Samsung has officially unveiled its new flagship phones for 2023: the Galaxy S23 series. The S23 and S23+ have modest upgrades over last year's models, while the S23 Ultra has a significantly upgraded main camera. All three models are powered by a custom Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 "for Galaxy" chip, with an accelerated CPU and upgraded GPU compared to the standard Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 powering other flagship phones this year. Samsung will use this chip from Qualcomm in all S23 variants worldwide, instead of using its own Exynos chips in some markets as in past years. The Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 200 megapixel main camera, which can output full 200 megapixel images or use 16-pixel binning for very low-noise photos even in low light. An Astrophoto mode lets users capture the night sky. The main camera also has wider OIS, meaning the camera can now move up to 3 degrees to compensate for hand shake, reducing blur. All three models have an AMOLED display with adaptive refresh up to 120 Hz. On the S23 Ultra, it's a 6.8-inch panel with QHD+ resolution. The edges are curved, although the curve has been reduced compared to the S22 Ultra. The battery stays at 5,000 mAh, but Samsung claims up to 20% better battery life thanks to the more-efficient Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip. The Ultra still has an integrated stylus. All three models come with 8 GB RAM standard, although a 12 GB option is available for the Ultra. The Galaxy S23+ and Ultra both come with 256 GB storage standard, up from 128 GB last year. The Galaxy S23 and S23+ both have slightly larger batteries (an extra 200 mAh for each) and upgraded front cameras (now 12 megapixel). The design is more unified across all three models, with the Contour Cut design scrapped in favor of "floating" cameras on matte glass, with the same four color options for all three models: Phantom Black, Cream, Green, and Lavender. All three feature Gorilla Glass Victus 2 (front and back) set in an Armor Aluminum frame. Most other specs and features carry over from the last year's S22 series. This includes dedicated wide and telephoto cameras (3x tele on all, plus a second 10x tele camera on the Ultra). All three also include IP68 water rating, mmWave 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, ultrasonic in-display fingerprint reader, fast charging, and two-way wireless charging. The S23+ and S23 Ultra also include UWB and faster wired charging (45W instead of 25W). Like last year, the standard and Plus models have flat FHD+ displays and 50 megapixel main cameras. The Galaxy S23 starts at $800 (128 GB storage; 256 GB also available). The Galaxy S23+ starts at $1,000 (256 GB storage; 512 GB also available). The Galaxy S23 Ultra starts at $1,200 (256 GB storage; 512 GB and 1 TB also available). Pre-orders start today, with widespread availability on February 17th. Pre-orders include a free upgrade to more storage, and pre-orders through samsung.com also include a $100 credit to spend with Samsung. Samsung.com is also offering four additional exclusive colors: Lime, Graphite, Sky Blue, and Red.
Nothing CEO Carl Pei has confirmed that the company's next phone will officially be available for the US market. "We decided to make the U.S. our No. 1 priority in terms of markets," Pei says. The company's first phone, the Nothing Phone (1), has a distinctive pattern of functional light-up elements on the back, but was only sold in Europe and Asia. Even imported, it did not have good support for the frequency bands used by US networks. The Phone (2) will not only support US networks, but be certified by US carriers. The new phone will be "more premium" and launch in late 2023.
Samsung will hold its next Unpacked event next week, on February 1st. The winter Unpacked is usually when the company reveals its next flagship phones, expected to be the Galaxy S23 series. Samsung is offering a $50 store credit to people who place a reservation for a pre-order before February 1st. The credit is toward any additional purchase when placing the pre-order for a phone, not a discount on the phone itself. Samsung will live-stream the event at 10am PT on Wednesday.
This Thursday, Metro by T-Mobile will start selling the TCL ION X for $119 (for new customers). This entry-level 4G phone has a 13 megapixel camera with automatic scene recognition. It also has a 6-inch display, 3,000 mAh battery, and a headset jack. The MediaTek Helio G25 chipset is paired with 3 GB of RAM. The 32 GB of internal storage can be augmented with up to 512 GB of additional storage via memory card. TCL also recently launched the ION Z with Cricket and US Cellular. The ION Z has even lower-end specs.
The FAA has set June 30, 2023 as the date that planes must have certified 5G-safe radio altimeters to perform low-visibility landings in US airspace. This will allow AT&T and Verizon to operate their new mid-band 5G networks with "minimal restrictions" starting July 2023 in (mostly urban) areas near airports. By February 1, 2024, all planes operating in US airspace must have 5G-safe radio altimeters. The issue is specific to the mid-band (C Band) 5G that was deployed recently by both Verizon and AT&T. Those companies have voluntarily agreed to restrict their mid-band 5G deployments near airports to address the issue temporarily. As airlines and air cargo companies meet these new FAA deadlines, those restrictions can be removed. While many US planes are already 5G-safe — by design or thanks to recent retrofits — the FAA estimates that approximately 820 US-registered aircraft still need new radio filters to become compliant, while 180 will require a full radio altimeter replacement. Even after February 1, 2024, there will still be a list of specific airports where the rules are slightly different. The FAA is also working on a new, even stricter standard for radio altimeter performance, which may replace these complex "interim" rules.
Both Bullitt and Qualcomm have just announced new solutions for putting satellite connectivity in Android phones. Both services offer full two-way messaging for non-emergency use, in addition to an SOS service. Both systems are already operational and the companies were doing live demos here in Las Vegas. I checked out both demos and talked with company executives about the details. While the basics are similar, there are a lot of small but important differences. Read on for a full breakdown of how these services differ and how well they work. I'll also explain how they differ from competing services from Apple, T-Mobile/SpaceX and AST.
Qualcomm has revealed Snapdragon Satellite, the company's solution for connecting Android phones directly to satellites for truly global coverage. The feature uses the Iridium network, a satellite constellation that has has been in operation for 25 years. As a polar LEO (low-earth orbit) constellation with inter-satellite links, Iridium offers full global coverage, even mid-ocean and in polar regions. The low-bandwidth data channel is designed to support basic 2-way messaging. It works in two specific modes: emergency and "premium". The emergency SOS feature is designed and supported by Qualcomm and Garmin. When a user tries to dial 911 outside of cellular coverage, the phone automatically asks if you'd like to use the satellite messaging feature to contact emergency services. This routes your messages through the same call centers as Garmin's InReach service, which already offers service worldwide. Manufacturers can also implement an SOS button wherever they like in software (or hardware) to trigger the feature. Like Apple's version of this technology, it sometimes (but not always) requires aiming, which the phone automatically guides you through if necessary. However Qualcomm claims several advantages over Apple's solution: it can send much longer messages, and they are sent and received much faster (3 seconds, on average). Users must manually check for new messages to receive them, which is rate-limited to every 30 seconds. Qualcomm expects the emergency feature to be very affordable or possibly even free on some phones. The "premium" service for non-emergency use will cost more. This can either be integrated with SMS or added to a third-party messaging app. It will be up to manufacturers to determine how this feature is implemented and priced. The already-announced Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset includes support for Snapdragon Satellite, (though not all phones with that chip will necessarily support the feature). Iridium uses the L band, which is near 1,600 MHz. This is close enough to GPS/GNSS and cellular mid-band frequencies that it can share one of those existing antennas in a phone, requiring only the most minimal extra radio components to implement. Multiple manufacturers are planning to launch phones with Snapdragon Satellite in the second half of the year.
Phone maker Bullitt has teamed up with a number of partners to create its own two-way satellite messaging service. An upcoming Motorola Defy-series phone (made by Bullitt) will support the new service and launch in the US soon. Bullitt is offering the service to other manufacturers as well. The Motorola Defy phone will use a MediaTek add-on modem chip that supports NTN (non-terrestrial network) communications. Bullitt is relying on Skylo to provide the satellite service, with is powered by "existing licensed GEO satellite constellations, such as Inmarsat and others." Bullit has created it own messaging app for the service. The app will try using cellular or Wi-Fi networks when available, but fall back to satellite. An emergency SOS service will be free for the first year, and is backed by critical event response specialists FocusPoint International. Subscription plans start at $5/ month for 30 non-emergency messages. SOS messages do not count against the bucket, and shorter messages (including location check-ins) count as fractional messages. When texting other people for non-emergency use, the other person receives a standard text message, but must download a free app to reply and have it relayed by satellite. The app will be available for both Android and iOS. Only the user of the satellite-capable phone is charged for satellite messaging. The service is launching first in the US and Europe, and only provides coverage in launched regions. It reaches far offshore, but not in the middle of the oceans nor polar regions. When in satellite-only coverage, messages via the service are received automatically, unlike some competing solutions. Users should usually not be required to aim the phone to connect to a satellite.
More obscure book titles will now be available in audiobook format in Apple Books thanks to a new AI-powered digital narration service. Commissioning voice actors and producing audiobooks can be expensive, so typically only very popular, mainstream books get the audio treatment. This new service makes audiobooks practical for independent publishers and smaller titles. In Apple Books, such titles are already available and carry the label "Narrated by Apple Books".
Cable company Cox has formally launched its mobile service, Cox Mobile. Like Comcast's Xfinity Mobile, Cox Mobile is only available to customers of Cox home internet service. Rather than a bundle offering, customers will receive a separate bill for the mobile service. The service is available via two different plans: "Pay As You Gig" is priced at $15/GB of data, while Unlimited is $45/month. Both plans include unlimited talk and text, as well as 5G. Customers can easily switch between the two pricing options as often as they like, with no limits, commitments, or activation fees. Cox Mobile offers a full lineup of Samsung phones, from entry-level to the Z Fold. Cox is operating as an MVNO, using Verizon's 5G and 4G network. Cox operates its cable/internet service in 18 states.
Motorola's newest phone is the Lenovo ThinkPhone, a mobile phone designed to appeal to business customers and integrate seamlessly with Lenovo ThinkPad laptops. The ThinkPhone has high-end specs, a durable body, and extensive security features. A full array of connectivity features with ThinkPad laptops includes Instant Connect seamless discovery when nearby, Unified Clipboard, drag-and-drop file sharing, and Instant Hotspot with 5G. Android apps can be opened on the laptop, including launching with one click from Unified Notifications. Advanced Webcam lets you use the phone's 50-megapixel camera for higher-quality online meetings. Other phone specs include a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, 8–12 GB RAM, 128–512 GB storage, 6-inch FHD+ OLED display, Wi-Fi 6E, and USB 3.1. It has a 3,000 mAh battery, 68-watt fast charging (68W charger included), and wireless charging. It comes with Android 13 and four years of security updates. A secondary rear camera offers 13 megapixels of 120º wide-angle, while the front camera is 32 megapixel. An aircraft-grade aluminum frame, Kevlar-like "lightweight aramid fiber that's stronger than steel", and Gorilla Glass Victus give the phone durability as well as an IP68 rating for proper water resistance. In addition to ThinkShield and advanced enterprise mobile device management, the ThinkPhone comes with Moto KeySafe, "a separate processor ... that adds an additional layer of security to better protect the most sensitive data in the smartphone. It isolates PINs, passwords, and cryptographic keys, storing them in a tamper-resistant environment protecting the data from the inside out." The ThinkPhone will be available to US business customers and unlocked online "in the coming months". Pricing was not announced.
Motorola has a new phone specifically for "business" folks. It's a high-end phone with a design inspired by Lenovo's ThinkPad laptops. The Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola has the full range of enterprise software you'd expect, plus it's built to last with a durable body. Motorola has expanded the capability of its Ready For software to create seamless links between the ThinkPhone and a ThinkPad laptop. So what's it like in person? Read on for our first impressions.
A new category of Bluetooth earbuds has popped up: buds that are certified by Microsoft to offer the best audio quality when used with its popular Teams video conferencing service. Most obviously, these buds come with a USB dongle that plugs into your PC. But they also have new levels of advanced features not found in any Bluetooth earbuds before. So what does certification mean? Is it a gimmick? Are these new "enterprise grade" earbuds just a play to drain expense accounts, or are the fancy features worth it for professionals who lead a lot of video meetings? We talked to Jabra and Poly to find out, and checked out their respective entries in this category (the Jabra Evolve2 and Poly Voyager Free 60+). Read on to find out what we learned, and our first impressions.
TCL is showing off a concept phone at CES that it calls the NXTPAPER Phone, a phone that implements the paper-like display technology the company has put in some of its recents tablets. Unlike almost all other phones on the market today, the display surface has a matte finish, somewhat like paper, instead of the usual glossy glass. So how does it feel, how does it work, and how does it look in person? We break it down for you in this hands-on. Read on for our impressions.
Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy A14 5G, its most affordable 5G phone to date. The new phone shares most specs with its predecessor, the Galaxy A13 5G. The biggest upgrade is the front camera, which goes from 5 megapixel to 13 megapixel. The display is also slightly larger at 6.6 inches. Other features remain the same, including a 50 megapixel main camera, 5,000 mAh battery, and a fingerprint reader. Cricket's price is $190, while AT&T is offering the phone for $2/month over 36 months (to both new and existing customers, no trade-in required. Both brands will start selling the phone on January 13th.
HP has announced the Poly Voyager Free 60+ "pro-grade wireless earbuds for hybrid lifestyles." The unique smart charging case sports an LCD touchscreen for "easy access to volume and mute functions, fast insight into battery life and call status". The case also holds a USB dongle that lets the buds work with PCs that don't have Bluetooth built in. It also comes with a 3.5mm cable that lets the buds work with wired audio on planes, via the case as a Bluetooth adapter. The buds support Bluetooth 5.3. Multipoint means they can remember up to eight devices, and the case controls make it easy to switch between two active devices. The true wireless earbuds naturally feature 3-mic adaptive ANC, transparency mode, and two-way background noise reduction. The buds can last 5.5 hours on a call or eight hours of listening with ANC on. The charging case adds up to 16 hours for up to 24 hours total. The case supports wired and Qi wireless charging. The buds are rated IP54 for dust and water resistance. The buds support Poly's remote IT management tools. The Poly Voyager Free 60+ will ship in March for $350. A step-down model with a basic charging case will sell for $300. It will also be available in a Microsoft Teams-certified version.
The Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) has announced Qi2 (pronounced "chee two"), a new version of the popular Qi wireless charging standard. It incorporates the magnetic alignment technology that Apple added to its Qi charging devices, which Apple calls MagSafe. Apple is a WPC member and contributed MagSafe as the basis for the new Magnetic Power Profile in Qi2. This enables perfect alignment for faster charging. Better alignment also improves energy efficiency and safety. Qi2 will remain backward-compatible with Qi, but users may experience faster charging when using a Qi2 Certified phone on a Qi2 charger. Qi2 Certified mobile phones and chargers are expected to be available for the 2023 holiday season.
At the RISC-V Summit event, Android's director of engineering Lars Bergstrom announced that Google is working to get Android running on RISC-V chips as a "tier 1" platform. RISC-V is an open chip architecture that offers an alternative to the Arm chip designs that are dominant in mobile devices today. As western countries continue economic hostilities with China, some companies — particularly in China — are looking for alternatives to Arm, which is based in the UK. Bergstrom said the process will take years. However, once complete, most Android apps should run on RISC-V with no changes required by the developer; games could be the most common exception.
The January software update for Pixel phones adds static Spatial Audio to the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 7, and Pixel 7 Pro. An update coming soon to the Pixel Buds Pro will add support for spatial audio with head tracking.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul has signed into law one of the country's most comprehensive "right to repair" laws. The Digital Fair Repair Act sat on the governor's desk for quite some time, and was watered down at the last minute, but still requires that makers of "digital electronic equipment" — including phones — provide parts, tools, and documents to owners and repair providers to facilitate repairs. The bill was amended at the last minute to allow manufacturers to provide "assemblies of parts rather than individual components when the risk of improper installation heightens the risk of injury." The bill was also amended to remove the requirement that manufacturers provide ways to override security features to carry out repairs. Critics say this change creates a loophole that manufacturers could exploit to deny consumers many types of repairs. The bill only applies to products that are offered directly to consumers, not products that are exclusively sold B2B. The bill also applies only to products that launch after the bill's effective date of July 1, 2023.
LG Innotek has announced a new, smaller camera module for phones with a 4–9x optical zoom range. Unlike fixed telephoto cameras, the Optical Telephoto Zoom Camera Module actually moves the telescopic lenses to zoom, enabling 100% camera resolution at all zoom levels from 4x to 9x. The module also includes optical image stabilization (OIS). LG has worked with Qualcomm to ensure that camera software will be optimized for this new module when running on the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform. The module will be showcased at CES next week.
The FCC has officially proposed new rules that would require wireless carriers to route 911 calls to the appropriate call center based on the caller's actual location, instead of the location of the nearest cell tower. This change should reduce incidents where 911 calls or texts are routed to the wrong 911 call center when the caller is near a city or county border. This mis-routing requires manual re-routing to the correct call center, "which can waste valuable time and resources during emergencies." The new rules take advantage of new technology that enables this capability. While mobile phones already transmit a phone's actual location to the call center when contacting 911, using this information in the call routing step is a new technology. The rules would only apply to newer 4G and 5G networks where this technology is easier to implement. AT&T has already deployed this technology.
Google has updated its Google Home app and Google Home / Nest devices to fully support Matter, the new industry standard for smart home control. Existing Google home hardware can serve as a Matter hub, including the original Google Home speaker, Google Home Mini, Nest Mini, Nest Audio, Nest Hub (1st and 2nd gen), Nest Hub Max, and Nest Wifi Pro. Matter-enabled smart home devices can connect to your home's Matter network via Wi-Fi or Thread (a low-power standard). Thread devices require a Thread border router; the Nest Wifi Pro, Nest Hub Max and the Nest Hub (2nd gen) can act as a Thread border router. Matter is designed for "Multi-Admin", meaning you can use multiple devices and ecosystems simultaneously to control your home, including both the Google Home and Samsung SmartThings apps. Android's Fast Pair feature also now works for Matter devices, making it faster and easier to set up new smart home devices. Next year, Google will bring Google Home with Matter to iOS. A handful of Matter-enabled devices are already available, "with many more coming in early 2023".
FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington is calling for the FCC to mandate that device manufacturers "explicitly commit to supporting their wireless devices with security updates for a defined period." Phones and other wireless devices that are in active use but no longer receiving security patches represent a national security risk, according to Simington. Some manufacturers have committed to providing security updates for up to five years for their high-end devices, while other companies make no specific promises. New security vulnerabilities are regularly discovered in both new and old versions of Android, iOS, and other OSes. Left unpatched, older devices become susceptible to more and more of these issues over time, providing an open door for malware, spyware, ransomware, and more.
T-Mobile's 5G network covers 323 million people and its faster "Ultra Capacity" 5G network now covers 260 million people, a goal the company has set for the end of this year. 300 million is the company's plan for the end of 2023. T-Mobile has also just launched 5G nationwide in band 2 (1900 MHz), adding more nationwide 5G capacity in a band with good coverage. The company also continues to roll out three-carrier aggregation (3CA), offering the fastest 5G speeds possible. This feature is available "in parts of the network now" for customers with a Samsung Galaxy S22. 3CA "will expand nationwide, and be accessible by additional devices, in the near future."
President Biden has signed into law the Safe Connections Act of 2022, which provides several new rights relating to cell phone service for victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking. Crucially, it mandates that carriers allow victims to separate their service (and that of dependents, such as children) from family plans controlled by their abuser. Carriers must allow such requests to made remotely, comply within two days of such a request, and not charge any fees to do so. However, the bill does allow carriers to require documentation of abuse, a clause that the EFF objected to. Another important part of the bill is a requirement that carriers "omit from consumer-facing logs calls and texts to hotlines for domestic violence and similar issues". The law does not take effect immediately; it directs to FCC to come up with specific rules to implement the law.
Apple is introducing several new security-focused features this week. The optional features give users new ways to secure their accounts and protect their data. A feature Apple calls Advanced Data Protection for iCloud will let users end-to-end (E2E) encrypt nine additional types of cloud data, including iCloud Backup, Notes, and Photos. This is beyond the 14 categories already E2E encrypted by default. E2E ensures that personal data stays encrypted in transit to/from the cloud, and while stored in the cloud, in such a way that not even Apple can decrypt it. Data would also be protected in the event Apple suffers a cloud security breach. This could present a challenge for law enforcement, which sometimes subpoenas Apple for iCloud data of suspects, including iPhone backups. Advanced Data Protection for iCloud is in beta now, and will be available to US users by the end of the year. Apple will also now support hardware security keys for two-factor login using Apple ID. Hardware security keys provide a much higher level of security compared to other types of two-factor authentication. This feature "will be available globally in early 2023." iMessage Contact Key Verification is intended for "users who face extraordinary digital threats — such as journalists, human rights activists, and members of government". The feature helps users "verify that they are messaging only with the people they intend". A unique Contact Verification Code confirms user identity and can be confirmed via other channels, including in person. Users with the feature enabled will also "receive automatic alerts if an exceptionally advanced adversary, such as a state-sponsored attacker, were ever to succeed breaching cloud servers and inserting their own device to eavesdrop". This feature will be available "globally in 2023."
Motorola today announced the new moto g play (2023). This update to the 2021 model has 90 Hz display refresh and a 16 megapixel camera (compared to 13 megapixel on the model it replaces). Other features of this affordable 4G phone are similar, including a 5,000 mAh battery, 10-watt fast charging, fingerprint reader on the back, and a headset jack. It's powered by a MediaTek Helio G37 chipset paired with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB storage (expandable via memory card). Extra cameras include a 2 megapixel macro camera and depth camera. The front camera is 5 megapixel. The unlocked moto g play (2023) goes on sale December 12th for $170. Later, it will come to Metro, Dish, Xfinity, US Cellular, Consumer Cellular, Spectrum, and Optimum.
Google has released another "feature drop" software update for its Pixel phones. The update includes several major, previously-announced features, such as free VPN service, Clear Calling, and automatic multi-person transcription in the Recorder app. Clear Calling helps reduce background noise from the other end of a phone call. The updated Recorder automatically separates and labels different speakers when recording a conversation. "And once the recording is complete, you can easily re-label speakers with their names." The free VPN and Clear Calling are exclusive to the Pixel 7 series, while the new Recorder is available for Pixel 6 and up.
Verizon has reached "its goal of reaching 175 million people covered by the end of 2022, a month ahead of schedule" in its deployment of 5G in new C-Band (mid-band) radio spectrum. Verizon is also expanding capacity in many deployed markets from 60 MHz to 100 MHz of bandwidth.
Google's open beta version of Messages will soon gain the ability to participate in group chats that are end-to-end (E2E) encrypted via RCS, the industry standard for enhanced messaging. E2E encryption is already available for one-on-one conversations.
Motorola's edge 30 fusion — a model that would normally only be sold in other parts of the world — will come to the US as an unlocked phone compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile. This special edition will come in Pantone's just-announced Color of the Year 2023, Pantone 18-1750 "Viva Magenta". The edge 30 fusion is a near-flagship-level phone, featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+ chipset, pOLED display with 144 Hz refresh, and 50 megapixel camera with OIS. Other specs include a 4,400 mAh battery, 12 GB of RAM, 256 GB storage, 13 megapixel wide-angle camera, 32 megapixel front camera with auto-focus, and Wi-Fi 6E. Although it supports enough frequency bands to function on the AT&T or T-Mobile networks, it does not support all of the bands necessary for full coverage and best data speeds. (For example, it lacks 4G in bands 30 and 71, and lacks 5G in band 2.) Motorola will sell the phone starting December 12, unlocked on its web site for $800, in a bundle that includes the Moto Buds 600 ANC Bluetooth earbuds in the complementary color PANTONE 19-2118 "Winetasting". The phone will also be available on its own, in Lazuli Blue, for $700.
Google Pixel phones now have the ability to share digital car keys via messaging, including with iPhones. Select other phones with Android 12 or later will also get the feature soon.
Corning, a leader in specialty glass for phone surfaces, has announced Gorilla Glass Victus 2, its toughest glass yet. Gorilla Glass Victus 2 is more shatter-resistant than the original Gorilla Glass Victus, able to survive "drops of up to one meter on a surface replicating concrete", or drops of two meters onto asphalt. While the original Gorilla Glass series made trade-offs between shatter resistance and scratch resistance, the Victus series is durable in both ways. The Victus 2 has the same level of scratch resistance as the original Victus. Gorilla Glass is very commonly used for the display glass on phones, and sometimes the back surface as well. "Gorilla Glass has been designed into more than 8 billion devices by more than 45 major brands." Gorilla Glass Victus 2 "is expected to reach the market within the next few months."
Early next year, Bullitt will launch a phone in the US with 2-way messaging directly to satellites. Bullitt currently sells phones under the CAT brand, as well as a select Motorola-branded models. The new phone will be the first to use the MediaTek's new NTN (Non-Terrestrial Network) 5G satellite NB-IoT chip. The 3GPP NTN standard is designed to let phones connect directly to one of several satellite constellations. This phone will connect to a Geostationary Orbit (GEO) constellation. It will also use a MediaTek Dimensity 930 5G chipset. The satellite messaging service will be free for the first year. Further details about the phone, brand, and specific satellite network will be available closer to the device's release in the first quarter of next year.
Google is quietly rolling out an update to Messages that lets users react to individual messages with any emoji, instead of just the usual seven. When long-pressing on a message, the usual seven reactions are still offered, along with a new "face plus" icon that leads to a full emoji picker.
The FCC has just adopted an even stricter stance against communications equipment from Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE, implementing a more complete ban. The US government has already taken a number of steps to constrain Chinese telecom equipment companies in recent years, effectively shutting them out of the US market, as well as many western markets. But the FCC has still accepted applications from the companies for "equipment authorization", which involves testing radios to ensure compliance with FCC rules that prevent radio interference, etc. This is a requirement for the importation and sale of any radio equipment (or equipment that could interfere with radios) in the US. Now the FCC will no longer issue authorizations for "communications equipment deemed to pose an unacceptable risk to national security". "The new rules implement the directive in the Secure Equipment Act of 2021, signed into law by President Biden last November, that requires the Commission to adopt such rules." While the new rules apply only to new equipment going forward, "The Commission is also seeking comment on future action related to existing authorizations."
TSMC, the Taiwan-based manufacturer of the world's most advanced chips, will bring its newest, most advanced chip production to US soil. The company had already announced plans for a 5-nanometer chip plant in Arizona. (The most advanced chips in Apple and Android phones currently use 4-nanometer technology. In chips, smaller is better.) Now TSMC will also build a next-generation 3-nanometer plant at the same Arizona location. The company is spending $12 billion on the 5nm plant, which is expected to start production in 2024. The company's founder, Morris Chang, made the announcement about the 3nm plant, adding that "the cost of manufacturing chips in the US will be at least 55% higher than in Taiwan". However Apple and other major customers are increasingly looking to diversify their supply chains globally. Regional tensions between Taiwan and China present a risk for companies like Apple and Qualcomm when all of the most advanced chips are made exclusively in Taiwan.
Verizon will now let prospective customers try out its network for free for up to 30 days using eSIM as a second line on their compatible existing phone. T-Mobile launched a similar service a year and a half ago. By activating as a second line, users can keep their existing service during the trial. Verizon's Test Drive includes unlimited talk and text and up to 100 GB of 5G and 4G, including Ultra Wideband and "premium network experience". The only service limitation is that video streaming is limited to 480p (SD) when not connected to 5G Ultra Wideband. Only certain phones are compatible with Verizon's network and the eSIM technology this service relies on, but this includes most recent iPhones, Pixels, and high-end Samsungs.
Sonim today announced the impending launch of their newest rugged smartphone, the XP10. The XP10 replaces the XP8, adding 5G but in a lighter and "sleeker" design. The phone will launch "with major carriers in the coming weeks". Key features include a removable 5,000 mAh battery, extra-loud 100bB+ speakers, and Android 12. Its rugged credentials include MIL-STD-810H ratings for drops (from six feet directly onto concrete), water immersion (in six feet of water for 60 minutes), and all weather conditions (from -4° F to 131° F). The XP10 can also be "sprayed, submerged and rigorously cleaned in soap and water or with harsh chemicals, like isopropyl alcohol or bleach, to ensure it is fully disinfected." For dangerous work environments, the XP10 is rated Non-Incendive Class I, II and III Div 2. Although Sonim did not announce specific carrier partners, both AT&T and Verizon carried the XP8.
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