Hot on the heels of Apple announcing its lawsuit against Qualcomm in an ever-growing legal battle, the Snapdragon chip maker has filed its own legal complaint that could see iPhone X sales banned in the United States.
Qualcomm levied a complaint to the US International Trade Commission (ITC) noting that several of Apple’s smartphones – ranging from the iPhone 7 to iPhone X – violate five of its patent.
That’s far fewer than the 16 patent violations Qualcomm raised against Apple in its November 29 lawsuit, but they still cover a gamut of technologies including radio-frequency transceivers, depth-based imagery, an energy saving memory array and even on-off power phases.
Depending on the ITC decision to act on Qualcomm’s complaint, imports, and thus sales, of the iPhone X and other Apple products could be banned in the US. If Qualcomm were to win, a victory might cause the company to take further action against Apple with other agencies around the world – which we have already seen a similar call for iPhone X bans in China.
That said, this isn’t the first time Qualcomm has raised an ITC complaint against Apple. Earlier this August, the Snapdragon creator raised issue with six patent violations that led to an investigation, but nothing else thus far.
With this in mind it could take weeks before an investigation begins and months for action on the complaint.
You know things are getting sticky at a company when it’s felt necessary to have a wholesale clearout of executives. That’s the radical action that LG is taking, in response to a series of poor sales figures for its mobile division.
In some ways, LG is an interesting company. Often, poor results are predicated on a range of poor products but, in this case, LG has garnered a set of more than respectable reviews. This summer’s launch, the G6 was singled out for its stylish design, while the LVG 30 gathered plenty of plaudits too - so it’s not the technology that’s proving to be flawed.
But the figures don’t lie. The Mobile Communications company recorded an operating loss of 2.81 trillion won (£1.83 billion) in the last quarter, an improvement of 13% on the third quarter last year, but a loss all the same. In the past two years, the only quarter that mobile phones have shown a profit was the first quarter of this year.
If it’s not the products, the only answer is that must be people, starting from top. That means that the president, Juno Cho, has been moved into a new role in the LG parent company.
The new president and CEO, Hwang Jeong-hwan, has had a long career in R&D, and was part of the team that developed one of LG’s first smartphones. The new CTO is Dr Park Il-pyung, formerly head of the company’s software center, while the current CTO, Dr Skott Ahn also being moved to a more corporate role.
Perhaps more interestingly, given that the company is not failing on its products, there’s a new head of worldwide marketing, Han Chang-hee, who has come from the appliance side of the business – while the mobile division has been struggling, it’s the appliance revenues that are keeping the company healthy.
The company is also looking to explore new markets, with the news that it’s setting up a new B2B division. There’s certainly a need to do something to maintain a foothold in such a competitive market.
Update:A Sony phone has passed through the FCC with a 5.7-inch screen yet surprisingly small dimensions, suggesting smaller bezels than most Sony handsets. However, it might not have a 3.5mm headphone port.
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium is one of the most impressive Sony flagships of recent years, thanks largely to its 4K screen and capable camera. Thing is, it’s been out a while now, so talk is inevitably turning to what's next; the Sony Xperia XZ Premium 2.
Will it go above 4K? Will it launch soon? And will it have a new design? We don’t have definitive answers to any of those questions yet, but we are starting to hear rumors, which we’ve detailed below.
We’ve also come up with a list of things we hope for from the Sony Xperia XZ Premium 2. You’ll find that at the bottom of this article.
Cut to the chase
What is it? The next 4K flagship from Sony
When is it out? Possibly early 2018
What will it cost? A lot
Sony Xperia XZ Premium 2 release date and price
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium was announced at MWC 2017, so there’s a fair chance we’ll see the Sony Xperia XZ Premium 2 at MWC 2018, which takes place from February 26 to March 1 2018.
However, the XZ Premium didn’t actually go on sale until June 2017, so even if the XZ Premium 2 is announced in February or March you might not be able to buy it until later in 2018.
Further confusing matters is the fact that there was well over a year between the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium and the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, so it’s possible that we won’t see the XZ Premium 2 for a while yet.
Whenever it does launch it’s sure to cost a lot. The Sony Xperia XZ Premium started at $799/£649 (about AU$1,100) SIM-free, and with flagship prices rising the Xperia XZ Premium 2 is likely to cost more if anything.
Sony Xperia XZ Premium 2 news and rumors
There’s only been a few Sony Xperia XZ Premium 2 leaks so far, but they've revealed a lot. For one thing we've seen renders possibly showing the phone.
The images show two handsets, one of which - the one said to be the XZ Premium 2 - has a large edge-to-edge screen and a mirror-like back.
Apparently this phone would have a fingerprint scanner built into the screen, plus a Snapdragon 845 chipset, 6GB of RAM, a dual-lens rear camera, 128GB of storage and front-facing stereo speakers.
Those specs match another recent leak, which adds that the phone will have a microSD card slot (with a 256GB capacity), a 3,420mAh battery, IP68 water and dust resistance and run Android Oreo - but that it might have a new name, possibly being dubbed the Sony Xperia XZ Pro.
A Sony phone has also passed through the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and it looks like it probably won't have a 3.5mm headphone jack - a first for a Sony handset.
We don't know for sure that this is the XZ Premium 2, but it's a handset that's likely launching soon, and one which apparently has a 5.7-inch screen and a 152.79 x 72.42mm body, which would make it smaller in the hand but with a bigger display than the original XZ Premium, suggesting the bezels have been shrunk, just like in the images above.
And that’s not too much of a surprise, as a Sony executive had previously said that the company was working on a range of phones with a completely new design.
In older news, a screenshot of a specs list for a Sony phone with the model number H8541 was posted to Reddit and includes a 5.7-inch 4K display with support for HDR.
If accurate that would make it slightly bigger than the 5.46-inch screen of the Xperia XZ Premium, but that’s in line with the rising size of flagships, and matches the FCC listing.
Interestingly though the list also mentions dimensions of 149 x 74 x 7.5mm, which would make it smaller than the 156 x 77 x 7.9mm Xperia XZ Premium, but also smaller than the dimensions listed by the FCC.
So either one of these is wrong or they're talking about different phones. The FCC is more reliable, but neither source refers to the XZ Premium 2 by name.
Another highlight of the specs list above is mention of a 3,420mAh battery, as that’s bigger than the 3,230mAh battery in the original XZ Premium (a phone which already has reasonable life).
However, the rest of the specs are less promising, with a Snapdragon 835 chipset, 4GB of RAM, Android Oreo and IP68-certified dust and water resistance all mentioned, which are the same assortment of specs as its predecessor.
They’re high-end specs, but by 2018 they won’t be top-end anymore. Of course, it’s entirely possible that this spec list is fake or wrong, especially as some of those specs are different to what we've heard more recently.
What we want to see
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium got 4.5 stars in our review, but the Xperia XZ Premium 2 will have to build on it in significant ways if it wants to impress us. Here are seven things that would help.
1. A new design
Calling the design of Sony’s Xperia range tired would seem almost generous at this point. Although the materials vary, Sony hasn’t significantly changed the look of its handsets in years, and those big screen bezels are seriously dated in the face of all-screen phones like the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy Note 8.
So we really want to see a new design for the Sony Xperia XZ Premium 2, and fortunately it looks likely that we will, since not only has a Sony executive claimed some upcoming phones will have a new design, but a spec sheet lists dimensions which suggest one.
2. A bigger screen
At 5.46 inches the screen on the Sony Xperia XZ Premium isn’t exactly small, but to truly make the most of that 4K resolution it really needs to be bigger, and with rivals like the Samsung Galaxy S8 pushing screen sizes ever higher it would also help the XZ Premium 2 to compete.
It doesn’t need to be enormous, but a move to around 5.8 inches could make all the difference, especially if Sony also shrinks the bezels to keep the overall handset size roughly the same.
3. Fingerprint scanning in the US
In most of the world Sony flagships have fingerprint scanners, as you’d expect, since that’s a standard feature of high-end phones, but in the US they don’t.
It’s a major omission, and while there’s presumably a reason for it the lack of a scanner could make Sony phones less appealing than biometrically secured rivals.
So we hope the Sony Xperia XZ Premium 2 will have a fingerprint scanner in all regions, or if that’s not an option then how about a high-tech face scanner like the one on the iPhone X?
4. Less bloat
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium is weighed down with a lot of pre-installed apps, many of which duplicate the functions of Google’s suite of apps (which is also present) or just aren’t very useful.
For the Sony Xperia XZ Premium 2 we want less bloat, with a clean version of Android. Given that a whole store of apps is only a tap away it’s easy enough to fill in any gaps, so just give us the basics, with no duplicates.
5. A dual-lens camera
Sony’s flagship phones tend to have quite good cameras and the Xperia XZ Premium is no exception. In our review we praised its impressive slow-motion camera and its ability to capture a lot of detail, but it’s just a single lens snapper and with many rivals moving to dual-lens ones we want to see Sony follow suit.
Dual-lens is more than just a marketing gimmick, as it can unlock new features such as lossless optical zoom, so it could benefit the Xperia XZ Premium 2.
6. More power
The Xperia XZ Premium has a decent amount of power, but early rumors suggest the new model won’t get a chipset or RAM boost, which would be disappointing, not just because it’s reasonable to expect more power from a new model, but because by the time it lands those specs will be looking slightly dated for a high-end phone.
So hopefully that rumor is wrong and the Xperia XZ Premium 2 actually will get a performance upgrade. We’d like to see it pack the upcoming Snapdragon 845 chipset. RAM can stay at 4GB, but we wouldn’t say no to more.
7. A slicker SIM slot
It’s a minor point but in our review of the Xperia XZ Premium we found its SIM card slot to be both fiddly and flimsy, so we’d like to see it reworked for the Sony Xperia XZ Premium 2.
It’s not something most people should have to interact with often, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be decent quality.
Update: With the cellular Apple Watch 3 available you can now do more than ever without tethering your Watch to your iPhone, but even without Apple's latest wearable there are plenty of phone-free Apple Watch features.
With the arguable exception of the cellular version of the Apple Watch 3, the Apple Watch isn't designed to replace your iPhone just yet. In fact, it depends on it.
Many Apple Watch apps are really just displays for things running on your iPhone, and some key features aren't available if you aren't paired to an iOS device.
For example, the original Watch doesn't have a GPS receiver, so if your phone isn't around you can't track the distance you've travelled beyond measuring steps.
GPS has been included in the Apple Watch 2 and Apple Watch 3, but even they don't have their own cameras, so while you can use them as a viewfinder for your phone they don't have the ability to snap anything by themselves.
That doesn't mean the Apple Watch is a dumb terminal, though. It has its own processor, sensors and on-board storage, and we're increasingly seeing stacks of innovative apps as developers are discovering the possibilities.
Here are the key things you can do with any Apple Watch model, even when there's no iPhone for it to talk to - after the initial setup on the handset is complete that is.
And if you've got an Apple Watch 2 or 3 you'll also find some things that only work on these newer models.
Track your runs
The Apple Watch 2 added a GPS chip to the mix, which means you can finally track your runs without carrying your phone around with you.
You'll be able to see exactly where and how far you've gone, and maybe you'll even run slightly faster without the added weight of your phone.
Track your swims
This is an activity you definitely won't want your phone for, but thanks to its water resistance the Apple Watch 2 and 3 also work as swim trackers.
The swim tracking out of the box is a bit basic, but you can always download a third-party app to add more options, such as the ability to set drill distances.
Take calls and get notifications
This one requires an Apple Watch 3, and the pricier cellular model at that, but it brings the Watch a lot closer to the phone, as you can actually take calls on your wrist with reasonable voice quality.
As you can also get notifications it almost makes the Apple Watch as useful without a phone as with one, but it's still not a full phone replacement.
Many Apple Watch apps now work independently of your phone, meaning you can do the likes of check the weather forecast with Dark Sky, translate spoken words using iTranslate and much more besides.
In some cases you'll need a Wi-Fi connection (or a cellular Apple Watch) to get full app functionality, but any standalone app that works offline will work without your phone wherever you are, and whichever Watch you have.
Pay for stuff
Once you've set up Apple Pay via the Apple Watch app, you'll be able to use the Watch to pay for things in shops.
The app creates a unique token that's stored on the Watch to use as a card number - allowing you use Apple Pay even when you're away from your phone. To pay, simply wave your watch at the Apple Pay-compatible terminal and let the built-in NFC (near-field communication) radio do its thing.
Get on planes or go to the movies
Apple Wallet is on the Apple Watch, so anything already stored in it - aeroplane boarding passes, electronic tickets and anything else scannable - should work just fine without your iPhone.
Sadly, not all firms have embraced this, so we're still often wandering around with pockets and purses full of plastic, but we're gradually seeing more things go digital.
Listen to music, audiobooks or podcasts
The Watch has its own storage space, some of which is available for music - so you can use the Watch's built-in Bluetooth to pair with a pair of wireless headphones and get music on the move.
Naturally you won't be able to stream music from the likes of Spotify or Apple Music without an internet connection, which means being in Wi-Fi range or using an Apple Watch 3 cellular model, but there's more than enough internal storage for a run, a workout or a short commute.
And if you're using Apple Music you can make playlists available offline on your Apple Watch.
One of the smoothest features we saw at the Apple Watch launch event was SPG Keyless, a feature that enables Apple Watch users to unlock Starwood hotel rooms without anything as old-fashioned as a key.
According to Starwood, the keys work via Bluetooth Low Energy and are popped up by the iPhone app as push notifications the day before you check in.
The same idea could of course work with any other kind of Bluetooth-enabled smart lock, so it's possible we'll see Apple Watch-compatible locks for your home, garage or gym locker.
Track your fitness
The Apple Watch doesn't need to be paired with your phone to monitor your heart rate or workout: it can store that data and sync it to the Health app when you get back from your run, cycle or trip to the gym. There are also various third-party fitness apps available, such as Strava.
Control your Apple TV
Apple's Remote app has been ported to the Watch, and like its iOS sibling it enables you to control your Apple TV via the magic of wireless radio.
You can also use it to control iTunes on your computer.
Do watch things
Hardly a surprise, this, but time-related functions such as the alarm, stopwatch and timer don't need a phone to function.
What iPhone-free features do you think we'll see from app developers? Let us know in the comments.
The update, which we’ve had confirmation is live in the UK, will presumably be coming to the rest of the world soon if it hasn’t already, and highlights include a new picture-in-picture mode, which lets you watch a video while using another app.
That’s a feature you’ll find on most handsets rocking Android Oreo, but there’s also some stuff exclusive to Nokia handsets, such as ‘Dual-Sight’, which uses the front and back cameras simultaneously when shooting video, so you can stream your reaction to events on social media.
Fast and free of bloat
The Nokia 8 should also now power up faster and its battery might last longer, thanks to a feature that limits the background activity of the apps you use least.
And speaking of apps, there’s no bloat here, with no unnecessary apps added as part of the Android Oreo update. But what you do get is over 60 new emoji, plus new designs for the existing ones.
There’s also good news if you have a Nokia 6 or other Nokia handset, as you shouldn’t have to wait too much longer for Android Oreo, with HMD Global – the company behind recent Nokia phones – claiming that Oreo is coming to other Nokia handsets soon.
Whether it’s called the Sony Xperia XZ Premium 2 or the Xperia XZ2 Premium, Sony is likely to launch a new 4K phone next year, but beyond just having a sharp screen there’s now evidence that it could sport a new design.
A screenshot posted to Reddit details an unreleased Sony handset with the model number H8541, and the specs make it sound a lot like a successor to the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, notably because of its 5.7-inch 4K HDR screen.
That’s bigger than the 5.46-inch screen on the original XZ Premium, yet the dimensions listed here are smaller, at 149 x 74 x 7.5mm (while the XZ Premium is 156 x 77 x 7.9mm).
That suggests the bezels may have been significantly shrunk, which would likely mean a quite different design to most current Sony handsets. And that adds up with earlier information, as a Sony executive had previously claimed that a range of phones with a completely new design was in the works.
Not much change on the inside
However, other than the larger screen and smaller body there doesn’t seem to be much to get excited about here if these specs are right, as apparently the Xperia XZ Premium 2 – or whatever it is – will have a Snapdragon 835 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, a 3,420mAh battery and run Android Oreo, all of which is true of the Xperia XZ Premium too, other than the battery, which is slightly smaller at 3,230mAh.
That makes this specs list slightly questionable, especially as it could very easily have been faked, but on the other hand Sony doesn’t tend to push for the best possible specs in the way rivals like Samsung do.
Whatever the case, if the Sony Xperia XZ Premium 2 is on the way then we might see it at MWC 2018 early next year, as its predecessor was unveiled at MWC 2017.