4-8 #Flexible : Samsung and AMD have signed a multi-year agreement extension; OPPO has developed 300W level of rapid charging; vivo is reportedly merging its sub-brand iQOO into its main business; etc.

Google has previously used the Google Now Launcher for its Nexus line of phones in the early 2010s, also making this software available to phones from other brands. According to the latest Google beta app (version 14.14), the launcher will stop working in Apr 2023.  (Android Authority, 9to5Google)

BBK-owned entities namely OPPO and OnePlus are allegedly considering pulling out of the U.K. and Germany. Both OPPO and OnePlus have faced significant challenges in Germany in the last 6 months. A patent lawsuit filed by Nokia effectively barred both OPPO and OnePlus from selling phones in Germany in Aug 2022. However, OPPO and OnePlus have confirmed that both companies will continue to serve existing European markets, with new products launching over the coming months. (36Kr, Twitter, Android Central)

Regulators in Germany have declared that Apple’s size and importance means it qualifies for the country’s extended anti-competition law, and needs more scrutiny for potential anti-trust violations. Germany is already investigating Apple over the alleged antitrust implications of its App Tracking Transparency feature in iOS. Now, Germany’s Bundeskartellamt regulator has determined that Apple is subject to the 2021 amendment to the country’s German Competition Act (GWB). The new section 19a of that act came into effect in Jan 2019, and it is specifically aimed at firms the regulator determines to be of “paramount significance for competition across markets”. (Apple Insider, Bundeskartellamt)

According to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), iPhone is more critical in Apple users’ lives than an iPad or Mac, leading to faster replacements. Over 80% of respondents said they would replace a lost, stolen, or damaged iPhone immediately or within a few days, with more saying they would do so than wait. Just 6% of people would wait for a working iPhone longer than a week. However, the iPad and Mac aren’t too far behind. For those device categories, approximately 60% of those owners said they would fix or replace it the same day or within a few days. Mac users also need their computers a little more than iPad owners need their tablets. About 90% of Mac users would replace a lost, stolen, or broken computer within one week, but only 80% of iPad owners would do so in the same timeframe. (Apple Insider, CIRP)

Apple plans to make all its products carbon-neutral by 2030. To pull it off, it is working with 250 suppliers across 28 countries to switch over to green power sources for a total that will be over 20 gigawatts. Apple started its Green Bond program in 2016 with a USD4.7B investment. Its goal is to accelerate the adoption of low-carbon and carbon-neutral manufacturing and recycling technologies. For example, one of its achievements is the production of carbon-free aluminum. To date, over USD3.2B has been disbursed. Green Bonds have funded projects such as the IP Radian Solar in Brown County, Texas, which recently started producing 320 megawatts. Similarly, the program funded a utility-scale battery at the California Flats Solar Project in Monterey, California. It can store up to 240 megawatt-hours of renewable electricity.(GSM Arena, Apple)

Lenovo is discontinuing its Android-based Legion mobile gaming phones as part of a wider business transformation and gaming portfolio consolidation. According to Lenovo, as a leader in gaming devices and solutions, Lenovo is committed to advancing the gaming category across form factors, as well as focusing on where it can bring the most value to the global gaming community.(GSM Arena, Android Authority, 36Kr, Sohu)

vivo is reportedly merging its sub-brand iQOO into its main business in order to reduce operating costs and boost efficiency. vivo and iQOO are sharing R&D, supply chain and just about every resource, except for some marketing and distribution channels. iQOO smartphones are even running the same software as vivo’s phones. However, e-commerce strategies, planning and media targeting were separate unit this point. The new move will turn iQOO into just a regular lineup within vivo’s portfolio. vivo’s management reportedly considers closing down iQOO’s independent stores and counters too. (GSM Arena, 36Kr)

TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has indicated that Apple is not very confident that its mixed-reality (XR) headset will be able to recreate that “iPhone moment”. As a result, the company has reportedly pushed back the production schedule for assembly by 1-2 months. Now the company is said to be targeting mid-to-late 3Q23. According to Kuo, these factors include: A lack of enthusiasm based on market feedback, the recent downturn of the economy, the compromises made on hardware specifications for mass production — like weight, the readiness of the ecosystem and lack of app support as well as the high cost, which could be as much as USD3,000-4,000 or higher. The market consensus was reportedly at 500,000 or more units, but that shipment forecast has now dropped down to 200,000 to 300,000 units. (Android Authority, Twitter)

ADT’s Self Setup smart home security DIY joint project with Google has launched. Customers can choose from the ADT-developed smart home hub and sensors to use alongside Google Nest doorbells and cameras.Users can choose from the Starter, Premium System, and Build Your Own packages. The Self Setup packages can be purchased today starting at USD219.98.(Android Central, ADT)

General Motors (GM) is planning to phase out Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in its future electric vehicles. The phase-out will allow GM’s new Ultifi software platform to have more control from live charging station availability and traffic information to data-gathering and potential subscriptions. Several 2024 models will retain Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. Those models are the 2024 GMC Hummer EV, the 2024 Cadillac Lyriq, the 2024 Chevy Silverado EV and the 2024 Chevrolet Bolt. Also, ICE vehicles are not impacted by the decision. GM is designing the on-board navigation and infotainment systems for future EVs in partnership with Alphabet’s Google. Since 2019, GM has been collaborating with Google to develop infotainment systems that are more integrated with the vehicle’s operational systems, like Super Cruise.(Android Authority, Reuters, Jalopink, CNN)

Google plans to add conversational AI to its flagship Search product, according to CEO Sundar Pichai. Google has already said it would integratelarge language models (LLMs) into search, but this is the first time the company has announced plans for conversational features. Given that Google holds 93.4% of the worldwide Internet search share, adding conversational AI to the search product will significantly impact the Internet and user behavior. Google has released its own conversational AI called Bard strictly as a chat product on a standalone site and not in Search.  (Android Headlines, Engadget, WSJ, Android Central)

Meta has announced the release of an artificial intelligence (AI) model that is capable of identifying specific objects within an image. Alongside the model, Meta has also published a dataset of image annotations, which they claim is the most extensive of its kind to date. the company has developed an advanced object recognition model called the Segment Anything Model (SAM). SAM is designed to identify objects within images and videos, even if it has not encountered them during its training phase. The model allows users to select objects by clicking on them or using text prompts, such as the word “cat”. In a demonstration, SAM was able to accurately draw boxes around multiple cats in a photo in response to the written prompt.(Engadget, Reuters, Facebook, Live Mint)

According to Goldman Sachs’ predictions, generative AI will cause “major disruption” in the labour market. The report claims that over 300M jobs globally will be automated. Also, AI will claim 7% of jobs in the U.S. Goldman Sachs said that if generative AI is able to realize the existing capabilities, then these scenarios are entirely possible. ChatGPT has evolved so rapidly that other AI tools are also eyeing it. It is really dangerous for physical workers. Goldman Sachs points out that generative AI techs such as ChatGPT and DALL-E mainly have three characteristics: General AI, capable of generating novel and human-like info and provides a consumable interface that both understands and responds to natural language, images, audio and video. (GizChina, IT Home, Yahoo, Goldman Sachs report)

Google has recently uncovered a bug in Samsung’s Exynos modems that could let hackers take over phones just by knowing the phone number. Samsung has now confirmed that these security flaws have been fixed. Samsung has disclosed that the Exynos modem vulnerabilities have been patched as part of the Mar 2023 security update. The confirmation was made in response to a Samsung user who took to the company’s community forum to report the Wi-Fi calling vulnerability. (Android Central, Samsung, Android Authority)

Samsung Electronics and AMD have announced they have signed a multi-year agreement extension to bring multiple generations of high-performance, ultra-low-power AMD Radeon graphics solutions to an expanded portfolio of Samsung Exynos SoCs. Through the licensing extension, Samsung will bring console-level graphics quality and optimized power consumption to more mobile devices, offering an incredibly immersive and long-lasting gaming experience. Samsung and AMD first announced their partnership to license AMD RDNA graphics architecture in 2019, leading to the co-development of Samsung Xclipse, a mobile graphics processing unit (GPU) based on the AMD RDNA 2 architecture in 2022.(Android Headlines, Samsung, Android Authority)

Samsung could be looking to justify shipping the Galaxy S23 FE with a 2year-old processor (Exynos 2200) by lowering the asking price. The Galaxy S23 Fan Edition (FE) model may debut with a price tag of around KRW800,000 or roughly USD600. Samsung is now working on the Galaxy S23 FE with plans to release it later in 2023. It has even canceled the Galaxy A74 to make room for the new FE phone. However, to ensure that the device maintains the “affordable flagship” legacy, the company is reportedly planning to equip it with the Exynos 2200 processor.(Android Headlines, MK)

Samsung Semiconductor has announced its new 5G modem Exynos Modem 5300. The Sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G-capable modem brings up to 10Gbps download and 3.87 Gbps upload speeds with support for both SA (standalone) and NSA (non-standalone) 5G networks. Samsung Exynos Modem 5300 promises 10Gbps download speeds and long-lasting battery life. Exynos 5300 is fabbed on Samsung Foundry’s 4nm EUV process, which should bring improved power efficiency and in turn longer battery life. The new modem is configurable to connect to various chipsets thanks to its built-in PCIe interface and supports the very latest 3GPP 5G NR Release 16 standard.(GSM Arena, Samsung)

Apple has reportedly halted production of its M2 Series SoCs used in MacBooks from Jan to Feb 2023. While production of the chips resumed in Mar 2023 after the full halt, production volume has dropped by half compared to a year ago. From Jan to Feb, TSMC, Apple’s contract chip producer, did not send any of its finished 5nm M2 wafers to packaging and testing companies to be cut and assembled as finished chips. M2 chips are packaged and finished through flip chip packages and these are done by South Korean packaging companies Amkor and STATSChipPAC Korea. These Korea-based outsourced semiconductor packaging and testing (OSAT) companies receive TSMC’s wafers to finish them as completed chips. These OSAT companies have production lines dedicated to Apple in their South Korean factories. (Apple Insider, The Elec, The Elec)

A new vivo device with model number V2256A has just received its Google Play certification, which is named as “vivo X Flip”. The device reportedly features 6.8” primary display with a 120Hz refresh rate, Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, 50Mp Sony IMX866 primary camera with Zeiss branding and a 12Mp Sony IMX663 ultrawide camera, as well as a 32Mp front camera. It also has a Flex Mode-style option for hands-free use. (Android Authority, Android Authority, Weibo, Weibo)

According to Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC), only in 2025 will Apple’s basic iPhone and iPhone Plus get LTPO (low-temperature polycrystalline oxide) panels, which are needed in order to facilitate ProMotion technology. In other words, the iPhone 17 and the iPhone 17 Plus will be the first non-Pro iPhones to feature a 120Hz refresh rate. Apple will, firstly, implement under-display Face ID and, subsequently, an under-panel selfie camera. Both features will initially be available only on the Pro iPhone models. One of the reasons users will have to wait so long for a 120Hz display on the non-Pro iPhones is probably because Apple wants to maintain significant differentiation between the latter and the more premium iPhone models. Only when the Pro models adopt under-display Face ID will the non-Pro ones receive the 120Hz treatment. (GSM Arena, Twitter, Phone Arena, DSCC)

IDC expects worldwide shipments of foldable phones, including flip and fold form factors, to reach 21.4M units in 2023. This represents an increase of more than 50% over the 14.2M units shipped in 2022. An updated IDC forecast projects that foldable phone shipments will reach 48.1M units in 2027 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.6% from 2022 to 2027. Although average selling prices (ASPs) are dropping slightly, foldables remain in the premium price segments in all regional markets. Despite the expected drop in ASP (-6.8% in 2023), IDC has witnessed vast improvements in durability and build while the overall user experience has been elevated with advancements in software and hardware across all vendors. (GSM Arena, IDC)

Samsung Display will start manufacturing OLED panels for Apple iPhone 15 Series in May 2023, a month earlier than initially planned. This is because BOE, which was given the order by Apple to manufacture some OLED panels for the standard model of iPhone 15, is facing problems in production. BOE is facing light leak problems around the hole and has missed the chance become one of the initial suppliers of the hole-display panels. The light leak problem is different from those in liquid crystal display, which happens when the light from the backlight unit is not covered properly by the panel. In hole-display, the light leaks directly from the hole as the areas within the hole are not probably covered.(GSM Arena, The Elec)

Samsung has outlined a plan to update more devices with features from the Galaxy S23 series. These include the Image Clipper, Pro modes for the selfie camera, 300x speed Astro Hyperlapse, and more. Image Clipper allows users to select and lift a subject from an image. Samsung is also bringing Expert RAW and Pro modes to the selfie camera on the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy Z Fold4, as well as a 300x speed Astro Hyperlapse feature, which will additionally arrive on the Galaxy Z Flip 4. Lastly, Samsung is expanding additional Expert RAW features and improved lens switching to more phones, although that last one is currently under review and has not been finalized.(Android Central, SamMobile, Samsung)

OPPO has developed 300W level of rapid charging has no limits in terms of brand. OPPO has special 2220 / 2230mAh 15C system high-rate batteries. The equivalent capacity should be 4600mAh and this should be ready for 300W-level rapid charging. The 300W charging chip design must use the most recent GaN (gallium nitride) technology.(Android Headlines, GizChina, Sina, ZOL)

Luis Maestro Ruiz De Temino, Nokia’s principal engineer, has indicated that Nokia is preparing to launch a 4G mobile network on the moon later in 2023, in the hopes of enhancing lunar discoveries — and eventually paving the path for human presence on the satellite planet. The network will be powered by an antenna-equipped base station stored in a Nova-C lunar lander designed by U.S. space firm Intuitive Machines, as well as by an accompanying solar-powered rover. An LTE connection will be established between the lander and the rover.(Android Authority, CNBC)

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