everything announced at Samsung’s Galaxy S10/Galaxy Fold event

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Missed today’s Samsung Unpacked event in San Francisco? In all, we have five new phones — one of them a foldable, some new earbuds, a virtual assistant and a watch. Here’s everything you need to know.

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, presented at Unpacked in San Francisco. (Source: Samsung)

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold launches April 26, starting at $1,980

The last time we saw Samsung’s foldable onstage, it was, quite literally, shrouded in darkness. The company debuted a prototype of the upcoming device at a developer conference, showing its folding method and little else.

Samsung’s Galaxy S10 lineup arrives with four new models

For the 10th anniversary of the flagship line, Samsung is going all in on this thing. And with more information expected on Samsung’s upcoming foldable, well, that’s a lot of Samsungs.

Samsung’s ‘budget flagship’ the Galaxy S10e starts at $750

The S10e is the most interesting of the bunch — or at least the most interesting one that doesn’t sport 5G.

The Samsung S10 gets a 5G model

Never mind the fact that 5G is still a ways away in just about every market — Samsung’s taking an educated gamble that some percentage of its early adopting/cost is no object approach will get in early on the next generation of cellular technology.

Samsung’s Galaxy S10 has a built-in Instagram mode

A new partnership with Instagram will bring Stories directly to the camera app, without leaving Samsung’s default camera software.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 can wirelessly charge other phones

The feature relies on the S10’s large battery to charge of other device. The new feature should be compatible with all phones that charge via the Qi standard.

Samsung S10’s cameras get ultra-wide-angle lenses and more AI smarts

Unsurprisingly, one of the features that differentiates these models is the camera system. Gone are the days, after all, where one camera would suffice.

Here’s how all of Samsung’s new Galaxy S10’s compare

Want a quick at-a-glance breakdown of how they all compare? Here’s a handy chart so you know what to look out for.

Samsung just announced a phone with 1TB of built-in storage

Three different storage options: 128GB, 512GB, and 1 terabyte.

Samsung’s new Galaxy Watch Active tracks blood pressure

In the watch front, Samsung is embracing user health, much like the rest of the industry, including blood pressure tracking.

These are Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds

Wireless all the way. Samsung says the Galaxy Buds should be able to pull around five hours of talk time, or six hours of music listening time.

Samsung’s Bixby-powered Galaxy Home speaker will arrive ‘by April’

The product — as well as a rumored cheaper version — are a core part of Samsung’s push to make Bixby a key player in the smart home raise.

Samsung has sold 2 billion Galaxy phones

That’s a whole lot of Galaxy smartphones.

Want more? You can always watch a recording of today’s live stream.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Samsung’s Galaxy S10 lineup arrives with four new models

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In what may well be the most Samsung move in Samsung history, Samsung just introduced four new Samsung S10 models. For the 10th anniversary of the flagship line, Samsung is going all in on this thing. And with more information expected on Samsung’s upcoming foldable, well, that’s a lot of Samsungs, Samsung.

Before we dive in to what’s bound to be a lot of words about a lot of phones, here’s the basic breakdown of the line:

S10: The flagship. 6.1 inch. Starts at $900.

S10+: A little bigger, a little better. 6.4 inch. Starts at $1,000.

S10e: The [E]ntry level or [E]conomy or [E]gads that’s a lot of new phones. The Galaxy’s take on the iPhone XR. 5.8 inch. Starts at $750.

S10 5G: All the bells, all the whistles and whistles with bells on them. 6.7 inch. Starts at $?!?!?!?!?

And hey, look, Greg made a handy chart of all of the key specs.

As for what’s new beyond the sheer number of devices, the top-line features are as follows: edge-to-edge display with pinhole cutout, three rear-facing cameras and Wireless Powershare, which uses the phone to wirelessly charge other handsets and the company’s new Galaxy Buds. Of course, some of those features vary by SKU.

Unlike the 10th anniversary iPhone a couple of years back, the S10 isn’t an attempt to rethink the product on the occasion of the line’s own first decade. Instead, the device finds Samsung adding more flagship features atop of what is already a pretty massive pile.

Those who’ve followed the Galaxy line with even passing interest will find that the S10 looks pretty familiar.  The most distinguishing bit of design language this time out is, naturally, the “Infinity-O” display. One of several screen technologies the company highlighted at last year’s developer conference, the “O” is exactly what it sounds like — a hole punch up top for the camera to peek through.

Unlike most of the rest of the industry, Samsung just skipped over that whole notch business, in favor of even more screen. Of course, the S10’s not the first handset with a pinhole — hell, it’s not even the first Samsung with one. That designation, interestingly enough, belongs to the A8, a mid-range handset introduced late last year for the China market — surely an indication of a company dealing with increased pressure from companies like Huawei and Xiaomi. 

The company says the feature was designed with a “precision laser,” leaving the phone with an impressive screen-to-body ratio of 93.1 percent. This is helped along with the addition of an under-display fingerprint reader. Again, the S10 isn’t the first handset with an in-screen fingerprint sensor (OnePlus, among others, brought one to market last year), but the company is among the first to use Qualcomm’s new technology.

Announced in December at the Snapdragon summit, the reader adds an extra level of security beyond some of the already available options. The ultrasonic technology gives the system a fuller, more three-dimensional look at the fingerprint, making it more difficult for would-be thieves to spoof. Fingerprint info is stored on-device in a secure Knox folder.

It can be activated without turning the screen on, for quicker access, though, notably, may have some difficulty with thicker screen protectors. Samsung — and, likely, everyone else who utilizes Qualcomm’s new tech — will be working with accessory makers to market ones that play nicely with the tech.

The most fun feature here is, no doubt, Wireless Powershare. It’s another spot where Huawei beat the company to the punch, but it’s a compelling feature nonetheless  — and hey, it definitely beat Apple to the feature. Closest you get for iOS devices is the new iPad Pro’s ability to charge handsets via USB-C.

Here, all of the charging is done on contact — which means, granted, that you won’t be getting much use out of the phone while using the feature. It’s still handy, particularly when traveling. Plug in the S10. Plop it down and charge up another handset while you charge it up. The tech is compatible with Qi, so it will play nicely with third-party charging pads. It also, naturally, works with the Galaxy Buds, Samsung’s newly announced Bluetooth earbuds that beat Apple to the punch with a wireless charging case.

All of this is powered by some pretty beefy batteries, at 3,100 mAh for the S10e, 3,400 for the S10 and 4,100 for the S10+. Samsung notably began loosening up a bit on battery size last year, with its Note 7 woes now safely in the rear-view. As a matter of fact, the 5G packs a whopping 4,500 mAh battery to help offset drain from cellular usage and that massive display.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a new Galaxy without some camera news. Once again, the leaks were true. The base-line sports three cameras, configured horizontally, along with a flash. Honestly, the cutout looks a bit like a Microsoft Kinect camera configuration. What, precisely, the three lenses do wasn’t clear until now, however. After all, handset makers are using multiple camera setups for all manner of different reasons.

Here, the different cameras are being put to use to offer different focal points. There’s an ultra-wide lens offering 123-degree shots (16 megapixel), a standard wide lens with 77-degree shots and a third that does 2x optical zoom  (both 12 megapixel). Rear-facing video gets improved digital image stabilization, while the  front-facing can now do 4K, for ultra-high-res selfies, I suppose.

Of course, most of the camera upgrades we’ll be seeing in the foreseeable future will be powered by software, and as such, there are a number of improvements on that side, as well. Most notably is the use of neural processing to identify up to 30 different scenes and offer shot suggestions accordingly. Again, similar to much of the AI applications currently in use with various different Android handsets — as ever, I’m excited to get my hands on the damn thing to take it through its paces.

All of the above are, naturally, 1P68 — and yes, the headphone jack is still on-board. Samsung has done a good job turning that one-time ubiquitous port into a feature and differentiator from an increasing number of competitors. All sport the latest Snapdragon 855, and the S10 offers up to 1TB of storage.

Pre-orders for the S10e, S10 and S10+ start February 21. The handsets go on sale March 8. The 5G, meanwhile, is set to arrive at some point in Q2, as a Verizon exclusive. Sprint and T-Mobile versions will follow later.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Arm expands its push into the cloud and edge with the Neoverse N1 and E1

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For the longest time, Arm was basically synonymous with chip designs for smartphones and very low-end devices. But more recently, the company launched solutions for laptops, cars, high-powered IoT devices and even servers. Today, ahead of MWC 2019, the company is officially launching two new products for cloud and edge applications, the Neoverse N1 and E1. Arm unveiled the Neoverse brand a few months ago, but it’s only now that it is taking concrete form with the launch of these new products.

“We’ve always been anticipating that this market is going to shift as we move more towards this world of lots of really smart devices out at the endpoint — moving beyond even just what smartphones are capable of doing,” Drew Henry, Arms’ SVP and GM for Infrastructure, told me in an interview ahead of today’s announcement. “And when you start anticipating that, you realize that those devices out of those endpoints are going to start creating an awful lot of data and need an awful lot of compute to support that.”

To address these two problems, Arm decided to launch two products: one that focuses on compute speed and one that is all about throughput, especially in the context of 5G.

The Neoverse N1 platform is meant for infrastructure-class solutions that focus on raw compute speed. The chips should perform significantly better than previous Arm CPU generations meant for the data center and the company says that it saw speedups of 2.5x for Nginx and MemcacheD, for example. Chip manufacturers can optimize the 7nm platform for their needs, with core counts that can reach up to 128 cores (or as few as 4).

“This technology platform is designed for a lot of compute power that you could either put in the data center or stick out at the edge,” said Henry. “It’s very configurable for our customers so they can design how big or small they want those devices to be.”

The E1 is also a 7nm platform, but with a stronger focus on edge computing use cases where you also need some compute power to maybe filter out data as it is generated, but where the focus is on moving that data quickly and efficiently. “The E1 is very highly efficient in terms of its ability to be able to move data through it while doing the right amount of compute as you move that data through,” explained Henry, who also stressed that the company made the decision to launch these two different platforms based on customer feedback.

There’s no point in launching these platforms without software support, though. A few years ago, that would have been a challenge because few commercial vendors supported their data center products on the Arm architecture. Today, many of the biggest open-source and proprietary projects and distributions run on Arm chips, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Ubuntu, Suse, VMware, MySQL, OpenStack, Docker, Microsoft .Net, DOK and OPNFV. “We have lots of support across the space,” said Henry. “And then as you go down to that tier of languages and libraries and compilers, that’s a very large investment area for us at Arm. One of our largest investments in engineering is in software and working with the software communities.”

And as Henry noted, AWS also recently launched its Arm-based servers — and that surely gave the industry a lot more confidence in the platform, given that the biggest cloud supplier is now backing it, too.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Xiaomi’s Mi 9 includes a triple lens rear camera and wireless charging

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Mobile World Congress, the mobile industry’s annual shindig, is next week but Xiaomi can’t wait reveal its newest top-end phone. The Chinese company instead picked today to unveil the Mi 9.

Once again Xiaomi’s design ethic closely resembles Apple’s iPhone with a minimal bezel and notch-like front-facing camera but Xiaomi has gone hard on photography with a triple lens camera.

There are two models available with the regular Mi 9 priced from RMB 2999, or $445, and the Mi 9SE priced from RMB 1999, or $300. A premium model, the Transparent Edition, includes beefed-up specs for RMB 3999, $595.

The phone runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chipset and the headline feature, or at least the part that Xiaomi is shouting about most, is the triple lens camera array on the back of the device. That trio combines a 48-megapixel main camera with a 16-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera and a 12-megapixel telephoto camera, Xiaomi said. The benefits of that lineup is improved wide-angle shots, better quality close-up photography and performance in low-light conditions, according to the company.

The premium Mi 9 model, the Transparent Edition, sports 12GB of RAM and 256GB internal storage and features a transparent back cover

There’s also a ‘supermoon’ mode for taking shots of the moon and presumably other night sky images, while Xiaomi touts an improved night mode and, on the video side, 960fps capture and advanced motion tracking. We haven’t had the chance to test these out, which is worth noting at this point.

Xiaomi also talked up the battery features of the Mi 9, which ships with an impressive 3300mAh battery that features wireless charging support and Qi EPP certification meaning it will work with third-party charging mats. Xiaomi claims that the Mi 9 can charge to 70 percent in 30 minutes, and reach 100 percent in an hour using 27W wired charging.

Alongside the Mi 9, it unveiled its third three wireless charging products — a charging pad (RMB 99, $15), a car charger (RMB 169, $25) and a 10,000mAh wireless power bank (RMB 149, $22.)

Xiaomi, as ever, offers a range of different options for customers as follows:

  • Mi 9 with 6GB and 128GB for RMB 2999, $445
  • Mi 9 with 8GB and 128GB for RMB 3299, $490
  • Mi 9 with 12GB and 256GB for RMB 3999, $595 (Transparent Edition)
  • Mi 9SE with 6GB and 128GB for RMB 1999, $300
  • Mi 9SE with 6GB and 128GB for RMB 2299, $342

Notably, the Mi 9 goes on sale February 26 — pre-orders open this evening — with the SE version arriving on March 1. As expected, the launch market is China but you can imagine that India — where Xiaomi is among the top players — and other global launches will follow.

Xiaomi said it plans to announce more products on Sunday, the eve of Mobile World Congress. It recently teased a foldable phone so it’ll be interesting to see if it will follow suit and join Samsung, which had its first foldable phone outed by a leak.

Note: The original version of this article was updated to correct the Transparent Edition price and specs.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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