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Samsung Note 10 pushes edge

Samsung unveiled the Note 10 and Note 10+, last night, showing off even larger screens, impressive AR and S-Pen capabilities, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Last night, Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ devices with large screens and S-Pen for professionals and creatives.

The Note range is loved by those who want responsive stylus feedback from bigger form-factor mobile devices. The large-screen and the S-Pen have always been a great combo – both of which Samsung are continuing to innovate.

The Note 10+ is the largest Note device Samsung has released, at a screen size of 6.8″. For those who prefer a more “standard” Note size, the Note 10 sports a 6.3″ display. Both devices are less than 8mm thick.

The previous generation of S-Pen enabled users to take selfies remotely, but did not allow them to change between camera modes from afar. The new S-Pen features a six-axis accelerometer to fix this issue, and enables users to control the Note from far away with gestures of the pen. The S-Pen Software Development Kit (SDK) is also now open to developers of Samsung apps to enable these gestures to work with other apps apart from the camera app.

The Note line’s triple camera systems take note of Huawei’s popular triple camera system, and features a 16MP Ultra-Wide lens, 12MP Wide lens, and 12 MP Telephoto lens. On the Note 10+, the camera array features an additional DepthVision camera which can construct 3D models and allows for better subject distinction from the background.

A new feature, Zoom In Mic, allows users to zoom into sounds that are far away. This enables the video to match the audio and is one of the more practical innovations on the new Note devices.

It also features SuperSteady – the same technology used to stabilise video as in the Galaxy S10. This technology has been tried and tested by Galaxy S10 users to stabilise shaky video with GoPro level stabilisation.

Depending on your stance on preinstalled apps, the included video editor is either a pro or a con. Amateur content creators will most likely appreciate this editor, but more advanced creators will likely need to download another app.

Facial tracking features have vastly improved. The biggest showcase of this technology is AR Doodle, which allows users to attach S-Pen drawings to live photos. We tested it last night and it was very impressive. It shows off the AR capabilities of the Note 10 and should usher in developers to utilise the AR platform.

The Note 10+ features a Depth vision camera to further enable AR capabilities on the rear camera. One can now 3D scan an object with the back camera. These 3D scans can then be 3D printed or attached into an existing video. Samsung US animated a plush toy and attached it to someone virtually to demonstrate the capabilities.

Samsung’s DeX has finally broken free of the clunky dock. It has also shifted away from the “bring your own screen, mouse, keyboard, and dock” to “just plug the Note into a computer”. The new DeX app for Windows and Mac will allow its users to use DeX in a window, and integrates fully with its host operating system to drag and drop files between the computer and the device.

The insides feature impressive hardware, including a vapour cooling chamber to prevent overheating while the phone is performing at maximum processing capacity. In terms of memory, the Note 10 comes with 8GB and the Note 10+ is packed with a whopping 12GB of RAM. Both devices come with a maximum storage capacity of 256GB, while the Note 10+ can be expanded by up to 1TB with a microSD card.

Regions lucky enough to get the Galaxy Note 10 5G will be utilising the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Mobile platform, the leader in 5G modem technology. South Africa has not been confirmed as a launch country for the 5G version of this device.

The battery has also been optimised, with what Samsung calls Intelligent Battery. This enables fast wireless charging and super-fast cable charging at 45W. Samsung says one can get an all-day battery experience from a 30-minute charge. The catch is: a 25W charger comes in the box so users will have to purchase another charger to fully experience 45W charging – a very Apple-like move.

In another Apple-like move, the latest Note devices are also missing a headphone jack. Three years ago, Apple removed the headphone jack from its iPhone and many are still alive to tell the tale, so Samsung Note users will be fine, especially as wireless earphone technology becomes more accessible.

The devices come in three colours in South Africa: Aura Glow, Aura White, and Aura Black.

Preorders start today, and the devices will launch on 30 August. Samsung says the Note 10 will cost R18 999 while the Note 10+ will cost R22 999.

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Huge appetite for foldable phones – when prices fall

Samsung, Huawei and Motorola have all shown their cards, but consumers are concerned about durability, size, and enhanced use cases, according to Strategy Analytics

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Foldable devices are a long-awaited disrupter in the smartphone market, exciting leading-edge early adopters keen for a bold new type of device. But the acceptance of foldable devices by mainstream segments will depend on the extent to which the current barriers to adoption are addressed.

Major brands have been throwing their foldable bets into the hat to see what the market wants from a foldable, namely how big the screens should be and how the devices should fold. Samsung and Huawei have both designed devices that unfold from smartphones to tablets, each with their own method of how the devices go about folding. Motorola has recently designed a smartphone that folds in half, and it resembles a flip phone.

Assessing consumer desire for foldable smartphones, a new report from the User Experience Strategies group at Strategy Analytics has found that the perceived value of the foldable form does not outweigh the added cost.

Key report findings include:

  • The idea of having a larger-displayed smartphone in a portable size is perceived as valuable to the vast majority of consumers in the UK and the US. But, willingness to pay extra for a foldable device does not align with the desire to purchase one. Manufacturers must understand that there will be low sell-through until costs come down.
  • But as the acceptance for traditional smartphone display sizes continues to increase, so does the imposed friction of trying to use them one-handed. Unless a foldable phone has a wider folded state, entering text when closed is too cumbersome, forcing users to utilize two hands to enter text, when in the opened state.
  • Use cases need to be adequately demonstrated for consumers to fully understand and appreciate the potential for a foldable phone, though their priorities seemed fixed on promoting ‘two devices in one’ equaling a better video viewing experience. Identification and promotion of meaningful new use cases will be vital to success.

Christopher Dodge, Associate Director, UXIP and report author said: “As multitasking will look to be a core selling point for foldable phones, it is imperative that the execution be simplified and intuitive. Our data suggests there are a lot of uncertainties that come with foldable phone ownership, stemming mainly from concerns with durability and size, in addition to concerns over enhanced use cases.

“But our data also shows that when the consumers are able to use a foldable phone in hand, there is a solid reduction of doubt and concern about the concept. This means that the in-store experience may more important than ever in driving awareness, capabilities, and potential use cases.”

Said Paul Brown, Director, UXIP: “The big question is whether the perceived value will outweigh the added cost; and the initial response from consumers is ‘no.’ The ability for foldable displays to resolve real consumer pain-points is, in our view critical to whether these devices will become a niche segment of the smartphone market or the dominant form-factor of the future. Until costs come down, these devices will not take off.”

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New exploit exposes credit cards on mobile phones

Check Point Security has found that handsets using Qualcomm chipsets that hold credit and debit card credentials are at risk of a new exploit.

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Now it’s more important than ever to update your phone.
Check Point security has found a vulnerability in mobile devices that run Android, which allows credit card details to be accessed by hackers.

Mobile operating systems like Android offer a Rich Execution Environment (REE), providing a hugely extensive and versatile runtime environment, which allows apps to run on the device. However, while bringing flexibility and capability, REE leaves devices vulnerable to a wide range of security threats. A Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) is designed to reside alongside the REE and provide a safe area on the device to protect assets and to execute trusted code. Qualcomm makes use of a secure virtual processor, which is often referred to as the “secure world”, in comparison to the “non-secure world”, where REE resides. 

But Check Point “fuzzed” a “hole” into this secure world 

In a 4-month research project, Check Point researchers attempted and succeeded to reverse Qualcomm’s “Secure World” operating system. Check Point researchers leveraged a “fuzzing” technique to expose the hole. Fuzz testing (fuzzing) is a quality assurance technique used to discover coding errors and security loopholes in software, operating systems or networks. It involves inputting massive amounts of random data, called fuzz, to the test subject in an attempt to make it crash.

Check Point implemented a custom-made fuzzing tool, which tested trusted code on Samsung, LG, and Motorola devices. Through fuzzing, Check Point found 4 vulnerabilities in trusted code implemented by Samsung (including S10), 1 in Motorola, 1 in LG, but all code sourced by Qualcomm itself. To address the vulnerability, the runtime of Android needs to be protected from both attackers and users. This is typically achieved by moving the secure storage software to a hardware-supported TEE.

Check Point Research disclosed its findings directly to the companies and gave them time to patch vulnerabilities. Samsung patched three vulnerabilities and LG patched one. Motorola and Qualcomm responded, but have yet to provide a patch, and there is no confirmation of a release date yet.

Check Point Research has urged mobile phone users to stay vigilant and check their credit and debit card providers for any unusual activity. In the meantime, they are working with the vendors mentioned to issue patches.

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