iPhone 8 Rumor Roundup

We are lucky to live in the era of the smartphone. These tiny, personal devices have become such a large part of our lives that it is hard to imagine a time without them. And we have one phone to thank the smartphone craze for: the iPhone. And every year, since its initial release in 2007, we are graced with another iteration that is, in someway, bigger and better than last year’s. This year is no exception. And with this year’s iPhone launch celebrating its 10th anniversary, Apple fanboys are foaming at the mouth for what the geniuses at Cupertino have in store.

As with every iPhone release, there are what seems to be hundreds of rumors floating around the Internet about what to expect from Apple’s latest handheld, and this year is ripe with news. So, here are some of the most interesting features that this year’s iPhone is rumored to sport.

The Name
What’s in a name? Well apparently a lot. When the initial round of rumors on the newest iPhone surfaced, it was almost unanimously agreed upon that the name for the new phone would be the iPhone 8, skipping the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus naming tradition that Apple has been using since the 3GS. However, recent reports indicate that this will not be the case. According to the latest information, Apple is taking a page out of its Apple Watch naming system and applying it to the iPhone, naming the newest phone the iPhone Edition. They will also offer an iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, sticking to the aforementioned tradition after all. While the 7S and 7S Plus variants will include under the hood improvements, the iPhone Edition will include a complete redesign. But it will also be the most expensive iPhone ever.

No Curved Edges…
It would appear as though the curved edge fad made popular by Samsung’s Galaxy S series of phones has not impressed Apple. Although initial reports did claim that the iPhone 8 would indeed ship with a curved screen, the latest batch of claims now believes it will stick with the tried and true flat screen, which could disappoint several fans.

…But Still Pretty To Look At
Although it may not be curved, the iPhone 8’s screen will still be hard to look away from. According to reports from GSMArena, Apple has struck a $4 billion deal with Samsung for roughly 60 million OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) panels. It is widely believed that Apple will finally be implementing those panels into the flagship iPhone this year, giving its handheld crisper colors and deeper, richer blacks—a much desired feature.

No Bezels, No Home Button, No Problem
Many lamented the iPhone 7’s lack of any radical design changes from its predecessors, and Apple has listened. Probably the second largest rumor—behind the OLED screen—regarding the iPhone 8 has to be its lack of a bezel and home button. Basically the phone will feature an edge to edge OLED screen, and will not include the home button that we have all come to know and love. Instead, reports from Business Insider claim that the iPhone 8 will use optical sensors that can read fingerprints through the thicker OLED panel, allowing the phone to remove a physical home button.

I’ve Got No Strings On Me
The latest round of advertisements for Beats By Dre feature the company’s wireless line of headphones, with celebrities dancing to the popular song from Pinocchio, “I’ve Got No Strings.” Apparently Apple, who own Beats By Dre, are now using that same philosophy for the iPhone with wireless charging. This is another highly sought after feature from iPhone fanboys for years, considering that most of Apple’s competition has had this technology for quite some time. The ability to charge your phone without having to plug it in is an incredibly enticing feature.

While there are still 6 months until we will find out for sure whether oar not these features will make their way into the newest iPhone, we can still dream and speculate. Hopefully Apple not only delivers on these expectations, but exceeds them with some unexpected secrets. We’ll just have to wait and see.

5G: More Than Just Speed

It all started with 2G, which allowed for mobile devices to connect to the Internet. Then came 3G, which allowed for faster data transfer and opened up the floodgates for many things we take for granted today, such as video streaming and video calling. And, expectedly, 4G increased data speeds, allowing for HD video streaming and game downloading, with some people even using it over their current Wi-Fi connection. And now, the mobile connection market is ready for a new and exciting generation. That’s where 5G comes in. But, it is more than just speed. Obviously, as has happened with all generational updates in mobile network connectivity, 5G will bring dramatically faster speeds, however, it will open up many more possibilities.

According to an article from Cnet, 5G was the talk of the town at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which ran from February 27th to March 2nd. People couldn’t get enough of it, and there’s quite a bit of hype around it. And for good reason. It has the potential to do far more than just make your YouTube video load faster. The technology can be utilized in everything from drone technology to self-driving cars, which is amazing timing considering these are also tech topics that are incredibly hot right now.

In one of the most astounding demonstrations of 5G’s possibilities, Ericcson, NeuroDigital Technologies and medical doctors from King’s College London teamed up to perform a remote surgery on a test dummy using 5G data connections. The doctors used a robotic arm, haptic feedback gloves and a VR headset in order to simulate an actual surgery. The surgery was possible through 5G’s lack of latency. Without any kind of delay, future medical professionals could provide life saving surgeries from across the globe in real time!

Self-driving cars can also benefit from 5G’s speed and lack of latency. The article mentions how, without a signal delay getting in the way, self-driving cars can speak to other cars on the roads in order to provide the safest possible driving experience. 5G can also allow for more precise control of drones while providing higher definition video feedback, and virtual reality can allow for VR users to speak in real time to each other. 5G’s speed transfer is so impressive that it could even totally replace home Wi-Fi connectivity.

As our world becomes increasingly more connected, we will need a data network that can handle and provide faster, more responsive connectivity. And it appears as if 5G will be that network. That is, of course, until 6G comes along.

Lost Something? Pixie Will Find It

We’ve all been there: We’re just about to head out to work or dinner or a social gathering of some sort only to realize that we’ve lost our keys. Then we waste a good four or five minutes trying to find them. It’s an infuriating process that nobody wants any part of. And technology, as it usually does, has come to the rescue. Pixie is an application that uses your smartphone’s geolocation and bluetooth features to locate virtually anything you frequently lose. And while there are several “finder” applications out on the market today, Pixie is a bit different from the rest.

Similar to the incredibly popular Pokemon Go mobile game, Pixie uses Augmented Reality to direct you to your lost item. Augmented Reality (AR), which has become rather popular as of late, essentially superimposes a computer generated image over the user’s view of any real world object or landscape. For example, Pokemon Go uses AR to simulate the appearance of actual Pokemon in the real world by superimposing their character models on any landscape using the user’s smartphone camera.

Pixie uses AR by providing visual cues and clues as to the location of your lost item. The purpose of this is to make the searching process easier and more bearable. Pixie works by creating a micro-mesh of networks that all connected points use to constantly signal and communicate their proximity to make a map. Simply tack on one of the “Pixie Points” (the geotags used to send out signals) to your prized possessions, download the iOS app, create and account and sync your tags with your phone. It’s an incredibly easy process.

The application turns the frustrating search for your items into a scavenger hunt. Your phone’s camera scans the area in order to get its bearings, and once your phone locates the lost item, the app gives you turn by turn instructions on how to get to the item. It even uses the phone’s speakers to provide audio cues.

Currently the application only supports iOS. However an Android version is in the works, slated to release later this year. The Pixie Points will run you $50 for a 2-pack or $99 for a 4-pack. Whether or not the application will catch on remains to be seen.

How Xiaomi Keeps Prices So Low?

img_9832If you haven’t heard of Xiaomi in any of the latest tech market reports, you’ll probably hear about them some time soon. Xiaomi has been making cheap smartphones in China for years now, and after several good years, they’re looking to globalize. One of the biggest sticking points to Xiaomi in the market, though, is how do they keep producing such high-end smartphones so cheaply? It’s their strong combination of well spec’d phones and low prices that drove them to over 60 million sales last year, which resulted in Xiaomi replacing Samsung as China’s top-selling smartphone company as well as becoming the world’s third top selling phone maker at the same time.

The Chinese company’s flagship Mi devices typically retail for around $300 – it’s new Mi Note Pro will be $500+, their first phone to break the $500 barrier – while the more affordable Redmi family is sub-$150. These are all insanely cheap phones when you compare them to Apple or Android devices, where Apple’s top-of-the-line iPhone sells for over $1,000 off contract, while the Samsung Galaxy and Note devices are also priced similarly. So why can Xiaomi be so aggressive with its pricing?

Many theories have been put forward, including that Xiaomi prices phones at cost and makes money on other services. Hugo Barra, the company’s VP of international, gave Techcrunch a peak at their special operations in an interview in Beijing last week. Apparently, according to Barra, Xiaomi is able to make price concessions thanks to a smaller portfolio and longer average selling time per device. Additionally, Xiaomi continues to sell older devices (and tweaked versions of them) at reduced prices, even after it releases newer models.

“A product that stays on the shelf for 18-24 months — which is most of our products — goes through three or four price cuts. The Mi2 and Mi2s are essentially the same device, for example,” Barra explained. “The Mi2/Mi2s were on sale for 26 months. The Redmi 1 was first launched in September 2013, and we just announced the Redmi 2 this month, that’s 16 months later.”

That’s a big deal, mainly because the longer runway for devices allows Xiaomi to leverage its suppliers to get better component deals.

“The vast majority of the components [in our devices] are still the same, so in terms of supply chain and component sourcing, we’re on the same supply contracts as Redmi 1, which means we’re still getting the same discounts on components,” he explained. “We can continue to ride the cost curve, so the importance of having a very small portfolio is significant — the fact that we only launch a few products each year, and (the fact that) we only have two product families.”

These dynamics requires a great deal of dedication to devices for two to three years, and it isn’t just about making price cuts. Xiaomi maintains software updates, spare parts and other services that customers require, longer than most companies normally do. There are additionally other factors that go in to the cost structure, including Xiaomi’s lean, online-only marketing focus and it’s close proximity to manufacturing plants in China. But of greatest importance is the management of components and supply chain partnerships.

Xiaomi has big plans for expanding their market share outside of Asia this year, which will make its pricing model and supply chain management more important than ever. The company sells its phones using an online-only model in most markets, though it’s recently been testing operator partnerships outside of China. It is currently running a limited trial in India, and has found partners in Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore.