Android

OnePlus 5T Featuring 6-inch AMOLED Display, 3.5mm Headphone Jack Launched (wired.com) 52

Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus, which has been lauded by consumers for offering phones with top-of-the-line specs at a reasonably affordable price range, on Thursday at an event in New York announced its newest flagship smartphone. Called the OnePlus 5T, the handset sports a 6.01-inch AMOLED screen (screen resolution 1080 x 2160) manufactured by Samsung in a body that is roughly of the same size as the 5.5-inch display-clad predecessor OnePlus 5. The secret sauce is, much like Samsung, LG and Apple, OnePlus has moved to a near bezel-less design. The company is not getting rid of the fingerprint scanner though, which it has pushed to the back side. The front-facing camera, additionally, OnePlus says, can be used to unlock the device. Other features include a 3,300mAh battery with the company's proprietary Dash Charge fast-charging tech (no wireless charging support -- the company says at present wireless charging doesn't really add much value to the device), top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with Adreno 540, 6GB of RAM with 64GB of storage (there is another variant of the phone which offers 8GB of RAM with 128GB of space). As for camera, we are looking at a dual 16-megapixel and 20-megapixel setup in the back. One more thing: the phone has a headphone jack and it runs Android 7.1 out of the box. The OnePlus 5T will go on sale in Europe, India, and the United States starting November 21st, with the base model priced at Euro 499, INR 32,999, and $499, respectively. The high-end variant is priced at Euro 559, INR 37,999, and $559. Wired has more details.
Iphone

Apple Could Launch Two New Full-Screen iPhones Next Year (theverge.com) 117

Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects to see two new full-screen iPhones next year: one will have a 6.5-inch OLED display, essentially making it a Plus version of the iPhone X; and the other will have a 6.1-inch LCD display, likely making it more like a full-screen version of the current Plus-sized iPhone. Both are said to have the notch. The Verge reports: In his research note, which was reported by MacRumors, Kuo writes that Apple is hoping to "satisfy various needs of the high-end market" by expanding its full-screen product line. At the high end will be the 6.5-inch OLED iPhone; beneath that will be an updated version of the 5.8-inch OLED iPhone X; and finally, the 6.1-inch LCD iPhone will sit below both them. Kuo predicts that the 6.1-inch phone will be priced somewhere between $649 to $749 and be set apart by having a less-dense screen resolution, offering a worse picture. If Apple does introduce a 6.1-inch LCD iPhone, $749 certainly seems too cheap for it to sell at -- the iPhone 8 starts at $699 as it is, and the 8 Plus starts at $799. The 6.1-inch phone sounds like a step up from the existing Plus model, so it would make more sense to sell it for, say, $899, right between a refreshed version of the Plus and a refreshed version of the X.
Cellphones

Razer Unveils Gaming Smartphone With 120Hz UltraMotion Display, 8GB RAM and No Headphone Jack (cnet.com) 168

Computer hardware company Razer has unveiled its first smartphone. While the design doesn't appear to be up to par with the competition, it does pack some impressive specifications under the hood. The Razer Phone features a 5.7-inch, 2,560x1,440-resolution display, Snapdragon 835 chipset with 8GB of RAM, 12-megapixel dual camera with a wide-angle lens and 2x optical zoom, 4,000mAh battery, dual front-facing stereo speakers, and Android 7.1.1 Nougat running out of the box. While there is a microSD card slot for expandable storage, there is no headphone jack, no waterproofing, and no wireless charging. The device also won't support CDMA carriers like Verizon or Sprint. CNET reports: [W]here most new flagship phones are shiny rounded rectangles with curved screens, the Razer Phone is unabashedly a big black brick. It flaunts sharp 90-degree corners instead of curved edges. You can even stand the phone on end. The 5.7-inch, 2,560x1,440-resolution screen is flat as a pancake, and you'll find giant bezels above and below that screen, too -- just when we thought bezels were going out of style. When the Razer Phone ships Nov. 17 for $699 or £699 -- no plans for Australia at launch -- the company says it'll be the first phone with a display that refreshes 120 times per second, like a high-end PC gaming monitor or Apple's iPad Pro. And combined with a dynamic refresh technique Razer's calling Ultramotion (think Nvidia G-Sync), it can mean beautiful, butter-smooth scrolling down websites and apps, and glossy mobile gameplay.
Android

Google Addresses Pixel 2 XL Display Issues, Pixel 2 Clicking Sounds With Software Updates (phonedog.com) 103

An anonymous reader quotes a report from PhoneDog: Google explains that it's been investigating reports about the Pixel 2 XL's display and that this has given it "confidence that [its] displays are as great as [it] hoped they would be". Still, Google will be taking steps to respond to consumer complaints about the screen. Google plans to issue a software update that'll add a "saturated" color mode that will make the colors more saturated and vibrant, but less accurate. This way, consumers that feel the Pixel 2 XL's screen is too muted can punch up the color saturation themselves.

When it comes to burn-in, Google says that its investigations of the Pixel 2 XL's display found that its "decay characteristics are comparable to OLED panels used in other premium smartphones." Google does plan to take further steps to fight burn-in, though, and it's testing an update that'll add a new fade-out of the navigation bar buttons after a short period of inactivity. Google is also working with more apps to use a light navigation bar to match the app's color scheme. Additionally, the update will reduce the maximum brightness of the Pixel 2 XL's screen by 50 nits, which Google says will be "virtually imperceptible". This will reduce load on the display with very little change on its observed brightness. This update will roll out to the Pixel 2 XL "in the next few weeks." Google also touched on the reports that some Pixel 2 phones are emitting some clicking sounds. The company plans to release an update in the coming weeks to address the issue, but until then, it says that Pixel 2 owners can turn off NFC by going into Settings > Connected Devices > NFC.

Google

Google Might Need To Recall the Pixel 2 XL Because of Defective Screens (mashable.com) 71

An anonymous reader shares a report: You might want to hold off on buying a Pixel 2 XL until Google addresses its screen issues. Now that Google's new flagship Android phone is officially out and in people's hands, reports have come out that call into question the quality of its display. Pixel 2 XL owners took to social media to voice their complaints about discoloration and screen burn-in. The first issue Pixel 2 XL owners started noticing was the screen's inconsistent color temperature, most noticeable when viewing anything with a white background. From a dead-on vantage point, the screen has a warm color temperature. But shift your position off-angle just a bit, and you'll notice the color temperature changes to a bluish tint. Mashable has confirmed the color shifting on our Pixel 2 XL review unit. While there are some real advantages to OLED displays over traditional LCDs -- they're thinner, more power efficient, brighter, and display more vibrant colors and deeper blacks -- they're also prone to defects like screen burn-in. Even Samsung, the world's largest manufacturer of OLED displays, hasn't figured out how to perfect them. The Super AMOLED displays used in its Galaxy S8 and Note 8 phones are rated as the brightest screens for mobile devices by DisplayMate's Dr. Raymond Soneira, but they're still susceptible to burn-in. To prevent burn-in from the screen's virtual home button, Samsung's programmed it to move by a few pixels every few seconds. It's not a perfect solution, but it does the trick.
Android

Android Oreo Helps Google's Pixel 2 Smartphones Outperform Other Android Flagships (hothardware.com) 91

MojoKid highlights Hot Hardware's review of Google's new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones: Google officially launched it's Pixel 2 phones today, taking the wraps off third-party reviews. Designed by Google but manufactured by HTC (Pixel 2) and LG (Pixel 2 XL), the two new handsets also boast Google's latest Android 8.0 operating system, aka Oreo, an exclusive to Google Pixel and certain Nexus devices currently. And in some ways, this is also a big advantage. Though they are based on the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor as many other Android devices, Google's new Pixel 2s manage to outpace similarly configured smartphones in certain benchmarks by significant margins (Basemark, PCMark and 3DMark). They also boot dramatically faster than any other Android handset on the market, in as little as 10 seconds. Camera performance is also excellent, with both the 5-inch Pixel 2 and 6-inch Pixel 2 XL sporting identical electronics, save for their displays and chassis sizes. Another notable feature built into Android Oreo is Google Now Playing, an always-listening, Shazam-like service (if you enable it) that displays song titles on the lock screen if it picks up on music playing in the room you're in. Processing is done right on the Pixel 2 and it doesn't need network connectivity. Another Pixel 2 Oreo-based trick is Google Lens, a machine vision system that Google notes "can recognize places like landmarks and buildings, artwork that you'd find in a museum, media covers such as books, movies, music albums, and video games..." The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are available now on Verizon or unlocked via the Google Store starting at $649 and $849 respectively for 64GB storage versions, with a $100 up-charge for 128GB variants.
IOS

Latest iOS Update Shows Apple Can Use Software To Break Phones Repaired By Independent Shops (vice.com) 128

The latest version of iOS fixes several bugs, including one that caused a loss of touch functionality on a small subset of phones that had been repaired with certain third-party screens and had been updated to iOS 11. "Addresses an issue where touch input was unresponsive on some iPhone 6S displays because they were not serviced with genuine Apple parts," the update reads. "Note: Non-genuine replacement displays may have compromised visual quality and may fail to work correctly. Apple-certified screen repairs are performed by trusted experts who use genuine Apple parts. See support.apple.com for more information." Jason Koebler writes via Motherboard: "This is a reminder that Apple seems to have the ability to push out software updates that can kill hardware and replacement parts it did not sell iPhone customers itself, and that it can fix those same issues remotely." From the report: So let's consider what actually happened here. iPhones that had been repaired and were in perfect working order suddenly stopped working after Apple updated its software. Apple was then able to fix the problem remotely. Apple then put out a warning blaming the parts that were used to do the repair. Poof -- phone doesn't work. Poof -- phone works again. In this case, not all phones that used third party parts were affected, and there's no reason to think that, in this case, Apple broke these particular phones on purpose. But there is currently nothing stopping the company from using software to control unauthorized repair: For instance, you cannot replace the home button on an iPhone 7 without Apple's proprietary "Horizon Machine" that re-syncs a new home button with the repaired phone. This software update is concerning because it not only undermines the reputation of independent repair among Apple customers, but because it shows that phones that don't use "genuine" parts could potentially one day be bricked remotely.
Iphone

'Dear Apple, The iPhone X and Face ID Are Orwellian and Creepy' (hackernoon.com) 441

Trent Lapinski from Hacker Noon writes an informal letter to Apple, asking "who the hell actually asked for Face ID?" and calling the iPhone X and new face-scanning security measure "Orwellian" and "creepy": For the company that famously used 1984 in its advertising to usher in a new era of personal computing, it is pretty ironic that 30+ years later they would announce technology that has the potential to eliminate global privacy. I've been waiting 10-years since the first iPhone was announced for a full-screen device that is both smaller in my hand but has a larger display and higher capacity battery. However, I do not want these features at the cost of my privacy, and the privacy of those around me. While the ease of use and user experience of Face ID is apparent, I am not questioning that, the privacy concerns are paramount in today's world of consistent security breaches. Given what we know from Wikileaks Vault7 and the CIA / NSA capabilities to hijack any iPhone, including any sensor on the phone, the very thought of handing any government a facial ID system for them to hack into is a gift the world may never be able to return. Face ID will have lasting privacy implications from 2017 moving forward, and I'm pretty sure I am not alone in not wanting to participate.

The fact of the matter is the iPhone X does not need Face ID, Apple could have easily put a Touch ID sensor on the back of the phone for authentication (who doesn't place their finger on the back of their phone?). I mean imagine how cool it would be to put your finger on the Apple logo on the back of your iPhone for Touch ID? It would have been a highly marketable product feature that is equally as effective as Face ID without the escalating Orwellian privacy implications. [...] For Face ID to work, the iPhone X actively has to scan faces looking for its owner when locked. This means anyone within a several foot range of an iPhone X will get their face scanned by other people's phones and that's just creepy.

Software

How Proprietary Software Lets Companies Cheat (locusmag.com) 228

"Proprietary software makes it possible to design products to cheat ordinary users..." writes Richard Stallman -- linking to a new essay by Cory Doctorow: Carriers adapted custom versions of Android to lock customers to their networks with shovelware apps that couldn't be removed from the home-screen and app store lock-in that forced customers to buy apps through their phone company. What began with printers and spread to phones is coming to everything: this kind of technology has proliferated to smart thermostats (no apps that let you turn your AC cooler when the power company dials it up a couple degrees), tractors (no buying your parts from third-party companies), cars (no taking your GM to an independent mechanic), and many categories besides.

All these forms of cheating treat the owner of the device as an enemy of the company that made or sold it, to be thwarted, tricked, or forced into conducting their affairs in the best interest of the company's shareholders. To do this, they run programs and processes that attempt to hide themselves and their nature from their owners, and proxies for their owners (like reviewers and researchers). Increasingly, cheating devices behave differently depending on who is looking at them. When they believe themselves to be under close scrutiny, their behavior reverts to a more respectable, less egregious standard. This is a shocking and ghastly turn of affairs, one that takes us back to the dark ages.

Iphone

Leaks Reveal New Features In Apple's Next iPhone 224

Though Apple officially unveils their newest iPhone on Tuesday, information is already leaking on the internet.
  • Mashable: "Physically, it's expected to be about the same size as an iPhone 7, but with an edge-to-edge OLED display that's bigger than what is currently on the iPhone 7 Plus. It won't have a home button or Touch ID, and will likely use some kind of facial recognition tech to unlock."
  • MacRumors cites a report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggesting facial recognition may just be one feature of a complex front camera with 3D sensing hardware, including a proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, and a structured light transmitter (using a surface-emitting laser) and receiver.
  • Fortune: "Apple's iPhone line is expected to catch up with Android phones in the area of wireless charging this year... just lay the phone down on a compatible charger mat or base or dock, and watch the battery fill up."
  • 9to5Mac: "We've found a brand new feature called 'Animoji', which uses the 3D face sensors to create custom 3D animated emoji based on the expressions you make into the camera. Users will be able to make Animoji of unicorns, robots, pigs, pile of poo and many more."
Iphone

iPhone 8's 3D Face Scanner Will Work In 'Millionths of a Second' (phonearena.com) 154

According to a report by the Korea Herald, Apple's upcoming iPhone 8 will ditch the fingerprint identification in favor of 3D face recognition, which will work "in the millionths of a second." PhoneArena reports: The Samsung Galaxy series were among the first mainstream devices to feature iris recognition, but the speed and accuracy of the current technology leave a lot to be desired, and maybe that is why current phones ship with an eye scanner AND a fingerprint reader. The iPhone 8, on the other hand, is expected to make a full dive into 3D scanning. Both Samsung and Apple are rumored to have tried to implement a fingerprint scanner under the display glass, but failed as the technology was not sufficiently advanced. The new iPhone will also introduce 3D sensors on both its front and back for Apple's new augmented reality (AR) platform. This latest report also reveals that Apple will not use curved edges for its iPhone 8 screen, but will instead use a flat AMOLED panel. The big benefit of using AMOLED for Apple thus is not the curve, but its thinner profile compared to an LCD screen.
Crime

Feds Crack Trump Protesters' Phones To Charge Them With Felony Rioting (thedailybeast.com) 465

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Daily Beast: Officials seized Trump protesters' cell phones, cracked their passwords, and are now attempting to use the contents to convict them of conspiracy to riot at the presidential inauguration. Prosecutors have indicted over 200 people on felony riot charges for protests in Washington, D.C. on January 20 that broke windows and damaged vehicles. Some defendants face up to 75 years in prison, despite little evidence against them. But a new court filing reveals that investigators have been able to crack into at least eight defendants' locked cell phones. Now prosecutors want to use the internet history, communications, and pictures they extracted from the phones as evidence against the defendants in court. [A] July 21 court document shows that investigators were successful in opening the locked phones. The July 21 filing moved to enter evidence from eight seized phones, six of which were "encrypted" and two of which were not encrypted. A Department of Justice representative confirmed that "encrypted" meant additional privacy settings beyond a lock screen. For the six encrypted phones, investigators were able to compile "a short data report which identifies the phone number associated with the cell phone and limited other information about the phone itself," the filing says. But investigators appear to have bypassed the lock on the two remaining phones to access the entirety of their contents.
Android

HTC Keyboard Ads Likely an Error, But Damage is Already Done (androidcentral.com) 142

An anonymous reader shares a report: Ads in the stock keyboard app on a flagship smartphone added quietly via an app update, which then asks you to pay to remove them. You'd be hard pressed to come up with a more comically villainous thing for a phone manufacturer, or app developer, to pull on its users. Yet that's what's been happening to some HTC phone owners over the past day. HTC 10 owners seem to be worst affected (we're not seeing it on the newer U11 for what it's worth), with the ad bar taking up a good chunk of screen real estate. There's understandable outrage among HTC owners whose phones have started coughing up ads every time they open the keyboard. The consensus, obviously, is that this is not an OK place for ads to be appearing. In a statement, HTC said it was an error, and a fix is underway.
Iphone

Steve Jobs Wanted the First iPhone To Have a Permanent Back Button Like Android (bgr.com) 208

anderzole shares a report from BGR: Brian Merchant's new book, The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone, provides a captivating and intriguing look at how the most revolutionary product of our time was designed and developed. Through a series of interviews with Apple engineers and designers who played an integral role in the iPhone's creation and development, Merchant maps out how the iPhone came to be after more than two years of non-stop work at breakneck speed. One of the more interesting revelations from the book is that the iPhone design Apple unveiled in January of 2007 might have looked vastly different if Steve Jobs had his way. According to Imran Chaudhri, a veteran Apple designer who spent 19 years working on Apple's elite Human Interface Team, Steve Jobs wanted the original iPhone to have a back button in addition to a home button. Believe it or not, the original iPhone could have very well looked like a modern-day Android device. "The touch-based phone, which was originally supposed to be nothing but screen, was going to need at least one button," Merchant writes. "We all know it well today -- the Home button. But Steve Jobs wanted it to have two; he felt they'd need a back button for navigation. Chaudhri argued that it was all about generating trust and predictability. One button that does the same thing every time you press it: it shows you your stuff. 'Again, that came down to a trust issue,' Chaudhri says, 'that people could trust the device to do what they wanted it to do. Part of the problem with other phones was the features were buried in menus, they were too complex.' A back button could complicate matters too, he told Jobs. 'I won that argument,' Chaudhri says."
Operating Systems

New Windows Look and Feel, Neon, Is Officially the 'Microsoft Fluent Design System' (arstechnica.com) 95

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Earlier this year, pictures of a new Windows look and feel leaked. Codenamed Project Neon, the new look builds on Microsoft Design Language 2 (MDL2), the styling currently used in Windows 10, to add elements of translucency and animation. Neon has now been officially announced, and it has an official new name: the Microsoft Fluent Design System. The switch from "design language" to "design system" is deliberate; Fluent is intended to define more than just the appearance, but also the interactivity. Though visually there are common elements, the system is designed to work across virtual/augmented reality, phones, tablets, desktop PCs, games consoles, using mice, keyboards, motion controllers, voice, gestures, touch, and pen, with the interactivity and input optimized to each particular form factor. Fluent is described as having five "fundamentals": light, depth, motion, material, and scale. "Light" means that the interface should avoid distracting and strive to ensure that attention is drawn to where it needs to be. With "depth," Fluent apps will make greater use of layering and the relationships between objects and interface elements. Fluent will use "motion" to indicate relationships and connections between elements, establishing context. Microsoft is using "Material" to mean making best use of the screen space and giving room to content. "Scale" means building interfaces that can go beyond two dimensions, and go beyond the size of a screen, to embrace new form factors and input methods as they arrive.
Iphone

Apple To Launch Three New iPhones This Year: Bloomberg (bloomberg.com) 96

Apple is reportedly building three new iPhones, though the one with the most new features might not launch until a couple of months after the others. According to a report on Bloomberg, Apple is testing three new phones that it plans to launch this fall, including two with the same screen sizes as the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The third iPhone, which may be named to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone's launch, is said to pack a new design with a stainless steel frame and curved glass. It's said to feature an embedded fingerprint reader and use OLED panels from Samsung and may have a screen that takes up most of the front of the smartphone's face. From the article: Apple also tested a more ambitious prototype with the same slightly curved front and steel frame, but a glass back with more dramatic curves on the top and bottom like the original iPhone design from 2007, one of the people said.
Cellphones

Children As Young As 13 Attending 'Smartphone Rehab' As Concerns Grow Over Screen Time (independent.co.uk) 152

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Independent: Children refusing to put down their phones is a common flashpoint in many homes, with a third of British children aged 12 to 15 admitting they do not have a good balance between screen time and other activities. But in the U.S., the problem has become so severe for some families that children as young as 13 are being treated for digital technology addiction. One "smartphone rehab" center near Seattle has started offering residential "intensive recovery programs" for teenagers who have trouble controlling their use of electronic devices. The Restart Life Center says parents have been asking it to offer courses of treatment to their children for more than eight years. Hilarie Cash, the Center's founder, told Sky News smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices can be so stimulating and entertaining that they "override all those natural instincts that children actually have for movement and exploration and social interaction."
Businesses

Some Hackathon Hustlers Make Their Living From Corporate Coding Contests (bloomberg.com) 38

Some coders go from one marathon hacking session to another, subsisting on prize money and schwag. From a feature article on Bloomberg: Peter Ma looked around his San Francisco condo and realized he'd won everything in it. His flat-screen TV, home theater system, 3D printers, phones, tablets, computers and furniture were either hackathon prizes or purchased with hackathon earnings. Stashed under his leather couch -- which he'd bought with an Amazon gift card -- was a thick stack of 2- and 3-foot-long cardboard checks commemorating his most cherished wins. "The only non-schwag I have are shoes," he said. With his gray hoodie and close-cropped goatee, 33-year-old Ma looks like any of the thousands of computer programmers roaming the city, but he's part of an elite corps. He and about a dozen friends travel the hackathon circuit. They build apps, connected devices and other products during all-night, fiercely competitive programming contests where sleep is scarce and caffeine is plentiful. The sessions are usually sponsored by corporations, and top prizes mean serious cash. Some of the hackers have jobs. Some do contracting work. Some have corporate sponsors. Almost all of them are working on a pet startup idea. For Ma and a few others, hackathons are a job. Ma knows he would make more money if he had a more traditional career. He just doesn't want one.
Security

Many Smartphone Owners Don't Take Steps To Secure Their Devices (pewresearch.org) 143

From Pew Research's new report: More than a quarter (28%) of smartphone owners say they do not use a screen lock or other security features to access their phone. And while a majority of smartphone users say they have updated their phone's apps or operating system, about 40% say they only update when it's convenient for them. Meanwhile, some users forgo updating their phones altogether: Around one-in-ten smartphone owners report they never update their phone's operating system (14%) or update the apps on their phone (10%).
Nintendo

Nintendo Switch Owners Complain About Dead Pixels, Nintendo Says They're 'Normal' (theguardian.com) 241

Nintendo says the dead or stuck pixels Switch owners are complaining about are "normal" and not defects. "New Switch players have taken to online discussion boards, including a 2,000-comment strong Reddit post, to complain of screen issues distracting play, unbecoming of a $300 handheld gaming machine," reports The Guardian. From the report: In a support document entitled "There are black or bright dots on the Nintendo Switch screen that do not go away, or there are dark or light patches on the screen," Nintendo said: "Small numbers of stuck or dead pixels are a characteristic of LCD screens. These are normal and should not be considered a defect." Customers wishing to swap their Switch consoles with defective screens will get no support from Nintendo. A similar issue happened with the Nintendo DS at launch in the U.S., but the Japanese gaming company eventually relented after complaints from buyers, begrudgingly offering replacements under warranty. Nintendo also warned users that using the Switch near an aquarium or within a meter of another wireless device, including laptops, wireless headsets, wireless printers, microwaves, cordless phones or even USB-3.0 compatible devices "such as hard drives, thumb drives, LAN adapters, etc," might cause the Joy-Con controllers to disconnect from the Switch.

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