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Galaxy S20 range goes large(r)

Everything is larger in the Twenties, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK



As we approach a new decade, it looks like the ‘20s are all the rage. In Samsung’s case, make that the S20.

In launching its new flagship phone, Samsung joined Huawei in skipping the numbering convention that is still being followed by Apple. While the iPhone moved from the X to the 11, Huawei had jumped from its “P10” edition to the P20 two years ago, followed by the P30 last year, with the P40 expected next month. Similarly, Samsung is moving from the S10 to the S20, avoiding the impression of following in the wake of the iPhone 11.

The S20 flagships were codenamed “Picasso”. This emphasised the fact that the camera and screen would, once again, be the headline feature across the range, led by three devices.

The Galaxy S10e has been succeeded by the Galaxy S20, the Galaxy S10 by the Galaxy S20+, and the Galaxy S10+ by the Galaxy S20 Ultra. This may cause some confusion between the Plus devices, but does move the S20 away from the “e” positioning as a cheap phone.

The devices have screens of 6.2″, 6.7″ and 6.9″, respectively – a big leap over the S10 range. That makes the smallest and largest versions only marginally smaller than Note10 and Note10+, emphasising the fact that the smartphone market has now transitioned entirely towards large display formats.

All feature a three-camera set-up on the back, with an additional “time-of-flight” distance sensor that give it the look of a 4-lens array. The handsets all feature 8K recording on the back and 4K recording from the selfie camera on the front.

The cameras on the S20 and S20+ are 12MP main wide + 64MP telephoto + 12MP Ultra-wide sensors, with a time-of-flight sensor. This translates to 3X optical zoom, with 8K 30FPS video recording.

The Ultra features an absurdly powerful sensor: a 108-megapixel monster that is augmented by artificial intelligence, combining 9 pixels into 1. That means dramatically more detail, and better low-light photography.

It also features 48MP telephoto + 12MP ultra-wide sensors, with a time-of-flight sensor. The 108MP camera uses pixel binning to create one large 2.4μm pixel, with a 12-megapixel final image size. It features 10X optical zoom with 100X digital zoom.

The Galaxy Unpacked event, held in San Francisco and live-streamed globally, was streamed entirely with Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra devices, showing Samsung walking their talk about the devices being ready for professional use.

Leaving off the headphone jack – which is becoming superfluous in the age of wireless earpods – gives the devices more space for bigger batteries. The S20 features a 4000mAh battery, the S20+ a 4500mAh unit, and the S20 Ultra a whopping 5000mAh. The better to keep that 8K video recording going. Luckily, the baseline storage on these devices will be 128GB, probably going up to 1 Terabyte – a cool thousand gigs.

The Galaxy S20 will be available for R18999, the Galaxy S20+ for R20999, and the S20 Ultra for R26999. Preorders of the S20+ and S20 Ultra will include the Galaxy Buds+.

In short, everything is bigger in the twenties.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee
  • The original version of this story was written prior to the launch of the Galaxy S20 range. It is being updated as details are confirmed and added.

Read the announcement from Samsung on the next page.

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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



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



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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