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T-Mobile opens pre-orders on two 5G phones as low-band network goes live

Posted by | 5g, hardware, Mobile, OnePlus, Samsung, sprint, T-Mobile | No Comments

The 5G question has long been carts and horses. The next-generation wireless network has always been an inevitability, of course, but the rollout has always felt a bit piecemeal. T-Mobile, to its credit, is looking to flip the switch all at once (kind of), launching a “nationwide” deployment of 5G to a coverage area it says will reach 200 million of the U.S.’s 327 million residents.

The 600MHz low-band network goes live today, fulfilling the promise of 5G in 2019 with nearly a month to spare. That coincides with the pre-order of two 5G-enabled handsets, from OnePlus and Samsung. The OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren Edition, at least, is a T-Mobile exclusive here in the States.

It’s a premium as far as OnePlus goes, but still arrives at the (relatively) low price of $900. Compare that to the $1,300 Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G. Both are officially going on sale on Friday, and should be able to connect to the new network at launch.

T-Mobile’s clearly being more deliberate in its roll out here, fighting the urge to plant its flag. Instead, the carrier’s network will be available in wider swaths of land versus the competition’s neighborhood to neighborhood approach. And while the network isn’t expected to be as fast as other solutions, it should reach indoors better — a pretty key differentiator.

As CNET notes, it’s still fairly piecemeal in certain respects — the existing millimeter 5G wave network won’t work with the new devices. Nor will older devices work with the new network. Much of this move appears to be in anticipation of T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint.

The ability to compete with AT&T and Verizon on the 5G front has always been the key selling point of such a merger. Though reducing the field from four players down to three to increase competition has always seemed a dubious claim, at best.

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OnePlus’ second 5G phone will be a T-Mobile exclusive

Posted by | 5g, hardware, mclaren, Mobile, OnePlus, sprint, T-Mobile | No Comments

OnePlus’ 5G strategy has marked something of a shift for a company that has traditionally prided itself in a slow and steady approach to new features. Following the arrival of the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G this summer, the company is announcing its second 5G device for the U.S. market.

This time, it has opted for its longer-time carrier partner, T-Mobile. Though soon enough, the distinction between the U.S.’s third and fourth place wireless carriers may be moot. For now, however, the OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition is a T-Mobile exclusive here in the States.

For the record, the 7T Pro and the new McLaren Edition are pretty similar, though the latter gets a flashier color scheme and some pretty beefy specs, including an extremely generous 12GB of RAM.

Along with being OnePlus’ second 5G handset, it’s also the second T-Mobile device to support the next-gen network, following the already announced (but not yet released) Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G. As for the state of T-Mobile’s 5G roll out, the company promises to “cover 200 million people nationwide this year.”

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OnePlus 7T arrives with Android 10 in October for $599

Posted by | hardware, Mobile, OnePlus, smartphones | No Comments

For the past few years, OnePlus has happily pushed into a six-month product refresh cycle. It’s a model that’s worked well for the plucky smartphone maker, and another way it’s managed to buck some of the prevailing industry trends as competitors struggle to maintain sales amid a global slowdown.

As tends to be the case, the year’s second flagship seems to mostly be about refining its predecessor — and keeping the company competitive. The OnePlus 7T adopts the 90Hz AMOLED screen offered on the 7 Pro, coupled with a three-camera set up on the rear.

OnePlus 7t

That last bit keeps with the company’s solid design language, with a large, circular configuration that’s an aesthetic improvement over Apple’s square situation. The lenses are a 48 megapixel main, 2x telephoto and ultra-wide-angle with a 117-degree field of view.

The speakers have been upgraded to include Dolby Atmos and fast charging has been amped up, promising a full charge in an hour. That’s nearly 25% faster than OnePlus’s previous version of Warp Charge.

Perhaps most interesting is that the company gets the jump on the competition by being the first to ship with Android 10 preloaded. How far the company has come from the CyanogenMod days. Of course, it continues to offer a customized experience through the “bespoke” OxygenOS.

OnePlus 7t

I’m usually resistant to Android add-ons, but OnePlus has generally done a good job augmenting and, in some cases, improving the stock Android experience. In addition to design choices, the company says the latest version of the software includes “370 rigorous optimizations.”

The best bit continues to be the pricing. The OnePlus 7T will run $599 when it starts shipping on October 18. It’s a nice price for a solid piece of hardware in an era when flagships routinely run in excess of $1,000.

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Xiaomi tops Indian smartphone market for eighth straight quarter

Posted by | Apple, Asia, Gadgets, hardware, india, Mobile, OnePlus, Samsung, Samsung Electronics, smartphones, vivo, Xiaomi | No Comments

Xiaomi has now been India’s top smartphone seller for eight straight quarters. The company has become a constant headache for Samsung in the world’s second largest smartphone market as sales have slowed pretty much everywhere else in the world.

The Chinese electronics giant shipped 10.4 million handsets in the quarter that ended in June, commanding 28.3% of the market, research firm IDC reported Tuesday. Its closest rival, Samsung — which once held the top spot in India — shipped 9.3 million handsets in the nation during the same period, settling for a 25.3% market share.

Overall, 36.9 million handsets were shipped in India during the second quarter of this year, up 9.9% from the same period last year, IDC reported. This was the highest volume of handsets ever shipped in India for Q2, the research firm said.

As smartphone shipments slow or decline in most of the world, India has emerged as an outlier that continues to show strong momentum as tens of millions of people purchase their first handset in the country each quarter.

Research firm Counterpoint told TechCrunch that there are about 450 million smartphone users in India, up from about 350 million late last year and 300 million in late 2017. This growth has made India, home to more than 1.3 billion people, the fastest growing market worldwide.

Globally, meanwhile, smartphone shipments declined by 2.3% year-over-year in Q2 2019, according to IDC.

Chinese phone makers Vivo and Oppo, both of which spent lavishly in marketing during the recent local favorite cricket season in India, also expanded their base in the country. Vivo had 15.1% of the local market share, up from 12.6% in Q2 2018, while Oppo’s share grew from 7.6% to 9.7% during the same period. The market share of Realme, which has gained following after it started to replicate some of Xiaomi’s early models, also shot up, moving from 1.2% in Q2 2018 to 7.7% in Q2 2019.

GettyImages 1128860832

Samsung showroom demonstrator seen showing the features of new S10 Smartphone during the launching ceremony (Photo by Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The key to gaining market share in India has remained unchanged over the years: better specs at lower prices. The average selling price of a handset during Q2 was $159 in the quarter that ended in June this year. Seventy-eight percent of the 36.9 million phones that shipped in India during this period sported a sticker price below $200, IDC said.

That’s not to say that phones priced above $200 don’t have a market in India. Per IDC, the fastest growing smartphone segment in the nation was priced between $200 to $300, witnessing a 105.2% growth over the same period last year.

Smartphones priced between $400 and $600 were the second-fastest growing segment in the country, with a 16.1% growth since the same period last year. Chinese phone maker OnePlus assumed 63.6% of this premium segment, followed by Apple (which has less than 2% of the overall local market share) and Samsung.

Feature phones that have maintained a crucial position in India’s handsets market continue to maintain their significant footprint, though their popularity is beginning to wane — 32.4 million feature phones shipped in India during Q2 this year, down 26.3% since the same period last year.

Xiaomi versus Samsung

India has become Xiaomi’s biggest market. It entered the country five years ago, and for the first two, relied mostly on selling handsets online to cut overhead. But the company has since established and expanded its presence in the brick and mortar market, which continues to account for much of the sales in the country.

Earlier this month, the Chinese phone maker said it had set up its 2,000th Mi Home store in India. It is on track to have a presence in 10,000 physical stores in the country by the end of the year, and expects to see half of its sales come from the offline market by that time frame.

Samsung has stepped up its game in India in the last two years, as well. The company, which opened the world’s largest phone factory in the country last year, has ramped up productions of its Galaxy A series of smartphones that are aimed at budget-conscious customers and conceptualized a similar series that includes Galaxy M10, M20 and M30 smartphone models for the Indian market. The Galaxy A series handsets drove much of the growth for the company, IDC said.

Even as it lags behind Xiaomi, Samsung shipped more handsets in Q2 2019 compared to Q2 2018 (9.3 million versus 8 million) and its market share grew from 23.9% to 25.3% during the same period.

“The vendor was also offering attractive channel schemes to clear the stocks of Galaxy J series. Galaxy M series (exclusive online till the end of 2Q19) saw price reductions, which helped retain the 13.5% market share in the online channel in 2Q19 for Samsung,” IDC said.

But the South Korean giant continues to have a tough time passing Xiaomi, which continues to maintain low profit margins (Xiaomi says it only makes 5% profit on any hardware it sells). Xiaomi has also expanded its local production efforts in India and created more than 10,000 jobs in the country, more than 90% of which have been filled by women.

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OnePlus’ first 5G handset is headed for Sprint

Posted by | 5g, Mobile, OnePlus, smartphones, sprint | No Comments

Sprint this morning announced that it will be the first network to get its hands on OnePlus’s long-promised 5G handset [not pictured]. The Shenzhen-based manufacturer announced late last year that it was targeting 2019 for the device, bucking the trend of being slightly behind the curve on the latest smartphone technologies.

Sprint’s not offering much in the way of actual information here — no pricing or availability. Not even specs or a device name were made available via the press release. Rather, the carrier notes that this is its first 5G smartphone, joining three other non-phone 5G devices for the nascent network.

Last year, OnePlus made a device available for the first time through a U.S. carrier, partnering with T-Mobile for the 6T. It’s made the jump to Sprint this time out, though given merger plans, that distinction may soon be moot regardless. Sprint’s 5G network is currently available in AtlantaChicagoDallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Kansas City, with Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. arriving in “the coming weeks.”

“We are proud to join with Sprint to bring an ultra-premium smartphone to their network,” OnePlus CMO Kyle Kiang said in a release. “As a community-driven company, we are thrilled to tell OnePlus enthusiasts on the Sprint network that the wait is finally over. This is a tremendous opportunity to expose Sprint customers to the award-winning OnePlus brand.”

The partnership isn’t being listed as an exclusive, but OnePlus has generally taken a measured approach to expansion, so it seems likely the company will only offer a single carrier partner this time out.

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Adobe brings its Premiere Rush video editing app to Android

Posted by | Adobe, Adobe Creative Cloud, Android, Apps, mobile phones, OnePlus, PIXEL, samsung galaxy, samsung galaxy s9, smartphones, TC | No Comments

Adobe launched Premiere Rush, its newest all-in-one video editing tool that is essentially a pared-down version of its flagship Premiere Pro and Audition tools for professional video editors, in late 2018. At the time, it was only available on iOS, macOS and Windows. Now, however, it is also finally bringing it to Android.

There is a caveat here, though: it’ll only run on relatively new phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S10 series, Google’s Pixel 2 and 3 phones and the OnePlus 6T.

The idea behind Premiere Rush is to give enthusiasts — and the occasional YouTuber who needs to quickly get a video out — all of the necessary tools to create a video without having to know the ins and outs of a complex tool like Premiere Pro. It’s based on the same technologies as its professional counterpart, but it’s significantly easier to use. What you lose in flexibility, you gain in efficiency.

Premiere Rush is available for free for those who want to give it a try, though this “Starter Plan” only lets you export up to three projects. For full access, you either need to subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud or buy a $9.99/month plan to access Rush, with team and enterprise plans costing $19.99/month and $29.99/month respectively.

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OnePlus redefines premium with the 7 Pro

Posted by | hardware, Mobile, OnePlus, Reviews, smartphones | No Comments

OnePlus has never been particularly beholden to industry trends. Nowhere is that better demonstrated than with the 7 Pro. In the face of a stagnated smartphone market, Apple, Samsung and Google all went budget, releasing lower-tier takes on their pricey flagships to appeal to consumers looking for something akin to a premium experience without having to shell out four figures.

The 7 Pro, on the other hand, is OnePlus’ most premium device to date. But while the shift marks a break from much of the industry, it’s a very logical step for the company’s current trajectory. OnePlus made a name for itself creating low-cost flagship devices with features that were just slightly behind the bleeding edge.

In recent years, however, the company has looked to change that perception, becoming one of the first Android phones with an in-display fingerprint sensor and promising to be among the first to deliver 5G. The 7 Pro, however, marks a new era for the company. The existing six-month release strategy is still in place here (fittingly, given that Google has recently adopted something similar with its Pixel line), but the language OnePlus is using has shifted.

In a meeting ahead of launch, a rep for the company told TechCrunch OnePlus considers its twice-yearly phones to all be “flagships,” but the new model introduces the paradigm of “premium flagship” and “ultra-premium flagship.”

That’s a markety speak way of saying the company doesn’t compromise — which I think is a fair point. Oftentimes the concept of a “budget flagship” is heavily weighted toward the budget side of things. But OnePlus long ago established its knack for providing well-rounded, high-end smartphone experiences at well below the price of premium handsets.

The 7 Pro’s $669 starting price hedges much closer to the iPhone XR and Samsung Galaxy S10e’s $749 than the Pixel 3a’s $399. It’s also a pretty significant bump over the OnePlus 6T’s $549 starting point. It’s likely enough to make longtime fans of the service do a double take, but the sizable increase does come with a truly premium handset.

That starts with the design (though it’s certainly more than skin deep). This is immediately apparent with the 6.67-inch display. If curved sides of the edge to edge design are familiar, it’s because it was built custom for OnePlus by Samsung. And while it’s similar, it is, in fact, a custom design for the line, meaning that it’s still distinguished from the Galaxy line — namely the 516ppi density and a 90Hz refresh rate.

What’s really notable, however, is the complete absence of a notch or a pinhole. The 7 Pro takes another key step toward a world of uninterrupted screen time. Open the camera app, flip to front-facing and wait just under a second, as it mechanically extends on top of the device.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen the technology — fellow Chinese manufacturers Oppo and Vivo have already introduced us to pop-up cameras. But given OnePlus’ ongoing T-Mobile partnership, this is arguably the first time this technology has really been available to mainstream U.S. consumers.

The execution is quite good. As someone who almost never takes selfies, I’ve come to appreciate the semblance of privacy of a hidden front-facing camera. If I need it, it’s just a tap of the screen away. There are some safety features built in, as well. Should it slip from your grip while the camera is out, the phone uses the accelerometer to automatically retract it. It will also automatically return home if the phone goes to sleep with it out.

OnePlus won’t say what this specifically means for things like water resistance. In fact, the company’s a little cagey on the subject — even recently taking to Twitter to brag that it didn’t submit for an IP rating, in order to lower the cost of the devices for the end user. Here’s a video of it dropping the new phone in a bucket:

Do with that what you will. It’s certainly clear why OnePlus would decide to skip elements it deemed unnecessary, but there is a certain peace of mind in knowing that a product has been submitted to rigorous testing by outside parties. The closest we got to a definitive answer was a recommendation against attempting to take an underwater selfie with the phone. So take that as you will.

On the rear of the device is a three-camera system that pairs a beefy 48-megapixel lens with a 78mm telephoto and 117-degree ultra-wide angle. I’ve had some opportunity to play with the phone, and this really does seem to be the most utilitarian set up for a three-camera system, and the camera software does a nice job transitioning between lenses as you zoom in.

This is a premium device inside, as well. The Snapdragon 855 is coupled with 6-12GB of RAM and either 128 or 256GB of storage. The battery is a beefy 4,000 mAh, which will get you through more than a day on a single charge, no problem. The “Warp Charge” maintains the company’s fast-charging tradition, letting you fill up around half the battery in 20 minutes using the included adapter.

OnePlus has really outdone itself here, once again proving that a truly premium device doesn’t require a four-digit investment. Other companies have explored a similar price point with varying degrees of success. For OnePlus fans not ready to take the step up, the company will continue to provide a more more affordable line going forward. For now, however, the 7 Pro is easily one of the best ways to get a truly premium smartphone experience without paying an arm and leg.

The 7 Pro will be available online May 17 through OnePlus’ site and T-Mobile.

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OnePlus, EE and Qualcomm start a contest for 5G apps

Posted by | 5g, Gadgets, Mobile, mwc 2019, OnePlus, pete lau | No Comments

Today at MWC Barcelona, OnePlus CEO Pete Lau unveiled an initiative to spur apps for 5G networks. The timing is right, too. With 5G launching around the world this year, carriers, phone makers and consumers alike have yet to develop a killer app for the massive increase of speed provided by 5G. Basically, OnePlus is asking for help developing uses for 5G.

OnePlus sees a lack of imagination around 5G in the long term. Speaking on a panel, CEO Pete Lau stated he does not believe people have thought enough about how 5G can change lives in the long term.

This contest will select 20 finalists, who will get OnePlus devices. The winners will get a trip to OnePlus HQ, access to 5G testing labs and support from OnePlus and EE.

Such contests were common around the launch of 4G as mobile device makers were attempting to bolster app marketplaces. But 5G apps could look much different from 4G apps, as much of the processing is offloaded to a central data center instead of happening on the device.

The promise of 5G is nearly here, but it will take initiatives and programs like this one from OnePlus to help make the possibilities clear to consumers.

Earlier this week OnePlus, along with nearly every other mobile phone maker, unveiled a 5G device.

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OnePlus demos a 5G prototype at MWC

Posted by | 5g, hardware, Mobile, mwc 2019, OnePlus | No Comments

OnePlus promised us a 5G handset this year. At Mobile World Congress this week, the company kind of, sort of delivered. Unlike the sea of other 5G devices unveiled at the show, however, the company’s offering is still very much in the prototype phase — like, behind protective glass with all of the interesting bits obscured, as it isn’t officially official.

The product appeared at Qualcomm’s booth this week, since OnePlus’ presence at the show has been mostly limited to closed-door events. For the chipmaker, it was an opportunity to show yet again how ubiquitous its tech has become in the vast sea of Android devices.

“At Qualcomm Technologies’ booth, OnePlus simulated a futuristic setting of 5G cloud gaming where players would only need a smartphone and a gamepad,” Qualcomm explains. “Through the powerful capabilities of cloud processing as well as the throughput and responsiveness of 5G, players can play large sized games online that are generally only playable after downloading onto the PC first. Utilizing Snapdragon elite gaming features and optimizations, players were able to experience high definition and low latency cloud gaming like never before.”

Based on past release schedules, we can likely expect OnePlus to officially debut its next handset in the summer. Past release cycles have also seen a point upgrade later in the yea,r as well, though the company has been shifting things around a bit, as it continues to grow and figure out where it best fits in the broader handset market.

This particular device, likely the OnePlus 7, is due out in Q2, though, sadly, its 5G variant won’t be released in the States in 2018.

The addition of 5G in 2019, meanwhile, finds OnePlus taking a more cutting-edge approach to its release cycle, rather than holding back in order to lower the price tag on technology.

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Audio tech supplier to Rolls Royce and Xiaomi secures another $13.2M in funding

Posted by | dirac, Europe, Fundings & Exits, Gadgets, Mobile, OnePlus, TC, Xiaomi | No Comments

As autonomous driving eventually transforms cars from transportation devices to mobile theaters or conference rooms we will need better audio inside them. And we’ve already seen that VCs like Andreessen Horowitz say “audio is the future.”

So it’s interesting that Swedish sound pioneer Dirac has completed a new $13.2 million round of financing led by current investors. Previous investors included Swedish Angel network Club Network Investments, Erik Ejerhed and Staffan Persson.

Dirac makes sophisticated audio technology for customers including BMW, OnePlus, Rolls Royce, Volvo and Xiaomi .

Its platform is used by those firms for everything from capture to playback — regardless of device size or form factor.

“As consumer devices decrease in size and expand in complexity, digital signal processing is the key to unlocking their full audio potential and creating premium sound experiences,” says Dirac CEO Mathias Johansson. “With this new funding, we can take our approach to digitizing sound systems even further — creating more intelligent and adaptive audio processing solutions that establish new standards in both audio playback and capture across a variety of applications.”

Dirac has now appointed former Harman International executive Armin Prommersberger as CTO and opened a Copenhagen Research Development Center.

Johansson says new 5G networks are set to create new use-cases for current and emerging technologies, including audio.

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