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Samsung rolls out new wearables

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Samsung has added the Gear Sport, Gear Fit2 Pro and Gear IconX to its range of wearable devices.

Samsung Electronics has introduced three new devices to its industry-leading wearable portfolio: Gear Sport, a sleek and versatile fitness-focused smartwatch that is water resistant; Gear Fit2 Pro, an upgraded GPS fitness band with smart features; and Gear IconX, a second generation of the company’s cord free earbuds.

Samsung says its new Gear devices were designed to let consumers get the most out of their day, and help them live a healthier and well-balanced life.

“At Samsung, we celebrate the everyday athlete – whether you’re going for a light jog, or training for your next triathlon,” says DJ Koh, President of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics. “We have a long history of embracing choice and innovation, and our wearables are designed to help consumers of varying fitness levels meet their goals and aspirations. We want to help remove the stigma that fit can only mean one thing and that fitness trackers are complex and for only the most intense of workouts. Our new Samsung wearables help consumers ‘go beyond fitness’ and enjoy an active, balanced and fulfilled life in a smart and seamless way.”

Samsung provided the following information:

  • Water Resistance and Swim Tracking: An ideal companion for any swim – from laps to playing in the pool – these devices are 5 ATM1 certified for water resistance. Now with Speedo’s latest swimming training app, Speedo On, the Gear Sport and Gear Fit2 Pro also allow you to easily track key swim metrics including lap count, lap time, stroke type and more.
  • Top-of-the-line Heart Rate Monitoring: With improved accuracy, the devices offer advanced real-time heart rate monitoring. They help you continuously monitor your heart activity – whether it’s enjoying a stress-free nap or an invigorating cycling class.
  • Premium Partnerships: Daily activity can be supplemented with updated Under Armour and Spotify partnerships. Both devices provide access to Under Armour’s fitness apps including UA Record, MyFitnessPal®, MapMyRun® and Endomondo for activity, nutrition, sleep, and fitness tracking functions – these apps provide users with a holistic picture of their health and fitness.
  • Auto Activity Detection: Automatic activity detection built into the devices keeps you in tune with your body and can recognize the following categories of activities: Walking, Running, Cycling or performing Dynamic Activities that could include dancing to basketball.
  • Personalized Motivation: You can customize your own wellness plan with tailored goals and alerts.

Gear Sport: A new versatile smartwatch to support an active and balanced lifestyle

Gear Sport is stylish, yet practical with a minimalistic, circular bezel, Super AMOLED 1.2-inch display and improved user interface, making it easy to view information – even on-the-go. With Gear Sport, users can work to achieve health and wellness goals, and receive nutrition management alerts and activity recommendations even when they are offline.

Designed with military level-durability, it can handle a wide-range of environments.2 With its sleek, ergonomic form that can be worn in a variety of colorful and easily changeable standard 20mm straps, it is perfect for any occasion so you can effortlessly transition from the gym to a night out with friends. Gear Sport will be available in Blue and Black and also includes Gear foundational functions:

  • Control of compatible Samsung IoT-enabled devices through Samsung Connect
  • Act as a remote control, whether for a PowerPoint presentation or Samsung Gear VR headset
  • Pay for goods with a flick of the wrist via Samsung Pay (NFC Only)3

Gear Fit2 Pro: An advanced GPS fitness band

In addition to the new swim and heart rate monitoring capabilities, the new Gear Fit2 Pro features advanced built-in GPS tracking to capture your run or ride with accurate activity tracking. Gear Fit2 Pro’s Super AMOLED curved 1.5-inch display and a high-resolution color touchscreen make real-time updates and notifications easier to read. The all-new secure, ergonomic band is light weight and comfortable to use for all activities. Available in Black and Red, its versatile design also makes it a stylish accessory.

Gear IconX: Comfortable fit, cord-free earbuds

IconX cord-free earbuds let you effortlessly listen to your favorite music – making your daily commute more enjoyable or helping you get more from your workout. Music can be enjoyed on and offline by transferring songs from a Samsung smartphone4 or PC, or accessing your favorite tunes through Bluetooth connectivity. The earbuds are also your newest connection to Bixby.5 With a simple tap and hold of the earbud you can use your voice to control your music or your phone – without even having it in your hand.

The updated design comes in Black, Gray and Pink and is even more ergonomic and lightweight so they are effectively secure, comfortable and stylish to use. For the fitness enthusiast, the Gear IconX automatically tracks your running routines, and also features standalone Running Coach which can be activated by simply tapping the earbud to provide in-ear audio6 exercise status updates – in real-time and without your phone. With an improved battery life of up to five hours of streaming and up to six hours of standalone music playing, and up to 4GB of internal storage, you can enjoy a seamless and fully standalone music listening experience.

 

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Rain, Telkom Mobile, lead in affordable data

A new report by the telecoms regulator in South Africa reveal the true consumer champions in mobile data costs

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The latest bi-annual tariff analysis report produced by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) reveals that Telkom Mobile data costs for bundles are two-thirds lower than those of Vodacom and MTN. On the other hand, Rain is half the price again of Telkom. 

The report focuses on the 163 tariff notifications lodged with ICASA during the period 1 July 2018 to 31 December 2018.

“It seeks to ensure that there is retail price transparency within the electronic communications sector, the purpose of which is to enable consumers to make an informed choice, in terms of tariff plan preferences and/or preferred service providers based on their different offerings,” said Icasa.

ICASA says it observed the competitiveness between licensees in terms of the number of promotions that were on offer in the market, with 31 promotions launched during the period. 

The report shows that MTN and Vodacom charge the same prices for a 1GB and a 3GB data bundle at R149 and R299 respectively.  On the other hand, Telkom Mobile charges (for similar-sized data bundles) R100 (1GB) and R201 (3GB). Cell C discontinued its 1GB bundle, which was replaced with a 1.5GB bundle offered at the same price as the replaced 1GB data bundle at R149. 

Rain’s “One Plan Package” prepaid mobile data offering of R50 for a 1GB bundle remains the most affordable when compared to the offers from other MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) and MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators).  

“This development should have a positive impact on customers’ pockets as they are paying less compared to similar data bundles and increases choice,” said Icasa.

The report also revealed that the cost of out-of-bundle data had halved at both MTN and Vodacom, from 99c per Megabyte a year ago to 49c per Megabyte in the first quarter of this year. This was still two thirds more expensive than Telkom Mobile, which has charged 29c per Megabyte throughout this period (see graph below).

Meanwhile, from having positioned itself as consumer champion in recent years, Cell C has fallen on hard times, image-wise: it is by far the most expensive mobile network for out-of-bundle data, at R1.10 per Megabyte. Its prices have not budged in the past year.

The report highlights the disparities between the haves and have-nots in the dramatically plummeting cost of data per Megabyte as one buys bigger and bigger bundles on a 30-day basis (see graph below).

For 20 Gigabyte bundles, all mobile operators are in effect charging 4c per Megabyte. Only at that level do costs come in at under Rain’s standard tariffs regardless of use.

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Qualcomm wins 5G as Apple and Intel cave in

A flurry of announcements from three major tech players ushered in a new mobile chip landscape, wrItes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Last week’s shock announcement by Intel that it was canning its 5G modem business leaves the American market wide open to Qualcomm, in the wake of the latter winning a bruising patent war with Apple.

Intel Corporation announced its intention to “exit the 5G smartphone modem business and complete an assessment of the opportunities for 4G and 5G modems in PCs, internet of things devices and other data-centric devices”.

Intel said it would also continue to invest in its 5G network infrastructure business, sharpening its focus on a market expected to be dominated by Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson.

Intel said it would continue to meet current customer commitments for its existing 4G smartphone modem product line, but did not expect to launch 5G modem products in the smartphone space, including those originally planned for launches in 2020. In other words, it would no longer be supplying chips for iPhones and iPads in competition with Qualcomm.

“We are very excited about the opportunity in 5G and the ‘cloudification’ of the network, but in the smartphone modem business it has become apparent that there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan. “5G continues to be a strategic priority across Intel, and our team has developed a valuable portfolio of wireless products and intellectual property. We are assessing our options to realise the value we have created, including the opportunities in a wide variety of data-centric platforms and devices in a 5G world.”

The news came immediately after Qualcomm and Apple issued a joint announced of an agreement to dismiss all litigation between the two companies worldwide. The settlement includes a payment from Apple to Qualcomm, along with a six-year license agreement, and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.

Apple had previously accused Qualcomm of abusing its dominant position in modem chips for smartphones and charging excessive license fees. It ordered its contract manufacturers, first, to stop paying Qualcomm for the chips, and then to stop using the chips altogether, turning instead to Intel.
With Apple paying up and Intel pulling out, Qualcomm is suddenly in the pound seats. It shares hit their highest levels in five years after the announcements.

Qualcomm said in a statement: “As we lead the world to 5G, we envision this next big change in cellular technology spurring a new era of intelligent, connected devices and enabling new opportunities in connected cars, remote delivery of health care services, and the IoT — including smart cities, smart homes, and wearables. Qualcomm Incorporated includes our licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of our patent portfolio.”

Meanwhile, Strategy Analytics released a report on the same day that showed Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia will lead the market in core 5G infrastructure, namely Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment, by 2023 as the 5G market takes off. Huawei is expected to have the edge as a result of the vast scale of the early 5G market in China and its long term steady investment in R&D. According to a report entitled “Comparison and 2023 5G Global Market Potential for leading 5G RAN Vendors – Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia”, two outliers, Samsung and ZTE, are expected to expand their global presence alongside emerging vendors as competition heats up.

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