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MWC: TCL kicks off BlackBerry deal with KEYone

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TCL Communication has unveiled the BlackBerry KEYone at this year’s Mobile World Congress. This launch represents the first BlackBerry smartphone released from TCL Communication under a new brand licensing agreement.

TCL provided the following information:

The KEYone pairs the best of BlackBerry Limited’s software and security with TCL Communication’s commitment to delivering high-quality, reliable smartphones to customers around the world. The BlackBerry KEYone will be available globallyi beginning in April and will be priced at or under €599 EUR/£499 GBP/$549 USD.

“Impressively designed to be distinctly different, the BlackBerry KEYone reimagines how we communicate by offering unmatched productivity and the world’s most secure Android smartphone experience,” said Nicolas Zibell, CEO for TCL Communication. “We’re humbled to play such an important role in the future of BlackBerry smartphones, which have been so iconic in our industry, and we’re eager to prove to the BlackBerry community that their excitement around this new BlackBerry smartphone is something they can be proud of as well.”

“We want to congratulate TCL Communications on the launch of KEYone,” said Alex Thurber, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Mobility Solutions for BlackBerry. “We have worked closely with TCL to build security and the BlackBerry experience into every layer of KEYone, so the BlackBerry DNA remains very much in place. We couldn’t be more excited to help bring it to market and introduce it to BlackBerry fans.”

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DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT

Tucked into an anodized aluminum frame and soft touch textured back, this new BlackBerry smartphone is built to offer the best in durability while still remaining easy on the eyes. Featuring a 4.5-inch display

(1620×1080 resolution / 434 PPI 3:2 aspect ratio) with Corning  Gorilla Glass 4 that offers greater impact and scratch resistance, the KEYone combines a touch display with a physical keyboard to give users more useable space for typing than a typical 5.5-inch all-touch smartphone.

With BlackBerry KEYone, you can forget what you knew about keyboards. The device’s Smart Keyboard responds to touch gestures mimicking the heritage of the BlackBerry trackpad making web browsing, reading emails and writing messages with flick typing a much smoother and intuitive experience. This Smart Keyboard can also be easily programmed to launch up to 52 customizable shortcuts, such as pressing “I” for your inbox or “M” to access maps; providing even greater ease of use. In addition, KEYone is the first smartphone to provide the security of a fingerprint sensor built directly into the keyboard spacebar, for added functionality and security.

DISTINCTLY BLACKBERRY

Beyond the iconic BlackBerry design that’s been curated  for the modern user, the BlackBerry KEYone comes with a number of features and security enhancements making this smartphone distinctly BlackBerry. Out of the box, the device runs Android 7.1 – giving users access to the entire Google Play store and apps – and will receive Google security patch updates. It comes loaded with BlackBerry Hub®, bringing all your messages into one consolidated place; including emails, texts and messages from any social media account. Another benefit of BlackBerry Hub, is the ability to manage multiple email accounts without switching between apps, with support for Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook, Microsoft Exchange accounts, and many other IMAP and POP3 email providers.

What really sets a BlackBerry smartphone apart from any other Android device are the enhanced security features built into every device right from the start. From a hardened operating system to BlackBerry Limited’s proprietary technique for establishing a hardware root of trust adding security keys to the processor, the BlackBerry KEYone is intentionally designed to offer the most secure Android smartphone experience possible. This device comes pre-loaded with DTEK™ by BlackBerry, offering constant security monitoring and protection of your operating system and apps by letting you know when your privacy could be at risk and how you can take action to improve it. A quick glimpse lets you see the overall security rating for your device  and provides simple access allowing you to easily improve your security status. This BlackBerry security application monitors your other apps, alerting you if one is accessing your camera to take a picture or video, turning your microphone on, sending a text message, or accessing your contacts or location.

THE BLACKBERRY KEYONE EXPERIENCE

Beyond the design and security features making the BlackBerry KEYone so distinct, these additional features truly reinvent mobile communications for the business and enterprise user. At the core of this new BlackBerry smartphone is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 mobile platform with the Qualcomm Adreno 506 GPU.

This means BlackBerry KEYone  users will enjoy long battery life thanks to more efficient battery usage and fast LTE speeds for super-fast file sharing. It includes Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0 technology, making it possible for the 3505 mAh battery on the KEYone – the largest ever in a BlackBerry device, to receive up to 50 percent charge in roughly 36 minutes. And for when you only have a few moments to grab a fast charge, BlackBerry’s Boost can turbo charge your battery to get you the most charge with the limited time you have.

“We are proud to be working with TCL on the BlackBerry KEYone,” said Enrico Salvatori, senior vice president and president, Qualcomm EMEA. “The Snapdragon 625 mobile platform with X9 LTE and the Adreno 506 GPU is purpose-built for users who demand superior performance and connectivity coupled with outstanding battery-life.”

 

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Huawei Mate 20 unveils ‘higher intelligence’

The new Mate 20 series, launching in South Africa today, includes a 7.2″ handset, and promises improved AI.

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Huawei Consumer Business Group today launches the Huawei Mate 20 Series in South Africa.

The phones are powered by Huawei’s densest and highest performing system on chip (SoC) to date, the Kirin 980. Manufactured with the 7nm process, incorporating the Cortex-A76-based CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the SoC offers improved performance and, according to Huawei, “an unprecedented smooth user experience”.

The new 40W Huawei SuperCharge, 15W Huawei Wireless Quick Charge, and large batteries work in tandem to provide users with improved battery life. A Matrix Camera System includes a  Leica Ultra Wide Angle Lens that lets users see both wider and closer, with a new macro distance capability. The camera system adopts a Four-Point Design that gives the device a distinct visual identity.

The Mate 20 Series is available in 6.53-inch, 6.39-inch and 7.2-inch sizes, across four devices: Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X and Porsche Design Huawei Mate 20 RS. They ship with the customisable Android P-based EMUI 9 operating system.

“Smartphones are an important entrance to the digital world,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG, at the global launch in London last week. “The Huawei Mate 20 Series is designed to be the best ‘mate’ of consumers, accompanying and empowering them to enjoy a richer, more fulfilled life with their higher intelligence, unparalleled battery lives and powerful camera performance.”

The SoC fits 6.9 billion transistors within a die the size of a fingernail. Compared to Kirin 970, the latest chipset is equipped with a CPU that is claimed to be 75 percent more powerful, a GPU that is 46 percent more powerful and an NPU (neural processing unit) that is 226 percent more powerful. The efficiency of the components has also been elevated: the CPU is claimed to be 58 percent more efficient, the GPU 178 percent more efficient, and the NPU 182 percent more efficient. The Kirin 980 is the world’s first commercial SoC to use the Cortex-A76-based cores.

Huawei has designed a three-tier architecture that consists of two ultra-large cores, two large cores and four small cores. This allows the CPU to allocate the optimal amount of resources to heavy, medium and light tasks for greater efficiency, improving the performance of the SoC while enhancing battery life. The Kirin 980 is also the industry’s first SoC to be equipped with Dual-NPU, giving it higher On-Device AI processing capability to support AI applications.

Read more about the Mate 20 Pro’s connectivity, battery and camera on the next page. 

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Epic Games brings a
Nite-mare to Android

Epic Games’ decision to not publish games through Google Play inadvertently opens a market to Android virus makers, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, decided to take the high road by skipping Google Play’s app distribution market and placing a third-party installer for its games on its website. While this is technically fine, it is not recommended for the average user, because allowing third-party installers on one’s smartphone opens up the possibility of non-signed and malicious software to be run on the smartphone. 

In June, malware researchers at ESET warned Android gamers that malicious fake versions of the Fortnite app had been created to steal personal information or damage smartphones. A malware researcher demonstrated how the fake applications works in the Tweet below.

While the decision to bypass Google Play was a bold move on Epic Games’ part, it has been a long time coming for app developers to move their premium apps off Google’s Play Store. The two major app distributors, Google Play and Apple’s App Store, take a 30% cut of every purchase made through their app distribution platforms. 

The App Store is currently the only way to get apps on a non-modified iOS device, which is why Epic Games had no choice for Fortnite to be in the App Store. On the other hand, Android phones can install packages downloaded through the browser, which makes the Play Store almost unnecessary for the gaming company. 

The most interesting part of this development is that Google is not the “bad guy” and Epic Games is no saviour to other game developers. Epic Games is a company with a multi-billion dollar valuation and has resources like large-scale servers to distribute and update its games, a big marketing budget to ensure everyone knows how to get its games, and server security to protect against malware. 

Resources of this scale allow the game company to turn a cold shoulder to Google’s Play Store distribution and focus on its own, in-house solution. 

That said, installing packages without the Google Play Store must be done carefully, and it is essential to do homework on where a package is downloaded. Moreover, when a package is installed outside of the Google Play Store, a security switch to block the installation of third party apps must be turned off. This switch should be turned back on immediately after the third party package is installed. 

This complex amount of steps makes it less worthwhile to install third party apps, in favour of rather waiting for them to reach the Play Store.

From a consumer perspective, ESET recommends not installing packages outside of the Google Play Store and to ignore advertisements to download the game from other sources.

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