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Mobile Phones

Meet Bixby, the Samsung Voice Assistant

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Meet Bixby, the Samsung Voice Assistant

Samsung presents what it claims is a "new way to interact with your phone"-- Bixby, its take on the voice assistant likes of Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant.

The result of the acquisition of Viv, an AI specialist founded by the creators of Siri, Bixby promises to be superior to the competition through 3 specific properties. These are completeness (it can handle "almost" any task one can do using the touchscreen), context awareness (Bixby-enabled apps can summon Bixby at any time, and the assistant carries out tasks specific to the app) and cognitive tolerance (it understands commands with incomplete information, and prompts users to tell it more if necessary).

Bixby will also find use beyond smartphones, since Samsung plans to put it a wide variety of connected devices, including appliances, TV remotes and wearables. In fact, the company states Bixby can work on just about anything with an internet connection and a microphone. Uniting all Bixby-enabled offerings is a dedicated hardware button, which Samsung claims eliminates the "confusion around activating a voice interface."

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Kantar Worldpanel: Life in a Two-OS World

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Kantar Worldpanel: Life in a Two-OS World

According to Kantar Worldpanel the days of a BlackBerry OS, Symbian or Windows Phone making "significant" impact are over, since the mobile industry is all but dominated by iOS-Android duopoly.

The biggest 5 European markets (Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain) are dominated by Android-- the Google OS accounts for 74.3% of smartphone sales in the quarter ending January 2017, a "marginal" increase over the 72.9% of the same period in the previous year. In the meantime iOS holds 22.7%, with the iPhone 7 remaining the top-selling device in Great Britain, France and Germany.

Kantar points out Nokia as a potential success story in the region, as brand owner HMD Global is focusing on quality for cost with well made mid-tier devices. Such smartphones will not rival the iPhone 7 or the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8, but do compete with the likes of the Huawei 8 and P9 Lite, both strong sellers in the price-conscious Italian and Spanish markets.

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Meizu Super mCharges Phones

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Meizu Super mCharges Phones

Meizu claims to slash phone charging times at Mobile World Congress with Super mCharge-- a technology able to fully charge a 3000mAh battery in all of 20 minutes.

Super mCharge technology is rated at 55W (11V, 5A), significantly higher than competing technologies such as Motorola TurboPower (25.5W) or Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 (18W). It also battery temperatures do not exceed 38 °C, which is crucial since batteries can explode if put through much heat.

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The Phone With a 360-Degree Camera

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The Phone With a 360-Degree Camera

The Protruly Darling is a sure contender for the strangest smartphone of Mobile World Congress 2017 award-- it features a built-in 360-degree camera and, in the case of one version, embedded diamonds.

Made by an obscure Shenzen-based company, the Darling has an unusually long design housing the aforementioned 360-degree camera. It allows users to shoot photos and record videos in all directions, which one can preview on the 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 resolution display in globe form before sharing on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.

The phone also include a pair of regular cameras on the front and back, and runs on a 2.5GHz deca-core Helio X20 MT6797 CPU, 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. The OS of choice is Android 6.0, the battery is a 3560mAh number and connectivity comes through USB-C. Topping off the package are a fingerprint sensor and, as if the device is not strange enough, a thermal camera.

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Xiaomi Intros Mi 5c

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Xiaomi Intros Mi 5c

Xiaomi presents the first smartphone running on its own mobile chipset-- the Mi 5c, a 5.15-inch handset designed mainly for the Chinese mid-range market.

The chip inside the Mi 5c is the octa-core Surge S1. It promises lower power consumption, allowing the smartphone to carry a smaller 2860mAh battery with 9V/2A quick charge support for a slimmer (7.09mm) metal body. The chip is built by Xiaomi subsidiary Pinecone, and has been in development since October 2014.

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Better Sound From LG G6 With Quad-DAC

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Better Sound From LG G6 With Quad-DAC

LG continues trickling details on its upcoming smartphone flagship-- the company promises the G6 features better sound through a 32-bit quad-DAC system.

Apparently such an addition allows for the independent control of each earbud, leading to clearer, more balanced sound. It also provides analog output, meaning the G6 will most probably feature a headphone jack. The DAC comes from audio chipset specialist ESS, and is described as an improvement over the quad-DAC found in the 2016 LG V20 smartphone.

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Razer Buys Cloud Smartphone Maker Nextbit

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Razer Buys Cloud Smartphone Maker Nextbit

Gaming peripheral maker Razer buys into smartphones with Nextbit, the small startup behind the Robin "cloud smartphone" founded by former HTC, Google and Amazon employees.

According to the new owner, Nextbit will operate as a "standalone business unit under its own management" with a staff of 30. It should also continue providing Robin owners with product support and software updates (including a leap to Android 7.0) while working on more products under the Nextbit brand.

“Nextbit is one of the most exciting companies in the mobile space,” Razer says. “Razer has a track record of disrupting industries where our technology and ability to design and innovate have allowed us to dominate categories with longstanding incumbents, such as the peripherals and laptop categories. With the talent that Nextbit brings to Razer, we look forward to unleashing more disruption and growing our business in new areas.”

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LG Leaks G6 Flagship

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LG Leaks G6 Flagship

The Verge obtains a first image of the upcoming LG smartphone flagship-- the G6, a handset featuring a typically sleek design replete with rounded corners and minimal bezels.

As apparently confirmed by LG Display, the G6 has a 5.7-inch display with an unusual 2:1 aspect ratio and a screen-to-bezel ratio greater than 90%. LG appears to have abandoned the modular design of last year's G5 in favour of minimalist glass and metal construction with a non-replaceable battery. The Verge adds a headphone jack is included.

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ZTE Details Crowdsourced Hawkeye Phone

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ZTE Details Crowdsourced Hawkeye Phone

Back in October 2016 ZTE announced plans to take the people's advice for the development of its next phone. Now the company is ready to reveal the results-- the Hawkeye, an eye-tracking, self-adhesive smartphone.

The result of an online voting campaign, the Hawkeye has some unusual capabilities. Apparently potential customers demanded a phone with self-adhesive polymers on the back, meaning one can stick it on any stable surface. It also incorporates eye tracking via pair of front-facing cameras, allowing users to scroll through websites and the like without using their fingers.

Another odd, if interesting, feature is a display with a split screen design that is only visible to users directly in front of it. This prevents others from trying to look at what is on screen.

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