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Japan okays one shipment of material Samsung needs for its most advanced chips

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The term Free trade has become an oxymoron. Just look at the mess that is taking place with the U.S. and China. As we’ve pointed out countless times, the tariffs that the U.S. is imposing on imports from China (which start to directly impact the Apple iPhone on September 1st) are import taxes that are paid by U.S. corporations. The latter can decide to eat some or all of the additional taxes lowering their profit margins or pass along the higher costs to U.S. consumers. China is retaliating by devaluing its currency, the Yuan. This makes Chinese goods cheaper to buy in the states but will force Apple to raise the price of the iPhone in China. 

This isn’t the only trade war going on. Japan and South Korea have been fighting since last October. That’s when a South Korean court ruled that South Koreans forced to work for Nippon Steel during World War II must be compensated for their labor. Calling the decision “unthinkable,” Japanese authorities said that the issue had already been decided when the two countries restored diplomatic ties in 1965. 

Japan approves the export of a material Samsung uses to produce its most advanced chips

To retaliate against the court decision, Japan started restricting the export to South Korea of materialslike fluorinated polyimide and resist, and high-purity hydrogen fluoride (HF). These are used in the production of chips used inside smartphones, and for smartphone displays, respectively. Beginning last month, companies looking to ship these materials to South Korean phone manufacturers like Samsung and LG need to apply for permission to do so. Receiving such approval could take as long as 90 days. That’s because Japan has removed South Korea from its “white list” of trade partners that have fast-track trade status. South Korea plans on discussing the removal of Japan from its “white list” but has tabled the matter for a future time. It does plan on tightening regulations on some of Japan’s exports into South Korea for materials used in other industries besides tech.

The production of Samsung's newest Exynos 9825 SoC requires certain material exported from Japan - Japan okays one shipment of material Samsung needs for its most advanced chips

The production of Samsung’s newest Exynos 9825 SoC requires certain material exported from Japan
According to Reuters, for the first time since announcing the restrictions, Japan has approved a shipment of EUV photoresists to South Korea. Samsung uses this material to help it mask or map out designs on the silicon that ends up in chipsets. These show the placement of billions of transistors and EUV, or extreme ultraviolet lithography, allows for more precise designs to be made. This leads to the design of more powerful chips that consume less energy. Japan controls as much as 90% of the global market for this material, so Samsung cannot simply move on to another country to source the EUV photoresist it needs.

“Usually, we don’t announce each time we give export permission. However, the South Korean government has referred to our moves as an embargo on exports, which is unfair criticism.”-Hiroshige Seko, Japanese Industry Minister
“Even if there are any gains, it will be short-lived. In the end, it is a game without winners, where everyone, including Japan itself, becomes a victim.”-Moon Jae-in, president, South Korea
However, it doesn’t seem as though this approval changes anything between the two countries. A South Korean senior trade ministry official pointed out that Japan “approved only one out of a number of items,” and a presidential official said that  Japan’s actions “doesn’t mean that uncertainties have been completely removed for the other items.” While these materials can be used to produce smartphones, they also can be used to manufacture weapons.
Apple iPhone models that sport an OLED display (iPhone XiPhone XSiPhone XS Max) and those expected to be equipped with such a screen (iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Max) could be affected by this trade war. That’s because, as we’ve mentioned, high-purity hydrogen fluoride (HF) is used to produce smartphone displays. As one of the materials that Japan will no longer allow to be shipped to South Korea without permission, both Samsung and LG could face delays in obtaining it. And that could mean that Apple, which purchases its OLED panels for the iPhone from both South Korean firms, could find itself scrambling for this important part as production gears up for the 2019 iPhone models.

Source: https://www.phonearena.com/news/Japan-allows-Samsung-to-receive-one-shipment-of-a-key-chip-making-material_id118075

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HUAWEI WON’T LAUNCH SMARTPHONE WITH HARMONY OS UNLESS…

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Although Huawei has officially launched the Harmony OS (Hongmeng). In fact, it’s been developed to Android OS on its smartphones. However, Huawei still emphasizes that the company is committed to staying in the eco-platform of Google. Recently, the Chinese communications and smartphone manufacturing giant said that there is no plan to launch a smartphone based on its self-developed system.

The above statement was made by Vincent Yang, senior vice president of Huawei, in a media event in New York on Wednesday. He pointed out that ‘we hope to maintain a set of standards and a set of ecology… Harmony OS is the company’s Plan B.”

Image result for harmonyos mate

This means that if the US continues to implement the ban and even refuses Huawei to acquire key components of the Android system including GMS and Play Store, then Harmony will play a preventive role.

According to Huawei, the amount of code in Harmony OS is much lower than that of Android. In addition to TV, Huawei is preparing to use it in smartwatches, in-car products and so on.

In addition, Yang hinted that Huawei’s next new flagship machine (which is widely believed to be the Mate 30 series) still runs the Android system. As for the switch to their OS, it will only happen at the last moment when the company is forced to disable Android.

WHEN WILL HUAWEI LAUNCH A SMARTPHONE RUNNING ON HARMONY OS?

According to Yang, Huawei currently has no plans to launch the smartphone running their own OS. But if the US maintains the ban, the situation may change.

P.S. Earlier, we have heard the first smartphone to come with this system will be the Mate 30 Lite. But now, after the statement of Huawei executive, there is no reason to think so. Although, in the case of Huawei, everything is possible.

Source: https://www.gizchina.com/2019/08/22/huawei-wont-launch-smartphone-with-harmony-os-unless/

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Facebook loses Oculus executive who led its mobile VR efforts

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Another Oculus executive who played a key role in Facebook’s VR efforts is leaving the company. Just a few days ago, Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell headed for the exit — now, Variety has revealed that Max Cohen, Oculus’ head of mobile, is also peacing out. While Facebook refused to give the publication an official statement, Cohen’s LinkedIn page confirms his departure. His current position says he’s an “explorer” who’s “learning new skills.”

Cohen joined Oculus as VP of mobile just a few weeks before Facebook’s acquisition and headed up several projects over the years. He led the Gear VR program and Oculus’ Samsung partnership, and he also led the development of the standalone Oculus Go VR headset. In addition, he started the Oculus Quest program, which spawned a standalone headsetthat’s able to play desktop-quality VR games.

What Cohen’s departure means for Oculus remains to be seen. As Varietynoted, Facebook is holding the Oculus Connect developer conference on September 25th and 26th. The social network is expected to reveal its virtual and augmented reality plans, so we’ll most likely hear about some of the projects Oculus is working on during the event.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/08/21/facebook-loses-oculus-head-of-mobile-vr/

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Samsung Beats Apple As AirPods Face Embarrassing Defeat

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If you are looking for the best wireless earbuds for your phone’s music, then Samsung is going to be very quick to point out that its Galaxy Buds have picked up the first ‘excellent’ rating for sound quality by a wireless device. Meanwhile Apple is going to be licking its wounds as the AirPods sit in a lowly 49th place in the same chart.

Galaxy Buds charge wirelessly atop an S10 phone during the Samsung Unpacked product launch event in San Francisco, California on February 20, 2019 (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images)

Galaxy Buds charge wirelessly atop an S10 phone during the Samsung Unpacked product launch event in San Francisco, California on February 20, 2019 (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images) GETTY

The rankings come from Consumer Reports’ study of the market, and it picks out a number of key features. Kim Eun-jin reports for Business Korea:

The Galaxy Buds were ranked first with 86 points, while AirPods, which are used by about 60 percent of wireless earphone users, came in 49th with 56 points.

Consumer Reports ranked the wireless earphones based on an evaluation of their sound quality and designs.

In terms of sound quality, only the Galaxy Buds received the “Excellent” grade. Consumer Reports said that the Galaxy Buds were one of the first portable Bluetooth earphones to achieve the highest sound quality grade.

The first is the aforementioned sound quality. Given the AirPods hang in the ear in the exact same way as a brick designed to look like Douglas Adams does not, and the Galaxy Buds fill the outer ear with optional ‘wings’ this should not come as a huge surprise to anyone who has experienced both.

Power was also highlighted. Not only do the Galaxy Buds offer more battery capacity with the six hours of advertised audio time reachable, the carry case (which tops up to allow for another seven hours) comes with wireless charging as standard.

Finally there’s the price. Once you pick and mix from Apple’s options to build a similar package of AirPods to the Buds, you realise that Samsung’s package significantly cheaper.

North Rhine-Westphalia, Cologne: A man wears AirPods, Apple's wireless headphones in his ears (Photo by Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images)

North Rhine-Westphalia, Cologne: A man wears AirPods, Apple’s wireless headphones in his ears (Photo by Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images) GETTY

The report also acknowledges that Apple is the market leader here with sixty percent of the wireless earbuds market. As with most Apple products, you don’t have full feature parity, and what you do you have is more expensive than the competition.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2019/08/19/samsung-galaxy-buds-vs-apple-airpods-wireless-headphones-best-winner-loser/#41384d6163e3

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