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MWC: Nokia devices herald new era for brand

The Nokia brand sealed its comeback to the handset market with three new Android devices and a “reimagined” 3310, launched at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday.

HMD Global, the home of the revived Nokia phone brand, heralded a new era for the handset name at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday, unveiling a new generation of Nokia smartphones.

The highly anticipated global portfolio features three new smartphones: the new Nokia 6, “delivering performance and immersive entertainment in a premium and extremely robust design”; Nokia 5, an “elegant smartphone that fits perfectly in your hand”; and Nokia 3, which delivers “quality at an affordable price point”. The new range of Nokia smartphones all run Android Nougat and offer a secure and up to date experience that features the voice-controlled Google Assistant.

The launch also saw the return of a modern classic – the iconic Nokia 3310, “reborn with a modern twist on design”.

“The family of products announced demonstrate a belief that every consumer should have access to premium quality, not just those with high end flagship devices,” HMD said in a statement. “Combined with a thoughtful design philosophy that focuses on improving the smartphone experience at every level, each technical component has been carefully considered and integrated into the phone design to have the biggest benefit on consumers’ daily lives. Drawing on the hallmarks of the Nokia phone heritage of quality, simplicity and reliability, the range is designed for a new generation of fans.”

HMD provided the following information:

With a commitment to deliver pure Android, users can expect a simple, clean and clutter free experience. Featuring the latest Google services, as well as monthly security updates, Nokia smartphones are safe, secure and up-to-date. The new Nokia smartphones feature Google’s most recent innovation, the Google Assistant, building further on a great Android experience. Our teams have worked together to ensure the Google Assistant is integrated, allowing for conversations with the Google Assistant to take place easily on Nokia smartphones.

It was also announced that the world-renowned game Snake will be snaking its way back into people’s hearts with a new version available to play on Messenger, part of Facebook’s Instant Games cross platform experience. The new free Snake game is designed to be played with groups of friends making it even more playable than the first time around.

The new Nokia range of Android smartphones unveiled ahead of Mobile World Congress includes:

Nokia 6 is going global – combining superior craftsmanship and distinctive design with immersive audio and an impressive bright and colourful 5.5” full HD screen, the Nokia 6 delivers a truly premium smartphone experience. The unibody of the Nokia 6 is crafted from a single block of 6000 series aluminium. The smart audio amplifier with dual speakers allow consumers to experience a deeper bass and unmatched clarity, whilst Dolby Atmos® sound delivers a powerfully moving entertainment experience. Available in four colours – Matte Black, Silver, Tempered Blue and Copper – the Nokia 6 will retail at an average global retail price of €229.

Nokia 6 Arte Black Limited Edition – celebrating the worldwide Nokia 6 portfolio is the Nokia 6 Arte Black Limited Edition. With 64GB storage and 4GB RAM, this special edition combines the best features of the Nokia 6 family in a stunning black high gloss package and will retail at an average global retail price of €299.

Nokia 5 – a sleek and compact smartphone that nestles in your hand. The Nokia 5 has been precision engineered out of a single block of 6000 series aluminium to create a perfect pillowed body that flows seamlessly into the sculpted Corning® Gorilla® Glass laminated 5.2” IPS HD display. Powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 430 mobile platform and the Qualcomm® Adreno™ 505 graphics processor, the Nokia 5 brings robust structural integrity, attention to detail and the quality of a high-end flagship to everyone. Available in four colours – Matte Black, Silver, Tempered Blue and Copper – the Nokia 5 will retail at an average global retail price of €189.

Nokia 3 – a stunning new smartphone designed to deliver an outstanding experience with unprecedented value.  With a precision machined aluminium frame forged out of a single piece of aluminium, a sculpted Corning® Gorilla® Glass laminated 5” display and seamlessly integrated 8MP wide aperture cameras (front and back), the Nokia 3 packs a truly premium quality smartphone experience into its compact and elegant form. Available in four distinctive colours – Silver White, Matte Black, Tempered Blue and Copper White – the Nokia 3 will retail at an average global retail price of €139.

Also announced were:

Nokia 3310 a modern classic reborn. Thin, light and incredibly durable, the Nokia 3310 is a head turning modern twist on one of the best-selling feature phones of all time. Boasting an incredible 22-hour talk-time and month long stand-by, the Nokia 3310’s fresh, colourful, modern design brings it bang up to date. The Nokia 3310 is available in four distinctive colours – Warm Red and Yellow, both with a gloss finish, and Dark Blue and Grey both with a matte finish. The Nokia 3310 will retail at an average global retail price of €49.

Accessories also introduced was a portfolio of Nokia accessories that follows iconic design philosophy. As perfect companions to these smartphones, the full Nokia accessories portfolio includes a range of headsets, portable and Bluetooth speakers, in-car chargers, cases and screen protectors.

The new portfolio of Nokia smartphones and feature phones is on display at Mobile World Congress.  Local availability will be announced in markets in Q2, 2017.

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Cisco gives pre-owned tech a Refresh

In a market of constant upgrades, Cisco Refresh aims to keep quality product away from landfills, writes BRYAN TURNER.

When one gets a new smartphone upgrade, the old device may be used as a backup or can be used by someone else. In business environments, equipment upgrades may not be conducive to keeping old equipment around, which may send older, working equipment to landfills.

This is where Cisco’s Refresh initiative comes in. At Cisco Connect in Sun City this week, Ehrika Gladden, VP and general manager of Cisco Refresh, lifted the lid on a little-known aspect of the company’s strategy. 

“Refresh is Cisco’s global pre-owned equipment business unit,” said Gladden. “It is certified to meet the quality and engineering standards of Cisco. It is licensed for software and it’s also inclusive of a services warranty.

“Our responsibility in 80 countries around the world is tied to both the recovery of assets and the ability to leverage those assets at a lower price point. This ensures our sustainability and proper usage of the Earth’s resources while providing access to small and medium businesses. The products are typically in the range of 20-40% cheaper. The products represent the entire portfolio for Cisco in some part, the majority of that product set is 2+ years in terms of generation.”

Cisco’s Circular Economy initiative ensures a sustainable loop through businesses willing to pay a premium for the latest, cutting-edge solutions, while Cisco markets older, working equipment for resale to those who don’t require the latest solutions. This ensures far less new components need to be used in a product range.

“We are leveraging the model of remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling, and reusing,” said Gladden. “Depending on the product set, there is a certain set of product yield that we expect. They vary from product to product, but we do have a percentage that doesn’t make it through.

“Those are always reused, meaning we will look at those products and decide to use them completely differently, leveraging the components, remanufacturing back into the overall build process. If that can’t be done, we will go into a recycle process where we melt those products down to reuse them.”

Repairing and refurbishing older products isn’t just that. Cisco is creating repair centres that are owned by third-parties to uplift local ownership.

“The repair centres, as a global manufacturer, is Cisco’s entree into local ownership,” said Gladden. “I want to be precise about what I mean by local ownership. It’s critical for us to have a localised presence, but doing that through ownership. When you look at inclusive economies, those that are participative, to be sustainable – not in the product set, but generationally.

“The ability as a global manufacturer through a local ownership model  isto create a repair centre where a product can be returned, screened, tested, and repaired, leveraging the talent that the Networking Academy is creating.”

Cisco is working closely with local governments to understand where it operates and how to leverage the skills in the market.

Gladden said: “We are also super excited about the National Development Plan and African Union statements which with we align: eradication of poverty, job creation, ownership, healthcare, education, it all fits in the model. So we were very excited to have the opportunity to come to Africa first to announce this. Over the next twelve months, we want to establish our first repair centres, and in the next 3 to 5 years, build that vision into a reality.”

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Why Data Privacy has become a Pipe Dream

If you’re active on WhatsApp, Facebook or any other social platform, you’re not as safe as you thought, writes
AARON THORNTON, MD of Dial a Nerd

As you begin to read this, let’s perform a quick experiment! How many active conversations are you engaged in – right now – on WhatsApp? When was the last time you shared a picture or video on Instagram? Is Facebook currently open and active on one of your devices? And how many internet- connected devices are you using at this moment? Chances are, you have multiple devices running multiple applications most of the time. So what’s the problem, you ask? Since when did checking in with a high school buddy in Australia via Facebook become a dangerous act?  

In reply, we say, read on if you can stomach it!  

Nation-State Hacking & You  

It might seem like a laughably long shot to say that you are a key player in the increasingly sinister and sophisticated world of nation-state hacking. Well, you are. Given that individuals, businesses and governments are now constantly connected, round the clock, consumers and businesses have become fair game in cyber espionage. And as we create and share more and more data, both the value and accessibility of that data increases. According to a report by McAfee, IP theft now accounts for more than 25% of the estimated $600 billion cost of cybercrime to the world economy.    

With data having become the ‘new gold’, nation states are naturally pouring investment and key resources into building advanced cyber warfare tools. Indeed, entire divisions of armed forces as well as the upper echelons of corporate leadership are devising ways to harness data to gain economic, political and social power. At the highest level, tools and platforms are being developed with the specific aim of perpetrating cyber espionage and data theft. No surprise then, that the consumer and business environments are rife with increasingly advanced malware, ransomware and many other malicious hacking tools and methods.  

Still not convinced? Yes, we can smell the scepticism from here! So let’s take a moment to see how this has already played out, beneath our noses.  

Remember the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal of early 2018? For many, this was a watershed moment in the emerging war for consumer data – and the ensuing tensions between privacy, power and profit. Need a refresh? Well, in 2018, Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to a researcher who worked at Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the Trump campaign. In essence, the data was harvested without user consent and used for political purposes.  

Another chilling but less direct example can be found in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections. According to Politico, Russia launched a massive social media campaign to ‘sow discord’ leading up to the elections. The website reported that as early as 2014, an infamous Russian “troll farm” known as the Internet Research Agency – a company linked to Russian president Putin – developed a strategy using fraudulent bank accounts and other fake identity documents to “spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.” 

When referring to the Russian hacks and their impact on election results, one U.S. Representative sagely noted: “They didn’t just steal data; they weaponized it.” 

Ignorance is not bliss 

Okay, so data is being ‘weaponized’, and ordinary people and businesses are being caught in the crosshairs of cyber warfare. A little bit frightening, but the good news is that savvy individuals like you can take steps to protect personal data and actively combat the creeping influence of juggernauts such as Facebook and Google.  

To begin with, awareness is key. As you engage with various platforms and applications at work and at home, take time to understand how your data is being used and what the terms of use are. Is your data being accessed and sold to advertisers? Have you consented to this? In addition to scrutinizing your consent, also pay close attention to how much data you share online – and the nature of the details you are divulging. Always keep in mind that hackers are employing smart social engineering tactics and using the details of your private life (birthdays, holidays, pet’s names, etc) to trick you into opening infected emails and clicking on malware. Whenever you are online, you are a target – and vigilance at all times is critical. Beyond that, it goes without saying that you must commit to following basic security protocols with your devices. So always keep software up to date and keep your data backed up so that you can reboot or wipe a device if needed.   

Now that we’ve left you sufficiently spooked, you can get back to those demanding WhatsApp/Facebook/Instagram notifications (same company, by the way)…albeit, we hope, with a slightly altered [cyber] worldview!  

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