Huawei's Ascend P6 grabs the headlines
The first of two major launches this week, Huawei got the world's attention by launching the Ascend P6, which at 6.18mm thick, is the world's thinnest smartphone. ITProPortal was in the crowd at London's Roundhouse to see the covers pulled off the Chinese manufacturer's latest flagship.
The 4.7in Ascend P6, housed in a metallic body, will run Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, as well as a 1.5-GHz quad-core processor. There's a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and an 8-megapixel rear camera. Huawei also promises battery performance that is 30 per cent better than batteries on similar smartphones. It will debut in China this month and expand to Europe next month, where it will be sold via Vodafone, Telefonica, Orange, H3G, O2, Carphone Warehouse, TalkTalk, Media Markt & Saturn, TIM and online via Amazon and CDiscount. It will become available in "other markets" at a later date.
We also managed to get our hands on the terribly attractive device, where we came to the conclusion that, despite some of the higher-end features, it will generally appeal to anyone who favours appearance over substance.
Following the Ascend P6 launch, we analysed some frighteningly poor statistics for Huawei - the firm isn't even in the top 10 in terms of Android vendors in the UK, occupying just 0.55 per cent of the market. Whether the Ascend P6 can change that remains to be seen.
The Prism merry-go-round goes on
This is a story that could go on for a very long time, and probably inspire a few books in the process. A number of large reports emerged throughout this week, all contributing to a very dark picture of the US government's surveillance activities.
First of all, Apple, together with Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo revealed US government data requests, in the interest of transparency. Apple received over 4,000 between December 2012 and May 2013, Microsoft revealed information had been requested for approximately 31,000 customer accounts in the second half of 2012, Facebook said it received over 9,000 requests covering 19,000 accounts over the same period, while Yahoo received over 12,000 between December 2012 and May 2013. The majority of requests related to police investigating homicides, robberies and kidnappings.
Google, meanwhile, is still fighting to gain permission to publish its own set of data requests. The search engine is even considering launching a legal challenge against the gagging orders currently stifling it. Skype, on the other hand, has been accused of setting up Project Chess, a surveillance programme designed to provide user information to US authorities - a whopping five years ago.
Prism hasn't been bad news for all tech companies though, with anonymous search engine DuckDuckGo seeing a massive 33 per cent increase in its user base in the aftermath of the scandal's emergence. G8 leaders have also pledged to improve transparency of government information by adhering to five strict principles described in the brand new Open Data Charter.
Samsung polishes up Galaxy and Ativ range
On Thursday, the ITProPortal team was in Earls Court to witness Samsung's Premiere 2013 event, where the South Korean giant unleashed a mass of new Ativ and Galaxy products, including smartphones, tablets, laptops and cameras. Amongst these were two new, Windows-8 powered tablets, the Ativ Q and Ativ Tab 3.
The dual-OS Ativ Q (below) is a convertible device that will allow users to tap into Windows 8 or Android 4.2.2, switching seamlessly between the two and even pin Android apps to the Windows 8 start screen. The tablet includes a 13.3in touch screen with a 3,200 x 1,800 display, which Samsung said offers 2.8 times higher pixel density (275ppi) than full HD displays. The Ativ Q has a hinge design for four modes: lay it flat over the keyboard for tablet mode; raise the display upright to reveal the keyboard underneath so that it functions like a laptop; float and adjust the display to view at an angle; or flip the display to place in the stand mode to watch movies. It runs an Intel Core i5 processor and Intel HD Graphics 4400, has 4GB DDR3L, a 128GB SSD, a 720p HD camera, and up to 9 hours of battery life.
The Ativ Tab 3, meanwhile, is the world's thinnest Windows 8 laptop, Samsung said, at just 8.2mm thick. The 10.1in Ativ Tab 3 features a 1,366 x 768 display, and sports the popular Galaxy design. There's an S Pen included, which will be compatible with Microsoft Office. The Windows 8-based Ativ Tab 3 will come pre-loaded with Office Home & Student, and can run Windows apps and programs. The Ativ Tab 3 runs an Intel Atom Z2760 processor, has 2GB LPDDR2, 64GB of eMMC, a 720p HD camera, and up to 10 hours of battery life.
Also on the menu were the Ativ Book 9 Plus and the Ativ One 5 Style, a pair of PCs also running the Windows 8 operating system. We also managed to get our hands on the latest additions to Samsung's Galaxy lineup - the Galaxy S4 Mini, Galaxy S4 Zoom and Galaxy S4 Active, which were officially announced at the event.