12-3: HMD Global is officially bringing Nokia-branded smartphone back to the market; Meizu is allegedly planning to split the Meizu brand from the Blue charm brand; etc.

Chipsets

Amazon and Intel have announced that working on reference designs for smart connected speakers, which will make it easy for companies to bring their own Alexa-enabled products to market. The first such reference design is expected to be available in 1Q17. (Liliputing, Engadget, Amazon, Digitimes, ZDNet)

amazon-works-with-intel

Device vendors including Xiaomi, LG and Sony have all expressed their intention to develop smartphone chips in-house. The ASP for smartphone SoCs has been trending down, while the cost of developing advanced chips using 10nm and below process technologies is high. Thus, these device vendors are being discouraged from developing their own smartphone SoCs. (Digitimes, press)

Touch / Display

UBI Research is seeing increasing demand for OLED in smartphones – especially for flexible OLEDs. UBI estimates that the market share of OLED technologies in the smartphone display market will rise from 16% to over 62% in 2016. UBI sees most investments in OLED capacity increase in the future going into flexible OLEDs – and by 2021 flexible OLEDs panels will represent about 70% of the total smartphone display OLED market. (ET News, OLED-Info, PJ Time)

ubi-research-oled-v-lcd-2016

Tohoku University in Japan developed a super flexible organic liquid crystal device. The new device is formed from ultra-thin plastic (polyimide) substrates that are firmly bonded by polymer wall spacers. The transparent polyimide substrate (made by Mitsui Chemicals) are about 10μm thick each, and feature heat resistance and the ability to form fine pixel structures, including transparent electrodes and color filters. (OLED-Info, Phys, Sanwen)

tohoku-flexible-lcd

Camera

Samsung’s idea of using a dual camera on the Galaxy S8’s back allegedly “fell through”, and a single sensor will be used instead. (Android Headlines, GSM Arena, K618)

samsung-s8-no-dual-camera

Memory

According to Digitimes, pure-play foundry TSMC has obtained 28nm chip orders for UFS memory devices from SK Hynix, Silicon Motion Technology and Phison Electronics. It is is expected to enter mass production of 28nm chips for UFS device controllers between the end of 2016 and 1Q17. (Digitimes, press, CEB2B)

Battery

Apple says that it has discovered that a small number of iPhone 6s models produced in Sept.~Oct. 2015 had battery compartments exposed to ambient air for longer than they should have been. The compartments were eventually assembled into battery packs. While not a safety problem, this can cause the cells to degrade faster than normal. (Phone Arena, Apple, Xinhuanet, Business Insider)

Biometrics

MIT-based Center for Brains, Minds and Machines (CBMM) has developed a new computational model of the human brain’s face-recognition mechanism that seems to capture aspects of human neurology that previous models have missed. The researchers designed a machine-learning system that implemented their model, and they trained it to recognize particular faces by feeding it a battery of sample images. (Engadget, MIT, Sohu)

mit-brain-face

Connectivity

John Touvannas, senior director of product management at Motorola, believes that eventually there would be a secondary e-ink displays, a baby monitor, and even a 5G modem appear in the Moto Mods line-up in the future for Moto Z. (CN Beta, Android Authority, Daily Herald, PC Mag)

motorola-moto-z-5g-module

Indian carrier Reliance Jio has announced that it will be extending its free 4G data and Jio services offer till Mar. 2017. Reliance is calling this the Jio Happy New Year Offer. Reliance Jio currently has over 52M users, with 50M being added in 83 days. (GSM Arena, Twitter, Tencent, ChinaZ)

reliance-jio

Smartphones

After a May 2016 announcement that the Nokia brand was returning, a formal licensing agreement has been finalized with Nokia, HMD Global which is mostly staffed by Nokia executives. The first Android-based smartphones from the partnership will be manufactured by Foxconn, and show up in the 1H17. (CN Beta, Android Headlines, Daily Avenue, The Guardian, PC Pop, Sohu)

HMD Global CEO Arto Nummela says that its first forays into the Android smartphone world have been conducted in close partnership with Google. (Phone Arena, Android Authority, PR Newswire, Reuters, ET Net, CNFOL)

Samsung Electronics has set a cautious tone with activist investor Elliott Management. The South Korean conglomerate says it will consider using a holding company structure. It is a measured but welcome response to the U.S. fund’s restructuring proposals. Plans to boost dividends and buy back more stock also show the group is serious about improving relations with shareholders. (CN Beta, Reuters)

Apple is set to open a new distribution center in India to consolidate its supply chain and logistics in the country. Apple, which has faced challenges in India due to local regulations, currently brings products to India via many different cities, including Chandigarh, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, New Delhi and Mumbai. Each city has a different value-added tax (VAT) rate, which causes a difference in prices. (CN Beta, Apple Insider,9to5Mac, Economic Times)

Oppenheimer senior analyst Andrew Uerkwitz thinks Apple does not have what it takes to lead the tech industry. “We believe Apple lacks the courage to lead the next generation of innovation (AI, cloud-based services, messaging); instead will become more reliant than ever on the iPhone,” indicates by the analyst. “We believe Apple is about to embark on a decade-long malaise. The risks to the company have never been greater.” (CN Beta, ZDNet, Business Insider, Apple Insider)

Yoky Matsuoka is reportedly leaving Apple. Matsuoka oversaw health initiatives at Apple like HealthKit and ResearchKit. She has just joined Apple since May 2016. (CN Beta, Bloomberg, Geek Wire)

yoky-matsuoka

Apple is ordering its suppliers to build fewer iPhone 7 smartphones in the next two quarters due to weak demand in China for the smaller screen version, according to JL Warren Capital. JL Warren now sees Apple’s supply chain to build 80M iPhones in 4Q16, 51M in the 1Q17 and 40M in Q2 2017. (Barron’s, blog, CN Beta, East Day)

Meizu is allegedly planning to split the Meizu brand from the Blue charm brand, turning both into two separate Meizu sub-brands. (Gizmo China, CN Beta, Sina)

meizu-split-brand

Lenovo managed to generated USD11.2B in total revenue for 2Q16, down 8% from same period last year. While mobile shipments as a whole have remained mostly unchanged when compared to last year (361M in 2Q16 vs. 359M in 2Q15), Lenovo is expecting their Moto Z handsets to sell a total of 3M units during their first 12 months on the market. As a result, production of smartphones has been increased to as many as 60K units each month. (Lenovo, Android Authority, Phone Arena, 163)

lenovo-2q16-finance

Tablets / PCs

ReMarkable tablet is launched – 10.3” 1872×1404 e-ink display using “CANVAS” technology that supports 1000 degree of pressure, ARM A9 processor, 512MB RAM,8GB storage, Codex OS (Linux), 3000mAh battery, USD379. (Phone Radar, Damn Geeky, The Verge, CN Beta)

remarkable

GizmoTab is tablet for kids from Verizon Wireless – 8” HD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, 8MP + 5MP cameras, 3GB RAM, 16GB storage, Android 6.0, Verizon’s LTE, 5100mAh battery, USD250 / USD80 (2yr contract). (Android Authority, Verizon, Yahoo, Android and Me, GSM Arena)

gizmotab

Internet of Things

Apple has submitted a letter to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that suggests it is interested in testing self-driving cars. (Apple Insider, Venture Beat, NHTSA, 163)

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