This Week in Mobile

This Week in Mobile

Atherton Research Principal Analyst Jean Baptiste Su brings you up to speed on all the top mobile news stories of the past 7 days

  1. Thumb 1530634838 artwork
  2. Thumb 1530052109 artwork

    Week 25: Oppo Find X Unveiled, Vivo Nex Teardown, Australia Fines Apple, Android Messages, Plume Labs Air Report App

    This Week in Mobile is a weekly podcast available on Apple iTunes or Google Podcasts where I bring you up to speed on the top mobile news stories of the week.

    Joining me this week to discuss these top mobile news stories and more is tech veteran Eric Leandri, the co-founder and CEO of search-engine Qwant and Romain Lacombe, the CEO of Plume Labs' Air Report App.

    Oppo reveals flagship smartphone with world's best screen-to-body ratio

    Last week, Chinese mid-range smartphone maker Oppo unveiled a flagship device, the Find X, at the Louvre museum in Paris, France that has the world's best screen-to-body ratio (93.8%) thanks to its near bezel-less design.

    Just like the Vivo Nex S (91.24%) the week before - unsurprisingly, both Oppo and its low-cost brethren Vivo are parts of Shenzhen's based BBK Electronics - the Find X is a full-screen smartphone without a notch on the top of the device's front screen or no camera bump in the back. To make this happen, Oppo hid the front and back cameras on a separate motorized plate inside the device which pops-up to unlock the phone or when users launch the camera app. The side bezels are also tiny thanks to curved edges a-la Samsung S9.

    The $1,170 Find X has impressive specs, including the top of the line Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, making it one of the most powerful handsets on the market, its 3D facial recognition technology (O-Face) similar to the one found in Apple's iPhone X, and an under-the-screen fingerprint sensor.

    Oppo has also revealed a $2,000 Lamborghini edition of the Find X features a carbon fiber body with the famous Taurean bull logo on the rear, a whopping 512 GB of onboard memory and its amazing Super VOOC charging technology that can completely recharge the phone in 35 minutes!

    Vivo NEX teardown reveals a high-quality design

    Teardown and repair manual website MyFixGuide published its teardown of Vivo's latest flagship device that launched earlier this month, the NEX, which features a notch-less, full-screen and a selfie camera that slides up when activated.

    The NEX teardown revealed that low-cost smartphone brand Vivo - which is now moving upmarket - used innovative and high-end quality material, on par with Apple, Samsung or Huawei, to build its flagship phone and one of the most innovative device launched this year so far.

    Apple in legal crosshairs over App Store monopoly

    The U.S. Supreme Court decided it will review the case in which the plaintiffs argue that Apple has established a monopoly over mobile applications for iOS, charging developers 30 percent of their software sales and requiring that apps be exclusively distributed via its App Store, which means higher prices for consumers - a violation of federal antitrust laws.

    This could hugely affect other companies that operate marketplaces on behalf of third-party sellers, such as Amazon, eBay, Facebook and Google, and as well have a broad impact on e-commerce overall.

    Australia fines Apple for refusing to fix iPhones

    The Federal Court in Australia fined Apple $6.6M for refusing to fix iPhones and iPads that were made inoperable - also known as "error 53" - after the U.S.-based company issued a software update.

    These devices have been previously repaired by third parties repair shops who replaced or affected in some way the Touch ID fingerprint sensor which is also used to securely authenticate mobile payments made with Apple devices.

    This case is somewhat reminiscent to Apple's software update that throttled the performance of older iPhones to avoid unexpected battery shutdowns.

    Android Messages lets you text from your computer

    Google released a Web client for Messages, its default messaging app for Android based on the RCS (Rich Communication Services) standard, that lets you send and receive texts from your computer.

    With Messages for web, you can send stickers, emoji, and attach images in addition to sending text.

    However, unlike Apple's iMessage or Facebook's WhatsApp, Android Message doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption which means that the content of the messages sent through Google's messaging service will be accessible to cybercriminals, governments or Google and its affiliates for user profiling.

    App of the Week: Plume Air Report

    Plume Labs' Plume Air Report is an app (iOS, Android) that tracks live air quality around the world and reveals pollution peaks and fresh air moments throughout the day, thanks to 12,000 official government monitoring stations in 65 countries, along with satellite feeds and urban emissions data.

    It also has a unique artificial intelligence (AI) engine that can forecast future smog levels in your area and notify you of pollution alerts so you can plan your activities accordingly.

    Lastly, the app lets you easily compare the air quality in your area with other places around the world and quickly see how the air pollution in your city measures up with others.

  3. Thumb 1528830710 artwork

    Week 23: Oppo Find X, Blackberry KeyTwo, Google Pixel 3XL, Sprint $15 Unlimited Plan, iOS 12 New Features, VPNHub App

    This Week in Mobile is a weekly podcast available on Apple iTunes or Google Play where I bring you up to speed on the top mobile news stories of the week:

    1. Oppo will launch the Find X, which it claims to be a new futuristic flagship phone, in Paris on June 19, at the fabulous Louvre Museum. Details are hard to come by but the phone is said to have a front notch, a curved OLED display, like the Samsung S8 and S9, a triple-camera setup in the rear, like the Huawei P20 Pro, and an in-display fingerprint scanner.

    2. Chinese electronics company TCL launched the Blackberry KEY2 which has a physical QWERTY keyboard, a MicroSD port, and more importantly the DTEK security and privacy app that lets you see which apps are using features on your device to access your information, sometimes without your knowledge. The Android 8.1 (Oreo) device uses the mid-range Snapdragon 660 processor and will cost $650.

    3. Google might launch the next generation of its Pixel smartphones earlier than it used to in the past - traditionally in October - and as early as this summer. However, our first peak on the upcoming Pixel 3 doesn't look exciting: Despite thinner bezels and a top notch, the design still looks dated with a rather large bottom chin and still just a single rear-camera. If the price remains the same than for the previous 2 generations, Google will have a hard time to convince, even its most loyal fans, to buy one.

    4. ZTE is back in business after agreeing to pay a $1 billion fine to the U.S. However, we're not very optimistic about the prospects of seeing ZTE phones in the U.S. anymore. We believe that China's second largest telecom company will now focus its mobile efforts on its home market, Europe and emerging markets (Asia, Africa, Latin America).

    5. Sprint unveiled its Unlimited Kickstart data plan for just $15/month if you transfer your current number and only online or by phone, which is well below the company’s standard $60 plan. This is the cheapest unlimited mobile plan we've seen so far in the U.S. There's really nothing not to like about Sprint's new unlimited plan, aside from having to switch phones if yours is not compatible with CDMA networks used by Sprint and Verizon. Alternatively, if you can live with 100MB of data per month or less (after that it's $12/GB per month), plus unlimited voice and text, then Comcast's Xfinity Mobile has still the best deal: Free!

    6. Apple unveiled a preview of iOS 12 at its annual developer conference (WWDC) and said it will run faster than its previous mobile operating system on all the devices currently running iOS 11 (from the iPhone 5S and up). Apple also unveiled the Screen Time app - to help fight phone addiction - that shows how much time you spent on the iPhone and inside each app, and can also limit your usage if you wish to do that. Apple also updated its Safari browser tracking prevention features which will now prevent Facebook from tracking users through its comment boxes and like buttons, and prevent anyone from “fingerprinting” devices by looking at their configuration details.

    7. App of the Week: Porn site PornHub launched a free VPN app and service for mobile devices (iOS and Android), VPNhub, that lets anyone browse the Web anonymously. However, you will have to pay if you want to use it on your PC or Mac.

    Joining me this week to discuss these top mobile news stories is tech veteran Eric Leandri, the co-founder and CEO of search-engine Qwant.

  4. Thumb 1528157153 artwork

    Week 22: The Rise of Bezel-less phones with Lenovo Z5 and Vivo Apex, Xiaomi Mi8 First Look, TCL Alcatel First Android Go Phone in the US, Malware in Low-Cost Android Phones, iOS 12

    This Week in Mobile is a weekly podcast available on Apple iTunes or Google Play where I bring you up to speed on the top mobile news stories of the week:

    1. The rise of the true bezel-less smartphones: Chinese companies Lenovo and Vivo have teased their upcoming smartphones, respectively the Z5 and Apex/Nex, as one of the first full display devices, without any upper notch (like the iPhone X and most of this year's Android phones) or lower chin. So far, the Essential PH-1 phone launched last year is still the device - the first one with a notch - with a display that covers most of its front with a screen to body ratio of 84.9%. We don't know much about the Lenovo Z5 yet but Vivo is expected to use a pop-up selfie camera to avoid the ugly notch on the top of the device.

    2. Xiaomi has launched its latest flagship phone, the Mi8, that largely copycats the iPhone X design with a large top notch - Xiaomi's first device that has one - which integrates a 3D facial recognition system (not just 2D like the Huawei P20 Pro or the OnePlus 6) and vertically-aligned dual rear cameras. However, the Mi8 has a larger bottom bezel (the chin) than the iPhone X. The entry-level version, with a back fingerprint sensor, is priced at the unbelievably low price of $421, while the Explorer edition, which has a transparent back and an under the screen fingerprint sensor will cost about $520. Which is still about $100 less than the OnePlus 6 with the same Qualcomm 845 chip.

    3. Electronics Chinese company TCL is launching the first unlocked Android Go phone in the U.S. under the Alcatel brand (1X) at $100. TCL, which is more known in America for its TV business, also builds phones under the Blackberry and Palm brands. Two months ago, the ZTE Tempo Go priced at $80 was initially supposed to be the first Android Go device available stateside but following the U.S. export ban, the device never actually shipped.

    4. Antivirus company Avast has found out that several hundred low-cost Android phones, including devices from manufacturers like ZTE and Archos, have shipped with pre-installed malware inside. It's important to note that the majority of these Android devices were not certified by Google. These malware are adware that creates an overlay to display an ad over a webpage within the users’ browser. The adware has been active for at least 3 years and is difficult to remove as it is installed on the firmware level of the phones and uses strong obfuscation. Thousands of users are affected located in more than 100 countries including Russia, Italy, Germany, the UK, as well as some users in the U.S.

    5. iOS 12: This Week, at Apple's WorldWide Developer Conference, the California-based company will announce the next version of its mobile operating system (iOS) for iPad and iPhone. One of the announcements we expect is that Apple may unlock the NFC chip inside iPhones - since the iPhone 6 - to 3rd party applications. Currently, Apple limits the use of NFC to Apple Pay but if unlocked, iPhone users may then use their device to pair Bluetooth devices, pay for subway rides or unlock cars and doors.

    6. App of the Week: Privy is a private place for sharing memories - photos for now, but soon videos as well - with a small group of people like your family, or friends attending the same wedding or the same soccer match. It competes with Facebook and WhatsApp groups and is available now for free for iOS - and soon for Android - but eventually, the company will charge a small subscription to access the service.

    Joining me this week to discuss these top mobile news stories is tech veteran Eric Leandri, the co-founder and CEO of search-engine Qwant, and Simon Hudson, the CEO of Privy, our App of the Week.

  5. Thumb 1527704518 artwork

    Week 21: Essential Cancels Phone, HMD Raises $100M, Vivo Apex Full Display Smartphone, Apple Bendgate Redux, Fleksy Mobile Keyboard

    This Week in Mobile is a weekly podcast available on Apple iTunes or Google Play where I bring you up to speed on the top mobile news stories of the week:

    1. The phone company founded by Android creator Andy Rubin Essential has canceled its second flagship phone (PH-2) and is looking to sell itself. The startup, which is part of Rubin’s incubator Playground Global, has raised about $300 million and reached over $1 billion in valuation. The Palo Alto company sold about 150,000 phones since launching last August.

    2. HMD Global, the maker of Nokia-branded phones, has raised $100 million and became the last smartphone startup to hit Unicorn status, after Xiaomi, OnePlus and Essential. The new funding will allow the Finnish to aggressively expand its lineup of midrange and low-cost phones and its geographical presence. The company said it shipped more than 70 million devices last year.

    3. Last February, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Vivo unveiled its Apex concept phone with no notch, a full-screen display, an under the display fingerprint reader and a "pop-up" front selfie camera. The Chinese smartphone maker will launch its most innovative device to date (under the Nex name) in China next month, ahead of the FIFA World Cup (mid-June).

    4. The industrial robots and electronic devices manufacturing unit of iPhone maker and world's largest electronics contract manufacturer Foxconn raised over $4 billion in China's biggest IPO in 3 years. Foxconn Industrial Internet plans to deploy the proceeds to develop smart manufacturing, cloud computing, industrial Internet (IoT) and 5G technology.

    5. Apple knew about the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus design flaw before launch. According to new documents, which were revealed as part of a class-action lawsuit filed in 2015, the iPhone 6 and 6 plus were 3.3 times and 7.2 times, respectively, more likely to bend than the iPhone 5s. Despite publicly saying that there were no engineering issues, Apple made design changes to the phone, a year-and-a-half after it was released, to strengthen the iPhone.

    6. App of the Week: Fleksy is a keyboard application (for iOS and Android) designed with privacy in mind. Unlike the more invasive virtual keyboard apps from Google (Gboard), Microsoft (Swiftkey) or Nuance (Swype), Fleksy doesn't send any of your data to its servers in the Cloud and does all of the processing on your phone.

    Joining me this week to discuss these top mobile news stories is tech veteran Eric Leandri, the co-founder and CEO of search-engine Qwant, and Olivier Plante, the CEO of Fleksy, our App of the Week.

  6. Thumb 1526784513 artwork

    Week 20: Trump Saves ZTE, Google Spying On Android Users, OnePlus 6 Tops Affordable Premium Android Category, Nokia 6X Is Great Budget Phone, V360 App

    This Week in Mobile is a weekly podcast available on Apple iTunes or Google Play where I bring you up to speed on the top mobile news stories of the week:

    1. After almost killing Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer ZTE - which sold over 40 million smartphones last year, and half of that in the U.S. - after banning U.S. companies to sell it components, Donald Trump now wants to save it. At this point, it's hard to know what's next for ZTE as the issue has now become a political football, but we expect ZTE to be fined again and not allowed to sell its products in the U.S. for some time.

    2. After being alerted by U.S. database company Oracle, Australian regulator is investigating Google for collecting data from millions of Android users, sending an average of 1GB of personal data without the users knowing it, but who end up being charged for it by their local mobile operator. And that, even if there's no SIM card installed on a phone or if the phone is connected or not to the Internet. If Oracle's allegations happen to be true, Google would have built one the creepiest spying system ever.

    3. Chinese manufacturer OnePlus launched its latest flagship phone, the affordable premium OnePlus 6, with high-end specs and starting at the incredibly low price of $529, a whopping $300 less than rival Samsung S9+. It's the cheapest smartphone available today on the market with Qualcomm's top of the line Snapdragon 845 processor. However, the OnePlus 6 is not certified IP68, although the company said that it's water-resistant, and doesn't support wireless charging. Other than that, if you have $500 and want an amazing Android phone, the OnePlus 6 is the one.

    4. Huawei's smartphone sub-brand Honor launched the Honor 10 in Europe for just 400€ (~$471). For the price of a mid-range phone, the Honor 10 has the same amazing high-end specs than the Huawei P20 - including a front and rear 24MP camera, however not a Leica-branded one - Huawei's current top of the line which costs $300 more! It quickly sold out in several European countries but no date yet for its availability in the U.S.

    5. Nokia launched in China the X6 budget phone, its first phone that comes with an upper display notch, and equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636. Priced at about $200, the X6 is a great entry-level phone and most likely the cheapest one available with a Qualcomm chip inside.

    6. HTC is about to unveil the U12+ and it's disappointing. With a large top and bottom bezel, the design of the Taiwanese's company upcoming phone looks so outdated despite the device's 2 front-facing cameras and is no competition for the OnePlus 6.

    7. App of the Week: V360 is the only free app (for Android and iOS) that lets you edit 360-degrees videos right on your smartphone.

    Joining me this week to discuss these top mobile news stories is tech veteran Eric Leandri, the co-founder and CEO of search-engine Qwant, and Etienne Leroy, the co-founder of V360 and OpenFrame, our App of the Week.

  7. Thumb 1526242147 artwork

    Week 19: Android P, ZTE Shut Down, OnePlus 6, Qualcomm Smartwatch Chip, Samsung Tops Sales in Europe, Kloop

    This Week in Mobile is a weekly podcast available on Apple iTunes or Google Play where I bring you up to speed on the top mobile news stories of the week:

    1. Android P: a copy of the iPhone X navigation gesture

    2. ZTE shuts down and could break up and its business units (consumer/smartphones, enterprise, carrier) sold separately to highest bidders

    3. OnePlus 6 is launching on Wednesday and could quickly rise to be one of the top high-end smartphones in 2018 thanks to its performance and price

    4. Qualcomm confirmed that it will launch the next generation of its Snapdragon Wear chip for WearOS (formerly Android Wear) this fall, coinciding with the release of new Android watches by Google, Huawei, LG, and others.

    5. Samsung was the top smartphone seller in Europe for the first 3 months of the year according to a new report from market research firm Canalys with 15 million smartphones shipped, a 15% drop from last year. Apple shipped 10 million iPhones, a 5.4% drop, while Huawei smartphones sales grew 38.6% to 7.4 million units.

    6. The App of the Week this week is Kloop Inc., an iOS app designed to fight misinformation and fake news by displaying related articles from hundreds of legitimate sources (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post...).

  8. Thumb 1525631773 artwork

    Week 18: iPhone X and P20 Pro Sales, Xiaomi IPO, Nokia is Back in the US, T-Mobile-Sprint Merger, Yumlist

    This Week in Mobile is a weekly podcast available on Apple iTunes or Google Play where I bring you up to speed on the top mobile news stories of the week:

    1. Despite what most analysts (except Atherton Research) and "experts" said, the iPhone X is a roaring success. In its last earnings call, Apple confirmed that it sold more iPhone X than any other smartphone during the first 3 months of this year. And the iPhone X was also the world's #1 smartphone - including in China - sold in that same period. The next 2 smartphones are also iPhones, the 8 and the 8 Plus. And as we said last week, we expect Apple to release an update of the current 5.8-inch iPhone X this fall, as well as a larger 6.2-inch iPhone X Plus version.

    2. According to Huawei, the P20 Pro - the Chinese company's flagship smartphone - has outsold last year’s top of the line P10 Plus in Western Europe by more than 300%, mostly in Germany, UK, and France. Last March, the CEO of Huawei Mobile said that it hoped to sell 20 million P20s (P20 Pro, P20, and P20 Lite). Just to put this into perspective, Apple sells almost as much iPhone X - about 16 million - in just a quarter.

    3. Xiaomi, the 4th largest seller of smartphones in the world and #2 in China filed for an IPO in Hong-Kong and could raise as much as $10 billion, valuing the company at more than $100 billion which would be the biggest since Alibaba's $21 billion IPO, 4 years ago. What we also learned from the filing is that Xiaomi's business model is based on capturing and monetizing the data of their customers using their cheap hardware (smartphones and connected devices/IoT). We're currently investigating this issue and will report back next week with more details.

    4. Almost 4 years after abandoning the U.S. market, Nokia is back stateside - in part thanks to the implicit ban of Huawei and ZTE smartphones - with the Nokia 6, a "pure" Android One mid-range smartphone, available unlocked on Amazon and Best Buy for $269.

    5. T-mobile and Sprint announced last Sunday their $26.5 billion all-stock merger. The combined company would have 127 million subscribers, close behind Verizon (150 million) and AT&T (144 million). The rationale behind the merger is to accelerate the buildout of a nationwide 5G network that will require billions of dollars of investment. However, in a report to clients, Atherton Research believes that both companies can afford to build a 5G network - which they have already started - and that the merger will actually increase prices for consumers and reduce market competition.

    6. App of the Week: Yumlist (for iOS only) uses Tinder-like swipe gestures to find the restaurants that best match your palate. Just swipe right if you like the food that you see in the app, and left if you don't. Then the artificial intelligence-based algorithm (AI) will start recommending you restaurants - right now in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles - based on your preferences. To enter the private beta, you can use this special invite code: TWIM.

  9. Thumb 1525120679 artwork

    Week 17: Huawei Probe, No iOS-Mac Merge, Qualcomm Cuts Fee, New iPhone X, Acronis Mobile

    This Week in Mobile is a weekly podcast produced by Atherton Research that reviews the main news of the mobile world from the past 7 days

    This Week in Mobile is a weekly podcast available on Apple iTunes or Google Play where I bring you up to speed on the top mobile news stories of the week:

    1. On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Justice Department is investigating whether Huawei violated U.S. export sanctions related to Iran. After the Trump Administration imposed a ban on the sale of American technologies to ZTE earlier this month for similar export violations, this latest development feels like deja vu all over again and could cast a serious shadow over the business of the $92.5 billion Chinese company as customers look for a backup plan.

    2. According to Pakistan's telecom operators, ZTE has stopped providing services to them following the U.S. decision to ban the sale of American technologies to the Chinese firm. A situation that could spread quickly to ZTE customers around the globe.

    3. Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that iOS and Mac OS will not merge because "one of the reasons that both of them are incredible is because we pushed them to do what they do well. And if you begin to merge the two ... you begin to make trade-offs and compromises."

    4. In its earnings call, Qualcomm said that it will cut its licensing fee which could help the San Diego company to win back Apple's business and avoid other smartphone makers to switch to Intel modems.

    5. Rumors are heating up about Apple canceling the iPhone X because of low sales. In a research note to clients based on supply chain contacts, Atherton Research revealed that Apple will launch the next iPhone X and a larger iPhone X Plus this fall, as scheduled .

    6. China's fourth smartphone maker Xiaomi is expanding its presence in Europe with a new store in Paris in May. France is Xiaomi's second largest European market in Europe after Spain where it opened its first European store last November.

    7. App of the Week: Acronis Mobile is the only app that can backup all your iOS and Android devices to your local computer or network storage server (NAS) wirelessly, or to the Acronis cloud. After the free 30-day period, Acronis Mobile costs just $50 to backup all your mobile devices to a PC (perpetual license) or $50/year for the cloud backup subscription (250 GB).

  10. Thumb 1524578181 artwork

    Week 16: The ZTE American Tech Ban, Huawei To Quit The US, Qwant Mobile

    This Week in Mobile is a weekly podcast available on Apple iTunes or Google Play where I bring you up to speed on the top mobile news stories of the week:

    1. On Monday, the U.S. government announced that it will ban the sale of American technologies to ZTE, China's second-largest telecommunications equipment maker (including 45 million Android smartphones) with $17 billion in annual sales last year, behind Huawei.

    2. After the Federal Communications Commission decided to implicitly ban Huawei's telecom equipment in the U.S., Atherton Research wrote that the world's largest supplier of telecommunications gear (servers, routers, wireless, 4G...) will leave the U.S. market to focus its efforts and energy on Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America.

    3. App of the Week: Qwant Mobile (for iOS and Android) is a mobile Web browser that lets you search and browse the Web without being tracked.

    Joining me this week to discuss these top mobile news stories is tech veteran Eric Leandri, the co-founder and CEO of search-engine Qwant.

    One last thing before you go, you will find an edited transcript of This Week in Mobile below, and feel free to reach out with mobile news and products (devices, apps, accessories) or if you'd like to be a guest on the show. Enjoy!

View Older Episodes