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Apple buys Intel’s smartphone modem business for $1 billion

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Apple Inc took a major step toward supplying its own smartphone chips by purchasing the majority of Intel Corp’s modem business in a deal valued at $1 billion, the companies said on Thursday.

Under the deal, about 2,200 Intel employees will join Apple, along with intellectual property, equipment and leases. Combined with its existing portfolio, Apple will have 17,000 wireless technology patents, ranging from cellular communication standards to modems, making it a more powerful player in global licensing talks that will likely take place between major 5G patent holders such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL].

Intel shares rose 5.7% to $55.05 after the news and the company’s report that its earnings beat analysts’ expectations. Apple shares edged up 0.1% to $207.29.

After the deal, Intel will retain the right to develop modems for non-smartphone applications, such as PCs, industrial equipment and self-driving cars.

Modem chips connect devices like the iPhone to wireless data networks, but Apple has always relied on outside suppliers for the part. Intel positioned itself as the sole source of iPhone modem chips over the past year after Apple got into a prolonged legal fight with previous supplier Qualcomm Inc over patent licensing practices.

Cupertino, California-based Apple reached a surprise settlement in April that called for the iPhone to once again use Qualcomm modem chips. Within hours, Intel said it would quit the smartphone modem business.

Apple’s acquisitions have mostly been much smaller companies, making the Intel deal its second-largest ever after its $3.2 billion purchase of Beats Electronics in 2014.

The deal with Intel will bolster Apple’s goal to make its own modem chip. Two of Apple’s biggest global rivals – Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Huawei – already have the ability to self-supply modem chips.

Technology news publication The Information last year reported Apple’s efforts to develop its own modem, but the iPhone maker has never formally acknowledged it. In February, Reuters reported that Apple moved its modem engineering efforts into the same chip design unit that makes the custom processors for its devices, signalling a doubling down on the pursuit of self-designed modem chip.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has also long said the company wants to control its own technological fate, what analysts have called the “Cook Doctrine.”

“We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make,” Tim Cook told investors back in 2009.SPEEDING UP DEVELOPMENT

The purchase of Intel’s assets could help Apple meet its aggressive timeline for producing a modem.

A person familiar with the matter said Apple plans to use Qualcomm’s modem technology for a 5G iPhone in 2020 but wants to have an internally developed 5G modem technology ready for use in some of its products by 2021. Intel previously disclosed plans to have a 5G modem ready by 2020, so tapping the Intel assets could help Apple hit its target.

But any replacement of Qualcomm is likely to happen in phases, this person said, as Apple builds up its ability to ensure that its modems work on all the networks and countries where Apple sells phones. Ensuring worldwide compatibility is Qualcomm’s historical strength, and Apple might still have to rely on Qualcomm for some modems during a transition period to its own devices.

“There’s a fierce desire (at Apple) to have Independence, but they also realise it has to be done responsibly,” this person said.

Apple’s license deal with Qualcomm lasts six years and its accompanying chip supply agreement could also last that long, said one chip industry veteran who requested anonymity to discuss confidential matters. Apple is likely to continue to use the San Diego firm’s chips in its flagship models even if it phases in its own silicon for lower-end and older models, this person said.

Apple has engaged with Taiwan’s Global Unichip Corp, a chip design house in which Apple supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co is an investor, to explore a modem design, but the work is in early stages.

“Clearly Apple saw the handwriting on the wall, because they came around and did a deal with Qualcomm,” this person said.

Apple declined to comment on its plans, and Qualcomm and Global Unichip did not immediately respond to a request for comment.PATENTS AS LEVERAGE

The most valuable aspect of the Intel deal for Apple could turn out to be patents. To sell a 5G iPhone, Apple will need to strike deals with the major holders of 5G patents, including Nokia , Ericsson, Huawei and Qualcomm. Apple executed a licensing deal with Qualcomm, but it has not disclosed whether it has deals in place with the others.

Erick Robinson, a patent attorney who had worked in Qualcomm’s licensing division in Asia, said the patents could give Apple better leverage in licensing talks.

“I don’t think Intel has quite the portfolio that Qualcomm has, but they certainly have a large enough one to impact the valuations when it comes to a cross-licensing deal,” he said. “It’ll save (Apple) a huge chunk of change in cross-license deals.”

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Reliance Jio, Samsung join hands for 5G in India

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Reliance Jio and Samsung Electronics showcased real-world use cases driven by next-generation 5G technology at the ongoing India Mobile Congress in New Delhi. The two companies presented new opportunities that can leverage 5G NSA mode along with advanced 4G LTE and 5G technology used a dual-connected mode network. Reliance Jio is aiming at enterprise as well as home users with its 5G partnership.

Samsung and Reliance Jio demonstrated 5G-based solutions including Samsung Network’s 5G product lineup, including its 3.5GHz solution for 5G Massive MIMO Unit (MMU), its 28GHz Access Unit (AU) and CPE device, its virtualized radio access (vRAN) and core, and 5G mobile devices. The two companies demonstrated how 5G can help create virtual classrooms and help attendees watch content in 360-degrees. The two companies used the high speed network to stream high resolution content on Samsung Galaxy S10 5G as well as tablets. The resolution of the content ranged from full HD to 4K.

“The two companies demonstrate live at the event a “public safety network over LTE” featuring MissionCritical-Push-To-X (MCPTX) communication. Conceptualised as “OneNet”, a potential India’s Emergency Communication Network, this will enable first responders to connect with each other using a broadband network in a controlled and “geo-fenced” manner,” Reliance Jio said in a press release.

5G is the biggest highlight of the ongoing IMC conference. Earlier, Ericsson and Airtel showcased 5G-powered ‘connected music’ at the event. The demonstration included combining two parts of a performance using a live 5G network and presenting it as one.

Huawei also showcased new applications in 5G + safe city, 5G + smart city, 5G + virtual reality (VR), 5G + airport (boarding gate) and 5G + education (smart classroom).

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WhatsApp tips & tricks: 5 ways you can make most of the instant messaging app

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WhatsApp is possibly one of the simplest instant messaging apps. The company also takes its time to update WhatsApp with new features. But there is a lot that users can do on WhatsApp which they may not be aware of.

WhatsApp has a bunch of features which may not offer much customisation but make the app more interactive. There’s additional security with two-step verification, adding contacts to home screen, custom notifications, and more. Here’s a look at five tips and tricks for every WhatsApp user.

Two-step verification

WhatsApp offers a seamless way of switching phones while retaining your account and chats. It also requires users for a verification PIN every time they register WhatsApp on a new phone. For additional security, users can enable two-step verification on WhatsApp. This will add a six-digit PIN for the registration of WhatsApp on a new device. To do this, go to Settings > Account > Two-step verification.

Add WhatsApp contacts to home screen

WhatsApp has this feature where users can add contacts or groups to their phone’s homescreen. This enables a shortcut to the chat without having to open the app. For this, users need to choose the contact, open the settings menu, click on more and add shortcut. The WhatsApp contact shortcut will be automatically added to the homescreen.

Custom notifications for contacts

If you’re bored with the same notification tone on WhatsApp, you can change it up by adding custom notifications. This can be done for individual and group chats on WhatsApp. Tap on the profile of the WhatsApp contact, scroll down and select custom notifications. Once you turn it on, you can change the notification tone, vibrate mode, popup notification, light and high priority notifications.

Free up space

WhatsApp lets users store data on their accounts and unless users delete them it just keeps piling up. WhatsApp’s data storage features offer easy ways for users to manually check and delete data. Under the settings menu open data and storage usage. Here, you will see contacts ranked according to the most data exchanged. You can also check individual chats and delete data to clear up space.

View unknown contacts

It’s easy to identify an unknown number on WhatsApp by simply tapping on their profile. This can also be done for unknown numbers in group chats. If there’s a certain user you would like to know about you can long press on the number and select ‘message contact’. Here a new chat box will open and you will be able to see the contact details.

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Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 could launch this month: Here’s what to expect

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Xiaomi’s sub-brand is prepping to launch a new 64-megapixel camera phone which is speculated to be the Redmi Note 8. The company has confirmed Redmi Note 8 is in the works and has also been teasing its 64-megapixel camera phone.

Lu Weibing, Redmi’s General Manager, shared a teaser video on Weibo highlighting the 64-megapixel camera sensor. The teaser doesn’t reveal much but outlines the design of the phone with its 64-megapixel quad-camera setup. Weibing also says that this phone went into mass production two weeks ago which would mean the beginning of August.

Xiaomi unveiled its 64-megapixel camera tech earlier this month in China. The company is using Samsung’s ISOCELL Bright GW1 image sensor which is equipped to deliver better lowlight images and richer details in brighter settings. The Samsung sensor also brings real-time HDR of up to 100-decibles. Xiaomi’s 64-megapixel camera phone will deliver 9248×6936 pixel resolution photos with about 19MB in size.

Weibing hasn’t officially announced that the new Redmi phone is Redmi Note 8 but new leaks corroborate the speculation. According to a MyDrivers report, the two variants of a Redmi smartphone were spotted on China’s 3C website. The listing shows that the Redmi phones support 18W charging and are expected to be powered by MediaTek’s new Helio G90T chipset.

Xiaomi India head Manu Kumar Jain had recently confirmed a new phone with this chipset would launch soon. The MediaTek Helio G90T chipset comes with gaming-focused features. This would make the upcoming Xiaomi phone the first gaming phone from the Chinese company.

The report also showcases a render of the alleged Redmi Note 8 with its quad-camera setup. The smartphone is seen in a white colour similar to the Mi A3 and the cameras placed at the centre. There’s no presence of a fingerprint sensor indicating that the phone will opt for an in-display one.

Xiaomi has been continuously dropping hints of its new 64-megapixel camera smartphone. At the same time Redmi’s Weibing has also been teasing the new phone. All speculations lead to Redmi Note 8 launching with the 64-megapixel camera sensor. This phone is expected to launch in Xiaomi’s turf by the end of this month.

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