Weekly Cell Phone News in Review—September 11, 2017


iPhone’s Summer Production Glitches Create Holiday Jitters

Apple’s new iPhone, which is expected to be unveiled Tuesday, was plagued by production glitches this summer, according to people familiar with the situation, which could result in extended supply shortfalls when customers start ordering the device later this month. New iPhones typically are in short supply when first released. But if shortages of the new phone extend beyond the initial sales period, which is expected to begin Sept. 22, analysts and investors could dial back their projections for sales in the crucial holiday period. The glitches, which occurred early in the manufacturing process, set back the phone’s production timetable by about a month. Foxconn Technology Group, the Apple contractor that assembles iPhones, has been ramping up production at its complex in Zhengzhou, China. The company is paying bonuses to employees who can help bring new hires on board at its Zhengzhou plant, which Foxconn said in June employs about 250,000 people. Story by Yoko Kubota, Tripp Mickle and Takashi Mochizuki for The Wall Street Journal


Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 Has Broken Presale Records Despite Last Year’s Disaster
The Note brand is still going strong despite Samsung recalling and discontinuing Note 7 devices last year for battery explosions. The company announced that more customers in the US have preordered the Note 8 than any other Notes it has ever sold in previous years during the same time period. Note 8 preorders went live on August 24th and the device is one of Samsung’s most expensive smartphones to date, starting at $930. It’s unapologetically pricey, though Samsung did attempt to offset that price tag with some presale offers. Preorders before September 24th are eligible for a choice of a Gear 360 camera or a wireless charging bundle, and Note 7 owners were offered a steep discount if they traded in their current device for the Note 8. Carriers like T-Mobile have also offered their own deals, enticing customers to sign up for a new line and to get a full rebate on a second Note 8. Story by Natt Garun for The Verge


Why Google’s Rumored Acquisition of HTC Makes Sense
Here’s a rumor that will blow your mind: Google is apparently “in the final stage of negotiations” to acquire HTC’s smartphone division. The rumor comes from the Chinese-language site Commercial Times and suggests that Google will acquire only the mobile arm of HTC, not the entire company. The possible acquisition—although shocking—makes quite a lot of sense when you consider all that’s happened in the in past few years. Google is desperate to challenge Apple’s dominance in the mobile industry with its own premium phone built from scratch. Although Google’s first official branded phone, the Pixel, was reviewed positively, it never quite reached  the same level of success as the iPhone. Acquiring a mobile phone company would put Google in a better position to experiment with hardware and essentially control the entire experience of using one of its branded phones. Story by Michael Nunez for Mashable


Huawei Beat Apple For Second Place in the Global Smartphone Market
It looks like Huawei’s plan to become the largest smartphone maker in the world is on track. Counterpoint Research published its latest global smartphone market analysis, and the biggest takeaway is Huawei’s impressive performance that put it ahead of A pole for the first time. According to Counterpoint, Huawei outsold Apple in June, July, and likely in August. The research firm did not share its raw numbers, but it looks like Huawei’s and Apple’s share in July were around 12 percent. Huawei edged out the iPhone’s maker, while Samsung continued its streak at the top with just over 20 percent of sales share. Story by Bogdan Petrovan for Android Authority


US Carriers Partner on a Better Mobile Authentication System
Two-factor authentication (2FA) via SMS and a smartphone provides a heavy dose of additional security for your data, but as the US government declared last year, it’s not without its flaws. To fix that, the big four US mobile operators, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T have formed a coalition called the Mobile Authentication Taskforce to come up with a new system. Working with app developers and others, they’ll explore the use of SIM card recognition, network-based authentication, geo-location, and other carrier-specific capabilities. The idea is to marry current 2FA with systems that reduce mobile identity risks by analyzing data and activity patterns on a mobile network to predict, with a high degree of certainty, whether the user is who they say they are. Story by Steve Dent for Engadget


T-Mobile Offers Free Netflix to Customers
T-Mobile announced it will now offer “Netflix on Us,” meaning customers can enjoy Netflix for free when they sign up for two or more lines on a T-Mobile ONE family plan. This partnership was inspired because more consumers are streaming videos from their mobile devices. This year marks the first time Americans have spent more than 50% of their screen time on smartphones and digital devices instead of traditional TV, and mobile viewing is expected to more than double by 2020. T-Mobile ONE customers can begin activating their Netflix subscriptions on September 12th either online, in-store or by calling T-Mobile. Eligible customers who already have Netflix subscriptions will receive a statement credit from T-Mobile. Story by John Oldshue of SaveOnPhone.com

Apple Is Dependent On Samsung For The iPhone 8
The most important part of Apple’s upcoming iPhone is its screen, which is widely expected to use a newer kind of display technology called OLED. And the only company that can make them in large numbers up to Apple’s standards is also its top competitor in the smartphone market: Samsung. That’s a lot of responsibility for a single supplier – and it suggests that any slowdown at Samsung Display could affect iPhone availability. There are already lots of warnings that iPhone 8 supply could be short this fall. Story by Kif Leswing for Business Insider

The Product Design Challenges of AR on Smartphones
With the launch of ARKit, we are going to see augmented reality apps become available for about 500 million iPhones in the next 12 months, and at least triple that in the following 12 months as we can now include the numbers of ARCore-supporting devices from Google. This has attracted the broader developer community to AR, and we’ll see many, many, many experiments as developers figure out that AR is an entirely new medium. In fact, it could be even more profound than that, as through all of history we have consumed visual content through a rectangle (from stone tablets, to cinema, to smartphones, etc.) and AR is the first medium that is completely unbound. It’s a new medium the way the web was different from print, different in kind, not in scale. Story by Matt Miesnieks for Tech Crunch


Mobile Banking Now A Part Of Taxi Service?
Normally, most of us think of a taxi service as a way to get from point A to point B without the need to own a car. All perfectly reasonable, but in southeast Asia, new reports suggest that taxis are also serving as mobile banks of a sort, complete with their own currency in some cases. One of the leading ride-hailing firms in the region, Grab, is offering up its ride-sharing credits as a kind of currency that can be used interchangeably throughout the area. Users will be able to send those credits back and forth among other users, and will eventually be able to use those credits at restaurants and retailers, over 1,000 such entries by the end of the year. Essentially, Grab is about to make itself just as much an e-payment service as it is a taxi service. That may sound ludicrous, even illegal but the word is that this is being done mainly to address the substantial numbers of users who don’t have access to banking services. Story by Steven Anderson for Payment Week


Here’s How RED’s Holographic Smartphone Display Will Work
Cinematic camera maker RED has a smartphone on the way—the Hydrogen, which boasts a great video camera as well as a “holographic display” that we know relatively little about. Now, we know more because RED CEO Jim Jannard named HP Labs spin-out Leia as the display tech partner. Leia’s technology works using light field technology, which stacks LCDs with backlights pointing in different directions. When you combine the angles of the backlight projecting the images on screen, you can produce 3D effects visible by the naked eye. Leia’s innovation is making this work while also keeping the traditional 2D display capabilities undisturbed, so that you can switch between both modes depending on what you’re viewing. Story by Darrell Etherington for Tech Crunch


Your Cellphone Porn Habit Isn’t As Secret As You Think
Porn lovers who visit X-rated websites on their mobile phones could soon have their filthy secrets exposed to the world. Adult websites are much more likely to expose your viewing habits if they’re accessed on a cell, smut-lovers have been warned. Tech firm Wandera issued this warning: “Watching mobile porn on your smartphone is a much higher risk than watching it on your PC.” “Smartphone operating systems, especially Android, are not as secure as desktops, there are many vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited by hackers.” Wandera also conducted a study of the industry and found that 40 out of the top 50 adult sites were vulnerable to malware.
Story by Margi Murphy for The Sun

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.