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THE BLACKBERRY KEY2 ARRIVES WITH DUAL CAMERAS AND A REFINED LOOK

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TCL has officially announced the BlackBerry Key2, its sequel to last year’s KeyOne. It’s a midrange smartphone with the company’s iconic physical keyboard. The Key2 looks a lot like its predecessor, except TCL — which makes most BlackBerry phones now — has slimmed down the top bezel and made space for slightly wider keys. The navigation buttons on top of the keyboard are now backlit as well, so they disappear when not in use, making the screen look bigger than it is.

 

The Key2 also slims down the chunkier and industrial-looking KeyOne. From far away it could almost pass for a Samsung Galaxy Note 8, but one look at its physical keyboard, and you know it’s a BlackBerry. That’s what the brand is counting on to push sales. BlackBerry’s senior vice president Alain Lejeune said in a statement that TCL’s goal had been to “capture all the traits that have made BlackBerry smartphones iconic, while introducing new innovations and experiences,” which mostly come through software.

Still, even if the Key2 is “the most advanced BlackBerry smartphone ever,” it hasn’t moved far from the past. The Key2 has a 4.5-inch LCD screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio, just like its predecessor. When you use either phone, it’s a trade-off between screen space for streaming shows or playing games and the keyboard for sending emails. The screen real estate dilemma grows worse if you prefer a virtual keyboard at times, especially for entering symbols like & and {}, which aren’t offered on the physical keyboard.

But while TCL didn’t do anything new with the phone’s size and screen, it did add a highly advertised extra camera on the rear of the phone. The Key2 has dual 12-megapixel cameras, one with an aperture of f/1.8 and one with a f/2.6 that provide Portrait Mode and faster autofocus. The front 8-megapixel camera has slow-motion and panorama modes as well as the ability to record 1080p video at 30 fps. Its camera specs rival more expensive flagships like the iPhone 8 Plus, although they fall slightly short compared to the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or S9’s lower aperture lenses.

Another aspect where the BlackBerry Key2 shines is battery life. The Key2 has the same big 3,500mAh battery seen in the KeyOne that should get you through two days of use.

TCL decided to remove the extra right shift key and replace it with a “speed” key, which resembles an app launcher and lets you set specific keys as shortcuts. For example, you can set it up the so that “I” opens up Instagram. Then when you press I, while holding onto the speed key, Instagram opens. This can be done for any of the 52 keys on the physical keyboard.

The spacebar still doubles as a camera shutter key and as a fingerprint sensor. The Key2 also lets you use the entire keyboard as a touchpad, which can be used mainly for scrolling webpages. Now, you can gesture on the keyboard to scroll through pages; just be careful not to press down on any keys.

The Key2 keeps the 3.5mm headphone jack on the top left, and places the power button and volume controls on the right side. The phone also keeps the “convenience key” seen on the KeyOne, which is an extra button on the right that can be programmed with a shortcut. (That makes a total of 53 programmable keys.)

Some of the BlackBerry Key2’s more interesting updates can be found in its security apps, Dtek, Locker, and Power Center. (These software updates will also roll out to the KeyOne.) BlackBerry spokespeople told me that while these security updates had been in development long before Cambridge Analytica, they were even more necessary at a time like this. Dtek, in addition to being able to offer information about your operating system and security, can now tell you what permissions each app has received and detect if an app is acting strangely.

The Locker mode, which started as a BlackBerry Motion exclusive, came to the KeyOne last December as part of a monthly security update. Now on the Key2, it will come preinstalled. In addition to being a place for you to store fingerprint-protected private photos and files, it’s now a hub for you to store private apps and access Firefox Focus, Mozilla’s private browser.

Finally, Power Center will learn your charging habits. So if it figures out that you usually charge your phone at 10PM every night, if you skip a night, it will warn you and tell you how much time you have left before you’re low on battery.

The rest of the Key2’s specs are slight improvements to the KeyOne. The Key2 runs Android Oreo out of the box and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, which is typical for midrange phones right now. Both RAM and internal storage have been doubled to 6GB of memory and storage options of 64GB and 128GB. The Key2 starts at $649 for the basic storage option and starts shipping globally this month. It comes in black or gray.

I can only envision that you’d use this phone if you love your physical keyboard like you enjoy the satisfying clack of a mechanical keyboard or typewriter, or if you’re nostalgic for the 2000s and also happen to be paranoid about security. The question remains: are any of you BlackBerry fans still out there?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source:  https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2018/6/7/17413402/blackberry-key2-dual-cameras-look

Mobile Phones

HUAWEI CFO FREED ON $7.5 MILLION USD BAIL, TRUMP MAY INTERVENE

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Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, whose arrest in Canada two Saturdays ago increased tensions between the U.S. and China, has been freed on bail. The amount of the bail agreed to by the judge was $10 million Canadian Dollars,  the equivalent of $7.5 million U.S. Dollars. According to Bloomberg and CNBC, the bail was met by her husband and four former colleagues who together pledged cash and home equity. Meng was jailed based on a U.S. warrant for her arrest after an investigation allegedly found that she had defrauded banks to help Huawei do business with Iran. That action would be in violation of U.S. sanctions against the country. The U.S. charges that Huawei used a small Hong Kong based tech firm called Skycom to do business with Iran.
The U.S. had requested no bail for the executive, who still faces extradition to the states. As part of the bail agreement, Meng will surrender her passport, wear a GPS tracking device, and will have a security team beside her whenever she goes out (paid for by Meng). Police will also make unannounced visits to her residence. Her family does own homes in Vancouver, where she was arrested.
UPDATE: President Donald Trump told Reuters today that he would intervene in Meng’s case with the U.S. Justice Department if it helps the U.S. close a trade deal with China, or if it serves national security interests.
The arrest threatened talks between the U.S. and China to end a trade war between the two countries. In addition, the U.S. ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, was chewed out this past weekend by China’s Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng. Le also threatened Canada by warning of “grave consequences” if Ming wasn’t released.
Ming is the daughter of Huawei’s founder. Despite being called a national security threat by the U.S. government, the company is the leading provider of networking equipment and is the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world after Samsung.

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APPLE EXPANDING HAPTIC TOUCH FEATURE IN IPHONE XR WITH IOS 12.1.1 UPDATE: REPORT

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Apple’s new iPhone XR comes with Haptic Touch as a replacement for the 3D Touch sensor. This allows consumers to launch the camera app or turn on the flashlight by using a long-press gesture, though it is not as functional or as quick in terms of response as 3D Touch, which has been part of the iPhones since the iPhone 6s.

Right now Haptic Touch capabilities are limited on the iPhone XR, but Apple could be expanding this with future iOS 12 updates. A report by 9to5Mac says they have spotted new features in the iOS 12.1.1 beta 2, which will increase the capabilities of Haptic Touch on iPhone XR and allow users to expand notifications by long pressing them.

On the iPhone XS, thanks to the 3D Touch display, long pressing on a notification opens up a pop-up menu and action buttons. With the iPhone XR, the rich content will soon be visible thanks to a long press and users will be able to reply, market an email as done, etc depending on the type of notification. Currently users have to swipe left to view the message to take any action, which is tedious on the iPhone XR.

However, the Peek and Pop feature on 3D Touch displays which is used by many apps will not be possible on the iPhone XR. This shows a rich menu when a user long-presses on the icon of particular app. Once again the reason for this is that Apple iPhone XR does not have pressure sensitive display like the other two new iPhones.

 

Given the iOS 12.1.1 beta has the feature, Apple should add the capability to the iPhone XR when the next iOS update is formally rolled out.  The iOS 12.1.1 update will likely start rolling out to the public by the end of this year, though Apple has not confirmed when it will be officially released. The company just released iOS 12.1 which added the Group FaceTime feature, new Emojis, as well as the dual-SIM feature to the iPhone XS and iPhone XR

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SAMSUNG SAYS IT’S WORKING ON FOLDABLE LAPTOP DISPLAYS

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Samsung is expected to unveil its foldable smartphone concept next month, but the company is also working towards bigger devices with foldable displays. “Like foldable smartphones, Samsung is collaborating with display makers to develop laptops with foldable displays that will not just simply fold in and out but create new value and user experience, amid the changing market trends for laptops,” said Lee Min-cheol, vice president at marketing for PCs at Samsung, during a laptop event in South Korea earlier this week.

Foldable displays in laptops could transform the market for 2-in-1 devices. Existing convertible laptops attempt to flip and twist into tablet and media modes, but a foldable display would certainly help create new designs. Samsung hasn’t revealed which companies it’s working with, or any expected date for a prototype or retail device. Still, laptops like HP’s new Spectre Folio would be an ideal candidate for a flexible and foldable display, or even potential devices like Microsoft’s “pocketable” Surface.

The Korea Herald reports that Lee also revealed that Samsung sells around 3.2 million PCs each year, and that they “play a centric role among IT products in increasing connectivity with other mobile devices.” Samsung also recently revealed an ARM-powered Surface-like 2-in-1 recently, complete with LTE connectivity and the promise of up to 20 hours battery life.

 

 

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