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Nokia Phone Maker HMD Global Secures $230 Million Investment From Google, Others

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By Reuters | Updated: 12 August 2020

HMD Global, the maker of Nokia-branded smartphones, has secured $230 million (roughly Rs. 1,719 crores) of investment from partners including Google, Qualcomm, and Nokia Technologies, to help accelerate its development of 5G devices.

Chief Executive Florian Seiche said the success of the funding round – the largest since the Finland-based company was founded in late-2016 – validated its strategy of working closely with partners in software and hardware.

“This significant investment with some of closest strategic partners really allows us to accelerate our journey going forward,” he said in an interview.

He did not disclose the individual amounts, but said the investments from the three were “each very sizeable parts of the total”.

HMD’s smartphones run Google’s Android One software, an unadulterated version of the operating system (OS) that promises three years of security updates and two years of OS updates.

“Google is delivering a similar experience on its own Pixel range, and we are a perfect complement to their own initiatives,” Seiche said. “They’re focused on fewer selected geographies and channels; we are much broader and also present in emerging markets.”

HMD’s first 5G device – the Nokia 8.3 5G – goes on sale next month, and Seiche said the investment would accelerate HMD’s development of 5G handsets at lower prices.

“We believe the second half of this year will see a broader set of 5G phones in the market, and we believe the true mid-tier range will probably be in the first half of next year,” he said.

HMD would also continue to invest in low-priced feature phones, he said, and deepen its relationships with carriers in markets in Africa, India, and Brazil.

Seiche said COVID-19 had impacted sales, but demand had “come back quite strongly” in May and June, and the company had returned to profitability in June.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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LG Wing Dual-Display Phone With ‘Swivel Mode’, Gimbal Camera Launched: Specifications

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Meet the new LG Wing, a smartphone with a swiveling display, and a gimbal camera. It is the South Korean brand’s unique take on the dual-screen smartphone. The device is a part of the company’s ‘Explorer Project’ that is aimed to deliver ‘distinctive and yet unexplored usability experiences’. The smartphone comes with two distinct displays – one of which is a swivel screen that rotates clockwise in 90 degrees to enable new use cases.

The LG Wing features a hinge mechanism that uses a thermoplastic polyoxymethylene at the back of the main screen to facilitate smoother swivelling and to prevent scratches on the second screen, the company claims. For selfies, the LG Wing comes with a pop-up selfie camera.

The phone maker says the new design allows for a variety of uses, but the truth is the Wing is ugly and bulky. The handset measures 169.5 x 74.5 x 10.9mm, and that 10.9mm thickness is quite something in the industry. It weighs 260g, which LG says it isn’t any heavier than many of today’s large-display smartphones. The Note 20 Ultra weighs 208g. The iPhone 11 Pro Max is heavier at 226g. When it comes to foldables, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is heavier at 282g, and the Surface Duo is lighter at 250g.

The Wing may be an exploratory device, but it’s certainly not a flagship phone that can rival the Galaxy Note 20, the Galaxy S20 series, or the OnePlus One 8 Pro. And forget about the iPhone. The handset features a 6.8-inch P-OLED Full Vision display with 2460 x 1080 resolution and an in-screen fingerprint sensor, and a secondary 3.8-inch G-OLED screen with 1240 x 1048 resolution. The Snapdragon 765G (with 5G support) powers the handset, together with 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage. The handset features a 4,000 mAh battery with Quick Charge 4.0 and wireless charging support, Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 5.1, and USB-C connectivity.

LG Wing: Specifications

SpecificationLG Wing 5G
Dimensions & Weight169.5 x 74.5 x 10.9 mm 260g
DisplayMain Display: 6.8″ FHD+ P-OLED FullVision display 20.5:9 aspect ratio 2,460 x 1,080 resolution Second Display: 3.9″ G-OLED display 1.15:1 aspect ratio 1,240 x 1,080 resolution
SoCQualcomm Snapdragon 765G: 1x Kryo 475 (ARM Cortex-A76-based) Prime core @ 2.4GHz 1x Kryo 475 (ARM Cortex-A76-based) Performance core @ 2.2GHz 6x (ARM Cortex-A55-based) Efficiency cores @ 1.8GHz 7nm EUV process Adreno 620
RAM & Storage8GB + 256GB Expandable via microSD card slot
Battery & Charging4000 mah Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0+ Wireless Charging
Fingerprint sensorIn-Display Fingerprint Sensor
Rear CameraPrimary: 64MP, f/1.8 Secondary: 13MP, ultra-wide-angle, f/1.9, 117° FoV, 1.0µm pixels Tertiary: 12MP, ultra-wide, big pixel, f/2.2, 120° FoV, 1.0µm pixels, gimbal motion camera
Front Camera32MP, f/1.9, pop-up camera
Other FeaturesWi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ca Bluetooth 5.1 NFC USB 3.1 Type-C
Android VersionLG UX based on Android 10

The new form factor brings Basic Mode and Swivel Mode as the two options to bring a differentiated user experience. In the Swivel Mode, the company says that the entire front of the phone rotates clockwise in 90 degrees and orients the main screen in landscape mode. This brings a wide-screen experience and allows users to interact with the second screen even while watching videos on the main screen.

LG has partnered with platforms including YouTube and Tubi to enable the Wing smartphone to play videos on the main screen while offering comments or the search bar on the second screen. The second screen can also work as a media controller while playing videos on the main screen.

The pre-installed Naver Whale browser is also optimised for the new form factor. Further, LG has tied up with platforms such as Rave and Ficto to utilise the second screen for displaying content while playing videos full screen on the main screen.

Aside from the new video playback experiences, the LG Wing comes with a Multi App feature that lets users create shortcuts for pairs of apps that they want to use simultaneously on both main and second screens. The smartphone also comes with a Grip Lock that once enabled, makes the second screen as a grip and brings information such as time and date, without responding to any accidental touches.

When it comes to durability, LG says it has taken plenty of measures to protect the integrity of the phone. An accelerometer will tell whether the phone falls while the selfie camera is open to retract the camera. The hinge features a Hydraulic Damper to reduce stress on the mechanism. Thermoplastic polyoxymethylene is applied to the back of the main screen to prevent scratches on the secondary display and facilitate swiveling. The hinge, meanwhile, is reliable even after 200,000 swivels.

Pricing and Availability

The LG Wing will be available in Aurora Gray and Illusion Sky colors. It will be available in the USA through Verizon at first, followed bt AT&T and T-Mobile a little later. Exact pricing and availability have not been revealed, so we expect to hear more about it soon.

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Nvidia to Buy Chipmaker Arm From SoftBank in $40 Billion Deal

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By Reuters | Updated: 14 September 2020

SoftBank Group said on Monday it has agreed to sell chip designer Arm to Nvidia for as much as $40 billion (roughly Rs. 2,93,572 crores) in a deal set to reshape the semiconductor landscape. The deal puts a vital supplier to Apple and others across the industry under the control of a single player and will face potential pushback from regulators and Nvidia rivals.

Nvidia will pay SoftBank $21.5 billion in shares and $12 billion in cash, including $2 billion on signing. The deal will see SoftBank and the $100 billion (roughly Rs. 7,33,930 crores) Vision Fund, which has a 25 percent stake in Arm, take a stake in Nvidia of between 6.7 percent and 8.1 percent.

SoftBank could also be paid an additional $5 billion (roughly Rs. 36,696 crores) in cash or shares depending on the chip designer’s business performance, with Arm employees to be paid $1.5 billion (roughly Rs. 11,008 crores) in Nvidia shares.

The sale marks an early exit for SoftBank, four years after the $32 billion acquisition of the British chip technology firm. Chief Executive Masayoshi Son has lionised the potential of Arm but is slashing his stakes in major assets to raise cash.

SoftBank executives, frustrated at the group’s share performance, have held early stage talks about taking the Japanese technology group private, a source told Reuters. Those talks could gain momentum following the Arm sale.

The deal is subject to regulatory approvals including in Britain, the United States and China and is expected to close in March 2022.

With potential pushback looming, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang emphasised he will retain Arm’s neutral licensing model and expand it by licensing out Nvidia intellectual property for the first time.

Nvidia said it will licence its flagship graphical processor unit through Arm’s network of silicon partners. It will build chips for devices like self-driving cars but also make its technology available for others.

The companies did not discuss the deal with the British government until shortly before the announcement because the talks were secret, Huang said. A new artificial intelligence research center will be built at Arm’s Cambridge headquarters.

“Cambridge is going to be a site of growth,” Huang said.

China scrutiny


Arm will not become subject to US export controls under the deal, Huang said. The purchase is likely to come under close scrutiny in China, where thousands of companies from Huawei to small startups use Arm technology.

Nvidia will take control of the minority stake in joint venture Arm China. Arm is in dispute with the venture, which licenses chip architecture to local companies, over its management.

Nvidia began as a graphics chip designer and has expanded into products for areas including artificial intelligence and data centers.

The Arm acquisition will put Nvidia into even more intense competition with rivals in the data center chip market such as Intel and Advanced Micro Devices because Arm has been developing technology to compete with their chips.

In what would amount to a direct challenge to those rivals, Huang said it is “possible” Nvidia will build its own server chips based on Arm designs.

Nvidia is buying up technologies in parts of the booming data centre business where it does not currently play.

In April it completed the purchase of Israel-based Mellanox, which makes high-speed networking technology that is used in data centers and supercomputers.

Arm does not make chips but instead has created an instruction set architecture – the most fundamental intellectual property that underpins computing chips – on which it bases designs for computing cores.

Arm licenses its chip designs and technology to companies like Qualcomm, Apple, and Samsung Electronics, which in turn use the technology in their chips for smartphones and other devices.

Apple’s forthcoming Mac computers will use Arm-based chips.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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Huawei’s Chip Supply and Growth Affected by US Sanctions, Richard Yu Says

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By Associated Press | Updated: 10 September

A Huawei executive says that recent US sanctions against the company have caused a shortage of computer chips for the company, hurting the growth of its smartphone business.

Richard Yu, president of Huawei’s consumer business, said at a company conference for developers on Thursday that the company has still managed to gain a 51 percent market share in the Chinese smartphone industry.

The US has imposed various sanctions on Huawei, citing national security concerns. The latest, ordered in August, restrict foreign semiconductor companies from selling chips to Huawei that are produced using American technology.

“Even after this third blow, we still managed to achieve growth,” said Yu, who acknowledged that growth had been impacted over the last month.

In May, the US barred chipmakers that use US technology and software to design chips from selling to the Shenzhen-based company without a license.

A year earlier, the US government put the company on its trade blacklist, banning Huawei from doing business with US companies after the Trump administration said Huawei was a national security threat.

The US alleges that Huawei could conduct intelligence for the Chinese government and has urged its allies to exclude Huawei from its telecommunications networks. Huawei has vehemently denied these accusations.

This trade blacklist cut Huawei off from suppliers such as Google, which had supplied Huawei smartphones with the Android operating system and Google Mobile Services, such as Gmail and YouTube. Huawei then developed its own Huawei Mobile Services, including an app store, that it has rolled out for newer smartphone models.

Despite the troubles with Washington, in 2019 Huawei shipped over 240 million phones globally, and was the second biggest smartphone maker in the world. In the first half of 2020, the company generated revenues of CNY 434 billion (roughly Rs. 466,104 crores), up 13.1 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Yu said the company plans to make its proprietary operating system HarmonyOS available to devices including its smartphones, some of which still operate on the Android system. Earlier, the company had said HarmonyOS was meant for devices such as smartwatches and TVs, among others.

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Huawei Says Will Launch Harmony OS on Smartphones Next Year

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By Reuters | Updated: 10 September 2020

Huawei plans to introduce its Harmony operating system, seen as the company’s best bet, to replace Google’s Android mobile operating system, on to smartphones next year, the head of its consumer business group said on Thursday.

Richard Yu made the comments at the company’s annual developers conference in the southern Chinese city of Dongguan.

He also said the company plans to open to developers a beta version of the system for smartphones in December.

Huawei’s addition to the US entity list in May last year barred Google from providing technical support for new Huawei phone models using Android, and from Google Mobile Services (GMS), the bundle of developer services upon which most Android apps are based.

In August, the US expanded earlier restrictions aimed at preventing Huawei from obtaining semiconductors without a special license, including chips made by foreign firms that have been developed or produced with US software or technology.

Analysts said the restrictions threaten Huawei’s crown as the world’s largest smartphone maker, and that its smartphone business would disappear entirely if it could not source chipsets.

With US-China relations at their worst in decades, Washington is pushing governments around to world to squeeze out Huawei, arguing it would hand over data to the Chinese government for spying. Huawei denies it spies for China.

A key challenge for Huawei is to show that its proprietary AppGallery and Huawei Mobile Services can integrate local apps from different countries and regions, said Tarun Pathak, an industry analyst with Counterpoint.

“The lack of Google services seriously impacts these devices’ appeal against competitors running a full commercial version of Android,” he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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Huawei to Share Progress of Google Android OS Rival Harmony Amid US Tensions

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By Reuters | Updated: 9 September 2020

Huawei Technologies is expected to respond on Thursday to the latest salvo of US technology restrictions against it and share its progress on developing a system that is seen as its best bet to replace Google’s Android mobile operating system.

Richard Yu, the head of Huawei’s consumer business group, will deliver a keynote speech at its annual developers conference in Dongguan, in what is expected to mark the company’s first official response to the Trump administration’s efforts to bar its access to chips.

In August the US expanded earlier restrictions aimed at preventing Huawei from obtaining semiconductors without a special license – including chips made by foreign firms that have been developed or produced with US software or technology.

Huawei Technologies is expected to respond on Thursday to the latest salvo of US technology restrictions against it and share its progress on developing a system that is seen as its best bet to replace Google’s Android mobile operating system.

Richard Yu, the head of Huawei’s consumer business group, will deliver a keynote speech at its annual developers conference in Dongguan, in what is expected to mark the company’s first official response to the Trump administration’s efforts to bar its access to chips.

In August the US expanded earlier restrictions aimed at preventing Huawei from obtaining semiconductors without a special license – including chips made by foreign firms that have been developed or produced with US software or technology.

“We will introduce the community to a range of new technology developments, including HMS Core 5.0 and EMUI 11, and provide opportunities to discuss directly and openly with our engineers and management these new technologies and market opportunities,” a Huawei spokesman said, noting that it has 1.6 million developers onboard worldwide.

Huawei’s addition to the US entity list in May last year barred Google from providing technical support for new Huawei phone models using Android, and from Google Mobile Services (GMS), the bundle of developer services upon which most Android apps are based.

The company is likely to focus on Harmony OS’s application in devices like wearables and smartscreens, rather than in the smartphone business that is being heavily affected by the US action, said Will Wong, an analyst with consultancy IDC.

It will not want to present Harmony OS as a genuine Google alternative ahead of the U.S. election in November, in the hope that it might regain access to Google after that, he said.

A key challenge for Huawei is to show that its proprietary AppGallery and Huawei Mobile Services can integrate local apps from different countries and regions, said Tarun Pathak, an industry analyst with Counterpoint.

“The lack of Google services seriously impacts these devices’ appeal against competitors running a full commercial version of Android,” he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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Samsung, LG to Stop Supplying Smartphone Display Panels to Huawei Due to US Restrictions: Report

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By Reuters | Updated: 9 September 2020

Samsung Electronics’ display unit and LG Display are expected to stop supplying panels for premium smartphones to Huawei Technologies due to U.S. restrictions, South Korean online media Chosun Biz reported on Wednesday.

Samsung Display, which counts Samsung Electronics and Apple as major customers for OLED display screens, declined comment.

LG Display said in a statement the U.S. move will have a minimal impact on the company given its limited panel shipments to Huawei, adding it will continue to diversify its customer base.

The US further tightened restrictions on Huawei in August, banning suppliers from selling chips made using US technology to the Chinese telecom giant without a special license.

Samsung Display and LG Display decided to stop the supply to Huawei from when the restrictions take effect on Sept. 15, as the ban includes chips needed to operate displays, and orders from Huawei do not take up a large portion of their business compared to customers like Apple, Chosun Biz reported, citing industry sources.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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