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Tech Radar

After Jio, Airtel may launch affordable Android smartphones in India

With over 500 million smartphone users in the country, India is one of the biggest consumers of smartphones globally. However, there are still over 350 million users in India who still use a feature phone. To cater to them and grab a piece of the shrinking pie, Airtel is reportedly planning to launch affordable 4G smartphones in India for the masses. According to a new report, Airtel is in talks with local phone manufacturers to launch its own 4G smartphone at an affordable price. It also looks like Airtel is exploring a plan to come up with both locked and unlocked versions of smartphones, which would be a first in India. If that ends up being true, users will be able to buy smartphones in the form of monthly rental instead of upfront. (Image credit: Future) The telecom operator is said to be eyeing a piece of cake from what Jio and Google have planned.  For those who are unaware, at the Reliance AGM 2020 a couple of months ago, Jio announced that it will bring affordable 4G/5G smartphones to the Indian market which will cater to the local needs. And, the affordable phones will run on Android-based OS. This will be an entry-level smartphone with optimizations to the OS and the Play Store so that they will be accessible even for the lower-powered devices. The phone will also include a local ecosystem that ensures that devices with the apps and services in the Play Store are within reach of…Continue readingAfter Jio, Airtel may launch affordable Android smartphones in India

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Tech Radar

Some Xiaomi smartphones get Google’s native call recording feature

A lot of users like to record the calls made from their phones and have to rely on third-party applications downloaded off the Play Store. Some manufacturers bake a call recording option right into their Phone app. Not many know that even Google offers a native call recording option that is available on Pixel phones apart from a few other Android One toting device. In a recent development, reported by Piunikaweb, Google seems to be building this feature to more smartphones, especially Xiaomi phones outside China, India, and Indonesia. Since Xiaomi’s phones come with a highly customized MIUI ROM, global ROMs unlike the Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian ROMs, do not have a recording facility available in the phone app. In these global devices, Xiaomi offers Google’s Phone and messages application as a stock calling application. It is on these global variants of Xiaomi’s phones that Google is turning on this crowd favourite feature. Call recording is now live on mid-budget segment Xiaomi devices like Redmi Note 8 Pro, Redmi Note 9S, and the Redmi Note 9 Pro. While smartphones like the other Note 9 series phones along with the Poco F2 Pro are also in the line to receive an update in due course. Several users who noticed the call recording feature on their phones have shared their feedback on Mi community forums and while some of them are really happy, a some are struggling to get used to the settings while a few want it to be turned off…Continue readingSome Xiaomi smartphones get Google’s native call recording feature

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Tech Radar

Is importing smartphones a good idea for South Africans?

South Africa has an impressive line-up of the main smartphones most people want, but there are a few brand we don’t get.  These include many Android-running smartphones like Google, OnePlus, Sony and Motorola.  If you’re considering importing a phone, there are a few things you need to take into consideration. Here is our guide on what to think about before pressing the checkout button.  The cost, especially taxes  The most important part of the process is the cost, because it’s significant. To begin with, many of these phones aren’t cheap and can be on par with phones you can already get in the country.  While some online stores have created a system where they include import taxes in their price, double check to make sure when you’re buying.  The South African government taxes smartphone imports as luxury goods, so this is added to the straight price the phone might be in another country.  There is a 15% luxury tax, a 7% duty tax and a 15% VAT tax on these kinds of imported items.  As a result, you might spot a Google Pixel phone on Amazon for R11,000 but the phone including shipping will likely cost you a few thousand more.  Warranty  Depending on how you’re importing the phone, different sites will have different warranty coverage.  However, returning a phone even under this warranty will be more complicated than with phones available in the country. This is because it won’t be a simple fix and possibly require the phone to…Continue readingIs importing smartphones a good idea for South Africans?

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Tech Radar

Best business smartphones in 2020

The best smartphone for business use and professional work needs to tick all the boxes to make it great for productivity: it needs to last a long time, give you versatility in the apps you use, and have a big enough screen to let you see all your work. Not all smartphones tick all these boxes, which is why this list isn’t just a copy of our guide to the best smartphones. No, the best business smartphones need a little bit more, and they need to keep providing it for a long time too, not just when you take it out the box for the first time. It can’t always be easy to tell how useful a handset and its features will be for you though, which is why we’ve drawn up this list of the best business and work phones you can buy right now. All of these should be more than capable of running the latest business apps for Android as well as iOS apps for iPad/iPhone as applicable, everything from PDF apps to privacy services, as well as connecting with your business phone service. We’ve also got a list of the best business tablets if that’s more useful to you. With phone makers offering ideal for employees of all levels, we’ve updated this guide to give you the very latest buying advice to help you choose the best smartphones for business use. We’ll keep updating it too when new phones come out, as long as they’re great for…Continue readingBest business smartphones in 2020

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The Verge

Huawei says it’s running out of chips for its smartphones because of US sanctions

Huawei, the world’s biggest smartphone vendor, says it’s running out of processor chips because of US sanctions against the company, The Associated Press reported. And according to Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business unit, as of next month the Chinese phone manufacturer will no longer be able to make its own Kirin chipsets due to the ongoing economic pressure from the US. “Unfortunately, in the second round of U.S. sanctions, our chip producers only accepted orders until May 15. Production will close on Sept. 15,” Yu said at a conference August 7th. “This year may be the last generation of Huawei Kirin high-end chips.” Huawei’s upcoming Mate 40 phone, scheduled for release in September, could be the last phone with a Kirin chip. The US has accused Huawei of building backdoors into network infrastructure, ostensibly to aid Chinese government spying efforts. Huawei has denied the Trump administration’s accusations of spying. But the Trump administration placed Huawei and 114 of its affiliates on its Entity List in May 2019, which meant US firms were unable to sell technology to the company without explicit US government approval. It also meant Google was barred from doing business with Huawei, preventing Huawei from being able to obtain an Android license and keeping Google apps off Huawei devices. The order used the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to justify the ban, and reads that “openness must be balanced by the need to protect our country against critical national security threats.” Trump later extended the…Continue readingHuawei says it’s running out of chips for its smartphones because of US sanctions

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Wired

7 Best Cheap Smartphones for 2020 (iPhone, Android)

You might know TCL for its affordable TVs, but now it’s selling affordable phones. Don’t worry, it’s not the company’s first rodeo—it has made phones under brands it owns or used to own like Alcatel, Palm, and BlackBerry. But the TCL 10 Pro and 10L are the first phones sold in the US under its own name, and they’re a very promising start. The 10 Pro has excellent performance with the Snapdragon 675 chip inside, and its 6.5-inch OLED screen is sharp and bright, even in broad daylight. The 4,500-mAh battery keeps it running for a full day, and the four-camera system does well in a variety of lighting conditions, though it’s still not as good as the Pixel 3A. It feels more premium because it’s a glass sandwich, but that also makes it fragile. The plastic-backed 10L is more durable and has similarly good performance, even if it uses the slower Snapdragon 665 processor—for $200 less. Its battery can go past a full day, and while it can take some nice photos during daylight hours, the lack of a night mode on this model means your low-light shots are going to look quite poor. Its screen is also a little too dim to see in the sunny outdoors. TCL’s biggest drawback is that, like Motorola, it’s only promising one Android version update for these phones for now. That’s disappointing, and it doesn’t bode well for the longevity of these phones. Works on all three major US carriers TCL 10…Continue reading7 Best Cheap Smartphones for 2020 (iPhone, Android)

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Tech Radar

Qualcomm Snapdragon bugs leave almost half of all smartphones open to attack

New research from Check Point has discovered over 400 vulnerabilities in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Digital Signal Processor (DSP) chip that if exploited, could allow hackers to take control of over 40 percent of all smartphones. A DSP is a system on a chip that is used for audio signal and digital image processing in a number of consumer devices including TVs and smartphones. While DSP chips bring a number of new features and capabilities to the devices they’re used in, they also introduce new weak points and expand a device’s attack surface. The vulnerabilities discovered by Check Point have serious implications as Qualcomm’s chips are found in nearly every Android smartphone including flagship phones from Google, Samsung, LG, Xiaomi, OnePlus and other hardware makers. By exploiting the vulnerabilities in Qualcomm’s DSP chip, an attacker can spy on users via their smartphones, render a user’s mobile phone constantly unresponsive and create un-removable malware capable of evading detection. DSP chip vulnerabilities Check Point responsibly disclosed its findings to Qualcomm and the chip maker acknowledge the vulnerabilities, notified device vendors and assigned six of the flaws with CVE listings. Qualcomm has already patched the six security flaws affecting its Snapdragon DSP chip but smartphone makers still have to implement and deliver fixes to their users’ devices which means that many smartphones in the wild are still vulnerable to potential attacks. In a blog post, Check Point provided further insight on how it discovered the vulnerabilities in the company’s DSP chips, saying: “Due to the…Continue readingQualcomm Snapdragon bugs leave almost half of all smartphones open to attack

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TechCrunch

the Swedish firm that gives Chinese smartphones an edge in video production – TechCrunch

If your phone takes amazing photos, chances are its camera has been augmented by artificial intelligence embedded in the operating system. Now videos are getting the same treatment. In recent years, smartphone makers have been gradually transforming their cameras into devices that capture data for AI processing beyond what the lens and sensor pick up in a single shot. That effectively turns a smartphone into a professional camera on auto mode and lowers the bar of capturing compelling images and videos. In an era of TikTok and vlogging, there’s a huge demand to easily produce professional-looking videos on the go. Like still images, videos shot on smartphones rely not just on the lens and sensor but also on enhancement algorithms. To some extent, those lines of codes are more critical than the hardware, argued Andreas Lifvendahl, founder and chief executive of Swedish company Imint, whose software now enhances video production in roughly 250 million devices — most of which come from Chinese manufacturers. “[Smartphone makers] source different kinds of camera solutions — motion sensors, gyroscopes, and so on. But the real differentiator, I would say, is more on the software side,” Lifvendahl told TechCrunch over a phone call. Smart video recording Imint started life in 2007 as a spin-off academic research team from Uppsala University in Sweden. It spent the first few years building software for aerial surveillance, just as many cutting-edge innovations that find their first clients in the defense market. In 2013, Lifvendahl saw the coming of widespread…Continue readingthe Swedish firm that gives Chinese smartphones an edge in video production – TechCrunch

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Tech Radar

Vodafone extends e-SIM functions to more smartphones – not just iPhones

Despite the stress of losing millions of customers and tax defaults earlier this year, Vodafone Idea Ltd. has lived to fight another day and is looking for ways to compete with the likes of Airtel and Reliance Jio in India. The latest development might bring it a step closer to the premium consumers as the company has announced the availability of eSIM for postpaid consumers in the country. After launching the service for Apple Watch in Mumbai, Gujarat and Delhi a month ago, the company has extended the support for smartphones that are compatible in the above regions. The initial list of devices includes Apple’s iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, iPhone XS, XS Max, XR and the budget SE 2020. The company has promised that the service will extend further to devices like Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and Fold soon. However, there is no word on Google’s Pixel 3a series of smartphones. For starters, eSIM is similar to a physical SIM card but it is embedded inside the phone and cannot be removed physically. It is a form of an integrated SIM and is compliant with all the supported mobile networks that are approved by India’s TRAI. Customers can use the basic functionalities like Voice calls, SMS, 4G data without requiring to change their old SIM physically into a new device. To avail this service, existing Vodafone postpaid customers can follow the steps below: New users can visit a store with ID proof, photograph and preferably the device…Continue readingVodafone extends e-SIM functions to more smartphones – not just iPhones

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Tech Radar

Best phone in the US for 2020: the top 15 smartphones we’ve tested

Buying the best phone in 2020 is an expensive investment no matter if it comes from Samsung, Apple, or Google, meaning your decision is all the more important. We’ve seen a mass of new phones in the first half of the year, and we’re expecting more soon. We’re constantly updating our best phones list for this reason: to make sure you’re buying the absolute top smartphone for your needs. The Samsung Galaxy S20 series shook up our rankings, but also consider the iPhone 11 or Galaxy Note 10. Why we have more than one pick: We have a top pick, but not everyone looks for the same smartphone features. Some demand Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime, so that means sticking with iOS 13 (and, soon, iOS 14 when it officially lands), while others will want infinite customizations and Google Assistant, which is available in Android 10 and soon Android 11. Best smartphones by brand Likewise, AT&T plans, Verizon plans, or T-Mobile plans may sway your a preference; the best AT&T phone may not be available on Verizon, and vice-versa. We’ve seen more unlocked phones in the US, but not all of them are available for every carrier. Almost all smartphone prices have crept up to – and above – $1,000 so you’ll want to take your decision seriously. We’re here to guide you through the top phone picks with all of the expertise we’ve gained doing phone reviews. The best phone in 2020? It has a large display, yet is easy…Continue readingBest phone in the US for 2020: the top 15 smartphones we’ve tested