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Huawei Mate 20 Series Gains an X and a Porsche Design

Oct 16, 2018, 10:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei today unveiled two devices apart from the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. First up, the Mate 20 X is a massive slab with a 7.2-inch screen and a 5,000mAh battery. Huawei is pitching the phone as a gaming device. It relies on a graphene film and vapor chamber to keep the Kirin 980 CPU/GPU cool, which translates to faster speeds for longer periods of time. The phone includes the same 40-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera that's found on the Mate 20 Pro. It supports pen-based input and has an IP53 rating for protection against minor splashes. The Mate 20 X will retail for €899 and goes on sale October 26. The Mate 20 Porsche Design RS (pictured) features a custom-designed chassis that was inspired by Porsche's racing legacy. It has a glass racing stripe on the rear panel that's surrounded by leather. The phone has a more round shape than that of the other Mate 20 phones, but shares all the specs with the Mate 20 Pro. The Mate 20 Porsche Design RS will start at €1,649 and goes on sale in November.


Huawei Watch GT Drops Wear OS for Huawei's Own Platform

Oct 16, 2018, 9:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 16, 2018, 9:37 AM

Huawei today announced the Watch GT, a smartwatch that has a traditional appearance and focuses on fitness. Huawei says the Watch GT is designed for "urban explorers" and can track a wide range of activities. The device can automatically track running, swimming, cycling, cross fit, hiking, and walking. The device has a round, 1.39-inch AMOLED screen that's surrounded by a ceramic-coated bezel and stainless steel chassis. The wearable features excellent battery life. It relies on a dual-chip system so it can separate low- and high-power tasks. Huawei says it relies on AI to understand what the wearer is doing and it will automatically switch to power-saving mode when it can. As a result, the device supports up to two weeks of battery life with the heart rate monitor on and tracking 90 minutes of activity per week. With heart rate and GPS off, the wearable can offer the time, messages, and calls for up to 30 days. With continuous exercising, and the GPS/heart rate monitor active, the battery lasts about 22 hours. The device features a six-sensor heart rate monitor to record the most accurate measurements. The UI is not based on Google's Android Wear OS, as Huawei's older watches are. Instead, it favors a Wear OS-like UI that Huawei developed itself. The Classic version costs €249 and the Sport version costs €199. They will be available later this month.


Huawei Created Its Own Memory Card Shaped Like a Nano SIM

Oct 16, 2018, 8:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei today showed off a new memory card format to accompany its flagship Mate 20 Pro smartphone. The Mate 20 Pro supports two SIM cards, but not a traditional microSD memory card. In order to give people the option to add storage to the Mate 20 Pro, Huawei made a memory card that's shaped and sized like a nano SIM card. Huawei didn't say what storage allotments the card will come in, though it did show a 128 GB card on stage. There's no word on pricing or availability, and Huawei didn't say how the memory card interfaces with the SIM connector.


Hands On with the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro

Oct 16, 2018, 8:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei’s latest phones, the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, are impressive metal-and-glass slabs that go toe-to-toe with the best from Apple, Google, LG, and Samsung. Those seeking non-carrier fare will find plenty to like about this powerful pair of intelligent devices. Here are Phone Scoop’s initial impressions.

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Huawei’s Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro Take Aim at Galaxy Note9

Oct 16, 2018, 8:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 16, 2018, 11:48 AM

Huawei today announced it flagship series for the year, the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. The phones share a number of features, but have their own identity thanks to differences in the screen and chassis. The most distinctive feature is the camera module on the rear, which is square-shaped and contains three cameras and the LED flash. Both the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro are powered by Huawei’s Kirin 980 processor, which it says delivers even more AI-based smarts than its last-generation chip. The Kirin 980 features dual neural processing units to improve image recognition, Master AI for processing 1,500 different scenes, and predictive focus for tracking subjects in real time. Other shared features include Cat 21 LTE with dual SIM cards, Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi, GPS, and support for 256 GB memory cards. Both include a 24-megapixel selfie camera at f/2.4, and come in five colors, including green, blue, twilight, pink gold, and black. The devices run Android 9 Pie with Huawei's EMUI 9.0 skin on top. EMUI 9.0 is pared back a bit when compared to EMIO 8.0, and features business software as well as the ability to project a desktop mode to wireless displays.

  • Mate 20 Pro: The Mate 20 Pro is the higher-end version of the two phones. It boasts a notched 6.39-inch curved OLED display with quad HD+ resolution and support for HDR. The Mate 20 Pro includes a fingerprint reader buried under the display, as well as 3D facial recognition for security. The phone features three rear cameras contained in a square module on the rear. The main camera has a 40-megapixel sensor at f/1.8, and it is joined by an ultra wide-angle 20-megapixel sensor at f/2.2, and an 8-megapixel 3x telephoto sensor at f/2.0. The phone supports wireless charging and can even act as a charger for other devices. The battery is rated at 4,200mAh. It comes with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage.
  • Mate 20: This device has a "teardrop" notched screen that measures 6.53 inches across the diagonal with full HD+ resolution. The Mate 20 also features a three-camera array on the back with a main sensor of 12 megapixels at f/1.8, a wide-angle sensor of 16-megapixel at f/2.2, and an 8-megapixel 2x telephoto sensor at f/2.4. The phone supports wireless charging and the battery is rated at 4000mAh. It comes with either 4 or 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage and a rear-mounted fingerprint reader for security.
The Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro are expected to ship starting today. The Mate 20 costs €799 and the Mate 20 Pro costs €1049.


Fortnite for Android No Longer Requires An Invitation

Oct 11, 2018, 1:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Epic Games today made its popular Fortnite game available without an invitation. The app has been available in beta since August, though an invite was required for access. Epic Games has dropped the need for an invitation and most anyone can download the game. Fortnite is not available in the Google Play Store. Instead, people interested in the game will need to go to Epic's web site to download an installer. The installer then puts the game on the phone. The game started as an exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy Note9 and was later discovered to have a major security flaw in the installer (since patched). Fortnite is best played on high-end devices that have Android 8 Oreo installed. Some compatible phones include the Samsung Galaxy S7, S8, and S9 series; all Google Pixel phones; the LG G5, G6, G7, V20, and V30; the Asus ROG Phone and 5Z; the Essential Phone; the Huawei Mate 10, Mate 10 Pro, Honor 10, and Honor Play; the OnePlus 5, 5T, and 6; the HTC 10, U Ultra, U11+, U12+; the Sony Xperia XZ1, XZ2, and XZ3 series; as well as a handful of others from Xiaomi, ZTE, Nokia, and Lenovo.


Huawei’s Honor Brand Fully Reveals the 8X

Oct 2, 2018, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Honor today announced the 8X, a new mid-range phone that offers many of today’s most-wanted features in a more affordable package. The 8X has a metal frame and two 2.5D glass panels forming the front and back. The device boasts a 6.5-inch FullVision display with full HD+ resolution at a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. Honor says its chip-on-film technology and new antenna design allowed it to achieve a 4.25mm bezel along the bottom of the display, with a total screen-to-body ratio of 91%. The phone is powered by an octa-core Kirin 710 processor, based on the 12nm ARM Cortex A73, with a Mali G51 GPU. The 8X has a two-camera setup on the back, with a 22-megapixel full color main sensor at f/1.8 and a 2-megapixel depth-sensing secondary sensor for portrait/bokeh effects. The phone carries over some of the AI-based features of Huawei’s pricier flagships, such as automatic scene detection, blur reduction, and 3D portrait lighting. It can capture slow-motion video at up to 480fps. The front-facing camera has a 16-megapixel sensor at f/2.0. Other features of the 8X include a 3,750mAh battery, fingerprint reader, face unlock, 4/6 GB of RAM, 64/128 GB of storage, and support for two SIM cards. Based on the LTE bands included in the variants, it appears as though the phone may not be compatible with U.S. networks. Honor has not said exactly when the 8X will go on sale, nor what markets it will reach.


Preview: Honor 8X

Sep 28, 2018, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Huawei's Honor brand is gearing up to announce the Honor 8X, a new mid-range Android phone with a large screen and a unique design. Huawei hasn't announced full details yet, but they did let us photograph it.

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Huawei to Let Device Owners Access 'Performance Mode'

Sep 8, 2018, 10:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei says customers will eventually be able to access and turn on their phone's Performance Mode. The action comes about after Huawei was caught by AnandTech cheating on certain benchmark tests, include 3DMark. Some Huawei and Honor phones could detect the test and boost performance to improve the result. In response, 3DMark delisted the Huawei P20, P20 Pro, Nova 3, and Honor Play from its rankings. Explaining the issue, Huawei said, "The latest Huawei handsets leverage innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence to optimize resource allocation in a way so that the hardware can demonstrate its capabilities to the fullest extent, while fulfilling user demands across all scenarios." 3DMark says it is opposed to this approach, as it believes benchmark apps should be run as if they were any other app. Moving forward, Huawei will provide users with open access to Performance Mode — which boosts speeds at the expense of battery life — in the forthcoming EMUI 9.0 platform. Huawei says EMUI 9.0 will reach select phones, including the Mate 10 Pro and P20 Pro, later this fall.


Huawei Intros Android 9 Pie-Based EMUI 9.0

Sep 1, 2018, 10:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei today revealed its forthcoming user interface skin, EMUI 9.0. The new user experience is based on Android 9 Pie, which means it offers many of the new features included in Google’s code. Huawei said its goal in developing EMUI 9.0 was to simplify the experience and make it more consistent. For example, it has reduced the number of options in its settings menu from 940 in EMUI 8.0 to 843 in EMUI 9.0. The company’s designers have pared back the look of individual apps and given them a consistent look across the user interface. Huawei also sought to make the UI more natural. It features nature-based wallpapers, backgrounds, and even sounds for the alarms and alert tones. The clock app will tick with the sound of a real clock and the keyboard will clack with the sound of a mechanical typewriter. The UI looks to smooth over navigation. For example, Huawei will move app controls to the bottom of the screen, where they are easier to reach, whenever possible. A new swiping gesture on the home screen will call up a navigation panel for jumping to select apps and settings. EMUI 9.0 also introduces GPU Turbo 2.0 with a focus on mobile gaming. Huawei insists its new algorithms improve GPU efficiency and reduce power needs during gaming, all while delivering smoother performance. Huawei claims EMUI 9.0’s GPU as run on its new Kirin 980 SoC performs significantly faster than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845. Last, a password vault is being added to the platform to help with app logins. People will be able to store usernames and passwords in the secure zone and then call them up using a fingerprint reader or facial recognition when signing into apps. Huawei is offering EMUI 9.0 in beta form to select devices. It will eventually be seeded to the Mate 10, Mate 10 Pro, P20, P20 Pro, Honor 10, 10 View, and Play.

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ZTE Committed to US Market, Denies Security Risk

Sep 1, 2018, 8:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Now that ZTE has resumed full operations, the company is focused on rebuilding its U.S. business. While the new Axon 9 Pro flagship is not going to be sold in the U.S, ZTE does plan to bring at least one new phone to the U.S. market before the end of the year, said executive Jeff Yee. ZTE is working to repair its relationships with U.S. carriers, where it found success with affordable phones with large screens. Yee wouldn't say if it's next U.S.-bound device will be a low-cost phone or a premium phone. Initially, the company will likely sell new devices through the open market, rather than via carriers. ZTE also flatly denies that its phones pose any sort of security risk to Americans. The U.S. government has targeted ZTE and Huawei this year, claiming phones from the two companies could be used by the Chinese government for spying. The government has issued orders preventing government workers from using ZTE or Huawei phones for government work. Yee says the company doesn't send any data from its phones to China, and its phones are secure. ZTE believes it can recoup at least some of its lost business as it pushes forward.


Huawei's AI Cube Speaker Looks to Challenge Google Home

Aug 31, 2018, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei today introduced the AI Cube, an in-home speaker that relies on Amazon Alexa for voice-based smarts. The AI Cube is unique in that it supports Cat 6 LTE and can serve as a mobile hotspot when needed. It includes dual-band WiFi for connecting phones, tablets, and other devices that rely on WiFi. The speaker has a 400ml sound cavity and aluminum diaphragm that are controlled by Huawei's Histen AI for dynamically adjusting bass response and gain to suit the surroundings. It has a 15W mono speaker and four microphones to support far-field voice recognition. The AI Cube has a white chassis and is available in three different mesh base colors. Huawei didn't announce pricing or availability of the AI Cube.


Huawei Intros Kirin 980, a 7nm SoC for Next-Gen Smartphones

Aug 31, 2018, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei today announced the Kirin 980, its premiere system-on-a-chip for mobile devices. The chip adopts a 7nm process, allowing for a 20% boost in power output and a 40% jump in efficiency when compared to Huawei's 10nm process. The chip employs eight cores in a unique configuration. It includes two high-performance ARM Cortex A76 cores, two high-efficiency A76 cores, and four extreme-efficiency Cortex A55 cores. Huawei says a flex-scheduling subsystem assigns tasks to the appropriate cores as needed. The 980 adopts the Mail G76 GPU, which offers 46% greater graphics processing power and 178% improved efficiency. Clock boosting technology allows the G76 identify games and adjust accordingly. Huawei has given the Kirin 980 two NPUs (neural processing units) to improve on-device AI. The chip can identify 4,500 images per minute. The new image signal processor improves data throughput by 46% and better supports multi-camera configurations. It handles multi-pass noise reduction for better low-light results, and improves motion tracking for sharper focus. On the connectivity side of things, the Kirin 980 supports Cat 21 LTE with carrier aggregation, delivering download speeds up to 1.4 Gbps. Huawei says the Kirin 980 will make its debut in a new Mate series phone in October.

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Australia Won't Let Huawei Provide 5G Gear to Telcos

Aug 23, 2018, 7:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Australia has banned Huawei from supplying equipment for future 5G mobile networks. Australia made the argument that Huawei poses a threat to its national security. Huawei is one of the world's largest suppliers of telecommunication's gear. Chinese firms are required to help the Chinese government engage in espionage when asked. Huawei says China-based ZTE is also being prevented from supplying 5G networking gear to Australian wireless companies. China said the move was an "excuse to artificially erect barriers and conduct discriminatory practices." Australia's move mirrors the stance of the U.S., which has barred Huawei and ZTE from providing the networking gear for wireless networks. The U.S. has gone further in mandating that government employees don't use phones made by Huawei or ZTE.


US Gov Workers Barred from Using Huawei, ZTE Devices

Aug 14, 2018, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

President Trump this week signed the Defense Authorization Act, which bans the use of Huawei or ZTE devices by government personnel. The Defense Authorization Act is an annual piece of legislation that provides funding to the military. Congress added language to the act that makes it illegal for any government employee to buy or use devices or components from either Huawei or ZTE, both of which are considered by some to be security threats. The move puts a bookmark at the end of a tumultuous year for Huawei and ZTE, which have seen their U.S. businesses come under attack. Early in the year, Huawei lost distribution deals with AT&T and Verizon. Later, ZTE was hit with a ban on using U.S. components and software. ZTE was forced to pay a significant fine and agree to other conditions in order to get back to business. The ban on government use of Huawei and ZTE gear goes into effect over the next two years.


YouTube Highlights Phones with the Best Screens for Video

Aug 10, 2018, 7:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

YouTube has begun to recognize what it calls Signature Devices, or phones that deliver the best-in-class experience for YouTube content. YouTube says these phones have the latest technology and provide optimal viewing. In order to qualify as a Signature Device, a phone must include features such as high dynamic range, 4K, 360 video, reliable DRM performance, and a high frame rate. YouTube says it has worked with select manufacturers to verify a handful of Signature Devices. They include the new Samsung Galaxy Note9, as well as the S8, S8+, Note8, S9, and S9+; the LG V30 and G7 ThinQ; the Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium, XZ2, and XZ2 Compact; the HTC U12+; the Huawei Mate 10 Pro; the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S and Mi 8; the HMD Global Nokia 8 Sirocco; the OnePlus 6; and the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. People who own these devices don't need to do anything in order to enjoy a good YouTube experience. YouTube will add devices to the list over time.


DNC Tells Democrats to Stop Using Phones from Huawei, ZTE

Aug 4, 2018, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Democratic National Committee has told candidates running as Democrats this fall they should not use phones made by Huawei or ZTE. The Trump administration says they represent a security risk. Earlier this year, the administration pressured AT&T and Verizon to drop plans to sell Huawei devices. Best Buy also stopped selling Huawei devices. "Please make sure that you are not using or purchasing ZTE or Huawei devices anywhere within your staff — for personal or work-related use," said Bob Lord, the DNC's chief security officer in an email to party members. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai also believes Huawei represents a threat of espionage. Huawei phones are not sold on military bases. Neither Huawei nor ZTE commented on the matter.


Bluetooth Bug Could Expose Devices to Attack; Patch Coming

Jul 24, 2018, 7:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology discovered a vulnerability in Bluetooth's Secure Simple Pairing and LE Secure Connections features that could lead to man-in-the-middle attacks. According to the researchers, the Bluetooth specification doesn't require devices with these features to validate the public key when pairing with new hardware. By not validating the key, it leaves the connection open to attack. In this case, the attacker would need to have a device within 30 meters and intercept the pairing procedure between two devices. The attacker's hardware could pose as the intended paired device, hijack the connection, and transmit malicious code. For this to work, both devices attempting to pair would need to have the Secure Simple Pairing or LE Secure Connections features enabled in their code, and the attacker's timing would have to be impeccable, according to the Bluetooth SIG. The bug impacts hardware from Apple, Broadcom, Intel, and Qualcomm, along with some Android handsets. According to ZDNet, Apple issued a patch for this bug in July. Intel and Qualcomm have updated their drivers, respectively, and some PC makers have begun to distribute the patches. LG and Huawei have said they'll include patches for the bug in security updates for their Android phones this month. Google has not mentioned the bug in any of its monthly security updates and it's not clear if the Android kernel, nor what other Android devices, are affected


Huawei Says GPU Turbo Update to Boost Mate 10 Pro, P20 Pro Performance

Jul 16, 2018, 9:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 17, 2018, 3:58 PM

Huawei today announced plans to tweak the graphics performance of its phones. The company will update a number of devices with what it calls GPU Turbo, a graphics processing technology that lets phones run GPU-intense apps, such as games, faster and more efficiently. Huawei claims that GPU Turbo optimizes system software and hardware resources to improve GPU efficiency by 60% while lowering power consumption by 30% thanks to its re-architected method for handling graphics. The end result is a noticeable upgrade in device performance without forcing users to buy a new phone in order to run the latest games and apps. Huawei plans to roll the update out to its flagship devices, the Mate 10, Mate 10 Pro, P20, and P20 Pro in August, with other devices to follow later in the year.


More Lawmakers Target Google Over Huawei Relationship

Jun 20, 2018, 3:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

More members of Congress are posing questions about the relationship between Google and Huawei. Republican Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio, Republican Representatives Liz Cheney and Michael Conaway, and Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger all signed a letter sent to Google concerning the search giant’s recent decision to halt work on Project Maven. "While we regret that Google did not want to continue a long and fruitful tradition of collaboration between the military and technology companies, we are even more disappointed that Google apparently is more willing to support the Chinese Communist Party than the U.S. military,” read the letter, in part. It’s not clear what the lawmakers’ end goal is. Huawei uses Google’s Android operating system in its phones. Huawei is the world’s third-largest supplier of phones. Some members of Congress see Huawei as a national security threat due to its ties with the Chinese government. Earlier this year, Huawei saw smartphone distribution deals with AT&T and Verizon evaporate after pressure from Congress.


3GPP Approves Spec for Standalone 5G New Radio

Jun 14, 2018, 12:23 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The 3GPP today ratified another piece of the 5G specification, termed the Standalone 5G New Radio, or SA 5G NR. This spec is for 5G networks that are developed on their own, apart from legacy or pre-existing networks. The Non-Standalone portion of the 5G spec was ratified late last year and covers 5G that hooks into existing LTE 4G systems. "The freeze of Standalone 5G NR radio specifications represents a major milestone in the quest of the wireless industry towards realizing the holistic 5G vision," said Balázs Bertényi, chairman of 3GPP RAN. "5G NR Standalone systems not only dramatically increase the mobile broadband speeds and capacity, but also open the door for new industries beyond telecommunications that are looking to revolutionize their ecosystem through 5G." The SA 5G NR and the NSA 5G NR standards will together include the technology used by commercial entities, the air interface, and end users. The spec was approved by more than 600 delegates from the world's leading carrier, handset, and silicon vendors. Some participants included AT&T, DISH, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Kyocera, LG, MediaTek, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, SoftBank/Sprint, Sony, Verizon, Xiaomi, and ZTE. The 3GPP said the technical specifications for the ratified SA 5G NR will be published in the days ahead.


Google Expands Enterprise Recommendation Program to More Phones

Jun 12, 2018, 11:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said more phone makers now part of its Android Enterprise Recommended program. The Android Enterprise Recommended program, which was launched in February of this year, "establishes best practices and common requirements for devices and services, backed by a thorough testing process conducted by Google." In order to qualify, devices have to meet a number of specifications concerning their hardware, deployment, security updates, and user help programs. For example, devices approved must run at least Android 7 Nougat, and receive security updates no later than 90 days from their release from Google. A handful of new phones makers and devices are now recommended by Google, making for a total of 39 devices from nine device makers. New entries include the Sonim XP8; Sharp Aquos SH 10-K; Sony Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact; Motorola Moto G6, Moto G6 Plus, and Z3 Play; Huawei P20 and P20 Pro; BlackBerry KEY2; and HMD Global Nokia 3.1, 5.1, 6, 7 Plus, and 8 Sirocco. Several tablets have been certified for Android Enterprise Recommended, too, including the Huawei M5 8.4 and 10.8. Google says it will continue to update the list of devices recommended for business users as more phone makers commit to the requirements of the Android Enterprise Recommended program.


Google’s Relationship with Huawei Under Question by US Gov

Jun 7, 2018, 5:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Several members of Congress are posing questions about the relationship between Google, Huawei, and other Chinese companies. Senator Mark Warner, a democrat who serves on the Senate Select Committie on Intelligence, has sent Google a letter with a request for information about its relationship with Huawei. Google confirmed that it received the query and said it “[looked] forward to answering these questions.” Warner sent a similar letter to Twitter. Mike Conaway, a republican congressman, indicated his office is making similar inquiries. Some in Congress see Huawei as a national security threat due to its ties with the Chinese government. Earlier this year, Huawei saw smartphone distribution deals with AT&T and Verizon evaporate after pressure from Congress. Later this summer the Senate Intelligence Committee expects to hear directly from Google executive Larry Page, as well as Facebook executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter boss Jack Dorsey over their relationships with Huawei and other Chinese firms. "The possibility of Chinese vendors with documented ties to the Chinese Communist Party having access to Facebook's private API (and potentially Alphabet's) — particularly as China develops tools to harness individual-level data for surveillance and social control — raises serious national security concerns," said a portion of Warner’s letter. Huawei denies that it represents any type of threat. It is the third-largest maker of phones in the world and uses Google’s Android operating system.


ARM's Cortex A76 Core Relies On 7nm Process for Speed and Efficiency Gains

May 31, 2018, 2:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

ARM today announced a new series of processors cores for mobile devices that it says will increase performance without impacting battery life. The new Cortex A76 processor core is built using a 7nm process that ARM says delivers a 35% boost in speed and a 40% improvement in efficiency when compared to its previous 10nm core. The A76 generates a 4x increase in compute performance for artificial intelligence and machine learning. ARM also announced the Mali G76 GPU to improve gaming across a variety of device form factors. The G76 boosts speed and efficiency by 30%. Last, ARM announced the Mali V76 video processor. This chip is dedicated to pushing 8K video at 60fps, or four concurrent 4K video streams at 60fps. ARM designs processor cores. It is up to companies such as Qualcomm, MediaTek, Samsung, and Huawei to include them in their system-on-a-chip modules for mobile devices. The A76/G76 pair could, for example, serve as the heart of a Snapdragon or Exynos processor. None of these companies has publicly announced yet that they'll use the ARM Cortex A76.


Netflix Brings HDR Support to 3 More Phones

May 17, 2018, 8:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Netflix has granted three newer phones the ability to stream HDR video. The latest devices include the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, the Huawei P20 Pro, and the Sony Xperia XZ2. HDR content has more contrast than standard content, creating deeper blacks and brighter brights for a richer viewing experience. Other devices already able to access HDR playback on Netflix include the LG G6 and V30, Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ Premium, Samsung Galaxy S9 and Note 8, and the Razor Phone.


Senators Balk At Idea of Lifting ZTE Ban

May 15, 2018, 4:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Security, not trade, is the issue, say a handful of Senators who today pushed back against President Donald Trump's efforts to help ZTE. The U.S. Department of Commerce banned American companies from supplying ZTE with parts or software for a period of seven years. ZTE precipitated the ban by bungling a settlement agreement over its illegal sale of technology to Iran and North Korea. The company ceased most operations earlier this month. Over the weekend, Trump tweeted in support of ZTE. He suggested that too many jobs were being lost in China and he wanted to help the company get back in business quickly. Speaking Tuesday, Republican and Democratic Senators suggested that Trump's approach is not the right one. "I confess I don't fully understand the administration’s take on this at this point," said Senator Mac Thornberry. "It is not a question to me of economics, it is a question of security." Some in the government worry ZTE and Huawei devices could be used to spy on Americans. Thornberry indicated that he doesn't expect the Commerce Department will remove the ban. Trade emissaries from China and the U.S. are expected to meet again this week.


Honor 10 Boasts Aurora Glass, a Notch, an AI Camera, and Ultrasonic Fingerprint Reader

May 15, 2018, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Honor, Huawei's budget brand, today announced the Honor 10 at an event in London. The phone serves as an affordable option to the P20 Pro and offers similar features. The device has what Honor calls Aurora Glass, a 15-layer nano optical coating on the 3D rear panel meant to provide brilliant color. The primary colors are phantom blue and phantom green, each of which dazzles in any light. This is similar to the rear panel of the P20 Pro. The Honor 10 has a 5.84-inch Full View display (19:9 aspect ratio at full HD+) with a notch. The phone is the first from Honor to include an under-the-glass fingerprint reader. Honor says its UItrasonic Fingerprint Sensor is hidden under the display in order to keep the design clean. The phone is powered by Huawei's flagship Kirin 970 processor with 4 GB of RAM and either 64 GB or 128 GB of storage. The Kirin 970 means the Honor 10 includes Huawei's neural processing unit for AI-assisted scene detection in the camera. The rear of the phone features two cameras: a 24-megapixel main sensor and a 16-megapixel secondary sensor. Honor says the phone can recognize some 500 scenarios that fall under 22 categories in real-time. Moreover, the phone debuts Semantic Image Segmentation, which lets the Honor 10 identify multiple objects in a single image. The user-facing camera has a 24-megapixel sensor with 3D face recognition, studio lighting effects, portrait capture, and group selfies. The phone has a 3,400mAh battery with rapid charging. It runs Android 8 Oreo with Huawei's EMUI 8.1 skin on top. The device will be available for preorder in select European countries beginning today for about $475. Honor did not say if it intends to sell the Honor 10 in the U.S.


Pentagon Tells Military Base Stores to Drop Huawei, ZTE Phones

May 2, 2018, 8:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 2, 2018, 1:31 PM

The government doesn't want military personnel buying Huawei or ZTE phones. The Pentagon has ordered the retail stores on U.S. bases around the globe to cease selling phones made by the two Chinese companies. "Huawei and ZTE devices may pose an unacceptable risk to the department’s personnel, information and mission," said Army Maj. Dave Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesperson, in a statement provided to the Wall Street Journal. "In light of this information, it was not prudent for the department's exchanges to continue selling them." Maj. Eastburn said the government can't tell troops not to buy Huawei or ZTE phones for personal use, at least not yet. Huawei and ZTE have been squeezed by the Trump administration this year, which insists phones from these companies could be used by the Chinese government to spy on Americans. The Pentagon worries Huawei and ZTE phones could give foreign governments insight into base operations and troop movements. Huawei and ZTE strongly deny such claims. Members of the Republican party have already floated legislation that would make it illegal for government personnel to buy Huawei phones for work purposes. More recently, the Department of Commerce banned U.S. companies from selling parts or software to ZTE for a period of seven years. Huawei said, “We remain committed to openness and transparency in everything we do and want to be clear that no government has ever asked us compromise the security or integrity of any of our networks or devices.”


Honor Says Android 8 with EMUI 8 Hitting Honor 7x April 30

Apr 27, 2018, 9:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Honor today said the U.S. variant of the Honor 7x will be updated to Android 8 starting April 30. In addition to the core Android 8 features, such as notification dots, autofill, and picture-in-picture, the update installs Huawei's EMUI 8 skin. The skin makes a number of improvements to usability and performance and adds face unlock and Huawei's floating navigation dock. The Honor 7x has been available since late last year. It sells for $199.


Huawei Facing Criminal Investigation for Violating Iran Sanctions

Apr 25, 2018, 10:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei's survival in America is facing a new threat: a criminal investigation over whether or not it violated sanctions preventing the sale or export of select goods to Iran. The U.S. Department of Justice is looking into Huawei's dealings with Iran to see if it broke U.S. law, though it's unclear how far along the probe is and what specific allegations are being made. The investigation "follows administrative subpoenas on sanctions-related issues from both the Commerce Department and the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control," reports the Wall Street Journal. If Huawei is found to have violated U.S. law, it could be hit with severe penalties. The U.S government has already targeted the company this year, suggesting it is a security threat. AT&T and Verizon Wireless backed out of distribution deals with Huawei after being pressured by the U.S. government, and lawmakers have proposed to make it illegal for government employees to use Huawei phones. Huawei, the world's third-largest maker of phones, did not comment on the new assault. Last year, Huawei rival ZTE settled a similar lawsuit over sanction violations.


Huawei to Focus On Markets Other than the US

Apr 17, 2018, 4:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

After a series of stinging setbacks, Huawei is scaling back plans to tackle the U.S. market. The company has laid off five of its employees in Washington, D.C, including top spokesperson Bill Plummer. In addition to the headcount reduction, Huawei has significantly dropped the dollar figure it spent on lobbying efforts, scaling back from $348,000 in 2016 to just $60,000 in 2017. "Like every company, we continually evaluate our organization and align our resources to support our business strategy and objectives," said a Huawei spokesperson. "Any changes to staffing size or structure are simply a reflection of standard business optimization." The company recently reported a net profit of $7.5 billion for 2017, most of which it made outside the U.S. Moving forward, Huawei plans to focus its efforts in markets where it is already successful. Huawei recently announced the P20 and P20 Pro phones, which feature high-end cameras. The U.S. government has taken steps over the last few months to prevent Huawei from gaining a toehold here, including barring government employees from buying Huawei phones, as well as introducing legislation that would prevent companies from tapping Universal Service Funds to purchase Huawei phones.


FCC Pushes Plan that Would Squeeze Out Huawei and ZTE

Apr 17, 2018, 4:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today moved forward with a plan that would make it harder and/or more expensive for U.S. companies to buy equipment from corporations that might pose a security risk. Though the FCC didn't call out China-based Huawei or ZTE by name, the proposal is clearly meant to keep the two companies sidelined in the U.S market. Specifically, the FCC wants to "prohibit use of [Universal Service Fund monies] on the purchase of equipment or services from any company that poses a national security threat to the integrity of U.S. communications networks or the communications supply chain." The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted by the FCC today isn't final, and the agency is seeking input on how to implement the proposed prohibition. For example, what types of equipment/services should be banned, how should the FCC identify the equipment, what are the costs/benefits, and finally could the rule best be enforced. Huawei and ZTE are taking fire from lawmakers for their supposed ties to the Chinese government. Today's action follows recent blows to Huawei and ZTE. Earlier this year, Huawei lost distribution deals with AT&T and Verizon Wireless, while earlier this week ZTE was banned from buying American components and technology for its phones. "Hidden 'backdoors' to our networks in routers, switches, and other network equipment can allow hostile foreign powers to inject viruses and other malware, steal Americans' private data, spy on U.S. businesses, and more," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Republican lawmakers have also introduced legislation that would bar U.S. government employee from buying Huawei and ZTE phones. Neither Huawei nor ZTE commented on the FCC's actions.


Researchers Suggest Phone Makers Mislead Consumers About Security Patches

Apr 12, 2018, 1:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Security Research Labs says Android phone makers often miss security patches but still tell owners the phones are up-to-date. Researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell examined the code of some 1,200 phones from more than a dozen phone makers for every security patch released during 2017. They discovered phones from nearly all makers missed at least some patches. Phones from Google, Sony, and Samsung ranked fairly well, missing an average of just one patch. Phones from Xiaomi, Nokia, and OnePlus missed between one and three patches per update, while devices from HTC, Motorola, LG, and Huawei missed three to four, and phones from TCL (Alcatel) and ZTE often missed more than four patches per update. High-end devices with processors from Samsung or Qualcomm were more likely to updated properly, while low-cost devices with processors from MediaTek were less likely to be updated properly. Nohl and Lell say what's worse than the missed patches are the phone makers' claims to the contrary. "We find that there's a gap between patching claims and the actual patches installed on a device. It's small for some devices and pretty significant for others," said Nohl to Wired. "We found several vendors that didn’t install a single patch but changed the patch date forward by several months. That’s deliberate deception." The researchers claim this lulls consumers into a false sense of security, though they admit that hacking into Android phones through any of the missed patches is a difficult task at best. In response to the data, Google argued that not all the devices researched were Android certified, and that modern Android phones have other security measures in place to protect them. "Security updates are one of many layers used to protect Android devices and users," said Scott Roberts, Android product security lead at Google. "Built-in platform protections, such as application sandboxing, and security services, such as Google Play Protect, are just as important." Still, Google said it would work with Security Research Labs to investigate Nohl and Lell's findings.


Huawei Says It's Not Giving Up On the US Market

Mar 30, 2018, 9:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 30, 2018, 10:20 AM

Huawei plans to soldier on in the U.S. market despite recent setbacks. "We are committed to the U.S. market and to earning the trust of U.S. consumers by staying focused on delivering world-class products and innovation," said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's consumer business, to CNET. Earlier this week, Huawei announced the P20 and P20 Pro phones (pictured), contenders to the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S9. The phones boast gradient paint jobs and advanced cameras. Huawei, however, will not sell these phones in the U.S., at least not right away. Earlier this year, AT&T and Verizon Wireless dropped plans to sell Huawei's flagship device, the Mate 10 Pro, due to government pressure. Later, retailer Best Buy also said it would stop selling the Mate 10 Pro in its stores. Some in the U.S. government believe Huawei represents a security threat. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has gone so far as to introduce rules that would make it illegal for companies in the U.S. to buy gear from Huawei and other companies that post a potential risk. Huawei insists these fears are unfounded. "The security risk concerns are based on groundless suspicions and are quite frankly unfair," said Yu. "We work with 46 of the [top] 50 global operators, and have maintained a very strong security record because security is one of our top priorities." Huawei may not have a carrier distribution deal for its phones, but the company does still sell its devices to U.S. consumers online. The company is the world's third-largest supplier of phones behind Apple and Samsung. "We recognize we are not a known brand in the U.S. and we need to build our brand here. Our first step is to win the trust of consumers."


Google Drops Wear OS Developer Preview with Support for P

Mar 28, 2018, 1:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today released the first developer preview of Wear OS, the renamed platform for smartwatches and other wearables. Importantly, this developer preview brings with it support for Android P features. Google pointed out a number of items that developers will need to keep in mind when developing for Wear OS. For example, to improve app compatibility, Android P kicks off the process of restricting access to non-SDK methods. Moreover, the dark theme is now the default system theme, something Google says should improve the glanceability of Wear apps. The preview looks to limit background activity in order to improve efficiency. For example, apps will not be able to run in the background unless on a charger. Watch faces and their complications are the only exceptions to this for now. Similarly, this Android P-based version of Wear OS is more aggressive about turning off the Bluetooth, WiFi, and cellular radios when the device detects that it is no longer being worn. This too is meant to help reduce power consumption when the wearable is in an idle state. Google says the developer preview is indeed for developers only. It can be installed via manual flash to either the Huawei Watch 2 or Watch 2 Classic smartwatches. Google expects to provide several updates to the Wear OS Developer Preview before a final production build is made available to consumers. Google hopes developers will provide feedback along the way so it can improve the platform.


Hands On with the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro

Mar 27, 2018, 8:30 AM   by Rich Brome

The Huawei P20 Pro and P20 have a few special tricks will really help them stand out among flagship phones in 2018. Which is why it's such a shame they aren't coming to the U.S.. We had a moment with them and want to share the things that stood out, so you know what you're missing. The multi-color gradient finish is gorgeous, the camera specs are impressive, and the camera software includes some ground-breaking features, like a stabilized long-exposure mode you can use without a tripod. Read on for our first impressions of these flashy phones.

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Huawei's P20 Series Boasts Gradient Paint and Advanced Cameras

Mar 27, 2018, 8:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei today introduced the P20 and P20 Pro at an event in Paris. The new phones, direct competitors to Apple's iPhone, are high-end devices that include unique colors, powerful processors, and the newest camera technology. Shared features of the P20 and P20 Pro include metal frames with gradient, painted 3D glass panels on the back. Huawei says the colors were inspired by Monet. The 2:1 displays on front feature notches at the top to hold the user-facing camera and sensors. The notch can be "hidden" with software that blacks out the info bar on the screen. Huawei has improved its facial recognition security software, which now works in the dark by illuminating the display. The P20 and P20 Pro carry over Huawei's premiere Kirin 970 processor with neural processing unit and Master AI to recognize scenes (group shots, landscapes) and objects (dogs, cats). The P20 series ads Master Stabilization software that allows owners to take exposures up to 4 seconds in length without using a tripod. The selfie camera on both phones has a 24-megapixel sensor with a lens at f/2.4. Other specs include 128 GB of storage, USB-C, Cat 18 LTE, Bluetooth 4.2 with aptHD+, and rapid charging. The phones ship with Android 8.1 and Huawei's EMUI 8.

  • P20 Pro: The more advanced of the two phones has a 6.1-inch screen with full HD+ resolution, 4,000mAh battery, and IP67 rating for protection from water. The phone boasts a 1/1.7-inch, 40-megapixel main camera sensor that Huawei claims is larger than most other phones in the market. Individual pixels measure 1.55µm each, and the sensor has an ISO rating of up to 102,400 for extreme sensitivity in low light. The secondary camera has a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor. The P20 Pro is one of the first phones to include a third camera with an 8-megapixel sensor and 3x optical zoom at f/2.4. With software, the third camera can dial up to 5x hybrid zoom. The P20 Pro ships with 6 GB of RAM.
  • P20: The standard, smaller P20 has a 5.8-inch display with full HD+ resolution. It includes a 3,400mAh battery and is a bit thinner than the P20 Pro. The P20 has a rating of IP53, which means it provides minimal protection from water. The phone's main camera has a 12-megapixel sensor and lens at f/1.8, while its secondary camera has a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor and lens at f/1.6. It ships with 4 GB of RAM. The P20 doesn't have third camera nor the extraordinary zoom capability of the P20 Pro.
Huawei didn't say when the phones will ship, nor how much they will cost. It's unlikely Huawei will sell these phones in the U.S.


FCC Chair Would Bar Use of Universal Service Fund to Buy Equipment from Companies that Pose Security Risks

Mar 26, 2018, 10:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to prevent the government and companies from using the Universal Service Fund to buy equipment from companies that represent a security threat to the U.S. "Threats to national security posed by certain communications equipment providers are a matter of bipartisan concern. Hidden 'back doors' to our networks in routers, switches — and virtually any other type of telecommunications equipment — can provide an avenue for hostile governments to inject viruses, launch denial-of-service attacks, steal data, and more," said Pai. Pai didn't call out Huawei and ZTE specifically, but the measure is clearly aimed at preventing either Chinese company from making inroads in the U.S. market. Members of the government have been campaigning against the two companies for the last few months. Pressure from a collection of Congressmen nixed distribution deals between Huawei and carriers AT&T and Verizon Wireless. More recently, retailer Best Buy said it will stop celling Huawei phones. Pai has singled out Huawei as a threat in previous statements. "I'm proposing to prohibit the FCC's $8.5 billion Universal Service Fund from being used to purchase equipment or services from any company that poses a national security threat to the integrity of communications networks or their supply chains. The money in the Universal Service Fund comes from fees paid by the American people, and I believe that the FCC has the responsibility to ensure that this money is not spent on equipment or services that pose a threat to national security." The FCC will vote on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at its April 17 meeting.


FCC Chairman Pai Plans to 'Take Proactive Steps' to Protect US Telecom Supply Chain

Mar 23, 2018, 11:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today said will take action to ensure the U.S. telecommunications supply chain is protected from potential threats. Pai made the comments in a response to members of Congress who expressed concern about AT&T and Verizon's plans to sell Huawei handsets in the U.S. On December 20, 2017, Senators Tom Cotton, Angus King, John Coryn, Susan Collins, Roy Blunt, Jim Risch, Richard Burr, Marco Rubio, and James Lankford, and Representatives Frank LoBiondo, Brad Wenstrup, Elise Stefanik, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Michael Conaway, Michael Turner, Chris Stewart, Rick Crawford, and Peter King all signed a letter imploring Pai to examine the relationship between Huawei, AT&T, and Verizon. The main matter of concern in the letter from Congressional members to the FCC was that government employees might eventually buy and use Huawei devices from U.S. carriers. Some members of the U.S. government have long claimed that Huawei equipment could be used by the Chinese government to spy on Americans. Pressure on AT&T and Verizon put that matter to rest. Shortly after these members of Congress sent the letter to the FCC, AT&T and Verizon Wireless dropped plans to sell Huawei handsets. Earlier this week, Huawei's retail partner Best Buy said it will cease selling Huawei devices in the U.S. Telecom companies in the U.S. are not allowed to buy networking equipment form Huawei. Even so, Pai alluded to taking more action. In his response he said, "I intend to take proactive steps to help ensure the integrity of the communications supply chain in the United States in the near future." Pai did not specify what those steps might be, though Huawei and ZTE continue to be targets of government scrutiny. The FCC did not immediately return a request for comment on the nature of Pai's intended actions.


Best Buy to Stop Selling Huawei Phones

Mar 22, 2018, 7:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Best Buy is expected to drop products made by Huawei over the next few weeks, reports CNET. Citing a source familiar with Best Buy's plan, CNET says the company will sell through the stock of devices such as Huawei's smartphones that are already in its stores, but the electronics retailer will not replenish supplies of Huawei phones. Huawei has faced scrutiny from some in Washington over its ties to the Chinese government. Some believe the Chinese government could use Huawei handsets for espionage purposes. Earlier this year, government pressure led AT&T and Verizon Wireless to cancel plans to sell the Mate 10 Pro from Huawei, the company's flagship smartphone. The Mate 10 Pro is available to Americans online from retailers such as B&H Photo and Amazon. Huawei has been banned from selling telecommunications gear in the U.S. for some time. Neither Best Buy nor Huawei commented directly on the matter concerning smartphone sales.


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