Rebranding, Huawei’s change to survive

Huawei has been released from the black list but its reputation is ruined. Can the Chinese company survive in the mobile device business after that mess?

As every one of us have heard, Huawei was put to the black list of US trade commission. That meant that US companies could not trade with Huawei in any way. It lead to the big headlines about Google banning Huawei and so on. Now the company has been released from the black list and life goes on, or does it?

Image result for huawei

It is very hard to understand customers’ reactions to the entire Huawei mess if we think about different regions. In America, Huawei really hasn’t been a big player in smartphone market but a relatively competitive in the network business. Very little Huawei phones have been sold by the carriers and that’s still the way Americans buy their phones. The little market share they had in smartphones, is now gone.

From a European standpoint, Huawei hasn’t changed that much during the debate. The US and China trade war has been going for a while now and for most of us Europeans, the Huawei ban was just a part of that trade war. I personally don’t find Huawei phones that attractive anyway but their two brands, Huawei and Honor have been some of the best selling phones in Europe for the last few years. That trend is unlikely change too much after the Huawei debate is completely over.

However, the way Huawei could turn this into gold, is to rebrand their phones and make some other changes as well. From this point onward, this article doesn’t base on facts but on my personal smartphone preferences. First of all, the rebranding. Huawei has been making phones under the Honor name for a while now, so that name is done. They’ll need to find a new, catching name like Vulcan or Wraith.

They should also drop their own UI and use Google’s Android One as a base. All Huawei’s own extras should be added as applications that could easily be updated and has to yield to same permissions as any other apps. This could win the doubters to their side. Camera app of course is important as Huawei has been known for its great smartphone cameras.

Oh, and as I accidentally just made another Nokia / HMD Global, Huawei’s new brand would differentiate itself by being the first at new technologies, like it has been. Their own SoCs are half a year ahead of their competitors even though they are a bit slower. Their display technologies and especially their product design has been top notch for the last couple of years.

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There are currently no clean Android phones on the flagship market other than the Pixels and maybe the Sony Xperia 1. There used to be some Moto phones and that’s it. Nokia’s 9 was a big disappointment and it is also competing more with the upper mid-rangers like OnePlus 7 or Galaxy S10e. More competition in the clean Android market is better.

The state of mobile tech and Superzeppo

It has been way too long since I have updated this site. There are several reasons to that but those are not my talking points today.

 

Getting stuck in old technology is easy. All you need is way too good tech that you don’t want to get rid of. 

I have pretty much always been an early adopter. I was very early with my Nexus 10 purchase and I’ve used a WearOS Watch since the first Huawei Watch came available. Since then however, I have slowed down with my upgrades to a point that I feel like I’m Google, coming a generation behind.

The fact that I’m using a Google phone is not helping. The Pixel 3 XL that’s my main smartphone, was a generation behind the trends with it’s huge notch and single camera. Still I got one. Am I getting old?

Last year, I bought a Note9 and I kind of liked it at first. Although, after a while, I started to feel the worse sides of Samsung’s mobile UI. There were duplicates of all Google apps and the camera was just outright bad for my liking compared to my old Pixel 2 that I had back then. I decided to feel old and go back to Pixel.

Conservatism in mobile tech is what sells

You can see what Apple is doing. They may have the best SoC and video recording but everywhere else they are behind their Android competitors. Still Apple sells their iPhone 7 and 8 models like crazy and they are not slowing down. The iPhone 8 from 2017 is basically an iPhone 6 with a better SoC. Still it sells.

Have you tried the new swiping navigation on either iPhone or Android? It’s awful. You feel like dropping your phone and navigation is way slower than on a traditional three button navigation on Android. Normal people unlike me and probably you, are not interested in new ways to drop your phone which the new home gesture is.

Normal people also don’t want to get a mortgage to buy a phone. That’s another reason why older models sell.

Innovation is still needed

I’m not saying that the new technologies are not needed or the smartphone tech has reached its peak. The expensive new technology always dribbles down to the more affordable devices and at some point every one of us do have a notch and a swiping navigation.

However, at that point the early adopters are using the next generation of foldable phones. The first gen seems to be priced just for the richest of the geeks and with the issues that Samsung and Huawei are having, probably won’t make Google and Apple rush their foldables out.

The smartphone market is going to be very interesting soon. I’ll try to keep this blog updated with my thoughts on the current and future tech.

Huawei launches P20 Pro with 40 megapixel camera

Huawei tries to breath new life to the stagnant smartphone market with the new P20 Pro. It uses AI to stitch together images from three different sensors.

As the smartphone market is getting less and less interesting with iterative updates, the Huawei P20 Pro is a welcome exception. Huawei launched a full lineup of P20 devices at Paris but the Pro model is easily the most interesting.

The Huawei P20 Pro is a glass and metal sandwich with a 6.1″ 18.7:9 2240 x 1080 resolution notched OLED display. It has the Huawei’s in house Kirin 970 chip, 6 GB of RAM,  128 GB of storage and a 4000 mAh battery. On the camera side though, things get more interesting. The front 24 megapixel camera is placed in the notch and on the flip side, there are 3 cameras.

The main camera, on the middle, has a massive 1/1.7″ 40 megapixel sensor for nearly Pureview-like resolution. The top camera has an 8 megapixel sensor with a 3x telephoto lens. The bottom camera has a 20 megapixel sensor with a monochrome lens. To turn this massive amount of data to a beautiful image in all conditions, Huawei is using AI. The monochrome lens lets in more light in dark situations, so the AI can for example take the colors from the main camera, and the details from the monochrome sensor.

Like said, this camera setup is like the Pureview of 2018. We are hoping to see more of innovation like this in the future to keep the smartphone market evolving. The notches are not good marketing pointers.

Speaking of notches and Huawei, they actually made their notch a marketing point. They compared it to the iPhone X notch and said that their smaller notch is better because the user can see more notification icons. I’d say that every notch is a notch, and should be got rid of.

The other two P20 models are the regular P20 and the P20 Lite. The P20 has a smaller 5.8″ LCD display with the same 2240 x 1080 resolution, 4 GB of RAM and the battery is 3400 mAh in capacity. The front facing camera is the same 24 megapixel unit but on the rear, there are only two cameras, a 12 MP main camera and a 20 MP monochrome one. Rest of the specs are the same.

The Lite has a Kirin 659 chip, 5.8″ IPS display with the same resolution, 16 and 2 megapixel cameras, 3000 mAh battery, 4 GB of RAM and 64 or 128 GB of storage.

Innovation is good for the smartphone market. We have heard some rumors about a Nokia phone with an impressive camera setup. Hopefully we are getting some real facts of it soon. Of course, other manufacturers are allowed to innovate too. It just turns out that some are too busy removing features.

Will the next iPhone be fully wireless?

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The leaked invitation for the 2017 Apple event suggests wireless charging. Of course the image can be fake. 

However, could the iPhone 7s, 8 or 10 be fully wireless? Last year, Apple showed the world that it’s willing to make its customers life difficult by removing ports. The MacBook Pro removed all the usual ports like MagSafe, USB type-A and SD card reader and added a couple of USB type-C ports. The new MacBook Pro still carries the Pro add-on despite losing all the Pro it had.

Later in the year, Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone. This way they were able to make it water resistant and sell more Lighting headphones. The sound was supposed to be better and some fanboys and audiophiles can definitely hear the difference when closed into a noise free bunker. Everybody still listens the normal quality streamed music, not the fancy high bitrate stuff.

Now that everyone has a Lighting cable, it’s time to make the iPhone completely wireless by removing the charging port, creating a new wireless charging standard and forcing everybody to buy a few new chargers. That would be so typical post-Jobs Apple.

Making the iPhone cable free would mean that the data cable is also gone. This could be justified by safety, as there would no longer be a way to the storage via USB. All data transfers would be wireless. No more movie downloads from iTunes via USB-cable.

And imagine what that would mean to our charging habits. If the phone has to stay on top of a charging pad for hours because of  the slow amps. How would Apple get around that?

I’ll tell you how, with a cable. They’ll just add a wireless charging pad with magnets at the end of the cable instead of a Lightning jack. That way you can keep using the phone while charging and that way its way different from the others for Apple to patent it.

Of course they will make their own standard. What did you think? Apple is the only company so selfish that they make their own everything. Can’t use USB, can’t use 3.5mm headphones, now can’t use existing wireless charging standards. Now the other manufacturers need to buy Apple’s wireless charging standard because they have patented magnets and others can’t use their wireless charging phones while charging.

There are just too many 3rd party Lighting cables. This time Apple will make sure that the phone only accepts the real Apple $89 wireless charger. Just add wireless tag of some sort that confirms it’s the real deal. They will make some serious cash with that.

Aside the wireless charging, what phenomenal new innovations will the next iPhone bring? Well, OLED display. Finally the Apple users can enjoy the black that’s actually black. The phone can be made thinner because the individual pixels light themselves up and don’t need the backlight module. Also, the display might be curved, never seen that before either.

With all these innovations, Apple is probably going to make what Samsung did with the Note 7… no no not that… the order number skipping thing. The next iPhone is called iPhone 10. Because it’s 2017, the 10th anniversary of the iPhone of course. And don’t forget the price, it’ll obviously go up.

Nokia 6 goes official

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The Nokia name is back with the new Nokia 6, built by HMD Global. The phone will be available in early 2017 but apparently only in China. 

The Nokia 6 will be available exclusively through JD.com in China. No word on global availability yet. The price is around $245 or 233€ (1699 CNY).

The Nokia 6 features an all aluminium unibody design, 2.5D Gorilla Glass and a 5.5″ Full HD IPS display. Powering the pixels, the Nokia 6 has a Snapdragon 430 with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and a 3000mAh battery. The Android Nougat operating system seems to have a skin on top of it.

Cameras are 16 and 8 megapixels, the main one featuring F/2.0 aperture and phase detection auto focus. The Nokia 6 also has Dolby Atmos support and dual amplifiers. The home button also acts as a fingerprint scanner.

Source: HMD Global, Nokia 6 product page

Apple reveals new iPhones and Watch

iphone-7

Apple has made their yearly update to the iPhone lineup. They also updated the Apple Watch.

Design of the iPhone 7 is very similar to its predecessor. The biggest visual changes are the new Jet Black (Fingerprint Black) color and the mat black color that replaces the Space Grey. The camera lens is larger and still protruding and the antenna lines have been redesigned to be a little less visible.

The displays are still the same IPS LCD displays but like every year Apple has been able to squeeze just a little bit more brightness and color reproduction out of that aging display technology. They had to leave something for next year, I guess.

Under the hood, the updates have been more noticeable. The new A10 chip now has four cores, two high-performance and two power saving cores. This has bumped the battery life by 2 hours on the iPhone 7  and 1 hour on the Plus model. The 2 GB RAM has been proven to be enough on iOS. The base model storage is finally 32 GB, the upgrade options being 128 and 256 GB.

The iPhone 7 Plus has the typical Plus upgrades over the standard model. It has a bigger 1080p display, bigger battery and camera improvements. For the last two years the camera improvement has been OIS but the iPhone 7 also has it. The Plus model gets a dual camera setup. One camera is typical 12 MP F/1.8 shooter that can be found on the back of the iPhone 7 but alongside it there’s another camera with narrower lens. This combined with some software magic provides what Apple calls a true 2x optical zoom. The FaceTime camera has been updated to 7 megapixels.

The fingerprint sensor home button has been updated to Force Touch with no moving parts. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are now IP67 certified against water and dust and as predicted, Apple has ditched the 3.5 mm headphone jack. Luckily the new iPhones ship with Lightning headphones and a 3.5 mm adapter. It looks like recharging the phone is not possible while using headphones. The earpiece now acts as second speaker creating some kind of a stereo experience.

The 32 GB iPhone 7 costs $649 and the 7 Plus $769. 128 GB upgrade adds 100$ and 256 GB $200.

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Apple also updated the Apple Watch. The new series 2 models are swimproof which means 50 meters of water in normal terms. The sluggish chip of the original model has been updated to S2 dual core one and the graphics performance has been doubled. Probably the most wanted new feature is the built-in GPS. The pricing remains pretty much the same. The series 1 model is updated with the S2 chips and gets a price drop.

Source: Apple

LG V20 goes official with Android Nougat

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LG has released the new V20 smartphone, the first device to ship with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box.

Last year’s V10 was one of the best phones of the year but got almost no attention from the big audience. The V20 aims to change that but uses quite similar feature set. The V20 is targeted for power users, audiophiles and spec monsters. It certainly isn’t for everyone with its bulky size and drastically customized Android experience.

The LG V20 packs a 5.7″ 1440p IPS LCD display and an additional 1040 x 160 display on top of the main one. The additional display can show shortcuts, options, memos and more. The SoC package is typical for a 2016 flagship with Snapdragon 820 CPU, Adreno 530 GPU and 4 GB of LPDDR4 RAM. The 64 GB internal storage is expendable via a microSD card. Android 7.0 Nougat has been heavily customized by LG.

The body of the V20 is made out of aluminium but still has a user replaceable 3200 mAh battery. The rear panel opens like a door when pushing the side button that looks like a camera shooter button. The V20 also has MIL-STD-810 shock certification. Charging is done via a USB Type-C and the fingerprint scanner is placed on the back.

The V20 has three cameras. Two rear cameras and a front facer with two modes, normal and wide angle. The rear cameras are a 16 megapixel normal camera and an 8 megapixel wide angle shooter. On the video side, LG is the first to adopt Qualcomm’s new video stabilization.

LG has focused on audio. In some markets the V20 will ship with Bang & Olufsen headphones and sound tuning. The V20 can record better audio, although the 24-bit / 48 kHz or 192 kHz doesn’t make any difference for most people, probably for no one.

The V20 will ship in three colors, black, silver and pink. There’s no information about pricing or availability.

Source: LG