Huawei has launched a range of new flagship smartphones despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The firm unveiled the P40 phones a day after the firm’s founder announced that 90% of the company’s 150,000 China-based employees had returned to work.
But experts say demand for the handsets will likely be weak outside of its home market, at least in the short-term.
They say many consumers and businesses are focused on buying laptops, PCs and tablets if they are spending at all.
“Smartphones are not a priority and certainly not premium ones,” commented Marta Pinto from market research firm IDC.
“People’s consumption confidence is falling because they are more concerned about buying things like groceries and whether they will keep their jobs.
“Even if you are still buying, because you’re working from home, you’ll probably purchase a laptop and monitor. Or because kids need to go to school online, you might buy them a tablet or Chromebook.”
The new handsets were unveiled via a livestreamed video feed rather than at one of the big-budget events Huawei typically hosts.
Unlike last year’s models, the P40 phones lack Google services – including its YouTube, Maps and Play Store apps, and the Google Assistant – because of a US trade ban.
That makes them a difficult sale outside of China, where Android phones come preinstalled with alternatives.
But as a result, one company-watcher suggested that the firm might actually be in a better place to deal with the consequences of Covid-19 than its rivals.
“Huawei was already pretty much locked out of markets outside of China, and had factored in a pretty tough trading environment for the next year or two,” explained Ben Wood from CCS Insight.
“So, it is other phone-makers that have a bigger shock to deal with. LG and Sony’s smartphone divisions, in particular, were already sub-scale and may not survive.
“And don’t forget, that the majority of Huawei’s sales are still coming from its home market in China, where it’s been selling over 40 million units on a quarterly basis. And that market is recovering faster than others having already endured coronavirus and seems to be coming out the other side.”
Huawei remains the world’s second bestselling handset-maker, but had once aimed to overtake Samsung before the end of 2019.
Founder Ren Zhengfei told the Wall Street Journal that his firm now planned to boost its wider research and development budget by $5.8bn (£4.8bn) this year, taking it to more than $20bn. And part of that is being spent on building up its own library of apps.
“In markets outside of China, we don’t see significant [smartphone] growth,” he added.
“We are taking measures to address that.”
There are three versions of the new phones: the standard P40, with a 6.1in screen, and a larger mid-range P40 Pro and high-end Pro+, which both have 6.58in displays. That makes then slightly bigger than Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro Max.
All support 5G. The basic model has three rear cameras, including one that is capable of a 3x optical zoom – meaning users can tighten in on the subject without sacrificing quality.
The P40 Pro adds a time-of-flight depth sensor and upgrades the telephoto lens to a periscope design, allowing light to be reflected into the device to deliver a 5x optical zoom.
And the Pro+ betters this with a 10x optical zoom periscope lens. If a digital effect is employed, the Pro+ can achieve 100x zoom. This matches Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra – but Huawei claims to produce a better shot.
Huawei also said its phones featured bigger camera sensors than those found in either the Galaxy S20 series or iPhone 11 range, giving it an advantage in low-light situations when the owner does not want to use the flash.
Other standout features include:
- artificial intelligence techniques that can remove undesired objects from a scene and to eliminate reflections in glass
- a super-slow motion video mode that captures footage at 7,680 frames per second
- a 32 megapixel selfie camera that can record in 4K. In the two higher models, this is enhanced with its own depth-sensing tech to create background blur in portrait snaps
- a smart assistant summoned by saying “Hey Celia”, which can identify flowers and other objects the phone is shown
The Huawei App Gallery includes TikTok, Telegram, Viber, and Microsoft Office among other products. But beyond Google’s apps, it is also missing Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp.
To help make up for the loss of YouTube, the firm has created its own Huawei Video app.
It has signed a deal with BBC Studios to provide access to 300 hours of content.
Huawei Video will include BBC drama, comedy and factual TV shows in 26 countries outside the UK.
And to replace the Duo video chat app, it offers MeeTime, which it claims offers superior performance in low-light conditions.
“The design of the devices is superb – they are very sleek,” commented Ms Pinto.
“And it’s clever that they’ve been able to bring more stability to the ultra-zoom lens than Samsung did with its S20 Ultra, assuming the P40 Pro+ lives up to its promise.
“But it remains a hard sell, because would you actually want to use something like MeeTime rather than WhatsApp?”
The P40 and P40 Pro go on sale on 7 April, and start from €799 (£742, $890) and €999 respectively, The P40 Pro+ will be released in June, and is priced at €1,399.
Apple Store Leaks 4.7-inch 'iPhone SE' Name on Accessory Listing [u] – iPhone in Canada
Apple’s existing 4.7-inch iPhone 8
Earlier this afternoon, rumours claimed Apple was set to launch its 4.7-inch iPhone called ‘iPhone SE’ (not on Friday, April 3. Now we’re seeing evidence to corroborate that naming scheme of iPhone SE, thanks to Apple itself.
Owner of YouTube channel Zollotech, Aaron Zollo, shared a screenshot of Apple.com and a product listing for the Belkin InvisiGlass Ultra Screen Protector for ‘iPhone SE / 8 / 7’, along with an image of the existing iPhone 7/8.
“Belkin InvisiGlass Ultra, made with Accessory Glass 2 by Corning, provides impressively durable and scratch-resistant screen protection for your iPhone. Thanks to the application of a chemically strengthened ion-exchange process to its ultra-thin aluminosilicate glass, InvisiGlass Ultra sets a new standard for glass screen protection while fully preserving your experience of using the iPhone Multi-Touch display,” reads the product description.
If there was a glass screen protector for the old 3.5-inch iPhone SE, it would be showing on its own product page as the designs are different.
This Belkin screen protector with the ‘iPhone SE’ name is also on Apple Canada’s website as of writing, priced at $49.95 CAD.
If anything, we should find out by early Friday morning if Apple will indeed launch a 2020 iPhone SE, sporting the same design as the iPhone 8. The phone is rumoured to come in three colours and have storage options from 64GB to 256GB. Previous rumours for starting prices were pegged at $399 USD ($565 CAD after exchange).
Apple.ca currently sells the 4.7-inch iPhone 8 for $599/$669 (64GB/128GB) and 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus for $749/$819 ($64GB/128GB). Stay tuned, folks!
Also–Apple’s website still lists AppleCare+ for the iPhone SE at $129 in Canada. The listing itself still details iOS 12, so it could be an old page for the original iPhone SE.
Another one pic.twitter.com/RhoiZTzsaZ
— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) April 3, 2020
Skype rolls out 'Meet Now' for hosting video calls without downloading an app – MobileSyrup
Skype is rolling out a new feature to makes it easier to host online video meetings.
Dubbed ‘Meet Now,’ the feature takes a page out of Zoom’s book by letting Skype users generate shareable meeting links. Then, anyone with the link can quickly join the Skype meeting, no sign-ups or downloads required.
It’s a fairly simple system. Users can quickly create a meeting on Skype’s website with a click. Once the unique meeting link is active, you can share it via Outlook or Gmail, or copy it to your clipboard to send it another way. Anyone can join using the link, even if they’re not on Skype. Plus, the links don’t expire, so you can continue to access the free meeting space in the future.
If you’re using a computer, the link will open the Skype web app and you’ll be free to join the call. If you don’t have a Skype account, you’ll join as a visitor.
On mobile, things are a little different. The link will automatically open in the Skype app if it’s installed on your phone. If it isn’t, the link directs you to the app store on your phone to download Skype so you can participate.
— Skype (@Skype) April 3, 2020
Unfortunately, there are a few caveats. The first is that the Meet Now feature only works with Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome. If you use Safari or Firefox, you’ll need to download the Skype app instead.
The other caveat stems from Zoom. That free video conferencing app recently adjusted how it handles meeting links because online trolls were abusing the system to take over meetings and share graphic content (called ‘Zoombombing’). Zoom added passwords by default to meetings, along with a new waiting room feature to give hosts more control over who can join a meeting in hopes of reducing the ‘Zoombombing’ antics.
Depending on how Skype handles its Meet Now links, the platform could become the next Zoom. Hopefully Microsoft learned a lesson or two from Zoom before implementing Meet Now.
Zoom enables meeting passwords by default, waiting rooms to cut down on intruders – MobileSyrup
Free video conferencing app Zoom announced its first feature change to improve security and privacy: passwords by default.
The announcement comes after the company said it would halt development on new features for 90 days to devote all its resources to fixing the numerous security and privacy flaws plaguing the app.
For those who haven’t followed the Zoom saga, the video conferencing service grew massively in popularity over the last few months — from an average 10 million daily users to 200 million daily users — thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in remote work and physical distancing measures. However, with that popularity Zoom also became a target. Over the last week, reports have detailed several vulnerabilities with Zoom, a flaw that leaked email addresses and something called ‘Zoombombing.’
Zoom’s plan to add passwords by default for all meetings should help prevent that latter issue. Previously, people were able to join publicly available Zoom meetings through links traded online. While that feature was intended to make joining meetings a seamless experience, it also enabled the Zoombombing mischief that has run rampant on the platform. Specifically, Zoombombing is when someone joins a public Zoom meeting and takes advantage of the screen sharing tool to take over the meeting. Often, Zoombombers share graphic content like pornography.
While Zoom users could mitigate Zoombombings by adjusting the default settings so that only specific meeting participants can share their screen, the addition of passwords to all meeting rooms should help. Zoom already turned on passwords by default for new meetings, instant meetings and meetings joined through a ‘meeting ID.’ Starting April 5th, it will turn on passwords for previously scheduled Zoom meetings too.
Zoom’s waiting rooms feature will help cut down on unwanted participants
Ultimately, the process of joining a meeting shouldn’t change for most users. Zoom notes on its support page that attendees who join through meeting invites or calendar events will not have to use a password. Instead, the changes apply to people who try to join manually through a meeting ID.
Along with the new password protections, Zoom will enable waiting rooms by default for all meetings. That means when meeting participants join a call, they’ll have to wait in a “waiting room,” a virtual buffer between participants and the call. From there, meeting hosts can grant some or all in the waiting room access to the meeting.
Zoom released the above YouTube video detailing the changes and how they work. You can also read up on the changes on Zoom’s support website.
The Verge notes that the changes could also help fix another security issue plaguing Zoom. Security researchers recently developed a tool that could scan and identify 100 non-password-protected Zoom meeting IDs in an hour. Plus, the tool could scrape information about those meetings. It’s possible the new password-by-default approach could protect users against similar scanning tools.
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