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Samsung's phone fortunes wane as COVID-19 hits 5G phones in Europe and U.S. – Reuters

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SEOUL (Reuters) – When the coronavirus outbreak in China disrupted global smartphone production in February, Samsung looked set to weather the crisis better than most thanks to its limited exposure there and launches of pricey 5G phones. Its fortunes are reversing.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Samsung Electronics is seen at its office building in Seoul, South Korea South Korea, October 11, 2017. Picture taken on October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

The world’s biggest smartphone vendor, Samsung Electronics Co in full, warned on Wednesday of a significant drop in mobile earnings in the second quarter, as recession fears dampen demand for high-end models and carriers in major markets delay the rollouts of fast 5G networks.

The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting all vendors hard. But Samsung’s strategy of focusing on 5G in advanced markets like Europe and the United States – it captured nearly three-quarters of global 5G phone sales last year – plus dwindling market share in some emerging markets could put it in a deeper quagmire.

By contrast, American arch-rival Apple Inc now looks better positioned as China, which accounts for roughly 15% of its revenues has reopened shops.

By contrast, the reopening has had limited upside for Samsung as the country accounts for a small fraction of its business; it does not break out China revenue, but it accounts for less than 1% of its phone shipments.

Apple, whose lack of a 5G model has been seen as a key disadvantage versus Samsung, has also launched a new budget iPhone SE model that many analysts predict will prove popular among consumers in a recession.

The California-based tech giant reports quarterly results on Thursday.

SECOND QUARTER

Samsung’s total smartphone shipments fell by 18% in the first quarter from a year earlier. But a higher proportion of premium and 5G phone shipments, as well as lower marketing costs, helped profits rise 17% at its mobile division, which includes phones and mobile network equipment.

Profits were resilient in first quarter when the industry impact from COVID-19 was largely down to the outbreak in China, analysts said. However the company faces deep pain in the second quarter which will show the hit to its business from the spread of the virus in Europe and the United States, its strongholds for premium phones, they added.

“The problem is Samsung’s mobile business will be really bad,” said Park Sung-soon, an analyst at Cape Investment & Securities. “It will recover in the second half, but not as strongly as Apple.”

Lee Jong-min, a Samsung vice president, touched on the difficulties on Wednesday.

“Although there are signs that the spread of the coronavirus in North America and Europe is slowing down, it is too soon to be relieved,” he told analysts. “Also, as it takes some time for the economy to recover, it is difficult to forecast how much of a demand drop we will see in the second quarter.”

‘HEARTBREAKING’

Samsung said the deployment of 5G networks were being delayed in India, the United States and Europe because of lockdown measures there.

In China, it expects a boost in 5G spending due to government stimulus measures, but analysts say the policies will benefit local rivals such as Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL] and Xiaomi Corp more.

In India, where smartphone shipments jumped 12% in the first quarter despite the impact of a nationwide lockdown in the final week of March, Samsung further ceded market share, becoming No.3 vendor after China’s Xiaomi and Vivo.

Samsung is set to face further competition in those two markets, not just from Chinese rivals but also Apple, which launched lower-priced $399 SE model this month.

Samsung’s CEO Koh Dong-jin said in late March that it aimed to reclaim its No.1 position in India by offering a wider range of models. The company also plans to boost sales of premium models in China, he added, describing its sluggish sales there as “heartbreaking”.

Samsung said on Wednesday it would also boost offerings of mid and lower-end 5G models globally, while launching new premium models as scheduled in the second half of the year, including the Note and a foldable phone.

Some analysts are nonetheless worried about the company’s prospects this year.

“While I am concerned about overall mobile demand, I am more worried about (Samsung’s) flagship phones, as the chances they will sell well in advanced markets are fading,” said Kim Ro-ko, at Hana Financial Investment.

Reporting by Heekyong Yang and Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Pravin Char

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June Pixel Feature Drop: Hands-on with all the new additions [Video] – 9to5Google

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The June Pixel Feature Drop has now, well, dropped! That means if you do own a Pixel device, a flurry of new features are waiting for you to download and sink your teeth into.

You may remember the previous Pixel Feature Drop, which brought quite a few of the Android 11 Developer Preview programs best additions, meaning that you didn’t have to deal with buggy software to enjoy them. It also means that Android 10 is more like 10.5 at this stage, and the June update pushes that needle even further still.

As before, the latest update comes with the June 2020 security patch, so you’re not having to go out of your way to grab the OTA file. This makes it even easier for all Pixel owners out there to grab the new additions, plus unlike last time, there are no major hardware-specific additions, meaning that all Pixel owners get some neat new tricks to play around with.

It’s important to note that this isn’t the most comprehensive set of features added. They are more quality of life updates that should give you an even better experience with your smartphone.

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New Google Clock features

Not strictly part of the June Pixel Feature Drop, but the new Google Clock additions are enhanced and exclusive to Pixel devices at least for now. When you launch the stock clock for the first time after updating, you’ll get a new “Bedtime” tab where you can create a proper wind-down schedule that integrates with Digital Wellbeing.

This gives you access to detailed reports, but the pièce de résistance is that the Pixel Stand’s Sunrise Alarms are now fully integrated into the Google Clock app. This gently brightens your display over the course of 15 minutes, in a red to yellow transition alongside your alarm tone. You don’t even need to have your phone charging to take advantage of this previously Pixel Stand exclusive.

Enhanced Adaptive Battery

One area that some people have issues is with the Pixel battery life, however, Adaptive Battery has been tweaked in the June Pixel Feature Drop to hopefully improve your device lifespan.

june pixel feature drop - adaptive battery

It’s too early to tell if this has made any difference on our own devices just yet, but Adaptive Battery is now capable of better predicting when your battery will run out and further reduce background activity to help prolong lifespan. Google states that this is done by reducing the power consumption of rarely used apps.

Personal Safety comes to all Pixels

june pixel feature drop - Personal safety app

The Personal Safety app should now be available on all Pixel devices with Car Crash detection available on the Pixel 3. This is joined by a new “Safety Check” feature that will automatically send real-time location data to any contacts of your choice if you have not confirmed you are okay after a preset time period. This gives you and your contacts peace of mind, especially during unprecedented times.

Google Recorder enhancements

We’ve talked about just how impressive the Google Recorder is, and how it could be the future of transcription for many around the globe. As part of the June Pixel Feature Drop, the Recorder has now gained integration with your Google Assistant. This means that you can give voice commands and launch into the app, ask for specific recordings, and more on top.

Not only can you now control the Google Recorder with your voice, Google has added the ability to save your transcriptions directly to Google Docs, which we’re sure will be a seriously huge inclusion for many out there. Especially as you won’t need to mess around with .txt files.

What’s your favorite new feature as part of the June Pixel Feature Drop?

Do you have a favorite new addition? What else would you like to see in future Feature Drops? Let us know down in the comments section below.

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Judge tosses ex-basketball players' 'Fortnite' dance lawsuit – larongeNOW

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The judge said the key question is whether plaintiffs have a claim that is “qualitatively different” than the rights protected by the Copyright Act.

“And here Plaintiffs claim is based on Epic Games allegedly ‘capturing and digitally copying’ the Running Man dance to create the Fortnite emote that ‘allows the player’s avatars to execute the Running Man identically to Plaintiffs’ version.’” This is squarely within the rights protected by the Copyright Act,” he wrote.

Brantley, of Springfield, Mass., and Nickens, of Monmouth Junction, N.J., were seeking more than $5 million in damages.

Epic Games spokesman Nick Chester declined to comment Monday on the judge’s ruling.

Celebratory dances in Fortnite are called “emotes.” While the game itself is free to play, players can purchase the “emotes” and other character customizations.

Other artists, including Brooklyn-based rapper 2 Milly and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” star Alfonso Ribeiro, also have sued Epic Games over other dances depicted in the shooting game. Ribeiro dropped his lawsuit against Epic Games last year after the U.S. Copyright Office denied him a copyright for the “Carlton” dance that his character performed on the 1990s sitcom.

Nickens and Brantley appeared on DeGeneres’ talk show alongside two New Jersey high school students who were posting videos of the dance online before the two University of Maryland basketball players filmed their own version. Brantley told DeGeneres that Nickens first showed him the dance in a video on Instagram.

“We dance every day for our teammates in the locker room,” Brantley said. “We were like, ‘Hey, let’s make a video and make everybody laugh.’”

One of their dance videos has millions of views on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, their lawsuit said.

The judge dismissed their lawsuit’s claims for invasion of privacy, unfair competition and unjust enrichment based on preemption under the Copyright Act. He also threw out their trademark claims and claims accusing the company of unfair competition and “false designation of origin” under the Lanham Act.

“Plaintiffs seek to place the same square peg into eight round holes in search of a cause of action against Epic Games for its use of the Running Man dance in its game Fortnite. But Plaintiffs’ claims that Epic Games copied the dance do not support any of their theories,” the judge wrote.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Richard Jaklitsch said his clients may not be able to afford the costs of appealing the judge’s ruling. He said it seems “un-American” for the company to “profit off the backs of” Nickens and Brantley.

“Epic can still step up and do the right thing. Epic can still step up and acknowledge what these kids did,” he said.

Nickens was playing professional basketball in Canada and Brantley was working as a sports agent when they sued last year, according to Jaklitsch.

Michael Kunzelman, The Associated Press

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Google Pixel 3 vs. 3 XL: They've been deeply discounted, so which should you buy? – CNET

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Other than price and size, Google’s flagship phones of 2018, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, are essentially the same device. Currently priced at $397 and $499, respectively, the phones are much cheaper now that the Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL are available. But even though they’re two years old, they still have excellent cameras, receive prompt software updates from Google and are equipped with reliable Snapdragon 845 chipsets. So if you’re deciding between the two, read on to see which one is best for you.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Starting at $397, the Pixel 3 is the best route to go if you want to save the most money. Its 5.5-inch display also make it the more pocketable and comfortable phone to hold in your hand. Lastly, it doesn’t have an on-screen notch running at the top of the display, so you can view content on your screen without a distracting tab taking away your attention.

Read our Google Pixel 3 review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

At about $100 more, the Pixel 3 XL offers a bigger screen and a longer battery life. This is great if you see yourself watching a lot of videos or playing games, but keep in mind, the phone also has a big notch at the top. We don’t think it’s worth the extra $100 (for that money you can get multiple phone cases, a Google Home Mini or wireless earbuds), but if you have room in your budget, then go for it.

Read our Google Pixel 3 XL review.

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Pixel 3 vs. Pixel 3 XL: What’s different

Dimensions and weight: The Pixel 3 XL is bigger and heavier than the Pixel 3, measuring 6.2 by 3 inches to the Pixel 3’s 5.7 by 2.7-inch body. The two phones have the same 0.3-inch (8.2mm) depth. Because of the Pixel 3 XL’s larger size, it’s heavier at 6.5 ounces (184 grams). The Pixel 3 weighs 5.2 ounces (148 grams).

Display: The Pixel 3 features an OLED display with 443 pixels-per-inch density, while the Pixel 3 XL is higher definition, with a pixel density of 522 ppi. Unlike the new Pixel 4 phones, they do not have a 90Hz display.

Battery: The last big difference between the two phones is the battery. The Pixel 3 uses a 2,915-mAh battery, while the Pixel 3 XL has a 3,430-mAh battery. Lab results for continuous video playback on airplane mode yielded an average of 15 hours for the Pixel 3 and 16 hours, 49 minutes for the Pixel 3 XL.

Pixel 3 vs. Pixel 3 XL specs

Google Pixel 3 Google Pixel 3 XL
Display size, resolution 5.5-inch “flexible” OLED; 2,280×1,080 pixels 6.3-inch “flexible” OLED; 2,960×1,440 pixels
Pixel density 443ppi 522 ppi
Dimensions (inches) 5.7×2.7×0.3 in. 6.2x3x0.03 in.
Dimensions (millimeters) 145.6×68.2×7.9 mm 158×76.7×7.9 mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 5.2oz.; 148g 6.5 oz.; 184g
Mobile software Android 9 Pie (upgradeable to Android 10) Android 9 Pie (upgradeable to Android 10)
Camera 12.2-megapixel 12.2-megapixel
Front-facing camera Dual 8-megapixel Dual 8-megapixel
Video capture 4K 4K
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (2.5GHz + 1.6GHz octa-core) Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (2.5GHz octa-core)
Storage 64GB, 128GB 64GB, 128GB
RAM 4GB 4GB
Expandable storage None None
Battery 2,915 mAh 3,430 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Back cover Back cover
Connector USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack No No
Special features Water resistant (IPX8), wireless charging support, Pixel Buds USB-C headphones in the box Water resistant (IPX8), wireless charging support, Pixel Buds USB-C headphones in the box

CNET editor Patrick Holland contributed to this report.

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