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New Phantom reinvents luxury at a whole new level



The eighth-generation Rolls-Royce Phantom, revealed last night at an invitation-only black tie event in the heart of London’s West End, introduces not only a new way of building luxury cars but also a new way of thinking about building luxury cars.

Up to now, car companies, including Rolls-Royce, have been using platforms shared with, and drivetrains borrowed from, lesser models in order to achieve some viability of scale. But, as Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös explained: “Every one of our customers was asking for something more individual to them, not less.”

If you’re going to make thousands of identical cars, monocoque is the way to go – you can punch them out like cookies and all the components will be interchangeable. But that is not what the top one-hundredth of one percent of car buyers (Roll-Royce’s target market) are looking for.

So, director of design Giles Taylor has created what he calls ‘the architecture of luxury’ – an aluminium spaceframe that’s not only lighter and stiffer than the monocoque bodyshell it replaces but is also scaleable in every dimension, not just from model to model but, if necessary, from car to car, with different drivetrains and control systems.

“This frame will carry every future Rolls-Royce,” he said. “Not just the new Phantom, but also Project Cullinan and eventually the next Ghost, Wraith, Dawn will also ride on this architecture, as well as future coachbuilding projects, such as the recent Sweptail.”

Embraced by luxury

As you settle into the new Phantom, an assistant or valet touches the sensor in the door handle and the door whispers closed of its own accord – or you can make it happen yourself at the press of a button inside the car.

Under the biggest starlight headliner yet seen in a Rolls-Royce, you’re surrounded by high gloss wood veneer on the door panels, centre consoles, dashboard and picnic tables.

The sweep of wood panelling across the back of the front seats was inspired by the Eames Lounge Chair of 1956, a design so perfect it’s part of the New York Museum of Modern Art’s permanent display. Deployed from behind it, at the touch of a button, are the rear picnic tables and theatre monitors.

Phantom customers can chose from different rear seating layouts, ranging from an intimate lounge seat for two, to individual seats with a folding centre armrest, individual seats with a fixed centre console and all-new sleeping seats – but in every case the rear seats are carefully angled towards each other so that their occupants can chat without straining their necks.

Seat heating is standard, of course, but when you switch it on you’ll find that the heated areas also include the front door armrests, front centre console lid, lower C pillar, rear side armrests with all individual seats, and rear centre armrest.

If you choose the fixed rear centre console, inside it you’ll find a drinks cabinet with whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and coolbox.

There is no plastic inside the new Phantom; every switch and control is made of metal, glass or wrapped in leather.

‘The Gallery’

The one-piece, almost perfectly straight dashboard runs unbroken across the the front of the cabin from door to door, much as it did on the first Phantom of 1925, but instead of a hand-finished solid walnut plank, split so that the two halves were perfect mirror images of each other, the new Phantom dashboard is a sheet of toughened glass.

Under it, on the driver’s side, is a chrome-framed 31cm colour TFT display with LED backlighting, showing three big round dials with chrome surrounds, beautiful virtual needles, jewel-like Rolls-Royce chaplets and clear lettering for speed, power reserve, fuel and temperature levels, essential information on cruise control settings, navigation instructions, driver assistance systems and a whole host of other information.

Behind the glass in the middle are a central information screen (which can be retracted inside the centre stack when not in use) and the real – not virtual – analogue clock, a tribute to the time when “the loudest sound you can hear inside a Rolls-Royce Phantom is the ticking of the clock”.

The standard clock has a black face and black leather surround, but each Bespoke Clock has a more intricate design with a lighter, backlit face, crystal effect details and counterweighted hands, finished to match the material selected within the gallery.

That’s because, apart from the instrument panel and the clock, the whole glass dashboard forms ‘The Gallery’ – a display case for bespoke artwork, intricate finishes or just your personal choice of material and colour.

The Art of Movement

Taylor explained: “Many of our customers are patrons of art and indeed have their own private collections; that gave me an idea.

“For more than a century the motor car dashboard has served only to hide the airbags and wiring. I wanted to give it another purpose, space to breathe.

“In the 18th century, miniatures were expensive and fashionable artworks that allowed their owners to carry images of their loved one with them wherever they traveled. I loved that idea of taking your art with you; now our customers can do the same.”

Rolls-Royce has already worked with a number of artists, designers and design collectives to show just what is possible behind the glass, ranging from an oil painting of the South Downs of England in Autumn by Chinese artist Liang Yuanwei, to a gold-plated 3D-printed map of the owner’s DNA by German designer Thorsten Franck, a hand-made stem of the finest porcelain roses by Nymphenberg or an abstract design in silk by young British artist Helen Amy Murray.

You can choose a favoured artist or designer to work with Rolls-Royce to create a truly individual work of art that spans the width of ‘The Gallery’ in your Phantom, or you can choose from a vast collection of silk, wood, metal or leather finishes, which are available off the shelf.

Carved from solid

Thanks to superforming and a new precision body joining process, there are few, if any visible weld lines between the panels; the new Phantom looks as if its whole body was carved out of a block of aluminium.

For the first time, the pantheon grille (about 12mm taller than that of the Phantom VII) is part of the body rather than a separate design element, and made of hand-polished stainless steel rather than nickel silver. It curves into the bonnet line and becomes a polished stainless-steel trim strip along the bonnet line, the A pillar and around the windscreen.

The four rectangular headlights frame the daylight running lights and laser projectors, capable of illuminating objects 600 metres ahead. At the C pillar, the biggest piece of hand-polished stainless steel on any car finishes off the side frame on each side, while the door handles, usually cast in aluminium and satin-finished on premium cars, are instead carved from solid stainless steel and hand-polished to a warm, tactile glow.

And finally, the Phantom rides on the biggest wheels yet specified by Rolls-Royce, 22 inch alloy rims with self-righting centre logos.

Silent ride

Along with the lighter, stiffer chassis comes four-wheel steering and self-leveling air suspension using classic double wishbones in front and a five-link axle at the rear. The suspension makes millions of calculations every second, reacting to body and wheel acceleration, steering movements and the input of a forward stereo camera that reads the road ahead and adjusts the suspension for every bump before the car even gets there.

And to make the side even smoother and more silent, there’s 6mm two-layer glass all round, more than 130kg of sound insulation, double aluminium skinning (filled with dense foam and felt layers) on the floor and bulkheads, and the largest cast-aluminium brackets ever used on a car body.

Even the special 22 inch tyres have a sound-deadening foam layer under the tread, like the inner sole on your expensive sneakers.

Power house

The naturally-aspirated 6.75-litre V12 that powers every Rolls-Royce has been re-engineered for the Phantom with two turbochargers, specifically tuned for unhurried, silent and effortlessly muscular power delivery with 900Nm on tap from just 1700rpm and more-than-adequate peak power of 420kW.

It drives the rear wheels through new eight-speed automatic ZF satellite-aided transmission that uses GPS location to ensure that it is always in the right gear for what’s coming up around the bend, depending on how hard you’ve been leaning on the accelerator today.

All of which is backed up by the most complex electronic network ever built by BMW, including an alertness assistant, a four-camera system for all-round visibility including helicopter view, night vision and vision assist, active cruise control, collision warning, pedestrian warning, cross-traffic warning, lane departure and lane change warning, and an 18 x 7cm high-resolution head-up display.

It costs what it costs

The most immediate consequence of all this bespoke luxury is that it is no longer possible to quote a price for a Rolls-Royce until you have finished specifying your unique car – but in any case, if you need to ask the price, you can’t afford it.


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Counterpoint Research reported that in the second quarter of 2020, 5G smartphone shipments increased, accounting for 10% of global smartphone shipments.


In the second quarter of this year, 5G smartphone revenue accounted for 20% of global smartphone revenue. Among them, China is the largest contributor to 5G smartphone sales. It is reported that 72% of global 5G smartphone revenue comes from China. Most of them comes from 5G smartphones released by Huawei. In addition, the average selling price of the Chinese smartphone market also increased by 12% year-on-year.

According to the report, the Asia-Pacific region, China, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, North America and other regions contributed 10% of the overall growth rate in the average sales price in the second quarter of 2020. However, Latin America is the only country where average sales prices have fallen 5% year-on-year. Although the new coronavirus has had an impact on the entire market, the high-end segment has not fallen sharply. Compared with the overall market decline, it only faces a year-on-year decline of 8%.

5G smartphone market

The report also shows that in the second quarter of 2020, the average selling price (ASP) of the global smartphone market increased by 10% year-on-year. With the exception of Latin America, average selling prices increased in all regions. This is because many 5G phones sold well in the second quarter. The increasing demand for education, work, games, and entertainment is also a factor in users’ preference for high-end smartphones.

Read Also:  Samsung may announce the Galaxy F41 smartphone tomorrow

Overall, due to the economic impact and the closure of offline retail stores, the market’s demand for low-priced devices has decreased. Coupled with the resilience of the high-end market and the growth of 5G smartphone sales (especially in China), this quarter’s increase in the average selling price of smartphones.

5G smartphone market


At the same time, smartphone shipments fell 23% year-on-year, reaching a record high. Although most OEM’s smartphone shipments declined in the second quarter of 2020, Apple’s shipments increased by 3% year-on-year, while iPhone revenue increased by 2% year-on-year. But we should also point out that Apple still has no 5G iPhone. The first models will come to the market only this year. Once this happens, and 5G appears on lower models, it will be quite interesting to see how the proportion changes.


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Former Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime announces new game company




Two years after stepping down as CEO at Blizzard, the game company he co-founded in 1991, Mike Morhaime is back with his next venture. It’s called Dreamhaven, and it’s a combination of a publisher and developer, with “a common goal to empower creators, help bring their ideas to life, and create original gaming experiences that foster meaningful connections between players.”

As part of the announcement, Dreamhaven also revealed its first two internal studios: Moonshot Games and Secret Door. Moonshot is headed by a trio of Blizzard veterans, including former Hearthstone lead Jason Chayes, StarCraft II director Dustin Browder, and Hearthstone creative director Ben Thompson. “Though it’s very early days, when we think about Moonshot, we imagine a studio that celebrates curiosity and courage,” Chayes said in a statement. “We aspire to be bold in our approach, and we think the best way to do that is to create a culture centered around trust.”

Secret Door, meanwhile, is similarly led by a team of former Blizzard developers, including Chris Sigaty (executive producer on Hearthstone), Alan Dabiri (technical director on Warcraft III and StarCraft II), and Eric Dodds (designer on World of Warcraft and Starcraft). No projects have been announced for either studio.

Morhaime stepped down as CEO of Blizzard in 2018, though he stayed on in a consultancy role until last year. In an interview with The Washington Post, he said that one of the goals of the new company was to build an environment focused on creators — something that was likely a challenge under Activision, which became Blizzard’s parent company in 2008.

“We’ve learned a ton about what goes into creating an environment that allows creators to do their best work, and we were very successful doing that for many years at Blizzard,” Morhaime told the Post. “We reached a crossroads where we reassessed what we want to do with the rest of our lives.”


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Apple Loop: Shock iPhone 12 Details, Massive iOS 14 Problems, Macbook Pro Delay




Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes surprising iPhone 12 benchmarks, big problems with iOS 14, two new iPads, Apple ignores MacOS, the “good/better/best” of the Apple Watch, the controversy around Apple One, and the Macs’ never changing system System Preferences.

Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).

Just How Fast Is Your Next iPhone?

We might not have seen the iPhone 12 family as part of Apple’s virtual September launch event this week, but we have seen the benchmarks pop up on the AnTuTu website. That gives us a raw comparison of the numbers from last year’s iPhone to this year’s. Philip Michaels reports some pretty shocking numbers:

“Leaked benchmarks from Antutu, purportedly showing off an iPhone 12 Pro Max’s performance, may help fill in some of the blanks. MySmartPrice spotted the leaked numbers, which claim to show off a device with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage running iOS 14.1.

“According to the leaks, the iPhone 12 Pro Max tallied a score of 572,333 on Antutu’s test, which is a 9% gain over the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s 524,436 result on the same test. MySmartPrice says the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s reported tally would be the highest score ever posted by an iPhone, which you’d hope given that it’s a new model.

More at Tom’s Guide.

The Big Problem With iOS 14

Apple may not have announced a release date for the iPhone, but it did announce the release date of iOS 14. And that has caused problems. Normally Apple will provide a week’s worth of ‘heads up’ time to Developers so they can ensure their apps are ready for the jump up to the next major version of iOS. Not this year… developers had less than a days notice, and they are not happy. Matt Binder reports:

““Gone are the hopes of being on the store by the time users install the new iOS 14 and are looking for new apps. Gone is the chance to get some last-minute fixes into your existing apps to make sure they don’t stop working outright by the time users get to upgrade their OS,” explained Steve [Troughton-Smith from High Caffeine Content.”

““There are some developers who have spent all summer working on something new, using the latest technologies, hoping to be there on day one and participate in the excitement (and press coverage) of the new iOS,” he continued. “For many of them, they’ll be incredibly upset to have it end like this instead of a triumphant launch, and it can dramatically decrease the amount of coverage or sales they receive.””

More at Mashable.

Take Two Tablets And Call Your iPhone In The Morning

Taking the flagship spot away from the ‘missing presumed having a good time’ iPhone 12 was Apple’s new iPad Air. Beating the smartphone as the first device with Apple’s new A14 ARM-based processor. Samuel Axon and Jim Salter report for Ars Technica:

“The iPad Air gets the new A14 Bionic CPU, built on 5nm process technology. It’s a six-core CPU with two high-performance cores and four lower-power, more efficient cores for simpler background tasks. The A14 Bionic offers a 30 percent GPU performance boost compared to previous generations, and Apple says it puts up double the graphics performance of typical laptops.”

As well as the increased power, 2020’s iPad Air has a new design; USB-C has been added, the bezels have been trimmed away, the home button has been removed, and TouchID has been integrated into the power button. It;s not the only new iPad, as the entry-level iPad moves up rom the A10 to the A12 Bionic processor. Benjamin Mayo reports:

“The jump from A10 to A12 means Apple’s cheapest iPad will feature the Neural Engine for the first time. Apple says the A12 chip offers more than twice the performance of the top selling Windows laptop, 6x faster than the top-selling Android tablet and 6x faster than the best-selling Chromebook.

“The 8th-generation iPad keeps the same price as the 7th-gen: that’s $329 for general sale and $299 for education.”

More at 9to5Mac.

Will Mac Owners Be Satisfied With Safari After macOS Delay?

If you were waiting for MmcOS Big Sur to drop for your Mac or MacBook, then you are out of luck. Apple’s event saw updates to iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS… but macOS has been delayed. The ‘Big Sur’ release is still in the future, but a small crumb (perhaps from a cookie) has been handed to Mac fans in the form of Safari 14, presumably to offer cross-OS support with other devices. Juli Clover reports:

“Safari 14 brings improved performance, customizable start pages, a Privacy Report to see which cross-site trackers are being blocked, and a new tab bar design that provides tab previews so you can see what you have open at a glance. Today’s update also removes Adobe Flash.”

More at MacRumors.

The Apple Watch Strikes Three 

Two new Apple Watch models were launched, and as the Apple Watch Series 3 remains, there is now a low-, a mid-, and a high-level smartwatch in the classic triplet that Apple was once famous for. Todd Haselton looks over the Series 6 Apple Watch for CNBC, including the headline ‘wellness’ features:

“The Series 6 also has Apple’s most advanced sensors. You can run the ECG app for an electrocardiogram, for example, a feature that’s not on the Apple Watch SE or Series 3. It’s also the only model with the new blood-oxygen app. I tried that and it told me my blood oxygen was 96%, which seems good.

“…Apple is careful to explain that this isn’t a medical device. You can use it if you’re curious about your blood oxygen when you’re hiking at high altitudes, but Apple isn’t making any promises about detecting low oxygen should you fall ill with coronavirus.”

Meanwhile, Apple has brought the ‘SE’ brand to the Apple Watch, again with the promise of a cheaper ‘mid-range’ slice of hardware that still delivers the core Apple experience. Chris Velazco has spent some time with the wearable to try and work out where it fits into the portfolio:

“For one, the SE uses the same S5 system-in-package (or SIP) that we got in last year’s Series 5, which in turn contains the same dual-core processor as the Series 4. Meanwhile, Apple has confirmed that the SE has the same compass and always-on altimeter as the Series 6, along with a very similar screen.

“From what I can tell, it’s the same bigger display we got in the Series 5, just without the always-on functionality enabled. And while the Series 4 was the first Apple Watch to come with heart-sensing ECG support, you simply don’t get that here. Ditto for the Series 6’s new blood oxygen measurement features.”

More at Engadget.

Bouquets and Brickbats For Apple One 

Also announced alongside Apple’s hardware, and perhaps an indication of where Apple wishes to focus on the future, were new options for the various subscription services offered by Cupertino. Apple One takes the popular options and bundles them together while offering a discount. Brian Heater reports:

“It’s not quite mix and match yet, but there are three pricing tiers. Individual offers Apple Music, TV+, Arcade and iCloud for $15 a month. The Family version will get you those four services for $20 a month. For the hardcore, there’s the $30 a month Premier tier, which bundles iCloud, Music, TV+, Arcade, News+ and [the new service] Fitness+.“

“For those who have been putting off a given Apple subscription, such a bundle could certainly sweeten the pot — and make it even harder for users to escape the pull of the Apple software ecosystem.”

More at TechCrunch. Given Apple’s market position, using one service to pptentiallybolster another through a bundle has drawn the eye of the competition. Spotify – which has already filed an anti-trust complaint with the European Commission against Apple – drew attention to the issue shortly ager the end of the event.

“Once again, Apple is using its dominant position and unfair practices to disadvantage competitors and deprive consumers by favoring its own services. We call on competition authorities to act urgently to restrict Apple’s anti-competitive behavior, which if left unchecked, will cause irreparable harm to the developer community and threaten our collective freedoms to listen, learn, create, and connect.”

More on the Spotify statement at Apple Insider.

And Finally…

The look of the MacOS user interface has evolved since OSX was announced in 2000. One area has stayed relatively contestant, but the small changes highlight the thinking behind the OS over the years.

“The interface started glassy and skeuomorphic, mimicking the materials used on Macs. Over the decades, it went through significant revisions. One thing that seems to have remained relatively unchanged over the years is the System Preferences screen.

“But, at a closer glance, we’ll see that this mundane part of the operating system has changed quite a bit and hides some fun easter eggs and surprises.”

Arun Venkatesan has taken a closer look on his blog.

Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.


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