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Message to SA Govt: Smartphones not a luxury

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Ahead of Sunday’s scheduled VAT and various excise duty increases, ALEX FOURIE, weFix CEO, has expressed concern that taxation on entry- and mid-level smartphones will negatively impact South African consumers.

Ad valorem excise duties on some luxury goods were one of the tax increases tabled in February’s Budget Speech, up from 7 percent to 9 percent. The Treasury has stated its intention to change the definition of cell phones to include smartphones, so that they too attract ad valorem taxes.

Treasury said, “Government will also consult to replace the flat rate for cell phones, with a progressive rate structure based on the value of the phone.”

weFix CEO, Alex Fourie, said that weFix will keep a close eye on Treasury’s consultation process to ensure that the entry- and mid-level smartphones are not taxed unduly.

“Not all smartphones are luxuries – new entry-level devices are regularly available for under R500. Our concern is that undue taxation of entry- and mid-level devices will reduce access to what are communication and business necessities for millions of South Africans,” says Fourie.

“It is well-documented that affordable smart devices have put the Internet into the hands of South Africa students, consumers and business owners in all sectors, increasing digital literacy, access to news and educational material, and benefiting the economy as a whole.”

South Africa has 21 million internet users, according to the Internet Access in South Africa 2017 study by World Wide Worx. Of that total, 7 million access the Internet via mobile devices exclusively.

Fourie says that one way for consumers to reduce the impact of mobile devices on their budgets – which has the added bonus of lessening their exposure to tax – is to consider repairing or purchasing refurbished smartphones.

“Mobile devices that are repaired and refurbished having been preowned or damaged during shipment, demo units that are shop-soiled, or new devices that have a fault upon opening, are a really affordable alternative to new devices, particularly in light of the proposed tax increases,” says Fourie.

weFix intends to absorb the imminent VAT increase of 1 percent to further encourage consumers to make use of repair and refurbishment services offered by providers like weFix.

“We understand that for many consumers, going without their mobile devices is unthinkable – and not because they can’t be without social media,” says Fourie.

“We want to keep South Africans connected to their businesses, to their study materials, to the news and to their social networks, hence our commitment to keeping our repair services as affordable as possible.”

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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Samsung unveils the quad-cam smartphone

Samsung recently unveiled its Galaxy A9, the world’s first smartphone with a rear quad camera.

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“As a global leader in smartphone innovation, we understand the demand for meaningful innovation in a fast-paced world driven by visual communication,” said Justin Hume, Director: Integrated Mobility at Samsung South Africa. “Building on our legacy in smartphone camera development we’re introducing next-generation technology across our entire Galaxy portfolio to give more consumers the opportunity to experience cutting-edge innovation. We’re excited to deliver on this promise and debut world leading smartphone camera technology with the Galaxy A9.”

Samsung provided the following information (including the adjectives):

The Galaxy A9 allows you to capture dynamic and beautiful photos effortlessly. With four lenses, experience even more ways to unleash your creativity and capture, create and share stunning images.

·         Get close without compromise with 2x Optical Zoom for incredible and detailed close-up shots even from far away.

·         Capture the world in its fullest and without limit, with the Ultra Wide Lens, and shoot like a pro with the Scene Optimizer. Thanks to AI Scene Recognition, your camera is now smarter, and able to identify the subject and adjust settings accordingly for the best photo, in an instant.

·         Express your creativity with the Depth Lens, giving you the freedom to manually manage the photos’ depth of field and focus on the subject for stunning, professional looking images.

·         Capture clear and bright images in both bright and low light conditions with Galaxy A9’s 24MP Main Lens, for gorgeous photos at any time of the day.

The reliable 3,800mAh battery life on the Galaxy A9 lets you live without limits and enjoy outstanding long-lasting performance. You can now capture everything, without restriction, store more and delete less with the Galaxy A9’s 128GB storage and up to 512GB of expandable memory.

Designed to make life more convenient, the Galaxy A9 features Bixby, Samsung Pay and Samsung Health and you can take advantage of the many multi-tasking benefits the Galaxy A9 offers, including App Pair.

First Class Design

Building on Samsung’s heritage in first-class design, the Galaxy A9 is styled in three unique colors; Caviar Black, Lemonade Blue and Bubblegum Pink with a sleek and ergonomic design, that fits in one hand with a 3D Glass curved back for a high-quality comfortable feel. The Galaxy A9 will be available in South Africa from December.

Check out the specs on the next page.

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