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Galaxy Fold sells out in SA

Samsung’s first foldable phone arrives in South Africa next week, but the first (small) batch is already sold out on pre-order. And guess who bought the first one?

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The audience at Samsung's Power of 10 celebration goes camera-crazy as Somizi buys the first Galaxy Fold in South Africa

The Samsung Galaxy Fold, a new foldable device that is creating a new mobile category, has seen the first batch to be released in South Africa sold out with pre-order sales. Although only a few hundred will be made available initially, Samsung South Africa says it is working on increasing stock levels to keep up with demand. 

The Galaxy Fold officially goes on sale in South Africa on 18 October 2019, after the initial April launch was delayed due to mechanical issues experiences by early reviewers.

Galaxy Fold features the world’s first 7.3-inch Infinity Flex Display, which folds into a compact device with a cover display. Samsung says the Galaxy Fold “offers a powerful new way to multitask, watch videos, play games, and more – bringing to life new experiences and possibilities years in the making”.

While Huawei has also unveiled a foldable handset, the Mate X, it has not yet released in on the market. As a result, Samsung can briefly claim the Galaxy Fold is “in a category of its own”. 

“It delivers a new kind of mobile experience allowing users to do things they couldn’t do with an ordinary smartphone,” said a statement released by Samsung South Africa. “Users now have the best of both worlds; a compact device that unfolds to reveal Samsung’s largest-ever smartphone display. Galaxy Fold brings together material, engineering and display innovations, developed over eight years following the debut of Samsung’s first flexible display prototype in 2011.”

The Fold is expected to sell for R44,000. For this reason, despite only a few hundred being available in South Africa on release, the sell-out it is regarded as a strong indicator of the appeal of the new handset.

The first handset in the country was offered on sale during Samsung’s Power of 10 celebration event in Sandton on Thursday night. The first buyer was TV personality and singer Somizi Mhlongo, who came on stage to show off the handset.

The announcement of the Fold’s availability was made in tandem with the launch of the new Samsung A30S smartphone, which includes a limited Cassper Nyovest edition. The hiphop star ended the event with a live performance,

Click here to see the specs of the Galaxy Fold.

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SA’s Internet goes down again

South Africa is about to experience a small repeat of the lower speeds and loss of Internet connectivity suffered in January, thanks to a new undersea cable break, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Internet service provider Afrihost has notified customers that there are major outages across all South African Internet Service Providers (ISPs), as a result of a break in the WACS undersea cable between Portugal and England 

The cause of the cable break along the cable is unclear. it marks the second major breakage event along the West African Internet sea cables this year, and comes at the worst possible time: as South Africans grow heavily dependent on their Internet connections during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

As a result of the break, the use of international websites and services, which include VPNs (virtual private networks), may result in latency – decreased speeds and response times.  

WACS runs from Yzerfontein in the Western Cape, up the West Coast of Africa, and terminates in the United Kingdom. It makes a stop in Portugal before it reaches the UK, and the breakage is reportedly somewhere between these two countries. 

The cable is owned in portions by several companies, and the portion where the breakage has occurred belongs to Tata Communications. 

The alternate routes are:  

  • SAT3, which runs from Melkbosstrand also in the Western Cape, up the West Coast and terminates in Portugal and Spain. This cable runs nearly parallel to WACS and has less Internet capacity than WACS. 
  • ACE (Africa Coast to Europe), which also runs up the West Coast.  
  • The SEACOM cable runs from South Africa, up the East Coast of Africa, terminating in both London and Dubai.  
  • The EASSy cable also runs from South Africa, up the East Coast, terminating in Sudan, from where it connects to other cables. 

The routes most ISPs in South Africa use are WACS and SAT3, due to cost reasons. 

The impact will not be as severe as in January, though. All international traffic is being redirected via alternative cable routes. This may be a viable method for connecting users to the Internet but might not be suitable for latency-sensitive applications like International video conferencing. 

Read more about the first Internet connectivity breakage which happened on the same cable, earlier this year. 

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SA cellphones to be tracked to fight coronavirus

Several countries are tracking cellphones to understand who may have been exposed to coronavirus-infected people. South Africa is about to follow suit, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From Israel to South Korea, governments and cell networks have been implementing measures to trace the cellphones of coronavirus-infected citizens, and who they’ve been around. The mechanisms countries have used have varied.  

In Iran, citizens were encouraged to download an app that claimed to diagnose COVID-19 with a series of yes or no questions. The app also tracked real-time location with a very high level of accuracy, provided by the GPS sensor. 

In Germany, all cellphones on Deutsche Telekom are being tracked through cell tower connections, providing a much coarser location, but a less invasive method of tracking. The data is being handled by the Robert Koch Institute, the German version of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In Taiwan, those quarantined at home are tracked via an “electronic fence”, which determines if users leave their homes.  

In South Africa, preparations have started to track cellphones based on cell tower connections. The choice of this method is understandable, as many South Africans may either feel an app is too intrusive to have installed, or may not have the data to install the app. This method also allows more cellphones, including basic feature phones, to be tracked. 

This means that users can be tracked on a fairly anonymised basis, because these locations can be accurate to about 2 square kilometers. Clearly, this method of tracking is not meant to monitor individual movements, but rather gain a sense of who’s been around which general area.  

This data could be used to find lockdown violators, if one considers that a phone connecting in Hillbrow for the first 11 days of lockdown, and then connecting in Morningside for the next 5, likely indicates a person has moved for an extended period of time. 

The distance between Hillbrow and Morningside is 17km. One would pass through several zones covered by different towers.

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said that South African network providers have agreed to provide government with location data to help fight COVID-19. 

Details on how the data will be used, and what it will used to determine, are still unclear. 

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