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Huawei ups the smartphone ante

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Last week Huawei released its P20 series of smartphones in South Africa, setting high expectations in the local market. SEAN BACHER was there.

When Huawei announced the availability of its latest smartphones, the P20 and the P20 Pro, in South Africa this week, it also set high expectations for increased market share.

“Even though we don’t quite have the market share we would like, we are slowly increasing it due to our superior quality and service at a more reasonable price,” says Akhram Mohamed, product director at Huawei South Africa.

He said that innovation in the smartphone market is starting to stagnate, and Huawei needed to push the boundaries.

“All modern phones have front and rear cameras and use the same operating system with the manufacturer’s skin plastered on it, with a few widgets and proprietary apps to set them apart.

“It’s for this reason that so much research and development went into the P20 series. The P20 uses a Leica dual camera with a 12MP sensor and a 20MP monochrome one. The P20 Pro uses a triple camera — with the highest total pixel count on a smartphone to date. It uses a 40MP RGB sensor, a 20MP monochrome sensor and an 8MP sensor with telephoto lens offering the best picture quality during the day and night.”

Due to the P20 series having great cameras and being more powerful because of  the Kirin 970 CPU, and running Google’s 8.1 operating system, the latest Huawei devices have been among the few selected by Google to use Google ARCore.

ARCore enables developers to build apps that can understand a user’s environment and place objects and information in it using augmented reality. This needs a lot more processing power than most current phones can offer.

Mohamed says the ARCore combined with the Kirin 970 CPU the P20 series will be able to help in the education sector. For example, many kids in South Africa have never seen a European city but, with the P20 series using Google ARCore and virtual reality, the phone is able to bring the city to them, allowing them to roam the virtual streets.

In addition, the cameras and high speed offered by the CPU will allow the visually impaired to take photos of an object and get an audio description of what that object is.

Users can also take pictures of stars and planets and get information like name and orbit. While this is currently available with numerous apps on the Google Play Store, most of these deliver the information slowly due to the lack of processing power.

In addition to the P20’s superior cameras and speed, Mohamed also believes the phone’s ability to multitask will be a big attraction to many.

“So many users carry two phones around with them – one for business and one for leisure. Our latest devices can be both a professional device, thanks to speed and security, and a leisure one, offered by the advanced camera features and 128GB of on-board storage.”

Both phones are currently available at all major cellular retail outlets. The Huawei P20 series comes in Black, Midnight Blue and two new gradient colours, Twilight and Pink Gold.

The P20 sells for R13 000 and the P20 Pro for R16 000.

* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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Notre Dame, Scoop Makhathini, GoT, top week in search

From fire disaster to social media disaster, the top Google searches this week covered a wide gamut of themes.

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Paris and the whole world looked on in shock as the 856-year-old medieval Catholic cathedral crumbled into ash. The tragic infernal destruction of this tourist attraction of historical and religious significance led South Africans to generate more than 200 000 search queries for “Notre Dame Cathedral” on Monday. Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire that razed the architectural icon.

In other top trending searches on Google this week, radio presenter Siyabonga Ngwekazi, AKA Scoop Makhathini, went viral when it appeared he had taken to Twitter to expose his girlfriend, Akhona Carpede, for cheating on him. Scoop has since come out to say that he was not responsible for the bitter rant and that his account was hacked. “Scoop Makhathini” generated more than 20 000 search queries on Wednesday.

Fans generated more than 20 000 search queries for “Sam Smith” on Tuesday ahead of the the British superstar’s Cape Town performance at the Grand West Casino. Smith ended up cutting his performance short that night due to vocal strain.

Local Game of Thrones superfans were beside themselves on Sunday, searching the internet high and low for the first episode of the American fantasy drama’s eighth season. “Game of Thrones, season 8, episode 1” generated more than 100 000 queries on Google Search on the weekend.

As the festivities kicked off in California with headliners such as Childish Gambino and Ariana Grande, South Africans generated more than 2 000 search queries for “Coachella” on Saturday.

South Africans generated more than 5 000 search queries for “Wendy Williams” on Friday  as it emerged that the American talk show host had filed for divorce from her husband Kevin Hunter after 21 years of marriage. Hunter has long been rumored to have been cheating on Williams, which reportedly finally led to the divorce.

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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5G smartphones to hit 5M sales in 2019

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According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Early 5G smartphone models will be expensive and available in limited volumes. Samsung, LG and Huawei will be the early 5G smartphone leaders this year, followed by Apple next year.

Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “We forecast global 5G smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Less than 1 percent of all smartphones shipped worldwide will be 5G-enabled this year. Global 5G smartphone shipments are tiny for now, due to expensive device pricing, component bottlenecks, and restricted availability of active 5G networks.”

Ville Petteri-Ukonaho, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, added, “Samsung will be the early 5G smartphone leader in the first half of 2019, due to initial launches across South Korea and the United States. We predict LG, Huawei, Xiaomi, Motorola and others will follow later in the year, followed by Apple iPhone with its first 5G model during the second half of 2020. The iPhone looks set to be at least a year behind Samsung in the 5G smartphone race and Apple must be careful not to fall too far behind.”

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, added, “The short-term outlook for 5G smartphones is weak, but the long-term opportunity remains huge. We forecast 1 billion 5G smartphones to ship worldwide per year by 2025. The introduction of 5G networks, by carriers like Verizon or China Mobile, opens up high-speed, ultra-low-latency services such as 8K video, streaming games, and augmented reality for business. The next big question for the mobile industry is how much extra consumers are really willing to pay, if anything, for those emerging 5G smartphones and services.”

Strategy Analytics provides a snapshot analyses for the outlook for 5G smartphone market in this Insight report: 5G Smartphones : From Zero to a Billion

Strategy Analytics provides a deep-dive into the air-interface technologies that will power phones through 2024 across 88 countries here: Global Handset Sales Forecast by 88 Countries and 19 Technologies : 2003 to 2024

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