Smartphone sales chilling like a fridge
According to the UK company CCS Insight, the smartphone trade is beginning to resemble the market for white goods. Instead of jumping on the newest model, many are now waiting until their device is broken or showing signs of age before they trade up. Not that long ago people upgraded every two years or so, this has extended to as much as five or six years for about a third of the market with the new average at around four years. Some manufacturers only provide support for three years of upgrades but Apple and Samsung are now committed to a longer support cycle.
- As pointed out a few years ago, the smartphone market has become quite saturated with products and the purchasing has now moved to a more online approach. You'll still see queues outside the Apple store with a new release but for the new Samsung buyers that is not the case and the pandemic has exacerbated this trend. Phone stores are now used more for payments, repairs and other queries rather than as the first place to buy a new phone. Trade-ins and second-hand units still attract people to a store because they want to see and handle it first but this is also declining.
- The new range of Samsung S21 phones is out and the Plus model I saw looked very nice. The OLED screen was excellent, the camera results were superb and the 10x zoom was very handy. I saw pictures taken in panorama mode that were seamless and others with filters that made them pop. I can honestly see no reason for the point and shoot kind of camera in the modern age.
- On the subject of phones, Honor, the smartphone spin-off, from Huawei, has released their first model as a separate company. The 17,990 baht View40 model is a sub-flagship device aimed at the Chinese market. Honor has been around as part of Huawei since 2018 but this model uses the MediaTek Dimensity 1000+ platform instead of the usual Huawei HiSilicon Kirin chips. This is to avoid the US sanctions that will probably be removed anyway under the new Chinese friendly administration. The new CPU is a 7nm based chip with eight cores split between two clock speeds. 8GB of DDR4 memory and 256GB of storage makes this no lightweight in the memory space. A 4,000mAh battery with 60W fast charge powers up in 35 minutes and it also has 50W wireless support.
- A 6.72-inch screen curves across the unit with 120Hz refresh and a 300Hz touch response. The selfie camera is 16MP with a three-camera module on the back, 16MP wide angle, 50MP primary and a 2MP macro sensor. No telephoto. The Honor uses Android 10 because it can and Huawei is still in the early stages of their own operating system. No Google Apps are included in the new Chinese model. With no obvious direct ties to Huawei, Honor has signed deals with AMD, Intel, Micron, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony and others. It will be interesting to see if they now move up to a flagship range.
- In case you've been wondering, hackers have been just as busy as usual and the ways they can break in are still just as available, with some being very old. A quick summary over the past week. A 10-year-old bug was discovered in the Sudo Linux fork that allows a logged in user to gain admin privileges. Apple has released a patch for iPhones and iPads that was possibly used by hackers to snoop on people from a distance. The founder of Hyperion Gray Alejandro Caceres was targeted by a state-backed North Korean group looking for Western research and specifically going after White Hats hunting for vulnerabilities in software. These hackers are looking for any zero-day vulnerabilities that may be uncovered before they are patched. They do this by digitally looking over the shoulders of those trying to track these system holes down so they can be fixed. Today's breaking-in story is brought to you by hackers who grabbed credit application information from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. The extent of data compromised is yet to be determined or at least announced at the time of writing.
- Drones can be dangerous. A helicopter pilot in Chile crashed into a drone causing some damage to the craft and injury to a passenger. There was a similar incident in the US last year in Hollywood as someone decided they'd use their drone to check out the noise of sirens. I suspect that these kinds of incidents will increase as drones become more popular.
- Have you ever wondered about the symbiotic relationship between large internet corporations and some types of governments? Remember that in general, corporations can't write regulations that suppress competition from rivals, but the government can step in and keep the marketplace under the control of a few cartels. And often, a government can't censor, deplatform, fire, bankrupt or bar its political opponents from speaking, flying or doing business. But the monopolies it's been partnering with can and do.
James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years' standing. You can contact him at email@example.com.