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Hot new phones offer choice at the top

Three powerful new name-brand phones mean anyone in the market for a mid-to-high-end smartphone is spoiled for choice, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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A few months ago, only two phone brands were on the lips of consumers in the market for a new high-end smartphone. It seemed a straight choice between Apple and its iPhone X or 8 Plus, and Samsung with its Note 8 and Galaxy S9+.

But the rivals refuse to be written off. Just in the past month, three powerful new contenders have arrived in South Africa. The Huawei P20 Pro, Sony Xperia XZ2 and Nokia 7 plus have all thrown their frames into the ring of high-end features, although not always at high-end prices.

This means that customers for features are spoiled for choice, and it comes down to comparison of features, along with issues like brand preference and design appeal.

Rather than look at each phone separately, let’s look at them feature by feature.

Connectivity

The Sony XZ2 uses LTE-A, the ultimate 4G standard, and claims a 1.2 Gigabit per second maximum speed. However, this is purely theoretical, as no mobile network in South Africa allows for anywhere close to that. The Nokia 7 plus is also an LTE-A phone, but claims “only” 300 Mbps, which is theoretically possible on a network like RAIN. The Huawei P20 Pro is the slow-coach of the three, with basic LTE, offering a “mere” 150 Mbps, the theoretical maximum offered by Telkom Mobile. Any of these speeds are, in reality, still blazing fast and will stream high-definition video without buffering.

Display

The Huawei P20 pro has the largest display and screen-to-body ratio at 6.1 inches and 82% respectively. The Nokia 7 plus is close, with a 6.0 inch display and 77.2% screen-to-body ratio. In comparison, the Sony XZ2 is positively small, with a 5.7 inch display and 76.1% screen-to-body ratio, due to large bezels around the screen, despite similar body dimensions. Because the phone is heavier despite a smaller display, this gives the impression of it being a lower-end phone than it really is.

In terms of display quality, the Huawei P20 Pro takes the lead with an infinite contrast ratio (usually the higher the ratio, the better) due to its AMOLED display. AMOLED currently produces the best colour replication available on the phone market. Both Nokia 7 plus and the Sony XZ2 use IPS LCD 16-million colour, and have roughly the same display quality.

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Password managers don’t protect you from hackers

Using a password manager to protect yourself online? Research reveals serious weaknesses…

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Top password manager products have fundamental flaws that expose the data they are designed to protect, rendering them no more secure than saving passwords in a text file, according to a new study by researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).

“100 percent of the products that ISE analyzed failed to provide the security to safeguard a user’s passwords as advertised,” says ISE CEO Stephen Bono. “Although password managers provide some utility for storing login/passwords and limit password reuse, these applications are a vulnerable target for the mass collection of this data through malicious hacking campaigns.”

In the new report titled “Under the Hood of Secrets Management,” ISE researchers revealed serious weaknesses with top password managers: 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass.  ISE examined the underlying functionality of these products on Windows 10 to understand how users’ secrets are stored even when the password manager is locked. More than 60 million individuals 93,000 businesses worldwide rely on password managers. Click here for a copy of the report.

Password managers are marketed as a solution to eliminate the security risks of storing passwords or secrets for applications and browsers in plain text documents. Having previously examined these and other password managers, ISE researchers expected an improved level of security standards preventing malicious credential extraction. Instead ISE found just the opposite. 

Click here to read the findings from the report.

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MWC: Next generation of inflight connectivity to be unveiled

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Next week at Mobile World Congress, the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal progress on its mission towards enabling the next generation of inflight connectivity. This follows a significant start for the Alliance, which has seen membership increase five-fold since the first meeting in June of last year. The Alliance has a new research laboratory setup and continues progress through its three working groups, writing specifications for the technology, requirements, and operations.

These developments represent a huge leap towards the goal of making connectivity as easy and enjoyable in the skies as it is on the ground. Appearing as part of the Airbus stand (Hall 6, stand 6G34), the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal specification topics that have been completed and published to its membership.

“The passenger experience with inflight connectivity remains one of the great technology challenges. From Day One we have been determined to deliver on our mission to bring industries and technologies together to make the inflight internet experience simple to access and a delight to use,” said the Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer, Jack Mandala.

“I have been tremendously encouraged by the enthusiastic and committed response we have seen and the widening areas of expertise we can call upon as more and more companies and organisations continue to join us,” he added.

Announced during MWC 2018, the Seamless Air Alliance has since grown to twenty-three membercompanies with more than one-hundred key personnel from across the membership participating in its three working groups, with numbers continuing to increase.

The Seamless Air Alliance was created by founding members Airbus, Airtel, Delta Air Lines, OneWeb and Sprint, and quickly joined by Air France KLM, Aeromexico, and GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes and global technology leaders including Astronics, Collins Aerospace, Comtech, Cyient, iDirect, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Latecoere, Nokia, and Panasonic. 

Today, the Alliance is pleased to announce five additional new members: Adaptive Channel, Etihad Airways, GlobalReach Technology, Safran, and SITAONAIR.

“We are extremely pleased to have these companies join and be a part of the companies driving the next generation of connectivity.” said Mr Mandala.

The Seamless Air Alliance will enable travelers boarding any flight, on any airline, anywhere in the world, to use their own devices to automatically connect to the Internet with no complicated login process nor paywall to scramble over.

The Alliance is also announcing the release of a new research study on the economic benefit of standardization on the inflight connectivity market at Mobile World Congress. This report is available for download at https://www.seamlessalliance.com/publications/

The Alliance is moving rapidly towards an expected demonstration of the technology later in 2019 and anticipates massive interest in Barcelona from the whole communications eco-system.

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