Sony Xperia Z2, Xperia Z3, Xperia Z3 Compact Get Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow Update

Sony Xperia Z2, Xperia Z3, Xperia Z3 Compact Get Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow Update

Sony over the weekend started seeding an Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow-based update to the Xperia Z2 (D6503), Xperia Z3 (D6603), and Xperia Z3 Compact (D5803).

As reported by users (via Xperia Blog), the latest firmware comes with a build number 23.5.A.0.570, which is the same that rolled out as a beta release for these three models earlier this month. It is worth mentioning that the company’s global support website for the three smartphones still shows Android 5.1 Lollipop as the latest version.

The new firmware build for the Xperia Z2, Xperia Z3 and the Xperia Z3 Compact features the Camera 2.0.0 user interface and February Android security patch as well. Xperia Blog has firmware download links for users to manually download and install. The report adds the update for now is limited to the above mentioned variants, and to the US, Latin America, Middle East, North Africa, Russia, and Ukraine. Availability for more variants and in more regions should happen soon.

To refresh, some of the new features Android 6.0 Marshmallow brings include revamped app permissions; Google Now on Tap feature; new Chrome feature that will change the Web experience forAndroid users; new ways to handle Web links; Android Pay mobile payment system is now official with Android M; new fingerprint APIs for developers to add into their apps, New Silent feature for sound and vibrate mode as well as a ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode to block all sounds or only alarms and notifications, and battery saver features called Doze that will make Android devices smart about managing power. Some of the other additions include new RAM manager, adoptable storage devices, new app drawer, auto backup, and restore for apps.


Apple’s Push to Flood India With Used iPhones Ignites Backlash

Apple's Push to Flood India With Used iPhones Ignites Backlash

Apple’s latest attempt to crack the Indian smartphone market by selling used phones is meeting a wall of resistance.

The iPhone maker is seeking permission to become the first company allowed to import and sell used phones into the country, its second attempt in as many years. This time, the stakes are higher and a growing number of industry executives are fighting the move, warning government officials in private that it’ll open the floodgates to electronic waste, jeopardize local players, and make a farce of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India program to encourage local manufacturing.

“Make in India could turn into Dump in India,” said Sudhir Hasija, chairman of Karbonn Mobiles, who said it sells about 1.7 million phones a month.

Apple’s application in 2015 was rejected by the environment ministry without much fanfare. But things have changed since: India, as the world’s second largest mobile population, now represents a vast untapped opportunity for Apple just as China and the United States are slowing. Apple has publicly talked up its prospects in India and is on course to get the green light to open its first retail stores.

Sensing the threat, the electronics manufacturing industry’s main representative body recently set up a lobbying arm that wrote directly to the government vehemently opposing Apple’s application.

“Why even consider allowing import of used phones when import of other used goods such as cars are precluded by 300 percent duty levies?” asked Ravinder Zutshi, chairman of the newly formed Mobile and Communications Council, which issued the letter. The group’s members include the largest Indian phone brands: Micromax, Intex and Samsung.

Apple’s application has gone to so-called inter-ministerial discussion, said Asha Nangia, a director in the Department of Electronics & Information Technology. That adds a layer of bureaucracy to a process that’s far from certain. The government could go either way, though it’s encountering far greater local opposition than the first time around. The company declined to comment.

The maker of the world’s most expensive smartphones had been stymied by low incomes and regulations. But selling cheaper refurbished devices can help convert price-sensitive consumers, who previously would have had to fork over a month’s earnings or more to own the coveted brand. Apple last month unveiled a smaller iPhone SE (Review) that, with a starting price of $399, may still be out of reach of many Indian buyers.

Apple now has less than 2 percent of an Indian market in which four-fifths of phones cost less than $150. Branded smartphones are available for as little as $35 in India. Western multinationals from car-makers to soda vendors use “India only” prices and cut-rate “India edition” products to woo customers. Apple can’t employ those strategies without tarnishing its marquee phone’s premium aura.

Still, its sales there jumped 76 percent in the holiday quarter, indicating that demand for the premium brand is growing. Tim Cook called out the country’s “incredibly exciting” prospects during his last earnings conference and said his company will devote more energy to that market.

“All this will neatly tie into Apple’s strategy as the smartphone market peaks in the country in the next few years,” said Neil Shah, research director for devices and ecosystems at Counterpoint Research. “Apple will sell these at far lower price points and bring down entry barriers in India where new iPhones are out of reach of the masses.” Apple could target annual iPhone sales of 10 million by 2017, he added.

But rival smartphone makers will have none of it. One of the chief complaints is that allowing Apple to have its way would result in a deluge of used electronics imports, making mince-meat of Modi’s localization drive. Global players such as Foxconn Technology Group are considering or have begun taking baby steps towards local manufacture, starting with basic assembly. Any easing of curbs on imports could give them pause, Hasija argued.

“Make in India will become a big zero,” said Hasija, who’s set up four phone assemblies across the country since the program was launched and is building a fifth.

Another criticism focuses on potential damage to the environment. When destroyed, phones produce toxic materials that India isn’t equipped to deal with, critics say. Used batteries and LCD screens could worsen the mountainous e-waste problem the country already faces.

“The millions of imported used phones will need their batteries replaced. What will happen to those batteries, where will they go?” asked Sunil Vachani, chairman of Dixon Technologies, whose phone assemblies roll out a million phones a month for brands like Japan’s Panasonic and China’s Gionee. “I am against any change in policy with regard to import of used phones.”

To be sure, Apple has some of the industry’s most exacting protocols for recycling products. The company says it typically manages to collect and recycle 85 percent, by weight, of devices produced seven years earlier. Apple’s eventual plan, as stated in its application to the government, is to set up facilities that take discarded phones and refurbish them for use.

Importing used phones also dovetails with developments on the other side of the globe. In February, Apple launched a U.S. program that allows users to upgrade older iPhones for a small monthly cost. Shah said the 14 million to 15 million older phones he expects to be traded-in could be refurbished and sent to emerging markets — including India.

“Even if the refurbished iPhones are priced a bit more than 10,000 rupees ($150), that will hurt our sales because Indians may choose Apple for its snob value,” said Hasija of Karbonn.


HTC 10 Battery Life Touted; More Leaks Emerge Ahead of Tuesday Launch

HTC 10 Battery Life Touted; More Leaks Emerge Ahead of Tuesday Launch

HTC is all set to launch its next flagship smartphone, the HTC 10, at an event on Tuesday. The Taiwanese company has been creating hype around its upcoming smartphone for weeks now and some recent teasers indicate some new details such as a powerful battery and an OIS-enabled front camera. The HTC 10 has also been allegedly leaked in live images showing the handset’s design in full glory. In addition, Qualcomm has touted HTC 10’s Snapdragon SoC ahead of the official unveiling on Tuesday.

HTC in a recent tweet promised that the upcoming flagship smartphone will have great battery life. It said, “Our engineers are so obsessed with battery life we’ve turned it into a science.” The company had previously teased the BoomSound technology and the capabilities of the handset’s camera that will arrive in the flagship HTC 10 smartphone.

In another tweet, Kisha Bari, a photographer by profession, revealed that the HTC 10 will pack first the optical image stabilisation (OIS) enabled selfie camera. Notably, the tweet was deleted soon after tipping that HTC may not have wanted to give away the OIS-enabled front camera feature ahead of the official launch of the HTC 10 smartphone.

A Dutch site has posted live images of the HTC 10 smartphone showing the handset’s design in full glory. There is nothing new to talk about the new leaked live images showing the HTC 10 as the smartphone design stays the same as seen in past leaks. The live images besides showing the broad chamfered edges also show the metal clad HTC 10 to sport a physical home button below the display, same as the HTC One A9, along with two capacitive buttons for moving back and accessing multi window options. The slightly protruding rear camera with dual-LED flash is visible along with two antennas running at the top and bottom of the back panel.

In a separate leak, a Twitter user has posted images of the HTC 10 smartphone sporting White colour. The handset’s home screen is seen featuring Chinese fonts tipping that it may be a testing unit photographed somewhere in China.

Lastly, Qualcomm has teased the prowess of the HTC 10 smartphone’s chipset in a tweet. The company said, “The power of #Snapdragon meets the #powerof10.” Qualcomm’s tweet indicates that the HTC 10 may sport the Snapdragon 820 processor under the hood. Considering that the other flagships including the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5 come with the Snapdragon 820 processor, there is no surprise that it would be the SoC of choice for HTC.

Based on preliminary leaks, HTC will unveil the smartphone on Tuesday and is expected to bring the device to markets by Friday this week.


OnePlus One Gets Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow With Cyanogen OS 13 Update

OnePlus One Gets Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow With Cyanogen OS 13 Update

Last week Android 6.0 Marshmallow update for the OnePlus One smartphone was in its ‘Final Testing Stage’. However, the Chinese tech firm has finally started seeding the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow update to the handsets in the form of the latest build of its commercial OS – Cyanogen OS 13 (CM13S).

OnePlus on its forum Friday announced that an Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow-based Cyanogen OS 13 build ‘ZNH0EAS26M’ has started to roll out in stages to OnePlus One smartphones. The post said it will take time to reach all units, and asks users to be be patient.

The Cyanogen OS 13 brings all the updates one can expect from Android Marshmallow operating system such as Doze, granular permissions, Google Now on Tap and more. Users can manually check for the new update availability by going to Settings > About Phone > System Updates on their OnePlus One handsets.

It is worth mentioning that OnePlus One successor, the OnePlus 2 last month also got the near final build of Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow-based OxygenOS 3.0. The company said it was seeking feedback from users on three aspects – Network Testing, Camera, and Performance before they roll out the official version.

The company last week also rolled out OxygenOS 2.2.1 Update for its latest handsets, the OnePlus X. The Chinese tech firm brings a bunch of improvements and fixes for the OnePlus X as part of the update. Fixes for data leak issues, microphone muting while using Google Hangouts, app drawer not launching when the Google search bar is hidden are some of them.


Micromax Partners TranServ, Visa to Bring Udio Wallet to Its Smartphones

Micromax Partners TranServ, Visa to Bring Udio Wallet to Its Smartphones

Domestic handset maker Micromax will now integrate a new wallet offering, powered by Visa and TranServ, for its smartphone users as it looks to beef up its services business.

The Gurgaon-based firm, which had partnered TranServ in December last year, is relying heavily on payments as part of its overall service strategy.

“Payment is very critical to the overall service strategy for Micromax… Almost all the new smartphone products will have this wallet as natively integrated in them. Existing users of Micromax smartphones will also get this upgrade,” Micromax co-founder Vikas Jain told PTI.

He added the company has partnered Visa and TranServ to offer unique digital solutions specifically designed to meet the demands of the “mobile-first” Indian consumers.

“Visa brings together the merchant ecosystem and TranServ takes care of the technical aspect, while Micromax already has strong service ecosystem and user base in place to use this service,” he said.

Using the proposed payment solutions, Micromax users will be able to use mobile-based push payments using mVisa and make e-commerce payments on merchant and social media applications as well as interpersonal payments to personal contacts.

In the future, the companies will also look at launching mobile contactless payments in physical locations through NFC (near-field communications).

“The payment solutions will soon be available to Micromax smartphone users through the Udio app,” he said.

Udio is a digital wallet enabled by TranServ. It allows consumers to shop using a Visa card number linked to the underlying prepaid wallet, wherever Visa is accepted.

“Digital payments is clearly an important part of our digital experience and services strategy. We are looking to provide an all pervasive payments layer to our services ecosystem enabling digitalisation of the lifestyles of our consumers,” he said.

Chris Clark, Group Executive (Asia Pacific) at Visa, said mobile payments are part of the future of payments and their rapid adoption will be instrumental in helping India move towards a cashless society.

“With India being the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market, we have a significant opportunity to combine the power, reach and security of the Visa network, with the strengths of our partners Micromax and TranServ, to create payment solutions tailored to local market needs,” he added.

TranServ co-founder and CEO Anish Williams said the company is building solutions that will contribute towards a holistic and secure payments ecosystem.


US Judge in Boston Ordered Apple to Help Law Enforcement Examine iPhone

US Judge in Boston Ordered Apple to Help Law Enforcement Examine iPhone

A US magistrate judge in Boston ordered Apple Inc to assist law enforcement officers in examining the iPhone of an alleged gang member, according to a February 1 court filing unsealed on Friday that is no longer binding.

“Reasonable technical assistance consists of, to the extent possible, extracting data from the device, copying the data from the device onto an external hard drive or other storage medium and returning the aforementioned storage medium to law enforcement,” US Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler wrote before a similar case in San Bernardino drew worldwide attention to law enforcement efforts to get around iPhone encryption.

(Also see:  FBI Continues to Debate Sharing iPhone Hack With Apple)

As in the San Bernardino case, where the US Justice Department sought access to a phone used by a gunman who fatally shot 14 people in December, Apple objected to the Boston order, an employee briefed on the matter said. The FBI has since said it has figured out a secret method for unlocking the model of iPhone in California.

(Also see:Apple vs FBI: What Happened?)

The Justice Department withdrew the San Bernardino case and has not made an additional move in the Boston matter, though Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said that it could.

“Apple has represented that they were unable and unwilling to comply with the court’s order, and no decision has been made by the government on whether to seek additional orders compelling Apple’s assistance,” Pierce said


US to Continue Appeal of iPhone Data Case in New York

US to Continue Appeal of iPhone Data Case in New York

The US Justice Department on Friday said it would keep fighting to force Apple Inc to open an iPhone in a New York drug case, continuing its controversial effort to require Apple and other tech companies to help law enforcement authorities circumvent encryption.

Just two weeks ago, the government dropped its effort to require Apple to crack an iPhone used by one of the shooters in the December attacks in San Bernardino, California, saying it had unlocked the phone without Apple’s help.

(Also see:The Little-Known Firm Said to Be Helping the FBI Crack iPhones)

Some observers thought the government would back away from the New York case too, since the suspect has already pleaded guilty. But in a letter filed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, the Justice Department said, “The government continues to require Apple’s assistance in accessing the data that it is authorized to search by warrant.”

An Apple attorney said Friday the company was disappointed but not surprised that the government would continue to fight in New York after giving up in California.

He said the appeal belied the FBI’s claim that the San Bernardino case was about a single phone and the need to stop future terror acts.

Apple, with the strong support of most of the technology industry, argues that requiring it to circumvent the encryption in its own products would inevitability open the door for hackers and foreign spies and undermine security for everyone. The company has said it is willing to take the issue to the Supreme Court.

The phones in the two cases have different security features, with the New York phone running an earlier version of the iPhone operating software. The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey, who is leading the battle against Apple, said Thursday that the method used on the San Bernardino phone would not work on other models.

But the New York phone is much easier for Apple to break into. Apple has acknowledged it could get data from the drug dealer’s phone without crafting special software, as it would have had to do with the San Bernardino phone.

Apple helped law enforcement with earlier iPhones on some 70 occasions, according to court documents, and it objected to the order in the New York case only after it was invited to do so last fall by US Magistrate Judge James Orenstein.

Since then, Apple has declined to comply with such orders without a fight, a person close to the company said. In a case that came to light Friday, a Boston judge had ordered Apple to cooperate in a gang case. Apple also objected there, and the Justice Department said it has not yet decided whether to push again to force its assistance.

In a ruling issued on February 29, Orenstein came down firmly on Apple’s side, rejecting the idea that an old law known as the All Writs Act gave judges the power to order Apple’s help. That judge, Apple and the FBI have all said the balance between encryption and law enforcement access should be struck by Congress, and one such proposal is nearing formal introduction by the leaders of the Senate intelligence committee.

(Also see: The Fight Between Apple and the FBI Is Just Getting Started)

The Justice Department announcement Friday, however, showed it will continue to fight in the courts as well.

Jill Bronfman, director of the Privacy and Technology Project at University of California Hastings College of the Law, questioned whether the facts involved in the New York case would make a strong test case over encryption. While extracting data from the phone in the New York case would be an easier technical feat for Apple, the facts in the case are far less compelling, she said.

“If you want to do a balancing test and you’ve got terrorism on one side of the scale, that’s a very heavy weight,” she said. “We’ll see how the request is balanced when we have drugs on the other side.”

Apple is scheduled to file papers in opposition of the Justice Department’s appeal by April 15.

In its appeal, the Apple lawyer said the company would try the same thing it was planning in California: demanding that government show it had tried all possible alternative means of getting into the phone.

That could force the FBI to reveal closely held details of its efforts to break into phones.

Federal law enforcement officials declined to say whether they were looking into having third parties unlock the phone in the New York case.

The phone in the Brooklyn case belonged to Jun Feng, who has pleaded guilty to participation in a methamphetamine distribution conspiracy. The Justice Department is seeking to unlock Feng’s phone to find other conspirators.


China’s Huawei Evaluating Mobile Phone Manufacturing in India

China's Huawei Evaluating Mobile Phone Manufacturing in India

China-based Huawei is evaluating ways to start production of mobile phones in India through contract manufacturing in association with Foxconn and is currently studying the business models and tax incentives.

A delegation of Huawei, led by its India CEO Jay Chen, met Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday and apprised him of its expansion plans for the country.

“We had a very elaborate talk and they have said that till now they have invested $2 billion (roughly Rs. 13,309 crores) in India in the last 16 years,” Prasad said.

“They have a facility in Sriperumbudur… they are selling one million phones in India… if you are selling one million phones, you better start manufacturing here and they have promised me, they will explore the possibility. They are in talks with Foxconn on a contract basis. They are welcome to do business in India,” Prasad said. Huawei is serving 40 networks worldwide from its offices in India.

Asked about manufacturing plans in India, a Huawei representative, who was part of the delegation, said, “(It) depends on the business volumes, we are still evaluating… we are trying to understand the policy, tax incentives and the business models. Currently, we manufacture the network equipment.”

Apart from Huawei, officials of two other Chinese telecom companies, LeEco and ZTE, met the minister. Also, global CEO of US-based Avaya, Kevin Kennedy, along with Vishal Agarwal, who is MD (India and Saarc), called on the minister.

“All these companies are into ICT, into electronic manufacturing and communication services and all of them are very bullish about India. They are keen to invest and expand their footprint in India,” Prasad said.

“I made three things clear to them. You are most welcome to do business in India, but keep sensitivities in mind. India is an open democratic society, be sensitive to issues of cyber-security and follow India’s regulatory scenario properly.”


Mi Stores in India: Xiaomi Seeks Exemption From Local Sourcing Norms

Mi Stores in India: Xiaomi Seeks Exemption From Local Sourcing Norms

Chinese mobile device maker Xiaomi has sought complete exemption from the mandatory 30 percent local sourcing norms for opening single brand retail stores in India.

“The company has sought permission from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP)for opening single brand retail trading (SBRT) in India. They also want exemption from the mandatory local sourcing norms,” sources said.

When contacted about the matter, the company said: “We have filed an application for SBRT but would be unable to share more details as it is still at a nascent stage.”

Last year, the government had relaxed the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy for single-brand retailing.

As per the policy, the government may relax the sourcing norms for entities undertaking single-brand retailing of products having ‘state-of-the-art’ and ‘cutting edge’ technology and where local sourcing is not possible.

At present, 100 percent FDI is permitted in the sector but the companies are required to take FIPB permission if the limit exceeds 49 percent.

In respect of proposals involving FDI beyond 51 percent, sourcing of 30 percent of the value of goods purchased will be from India, preferably from MSMEs, village and cottage industries, artisans and craftsmen, in all sectors.

Xiaomi sells its devices through select e-commerce platforms and retail stores.

India is one of the biggest markets for Xiaomi globally, which assembles devices like Redmi 2 andRedmi Note at the manufacturing facility of Foxconn, a leading contract manufacturer.

According to research firm IDC, shipments in India grew 28.8 percent year-on-year to 103.6 million units in 2015 compared with 10.1 percent growth for the global market.


LG K-Series Smartphones India Launch Set for April 14

LG K-Series Smartphones India Launch Set for April 14

LG has started sending media invites for a launch event on April 14 where the company will launch the K-Series of smartphones in India. The invite says, “Kinetic two new smartphones made by LG for 4G.” The company is anticipated to launch the K10 and K7 smartphones first from the lineup. Considering LG in press invite is teasing 4G connectivity for the new K-series handsets, we can expect both the LG K7 and LG K10 smartphones to support 4G in India.

Both the LG K7 and K10 smartphones were launched ahead of the CES 2016 trade show and were the first K-Series smartphones. The South Korean company had said that the new series will succeed its L-Series smartphones.

The K-series of smartphones are touted to sport photography capabilities as well as the ‘premium UX’ features they bring from higher-end devices. Pricing and availability details have not been announced yet. Some of the other features of the LG K10 and LG K7 smartphones include 2.5D Arc Glass design along with Gesture Shot, Tap and Shot, and Gesture Interval shot function for taking images.


To refresh on the specifications, the LG K7 smartphone runs Android 5.1 Lollipop out-of-the-box and was announced in 3G and 4G LTE supporting variants. The 3G model packs a quad-core processor clocked at 1.3GHz, while the 4G LTE version packs a 1.1GHz quad-core SoC. Both K7 variants feature a 5-inch FWVGA (854×480 pixels) resolution display. Some of the other specifications included are 8-megapixel or 5-megapixel rear cameras (depending on the region); a 5-megapixel front-facing camera; 1.5GB or 1GB RAM; 8GB or 16GB inbuilt storage, and 2125mAh battery. The 4G LTE version measures 143.6×72.5×8.9mm, and will be available in Titan colour.

The LG K10 is an Android 5.1 Lollipop-based smartphone featuring a 5.3-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) resolution display. It was also launched in two variants based on 3G and 4G LTE connectivity support.

The 4G LTE variant of LG K10 features a quad-core processor clocked at either 1.3GHz or 1.2GHz, or an octa-core processor clocked at 1.14GHz. It sports a 13-megapixel rear camera along with 8-megapixel or 5-megapixel front-facing camera depending on the market. The smartphone is backed by a 2300mAh battery. LG announced three different memory configurations for K10 – 1GB, 1.5GB, and 2GB. On the storage front, the LG K10 will house 16GB or 8GB of inbuilt storage. We will have to wait LG’s April 14 event to see which K10 variant is revealed in India. The smartphone measures 146.6×74.8×8.8mm and will be arriving in three colour variants – White, Indigo, and Gold.