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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.