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Corning's New Gorilla Glass 6 Will Let Your Phones Survive 15 Drops

Corning's New Gorilla Glass 6 Will Let Your Phones Survive 15 Drops

Corning just announced its most durable glass yet: Gorilla Glass 6. “The company says that the glass will survive up to 15 drops from a one meter height and can be ‘up to two times better’ than Gorilla Glass 5,” reports The Verge. From the report: As phones get slimmer and have ever sleeker glass displays, reports have appeared that the slimness may actually cancel out the improvements in new iterations of Gorilla Glass, since thinner glass is weaker glass, even if it’s become stronger. Still Corning argues that sleek edge-to-edge displays have actually led to stronger smartphones. Sometimes, in smartphones of previous years, the bezel would crack first, then leading to a weakness in the glass. There’s also a tradeoff between drop resistance and scratch resistance, which Corning has admitted to in the past. Corning says that Gorilla Glass 6 will have the same amount of scratch resistance as previous generations. So although the company claims the new generation of Gorilla Glass is “better,” you shouldn’t expect new phones made with the glass to be more scratch-resistant. The first devices to feature Gorilla Glass 6 are expected to arrive near the end of the year.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, cellphones
Sprint Follows Rivals By Complicating Its Unlimited Mobile Data Plans

Sprint Follows Rivals By Complicating Its Unlimited Mobile Data Plans

Sprint on Thursday unveiled a new, more complicated lineup of unlimited mobile data plans. Sprint goes from having one plan starting at $60 per month to four different options costing $50 to $70 a month. “The main price hike hits customers who want to watch streaming video at HD quality instead of being reduced to DVD quality,” reports Fortune. From the report: A new “unlimited plus” plan most resembles the carrier’s current one, with subscribers allowed to use up to 15 GB monthly before experiencing slowed download speeds, receiving HD-quality streaming video, and getting free Hulu and Tidal subscriptions. It costs $70 for one line, rising to $180 for four lines. But Sprint also added a “limited time” promotion that cuts the price to $50 to $100 per month for customers who buy a new phone or bring their own device. A cheaper “unlimited basic” plan, starting at $60 for one line and up to $140 for four lines, slows downloads to 3G speeds after just 500 MB, downgrades streaming to DVD-quality, and offers just a Hulu subscription, but no Tidal account.

Although consumers no longer get cut off or have to pay expensive overage charges when they run through a monthly data allowance, they face an increasing array of restrictions and conditions on all but the most expensive unlimited plans, including slowed download speeds. Sprint’s four-page press release announcing the new plans included 11 footnotes, signaling just how complicated they are.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, cellphones
Why No One Answers Their Phone Anymore

Why No One Answers Their Phone Anymore

An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via The Atlantic, written by Alexis C. Madrigal: No one picks up the phone anymore. Even many businesses do everything they can to avoid picking up the phone. Of the 50 or so calls I received in the last month, I might have picked up four or five times. The reflex of answering — built so deeply into people who grew up in 20th-century telephonic culture — is gone. There are many reasons for the slow erosion of this commons. The most important aspect is structural: There are simply more communication options. Text messaging and its associated multimedia variations are rich and wonderful: words mixed with emoji, Bitmoji, reaction gifs, regular old photos, video, links. Texting is fun, lightly asynchronous, and possible to do with many people simultaneously. It’s almost as immediate as a phone call, but not quite. You’ve got your Twitter, your Facebook, your work Slack, your email, FaceTimes incoming from family members. So many little dings have begun to make the rings obsolete.

But in the last couple years, there is a more specific reason for eyeing my phone’s ring warily. Perhaps 80 or even 90 percent of the calls coming into my phone are spam of one kind or another. […] There are unsolicited telemarketing calls. There are straight-up robocalls that merely deliver recorded messages. There are the cyborg telemarketers, who sit in call centers playing prerecorded bits of audio to simulate a conversation. There are the spam phone calls, whose sole purpose seems to be verifying that your phone number is real and working.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, cellphones
Arm Unveils Next-Gen 76-Series Mobile CPU, GPU Cores

Arm Unveils Next-Gen 76-Series Mobile CPU, GPU Cores

MojoKid writes: Last week, Arm showed off its new Machine Learning Processor design, but today it has lifted the veil on its next-generation Cortex and Mali CPU, GPU, and VPU architectures, destined for 2019 smartphones and mobile devices. The Arm Cortex-A76 CPU, Mali-G76 GPU, and Mali-V76 VPU designs all step up performance and efficiency over previous generation designs, though there are architectural and layout changes and more advanced manufacturing processes. Arm believes its A76 core, which can be clocked at 3GHz+ when produced on a 7nm process, can perform within 10 percent of an Intel Skylake core within the same thermal constraints, but at approximately half the footprint. The Mali-G76 improves density and energy efficiency by 30 percent over the previous generation G72, while providing a 2.7x uplift in machine learning workloads. And the Mali-V76 VPU improves on the recently announced V52 by adding support for 8K UltraHD content, among many other improvements.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, cellphones
The Toughest (And Weakest) Phones Currently On the Market

The Toughest (And Weakest) Phones Currently On the Market

New submitter Daneel Olivaw R. shares a report from Tom’s Guide: To measure each phone’s toughness, [Tom’s Guide] dropped it from both 4 and 6 feet onto wood and concrete. After each test, we recorded the damage to the phone. If a phone was rendered unusable — the screen totally shattered, for instance — then we stopped dropping it. [More details on the testing process can be found here.] Each drop was worth a maximum of 5 points; if a phone made it through all of the rounds unscathed, it would earn 35 points. The more severe the damage per drop was, the more points were deducted. If a phone was rendered unusable after a given drop, it would earn no points, and would not undergo any subsequent test. In total, there were seven tests. […] If a phone died in the 6-foot edge drop, it was penalized an extra 10 percent. If it died in the 6-foot face drop, it was penalized 5 percent. And if it died when dropped into the toilet, it lost 2.5 percent. We then divided the total score by 3.5, to put it on a 10-point scale. Here are the scores of each device:
Motorola Moto Z2 Force – Toughness score: 8.5/10
LG X Venture – Toughness score: 6.6/10
Apple iPhone X – Toughness score: 6.2/10
LG V30 – Toughness score: 6/10
Samsung Galaxy S9 – Toughness score: 6/10
Motorola Moto G5 Plus – Toughness score: 5.1/10
Apple iPhone 8 – Toughness score: 4.9/10
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 – Toughness score: 4.3/10
OnePlus 5T – Toughness score: 4.3/10
Huawei Mate 10 Pro – Toughness score: 4.3/10
Google Pixel 2 XL – Toughness score: 4.3/10
iPhone SE – Toughness score: 3.9/10

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Posted by amiller in Blog, cellphones
Pentagon-Funded Project Will 'Solve' Cellphone Identity Verification Within Two Years

Pentagon-Funded Project Will 'Solve' Cellphone Identity Verification Within Two Years

Long-time Slashdot reader Zorro quotes Nextgov:
The Defense Department is funding a project that officials say could revolutionize the way companies, federal agencies and the military itself verify that people are who they say they are and it could be available in most commercial smartphones within two years. The technology, which will be embedded in smartphones’ hardware, will analyze a variety of identifiers that are unique to an individual, such as the hand pressure and wrist tension when the person holds a smartphone and the person’s peculiar gait while walking, said Steve Wallace, technical director at the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Organizations that use the tool can combine those identifiers to give the phone holder a “risk score,” Wallace said. If the risk score is low enough, the organization can presume the person is who she says she is and grant her access to sensitive files on the phone or on a connected computer or grant her access to a secure facility. If the score’s too high, she’ll be locked out… Another identifier that will likely be built into the chips is a GPS tracker that will store encrypted information about a person’s movements, Wallace said. The verification tool would analyze historical information about a person’s locations and major, recent anomalies would raise the person’s risk score.

A technical director at the agency “declined to say which smartphone and chipmakers planned to participate in the project, but said the capability will be available ‘in the vast majority of mobile devices.'”

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Posted by amiller in Blog, cellphones
Lenovo Teases a True All-Screen Smartphone With No Notch

Lenovo Teases a True All-Screen Smartphone With No Notch

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: Notches, it seems, are the new black. Originally seen — and often criticized — on the Essential PH-1 and iPhone X in 2017, the trend of adding notches to Android phones has only accelerated this year as phone makers look to maximize the screen size. But the Lenovo Z5 is going the other way: It’s truly all-screen, and notch-free. At least, that’s according to a sketch shared last Friday by Lenovo VP Chang Cheng on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform in China. Cheng’s teaser post says (according to Google Translate) that the Lenovo Z5 is the company’s new flagship phone. Besides that, the post leaves it pretty vague.

All-screen phones look cool, but they challenge the manufacturer to find a place to put front cameras, sensors and other hardware. That’s why we see bezels on some phones and notches on others. It’s not clear what Lenovo plans to do with the front camera on the Lenovo Z5. Cheng’s post claims that “four technological breakthroughs” and “18 patented technologies” were made for the phone, but doesn’t go into details. One of the first smartphones to launch with an edge-to-edge display was the Xiaomi Mi Mix. It launched with next to no bezel or notch, leaving many to wonder where the earpiece would be. What Xiaomi managed to do was use what it calls “cantilever piezoelectric ceramic acoustic technology.” Basically, it’s a component that converts electrical energy into mechanical energy to transfer to the phone’s internal metal frame, which then vibrates to create sound. It’s possible the Z5 relies on a similar technology, or bone conduction technology found in many headphones and some smartphones.
Aside from the front-facing camera and ambient light sensors, the other components that are typically found on the front of smartphones are relatively easy to drag-and-drop to different locations. For example, the speakers in the Z5 are likely bottom facing and the navigation controls are almost certainly software based. The question is whether or not it’s worth having a true all-screen smartphone if it means there’s no front-facing camera, ambient light sensors, or stereo speakers.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, cellphones
US Appeals Court Rules Border Agents Need Suspicion To Search Cellphones

US Appeals Court Rules Border Agents Need Suspicion To Search Cellphones

On Thursday, a federal appeals court ruled that U.S. border agents need some sort of reason to believe a traveler has committed a crime before searching their cellphone. Slashdot reader Wrath0fb0b shares an analysis via Reason, written by Fourth Amendment scholar Orin Kerr: Traditionally, searches at the border don’t require any suspicion on the theory that the government has a strong sovereign interest in regulating what enters and exits the country. But there is caselaw indicating that some border searches are so invasive that they do require some kind of suspicion. In the new case, Kolsuz (PDF), the Fourth Circuit agrees with the Ninth Circuit that at least some suspicion is required for a forensic search of a cell phone seized at the border. This is important for three reasons. First, the Fourth Circuit requires suspicion for forensic searches of cell phones seized at the border. Second, it clarifies significantly the forensic/manual distinction, which has always been pretty uncertain to me. Third, it leaves open that some suspicion may be required for manual searches, too.

But wait, that’s not all. In fact, I don’t think it’s the most important part of the opinion. The most important part of the opinion comes in a different section, where the Fourth Circuit adds what seems to be a new and important limit on the border search exception: a case-by-case nexus requirement to the government interests that justify the border search exception. Maybe I’m misreading this passage, but it strikes me as doing something quite new and significant. It scrutinizes the border search that occurred to see if the government’s cause for searching in this particular case satisfied “a ‘nexus’ requirement” of showing sufficient connection between the search and “the rationale for the border search exception,” requiring a link between the “predicate for the search and the rationale for the border exception.” In other words, the Fourth Circuit appears to be requiring the government to identify the border-search-related interest justifying that particular search in order to rely on the border search exception. “The analysis is interesting throughout, and it would be a fairly large limitation on digital searches conducted at the border, both in requiring some articulable suspicion for digital searches and in the requirement to justify the relationship between the search and the border inspection,” writes Wrath0fb0b.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, cellphones
Facebook's Phone-Free, Wireless 'Oculus Go' VR Headset Is Released Today

Facebook's Phone-Free, Wireless 'Oculus Go' VR Headset Is Released Today

UnknownSoldier writes: The Oculus Go is finally available for purchase. Amazon is selling the 32GB model for $199, while the 64GB model is selling for $249. As a standalone virtual reality unit, it doesn’t require a computer or phone to use. Ironically, you must use a phone for the initial setup. Reviews are out on The Verge and Ars Technica. The TL;DR — Pros: Inexpensive; Cons: LCD, fixed 72 Hz rate, limited motion tracking. Will 2018 finally will be the year of cheap VR?

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Posted by amiller in Blog, cellphones
Surface Phone Speculation Spurred By New Phone APIs In Windows

Surface Phone Speculation Spurred By New Phone APIs In Windows

Microsoft has been rumored to be working on a “Surface Phone” for years now, with little concrete evidence that such a device actually exists. “But the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview has given new fuel for the speculative fire, it has a set of new APIs for cellular phones,” reports Ars Technica. From the report: Windows has had integrated support for cell modems since Windows 8, but this has been restricted to supporting data connections. Telephony — dialing numbers, placing calls — has always required either Windows Phone or Windows 10 Mobile. This has made the full Windows 10 unsuitable for a phone. That may be changing. Windows 10 build 17650 — a preview of Redstone 5, the next Windows update after the delayed April update — includes some telephony APIs. The new APIs cover support for a range of typical phone features: dialing numbers and contacts, blocking withheld numbers, support for Bluetooth headsets and spearphone mode, and so on and so forth. There also looks to be some kind of video-calling support, suggesting support for 3G or LTE video calling.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, cellphones