Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–January 18, 2016

Xiaomi Smartphone Sales Fall Short
Xiaomi said it sold more than 70 million smartphones in 2015. Were the Beijing startup without a $45 billion valuation and a founder who says the plan is to become the world’s biggest smartphone company, this would be reason for celebration. Only three other smartphone maker ship more phones. Instead, the figure falls short of founder Lei Jun’s goal of selling at least 80 million and leaves Xiaomi in the shadow of China’s Huawei, which said it sold more than 100 million smartphones globally in 2015. Huawei did so in part by copying Xiaomi’s online-only selling model for one of its brands in China. Xiaomi’s smartphone sales growth, which reached a fever pitch in 2014 at 227%, plummeted to the mid-teens in 2015. Story by Scott Cendrowski for Fortune.

Mobile Banking Users Outpace Branch Customers in 2015
Three in 10 bank customers used mobile banking on a weekly basis in 2015, exceeding for the first time the 24 percent who visit branches weekly, according to a new report from Javelin. The share of customers using mobile banking weekly has more than tripled since 2011, while the share of branch customers has continued a slow decline. Javelin also found that approximate 25 million U.S. adults–1 in 10–began using mobile banking in 2015 for the first time. Story in the ABA Banking Journal.

NTSB Recommending Ban On Hands-Free Phones While Driving
Safety on the road. The NTSB releases a list of most wanted safety improvements for 2016. Disconnecting with deadly distractions is one of them. They believe it would help save lives if they ban all people from using even hands-free cell phone devices in cars. While no states have banned the use of hands-free cell phones, some states have put limits on who can use them. Twenty states and D.C. ban bus drivers from using any cell phones–even hands-free–and new drivers in Maryland, D.C. and 37 other states are forbidden from using any cell phones. Story by Derek Valcourt for CBS Baltimore.

Best Buy: Mobile Device Sales Slowed During Holidays
Best Buy said that computing and mobile phone sales were weaker than expected even as the company weathered a rough holiday season better than most retailers. That factoid from Best Buy isn’t going to allay worries about Apple’s iPhone sales or the smartphone category overall. Including mobile phone installment plans, Best Buy said that same store sales for computing and mobile phones fell 7.2 percent for the nine weeks ending Jan. 2. Story by Larry Dignan for ZD Net.

Why Cell Phones are Taking Over the Tech Universe
There’s been some argument since cell phone technology began advancing rapidly that the little devices are taking over human life. The use of cell phones has become so ubiquitous that some people spend more than half their day staring at the little devices. While it may not be true that these devices are taking over lives, it can be argued that they’re topping the tech universe. So many advancements have come out that these tiny computers seem to be on track to replace all computers. Story by Anna Johansson for Inquisitr.

DHS Plan to Shut Down Mobile Cell Phones Can Stay Secret after Supreme Court Snub
Without any explanation, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to take up a petition from a privacy advocacy group seeking to uncover secret Department of Homeland Security documents regarding a cell phone kill switch plan. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has been trying to obtain declassified information on Standard Operating Procedure 303, or the Emergency Wireless Protocols, since 2011, but Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests have so far gone nowhere. The secretive program, handled by the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) under DHS, was allowed to remain secret after a federal appeals court found in May that FOIA did not apply to this particular program if DHS believed its release would “endanger” the public. Story by Zoran Milich for Reuters.

Researchers Advise Mothers To Get Rid Of Their Cellphones When Taking Care Of Their Babies
Disorganized maternal care can disturb the brain development of the infants which may lead to emotional disorders later in adolescence and adult life. This has been one of the significant findings of a recent study that was published in the journal of Translational Psychiatry–emphasizing the importance of organized and intensive maternal care.The UCI News reported the study as conducted by the researchers of the University of California. It shows that everyday interruptions such as attending to text messages and phone calls while nurturing their babies may have a long-lasting impact. This includes risk behaviors, depression as well as drug seeking in adolescence and adult life. Their key message to all mothers is “to put down their cellphones when caring for their babies.” Story in the Parent Herald.

Phone Users to Get Better Protection from Hackers
The widespread use of mobile phones has created more opportunities for hackers to steal information from them, but two projects are under way in Singapore to give users better protection from cyberattacks. The Institute for Infocomm Research has developed a system to detect if fingerprints used in recognition systems, which can be found in newer mobile phone models, are real or spoofed. Separately, researchers from Singapore Management University are working on a detection mechanism for facial authentication functions on mobile phones, which will be able to prevent hackers from using photos or videos to gain access. Story by Louisa Tang for Channel News Asia.

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of SaveOnPhone.com. He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.