Ren Zhengfei might seem to us like a man of mystery; a quintessential "elusive figure" about whom we know very little beyond the facts that he founded Huawei and has had some (partly refuted) connections to the Chinese Communist Party. According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden and seen by Der Spiegel and The New York Times, however, there are snoops inside the NSA who know him much better than we do -- not least because they've been reading his private emails.
Despite Qualcomm's odd stance on octa-core and 64-bit in the past, the company has clearly changed its mind since last week's launch of its Snapdragon 615, which includes both features. Qualcomm's marketing VP Tim McDonough, who briefly spoke to us after his meeting with Oppo at MWC, admitted that this new chip is partly aimed at the ever-demanding Chinese market.
"It's very interesting. Consumers in China want octa-core. It's very high on their list; while in the US and Western Europe, it's totally other things that consumers want," the exec said. "So we've really recognized that if that's what Chinese consumers want, that is what our Chinese customers, our OEMs want, and Qualcomm has to care for that need; so that's what we're doing."
We tend to see China as a hotbed of smartphone growth, but we're going to have to rethink that belief in light of new figures from IDC. The analyst firm estimates that smartphone shipments to the country dropped from 94.8 million in the third quarter of last year to 90.8 million in the fourth -- the first time demand has fallen since mid-2011. Researchers blame the dip on a mix of factors, including the last-minute launch of China Mobile's LTE network (in mid-December), lower device subsidies and customers who opted for tablets instead. However, the analysts primarily believe that the market has matured; phone makers have mostly courted first-time buyers for the past few years, but they now have to justify more upgrades among existing users. IDC is still optimistic that the Chinese market will grow rapidly in 2014, but it's evident that companies can no longer take that relentless pace for granted.
Source: IDC China (Translated)
Despite HTC's recent blast of Desire phones, the company admitted that it still needs to push harder in the lower price tiers. Lo and behold, here's a leak of an upcoming "New Desire 8" series mid-range device, courtesy of Chinese site MyDrivers and with confirmation from our own sources. This dual-SIM phone will reportedly pack a 5.5-inch display of unknown resolution, which will make it the largest non-flagship HTC phone since the Desire 700. There will also be a 13-megapixel main camera (not UltraPixel), along with a 5-megapixel front imager with beautification mode. We're assuming that this is a plastic body -- available in white, red, yellow, orange and cyan -- with stereo front-facing speakers, which is now a signature feature on many HTC phones. But where are the Android buttons? Chances are this Desire model is joining the M8 flagship to embrace on-screen keys, despite their absence in this render.
The screenshot mentions "March 18th" plus Beijing, so unless Peter Chou is messing with us here, we'll be making ourselves available that day for the launch event in China. Having said that, we might also get to see it at MWC in two weeks' time, so stay tuned.
As Chinese phone maker Meizu approaches its eleventh anniversary come March 14th, its notoriously reclusive founder Jack Wong made a surprise return -- in front of cameras, no less -- to his company's Zhuhai headquarters this weekend. Wong, who is now 40 years old, has apparently avoided setting foot in his office for years -- he even used to leave home just once a month to get his haircut, and he only held meetings with just a handful of key employees, according to our sources. During yesterday's recorded Q&A session, the slightly brash yet charismatic exec confirmed this odd little fact, blaming a series of events several years ago that led to exhaustion. But now he's ready to go full time again, instead of just occasionally posting on his company's online forum and designing prototypes at home.
"I plan to lead everyone, lead Meizu, lead the whole team to make a new start, to a more extraordinary, more prosperous 10 years," Wong said in front of his employees.
You may struggle to take Lenovo seriously after Ashton Kutcher, its new "product engineer," knelt before CEO Yang Yuanqing at the Yoga Tablet launch in Beijing. But this is the same Chinese company who's making a second-round purchase from IBM -- previously for its PC division with $1.75 billion, and this time for its x86 server business with $2.3 billion. Merely a week later (and just in time for Chinese New Year), Lenovo announced that it's also snapping up Motorola's smartphone business from Google for $2.9 billion, with the intention to crack the North American, Latin American and Western European mobile markets.
When combined, Lenovo and Motorola ("LenoMo?" "Lenola?") will leap from fifth place to third in terms of worldwide smartphone shipments between Q4 2012 and Q3 2013, placing them ahead of LG, Sony and Nokia, but they still trail far behind Samsung and Apple. Looking at its home turf, though, will the deal do much to help Lenovo maintain its number two position in the increasingly competitive market in China? Or perhaps even knock Samsung off the top of the chart? Not directly, no.
Earlier today, the Taipei District Prosecutors Office concluded its investigation on the HTC saga that mainly involved ex-lead designer Thomas Chien (pictured above). The report indicts the ex-VP for leaking HTC's upcoming icon designs -- likely from the yet-to-be-released Sense 6.0 -- by way of a presentation, which was shown to his then future business partners for a new company they were forming together. There's no mention on whether the other party was tied to the Chinese government, as previously rumored, but the meeting was known to have taken place in Beijing back in June.
The investigation also confirmed that Chien's naughty crew managed to rake in NT$33,566,000 or about US$1.12 million, in the form of false expense claims plus rebates from a supplier. In case you forgot, about a quarter of that cash was found inside Chien's Audi, with another quarter confiscated from him separately earlier.
The prosecutors said while most other perpetrators have admitted to their wrongdoings, Chien continued to defend himself and remained in denial of some of his crimes. The court is therefore advised by the report to offer a heavy sentence for the traitor's "malignant" behavior.
Meizu, a smartphone company based out of China, has been on the scene for a long time -- it just hasn't officially made its way to the United States (outside of a few online importers, of course). Meizu's ready to expand its offerings to the other side of the Pacific starting next year, however. The company hasn't specified exactly which devices will be available here, but we're crossing our fingers that the 128GB MX3 will make an appearance with US-friendly frequencies. According to Meizu's press release, the manufacturer "believes there's room in the U.S. market for another player," and is looking at this expansion as a long-term strategy rather than a one-off. Meizu also mentions that we'll be seeing more of the company's lineup at CES, so stay tuned.
When Pete Lau resigned as VP of Chinese electronics maker Oppo, it was accompanied by rumors that he was going to build his own tech company. Well, whoever spread those rumors spoke the truth, because Lau has just announced a new venture called OnePlus that promises "to spare no expense" to build "the perfect smartphone." The exec reveals very little on his announcement post other than his desire to make the "best possible product for users worldwide" -- it didn't even mention CyanogenMod, which is reportedly developing a phone with him. Our sources have told us, however, that Oppo will manufacture the company's first device, signifying that Lau never burned bridges when he left. We'll update you when we hear more details, but for now, you can let OnePlus know what you think makes a great phone on its forum.
Huawei's known for its Ascend smartphones around the world, but back in late 2011, the company also started toying with a small Honor series for select budget markets. Fast forward to today, the latter sub-brand has become Huawei's platform to compete with the sudden surge of affordable online brands in China -- most notably Xiaomi, the pioneer of that industry. With a little help from MediaTek (and ironically not Huawei's own HiSilicon), the phone maker is upping its firepower over this territory with two new dual-SIM devices: Honor 3X and Honor 3C.
The Honor 3X joins the first wave of octa-core 1.7GHz MT6592-powered devices, and it boasts 2GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel f/2.2 main camera, a 5-megapixel 1.4-micron front imager plus a generous 3,000mAh battery. The 720p resolution on the glove-friendly, 5.5-inch IPS touchscreen may seem like a let-down, but in this case, Huawei reasoned that going 1080p would push power consumption up by as much as 20 percent, plus many folks may not notice the visual difference -- a point that Huawei Device Chairman Richard Yu has often echoed publicly.
Five months after DigitalOptics Corporation's memscam shooter made its debut at MWC, it has a production contract. Lite-On, the company known for budget Blu-ray drives and moldable mice, plans to start production of the Lytro-like mobile imaging device later this year and hit "high volume capacity" sometime in 2014. We left MWC impressed by the MEMS' (microelectromechanical system) 10ms settling time and are curious where this clever contraption could wind up. Speaking of which, Lite-On assures us that its "Chinese Smartphone customers" are interested.
Filed under: Mobile
Source: DigitalOptics Corporation (PDF)
Via: Engadget Chinese
Source: inWatch (Chinese)
Uros' Goodspeed hotspot service offers sanely priced international data, but it hasn't been available in China so far -- that's not much help when visiting friends in Fuzhou. Travelers won't have to fret, however, as Uros just unveiled a network agreement with China Unicom. Goodspeed's €5.90 ($8) daily rate now supplies a modest-but-usable 500MB of 3G data throughout large parts of China. Visitors will also need to pay Goodspeed's usual €9.90 ($13) monthly fee and buy the €269 ($353) hotspot, but they're still looking at big savings over conventional data roaming. Those planning Chinese expeditions will likely want to give the service at least a cursory look through the source link.
GEAK may be focusing its attention on wearable tech like the Ring and Watch, but it still has a pair of new offerings for those who like old-fashioned smartphones: meet the 5-inch Eye and 5.8-inch Mars. Both are tailored to photo junkies with 13MP, backside-illuminated rear cameras as well as strong front cameras that shoot at 8MP (Eye) and 2MP (Mars). Differences between the handsets revolve mostly around performance and screen size. The Eye keeps things modest with a 720p IPS display, a quad-core MediaTek MT6589, HSPA+ data, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. Spring for the extra-large Mars and you'll upgrade to a 1080p IPS LCD, a Snapdragon 600 and 2GB of RAM. Either way, you won't be paying a lot for the imaging prowess -- when pre-orders start on June 25th, GEAK will ask ¥1,999 ($326) off-contract for the Eye and ¥2,999 ($490) for the Mars. Just don't expect either to leave China when there's no word of international plans.
Some say NFC is dead, but GEAK from Shanghai wants to prove them wrong. Announced alongside the GEAK Watch earlier today was this GEAK Ring, a tiny NFC-enabled wearable device that stores your identity. The ring's pitched as an intuitive way to unlock your phone -- just hold it with the hand that's wearing the ring, and it'll unlock without having to type in the password; plus it'll stay awake as long as it's held in the same hand. Another feature is that since the ring has your contact details stored (presumably rewritable), you can also use it to share your contact card with other NFC-enabled devices. But of course, given the risk of NFC cloning, you should treat GEAK's solution as a convenience rather than a more secure method.
At launch, this ring will only be compatible with the GEAK Eye and GEAK Mars quad-core phones that were also announced today, but it'll support other devices from the likes of Samsung, Xiaomi and Oppo starting in November. GEAK will be taking pre-orders from August 8th, and it'll cost Chinese buyers ¥199 or about $30 each. It'll sure go nicely alongside that Google ring.
Via: Engadget Chinese
Source: GEAK (Chinese)
That baffling metallic Nokia EOS chassis we saw the other day? It's back, but this time the same leakster from Sina Weibo managed to get a shot of at least 12 of them, meaning the device has likely reached some sort of production stage. In another photo, we can see the same button arrangement -- presumably volume, power and camera -- that's already present on the current Lumia range. The strange thing is we've yet to see a cover plate that will match this seemingly smaller camera opening, but the square shape does make us wonder whether this will fit Pelican Imaging's 16-lens array camera. After all, Nokia did announce its investment in this plenoptic camera technology. Hopefully Elop will personally explain what's going on at his event on July 11th -- maybe with both this and the plastic EOS in his hands.
Via: Engadget China
Source: Sina Weibo (login required)
22/05/2013 - Hands-on with the Coolpad Quattro II 4G and 8920
CTIA 2013 seems to be dedicated to some of the lesser-known names in the US wireless industry, so it's fit that Chinese manufacturer Coolpad should take advantage of the situation to steal the show. Indeed, we were able to take a look at the phone maker's upcoming stateside model, the lower-end Quattro II 4G. In the past year, its predecessor cranked out roughly a million units on MetroPCS, and Coolpad is hoping to build upon that success to get a foothold in the US. This sequel, which offers stock Android 4.1.2 with a 4.5-inch qHD TFT display, 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm MSM8930 chip, 5MP rear camera and VGA front-facing cam, 1GB RAM, 4GB internal storage and a 1,800mAh battery, isn't going to satisfy the tastebuds of power users or high-end flagship seekers, but it's a quality option for those who aren't planning to spend a ton of money on a decent handset. Given the intended audience, the device is perfectly solid with reasonable performance; we appreciated the company's use of a textured back cover. One nitpick: despite our best efforts to get rid of fingerprints, smudges remained with no hope of removal in sight.
Coolpad wasn't able to give many details on pricing or availability, but reps confirmed that it should arrive on C Spire in late June / early July, with it likely hitting other regional prepaid carriers after. Given the original Quattro's $80 price point on MetroPCS last year, we wouldn't be surprised to see the next-gen version offered for around the same cost. The company's still working to expand its presence on some of the larger networks, but it hopes to make its debut in the postpaid world early next year.
Gallery: Coolpad Quattro II 4G hands-on
Gallery: Coolpad 8920 hands-on
18/05/2013 - Lenovo's Intel-powered K900 smartphone on sale now in China, ships internationally this summer
It arrived with a bang, but it's been dead silence ever since. Lenovo's Intel Clover+ smartphone, the Android-based K900, is finally ready to make its grand entrance into the consumer realm. The 5.5-inch powerhouse will ship with a dual-core Atom Z2580 CPU (2.0GHz) within, a PowerVR SGX 544MP2 GPU, a 1080p IPS panel slipped behind a coating of Gorilla Glass 2 and a 13 megapixel camera. Despite the sizable display, it weighs just 162 grams and measures 6.9 millimeters thick, and should be available across greater China right now for RMB 3,299 (around $536) -- or RMB 2,999 if you're lucky. For those outside of Lenovo's homeland, you'll need to wait until summer for it to hit an unspecified amount of "international markets."
China Telecom looks to be getting a supercharged flavor of the small-ish but powerful Xiaomi Phone 2, if an inadvertent listing for a Xiaomi M2s proves accurate. MyDrivers.com grabbed some screenshots before it was pulled, revealing the same 4.3-inch, 720p resolution screen and other specs but with a 1.7GHz quad-core APQ8064 CPU -- likely a Snapdragon 600, a nice jump from the already powerful S4 Pro in other Xiaomi Phone 2 variants. The carrier may have jumped the gun ahead of an April 9th Xiaomi event, but the $370 or so phone looks to be good news for users there who don't want downmarket specs with a downsized screen -- as seems to be the trend lately.
In an effort to speed up an already contested $20.1 billion merger, Softbank and Sprint have reportedly agreed not to use Huawei network equipment within the US carrier's existing network. In fact, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, recently told The New York Times that the two outfits have pledged to remove Huawei hardware from Clearwire's network, too. These promises are likely a reaction to Congress' security concerns, which saw Huawei exiled from America's first responder network back in October. While Rogers is happy with Softbank and Sprint's new game plan, this deal is far from done. The two firms still need to make it past the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, which reviews national security risks connected to business transactions. Until then, Dan Hesse may wanna hold off on any extra curricular activities.
Via: The Register
Source: The New York Times
Another day, another @evleaks leak. This time it's a pair of official product shots of the ZTE V987 we saw back in January, and apparently the official name here is the Grand X Quad -- not quite as elegant-sounding as the more powerful Grand S, perhaps. That's pretty much it from the mysterious leakster, but thanks to TENAA's database, we already know most of the specs from last time: 5-inch 720p gapless display, 1.2GHz quad-core chip, 8-megapixel camera, dual-SIM support (WCDMA plus GSM) and a removable 2,500mAh battery. Assuming this Grand X Quad will be sold cheaper, we'd imagine it'd do pretty well if it features the same build quality as its sister device -- we'll let you guys know once we get to do a hands-on, naturally.
Via: Engadget Chinese
Source: @evleaks (Twitter)
28/02/2013 - China Mobile begins TD-LTE trials in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, users need a Galaxy S III for now
It looks like China Mobile is making good on its promise to carry out TD-LTE trials this year: the carrier is launching test programs in both Guangzhou and Shenzen, according to a report from the Chinese news site Guangming Online. As it happens, this isn't technically the first time China Mobile has invited users to test its LTE network, but it is the first time people can access it via smartphones (as opposed to routers and MiFi devices).
Curiously, the trial will initially work only on the TD-LTE-capable Galaxy S III, which is strange because China Mobile just unveiled a handful of LTE handsets at MWC, and didn't even mention the GSIII at its press conference. Once you've got that phone in hand, you'll need to preload it with 4,699 yuan worth of credits and sign a two-year agreement, with 388 yuan to be deducted each month. Already signed up for 2G or 3G service with China Mobile? You can add 1,500 yuan to receive a 4G device, USIM card and 15 gigs of LTE data (free for the first three months).
Source: Guangming Online