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Now for a feature phone that is smart

At AfricaCom last week, MTN, with KaiOS Technologies, China Mobile and UNISOC, unveiled a handset designed for Africa.

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A new “smart feature phone”, unveiled by MTN and partners at the annual AfricaCom conference in Cape Town last week, will allow customers to upgrade from a feature phone with only voice and text capabilities, to a fully connected handset with fast, 3G internet.

The announcement was made by the CEOs of MTN Group and KaiOS Technologies, along with the executive vice presidents of China Mobile Communications Group and UNISOC. They said it would be the world’s first 3G smart feature phone in Africa, powered by KaiOS.

“As MTN we are proud to be part of this partnership that supports our ambitions to deepen digital inclusion in our markets,” said Rob Shuter, group president and CEO of MTN. “This initiative contributes to the achievement of one of our key goals to provide affordable data enabled handsets to our customers, and by so doing, remove some of the barriers to mobile internet adoption in Africa.”

The new smart feature phone runs on KaiOS, an operating system for smart feature phones, and includes the following features and services:

* Fast internet access through Wi-Fi and 3G
* Bluetooth connectivity and GPS for navigation
* Google Assistant and other smart services
* The KaiStore, home to apps and localised content
* 2 cameras, as well as music and video streaming services
* Long-life battery life, with a 2000mAh battery
* Dual SIM support

“With 834 million people still unconnected to the internet in Africa, today’s launch with MTN, UNISOC and China Mobile stands to have a significant impact on communities across the continent,” said Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies. “MTN has one of the largest customer bases in the region. Coupled with KaiOS, we’re taking an important step toward closing the digital divide on the continent.”

KaiOS powers close to 50 million smart feature phones globally, including in the USA, Canada, India, China, and several countries in Europe. It has overtaken iOS as the second most popular mobile operating system in India (based on data usage) .

The 3G smart feature phone will initially be available from MTN in Nigeria and South Africa, followed very shortly by the other MTN operations in Africa as well as the Middle East. The new product will retail between $20-$25.

Li Huidi, EVP of China Mobile Communications Group , said:  “As the largest Telecom Operator in China, we have made fruitful attempts at rapidly promoting business development through device customization. We hope to share our experiences in this regard with international operator partners, and help them expand market presence through device customization, thus delivering the dividend of reliable mobile networks to more users.”

MTN said the product will help convert African 2G users to 3G, allowing African people to enjoy high-speed mobile networks. The new smart feature phone is powered by the UNISOC SC7731EF chip, the first 3G smart chipset, with up to 256MB RAM. The device has a 2.4” screen and 256MB/512MB RAM/ROM. It will be available starting from the first quarter of 2019.

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Samsung unfolds the future

At the #Unpacked launch, Samsung delivered the world’s first foldable phone from a major brand. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK tried it out.

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Everything that could be known about the new Samsung Galaxy S10 range, launched on Wednesday in San Francisco, seems to have been known before the event.

Most predictions were spot-on, including those in Gadget (see our preview here), thanks to a series of leaks so large, they competed with the hole an iceberg made in the Titanic.

The big surprise was that there was a big surprise. While it was widely expected that Samsung would announce a foldable phone, few predicted what would emerge from that announcement. About the only thing that was guessed right was the name: Galaxy Fold.

The real surprise was the versatility of the foldable phone, and the fact that units were available at the launch. During the Johannesburg event, at which the San Francisco launch was streamed live, small groups of media took turns to enter a private Fold viewing area where photos were banned, personal phones had to be handed in, and the Fold could be tried out under close supervision.

The first impression is of a compact smartphone with a relatively small screen on the front – it measures 4.6-inches – and a second layer of phone at the back. With a click of a button, the phone folds out to reveal a 7.3-inch inside screen – the equivalent of a mini tablet.

The fold itself is based on a sophisticated hinge design that probably took more engineering than the foldable display. The result is a large screen with no visible seam.

The device introduces the concept of “app continuity”, which means an app can be opened on the front and, in mid-use, if the handset is folded open, continue on the inside from where the user left off on the front. The difference is that the app will the have far more space for viewing or other activity.

Click here to read about the app experience on the inside of the Fold.

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Password managers don’t protect you from hackers

Using a password manager to protect yourself online? Research reveals serious weaknesses…

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Top password manager products have fundamental flaws that expose the data they are designed to protect, rendering them no more secure than saving passwords in a text file, according to a new study by researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).

“100 percent of the products that ISE analyzed failed to provide the security to safeguard a user’s passwords as advertised,” says ISE CEO Stephen Bono. “Although password managers provide some utility for storing login/passwords and limit password reuse, these applications are a vulnerable target for the mass collection of this data through malicious hacking campaigns.”

In the new report titled “Under the Hood of Secrets Management,” ISE researchers revealed serious weaknesses with top password managers: 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass.  ISE examined the underlying functionality of these products on Windows 10 to understand how users’ secrets are stored even when the password manager is locked. More than 60 million individuals 93,000 businesses worldwide rely on password managers. Click here for a copy of the report.

Password managers are marketed as a solution to eliminate the security risks of storing passwords or secrets for applications and browsers in plain text documents. Having previously examined these and other password managers, ISE researchers expected an improved level of security standards preventing malicious credential extraction. Instead ISE found just the opposite. 

Click here to read the findings from the report.

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