Xiaomi F1- Cheap Flagship Power; Huawei Caught Cheating on Cam Photos-Again; VW-Huge Electric Truck Order; Verizon Throttled Firefighter Data

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has announced a new sub brand called Pocophone, and released a new model F1 smartphone in India. The interesting thing about it is that the phone sells for $300, but has the power of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845…the present top line processor used in flagship Android phones. Not only that, the phone has 6 gigs of RAM, 64 GB of storage, and a 6.18 inch LCD screen at HD+. What about the battery? 4,000mAh. Right now, there are no plans to bring it to the US, unfortunately. A lot of people would love flagship phone power for $300 instead of $800-$1000!

In a repeat of earlier cheating for ad photos, Huawei has been caught using a pro DSLR camera’s pics and passing them off as being from their Nova 3 smartphone. Arstechnica.com reports that one of the actors in the shots posted some behind the scenes photos from a shoot to Instagram, and you can see the DSLR on a tripod shooting the actual shots.

VW has gotten an order for 1600 electric trucks from Ambev’s Brazilian brewery division. According to electrek.co, the beer maker will convert a third of their fleet to electric by 2023. The vehicles will start being delivered in 2020.

Verizon throttled firefighters, and has been sued. Santa Clara County fire says the throttling had a significant impact on their ability to provide crisis response and essential emergency services during recent fires. Arstechnica.com says the fire department’s declaration was added to a brief filed by 22 state attorneys general in the ongoing lawsuit over the FCC net neutrality rules overturn. Stay tuned.

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3 First Cities to Get 5G; Apple May Buy Cobalt Direct from Miners; Renault’s “Smart Island”; EV Batteries May be Able to Recharge 5X Faster

Even though phones don’t have it yet, the cellular providers have been busily working on building out 5G infrastructure. We have been hearing that AT&T would have some 12 markets on the super fast cellular connection that can carry vast data loads, very soon. Now, AT&T has announced that at least 3 markets will have it by the end of this year. The lucky cities are: Atlanta, Dallas, and Waco, TX. Qualcomm has announced its first 5G modem for smartphones, but it isn’t expected to actually be out and in users new phones until 2019!

With cobalt supply iffy, Apple is in talks to buy it direct from miners. According to bloomberg, the cobalt is used in iPhone and iPad batteries, as well as in EVs. Apple wants to ensure that they have enough for their products. They are apparently working on a deal to buy several thousand metric tons of cobalt per year over a 5 year period. Samsung, BMW, and VW are also working to secure long term supplies….BMW is angling for a 10 year contract. An iPhone takes 8 grams of refined cobalt…an electric car over 1,000 times more! The price of cobalt has tripled in the last 18 months…supply and demand, you know!

Renault is experimenting with an island totally free of fossil fuels. The island in Portugal, Porto Santo, will have only renewable and independent energy production and use. Solar and wind generators, the Renault Zoe and Kango utility van electric vehicles, home batteries, etch. Engadget.com reports that the more diffuse, less massive installations can be used because the island only has 5400 people plus tourists….so won’t require anything like the Tesla Powerpack mega installation in Australia.

Some researchers at University of Warwick have discovered that the lithium-ion batteries used in most electric cars can be recharged up to 5 times faster than they presently are being charged. Engadget.com says the makers have been conservative about charging, due to fear of overheating (which can cause fires and explosions.) The researchers used a fiber optic sensor protected by a chemical layer…it is inserted right into the cell, and can track the temperature precisely. In testing on over 18000 li-ion cells, they were able to quintuple charging times. The increased time does reduce battery life, but the researchers point out that if charging time could be reduced from 25 minutes to 5, it might really jump start e-car purchases.


iPhone X Production Picks Up; VW May Do e-Beetle; Daimler Looks to Hydrogen for Data Centers; Xbox One S Black Friday Bargain

It sounds like Apple’s suppliers have the kinks worked out, and production is really ramping up on iPhone X. Appleinsider.com says Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is predicting 26 million of the hero handset with the OLED screen will be out during the holiday quarter. The KGI Securities maven also says Apple will cut back production of the iPhone 8, which is being cannibalized by the X. The 8 Plus, on the other hand, is outselling it’s smaller brother…a first.

There’s been great buzz about VW making a new electric Micro Bus. Now, engadget.com reports that they may build and electric Beetle. They have already been experimenting with a rear wheel drive hatchback e vehicle, the ID…which cranks out the equivalent of 168 horses, and has a 370 mile range. The VW board of management hasn’t voted on it yet, but are expected to release 15 e models…let’s hope one is an e-Beetle!

Daimler, parent of Mercedes, has been experimenting with hydrogen fuel cell cars since 1980. Now, they are teaming up with HPE Power Innovations to keep server farms running. According to engadget.com, they will build ‘micro-grids’ inside data centers. With the fuel cells, the centers can run on solar or wind power, but be able to make it at night or when it’s calm without firing up diesel generators to tide them over. The Fuel cell can run as long as there’s hydrogen, and the byproduct is environmentally friendly water vapor.

If you’re going to be in the market for an Xbox One S or another one, Microsoft has just announced a price drop to $189 for the 500 gig model with a free game for Black Friday. Theverge.com says that’s 10 bucks cheaper than a 1Tb Slony PS4 Slim without game.


Google Looking to Xiaomi to Produce Next Android One; Bay Area Check-Out Free Startup Takes on Amazon; VW WILL Have Electric Microbus in 2022

Xiaomi of China makes an array of gadgets, that are generally high quality and noticeably cheaper than any competition. They have already been producing smartphones, and now may be connecting with Google to make the next Android One. Thenextweb.com reports that they are reworking their 5.5 inch Mi 5X into basically an Android One. It has a dual cam like the iPhone 7 Plus’ Portrait mode, and has good build quality and battery life. If everything pans out, Google could bring an Android One phone to the US by late this year or early next for $200-$300!

We’ve reported on Amazon’s check-out free system they are working on called Amazon Go. Now, Standard Cognition out of Palo Alto is releasing what they call an ‘alternative technology’ to eliminate the checkout process at retailers. According to geekwire.com, the startup is in talks with retailers to set up pilots in stores. Their tech uses machine vision and artificial intelligence to identify each item and detect which ones are picked up, put back, or left elsewhere in the store. They will have two apps…one for shoppers and one for the stores. As a shopper, you just grab your stuff and leave. The bill will be charged to you automatically via the app. ‘Appless’ customers will be directed by store staff to kiosks like self checkouts, where they can pay with cash or credit. Walmart also is testing a similar system they call ‘Scan & Go’

We’ve seen pictures, renders, and teases, now we know that Volkswagen will build the I.D. Buzz electric Microbus by 2022. Mashable.com says it should have a version that can make 300 miles on a charge, and be able to recharge to 80% in 30 minutes with VW’s fast charge system. Since it’s electric, it will have tons of space, and VW plans a commercial version companies can use for deliveries in inner cities that are going to eventually ban gas and diesel vehicles. It will have Level 3 self-driving, so some cruising without full driver participation will be possible. I’m seeing lines of old hippies showing up at VW dealerships looking like Fry from Futurama yelling ‘take my money!’


VW Unveils First Fully-Autonomous Vehicle; Netflix Passes The Venerable DVR

Volkswagen has shown their first fully autonomous car, a ‘Level 5’ vehicle, which means no driver required at all. Arstechnica.com says the concept vehicle has opposing sliding doors like a commuter train, couch like seating that faces the middle inside, and NO steering wheel or controls. VW says the vehicle, called Sedric, is designed as either a shared mobility system or could be privately owned like most present cars. It’s controlled by a remote control called the Button…the device summons the car, and identifies the user when the car arrives. It’s electric…with a flat battery back under the floor between the sets of wheels. VW hopes to have some version in service by 2025.

In a huge milestone for cord-cutting, Netflix subscribers have passed up the number of people that have a DVR. Arstechnica.com says 54% of US adults have Netflix now, with 53% having a DVR in home. If you throw in other video on demand subscribers, it’s 64% that have either Netflix, Amazon Prime, and/or Hulu. Of those 51% stream shows at least monthly. Your cable company needs some heartburn medicine.


Snapchat Adds Non-Disappearing Content

Snapchat is readying to start publishing original videos and articles…a feature that was delayed from implementing last fall. Theverge.com says the service, famous for self-deleting pictures that vanish in seconds, will launch its ad supported ‘Discover’ service late this month. In addition to original pieces from their own journalists and video producers, they will have content from CNN, ESPN, and Vice.

One of the great drags on electric car sales is the fear of running out of battery power. Cnet.com reports that BMW and VW have partnered with Chargepoint to create charging corridors. In the deal, Chargepoint will deploy at least 100 chargers along the East and West coasts. These will be able to fast charge, getting an electric vehicle up to 80% charge in less than a half hour. The plan is to have no more than a 50 mile gap between stations, and have them in place by the end of the year.

If proof was needed to show how badly people want to get away from Windows 8 iterations, 170,000 have signed up since Microsoft’s event this week to be Windows Insider beta testers for the upcoming Windows 10. Gigaom.com says that’s a 10% bump since the program started last fall. A lot of people are at least WANTING to love Windows.