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Some iPhones may face US ban in Apple-Qualcomm legal tussle

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If Qualcomm wins its latest legal battle against Apple, it could be a lot harder to buy certain iPhones in the US.

The company plans to file a complaint with the US International Trade Commission, accusing Apple’s iPhones of infringing six of Qualcomm’s mobile patents.

As part of the filing, Qualcomm wants the ITC to ban the import of certain iPhones that don’t use Qualcomm chips, as well as ban Apple from selling devices it has already brought into the US.

The devices Qualcomm’s seeking to ban would include iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models running on AT&T and T-Mobile, as well as certain iPads. Those devices use Intel’s 4G chips, while phones from other carriers like Verizon use Qualcomm’s processors. Those parameters limit the scope of the ban and also avoid hurting Qualcomm’s chip business, which makes a lot of money from supplying to Apple.

“Apple continues to use our technology and not pay for it,” Don Rosenberg, Qualcomm’s general counsel, said in an interview. “They’ve really left us no choice but to say, ‘You’ve got to stop this.'”

The ITC likely will start examining the complaint in August, Qualcomm said, with a trial expected next year. Rosenberg said a decision — and possible iPhone ban — likely wouldn’t happen for about 18 months.

Along with the ITC filing, Qualcomm’s also pursuing a new patent infringement case in the Southern District of California. Rosenberg believes that case will be put on hold until the ITC makes its decision.

Apple referred CNET to previous comments about why it’s pursuing legal action against Qualcomm. “Qualcomm’s illegal business practices are harming Apple and the entire industry,” it said last month. “We believe deeply in the value of intellectual property, but we shouldn’t have to pay them for technology breakthroughs they have nothing to do with. We’ve always been willing to pay a fair rate for standard technology used in our products and since they’ve refused to negotiate reasonable terms we’re asking the courts for help.”

Intel declined to comment.

Qualcomm’s legal filings this week are the latest shots in its battle with Apple. The two companies have been fighting over patents since January, when Apple filed suit against Qualcomm in the US and said the wireless chipmaker didn’t give fair licensing terms for its technology. It wants to pay a lower amount for using Qualcomm technology in its devices. Qualcomm maintains that no modern handset — including the iPhone — would have been possible “without relying upon Qualcomm’s fundamental cellular technologies.”

Duking it out

Qualcomm is the world’s biggest provider of mobile chips, and it created some of the essential standards for connecting phones to cellular networks. The company derives a significant portion of its revenue from licensing that technology to hundreds of handset manufacturers and others. Because Qualcomm owns IP related to 3G and 4G phones, any handset maker building a device that connects to the newer networks has to pay it a licensing fee, even if they don’t use Qualcomm’s chips.

Apple previously paid the licensing fee through its manufacturers, but it stopped paying those royalties for devices sold during the March quarter. Apple said it’s been trying to reach a licensing agreement with Qualcomm for more than five years, but said the terms offered by Qualcomm weren’t fair.

The six patents at issue in Qualcomm’s most recent filing aren’t standard essential patents, Rosenberg said. All the patents were granted from 2013 to 2017, he added, and none is included in the patent licensing agreement Apple’s biggest contract manufacturer, Foxconn, has with Qualcomm.

“They really help the performance and efficiency of a device while at the same time limiting power use so the battery is preserved,” Rosenberg said.

One relates to the architecture of mobile graphics processors. It helps phones switch been high definition and lower quality graphics to save battery life.

Another patent relates to carrier aggregation, which takes different bands of radio frequencies (which mobile phones use to transmit data) and binds them together so your phone can pick up the speediest one available. Think of it as a three-lane highway so cars can weave in and out depending on which has less traffic. Qualcomm’s technology essentially lets you do something like stream a video from your phone on Facebook in high definition without compromising the video quality or killing your battery life.

The company’s current filing covers phones like the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Rosenberg said it also could be expanded to include Apple’s future iPhones, if it believes they infringe Qualcomm’s technology.

It’s unclear what the odds are for Qualcomm to succeed in its request for a ban.

“Given the way Qualcomm has narrowly-defined the ITC complaint against Apple, I believe this is Qualcomm’s best chance yet to win a favorable ruling,” said Moor Insights & Strategy analyst Patrick Moorhead.

Apple last year successfully won a ban on certain Samsung phones that infringed its patents, but the devices were so old at the time of the ban, they weren’t really sold in the US anymore.

source: https://www.cnet.com/news/apple-iphone-ban-qualcomm-patent-infringement-itc/

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2019 Google Play Award winners highlight top Android apps and games

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Google on the eve of I/O 2019 announced the Play Award winners to celebrate the top Android apps and games. The nominees in nine categories were unveiled late last month, with the ceremony this evening in Mountain View, California.

There are nine categories with criteria factoring overall quality, strong design, technical performance, and innovation. The nominees were first selected by various teams across Google. Winners during the May 6th event also received a silver Play trophy, and are featured on the Play Store.

We’re sharing the winners that rose to the top for providing the best experiences for fans, making an impact on their communities and raising the bar for quality content on Google Play.

Standout Well-Being App

Apps empowering people to live the best version of their lives, while demonstrating responsible design and engagement strategies.

Best Accessibility Experience

Apps and games enabling device interaction in an innovative way that serve people with disabilities or special needs.

Best Social Impact

Apps and games that create a positive impact in communities around the world (focusing on health, education, crisis response, refugees, and literacy).

2019 Google Play Award winners

Most Beautiful Game

Games that exemplify artistry or unique visual effects either through creative imagery, and/or utilizing advanced graphics API features.

Best Living Room Experience

Apps that create, enhance, or enable a great living room experience that brings people together.

Most Inventive

Apps and games that display a groundbreaking new use case, like utilize new technologies, cater to a unique audience, or demonstrate an innovative application of mobile technology for users.

Standout Build for Billions Experience

Apps and games with optimized performance, localization and culturalization for emerging markets.

Best Breakthrough App

New apps with excellent overall design, user experience, engagement and retention, and strong growth.

  • Slowly by Slowly Communications Ltd.

Best Breakthrough Game

New games with excellent overall design, user experience, engagement and retention, and strong growth.

Source: https://9to5google.com/2019/05/06/2019-google-play-award-winners/

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My Samsung Galaxy Fold screen broke after just a day

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Look closely at the picture above, and you can see a small bulge right on the crease of my Galaxy Fold review unit. It’s just enough to slightly distort the screen, and I can feel it under my finger. There’s something pressing up against the screen at the hinge, right there in the crease. My best guess is that it’s a piece of debris, something harder than lint for sure. It’s possible that it’s something else, though, like the hinge itself on a defective unit pressing up on the screen.

It’s a distressing thing to discover just two days after receiving my review unit. More distressing is that the bulge eventually pressed sharply enough into the screen to break it. You can see the telltale lines of a broken OLED converging on the spot where the bulge is.

Whatever happened, it certainly wasn’t because I have treated this phone badly. I’ve done normal phone stuff, like opening and closing the hinge and putting it in my pocket. We did stick a tiny piece of molding clay on the back of the phone yesterday to prop it up for a video shoot, which is something we do in every phone video shoot. So perhaps a tiny piece of that snuck into a gap on the back of the hinge and then around or through its cogs until it lodged in between the screen and the hinge. It’d be sort of like Charlie Chaplin getting caught in the gears in Modern Times.

Or maybe something got in another one of the little gaps somewhere else. Or maybe it was pieces from the hinge itself breaking loose and working their way up into the screen. I don’t know. I just know that the screen is broken, and there was no obvious proximate cause for the bulge that broke it. I certainly haven’t used it on a beach or shook it in a bag of chips or anything wild. Just normal use.I DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED; I JUST KNOW THE SCREEN IS BROKEN

We’ve seen worries about scratches on expensive phones and debris breaking the keyboard on expensive MacBooks, but a piece of debris distorting the screen on a $1,980 phone after one day of use feels like it’s on an entirely different level.

I reached out to Samsung right away to get a statement, but it took about 24 hours for the company to put one together. Here it is, and the gist is that Samsung is looking into our unit and also warning users not to try to peel off the protective layer on the top of the screen.

Also, I have, however, received a replacement review unit from Samsung. I think the first one is on a jet to South Korea for Samsung’s engineers to take apart and diagnose.

By the way, it appears I’m not the only reviewing the phone who has had a problem with the screen. Here’s Steve Kovach:

Mark Gurman of Bloomberg also broke his, but that’s perhaps because he removed a protective layer that looks like a screen protector, but definitely isn’t meant to be removed.

And here’s Marques “MKBHD” Brownlee confirming he, too, had to get a replacement unit after peeling off the outer layer (which, again, wasn’t our issue):

It looks like retail units of the Galaxy Fold will include a warning about not removing the protective layer, but review units don’t seem to have included this one:

Like everybody else, I said in my original hands-on with the Galaxy Fold that I absolutely am able to see the crease between the two sides of the screen. But when I’m using the phone, I don’t actually notice it much. It’s easy to talk about it as a small first-generation compromise you have to make for what is otherwise a wonder of engineering: a tablet that folds in half.

I took a photo in my hotel room when the bulge first appeared. The next morning, that same bulge finally broke the screen.

Another thing people are worried about is the plastic screen scratching or picking up nicks easily. There are already a couple of minor dings on my unit, but they’re minor enough that I didn’t see them until our photographer zoomed way in to show them to me. If you look closely at the edges of the screen, there’s a sort of built-in screen protector on the front of the device. Samsung calls it a “polymer layer.” It is not designed to be removed. (Please don’t try it if you get your hands on a Fold.)

But while the crease and the nicks feel like compromises you could live with, a mysterious bulge that breaks the screen is something else entirely — especially one that appears just a day after pretty normal use. It’s a problem that is unacceptable on a phone that costs this much.

Every phone with movable parts is going to have more points of failure than a fully sealed, static phone. So it’s natural to say that you need to treat it with more care than usual. Before I saw this bulge, my impression was that this phone was much more durable than I expected. The hinge always felt solid and well-built. That impression of (relative) durability is obviously as broken as the flexing screen now.

If I’m right and it’s debris, it means that not only do you need to treat your phone with care, but you also have to worry about stuff getting in underneath the screen. If I’m wrong and it’s some kind of defect in the hardware, well… then we’re in entirely different territory. Either way: yikes.

Hopefully Samsung lets us know the results after it takes my original review unit apart to see what happened.

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Tech Stories

This is the best time to purchase an iPhone XR in India

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Apple is discounting the iPhone XR by a massive 22% from Friday.

Apple is kicking off a massive discount on the iPhone XR in India that will bring the device down to just ₹59,900 ($870). That’s a staggering ₹17,000 ($250) discount from the phone’s retail price of ₹76,900 ($1,120). What makes this particular deal even better is that HDFC is getting in on the action, offering an additional 10% cashback on top of the discounted price.

That effectively brings the price of the 64GB iPhone XR down to just ₹53,900 ($780), which is a fabulous deal. The promotional price extends to all three variants of the iPhone XR, and you’ll similarly be able to avail the HDFC cashback on all three models. The deal will go live from Friday, April 5, and will be valid until stocks last.

Here’s the breakdown of the new pricing:

CategoryMRPNew priceFor HDFC customers
iPhone XR (64GB)₹76,900₹59,900₹53,900
iPhone XR (128GB)₹81,900₹64,900₹58,400
iPhone XR (256GB)₹91,900₹74,900₹67,400

The HDFC cashback is valid for both debit and credit card holders, and if you don’t have an eligible card yet, you can pick one up to avail the discount on the iPhone XR. I’m partial to the Regalia for the airline benefits and low markup on international spends.

This is Apple’s most aggressive move yet in the Indian market, and it’s clear that the company is positioning the iPhone XR against Samsung’s Galaxy S10e, which retails for ₹55,900 ($810). The discount will be a huge driver for iPhone XR sales in the country, and should give Apple some much-needed momentum in the premium segment.

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