Chip-Monks  ⁄  Huawei

Huawei is a brand we know so little about – some of us (mind you, not most of us)  would’ve seem perhaps a few mobile phones in the market, and most of us inherently assume they make feature phones for the masses. Not true! Let us tell you a little bit of what Huawei does.

Let’s start off with a fact – Huawei is the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world! They snatched that mantle from Ericsson in 2012. How is that for fact?

So, now that we have your attention, eyes open wide, brows elevated, let us tell you more about this Chinese giant of a company, for it is truly a GIANT.

Huawei, like most companies had humble beginnings, and it is a relatively new company as well. Founded as recently as 1987 by Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer in the People’s Liberation Army, Huawei at that time focused on manufacturing phone switches for military as well as civilian use. Since then it has expanded its span to include building telecommunication networks, providing operational & consulting services, enterprise level equipment to organisations inside and outside of China, and manufacturing communications devices for the consumer market!

International expansion commenced in the late 90s with Huawei winning its first overseas contract in 1997, to provide fixed-line network products to Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa. Later that year, Huawei launched its own wireless GSM-based products and eventually expanded to offer CDMA and UMTS.
In 2005, Huawei’s international contract orders exceeded its domestic sales for the first time. Huawei signed a Global Framework Agreement with Vodafone. This agreement marked the first time a telecommunications equipment supplier from China had received Approved Supplier status from Vodafone’s Global Supply Chain Team.

In July 2010, Huawei was included in the Global Fortune 500 list, on the strength of annual sales of US$21.8 billion and net profit of US$2.67 billion. Today, Huawei is one of the most significant companies in the world of telecommunication today.

Now, lets tred on a territory the is somewhat familiar to us. Huawei has also ventured into the mobile phone world in a big way… becoming a major global smartphone manufacturing brand in just a handful of years. Would you believe us that Huawei manufactured Google’s latest flagship, the Nexus 6P? Unbelievable for a company of such nascent lineage in the handset industry, to win such a prestigious assignment from an oligarch of the repute of Google!

While this assignment saw an upswing in the repute of Huawei itself, we actually see it as proof of its arrival, as a handset major. And the 6P rocks! Proof of Huawei’s prowess and technical aptitude!

Being the leaders in manufacturing telecommunication instruments surely enabled Huawei to hit their first major handset out of the park. Huawei’s Nexus 6P sits right among the best of smartphones of 2016.

Huawei had over 170,000 employees as of September 2015, of which around 76,000 were engaged in research and development (R&D)! Would you believe that this rather silent player, has 21 R&D institutes in countries including China, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, France, Belgium, Germany, Colombia, Sweden, Ireland, India, Russia, and Turkey! In fact, it invested US$5 billion in R&D in 2013 alone. Not completely satisfied, it increased the outlay to over $6.4 billion in 2014!

This is a brand that boasts of quality and integrity, which is the bedrock for its achievements in the telecommunication world.

  • Huawei delivered one of the world’s first LTE/EPC commercial networks for Telia Sonera in Oslo, Norway in 2009.
  • The company launched the world’s first end-to-end 100G solution from routers to transmission system that same year, to help meet the rapid growth of network traffic and enhance router efficiency and reliability.
  • According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on 27 January 2009, Huawei was ranked as the largest applicant under WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), with 1,737 applications published in 2008. Consider this… all of the other brands from China only accounted for 4,350 patents in that year!As of February 2011, Huawei has applied for 49,040 patents globally and has been granted 17,765 to date.In 2014, Huawei became the world’s No. 1 applicant for international patents in 2014, with 3,442 patents.
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Phone Brands Shifting Focus To Brick And Mortar Stores In India - Here's Why

Phone Brands Shifting Focus To Brick And Mortal Stores In India - Here Why

The differences in the prices of smartphones between online and offline stores are expected to diminish soon, with the implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) – which is due to roll out on July 1.

In preparation of this transition, smartphone companies such as Asus, InFocus, Xiaomi, Motorola, ZTE and Huawei have had to come up with a new and more efficient strategy to retain the demand for their smartphones, in the offline market.

Currently, when you buy a device online, you find it at least a couple thousand bucks cheaper than you would in a neighborhood store. For brands like Xiaomi, and Motorola, that have majorly stuck to online stores so far, this plays into their court; they already have comparatively lower prices, and they can sell their devices at a lower tax rate online.

Presently, online sellers based in areas like Bengaluru and Hyderabad sell smartphones at a lower VAT (Value Added Tax) i.e. 5%, than those who are based in locations where the VAT% on smartphone devices are much higher (usually in the 10-15% range).
The national average is about 12%.

It is this imbalance in the VAT levied, that will soon become uniform across the nation via the GST since it is a national tax, and not a state-drive one.

So, even though these brands have off and on, been working on their offline sales strategies, to sell to the larger group of Indians that are not online, their focus has been the urban educated buyer who is already online. A change in this focus seems around the corner now, but the reason might not necessarily be a want for further expansion into the market; the reason this time is the need to get a better grip on the offline market before the playing field is leveled.

These brands have chalked out some novel plans of action to enhance the sale of their devices in India’s challenging market. Direct distribution, a partnership with large-format retail, building separate models for the offline market, putting together their own stores, expanding marketing expenditure – are some of the ways in which the smartphone makers are planning their extension.

There is a scramble amongst online smartphone brands to expand into offline retail. While a couple of brands like Xiaomi and Huawei are intensifying efforts, most others are making fresh attempts. With GST, the value added tax (VAT) advantage, which the online sellers enjoy, will disappear completely, making online and offline a much more level playing field”, announced cellphone retail chain Hotspot’s director, Subhasish Mohanty.

With the new approach that the brands are gearing up to adopt, they would directly sell the smartphone to the retail stores – not just any retail stores though – only stores that they have collaborated with.

Xiaomi, for the same, has recently collaborated with four of the major South Indian retail stores, namely, Sangeetha, Poorvika, BigC and LOT. The Chinese budget brand also plans to set up self-owned Mi Home stores in India, just like the ones they have in China.

Asus is another Chinese brand that has mostly had an online presence in the country so far, and is now planning on expanding into the offline market.
InFocus, a Foxconn-owned brand, which plans to invest big money in offline trade and marketing replicating the strategy of Chinese rivals, Oppo and Vivo, too, is re-launching its offline business and building a portfolio of models.
ZTE is also going into offline expansion, including expansion into smaller towns, and so is Huawei.

These changes are going to be interesting not just for the smartphones they bring, but also for the Indian e-commerce market, given that the business of smartphones is quite a chunk of it. It is because of that, that companies such as Amazon and Flipkart are drawing up plans to foray into the offline distribution of smartphones for brands like Coolpad, OnePlus and Lenovo.

This, altogether, could be an interesting change in the smartphone world. Bigger brands such as Samsung, LG, HTC etc., already sell through their offline stores heavily in India. Even Apple has third party reseller stores in the country and is soon opening up its own stores.

Thus, these “economical” brands might find it difficult to sink their teeth in to a market that is already quite populated, and to an extent, these brands may be outclassed by the larger ones.

On the other hand, they might also be welcomed open armed, given how well they’ve done through their online channels so far.

Huawei Smartphones Face A Ban In The U.K. For Patent Infringement

Huawei is facing a ban in UK for their smartphones

It looks like the dragon might finally be coming home to roost.

After an order by the High Court of the United Kingdom, Huawei, the Chinese megabrand, faces an injunction on the sale of its smartphones in the U.K.

The company has been in a long-running legal battle with Unwired Planet, an American patent owner, over royalty payments related to key networking technology used in Huawei’s devices.

The High Court ruled this week that Huawei must pay Unwired Planet for patent infringement. The ruling also specified that in order to keep their sales going, Huawei must license the patents from the patent holder.

The catch is that Unwired Planet is adamant on issue only a global license, which will obviously cost Huawei more, and Huawei wants one specifically for the U.K. Unwired Planet is clearly working on the premise that the nature of the license is such, that it is by standard, only issued on a global scale.
But on the other hand, the only reason Huawei has even come to the table to talk about the license is because a court is holding a gun to its head; its natural for them to want to cut the cheapest possible deal.

An element of the ruling might, however, also be a relief for Huawei in that regard though. As a part of the ruling, the global royalty rates ordered by the court were much lower than the ones sought by Unwired Planet. This might give Huawei the much-needed nudging to cut a deal.
We welcome the decision by the Court that Unwired Planet’s royalty rate demands have been found to be unreasonable”, a spokesman said. “Huawei is still evaluating the decision as well as its possible next steps. Huawei does not believe that this decision will adversely affect its global business operations”.

Huawei, currently, is the third largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world. Even though its share of the market in the U.K. is considerably lesser than it’s standing on the global scene, the Chinese megabrand has established itself quite well in this usually-unfriendly Western market.

Unwired Planet, before the suit with Huawei, had also gone to court with Google and Samsung, within the U.K. Both of those companies have successfully reached a deal with Unwired Planet to keep their shops running.

Even though the move of granting an injunction for the sale of a smartphone company’s products is an unprecedented move in the British territory, it comes in the light of what has been quite a hot topic for debate lately – intellectual property right and violations.

The thing about brands like Huawei, most of them incidentally Chinese, is that they are usually quite lax and loose about using technology that already exists in the market. This make their devices cheaper, yes, but technically, the secret sauce is not always theirs.

It is thus that they become the possible hot spots for patent infringements and violations of intellectual property. This is also the reason why Xiaomi has not yet entered the U.S. market, as they are said to be vulnerable to tons of lawsuits the moment their smartphone portfolio sets official foot on U.S. shores.

It is for the same reason (possible patent infringements) that Huawei too, does not sell in the U.S. market. The company has built itself up as a mock-up of Apple, but it can only sell smartphone accessories in the U.S. market for now, for the fear that the country’s patents and intellectual property laws will eat them alive.
Their sale, in the European markets, is also quite selective and cautionary, by the way.

Huawei, however, is not alone the allegations of patent infringements and violations of intellectual property. It is because of the bowl of soup that intellectual property rights have become around the world that smartphone makers have clashed a lot with each other and with specialist patent owners in courts around the world in the last few years.

The claims have always been that the technology in the smartphones has either been unlawfully copied, or someone is not being paid enough for the use of technology, or that someone is demanding too much.
The truth of the matter however is that in most cases, it is a chicken-and-egg situation, where it is impossible to tell what exactly happened historically – hence the correct lens is not usually available to apportion blame for the circumvention.

For now, though, Huawei seems to be stuck. Even though it believes that the impending injunction on the sale of its smartphones in the U.K. might not have an impact on its global sales, Unwired Planet might be ready to file in more courts in other countries where it believes its patents are being infringed upon. And until they do reach a deal, the noose is only going to tighten around Huawei.

So, will Huawei finally come home to roost and cut a deal, or will they go toe-to-toe in court?

Well, they have some strategising and thinking to do on that.

Huawei P10 and P10 Plus - A Quick Work-up

Huawei P10 and P10 Plus

Huawei has been making a rock-solid space for itself in the alt-West markets over the last few years. With it’s latest P10 duo, Huawei is clearly looking to cement itself as one of the preeminent smartphone manufacturers in the world.

Truth be told, it’s done a lot to justify it’s seat at the table too.

The premier devices were announced at the Mobile World Congress not too long ago.
Even though the Mate series is the titular flagship stream for Huawei, but the more diminutive ‘P series’ has been steadily closing the gap, for awhile now.
Outstanding camera capabilities and superior battery life are the particularly impressive features of the devices. And we can’t forget the design side of things too.
Given that the P10 phones are quite apparently close cousins of the iPhone, in terms of the external design, they tend to be quite beautiful, indeed.

The devices are also pretty reminiscent of their predecessors Huawei P9 and P9 Plus, except with more rounded edges and a relocated fingerprint scanner.

Is there anything that tells the P10 duo apart?

When it comes to the design nuances, both the phones are quite similar. The main difference between the two is the display size, with the P10 pulling in at 5.2 inches and the P10 Plus staying at the standard-phablet size of 5.5 inches.
Given the difference in screen sizes, there’s a difference in the resolutions of the displays too (with the larger P10 Plus carring 540 pixels per inch, as against “only” 432 ppi in the smaller P10). The battery on the Plus version is also understandably bigger than that of the regular phone.

The Huawei P10 is powered by octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 960 processor and it comes with 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of internal storage that can be expanded up to 256 GB via a microSD card. As for the eyes of the phone, the Huawei P10 packs a 20 megapixel primary camera on the rear and a 12 megapixel front shooter for selfies. It runs on Android 7.0 and is powered by a 3,100 mAh non-removable battery.

The P10 Plus, is powered by the same octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 960 processor as the smaller sibling. The similarities between the two extend to the RAM, internal storage, cameras and the OS too. Fortunately, a bigger 3,750 mAh non-removable battery powers the bigger variant.

What can be considered a highlight of both the phones is their dual camera setup that was co-developed by German optics company Leica. The partnership with the German company did much good to the P9 range and it’s fair to expect that they’ve achieved quite a bit with the new duo as well.

Overall, what we’re hearing is that the stuff on the ‘good’ side of the balance sheet for these phones would be their attractive design, solid build and the colour options will definitely be an add-on. The display is quite good too – rich and vibrant most times. The EMUI 5.1 user interface atop the Android pack is much better than previous iterations. The camera performance is excellent too, and the sizes of the devices altogether prove quite manageable.
The battery that should likely last you the entire day is definitely a plus.

On the other side though, the speakers on the device could have been much better. The camera app might get a little too complicated for some. And the device is not water resistant.
None of these, however, are deal breakers as such.

So all in all the devices should be more than good to compete in the market place.

But most notably, as I’ve said in the past, for many, many devices – the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus are in no way revolutionary, however they prove that incremental improvements eventually start to stack up, and become a more meaningful package as a sum of parts.

SIM Cards Rebooted - Say Hello To e-SIMs

Are we ready for eSIMs in India

The traditional SIM card has been dying a slow death over the last few years.
The normal SIM cards (now called “Macro SIMs”) that seem from prehistoric times now, set the ball rolling for mobile telephony. Then we got to micro SIM cards as smartphones arrived. As devices became bigger, the real estate within them became even more at a premium, hence smartphone manufacturers hit upon nano SIM cards.
Now, it’s time for better the technology in an even smaller card – called the e-SIM.

In light of this changing environment, the GSMA (who represents carriers and mobile companies around the world), has announced the specifications for e-SIMs, that are expected to be used in smart watches, fitness trackers, and even tablets. These SIMs will allow users the freedom to activate the SIM embedded in those devices on any carrier of their choice, as well as bring in the convenience of switching carriers and devices without swapping SIMs.

If everything works out as planned, the team behind the development of e-SIM suggests the new technology will be rolled out by 2018.

For now, the leaders of the smartphone industry are in talks with American and British mobile carriers with the intent of making e-SIMs a reality in those regions.
Apparently, conversations are already on with AT&T, T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, Orange, Etisalat, Hutchison Whampoa and Teleónica – which are some of the biggest around the world.

The GSMA plans to roll out a similar standard for smartphones themselves in June, at which point the days of the SIM card could be numbered.

Since this specification is also backed by manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, BlackBerry, LG and Huawei! The freedom and convenience that this welcome ability of switching operators will bring is best understood by device manufacturers – it drives better customer satisfaction and it frees up the manufacturer from having to kowtow to operator-demands. It even helps them move inventory around more seamlessly, instead of suffering the logistical nightmare they currently face – the device is operator agnostic, but since it was packed with a specific-operator’s SIM (at the factory), the manufacturer can’t lift and shift the inventory to other regions/stores/operators at will.

Once implemented, this universal tech will allow users to add mobile devices to a single subscription, in turn allowing them to connect directly to any mobile network. No separate SIM cards, no phone-as-a-middle-man, just an embedded SIM in each device, programmed to connect to a network all by itself!

Not that the GSMA sees it that way. It says “the initiative does not aim to replace all SIM cards in the field, but is instead designed to help users connect multiple devices through the same subscription and will help mobile device manufacturers to develop a new range of smaller, lighter mobile-connected devices that are better suited for wearable technology applications”.

Some Reactions From The Smartphones Industry

BlackBerry:
The technology allows an individual to have both, a personal and business number on a single mobile device, with separate billing for voice, data and messaging usage on each number. People can switch between business and personal profiles easily without carrying multiple devices or SIM cards,” BlackBerry India Managing Director, Sunil Lalvani said at as per Tech First Post.

Apple:
Well, Apple has already explored with its own SIM cards that can swap networks on flights and lets users choose from three different carriers.

For what it’s worth, the first example of a programmable SIM card, is already out there are – notably in Apple’s iPads. But it wasn’t officially recognised by the GSMA.
The GSMA notes there recently announced specifications as “the only common, interoperable and global specification that has the backing of the mobile industry“.

So, the integration of the e-SIM into upcoming iPhones seems like the next logical step for the Cupertino tech giant.

Samsung:
The world’s other smartphone giant also has intentions of using this “programmable” SIM in it’s smartwatch line.

So this isn’t technology that’s a way off-you might be using it yourself by the middle of the year!

Huawei's Mate 9 To Be The First Phone With Alexa Preinstalled!

Huawei Mate 9 To Be The First Phone With Alexa Preinstalled

Huawei’s Mate 9 phablet will be the first phone in the world to have Amazon’s Alexa voice service preinstalled, the company said here at CES.

Alexa is quickly becoming the default voice interface for controlling connected homes, and we’re seeing a lot of Alexa-aware gadgets at CES, including ones in Ford vehicles and Amazon Fire-powered smart TVs.

The U.S. version of the phone will come out in the last of January for USD 600, with the Alexa service arriving in February.

Recently, Amazon’s Vice President, Steve Rabuchin showed a video of a Mate 9 owner interacting with Amazon Echo multiple times throughout a typical workday. The Mate 9 version of Alexa turned on the bedroom lights, started the coffee maker, read back the first appointment of the day, requested an Uber ride, warned that snow flurries were forecast, and even ordered dog food for delivery when the owner returned home.

Alexa appeared to be “always listening” in the demo video, with the Mate 9 owner talking to it on the bedside table without pressing a button. However, at no point did the owner ask it to set an alarm, send a text, or interact with any other phone functions. Does it nudge us to infer that at least initially, it won’t be a true alternative to the Google Assistant?

Rabuchin didn’t close the door on adding those capabilities later. “Amazon Alexa on the Mate 9 will be available later this year, and this is just the beginning of the collaboration between our two companies“, he said.

The Mate 9 will be sold on Amazon, B&H, Best Buy, and Newegg.

The Mate 9 is a big 5.9 inch phablet with a big battery. At CES, Huawei made sure to call out its dual cameras, which allow for enhanced digital zoom and better low-light performance, and its Kirin 960 processor, the first to use ARM’s latest Cortex-A73 cores.

It is, by all measures, very fast!

Priced at USD 600, the Mate 9 puts itself among rarefied competition, including flagships from Apple, Samsung, and HTC. While the long battery life will also be a plus and its huge screen may prove a sales benefit, the 1,920-by-1,080 screen resolution may feel it’s a step down.

Make sure you read all about the Mate 9 available here, and our detailed review of the new baby, available here!

Huawei Honor 6x Revealed

Huawei Honor 6x Revealed

Like every year, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), 2017 witnessed introductions of a variety of tablets, smartphones, OLED and QLED TVs.

One of the largest shows across the globe, the CES forms an excellent platform to showcase new devices and garner a lot of excitement and interest in upcoming releases.

One of the more prominent phones to be showcased in the 2017 version of the annual show at Las Vegas was Chinese electronics giant, Huawei’s Honor 6X – the successor to its Honor 5X.

The Honor 6X claims to be a perfect phone for the youth, boasting two primary USPs – a large battery and dual-camera technology.

Huawei did pretty well with Honor 5X as per George Zhao, Huawei’s Marketing Director, in fact the company hinted at having shipped about 11 million units of the device. This time around, the company has an ambitious target of selling twenty million Honor 6X devices!

Huawei aims for greater commercial success via that Honor 6X by equipping it with a better all-round arsenal – a larger display, larger battery, a faster processor and a dual-lens camera.

Honor 6X is yet again, an illustration of premium specs being offered by Huawei in a pocket-book-friendly price similar to Samsung’s Galaxy A series.

Back to exploring the goody bag:  The new phablet seems like a more refined, mature, stylish version of Honor 5X, perhaps owing to the elimination of the brushed aluminum and glossy finish of its predecessor. Instead, an all-metal design made from high-strength aluminum alloy that has been anodized twice results in a scratch-resistant, yet attractive design.

The Honor 6X features a 5.5-inch Full HD display. Under the hood is Huawei’s inhouse Kirin processor, the Kirin 655 octa-core chip – which to put things in perspective, can be equated with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 series. The phablet comes with the par-for-the-course 3 GB of RAM coupled with 32 GB of internal storage. It is accompanied by another variant with higher configuration of 4 GB RAM and 64 GB of internal storage. Both phones are powered by a 3,340 mAh battery which should keep the phone running for about two days on a single charge (the Honor 5x had a 3,000 mAh battery, so the new brother is just marginally better endowed).

What has really improved on the Honor 6X, on paper (since we’ll need to test it firsthand to determine performance) is the rear camera.

The Honor 6x come with a dual-camera setup, which with its fast autofocus and improved low light capabilities, promises to mimic professionally shot images. The rear camera has a configuration of a 12-megapixel and a 2-megapixel camera, with the latter acting as a detector for depth-of-field.

An 8-megapixel camera is included in front, for your selfies and video calling needs. In addition to this, the device comes with a better camera app. Together with the new camera hardware and software, Honor claims that the Honor 6X is capable of achieving crisp, sharp photos in less than a second.

Additionally, there are different camera modes, some of which Huawei says are novel. Splash, for instance, is a mode whereby certain aspects of a photo can be gray scaled leaving other aspects in color.

Not just that, the fingerprint scanner is implanted into the rear casing, enabling the user to unlock the device in just 0.3 seconds. The same scanner also enables the user to take photos and later swipe through the image gallery without touching the screen.

Well, I’m paraphrasing Chip-Monks’ initial thoughts – Huawei seems to be tom-toming a potentially average device. There’s nothing really remarkable here, and Xiaomi for one, is miles ahead of Huawei in terms of hardware and innovation. The Honor 6x did really afford Huawei and opportunity of clawing back some of the gap created by Xiaomi’s constant push to surge forward.

One of the bigger setbacks on the Honor 6X is its software. The combination of EMUI 4.1 along with Android 6.0 Marshmallow seems to be a little dated, considering the fact that EMUI 5.0 has already been released on other Huawei devices. Additionally, Android 7.0 Nougat isn’t to be seen on this phone yet. However, there is hope – a Huawei spokesperson, said that Nougat is “coming soon”, hence Honor 6X owners will have to settle on the outdated software for some time till the update rolls out.

Perhaps, the Honor 8 which is to release in February might have Nougat out of the box.

The smartphone will be initially available in 13 new markets, starting this this month. The variant with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB of internal storage will be available for USD 250 starting Jan 4 for several European and Middle Eastern markets. The larger variant with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB internal storage will sell for USD 300 and will be available later, during the first quarter of 2017. Both phones will be available in Silver, Grey and Gold colours

Zhao, the Marketing Director of Huawei is (to our amusement) of the view that the specifications on the Honor 6X make it capable of being a worthy competitor to one of its largest rivals, Apple and Samsung. Pardon me as I chuckle my way through my coffee break.

That aside, I just hope Honor 6x turns out to be a successful device on it’s own merit, whenever it does land in the crowded, sweaty and over-heated Indian smartphone market.

Nougat Updates Are Rolling Out

Nougat Updates Are Rolling Out

While the roll-out of Android Nougat 7.0 is still underway, Google has already started rolling out the beta version of Nougat 7.1.1 for certain devices.

The Nougat 7.1.1 version was put out in the developer preview in November, and was subsequently released for the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Nexus 6P, Google Nexus 5X, Google Nexus 9, Google Pixel tablet, the Nexus player and other General Mobile 4G (Android One) devices.

With the Nougat 7.1.1 update, Google is interestingly bringing some features that were initially seen only on the Pixel devices to the Nexus devices.

  • One of these is the app shortcut feature which now comes directly to your home screen and functions quite like the functionality of the iPhone without the pressure sensitive display.
  • The update also includes support for Google’s “Image Keyboard”, which basically lets you find and send pictures and GIFs without leaving your messaging app of choice.
  • An additional set of emojis to promote gender equality also come with the package.

While Google has moved on, most other non-Google brands are still yet to roll out the Nougat 7.0 version entirely.

  • Sony just started their roll out for their top range. This would include Multi-window support, longer battery life and a new messaging app for users.
  • HTC has started rolling out the version to unlocked versions of HTC One M9, HTC 10 in the US. They haven’t yet given a timeline for their other devices or regions.
  • Samsung has rolled out the update for their Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge phones too and is soon bringing the update to its other devices.

As budget smartphone brands, most of them Chinese, have been climbing up the charts for their products’ specs and capabilities, they all use heavily personalized versions of Android, to distinguish their products from the rivals in the market.
What this basically means for the users of these devices is that brands such as Huawei, Lenovo, Xiaomi, Gionee, Oppo, Vivo, Coolpad and LeEco, are almost always among the very last to roll out updates to their respective devices.

This time around, however, with Nougat 7.0, things seem to be a little different.

  • Huawei and Lenovo have already rolled out the update for some of their devices, Xiaomi reportedly is next in the line to do the same, and more is to follow in the next weeks around New Years.
  • Lenovo-backed Moto’s latest Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus, as well as some of the Moto Z devices, have the update now as well.

And it is good news, as Android Nougat brings several improvements over the older versions of Android for the users.

  • It boasts redesigned notifications that crams more information into the Notification area without wasting screen real-estate, along with an overall clean design that makes it quicker and easier to read alerts.
  • It also promises a better battery life, in addition to a system UI tuner, quick replies, dozens of new emoji, to name some of the new features.

All this is very impressive. Android has historically be infamous for the glacial reach across brands. With the 7.0 update in the market for over a month now, and the 7.1.1 version already starting out, it stands to reason that updates should be rolling out even faster, as more and more companies seem ready to bring it to their devices.

For more information on if the update is yet available on your device or not, check for the update on your device, or stay tuned for more information.

Speculations 'Bout The Huawei P10

Speculations Bout The Huawei P10

Huawei is said to have been working on P10, the much awaited successor to it’s P9 flagship for a while now.

The Huawei P9 turned a lot of heads and landed in many hands this year.

A few days ago some photos were spotted floating on the internet, that teased us with the supposed P10, and, one can safely say that it certainly comes with distinct changes.

Huawei, a Chinese brand that not many had really heard of in the International waters, has made quite a name for itself in the smartphone world in the last couple of years. It has done so by offering devices with premium build quality and some great specs, for rock-bottom prices compared to it’s many competitors.
All this has enabled Huawei devices to garner serious consideration with lesser post-purchase dissonance.

The company usually announces it’s incoming P-series flagship smartphones in April every year, and the Mate-series in the last quarter of the year. With the last Mate launch out of the way, all eyes are now on the P10 launch.

Can The Success Of P10 Be Predicted Based On The Performance Of Its Predecessor, The Huawei P9?

Some images recently appeared on Weibo, showing what they claim are an engineering sample of the Huawei P10 in a Rose Gold colour.

While it seems to have features similar to P9, there seem to be some changes.

One significant change would be the fingerprint sensor. The Huawei P9 has its fingerprint sensor mounted on to the back, however the alleged leaks show that the P10 might have a front-mounted fingerprint sensor just below the screen, where the usual home button is on most phones.

What might also be interesting is that it is speculated that this ‘home button’ for the P10 might not function as a physical home button, but mimic a capacitative home button (like on the iPhones 7). Huawei did put a fingerprint sensor on the front in their special edition Mate 9 Porsche Design model, perhaps to test the waters out for the P10.

The leaked photos also show that the Huawei P10 might also have a dual curved display, a design that looks quite similar to the Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design unit, and Samsung’s Galaxy S7 edge.

Will the P10 come in two variants; one of them a regular flat screen while the other boosting a dual-curved screen? Tough to say, at this time.

Leaked renders do present a flat solid metal unibody design with a dual camera setup on the rear and as with the P9, the camera sensors and flash seem to be positioned at the top within the antenna band. Details about the camera are not too clear yet, however we have our ear to the ground and will keep you posted.

The Huawei P10 is rumoured to have a 5.5 inch quad HD display, with the Huawei Kirin 960 SoC processor, 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB/256 GB of storage. On the software side, the handset will be running Android 7.0 Nougat (maybe even 7.1) with the Huawei-personalised interface EMUI v5.0 running on top.

Given the Huawei brand, we can also expect lower priced variants of the device, with lesser RAM and storage to be released over time.

Going by the release schedule Huawei resorted to in 2016, we can expect the device to be out sometime in April 2017.

We will keep you posted on the specs as we gather them, do read our articles on all the other smartphones to be launched in 2017. It promises to be a busy year.

Beware! Some Android Phones Send User Data To China!

Beware Some Android Phones Send User Data To China

As is often the case when buying technically or mechanically complex products, the most important features sometimes are not the ones that you look for.

In the case of smartphones too, the features that are on the advert, or the specs on websites, the hardware within or even the features/apps that you knowingly use – sometimes aren’t the ones you should be most concerned about.

In the case of Chinese-made phones (and tablets), the uber-critical feature of the device is buried so deep, that no one (especially you) would even know that there exists a vulnerability on your device.

One such vulnerability on some Android phones, is their ability to send your user data to China.

The story was broken by New York Times last month, citing backdoors on some Android phones that are sending user data to Chinese servers. Some cheap Android phones (that can be bought for about USD 50-60), carry a preinstalled software that monitors the user’s activities – things like where they go, whom they talk to, their text messages, and transmits the data so collected, to a Chinese server every 72 hours.

Clearly this is a grave breach in the users’ privacy, and there are many who are now concerned.

The code comes preinstalled on the phones and the surveillance is not disclosed to the users”, said Tom Karygiannis, the Vice President of Kryptowire, the security firm that found this backdoor.

Kryptowire also works for the Department of Homeland Security of the United States government, and that is where they first took their concern – subsequent to which further inquiries were made by the concerned US authorities. “Even if you wanted to, you wouldn’t have known about it”.

What the Chinese server does with the data after receiving it is unknown for now; if it’s a governmental identity or a private one is also debatable.
American authorities are themselves unclear whether this is secretive data mining for commercial or advertising purpose, or if this is the Chinese government’s effort to collect intelligence.

But one thing is quite clear, user privacy is being breached without their knowledge.

International customers, primarily those who use cheaper phones, are the ones at risk right now. The company that wrote this software has been discovered to be Shanghai Adups Technology Company and it has admitted that their software runs on over 700,000 smartphones, cars, and other smart devices. In the U.S. this includes smartphones sold by BLU Products, ZTE and Huawei.

That does not mean the vulnerability is restricted to products from just these three brands. Worse, there doesn’t seem to be a way to know if your Android phone is at risk or not.

What seems to be peculiar to this case is that this security backdoor is not a bug or an oversight (what most security backdoors usually are). Adups seems to have intentionally designed the software in question, to help the Chinese phone manufacturers monitor user behaviour.

According to a document that they provided to BLU on request, the version of the phone was not intended for American phones. “This is a private company that made a mistake”, said their Palo Alto-based lawyer, Lily Lim.

BLU Products identified that about 120,000 of their smartphones were affected and that they have subsequently run a remote security update on those devices to ensure that the software in question has been eliminated.
What is being done about the remaining hundreds of thousands of smartphones in question seems to right now be unclear.

On the front of the other two brands, they’ve issued the following statements”

ZTE:
We confirm that no ZTE devices in the U.S. have ever had the Adups software cited in recent news reports installed on them, and will not.  ZTE always makes security and privacy a top priority for our customers. We will continue to ensure customer privacy and information remain protected”.

Huawei:
We take our customers’ privacy and security very seriously, and we work diligently to safeguard that privacy and security. The company mentioned in this report is not on our list of approved suppliers, and we have never conducted any form of business with them“.

Despite these statements and claims, the entire matter is so muddy, and the reliability of the quoted numbers unscientific, no one seems convinced.
Huawei’s prior history of problems with the U.S. and Indian market for the same reasons, sure give enough cause for doubt.

Another thought:

While the “necessary” steps may have been taken in the American context, there’s no news or commitment from these brands for devices sold to Indian users. So, each of you who own a device from one of these brands need to be conscious of this vulnerability.

A pertinent question:

A fundamental question that you need to ask yourself is – are you willing to compromise your privacy (and those of your loved ones) for the mere benefit of a cheap(er) phone that you can’t be sure you can trust?

Some sage advice: don’t be a miser. Your privacy and security is worth a lot more!

All in all, what this discovery of the backdoor has done is that it has shown companies throughout the supply chain how privacy can be compromised, with or without the knowledge of manufacturers, and of course the users.

It also shows how user data can be secretly monitored and collected.

While for many years speculations have been cast on the Chinese government’s involvements -even perhaps the American and Russian governments’ – stating that they have been doing this as their version of snooping (a la the NSA in the U.S.), this seems to be far more real, and on a much larger scale.

This is the grain that might crack into the skin of people who seem to be taking user privacy concerns too lightly.

Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design Costs Upwards Of INR 1 Lakh

Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design costs upwards of INR 1Lakh

Huawei on November 3rd launched two of its Mate 9 variants in Munich – the Huawei Mate 9 Porsche design and the pure Mate 9.

Well, Huawei believes that with the Mate 9 Porsche Design, the customers would in for a refined, luxurious user experience.

First, let me just break the price of the Mate 9 Porsche Design and then go on to the features that make it ‘amazing’. The limited edition, designer smartphone will be available exclusively in a Graphite Black colour and is priced at EUR 1,395 (roughly Rs. 1,03,000).

Richard Yu, CEO, Huawei Consumer Business Group, also quoted while launching both the new devices (though his comment was mainly for the Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design smartphone), “We identified a new type of luxury consumer is emerging. One who needs a smartphone that matches the special demands of their successful, global lifestyles. Porsche Design is synonymous with excellence in innovation, unique design and perfection. The Porsche Design Huawei Mate 9 sets a new benchmark in design and performance and delivers a revolutionary smartphone experience that will enhance even the fastest-paced business and personal lifestyles”.

Let’s see what he’s on about.

The specifications on the Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design are evidently superior and more powerful than on the vanilla Huawei Mate 9. The Porsche Design sports a 5.5 inch QHD display with a resolution of 2560×1440 pixels and a pixel density of 534 ppi as opposed to the larger 5.9 inch Full HD display with a pixel resolution of 1920×1080 pixels and 373 ppi pixel density on the Mate 9.

The internal memory on the Porsche Design is a gargantuan 256 GB which is way more than Mate 9 at 64 GB. The RAM in Porsche Design is of 6 GB which is powerful enough to support a mini-server grade PC.

There are a lot of similarities between the two devices too.

Huawei Mate 9 and the Mate 9 Porsche Design use the Hisilicon Kirin 960 octa-core processor and same Mali G71MP8 graphics processor. Both the smartphones come with the same Android version – Android Nougat. Both come with a fingerprint sensor.

In fact, if one sits down to write out the common specs on both the devices a lot of the spec sheet would look identical. Even the battery that sustains them is exactly the same – a 4,000 mAh unit with a fast charge feature that supports quick charging in limited time.

The star highlight on this Mate 9 Series duo is the dual camera setup which is a pretty common feature found on high-end phones these days. That said, the cameras in Huawei Mate 9 duo are fairly top-end. The rear camera with 20 megapixels is the primary camera which comes with a monochrome colour sensor though the secondary rear end camera is a 12 megapixel shooter and can support the RGB colour spectrum. The cameras come with Leica Optics and support Phase Detection Auto-Focus, laser auto-focus, dual LED flash, and multiple other smartphone photography modes. The front camera for the selfies is an 8 megapixel unit.

Huawei Mate 9 is available in an abundance of colours: Space Gray, Moonlight Silver, Champagne Gold, Mocha Brown, Ceramic White, Black and is priced at Euro 699 (~ INR 51,266).

There is no official news about the Indian launch date of these devices. In fact, when one reflects upon the kind of limited elite niche users that the phone targets, it is highly unlikely that Huawei would launch its Mate 9 Porsche Design costing over 1 lakh in India, anytime soon.

On the launch of these devices in Munich, Richard Yu, Chief Executive of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group, expressed his desire to become the world’s second-largest maker of smartphones in two years. In the third quarter of 2016, Huawei was the world’s third-largest smartphone maker with 33.6 million shipped devices that constitutes a 9% market share as per research firm Strategy Analytics.

If this tremendous performance is taken into consideration then definitely Huawei is on its way to become the world’s second-largest maker of smartphones in two years.

Not just that, Huawei also intends to compete with Apple which is currently ahead with 45.5 million devices. “We are going to take them (Apple) step-by-step, innovation-by-innovation“, Yu said, adding that he expected to improve Huawei’s position along the lines of technology shifts.

Huawei's 100 Million Milestone, Two Months Early!

Huawei's 100 Million Milestone, Two Months Early

Just ten months into the year, and Huawei has already achieved it’s 100 million shipping milestone.

Huawei announced this at the official launch event for their Nova and Super Nova smartphones. This lands them on right next to the biggest global players, and it’s not their first time either.

The Chinese smartphone manufacturer has been doing splendidly in it’s domestic market, where it is undisputedly one of the top brands. Predictably, they’ve expanded quite aggressively into the international markets (primarily  the South East Asian markets), over last few years and this has helped them garner significant traction as an internationally-reputed brand.

To provide a little more perspective to the 100 million number – it took Huawei the whole of 2015 to achieve that number. But with the expanded territories, in 2016, they’ve hit that milestone in just the tenth month!

The number does look quite impressive, especially when you consider that their shipments for the Huawei P9 and Huawei P9 Plus have been over 8 million, since the launch – with 6 million sales having been in under five months! Add to that, another 1.5 million sales of the very recently launched Honor 8.

Huawei’s always been a hungry, frisky brand. After having achieved 100 million unit sales last year, the company targeted a 40% growth for 2016. That aspiration by itself is quite huge, given that most companies grow under 10% annually!

But Huawei is not slacking off. He Gang, head of Huawei Technologies’ smartphone unit, told Chinese media that the company will achieve the 2016 target as expected, as its high-end and mid-ranged handsets have registered growth of 100% and 30% (respectively) over their last year’s numbers.
Interestingly, Huawei’s lower priced budget phones, on the other hand, saw the least growth.

Huawei is now aiming towards Western Europe and North Eastern Europe. According to He, Huawei’s sales in several markets in Western Europe and North Eastern Europe saw a boom in 2016, growing between 50% and 100% over 2015.
Poland, where growth was only a single digit in 2015, has seen over 20% sales growth of Huawei phones this year, he added.

What a lot of people are impressed with is that the company is not just focusing on expanding its smartphones and devices businesses. They have been expanding on their research and development centers as well.

In the last couple of years, the company has extended its R&D teams into countries including the US, Sweden, France, the UK, South Korea, Japan, and India, in addition to their centers in China – thus bringing their total tally to 16 R&D centers!

Chip-Monks is even more excited, that this milestone came before Huawei’s Mate 9 has been launched.

The Mate 9 is a phablet much-awaited for its specs. It is going to be available in flat and curved screen variants, the latter being the one driving more curiosity than the former. It is also expected to feature the company’s latest Kirin processor, along with 6 GB of RAM, a dual camera setup, and fast charging technology that takes the battery from zero to 50% in just five minutes!
The device is also rumored to have as many as nine color variants, giving the customers many options to choose from.

Whatever number we look at, we can be quite sure that Huawei, which was once deemed the fish of a small pond, is now turning into a giant great white whale that is all ready to take on the stormy seas of top-tier smartphone manufacturers!

Huawei Mate 9 - New Wine In Two Bottles?

Huawei Mate 9 - New Wine In Two Bottles

Change just doesn’t come in a linear style.

The battlefront of the marketplace require brands to cater to multiples at a single time and the consumer has always been a confusing sphinx.

Enter Huwaei Mate 9, the company’s two pronged endeavor to satisfy varied consumer demands.

According to two people familiar with the manufacturer’s plans, the company will actually show off two distinct body styles for the device, including one with a curved display. Known internally by New York-themed codenames Manhattan and Long Island.

Long Island features a dual-edge curved display, à la Samsung’s edge-branded handsets (as well as its beleaguered Galaxy Note7 phablet); while Manhattan bears the regular slate form factor with straight edges and a flat screen.

Here are the specs of the two models based on speculations.

Evan Blass, a well-known phone leaker, provided a press-style leaked picture of a device he claims is the Mate 9 (so far referred to as the Manhattan). The phone has a fingerprint sensor below a dual-camera setup with Leica branding, flanked by dual-LED flash and what may be a laser autofocus module. The phone is shown in a Rose Gold, or Pink color scheme.

Additionally, he posted another image in a similar style that’s said to show the Mate 9 Pro (the one we called Long Island earlier). While the rear panel looks identical to the Mate 9’s, the screen has curved edges, and a physical home button is mounted beneath the display, which is missing from the Mate 9. No headphone jack is visible in the Pro’s top edge either.

Neither pictures can be verified yet, but Blass has a reputable track of bringing speculation to life.

Huawei is speculated to be joining IFA in the first week of September and the company could be launching the Huawei Mate 9 on that event as indicated by a teaser.

Spec-wise, the Mate 9 should have some of the most powerful and high-end components currently available. It’s likely to be the first phone to sport the company’s own Kirin 960 processor, and if that’s anything like the 950 or 955, this phone will be really nimble.

The aforementioned leaks indicate that we should see the usual pricing and memory tiers we have come to expect from Chinese manufacturers. Speculations suggest two versions with 4 GB RAM, 64 GB or 128 GB internal storage, while there may also be a 6 GB RAM variant with 256 GB of internal storage.
The display is expected to measure in at a whopping 5.9-inches. The dual-curve edged version code-named Long Island, will purportedly feature a Quad HD resolution display, while the flat model code-named Manhattan, will have a Full HD 1080p panel.

The rumours swirling around are (for those of you who prefer bulleted lists):

  • OS: Android 7.0 Nougat
  • Chipset: Hisilicon Kirin 960
  • Processor: Octa-core 2.6 GHz Cortex-A53
  • Internal storage: 64/128 GB (with 4 GB RAM) and 256 GB (6 GB RAM)
  • Expandable storage: Yes, with microSD, up to 256 GB (uses SIM 2 slot)
  • SIM: Dual-SIM LTE
  • Camera: Dual-lens 20 megapixel Rear & 8 megapixel front, single-lens
  • Connections: USB Type-C, Bluetooth v4.2, Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, NFC
  • Battery: Non-removable ~3,000 mAh
  • Colours: White, Gold, Graphite, Brown, Pink, and Black.

We expect the curved display to have a 2560×1440 display to cater for Daydream VR

While we don’t know for sure how much it will cost in the real-world, however it’s clear that the next Mate series phone isn’t aimed at the budget/affordable end of the market. This is a high-end phone with a premium price.

Best start saving now if you’re certain you want one already.

Make In India; Huawei Hitches Its Wagon

Make In India Huawei Hitches Its Wagon

After Xiaomi, Foxconn and Lenovo, Chinese telecom giant Huawei is set to join the list of companies that are making smartphones in India under the “Make In India”  initiative started by Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

In fact, the Chinese company will start manufacturing smartphones in India next month as the plant in Chennai will be under the control of its the Indian arm of electronics manufacturer Flextronics International Ltd. “Starting from first week of October 2016, the Flex manufacturing plant in Chennai will manufacture one of the Honor smartphones models“, the company said.
The plant set up in Chennai will have the potential to make three million units by the end of 2017.

Minister for IT and Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who inaugurated the facility, said, “The Government of India is pleased to see so much enthusiasm for our “Make in India” initiative. We are working towards making India an electronic manufacturing hub. As India is set to become the second largest smartphone market, our government would like to invite even more businesses to come and manufacture in India. This is an opportune time to start manufacturing from India. The smartphone landscape in India is growing every day and such initiatives by technology leaders will help accelerate the growth of local manufacturing industry in India”.

Huawei also intends to expand its Indian retail network as it aims to have more than 50,000 outlets it partners with by the end of the year. Not only this, Huawei added that it will strengthen its after sales services in India with over 200 service centers, including more than 30 exclusive Huawei service centers.

It seems that all this has to do with the stagnant growth in China.
India, on the other hand, is emerging as the world’s fastest growing smartphone market. This is the reason why companies like Xiaomi coupled with Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics contract started to assemble phones in India last year. LeEco also has plans to set up manufacturing plants in India.

Jay Chen, CEO, Huawei India said, “We have been present in India for the last 16 years and as part of our India focus, we have been consistently expanding our footprint in the market. This year especially has been of significance in our India journey. We recently launched our world class GSC in Bengaluru and the start of manufacturing in India is an affirmation of our commitment to India and supports the Make in India campaign. We are convinced about the growth potential and future of India and we’ll keep looking for opportunities to increase our presence here“.

Huawei definitely has put its best cards out in the past and has become the world’s leading telecom equipment supplier leaving Ericsson and Nokia behind. Most importantly in the global smartphone volumes scenario, Huawei has managed to become the third-largest smartphone maker in the world preceded by Samsung and Apple.

However, not everything is rosy in India when the history of manufacturing phones in India is taken into account. Lack of reliable suppliers and debilitating infrastructure sometimes pose as roadblocks for the smooth and easy manufacturing of smartphones in India. Perhaps this is what has compelled India’s more than 100 different phone brands to import from China and Taiwan.

But let’s not be all pessimistic, the “Make in India” initiative has received a warm response as in 2015, India managed to attracted investment from 37 phone makers (Xiaomi, Vivo, Gionee, Karbonn, Lava, Micromax and Intex to name a few) which have further led to increased job opportunities.

India’s the place to be – as long we realise it!

Huawei Has Been Busy With The New Launches!

Huawei Has Been Busy With The New Launches

Huawei’s been quite busy lately. A Chinese company that most of the international market hadn’t even heard of until a few years ago, has not only been taking the digital world by storm lately but has also been taking all their success to the bank with their work in the budget device market.

They just sent the Honor 8 to the market last month, and now they not only have two more phones ready to take the stage, but even a tablet to join the launch sequence!

With all that going on, it’s no wonder that they’ve found quite a stable spot for themselves in the top 10 smart device companies in the world.

Nova? Supernova?

Let us first discuss the phones that they’ve been working on.

Announced at the IFA in the first week of September, the phones—Nova and Nova Plus—are mid-range devices, that bring Huawei to a higher scale of the competitive market.

Both the phones do share a lot. For starters, they both run on Marshmallow with Emotion UI 4.1 out of the box. They both have a Snapdragon 625 processor, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage expandable via microSD, a USB Type-C port for charging, and an 8 megapixel front-facing camera with a couple of beautifying features.

So, what’s different about them? The Nova sports a 5 inch 1080p display, a 12 megapixel rear camera, and a 3,020 mAh battery. The Nova Plus is a phablet, and sports a 5.5 inch 1080p display, a 16 megapixel camera with Optical Image Stabilisation, and a bigger 3,340 mAh battery.

Both the Nova phones feature ergonomically curved and sandblasted metallic bodies with two distinct designs.

The Nova takes a cue from the Nexus 6P’s iconic oblong window on the top rear and fits its camera and flash in there and on top of the fingerprint sensor.
The Nova Plus, on the other hand, foregoes the window and instead puts the camera in the center atop the fingerprint sensor.

The phones no doubt sport good features that are at par with the industry standard in their price bracket. Yet, both of them, ranging between USD 230 and USD 300, are priced higher than most Huawei devices.

The phones can be expected in the market sometime in October, with availability in over 50 markets internationally.

MediaPad M3

A day after announcing the Nova series phones, and just when everyone thought they were done, Huawei went back on the stage and announced the MediaPad M3.

The MediaPad M3 is a tablet with an 8.4 inch display, backed by a 16nm octa-core chipset and a beefy 5,100 mAh battery. For other features, it packs all the latest Huawei internals, including the Kirin 950 chip powering the Mate 8 and Honor 8, 4 GB of RAM and 32 or 64 GB of storage, along with the microSD expansion.

The 8 megapixel cameras on the front and back of the tablet do not do it much good. While the photography is not bad as such, there isn’t anything groundbreaking about it either. Your average phone cameras would do better, in comparison. Then again, I am yet to meet a serious tablet photographer!

The tablet inherits the excellent fingerprint scanner tech from the company’s Android phones The scanner can be seen in the front, and can be used for unlocking, of course, but that is not all!

The scanner sensor also doubles as a mini trackpad of sorts for gesture shortcuts. Say, for example, you can swipe horizontally to launch the recent apps switcher, or tap to go back. The fingerprint scanner and sensor perform well, despite a relatively smaller size.

Before I forget! You can also use the tablet to make calls through the built-in phone app.

One of the things that the tablet thrives on though, is its audio. Credited to the company’s collaboration with Harmon Kardon for this tablet, the speakers are crisp and clean, the sounds are strong and powerful. The H300 earbuds by AKG that come in the box are some of the best out there in the market right now.

The specs are significantly upgraded from the previous MediaPad M2.

To sum it all up, the Huawei MediaPad M3 would qualify as a mid-size LTE-enabled Android tablet,that has a solid general performance, an excellent audio and no doubt, a bright display.

But the price for all of this is higher than what would want for it to be. All in all, it would fit neatly into its portfolio between devices like the MateBook and Huawei P9 series.

Honor 8

Huawei’s Honor 8 launched in the previous month was no small deal either. With a 8.5 inch HD display, two options in terms of RAM-memory combination (3 GB RAM, with 32 GB of internal storage, and a 4 GB RAM with a 64 GB internal storage), 3,000 mAh battery, Android 6.0 Marshmallow, octa-core Kirin 950 chipset, 12 megapixel (dual) back camera, and 8 megapixel front shooter, coupled with expandable memory, and 2 SIM slots, the phone is a full powerhouse packed between USD 290 and USD 380.

Huawei Files Patent For SuperCharge

Huawei Files Patent For SuperCharge

Huawei, the Chinese smart device megabrand, recently filed a patent in the EU for something they call SuperCharge.

The name, quite obviously, suggests a fast charging technology that is being patented by the company. The question to ask is that with so many fast-charging technologies already out in the market – you have Dash Charge, VOOC, Quick Charge 3.0, PumpExpress, TurboPower and so on – what will Huawei do that will be unique?!

Let’s find out, together.

What Is SuperCharge?

From what it seems, SuperCharge could be the name given to the fast-charging technology that Huawei exhibitioned late last year. The technology they’d showed off last year demonstrated a charging power that charged a 3,000 mAh battery about 50% in just five minutes. Yes, you have it right, just five minutes!

The leading fast-charging technologies in the market today are Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0, and OnePlus’s Dash Charge. Dash Charge is something that OnePlus is keeping to itself for now, but Qualcomm’s technology can be seen in Samsung, LG and Google Nexus devices (to name a few).

What’s common between these two technologies is that both of them give the battery a 65-70% charge in 30 minutes.

If Huawei’s technology gets out of the lab, then it would have a very significant edge over the ones currently leading the market.

How Is It Unique?

How fast-charging basically works is that you increase the voltage and current provided to the smartphone (or tablet) in order to accelerate the charge. So basically the higher the current the battery is able to accept, the quicker the energy tank will be topped up, and the device recharged.

The enemy, however, in the process, is heat. The faster the battery is charged, the greater the heat produced in the process; and the more the heat produced, the more the damage to the battery in the long term.

What Huawei claims makes their fast-charging technology unique is that it doesn’t damage the battery. They claim to use a different technique involving bonding hectometers to graphite molecules and using these as a catalyst for the capture and transmission of lithium through carbon bonds.

This would mean that the long-term damage to the battery that is caused in the process of fast-charging could be mitigated, giving Huawei another edge that no other brand in the market has.

When Can We Expect It In The Market?

The patent was filed earlier in August, and the timing would suggest that Huawei might be ready to bring the technology out with its Mate 9 release. When they had shown off the technology late last year, they had expressed that it could be out in September 2016, which is right here!

Another reason to believe that the technology will be out soon is the IFA 2016, which will be held in Berlin this September.
Huawei is expected to release its new Mate 9 at the IFA, which is Europe’s biggest tech show. It would be as good a platform as any they can get for their new device, and the new technology.

With a technology that would have an edge over all others, not only in the short run – faster charging – but also in the longer run – less battery damage – Huawei might be sitting on a goldmine of sorts.

Let’s see how it goes for them; but we’re rooting for you, Huawei. The whole world, including their fitness bands, seems to be needing charging nowadays!

Huawei Reports Increase In Revenue By Growth In Smartphone Sales

Huawei Reports Increase In Revenue By Growth In Smartphone Sales

On the back of a steady growth in smartphone sales, Huawei, the Chinese telecom equipment giant, recorded a revenue surge of 40% year-on-year in the first half of 2016.
Last year the company said that the net profit rose 33% year-on-year in 2015, reaching USD 5.58 billion, while the revenue was USD 59.5 billion i.e. year-on-year increase of 37%.

Total sales revenue (2016) reached USD 36.7 billion or approximately INR 2,46,813 crore (January-June), as per the audited results released in the company statement. The consumer business, inclusive of smartphone sales has clearly had a major contribution to Huawei’s amazing performance.
Huawei, however, did not provide a breakdown of the figures.

The sales figures for its smartphone business will be out later this week, and the Huawei team said in a statement that its consumer business in the first half “maintained steady growth globally”.

Huawei is the largest network infrastructure providers globally, but the consumer products by Huawei are less popular outside China.

We are confident that Huawei will maintain its current momentum, and round out the full year in a positive financial position backed by sound ongoing operations”, said Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer, Sabrina Meng.

International Data Corporation (IDC) reports say Huawei had more than 8% of the world smartphone market last year, putting Huawei at the third position behind Samsung and Apple. Samsung accounted for approximately 23% of the market, whereas Apple was just shy of 15%. Huawei increased its share from 5.4% to 8.3%, enabling it to be third in the global market share tables.

It is interesting to know that Huawei is not listed on any stock exchange, yet the company displays its financial information merely in the interest of transparency. Despite this, US officials view Huawei as a potential threat due to its alleged close links to the Chinese government, which the company clearly denies.
US Commerce Department had in fact issued a subpoena to Huawei, for the company turn over records pertaining to its use of US technologies in Huawei’s products shipped to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.
Rumors that Huawei was developing its own mobile operating system to reduce the dependence on Google did not help them, as it was taken as a step to aid the Chinese government have sneak tools into the users in the US.

Huawei’s flagship products such as the Huawei P9, Mate 8, Honor V8 and MateBook have been doing pretty well and they have rightfully received critical acclaim from users the world over. Though the reception of the Huawei P9 might not have been as great as the company would have expected, the upcoming Mate S2 and Mate 9 (expected at IFA 2016 in Berlin in September) will likely help the flagship get back to the track.

Huawei holds strong in the mid-range smartphone market and during the first six months of 2015 revenues grew 30%, however, not everything was soaring high for Huawei in 2015 as the operating margin for the period saw a decline of 6% (going from 18% to 12%).

The decrease in the operating margin highlights the climate of the smartphone industry at large, as well as the competition within the different OEMs. While Huawei currently holds the third position in the global share of the smartphone market, moving past Apple or Samsung will be require a huge push, and it has been trying its best to find inroads into the western markets via investments.

When viewed against a backdrop of deteriorating smartphone shipments, Huawei has held onto its strong position in the Chinese market, as it increased its shipments from 11.2 million to 16.6 million in the first quarter of 2016, compared to the same period in 2015. The move in turn augmented its market share from 10.2% to 15.8% taking it to the peak of the Chinese leader board, while Apple lost ground tumbling from 12.3% to 11%.

While this may be seem as foreseeable in some quarters of the industry, success in the international markets is becoming more apparent. If a research from Gartner is to be believed, then sales of smartphones amounted to 349 million units in the first quarter of 2016, which is a 3.9% increase over the same period in 2015.

The Tough Just Got Tougher: Introducing Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5!

The Tough Just Got Tougher Introducing Corning s Gorilla Glass 5

This one goes out to all my clumsy comrades who keep dropping their smartphones from new heights and of course, to all you other more sapient creatures who’d like to know just how sturdy the next generation of touchscreen iPhones is going to be.

Corning is coming up with the King Kong of tough glass material, the “Gorilla Glass 5”.

Established in 1851, Corning Inc. is a veteran in the glass and ceramics manufacturing industry with the experience of over a century and a half under its belt, and the credit for developing the ion exchange and fusion process to make toughened glass – a kind of shatterproof glass with a high resistance to physical and thermal pressure. It is used everywhere from automobiles to buildings to cookware to bulletproof windows and even space shuttles!

Corning Gorilla Glass has been used on more than 4.5 billion devices worldwide, including more than 1,800 product models across 40 major brands! Some companies that use Corning Glass in their products are: Acer, Asus, HP, HTC, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, OnePlus, Samsung, Micromax and Huawei.

A standard feature of any smartphone worth its salt, Corning’s Gorilla Glass is a similarly toughened glass made especially for electronic devices and displays. Interestingly, it was used for the very first time in the first generation of iPhones that was launched in 2007 – months before Corning made it available on the market. While thin and lightweight, it is highly resistant to the battery of scratches that befall a smartphone on a daily basis.

Vice President and General Manager at Corning Gorilla Glass, John Bayne, states on Corning’s website that the new product will secure Corning’s position over those of its competitors.

According to a recent global study, over 85% of smartphone owners have dropped their phones at least once per year and 55% have dropped their phones three times or more. Additionally, more than 60% of smartphone owners reported dropping their devices between shoulder and waist height.

In addition to the ability to withstand unfortunate falls, the tougher glass promises an unmatched clarity and sensitivity while being thin enough for your smartphone to look as slim and slick as ever.

Mobile devices are the primary tools consumers use to capture, view, create, send and consume digital content, and the cover glass is the interface for touching, typing and swiping that content. Consumers count on their cover glass to deliver damage resistance, optical clarity, touch sensitivity, and protection from drops.

Gorilla Glass 5 is a marked improvement over its previous iterations. Where Gorilla Glass 4 could only survive falls of up to 3.2 feet, the new one can survive those of up to 5.2 feet. With more than half of all smartphone users dropping their cell phones at least thrice each year, and with most of those falls occurring from shoulder or waist height, the new glass is a much-needed advancement in prolonging the lifespan of our precious devices.

There has also been some speculation, ever since the launch of the iPhone 5 in 2014, over whether Apple might choose Sapphire glass, a harder material made of Sapphire crystal, over Corning’s Gorilla Glass. However, Apple has consistently refused to use it on its displays and with good reason.

Sapphire is costlier and bulkier than glass. It is also less transparent, which means that more light must pass through the display for it to be bright enough, putting a strain on battery life while making the iPhone bulkier and costlier. Sapphire is, however, practically immune to scratches and which is why Apple uses it on the camera and home button/fingerprint scanner of the iPhone 6.

In all probability, the upcoming series of iPhones will feature Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5. Not only would this be in line with Apple’s plan to make a stronger build of the iPhone after the “Bendgate” fiasco, but it would also make sense given the fact that each successive generation of the iconic phone has used Corning’s high strength glass.

Even though Corning and Apple work in a rather clandestine fashion, and there has been no official statement on the matter, it would be rather safe to make that prediction.

Huawei Unveils An All-Glass Honor 8

Unboxing the Honor 8 Here is What is Inside Weboo-co

This past week Huawei launched their new smartphone by the name of Honor 8.

The new smartphone is basically the cheaper version of their higher-end flagship, the Huawei P9 (priced at about USD 950). That definition itself makes the Honor 8 certainly seem promising, given Huawei’s value-for-money history.

However there are two major differences from the Huawei P9: the Honor 8 uses glass around the back too, and uses an older chipset with a lower-clocked CPU.

Honor 8 comes with an octa-core Kirin 950 chipset, with two options. One of the options has a 3 GB RAM with 32 GB of internal storage, while the other pairs 4 GB RAM with 64 GB of internal storage.

Cameras on the smartphone are above mark-to-market; an 8 megapixel camera on the front and a 12 megapixel dual camera in the back.
The ‘dual’ bit for the rear camera, translates into two cameras being placed side by side on the back of the device, both having f/2.2 aperture, laser autofocus, dual-tone LED flash, BSI CMOS sensor and full HD video recording ability.

A growing technique in the smartphone world currently, is an additional camera sensor beside the main camera module of the device. Not only does this sensor gather more light, it also captures detailed depth-of-focus information thus enabling re-focusing on any object in the photo post-facto.

So, you can choose where you want to draw focus in a photo, even after you’ve clicked it. And you can play around with it, to your heart’s content!

The phone is supported by a 3,000 mAh battery, which should give it a good day’s life – which is nothing quite extraordinary.

The rest of the specs are fairly everyday – a 5.2 inch 1080p display, two dynamic SIM slots (one of which does double as a microSD slot), a fingerprint scanner mounted on the back of the device.

As for the looks of the phone, the phone comes with glass on both sides, fitted into a sleek aluminium frame around the sides. The smartphone is clothed in five colours and has crafted a unique form factor by matching the colour of the frame to that of the glass. Quite a striking look overall!

The sleek and classy look will appeal to customers for the sophisticated form factor with a great finish.

The device will come to the Chinese market starting 19th July, at about USD 290 for the 3 GB/32 GB version, and about USD 375 for the 4 GB/64 GB version.

The company is yet to unravel its plans regarding an international launch, but one can assume that it would bring the phone to Asian markets before the European or the American markets, given the proximity and the viability of the market.

In other news: Huawei has been sending out invites in the US, for an event in San Francisco, California, on the 16th of August. Speculations point to this being the US-launch of Honor 8.

Let’s wait and see as this promises to be an engaging quarter!

After Samsung, Huawei Now Exploring An OS Outside Android

After Samsung, Huawei now exploring as OS outside Android

Bringing a new operating system into the market and getting it going is a tough job. Even a company as big as the South Korean megabrand Samsung is having issues with its OS Tizen.

Undeterred by the uphill climb, it seems that Huawei, the Chinese major might be working on bringing out its own OS.

Recent rumours state that the Chinese company might be working towards a mobile OS, they are calling Kirin. The details regarding the project are sketchy for now, but from what the reports say, Huawei’s Scandinavia-based team constitutes some formerly-Nokia engineers (who we hope, are not the same people who worked on MeeGo all those years ago!).

Huawei’s CEO Richard Yu has repeatedly expressed the company’s desire to keep working with Android, as long as the Google platform stays true to its open nature. That is important to them so that they can maintain adding the personal touch that they do to Android, keep customizing it, and keep making the experience unique to Huawei devices.

While on one hand, Yu has expressed his unending support towards the company’s ties with Android, on the other end he keeps mum about the reports of the company working on its own OS. He has neither confirmed nor denied the reports, leaving a space open to obviously speculate more towards the birth and nurturing of Kirin in secret.

Recently we had talked about Huawei’s user interface EMUI 5.0 and conjectured that the company may also been working towards an entire OS much like Apple. Seems like we were fairly warm on that account. But…

Launching a new operating system would regardless be too gruesome at the moment, despite the size and the force of the company behind it. Huawei might be big, but the OS market is dominated by Google’s Android with about 80%+ share of the market and Apple’s iOS with about a 15% share of the market, and if there is anyone else who has come closest to the idea of a new OS in the market, it has been Microsoft with their Windows platform, and that too has pretty much fallen on its face in the next year. It did seem like Windows was taking off, last year, but then the turn of the calendar changed everything for it, and another new OS in the market might not even make it to where Windows did!

On another track, it is indeed quite interesting, that the two biggest Android-based manufacturers – Samsung and Huawei – are both looking at developing their own platforms and someday abandoning Android.
Samsung’s Tizen has not yet been a success but the company continues to use it on it’s smartwatches line, and even on a smartphone; that’s proof of the intention to drive evolution.

Now, with Huawei, the world’s third largest smartphone vendor (as of the first quarter of this year) seeming to be following suit, one needs to consider that there may be a big fracture developing in the non-iOS world. And Google should be concerned.

I would certainly agree that all of that does sound quite negative and prejudicial but it is what the facts of the market seem like right now; and facts aren’t always the sweetest of things.

All of that said and put out there, if Huawei is indeed working on a new OS and plans to bring it out, we would love to see what they’ve got, given what they have done so far with their hardware. After all, there was a time when software like Symbian and Windows Mobile ruled the world, and Android and iOS were just the new kids on the block.

On that note, we also hope Google is keeping an eye on these two!

Huawei's Emotion UI Version 5.0 Coming This Autumn

Huawei's Emotion UI Version 5 0 coming this autumn

Huawei’s own Android-based user interface popularly known as Emotion, first became popular via its 4.1 version launched on the Huawei P9.

To leverage the burgeoning popularity, Huawei seems to be working on an updated UI which is reportedly much closer to Stock Android.

Called EMUI 5.0, it seeks to simplify the rather complex UI carried by its predecessor.
According to Li Changzhu, the head of Huawei’s mobile division, the company is working on it custom-UI and striving to provide something that is far simpler, more accessible, and yet still allows the users the ability to customize things just the way they want to.

So, what is a custom-UI exactly?

Basically, Google provides a ‘base’ operating system (usually called Stock Android) to third-party vendors (phone and tablet manufacturers) who make Android-based devices. Most of these folks end up customising the interface and its functionalities, with a view to customise the experience and integrate functionalities with their own hardware, and of course, to ‘brand’ it uniquely.

Think of it like buying a cake from the market and adding your own icing to make it look the way you want for it to.

Thus, Emotion UI is Huawei’s own variation of Google’s Android OS.

But there’s a side effect to such customisation – it takes time. Consequently, Android devices get updates many-a-moon after Google releases the update. It is precisely because of this reason that Huawei Honor 5X received the Android Marshmallow/EMUI 4.0 update just a short while ago.

Why the particular emphasis on “simpler” for the newer version? Well, the first guess to the why would be Huawei’s expanding audience. The company has so far been inherently Chinese, then it starting becoming quite popular through other parts of Asia, including South-East Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia and the likes.
Having tasted immense success here, the company started making a significant dent in the European market over the last couple of years. Now, the Huawei seems to be taking steps to enter the US market in an all-out swing.

The UI that Huawei now uses is quite good and user-friendly, but quite different from the UI that the people in Western countries are used to. A more stock-Android UI might help make the Asian brand more palatable for the Western audiences. The overhaul will be under the chief UX designer Abigail Brody, who used to work at Apple back in the day as the chief director for iOS.

When? And where? The approximation is that Huawei will bring out the new UI sometime in the third quarter of the year. This means that the window they are looking at is the same as the IFA in Berlin in September. If so happens, we can also maybe expect a little, or well a lot, more than just a new UI. Maybe there is a new device altogether in the wraps here.

In other news: Huawei might even be working on developing their own OS. Rumour has it that it is being developed in Scandinavia, by a team of developers that used to once upon a time work for Nokia. It is also said to be in its early stages of development for now. This is a news that has been rumoured many times over the year, and the idea is that Huawei just wants to stay safe and have their own OS in the back pockets, in case Google decides ever to start controlling what third party vendors can do with their OS.

This is something that has not, and can not, be confirmed yet, but will continue to remain in speculations, given the fire and drudge with which the Chinese brands seems to be taking over the market. If Huawei does do that, then it won’t be much different from what Samsung did with Tizen, which they are now testing with their Gear smartwatches.

HTC May Not Be Hanging Up Their Boots With Nexus Just Yet

HTC May not be hanging their Boots with Nexus just Yet

After a false start, it’s pretty much been held with certainty in the last couple of months that HTC will be making this year’s Nexus devices.

Google the Android giant, makes two Nexus smartphones each year – one, a ‘P’ version which is the high-end version, and one that’s the ‘X’ version, which is usually the more affordable one.

It was towards the end of April that the rumours started buzzing of HTC having two new Nexus devices this year, and over time it had become almost certain.

But maybe HTC should wait for a little before hanging their boots with Nexus just yet.

In a statement issued earlier this week, almost unintentionally, by Charlene Munilall, General Manager for Huawei’s Consumer Business Group in South Africa, Huawei seems to also be working on a Nexus device for the year.
The statement was issued in an interview with Gear Burn, at the launch of a new trio of smartphones by Huawei. Neither Huawei nor Google has backed the statement yet.

The statement, of course, has the tech world tripping.

Putting aside the credibility of the statement for the moment, let us see what it would mean if it were true. Huawei last year did make the Nexus 6P for Google, and the devices have been undoubtedly the best received Nexus device as yet.

The critical reviews, the design, the sales, all speak for it. A few people might call the phone a little too big for their liking, but overall the pros outweigh the cons. It’s smooth, it’s edgy, and people want it. If the statement by Munilall is true then Huawei could be behind another Nexus device this year.

Let’s look at it from the perspective of Google; what’s in it for them, and what’s not. If Google goes with HTC, they’d be going back to the company that made their first ever smartphone, the Nexus One. Back in 2010, the phone was the ultimate Android handset, on paper. In reality, there were a lot of kinks that Google had to work out. And over the years, Google certainly has!

As of today, going with HTC gives Google an upper hand.

The Taiwanese company has been struggling in the last year, and Google recently has been indicating that it wants more control over the Nexus devices. Going with HTC might give it that. It might get to have more influence over the design, over the features, and the overall Nexus experience, if it were to go with HTC.

On the other hand, with Huawei, Google might get to use the expertise that it displayed with the Nexus 6P device. Google has certainly been very satisfied with the Chinese company and their collaboration last year. It would be a safe bet for Google to go with Huawei since a certain quality and standard has already been established.

On the other hand, Google might be wanting to explore more option with the motive of expanding beyond these certain quality standards; it might give Google chance to try something new.

While none of this has been officially confirmed by any of the companies involved, the speculations are obviously piling on. One thing can be speculated with certainty, though, that Google would be bringing out two new Nexus devices this year.

Now, whether it goes with HTC or Huawei, or with both, is yet to be seen.

My money is on Google going with both; the security of Huawei as a brand, and the ability to have greater influence over the product with HTC.

Google's Cooking Something Up On The Nexus Front

HTC is Still with Nexus

A lot of rumor has been building up around the Nexus smartphones for this year.

Who is the manufacturer that Google is going to entrust with for make its next Nexus device(s)? Is it going to be Huawei who delivered the well acclaimed Nexus 6P? Is it HTC?

These questions have been bugging us all for quite a while. But looks like Charlene Munilall, the General Manager for Huawei’s Consumer Business Group just gave out the answers.

Munilall, at the launch event of Huawei P9 trio in South Africa confirmed the news of Huawei making the Nexus smartphone this year. Munilall stated, “The Nexus device is a very niche product loved by techies around the world. But the buyers of the instrument are minuscule in number. We’re doing the Nexus again this year, by the way“.
In this manner, she has put a full stop to all the rumours and speculations about the Nexus smartphone.

This is a little surprising comment because Google hadn’t as yet announced anything about the next Nexus hardware.

However, a few days ago, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai said in an interview that Google plans to continue releasing Nexus devices. While Google wouldn’t manufacture the hardware on its own, but it plans to be more engaged with Nexus devices.

Pichai also made it clear that the future Nexus devices may not run on stock Android, instead, Google intends to focus its attention on bringing in more software tweaks to Nexus devices. This in turn assures us of the fact that Google definitely will release Nexus devices this year.

The new Nexus by would be the second Google device manufactured by Huawei, followed by the grand success of the Nexus 6P launched last year.
The Nexus 6P was highly appreciated for its design and form factor and can be safely crowned as the best Android device as of now. No doubt, Google chose Huawei to shoulder the next Nexus device basis that achievement.

Now for a surprise.

If you thought that it’s just Huawei who is exclusively making the next Nexus baby, then you have got it all wrong my friend!

Google actually has plans to add around three Nexus devices this year, with the other two being manufactured by HTC!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Google’s earlier announcements- Google has already confirmed that there would be two kinds of Nexus smartphones: one being a ‘Nexus X’ device to embody the core Nexus experience and another being a ‘Nexus P’ device to provide users with premium experience.

This is the point where a significant question arises – Does Google desire HTC and Huawei to produce a base model and a premium model each?

Well, considering the past scenario whereby Motorola manufactured the Nexus 6 while Huawei manufactured the Nexus 6P, it is highly possible that the answer to the above question is positive.

If reports are to be believed then as per Huawei director Richard Yu’s comments, the next Nexus device that is to be manufactured by Huawei might pack the Daydream capabilities. For those who have long inhabited their dream world and haven’t been able to keep themselves abreast, Daydream is Google’s recently announced Android VR platform.

However, it’s important to remember at this stage that all these are speculations and nothing has been set in stone. What is for sure though, is that it would be really interesting to see how different or similar the Nexus devices manufactured by both Huawei and HTC turn out this year.

Huawei VR - The New Kid On The Block

Huawei VR - The New Kid On The Block

Huawei entered the Virtual Reality business via their VR-aided gaming headset called the Huawei VR.

Looking a lot like Samsung’s Gear VR, the Huawei VR headset was launched at a conference in Shanghai along with their Huawei P9 and Huawei P9 Plus smartphones.

The headset is compatible with both the P9 and P9 Plus smartphones, as well as the Huawei Mate 8. Critics say, it is an almost copy of the Samsung’s Gear VR headset, where you slot your smartphone into the gear headset, put the head strap on, and use a touch keypad on the side of the headset to navigate around the menus etc.

That said, the Huawei VR is one of the first headsets to support 360-degree surround sound with headphones. However there’s a catch – the Samsung’s Gear VR also supports something similar called “spatial audio” through the MilkVR app. So Huawei VR’s sound might be something for them to boast of in the name of a “first”, but the jury’s out on the genuinely of this “first” claim.

In the Huawei VR headset you get the usual 20ms low latency and 95-degree field of view, which is similar to the obvious competitor Samsung’s Gear VR which has a 96 degree field of view, as well as what might be a probable competitors, the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. Additionally though, the Huawei VR headset comes with an anti-blue light filter to protect your eyes from UV radiation damage.

Another interesting thing to note is that the headset will not let you wear spectacles while using the headset. But there is a perk there; the headset has adjustable lenses that can accommodate myopia down to -7.00. Does it accommodate complex ocular prescriptions? Not sure yet.

With the hardware also come certain software perks. The headset comes with over 350 panoramic images and over 150 panoramic tours. This is in addition to over 4,000 movies and over 40 games. The perk you ask? All are free, and come with the headset upon purchase!
What is not clear however is the source of the content, unlike with Samsung’s Gear VR which relies on open sources and also has game developers onboard to develop games at a rapid pace. Samsung might thus have an upper hand here.

The obvious question is if the Huawei VR does the same things as the Samsung Gear VR does, then why launch it at all? Is that not a bad business decision?

I would say, No! The reason is the market that the company is focusing on. Huawei seems to be focusing on China for this device, whereas Samsung has for now been concentrating on US, Europe, and South Korea. Given that even though these markets are international, they are far detached, and the competition shall be hopefully not cut-throat.

There is no word on pricing or availability yet. We’ll keep you posted.

Huawei P9 Comes With Two Rear Cameras

Huawei P9 has dual cameras

Huawei may be joining a small, exclusive clique – of brands that make ceramic phones. It is said that a variant of their next flagship, the Huawei P9 will come with a white ceramic back, something which the OnePlus and Xiaomi already have.

And as per the first few industry impressions, it looks absolutely gorgeous. Even more attractive than the aluminium versions of the same phone!

There is however, a different feature in Huawei’s new flagship that we at Chip-Monks find even more exciting – there are two rear cameras that work in tandem to create awesome imagery!

Given how phones are becoming indistinguishable from each other – visually and functionally, brands are trying many different things to make you dip into your wallet for their product. Huawei is clearly trying to attract the photographer in each of us, by giving us a never-before tool, that might just be good enough to bridge the gap between smartphone cameras and DSLRs and to innocuously make us ditch the bulkier DSLRs altogether.

To clarify, both of Huawei’s next flagship phones, the Huawei P9 and the Huawei P9 Plus are blessed with the co-joined 12-megapixel-rear cameras.

To achieve this, Huawei knocked on the doors of one of the world’s leading camera manufacturers – Leica. The German  brand is renowned far and wide for its high-quality, lightweight rangefinder cameras. Being the preferred choice for several famous street photographers, Leica bears the credibility and recognition for putting out camera technology and hardware that punches the lights out of most competitors and Huawei’s undoubtedly hoping to leverage their expertise and tech-autocracy to do that.

So, How Do These Cameras Work?

Two beady camera lens from Leica peer out at the world – one has a RGB (red, green and blue) sensor, while the other supplies to a black and white sensor. The duo work in synchrony, enabling the device to capture enough light to take great pictures, even in low light – and with great detailing and a higher contrast that otherwise possible.

They work together to create an image and capture both natural color and detail, even in low light. In addition, with two cameras, you’d be able to take photos that show “depth of field”, which essentially means that your subject will look sharp and in focus, while the background will look blurred.

We’re sure you’d have seen such photos in the numerous forwards you receive on Facebook or WhatsApps and even on Instagram. Well no need to feel jealous any more – now even you would be able to effortlessly click them too!

You could use wide aperture settings, enjoy customisable focus and even opt for different ‘metering’ points. The controls in P9 are not restrictive with the manual camera mode letting the user set the ISO and shutter speed as required, on a shot-by-shot basis.

The camera also provides you with variegated filters to infuse life into your pictures as the UI gives you a choice of three Leica film modes: Smooth, Standard and Vivid Colors to choose from.

Selfies being the craze they are currently, Huawei has provided an 8-megapixel front camera along with great filter options to choose from.

The Chinese company, it appears is trying to cash on growing photography and selfies obsession and is marketing theis dual cameras set-up as the unique selling proposition of the P9 and P9 Plus.

However, considering the huge competition and tall claims made by different companies (which they fail to deliver at times), having a market stand on the basis of just camera may be difficult.

Apple has a huge fan base that actively participates in sharing photos captured using an Apple device, which Apple further uses in their adverts to subtly drive the capability of their cameras.

Some other brands have been more aggressive with releasing additional add-ons and accessories to enhance the photography experience. LG for instance, launched an add-on module, LG Cam Plus for their LG G5 flagship. The camera module adds four physical controls, a grip for you to grab onto, providing DSLR feel and an extra 1,100 mAh of battery to boot. They didn’t stop there!

LG went on to release a 360 Cam, which as the name suggests, lets you capture images or videos in full 360 degrees.

While the dual cameras are the highlighted aspects on Huawei’s P9 and P9 Plus, but we’re happy to see that there’s definitely more to the phones than just the cameras.

The P9 comes with a 5.2-inch 1080p display, 32 GB on-board storage and 3 GB RAM. It is is available in Gold, Rose Gold, Grey, Silver and not to forget Aerospace-class Aluminum on the back just like the iPhone.

The P9 Plus, the big brother, on the other hand sports a 5.5-inch screen, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB internal storage with a “Press Touch” feature. Sounds familiar? At the heart of it, it’s the same pressure sensitive screen technology that the iPhone 6s utilizes for Apple’s 3D Touch feature. Colors available are Gold, Grey and White.

Both phones are powered by Huawei’s new Kirin 955, 2.5 GHz, 64-bit ARM-based processor and run on Huawei’s Emotion UI 4.1 on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
Does this imply that we can expect to see an iOS-like interface on these two new phones? Maybe, just maybe.

So, now we wait to see how well the phones do, considering the stiff competition in the market, and with its USP of dual cameras.

Smartphones are the already cited as the reason for the demise of point-and-shoot cameras, are they now gearing-up to take on the entry level DSLRs?

Nexus 5 Releases in September

Nexus 5 Releases in September

There have been umpteen speculations when it comes to the LG Nexus 5 (2015). The latest being that Google will be unveiling the handset in an event in San Francisco on the 29th of September, and it will be made available for sale on the same day via the Google Play Store, and the retailers (after a short span of time).

Nexus worshippers are ecstatic after the date of unveiling two new smartphones from the Google stable is out and if the speculations are to be believed, the two smartphones – the LG Nexus 5 and the Huawei Nexus 6, will come pre-installed with the latest version of the Android OS, Android 6.0 – Marshmallow.

The LG Nexus 5 is expected to flaunt:

  • 5.2-inch Quad HD display with a 2560×1440 pixels resolution
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 64-bit hexa-core processor
  • 3 GB of RAM.
  • 13 megapixel rear camera with OIS (optical image stabilisation)
  • Fingerprint sensor on its rear case
  • USB Type-C connector for charging.

While a little has been discussed of the LG Nexus 5, nothing has been revealed about the release date of the Huawei-built Nexus 6.

The bigger cousin to Nexus 5 (2015), Huawei Nexus 6, could include:

  • 5.5 inch or 5.7 inch display
  • QHD resolution with 2560×1440 pixels
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box

Stay tuned in for further updates.

Huawei Watch Now On Pre-order!

huawei watch available for pre-order

The long awaited Huawei Watch, first unveiled at MWC in March and formally introduced to the world at IFA September’s event, will be out for sale in the U.S. starting 17th September.

If you can’t wait any longer to press the button, you can pre-order it starting 2nd September on Amazon and Huawei’s official site.

The Chinese tech giant, Huawei, arguably the third largest phone manufacturer has been a little late in joining the Android race of smart watches and their pricing has left a lot of consumers very perturbed.

Some background on the watch in case you’re just joining in.

The Huawei Watch is designed for an active lifestyle and the watch could be one of the most fashionable smartwatches in the market today with its round dial and the physical button being at the (much more convenient) 2 o’clock position from the mundane 3 o’clock position.

Convenience aside, it’s a design statement too.

The watch, will be available in an elegant Black color priced at about USD 450 (INR 30,000), a Silver color for USD 350 (INR 23,000), and a Gold plated model for a hefty price tag of about USD 800 (INR 53,000) aimed for those who like it blingy.
You also get to choose from a stainless steel strap or a leather one.

The smartwatch will however have a single model. Some say the company hasn’t been considerate about the people with small wrists, as the watch is a bit bulky at 11.3 mm. At Chip-Monks however, we’ll hold our opinion till we get to try it out in real life.

The Huawei Watch comes with a 1.4-inch AMOLED display with 400×400 pixel screen that has 286 pixels crammed into each inch. The screen is protected by a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal front, which also gives the device a superb finish.

The Huawei Watch’s internal specs include Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 512 MB RAM, 4 GB of internal storage, Bluetooth 4.1, and essential sensors like barometer, accelerometer, an enhanced heart rate monitor and sensors to track running, walking, and more.

The battery life is assured to be about a day and a half to a maximum of two days on a single charge, as it packs a 300 mAh power source (which is about par for the course, at the given technology levels).

The watch is compatible with most devices running Android 4.3 or later and also with iOS devices that run iOS 8.2 or later OS versions.

The best part is that the Huawei Watch comes riding the latest version of Android Wear (and is thus future proof for a while), along with numerous pre-installed watch faces and easily swappable bands.

The Huawei Watch seems promising, but may not be optimally priced, and this can be a major setback to the product – other Android Wear smartwatches with matching specs and features are more “reasonably” priced.

That said, the Huawei Watch could have an edge over the others with regards the design and especially it’s compatibility with iOS. It may even be able to give the Apple Watch a run for it’s money, if the compatibility is well integrated.

Huawei Launches Four Budget Smartphones In India

Huawei Launches Four Budget Smartphones In India

In an attempt to consolidate its smartphone portfolio, Chinese tech giant Huawei have launched four budget smartphones in the Indian subcontinent. The newly launched smartphones, Huawei Y336, Y541, Y625 and G620S will be available for purchase offline only, a bold move by Huawei.

Although the exact pricing of these handsets hasn’t been revealed, but they will fall in the price range of INR 5,499-9,499.

The features of the Huawei Y336:

  • 4 inch WVGA screen with an LCD display with 480×800 pixel resolution.
  • This a dual-SIM handset and both the slots can hold a microSIM card.
  • Under the hood is a 1.2 GHz quad-core Spreadtrum 7731 processor boosted by 500 MB of RAM.
  • Runs Huawei’s EMUI 3.0 Lite overlay on top of Google’s Android 4.4.4 KitKat.
  • 5 megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash and a 2 megapixel front shooter.
  • 4 GB of inbuilt storage which can be further expanded upto 32 GB via a microSD card.
  • Connectivity features include Bluetooth v4.0, WiFi with hotspot and Direct, 3G capabilities and GPS functionality.
  • This smartphone is backed by a 1,730 mAh battery.

The Huawei Y541 has:

  • A 4.5 inch FWVGA screen with a resolution of 480×854 pixels
  • Equipped with a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor and backed by 1 GB of RAM
  • Running Huawei’s EMUI 3.0 Lite overlay on top of Google’s Android 4.4.1 KitKat.
  • An 8 megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash and a 2 megapixel front facing camera.
  • Is also a dual-SIM smartphone
  • 8 GB of inbuilt storage on this device which can be expanded upto 32 GB via a microSD card.
  • The connectivity options and battery specs are identical to the ones found on the aforementioned Huawei Y336.

The third of the four newly launched Huawei handsets is the Huawei Y625. The technical specifications of this phone are quite impressive, keeping the price in mind.

  • Houses a 5 inch FWVGA display with a resolution of 480×854 pixels.
  • The Y625 packs a 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 chipset backed by 1 GB of RAM.
  • Unlike the aforementioned Y336 and Y541, the Y625 runs EMUI 2.3 Lite over Google’s Android 4.4 KitKat.
  • You get 4 GB of internal storage on this device, which is expandable upto 32 GB via a microSD card.
  • Boasts of an 8 megapixel fixed-focus rear camera with dual-LED flash and a 2 megapixel front facing shooter.
  • The connectivity options are exactly like the Y336 and Y541. However, you get a 2,000 mAh battery on this device.

Lastly, let’s talk about the Huawei G620S.

  • This device comes with a 5 inch HD display with an impressive resolution of 720×1280 pixels and a pixel density of 294 ppi, which is pretty amazing for a device at this price range.
  • Under the hood, this smartphone packs a 64-bit quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor clocked at 1.2 GHz backed by 1 GB of RAM.
  • Runs EMUI 2.3 over Android 4.4.4 KitKat and has LTE capabilities.
  • Talking about the media specifications, this device has an 8 megapixel rear camera and a 2 megapixel front shooter.
  • You get 8 GB of internal storage with the G620S, which is expandable upto 32 GB via a microSD card.
  • Connectivity options include Bluetooth v4.0, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, NFC, USB 2.0 and a FM Radio.
  • All of this is backed by a 2,000 mAh battery.

Although these handsets will not be made available on popular online retailers such as Flipkart and Amazon at the time of launch, but you will be able to find these in several offline stores such as Croma, Reliance Digital and the Mobile Store.

Huawei Smartphones To Finally Receive Android Lollipop Update

Huawei Smartphones To Receive Android 5.0 Lollipop Update

2015 should be a busy year for the Huawei mobile devices team, with the launch of Huawei P8 and the roll-out of the way-overdue Android Lollipop update for their existing devices.

I’m sure Huawei’s existing customers have been waiting for this update with bated breath. While other manufacturers have rolled out Android Lollipop OS updates for most of their respective devices, Huawei has been lagging behind for far too long.

Fnally, they’ve hinted that the rollout is about to commence, which is rumoured by some industry watchers, to start in the end of April 2015. The rollout is expected to be conducted in phases, beginning with the Ascend Mate7 followed by the Ascend P7 and Ascend Mate 2 soon after.

What stands out in the rollout cycle is that the Honor series seems to be pegged to receive the update only around June-July 2015. The Honor 6 Plus along with Honor 4X will be the first to get the sought after update.

Some other Huawei devices that are still on Jelly Bean (like the Ascend Mate 2) will be directly updated to Android Lollipop starting July 2015.

Huawei has maintained that the delay would be worth the wait as the users will enjoy the Android Lollipop OS wrapped in their Emotion UI with EMUI 3.0 customisations.

Well Huawei, we’ll have to be the judge of that now, won’t we?

Xiaomi Beats Samsung In Their Own Backyard

Xiaomi beats Samsung in their own backyard 1

Xiaomi has overpowered Samsung last year as the top smartphone company in China, having already amassed a 12.5% market share, according to a new report by the research firm International Data Corporation (IDC).

In the third quarter of 2014, Xiaomi became the world’s third largest smartphone maker, according to both IDC and Strategy Analytics and in August, it was entitled China’s top smartphone marketer by Canalys.

A total of 420.7 million smartphones were shipped to China in 2014, with a subsequent rise in the shipments along the quarters. The fourth quarter of 2014 turned out to be splendid for Xiaomi with a continuous rise in their market share from 5.3% in 2013 to a whopping 12.5% in 2014. Concurrently, Samsung’s market share declined to 12.1% from 18.7%.

Xiaomi asserts that it has sold around 61 million devices last year, a rise in 227% from 2013.

The Chinese market is also experiencing the influx of Apple, who already govern the U.S. smartphone industry and have very aggressive plans for engagement of the Chinese market. Apple’s market share has grown significantly to 12.3% in the fourth quarter of 2014 and can be attributed to the company’s new flagship devices – iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Other companies like Huawei and Lenovo also saw remarkable growth, creating worries for Samsung in their own established market.

Xiaomi beats Samsung in their own backyard table

Xiaomi’s success is attributable to its marketing techniques – online flash sales, as well as modest pricing of their products. Hugo Barra, Vice President, told TechCrunch’s Jon Russell that Xiaomi manages to keep the prices reasonable through extensive sales with low profit margins while delivering a range of high-performance devices comparable to what Samsung or Apple provides.

The constant failure of the South Korean tech giant Samsung to bring about a revolution in the market with new technology, and also its overpriced flagship devices, attributes to the fall in its market share in a developing nation like China.

Although Samsung is in the second position overall, the huge drop should be a serious concern demanding immediate attention and implementation of relevant countermeasures. On the other hand, the strategy employed by Xiaomi is getting tough to crack and is its competitors sleepless nights, with gain in popularity and ever increasing fan base in China.

Xiaomi is all set to rule the market with its enchantment. The company is also performing competently in the other developing nations of Asia like India, and with the new investors willing to fund Xiaomi, the company can make substantial dents in the other markets in the coming year.