1-27 #Tired : Samsung is allegedly working on an entry-level model of its flagship foldable phone; Samsung has showcased the world’s first transparent MicroLED display; Google and AT&T have joined a strategic investment in AST SpaceMobile; etc.

Foxconn will partner with tech firm HCL Group for a semiconductor assembly and testing facility in India. The firms will set up an outsourced assembly and testing (OSAT) unit in the south Asian nation. An OSAT plant packages, assembles and tests foundry-made silicon wafers, turning them into finished semiconductor chips. Foxconn said that its India unit will own a 40% stake in the joint venture with a USD37.2M investment. Foxconn is also looking to set up a semiconductor fabrication plant in India, where the government has offered USD10B in incentives to start local chip manufacturing.(Neowin, Money Control, Reuters, Times of India)

LG Electronics has unveiled the world’s first wireless transparent OLED TV. The OLED T (transparent) becomes a transparent digital canvas for showcasing artwork, videos or photos with the Always-On-Display (AOD) feature. Content displayed on the transparent screen appears to float in air, yet simultaneously fuses with the surrounding space to create a compelling and atmospheric visual effect. LG will offer its Zero Connect Box to connect and send video to the TV. That means the television can be placed anywhere without having to worry about finding a power outlet.(Neowin, LG)

Samsung is allegedly working on an entry-level model of its flagship foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Fold 6, later 2024 to expand its footprint in the growing foldable phone market. The lower-priced Z Fold 6 model could be launched alongside the vanilla Z Fold 6 and Z Flip 6 in 2H24. This would be Samsung’s biggest push into foldables yet, with 3 new models at different price points. Research firm DSCC (Display Supply Chain Consultants) forecasts global foldable shipments to grow 23% to 15.8M units in 2024, signaling growing consumer interest. An entry-level Z Fold 6 could be Samsung’s game changer in China. (GSM Arena, The Elec, Neowin)

Samsung has showcased the world’s first transparent MicroLED display. The transparency of these MicroLED TVs is achieved through precision manufacturing processes that print Micro LED chips on a piece of glass, eliminating seams and refractions and giving the panel a glass-like appearance. In terms of design, the TVs are incredibly thin, measuring about a centimeter in thickness, which enhances the illusion of a floating screen. Moreover, the high pixel density of micro LEDs ensures that the images displayed are exceptionally sharp and clear.(Gizmo China, Engadget)

realme partners with Oscar-winning cinematographer Claudio Miranda on realme 12 Pro series. realme says that Miranda will help “perfect the image tuning of the realme 12 Pro series”. The realme 12 Pro 5G family is confirmed to feature a 64Mp OmniVision OV64B periscope lens. One of the models is teased to carry a Sony IMX890 sensor with optical image stabilisation. (GSM Arena, Twitter)

Apple’s next-generation iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus models will both feature 8GB of RAM, an increase over the 6GB of RAM in the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, according to Haitong International Securities analyst Jeff Pu. Pu also expects the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus to support Wi-Fi 6E, which works with the 6 GHz band, enabling faster wireless speeds and reduced signal interference with a compatible router. (Phone Arena, MacRumors)

SK Hynix is considering increasing the production output of some specific DRAM chips within 1Q24, according to the company’s CEO Kwak Noh-jung. It is because because there are signs of market conditions improving. For NAND, while the company believes the worst is over recovery has been relatively slower so such considerations will be made after the mid-point of 2024. SK Hynix, along with Samsung and Micron, had responded to this downturn by reducing their production output. Prices of memory chips DRAM and NAND began to tick up again in 4Q23. Kwak said the memory chip industry was experiencing an unprecedented time from fast changes in the economy and geopolitical situations.(The Elec)

Samsung announced in Nov 2023 it is working with Google to develop a new 3D spatial audio technology called Immersive Audio Model and Formats (IAMF). The company has now confirmed that the audio format will roll out later in 2024 for TVs, soundbars, and more. In addition, YouTube will reportedly also begin rolling out content that supports IAMF later 2024 as well. This format will work on previous-generation TVs and legacy sound systems after a firmware update.(Android Authority, YouTube)

Samsung is exploring the development of continuous blood pressure monitoring and non-invasive blood glucose readings for its devices. It is part of a larger push to bring health features to a range of devices, like the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Ring, said Hon Pak, Samsung’s mobile digital health chief. Samsung is digging into ways to expand its health data offering for users. More specifically, the company is exploring sensors all over the body to dish out more insights.(Android Headlines, Bloomberg, Tom’s Hardware, Android Central)

Google and AT&T have joined a USD155M strategic investment in AST SpaceMobile, which is set to raise double that to help fund its direct-to-smartphone connectivity constellation. The strategic investment also includes funds from existing shareholder Vodafone, one of Europe’s largest telcos with a significant presence across Africa. It comes alongside AST SpaceMobile’s plans to draw up to USD51.5M from an existing debt facility and raise at least USD100M by selling discounted shares. The capital injection will support AST SpaceMobile’s ambitions to deploy commercial services in 2024 as the venture prepares to start producing spacecraft that would be twice as big as its first five 1,500-kilogram operational BlueBird satellites, known as Block 1 and slated to launch on a dedicated SpaceX Falcon 9 before the end of Mar 2024.(Neowin, Business Wire, Ars Technica, Space News)

Telecom network operator Reliance Jio has joined hands with smartphone maker One Plus to establish a 5G innovation lab for testing and developing new 5G technologies. This collaboration aims to bring together the technological innovation and infrastructure of Jio and OnePlus to unlock new experiences for users in the 5G field. (Gizmo China, Business Line, RCR Wireless, ET, India Times)

According to IDC, global smartphone shipments declined 3.2% YoY to 1.17B units in 2023. While this marks the lowest full-year volume in a decade, driven largely by macroeconomic challenges and elevated inventory early in the year, growth in the second half of the year has cemented the expected recovery for 2024. The 4Q23 saw 8.5% YoY growth and 326.1M shipments, higher than the forecast of 7.3% growth. Not only is Apple the only player in the Top 3 to show positive growth annually, but also bags the number 1 spot annually for the first time ever. (GSM Arena, Business Wire)

According to Canalys, worldwide smartphone shipments grew 8% YoY in 4Q23, reaching 320M units. This ended 7 consecutive quarters of decline. Apple led the market in 4Q23 with a 24% share of shipments, thanks to new iPhone launches. Samsung took second place with 17%. Xiaomi was third, with over 20% YoY growth in 4Q23. Transsion rose to fourth place for the first time, benefiting from emerging market recovery. With a 7% market share, vivo completed the top five. For full-year 2023, global smartphone shipments reached 1.1B units, a 4% decrease from the previous year. For the first time, Apple pipped Samsung to become the year’s top vendor in terms of shipments, though both rounded to 20% shares. Xiaomi, OPPO and Transsion held 13%, 9% and 8% shares, respectively.  (GSM Arena, Canalys)

Apple has been quietly making a series of artificial intelligence (AI) related acquisitions and staff hires in a bid to bring on-device AI to its next-generation iPhones. Apple has been focusing on “tackling the technological problem of running AI through mobile devices”. To that end, it has acquired several AI-related startups, the last one occurring early 2023 when it purchased California-based WaveOne, which offers AI-powered video compression. According to Morgan Stanley, almost half of Apple’s AI job posts have included the term “Deep learning,” which relates to the algorithms used to power generative AI. Apple has been testing its “Ajax” large language model (LLM) since early 2023, but in contrast to LLMs like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Apple’s primary goal is to develop generative AI that works locally on-device, rather than being powered by cloud services in data centers. (Financial Times, MacRumors, Twitter)

HMD Global, the company behind Nokia, could debut its first-ever self-branded smartphone in 2024. In Sept 2023, HMD CEO and Chairman Jean-Francois Baril revealed that the company was working on its very own smartphone brand. There are allegedly 6 models and they have the codenames “Pulse”, “Legend”, “Pulse Plus”, “Legend Plus”, “Pulse Pro”, and “Legend Pro”. These 6 devices fall into 2 different series of smartphones.(Android Central, 91Mobiles, Android Authority, Twitter)

According to SellCell, Apple exhibited its ability to retain the iPhone 15 series’ value much better compared to many of its Android counterparts. In the Android realm, the Samsung Galaxy S23 series emerged as a resilient option. The iPhone 15 lost only 27.9% 3 months post-release. Putting it into comparison, this figure is 27.1% less than the average depreciation seen in other flagship Android devices. The iPhone 15 series, particularly the 256GB iPhone 15 Pro Max, stood out, depreciating by a mere 18.2% during the initial three months. Samsung Galaxy S23 experienced 32.8% less depreciation compared to other Android flagships in the same timeframe. Despite an initial loss of 43.5% in the first two months, the Galaxy S23 held its ground, with the 256GB Galaxy S23 Plus showcasing exceptional value retention, losing only 35.3% after 3 months. (Android Headlines, SellCell)

Fossil has officially confirmed that it will not be making any more smartwatches based on Google’s Wear OS. That includes both the company’s Wear OS watches as well as the “Hybrid” models that combined classic watch components with e-paper displays.(Android Central, The Verge, 9to5Google)

Based on pre-order inventory and shipping time, TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo estimated that Apple sold 160K – 180K Vision Pro units during the first pre-order weekend. As predicted, the Vision Pro sold out immediately after the pre-order opened, with shipping times for all models extending to 5–7 weeks within hours. The instant sold-out and extended shipping times seem positive at first, but a key concern emerged: shipping times remained unchanged 48 hours after pre-orders opened. It indicates that demand may quickly taper off after the core fans and heavy users place their orders. (GSM Arena, Medium)

LG Electronics CEO Cho Joo-wan has revealed that the company plans to release an XR (extended-reality) device as early as 2025. LG Electronics has been actively working on XR device development, establishing a dedicated “XR Business Department” within the HE Business Division (the division that makes TVs) in 2024. LG intended to accelerate development as the XR business gained visibility. (Android Headlines, The Guru, ET News)

Ford has introduced a brand new digital driving experience for both its Ford and Lincoln car brands. The new Ford digital experience is like a 3-in-1 platform. The primary Ford experience is Android-based; Google used to call this “Android Automotive” but is now referring to it as “Google built-in”. Ford brought a lot of the development in-house to fine-tune the experience and get it to run better on the central console and on the sweeping 48” panoramic display up top. Ford’s new digital experience supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It also supports Google Assistant, which is the default, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa.(Android Authority, InsideEVs, iMore, The Verge)

Apple has allegedly pivoted to simpler, less ambitious design for the Apple Car in order to actually bring the vehicle to market. Apple initially wanted a driverless car with full autonomous capabilities, but it is now developing an electric vehicle with fewer features. Apple is said to be focusing on driver-assistance features that are closer to how Tesla vehicles operate, and it will have a Level 2+ system. Level 2 autonomous driving includes steering and brake / acceleration support, but the driver remains in control of the car and must pay attention on the road. Despite the scaling back of the project, Apple’s launch timeline for the ‌Apple Car‌ has been adjusted. Apple wanted to introduce the car sometime around 2026, but Apple is now targeting a 2028 release at the earliest. (MacRumors, Bloomberg, Forbes, Jalopnik)

Microsoft is reportedly expanding its internal focus on developing artificial intelligence (AI) technology that requires less computing power and financial resources. The company has formed a new team dedicated to building what it calls “smaller language models” (SLM). These SLMs aim to provide conversational and generative capabilities similar to large language models (LLM) like OpenAI’s GPT but with significantly reduced hardware needs. This would allow Microsoft’s AI products and services to have lower associated costs and carbon footprint compared to alternatives developed externally. The GenAI team, expected to be incorporated into Microsoft’s Azure cloud unit, will focus on creating smaller language models. To support the GenAI team, Microsoft has also relocated several top developers from its research group. Microsoft corporate vice president Misha Bilenko will spearhead the team’s efforts. (Neowin, The Information, The Verge)

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that his company is currently working on artificial general intelligence (AGI). This particular type of AI is often described as human-level AI. Two of the company’s AI research teams, namely FAIR and GenAI have been brought together to develop the AGI and make it open source. (Instagram, Android Authority)

Samsung Electronics China has teamed up with Baidu AI Cloud to make the AI features in Samsung’s latest top-end phone, the Galaxy S24 Series, better. They’re using Baidu’s advanced ERNIE model to add new tools and functions to Samsung’s phone AI. This partnership makes the Galaxy S24 Series smarter with new abilities like making long texts short and clear, setting up text in a neat way, and translating calls as they happen. The updated Samsung Note Assistant, powered by ERNIE, now offers content translation and summarization into organized formats, which can quickly change content into shorter, easy-to-understand formats with just a button press.(Sohu, Gizmo China, IT Home)

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