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FCC Head Champions FM Radio for Smartphones
February 27, 2017
Ajit Pai, the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, last week issued a call for activation of the FM chips in smartphones. The vast majority of smartphones sold in the U.S. have FM chips, but they're activated in only about 44 percent of the top brands, Pai said. Although that's nearly twice the 25 percent figure of two years ago, it's not good enough, he suggested.
Mobile World Congress: Gigabit Wireless and the Anti-iPhone Set
February 27, 2017
One of the biggest disappointments at this year's Mobile World Congress is that the Samsung Galaxy 8 phone won't make it. The Galaxy line has been the ultimate iPhone fighter. Rumors around the anniversary edition of the iPhone suggest that it will do amazing, magical things, like 3D selfies. OK, I'm really missing Steve Jobs at the moment -- who the hell wants 3D selfies?!?
Was Apple's Outstanding Q1 a Fluke?
February 6, 2017
Apple had a good quarter, but if you look under the numbers there is a ton of trouble. It just dropped behind Google in brand value, and valuation may crater in a few months. The iPhone 7 did well, but that shouldn't be a surprise, given that its biggest competitor, Samsung, saw its phone literally go up in flames last quarter. The Galaxy 8 is coming, though, and it looks really impressive.
Apple Goes on Record-Breaking Spree
February 1, 2017
Apple stunned Wall Street with Q1 earnings that set new quarterly unit and revenue records in key product segments, and its highest-ever earnings per share. CEO Tim Cook said the company set all-time revenue and unit records for its iPhone and Apple Watch brands, all-time revenue records for its Mac and Services businesses, and all-time revenue records for four of its five geographic sectors.
Trump Clings to Personal Phone Despite Security Risks
January 27, 2017
President Donald J. Trump apparently has continued to use his personal Android smartphone despite security concerns. Trump was concerned about losing access to his personal phone even prior to taking his oath of office, according to a report citing unnamed aides who said he worried about how isolated he could become in the White House without his phone to keep in touch with friends.
Barra Leaves Post as Xiaomi's International Point Man
January 24, 2017
Almost four years after being poached from a critical post at Google to join Chinese upstart Xiaomi, Hugo Barra on Monday announced he will return to Silicon Valley in February. Barra, who led the Xiaomi's overseas expansion as vice president, international, explained the move largely as a desire to reconnect with his family and restore a sense of normalcy to his life.
Samsung Explains Note7 Failure, Promises to Do Better
January 23, 2017
Samsung has announced new quality assurance protocols to ensure that it won't have a repeat of the catastrophic issues that plagued its Galaxy Note7 handsets. The company last fall issued a universal recall after several of the devices caught fire or exploded. In one incident, an aircraft had to be evacuated after a Samsung Galaxy Note7 caught fire and produced thick smoke.
Samsung's Note7 Post Mortem Turns Up 2 Problems
January 21, 2017
Samsung is set to release the results of its Galaxy Note7 investigation on Monday, explaining the underlying causes of the problems that led to the phone's demise. The three independent quality control and supply chain analysis firms Samsung engaged to conduct the investigation concluded that the Note7 was affected by two separate issues. One was a battery issue; the other was the rush to market.
iPhone at 10: The Best Is Yet to Come?
January 10, 2017
It seems like yesterday -- not 10 years ago -- that Steve Jobs took the stage at MacWorld to debut Apple's latest new gadget: the iPhone. The iPhone was three devices in one, he declared. It was a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough Internet communications device. The iPhone went on to become a critical contributor to the company's success.
Looking Ahead to CES: This Will Be a Big One
January 2, 2017
CES week is here, and it's the one week of the year I look forward to looking back on. CES is a killer show -- not because you are up to your armpits in interesting new products, but because it is so spread out that it'll kill your legs as you hike all over the damn place. One year, I walked so much I actually ripped the soles off both shoes. This show is weird, in that it really comes too early.
Samsung May Unleash a Beast
December 21, 2016
Hot off the rumor mill on Wednesday is news of Beast Mode, a new feature Samsung may include in its upcoming Galaxy S8. Spotted in an EU trademark application, Beast Mode would apply to smartphones, mobile phones and application software for smartphones. The Galaxy S8 is expected to be the first smartphone built around Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor.
Apple AirPods Finally Good to Go
December 14, 2016
Apple has begun taking online orders for its wireless AirPods, and said it would start delivering the $159 earphones to customers, Apple Stores, resellers and carriers next week. At the iPhone 7 launch in September, Apple SVP Phil Schiller said the AirPods would be available in October. Missing the deadline for release of any hot product is bad news for a company.
Gadget Ogling: Rolling Records, Designing Lawns, and Placated Phones
December 13, 2016
RokBlok is a portable record player without a turntable. It's a block that dashes around the top of your records, and uses both its needle and built-in speaker to soundtrack your day. All you need to operate it are your records and a flat surface. If you'd like higher quality audio, you can connect it to your Bluetooth speaker or headphones. It's designed with protecting your records in mind.
SCOTUS Scuttles Apple's Big Samsung Award
December 7, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday spoiled Apple's hopes for a big payday, scotching the $399 million award in its successful patent infringement suit against Samsung. Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered the Court's decision, which turned on what lawmakers meant by the term "article of manufacture." The appeals court had ruled that it encompassed the entire phone. The Supremes disagreed.
iPhone Envy May Have Felled Galaxy Note7
December 6, 2016
Samsung's desire to match the iPhone 7 Plus led it to implement an aggressive design and manufacturing approach that led to problems with its Galaxy Note7 -- including some instances of the smartphones bursting into flames, Instrumental reported last week. Instrumental engineers tore down a Galaxy Note7, and found "tension between safety and pushing the boundaries," CEO Anna Shedletsky revealed.
iPhone 8 Dreaming in Full Swing
November 29, 2016
Apple's latest iPhone was barely out of the gate when rumors began percolating about the company's next new phone. Although the iPhone 7 garnered mostly tepid reviews, initial inventories sold out quickly, and the company had to scramble to meet demand. That demand may have peaked, though, which may be why chasers of the next big thing are looking down the road.
BlackBerry to Deliver One Last Keyboard Phone
November 14, 2016
BlackBerry has a new phone in the works, and it will have a physical keyboard, according to reports that surfaced last week. The company recently announced that it would exit the smartphone hardware market and transition to developing back-end mobile security software. However, BlackBerry CEO John Chen confirmed that one last device is in the pipeline.
Daydream Believers May Boost VR, Suggest Early Reviews
November 10, 2016
Reviews for Google's Daydream View VR headset began to appear on Thursday, and the consensus among those who were able to test the new US$79 device appears to be two thumbs up. Although it has limitations, Daydream could be a gateway to affordable virtual reality technology, they suggested. The headset needs to be paired with Google's new line of Pixel and Pixel XL phones.
Samsung's Next Galaxy Phone Could Have Siri-Like Smarts
November 9, 2016
Samsung Electronics this week revealed plans to unveil its flagship Galaxy S8 mobile phone with a new digital assistant powered by AI. The assistant will be based on technology gained with Samsung's recent acquisition of Viv Labs. The plans call for Samsung to incorporate the AI into its family of electronics and appliances, ranging from mobile devices to wearable technology and home devices.
Google's Pixel Wins a Place in the Sun
November 8, 2016
Google's Pixel smartphone, which made its debut last month, has gathered some high praise from reviewers. "The Google Pixel is now the best Android smartphone you can buy," wrote Joanna Stern. "The other leading contender was disqualified due to spontaneous combustion," she added, referring to Samsung's doomed Galaxy Note7, which was recalled for safety reasons.
Gadget Ogling: Mac's Back, Nintendo Returns, and Huawei Goes to the Edge
November 5, 2016
Apple has unveiled a redesigned MacBook Pro, giving the company's core laptop its first full refresh in a few years. The design has metal on all sides, along with a Force Touch trackpad double the size of previous versions. There's a customizable OLED touch strip above the keyboard that responds to gestures and taps, useful for fast access to emoji or secondary controls within an app.
Xiaomi Debuts Magical Mi Mix
October 27, 2016
Xiaomi on Tuesday fired another shot in the shrinking bezel wars, as it announced a smartphone with a front that's more than 90 percent display. The Mi Mix is a 6.4-inch phone that's stylishly crafted by French designer Philippe Starck. It sports a feature set that indicates Xiaomi wants to compete at the high end of the smartphone market. The Mi Mix has a screen-to-body ratio of 91.3 percent.
Samsung Bows Under Note7 Fallout
October 20, 2016
Three owners of Galaxy Note7 smartphones this week filed a complaint in a federal court in Newark, New Jersey, that could become a class action lawsuit against Samsung. "Plaintiffs and the Class have suffered injury in fact, incurred millions of dollars in fees, and have otherwise been harmed by Samsung's conduct," the complaint states. Samsung has recalled the phones and stopped producing them.
Gadget Ogling: Google Embraces a Hardware Future
October 12, 2016
The first smartphones Google has made by itself, Pixel and Pixel XL, are the first to bear Android 7.1 and the first to have the impressive Google Assistant built in. The Pixel has a 5-inch HD screen, while the Pixel XL offers a 5.5-inch QHD display. The phones have a quad-core processor and 4 GB of RAM. I like that the fingerprint sensor is on the back.
Samsung Down, Galaxy Note7 Out
October 11, 2016
Samsung shares fell sharply on Tuesday after the company confirmed reports that it had halted production of its flagship Galaxy Note7 smartphone, just launched this summer. The move came after several replacement phones reportedly smoldered or caught fire. Shares fell 8 percent in the Korean market. Samsung had been working with the U.S. CPSC on a voluntary recall and replacement program.
Samsung's Galaxy Note7 Assembly Lines Grind to Halt
October 10, 2016
Samsung has stopped production of its problematic Galaxy Note7 smartphones, according to multiple press reports Monday. The company had been offering replacements of the phone after issuing a recall due to defective batteries, but all four major carriers have stopped doing so, presumably because several of the replacements exhibited similar problems, including smoking and catching fire.
Google Resurrects Embrace, Extend, Extinguish
October 10, 2016
This almost sounds like a plot for a novel. Microsoft creates a successful strategy called "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish" and then promptly forgets it, resulting in a string of failures. Google, which up to now seemed happy to repeat Microsoft's mistakes, accidentally picks up a successful Microsoft practice and uses it against Apple -- likely taking out a number of its Android partners.
Galaxy Note7 Snaps, Crackles and Pops, Spurring Evacuation of Plane
October 6, 2016
Southwest Airlines on Wednesday evacuated a plane after a Samsung Galaxy Note7 began popping and issuing thick smoke. Samsung last month began replacing Galaxy Note7s globally, following reports of several of the devices catching fire or exploding. It blamed the problem on an "isolated" faulty battery cell issue. The latest incident reportedly involved a replacement phone.
Google Plasters Its Name on a New Hardware Collection
October 5, 2016
Google on Tuesday unveiled a new smartphone and home hub that squarely aim at products from market leaders Apple and Amazon. The company's new branded smartphone, called "Pixel," marks a departure from past efforts. Up to now, Google's Nexus phones were made by a variety of manufacturers that sold them under their brands. "Google is trying to position itself as a complete supplier," said ABI Research analyst Jeff Orr.
Report: Apple Shares Unencrypted iMessage Metadata With Cops
October 5, 2016
Apple last week faced renewed scrutiny for its data-sharing practices, following news that it retains iMessage metadata and shares it with law enforcement when presented with a court order. The company has insisted that it would not share data that would jeopardize the privacy and trust of its millions of customers. Metadata includes contacts, IP addresses, and dates and times of conversations.
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What do you think of Apple's new iPhones?
I plan to buy an iPhone X.
I plan to buy an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus.
With the X, the iPhone 8 models already seem inferior.
Any of the new iPhones is better than any other phone.
No phone is worth $1K to me.
I'd never buy an iPhone, regardless of price.