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The Case for Global Blacklisting

The theft of mobile phones is a growing problem fuel by the insatiable demand for premium model second-hand smartphones, particularly in developing countries.  There are no clear statistics recently, but reports indicate there are between 3 and 5 million phones reported stolen every year – if you include the number of stolen devices not reported, the true number is suggested to be in the region of 10 million.

 

Every phone has at least one unique identifying hardware number called the IMEI which transmits every time the mobile phone interacts with a cellphone network. This is not dissimilar to a unique engine number on a car.

 

If your mobile phone is stolen or lost the IMEI number can be reported and the phone is more than likely blocked in your respective country from working on all of the local mobile networks. However, the blacklisting of hardware is not shared between countries and consequently, the phone can be used with impunity in another country.   If you activate security software on your android or iPhone that allows you to brick the device remotely. This then renders the phone useless, a paperweight, that is the ideal situation however very few people actually “brick” their phones or activate this option as part of the initial setup.

 

What you may not know is that all the major brands of phones “ping” your online activity to their manufacturers constantly. It is therefore possible for all mobile phones to be bricked anytime by their creator. This is done by remotely transmitting an instruction in code to the device no matter where in the world the phone is connected to the internet – exactly what Samsung did after the “battery gate” saga of their recalled Galaxy Note 7.

 

Consumers should demand from mobile phone manufacturers that they have the absolute right to switch off their phone or brick their phone remotely globally in the event the device is stolen.  Naturally, there needs to be a clear verification process with some proof of ownership or there would be havoc.

 

Then watch phone thefts collapse, insurance prices drop, the only remaining reason to steal a phone would be for the chop shops to salvage a few valuable parts but that is a very limited market.  Mobile networks benefit massively from unsubsidized stolen phones on their networks so this movement must be driven at manufacturer level by consumer activism.

 

 

Cellucity the leading suppliers of insurance replacement devices to the insurance industry. Our dedicated insurance replacement division has long-standing relationships with most of the big insurance houses in South Africa, including the likes of; Vodacom Insurance, Santam, Old Mutual Insure, Discovery Insure, Bryte and many more.
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The Samsung Galaxy Note10 – Taking Note further

Introducing the #nextgalaxy the new #note10 and #note10plus

Next-level S Pen
S Pen turns handwriting into text, lets you share your thoughts instantly and with Bluetooth becomes your remote control.

Next-level Camera
Our pro-grade camera takes photography to a new level with video bokeh, Super steady technology and video editing for shooting, editing and sharing.

Next-level Performance
Note10 also comes with laptop storage as well as a 7nm processor and HyperFast 5G chip that lets you stream and download at incredible speed. All powered by an all-day battery.

Next-level Productivity
With Samsung DeX you can put your mobile world on PC and Mac while Link to Windows syncs all your files to desktop. On top of that, Knox delivers next-level security, Bixby simplifies tasks with Quick Commands and a new Android makes your on-screen experience truly intuitive.

Next-level Display
What’s more, our Cinematic Infinity Display reduces harmful blue light without distorting colour. Introducing next-level power.

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The Samsung Galaxy A80 – Rotating camera? Say whaaaat…

With new phones being released frequently it is quite rare to find something that catches your eye immediately. But with the Samsung Galaxy A80, this happened way before I even got my hands on one. Why, do you ask? Well, it is something different, isn’t it? Not to say that innovation has not been rampant of late BUT with the A80 it’s a tangible innovation – not just software or camera pixels.

Let’s get past the tech talk quick. This device places just below the premium top tier space but, you wouldn’t say so. Packing a punch with 8GB RAM (yes 8GB RAM) I have never had the pleasure of such a smooth user experience, quick and fast – just what you want on the go. The Samsung Galaxy A80 has 128GB onboard memory and although it is lacking a memory card slot 128GB is solid – the average user will not exceed this in my opinion.

You get a 3700mAh battery and the phone is supported by Fast Charge at 25W. I tested the device to the hilt and found the battery performed very well. I was concerned that the battery may be a bit small to support all the functionality but after fully charging up on a Friday night after a full day’s use it only dropped to 81%.

For those who do not use their phone very often, with low usage, I  managed to get a 7-day standby time and only saw the battery dropping by 20%. This phone is efficient with power.

 

 

If this hasn’t got you interested yet the design most will. Some will call it heavy – I call it solid. It is not uncomfortable to operate one-handed and really isn’t that much heavier than your average device. Yes, it is a bit thicker, but the beautiful glass design and metal frame make it worth it.

The real kicker here though is the display. I kept coming back to it and honestly it had my friends mesmerized. At 6.7 inch you are bordering on tablet territory, but this display is notch-less and almost completely bezel-less – a new Infinity Display. This is the most screen real estate I have seen on a device. They have managed this by building their Selfie Camera into the main camera and using a rotating mechanism to pop up and out when it is selfie time.

The Super AMOLED Full HD+ display provided a vibrant colour and great viewing experience. Now not as highly spec’d as your top range devices I really don’t think this will matter to most users – it certainly didn’t to me. Honestly, this display will speak to all content viewers be it the occasional Facebook user, Content Uploader or your “bored at work” Netflix watcher.

Another excellent feature currently only found on flagship devices is the in-display fingerprint sensor. Yes, this device has it.

Unfortunately, due to the innovation, there is a concern as to the exclusion of an IP rating (one can only assume it is due to the moving parts required for the rotating camera) and the possibility of not being able to find a cover. Samsung has also excluded a headphone jack but quite honestly for me, this is no longer the biggest deal.

The design mixes old school charm with new-age innovation and I personally salute Samsung on this incredible creation.

 

Now let’s get to the camera. Off the bat, the rear camera gives you a triple 48MP + 8MP + TOF camera. The 8MP works with your ultra-wide-angle and your TOF camera provide great 3D depth – excellent for Live Focus and Background Blur. And best of all you get all of these on the Selfie camera as well. No more balancing act to use your back camera – simply flip the switch wait for the camera to flip and there you go! It may just be me, but I found looking at the pictures almost like looking at the scene with the naked eye – but clearer.

All the usual suspects performed brilliantly (Panorama, Slo-Mo, Live Focus,) with no lag and performed commendably in low light conditions.

Again, and I can’t stress this enough – I was blown away by the camera. The clarity and colour of the images and the ease of use make it a home run for me. I tested Live Focus and Live Focus Video with great success. This camera creates magic – take my word for it!

Finally, the Samsung Galaxy A80 has added a new software feature in its Intelligent Performance Enhancer. Essentially what this does is uses AI to learn your routine and adjusts your CPU, RAM and battery usage to enhance the performance of your phone. I didn’t have the phone long enough to test this but judging the fact my battery is still going strong and based on all the other features I can only assume it’s the real deal!

I think Samsung has really nailed it with this one. This device is so exciting, easy to use and remarkable that I will be very surprised if it doesn’t land on thousands of Christmas Wish Lists this year. It is certainly going on mine!

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Samsung Galaxy S10 – The Next Generation Smartphone

The #GalaxyS10 is a next generation smartphone like no other. Designed not to stand out, it’s designed to stand apart.

Next Generation Screen
Galaxy S10 defies the barriers of screen technology with its Cinematic Infinity Display. It covers the full front of the phone – from top to bottom and from side to side, giving you the first truly uninterrupted HDR10+ viewing experience.

Next Generation Security
The future of smartphone security is fused right into S10’s display. Ultrasonic technology and machine learning work together to instantly capture the unique 3D characteristics of your fingerprint, for vault-like security only you can unlock.

Next Generation Pro-grade Camera System
With Galaxy S10, you can shoot like a pro without being a pro. Its next generation pro-grade camera system is powered by an advanced NPU that intelligently analyzes and optimizes what you shoot, and features telephoto, wide, and ultra-wide lenses. Front cameras now capture in UHD, and for the first time ever in a mobile device, you can record professional-grade HDR10+ video.

Next-Generation Performance
S10’s next generation performance is designed especially for how today’s generation will live tomorrow. Intelligent Battery Management automatically manages your battery power with highly advanced smart solutions, and Wireless PowerShare revolutionizes how you charge your devices.

Next-Generation Connectivity
Galaxy S10 introduces the future of connectivity with next generation Wi-Fi 6 and 5G. Connect to faster, more secure networks with Wi-Fi 6, while the Galaxy S10 5G also delivers super-fast download speeds at up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps).

The next generation Galaxy has arrived – Pre-orders now open: www.cellucity.co.za/pre-order/

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Rumour Has it: The Samsung Galaxy S10?

With the introduction of the new Samsung Galaxy S10 on the horizon (the unpacking currently set for the 20 Feb 2019) I got curious as to what could be on offer that would make it the “stand out” of the first quarter. Lately, I have found it tough to get super excited about new phone launches which often have the same feel as their older siblings. With sales of the Samsung Galaxy S9 lower than that of its predecessors I am hopeful that Samsung smashes it with its new star child – The Galaxy S10.

Design

Samsung is set to roll out three variants of the Samsung Galaxy S10 including a ‘lite’ version which will feature a flat as opposed to a curved display. The introduction of a Lite version is smart in my opinion as it makes the range more accessible than ever before.

 

Galaxy S10 – 6.1”

Galaxy S10 Plus – 6.4”

Galaxy S10 E/Lite – 5.8”

 

 

 

Samsung is set to up the ante regarding colours, offering more exciting options. It does, however, remain to be seen what colour variations local networks will accept. Rumour has it that Samsung will employ a ceramic design which, although not unique, does offer greater scratch resistance.

Set to launch with an almost bezel-less display, it appears that Samsung will do away with the notch, bucking the 2018 trend. To offset the loss of space the Galaxy S10 range will come with Samsung’s new Infinity O display, whereby the camera is a small pinprick hole at the top of the device. Screen resolution is also set to be ramped up with all models set to feature Samsung’s Super AMOLED display.

On the two higher models, fingerprint detection will be via “ultrasonic” sensors with the current optical sensors used on the Lite model.

The Inside

The Exynos 8910 chip is currently blazing the trail for Android devices, but the introduction of the Exynos 8920 chip is set to take the Samsung Galaxy S10 models to a new level. Essentially offering AI processing capability up to seven times faster than the current chip – the Exynos 8920 will also allow for 8K video viewing.

Although these first models will not be released with 5G, Samsung is rumoured to be releasing a fourth version with 5G later in the year.

Android 9 Pie and an improvement on Bixby are further features we can look forward to.

Camera

Camera-wise all three models are rumoured to offer different camera capabilities. The Samsung S10 Plus is said to offer three rear camera lenses coupled with two front-facing cameras. The Samsung S10 will offer the same three rear camera lenses with only one front-facing camera and, rounding out the trio the Samsung S10 Lite/E will offer two rear cameras and one front-facing camera.

The range will support full 3D camera rendering, allowing Samsung to improve on its current AR Emoji and with Artistic Live Focus AI, users will get greater control over the blur effect.

Power

As always, Samsung has gone for different capacity batteries on each of new range with the S10 Plus set to have a 4000mAh. The Galaxy S10 will be fitted with a 3500mAh battery and the S10 Lite a respectable 3100mAh battery. With the new Super AMOLED display, battery life is yet to be seen. Power share is also rumoured to be available on the new range.

Price

Although no South African pricing has confirmed as yet, the below pricing is currently the best indicator of what to expect:

 

As with all rumours and leaks, it remains to be seen how much of this will be accurate and how much is wishful thinking. And as always there is the element of surprise – Samsung may have something more up its sleeves.

Written by Lesa J

 

*Official images and specifications have not been released by Samsung as yet.

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2019 – the mobile year ahead

As we all get to grips with starting the working year ahead, I would like to take a look at what the future holds for the mobile phone brands in South Africa. Traditionally, December is our busiest month where we sell the most mobile devices for the year. December 2018, however, was somewhat muted and we found some interesting trends carrying us into the new year.

So how are the big three (Apple, Samsung and Huawei) doing and what’s their outlook looking like for 2019? With our economy not having a stellar time, we have picked up two clear patterns emerging, with South African consumers, looking at their next mobile phone purchase:

Firstly, they are shopping down (or sticking to a tight budget range). The aspirational drive to have the “latest” top of the range model is in decline.

Our Top 10, handset sales for the December period is a testament to this with our top seller being the Huawei P20 Light. Across all brands, manufacturer “flagship” phones were massively out-sold by the mid-tier cousins. In the past, consumers would be more willing to splash out to acquire the latest and greatest, with lesser device variations largely ignored.

Secondly, customers are opting to hold on to their existing mobile phones and are instead optimising their monthly contract spend with reduced rates on “no device” contract deals.

So, other than a stalling economy, what has changed? Our sales trends and customer feedback show a few factors influencing the purchasing behaviour, which I will touch on.

Price: This probably has the most significant influence on purchasing behaviour currently. With new flagship phones ranging from R17 000 to over R30 000 on prepaid OR between R800 and R1000 per month on a low-value contract deal (offering little to no data or calls), consumers are finding it extremely difficult to justify the massive premium.

Technology: In the past, each new handset release used to herald some great NEW feature. If you weren’t able to utilise/ show off your new tech, you felt you were left behind. In today’s phone landscape, however, the majority of us use our phones for 4 or 5 essential apps – WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, Banking and one or two others. There is no need to have the latest tech to keep up. If the camera is good enough to make your social media posts look lit, you are winning. The gap between a mid-tier and flagship phone has shrunk and is no longer a debilitating choice.

Style: this probably is the most glaring change in handset development. In days gone by when you put your new iPhone 6 (new shape) or Samsung S6 Edge (curved screen) on the coffee shop table, next to any previous version, the new designs were instantly recognisable. You could be the envy of your friends by displaying your new social enabler at Bootleggers in Sea Point. Today, however, handset designs have all but morphed into one. So much so that it’s hard to tell your Samsung A7 from your S9, your Huawei P20 from your Y7, your Apple X from your XR and heaven forbid your Apple from a Huawei.

So where do the handset companies go from here?

Both Samsung and Apple have had a disappointing end to 2018. The start to 2019 shows no change, with both leading manufacturers displaying flagging sales and ever stiffer competition from Chinese manufacturers.

Apple’s issues are largely by their own design and, I feel, they have finally reached the tipping point. Their business model, in the past, was to create hype around their new devices, starve supply and drive demand like no other. Every 2nd model in the product life cycle would go through a complete design change and, coupled with a few new software features which could only be used on the new models. They drove the “upgrade” cycle – with annual updates but, if your iPhone got to two generations old, you were seriously behind. If you had the iPhone 5, you would not get the 5S you would wait for the iPhone 6. If you had the 6S, why get the 7? You would wait for the iPhone 8. Their strategy tied in perfectly with the 24-month contract/ upgrade cycle.

Then things started to change; we lost the 3.5mm jack, and we hesitated. We lost fingerprint unlocking, so we waited even more. It felt like we were getting less but expected to pay more for the privilege of having a “better” design. We started questioning what the actual hardware “upgrades” were and were they even worthwhile? My iPhone 7 Plus works great, I won’t get the X, let me rather wait for the XS. The XS arrives, but the price is so much more than I am paying for my 7 Plus. Can I justify the upgrade? Maybe I should go with the more affordable XR – but it just has a single camera. Why should I pay more and get less? My choice is simple.

For a long period, the Apple ecosystem created the stickiness that bound users into getting the next iPhone, “but all my music is on iTunes” OR, “how will I share all my photos” and now with Apple expanding its content services to include Amazon and Samsung have they removed this glue?

Finally, for Apple, the devices generally are pretty robust, and with more and more reputable repair outlets providing battery replacements for your old iPhone you can easily extend the life of your devices for a few more years.

For Samsung, the problem has been around for the past 6 or 7 years. Because their desire to dominate the industry is embedded in the corporate culture, the product line and range is there to squeeze out all potential competition. By covering every single product niche with a model, you don’t create many gaps for your competitors to muscle in. Their short-sightedness of this approach has however meant that they cannibalise their market across their ranges.

From a marketing perspective, the focus has always been on their premium devices, and the myriad of other are left to find their own space in a flooded market. On the flagship side, they have had a similar problem as with Apple. For 2019 though, they will be unveiling a foldable screen phone which will herald a real innovation in the industry but when you look at those 3 or 4 essential apps again how do you build a camera into a foldable design? So, while flexible screens are great for media consumption, will they be a hindrance in media creation?

The main problem for Samsung has been their product range, and while they have been trying to reduce the size of the product portfolio the gaps between models in just so small, it makes it easier to shop down. Design and tech have become so similar across models that it’s hard for me to tell one device from another, and I work in the industry – heaven help a poor consumer. If you had to lay out a Samsung J8 and A8 (R80 per month price difference) or a J6 and A7(R150 per month price difference), you will be hard pressed to spot the difference. To be fair the A7 has three cameras and is far superior, but you get my point.

If BMW used the same body for its X1 /X2 and X3 models, and you couldn’t tell them apart, and they all performed equally well in your city commute… Would you buy the cheaper X1 or pricey X3?

Finally, Huawei, they have been a dominating force, in our channel, over the last year. Much like Hyundai, when it first appeared in South Africa, people viewed the brand with scepticism, but over time they have proven they are a solid proposition in the market. Initially, Huawei focused heavily on the lower and mid-tier market which, in hindsight, was a masterstroke (whether by design or pure chance) as they established themselves as a reliable brand that produced quality devices and reasonable pricing. They have slowly pushed into the premium sector and now are contending and even surpassing the big two (Samsung and Apple) in the flagship space.

In general, Huawei offers incredible value for their price points. They are however beginning to make the mistake Samsung made – an ever-expanding product portfolio. For now, this is mitigated by a good pricing glide strategy but, it is a tight rope to walk with the ever-present cannibalisation threat.

So, for 2019, Apple has already started shifting its focus from hardware to expanding its iTunes and Apple TV partnerships to incorporate the likes of Amazon (Alexa) and Samsung (Smart TV). Is this their fundamental shift in strategy to make up for lagging handset sales?
Samsung is heavily reliant on selling components like screens and memory to the likes of Apple and Huawei to help fund its R&D and drive down the costs of innovation, with Apple sales slowing down will we see a far more measured approach to new product launches in 2019 and beyond?

And, finally, with Huawei is the global furore around 5G and security of Huawei built networks in the USA and Europe and their devices being banned in some countries, going to see them increasing their aggressive push into Africa?

The last quarter of 2018 highlighted these changes in consumer spending. The cellular market is brutal – look at the likes of Ericsson, Motorola, BlackBerry and even (the now reborn) Nokia. Will the big three stick to their guns? Will their plans for 2019 be successful? Or, is this an opening for a new company to challenge the status quo? We are excited, are you?

 

By: Chris Henschel

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Have they gone too far?

It seems the days of the excitement and high expectation over the next mobile launch is well and truly over.

When I started in the industry in the mid 90’s, we had perhaps three or four launches to attend a year. Every launch cycle offered innovations and great leaps forward in tech. We started with brick phones and monochromatic screens, moved to the tiniest phones with colour and changed from numeric keypads to full qwerty keyboards and now to full touch.

I can still remember the excitement of holding that curved Nokia 8110, the tiny Ericsson 788, seeing the colour screen on the Siemens S10 and showing off my Nokia 9110 Communicator with its full keyboard, the Samsung D500 slider… the list could go on and on!

This excitement carried over to the revolution heralded by the Apple iPhone, and it appeared this excitement curve trajectory would continue unabated.

Alas, it appears in the last two years, the mobile magic has gone.

I had no desire to upgrade my iPhone 7 when the iPhone X launched, partly because it always has better to wait for Apple to iron out any kinks in their “S” version but mainly because the price differential between new and old had become somewhat glaring.

In my wait for the next Apple launch, I have been using a Huawei P20 Pro and, after five months, I haven’t had a reason to move back. That was of course until the lead up to the Apple announcement on the 12th of September. Ohhhh I thought, perhaps the new model is going to be awesome, maybe we could fall in love again…

After the announcement, I was left feeling even more disappointed. The price of the new iPhone is sky high and, I feel not much has been offered to enhance my user experience. I find myself thinking… has Apple gone a step too far this time?

Apple and Samsung have been chasing the title of world’s best smartphone for the past ten years, with Apple always commanding a premium for its devices. Samsung, in hot pursuit, began increasing the prices of its iconic top-end phones to try and mirror the exclusiveness of the Apple brand.

In November IHS Markit estimated it cost around $370.25 to make the iPhone X which retailed at $999, that’s a massive $628.75 in profit per device. Understandably for most manufacturers, you spend a lot on R&D and then advertising and marketing, but a 170% markup is astronomical.

Much of the R&D tech is licensed or on-sold to other manufacturers. For example, Samsung is the biggest supplier of screen components for electronics. Sony provides camera tech to many manufacturers. Through technology licensing, R&D costs are recovered and often become profit centres. Face recognition and fingerprint tech were initially introduced exclusively on premium devices, but they were quickly adopted in mid-tier devices. The economies of scale made the tech cheaper for everyone.

Now, Samsung and, more recently, Apple have announced their new iconic premium devices, both starting at $999 and with little in the way of advances over their predecessors. I once again question the sustainability of launching a premium device annually with little more than a few tweaks.

My MacBook Pro has lasted me five years, and my iPad is pushing its 3rd year of use. With Mac and iPad offering a pleasing level of performance for an extended duration, they were shrewd buys. I don’t mind paying a premium for this longevity.

With that said, has the need for the latest iPhone quietly died and been replaced with a more sombre approach to affordability and lifetime usage. I predict it has. Perhaps the mobile industry needs to rethink its obsession with launching a flagship phone every year to try and push more profits and focus instead on sustainability.

Much like the car market, most supercars can go 0-100 in under five seconds. If you can afford it, you buy the brand that appeals to you the most – be it a Porsche, Lamborghini or a Ferrari. For those of us that can’t, you can still buy a car for way, way, way less and still be a happy robot racer.

With basic usage and functionality remaining almost on a par, consumers will seek a solid middle ground. So, this year I won’t be getting a new iPhone XS or the Samsung Note 9. But, I will consider upgrading my MacBook Pro or my iPad – at least that’s a sensible long-term buy.

By Chris Henchel

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New additions to the Samsung Galaxy A range in 2017

Launching this year is Samsung’s third instalment of the Galaxy A range; the A3 2017; A5 2017 and A7 2017 editions.

Phone “sequels” generally consists of subtle changes with upgrades to speed, processor power and cameras – nice to haves but short on hype and excitement.

This time, Samsung has done a complete overhaul with a complete chassis redesign and have included improvements previously limited to their premium range: water/dustproof (IP68), fingerprint sensors (finally!) and always-on display.

The A3, A5 and A7 2017 editions have had their charging port upgraded to the new USB-C standard allowing for faster charging and easier transferring of data. Continue reading New additions to the Samsung Galaxy A range in 2017

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Taking a look at the Samsung Gear S3 – It’s a Smart Watch

When smartwatches were first introduced they were clunky, low on functionality, poor on reliability and just downright ugly. 2016 proved to be a big year for smart devices with a huge jumps in quality. It comes as no surprise that Samsung have continued this trend into 2017.

Queue the launch of the Samsung Gear S3 range… Continue reading Taking a look at the Samsung Gear S3 – It’s a Smart Watch

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J for Joy!

When it comes to selecting a new cell you may be like me and suffer from what I like to call the “more-less” syndrome… More-Less? What I mean is you want more than a basic phone but less than top of the range, not everybody needs an office on the go. What I find most frustrating is that a lot of brands don’t bridge the gap, you either have your flagship top of the range or very basic entry level. This is where Samsung has managed to carve out a niche. They have bombarded the market with phones for every possible need. They have left no stone unturned, no gap unplugged! Welcome the J series! Continue reading J for Joy!