The jury is in. 4G users find the service reliable and better at handling demanding tasks than some home broadband, says Sue Tabbitt.
Jonathan Pearson seems pleased to have been an early adopter of 4G. “I’m a bit of a ‘boys’ toys’ addict and 3G just didn’t seem to be up to the job any more. Having 4G means I can do things I would normally use my home broadband connection for,” he says.
“Whether it’s uploading content to social media sites or watching news on my train journey home, I know the experience will be a good one.”
Pearson, 37, a commercial airline pilot who lives in London, joined EE’s service about two months ago when his previous mobile contract expired. He has an iPhone 5.
He reckons the overall cost differential for the 4G connection is negligible. “My baseline contract price is around £15 a month more than I was paying with my previous provider but I did opt for the top package available,” he says. “Once you’ve factored in the cost savings I’m making on my international roaming I’m probably saving around £25 a month.
“It was inconceivable 10 years ago that we could achieve the sort of data speeds we now take for granted in the home. To now have this technology in your pocket is truly remarkable. It’s like taking your home broadband connection with you wherever you are, except that in my case 4G leaves my broadband provider standing by a significant margin.’’
James De Vile, another early adopter, wants to watch a video in the park or access the Spotify music service from anywhere. “3G was so flaky that I had to sync any music I wanted to listen to, just as you would with an iPod,” says the 28-year-old content and account manager at a hi-tech PR agency.
“Now, with 4G, if I see an ad for a new album or hear a track I like in a shop I can find and play it immediately.”
De Vile also lives in London and joined EE’s 4G network in March. To take full advantage he decided to swap his iPhone 4 for a HTC One high-definition Android smartphone with a larger screen.
“I’m probably paying about £8 a month more than I was for an iPhone on 3G,” he says. “I don’t call or text much; my use is mainly internet-based. 3G was a disappointment. I could be on a train trying to watch YouTube only to find that by the time it had loaded we’d gone into a tunnel. It was all a bit clunky, so I was interested to see if 4G would deliver. I was looking for a service that was so good you almost didn’t know it was there.”
The only catch is increased data usage as a result of the faster connection, he warns. De Vile has bought a generous allowance: 3Gb of data consumption per month. “I had 1Gb on 3G but with 4G I’ve gone through that in two weeks.” The EE service shows how much data he is using so he can manage his usage.
So far, 4G has exceeded his expectations. Even after a couple of years of 3G, he couldn’t get a decent signal at his parents’ house near Cambridge. 4G is already there. “The rollout seems to be happening much more quickly and the service seems more robust,” he says.
The first HarmonyOS-powered phone from Huawei to arrive in 2021
Huawei’s HarmonyOS was unveiled last year during the Huawei Developer Conference and there’s a report claiming that this year’s conference on September 10 will bring the HarmonyOS 2.0. Interestingly, the rumor cites Richard Yu himself, the company’s CEO. And the first phone with the in-house operating system will launch as early as next year.
A smartphone running the said OS already exists and will likely hit the market next year along with a number of new devices including PCs, tablets, smart wearables and other IoT products. In fact, the first smartwatch running HarmonyOS is expected to make a debut until the end of this year.
iPhone XR will reportedly be replaced by iPhone 12s in Q2 2021
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Samsung, LG experiment with virtual demo rooms of the future amid IFA conference
Tech events so far this year have made something clear — it’s not tough for giants like Apple and Samsung to go all-virtual with their launches. But one aspect of a typical tech event doesn’t translate to a computer or phones screen: the demo room. Samsung thinks it’s found a possible solution.
The company on Wednesday hosted a virtual Life Unstoppable event that coincided with the IFA electronics show in Berlin. It wasn’t a typical press conference like the company’s two Unpacked events held over the past month. Instead, Samsung used Epic’s Unreal Engine for games to build a virtual, 3D tour experience — a sort of choose-your-own adventure digital demo — for the media and its partners.
“Would we have done it if COVID wasn’t around? I’m not sure,” Benjamin Braun, Samsung’s head of marketing for Europe, said in an interview. “That is a different way of presenting new products that no one’s done before.”
The novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 25 million people around the globe, has caused companies to rethink their product launches. GSMA canceled Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest mobile show, a week before journalists arrived in Barcelona in late February. Instead of phone launches over the past several months, Apple, Samsung, Huawei and OnePlus all held digital events or introduced devices via press release.
IFA, taking place in Berlin from Sept. 3 to 5, is the only big tech conference with an in-person component this year. But only 5,000 people can attend, far below last year’s level of 200,000. While Samsung isn’t attending IFA, it’s still hosting events, like Life Unstoppable, that coincide with the shortened convention.
Samsung’s virtual house
Participants of Life Unstoppable will navigate around a digital house that contains about two dozen different Samsung devices, ranging from its $3,500 waterproof, outdoor Terrace TV to its updated Galaxy Z Fold 2 foldable phone. The visit revolves around a 45-minute guided tour, but participants are able to branch off on their own to look at the back ports of a TV or circle back to the kitchen to check out the appliances.
Samsung noted that “every detail,” from the home’s artwork to the furniture’s fabric, “was carefully selected following meticulous research into the type of guests that would be visiting Samsung House, resulting in a truly immersive home environment.”
There’s also an augmented reality component that lets people see what the new products, like TVs, will look like in their own homes. And Samsung noted that immersive 8D audio makes visitors feel like they’re really in the home
During Life Unstoppable, Samsung unveiled a host of new products, ranging from a smart video projector called The Premiere to its Wireless Charging Trio pad that can charge a phone, watch and earbuds at the same time. Samsung also introduced a new fitness band, the Galaxy Fit 2; a low-priced 5G smartphone, the Galaxy A42 5G; and the budget Galaxy Tab A7 tablet.
While Samsung determined Life Unstoppable was the best format for IFA, Braun said, it may go a different route with CES and other trade shows.
“We constantly need to force evolution, force innovation, not only in our products but also in the way we present ourselves,” Braun said. “At some point, once COVID is under control and we’re back to potentially physical [events], then we need to rethink them as well. How do we merge the two?”
LG’s ‘virtual exhibition’ and IFA’s ‘Xtended Space’
Samsung isn’t the only company trying to make the best of a less-than-ideal situation by creating a virtual experience for regular show attendees to enjoy in lieu of IFA this year.
On Tuesday, LG launched its IFA “virtual exhibition,” demonstrating its latest product lineups within a realistic rendering of its usual IFA home — the Berlin Messe’s Hall 18.
First impressions show this to be an improvement to the usual in-person experience. No longer must you spend upwards of 30 minutes attempting to navigate the labyrinthine convention center with its many entrances and exits to reach the LG booth, and gone are the hordes of people that usually delay your journey even further.
But as you click through the virtual exhibition, you start to remember why attending these shows in person was important in the first place.
The cinema screening room in which you are supposed to be able to enjoy the deep blacks of LG’s latest screen technology doesn’t have quite the same impact when you’re viewing it through your own laptop or phone screen. The same is true when testing the sound quality of LG’s speakers and headphones in its virtual audio booth.
It’s hard to say how cool and effective LG’s rollable TV is without being able to examine it from all angles. Maybe it would help if you could navigate the exhibition in VR, which would allow for a more immersive, less static experience. Samsung said its Life Unstoppable home could be viewed in VR, but it was mostly designed for PCs, phones or tablets.
While LG and Samsung are offering their own takes on the virtual trade show, the wider event is also going online this year via a digital platform it’s calling IFA Xtended Space.
All the new phones, laptops, smart home gadgets and more from IFA 2019
Through an online hub, virtual attendees will be able to join live streams of keynotes, press conferences, panel sessions, presentations and virtual exhibitor presentations and match-making opportunities that will allow them to establish new business contacts. New products will even be presented in 3D, although it remains to be seen how easy it is to form a proper first impression of new tech without being able to touch it or hold it in your hands.
IFA’s organizers acknowledge that this year’s show won’t replicate the experience most regular attendees are accustomed to, but they believe its digital platform will offer something novel to people — whether they’re using it to supplement their in-person visit to the show, or to attend remotely.
“A digital platform can hardly compensate for a true on-site experience,” IFA Executive Director Jens Heithecker said Tuesday in a press release. “However, the IFA Xtended Space enables all those who are interested to know even more and those who cannot join the IFA 2020 Special Edition physically in Berlin to have a truly unique virtual experience.”
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