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PAKISTAN NEWS:
Chinese names dominate smartphone market in Pakistan in 2020:

The smartphone market has been constantly growing for the past few years in Pakistan. Back in the day, there were only a handful of brands that were popular in the country such as Samsung, Apple, and a few devices from QMobile and Nokia’s Lumia series. Times have changed since then to a point where we now have plenty of new brands with Chinese names dominating the scene. We now have remarkable devices from Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, Infinix, Nokia, Motorola, and Huawei, though Huawei’s sales have been declining due to the omission of Google apps and services caused by the US ban.

Oneplus 9 set to launch in coming year:

One of the highly anticipated Smartphone series set to launch in Q1 2021 is the OnePlus 9. Even though the series is a few months away, there have been several leaks revealing info about the device. The most recent leak, courtesy of the Chinese tipster Digital Chat Station, reveals that all the Smartphones in the series will ditch the periscope lens. This is surprising, especially since the Periscope lens is gaining popularity among OEMs. In terms of functionality, the sensor offers tremendous possibilities and most flagship smartphones come with a periscope lens. This news was first tipped back in November when several CAD-based renders (courtesy of LetsGoDigital) of the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro appeared online.

ZTE Axon 20 5g teardown shows how its in-display camera works:

In August this year, ZTE launched the Axon 20 5G as the world’s first commercially available phone with an in-display camera. Even though the company had explained the process they used, it was still unclear what components were used. In his recent video, Zach Nelson from JerryRigEverything has revealed the complete teardown of the smartphone. The video details the internals of the device and its most exciting component, i.e., the in-display camera.

Oppo unveils reno 5 pro+ featuring flagship specs and 65w fast charging:

Earlier this month, Oppo unveiled its Reno 5 series of upper mid-range phones including the Reno 5 and the Reno 5 Pro in China. Now the company has released the top-end model in the series, the Reno 5 Pro+, which is also the only flagship model in the lineup costing no more than $689. The Reno 5 Pro+ looks nearly identical to the rest of the phones in the series. It has a 6.5-inch AMOLED display with FHD+ resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate. The screen is curved from the sides similar to the Reno 5 Pro and has a punch-hole front camera.

Xiaomi mi 11 launched with a large 6.81-inch amoled screen and triple cameras:

Breaking free from the current trends of the market (launching two or three phones in its flagship series), Xiaomi has made its Mi 11 series official today by launching a single top-end model. Mi 11 is the first Smartphone launched with the latest Snapdragon 888 SoC and features an AMOLED display with QHD+ resolution. The flagship handset comes with a unique design featuring a pill-shaped camera bump on top of a squircle bump. Like most of its products, Xiaomi has followed a minimalistic approach with the smartphone’s design. There is not a lot happening on the phone except for the camera bump.

Ufone ends 2020 by reaffirming commitment to prioritizing customers:

Pakistani telecom operator, Ufone, reiterates its commitment to ensuring the safety, security, and happiness of its customers as it ends the year 2020 on a positive note. Despite the year being particularly tough for businesses with the COVID pandemic affecting companies across the world, the telecom sector stepped up to play a very important role. Ufone lauds the role of its fraternity in connecting people and developing agile strategies promptly to adapt to the new normal during this period.

Samsung unboxes galaxy book flex 2 5g:

Earlier this month, Samsung launched its four new Windows 10 laptops, including the Galaxy Book Flex 2, Galaxy Book Flex 2 5G, Galaxy Book Ion 2, and Notebook Plus 2.Offering us the first look of the new Galaxy Book Flex 2 5G, the company has uploaded a 2-minute-long unboxing video on YouTube followed by another video explaining how to use the new features on the 2-in-1 device. The unboxing video sheds light on all the external features of the device. It shows that the laptop arrives in a minimalistic white box with ‘Samsung’ written on it. The box consists of an AC adaptor, a quick start manual, and an ejection pin.

Xiaomi has not one, but three foldable phones planned for 2021:

Samsung, Huawei, and Motorola have already jumped on the foldable phone bandwagon, however, as of now, Samsung is the undisputed leader in the category. Surprisingly, despite being one of the top Smartphone OEMs, Xiaomi doesn’t have any foldable phone of its own. Nevertheless, according to recent reports, things are going to change soon. Only recently, XDA developers spotted a code in Xiaomi’s MIUI 12 that strongly suggests that its developers are laying the groundwork for a foldable device codenamed Cetus. Folding capabilities are mentioned numerous times in relation to the device’s display.

SCO launches S-Paisa mobile wallet with Alfa mobile app:

Special Communications Organization (SCO) in collaboration with Bank Alfalah (BAFL) announced the launch of S-Paisa Mobile Wallet, offering affordable and convenient mobile money solutions all over Pakistan and in Azad Jammu & Kashmir through a handy mobile wallet in SCO Alfa app.SCO has well-established distribution channels, experience as it exists in Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJ&K) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) over four decades, and through a recent partnership with Bank Alfalah, it has strengthened its mobile financial services footprint.

Samsung Galaxy S21 pre-order reservation is now live in the US:

So far, 2021 is shaping to be an exciting year, at least for the tech industry. Samsung’s Galaxy S21 series is most likely going to be the first flagship series of the year. Even though the company has not unveiled the official launch date, rumors are that the announcement is happening two days after the unveiling of the Exynos 2100, i.e., 14th January. Almost two weeks ahead of its launch, Samsung has opened pre-booking registration for the S21 in the US. Residents can now register for pre-booking, which means they will be notified as soon as pre-bookings are open. US-citizens who are looking to get their hands on the Galaxy S21, S21+, or S21 Ultra will now be able to do so much quicker and faster. Registration can be quickly done via the Samsung shop website or app on the app store and play store.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS:
Health to be on cyber-security’s front line in 2021:

Covid-19 catapulted the health sector to the forefront of cyber-security in 2020, but the next year is likely to see the dangers continue and evolve. Threats from nation states and criminals to the health system are a growing concern. The huge logistical challenge of rolling out vaccines faces the risk of disruption to complex supply chains. And criminal ransomware poses a threat at a time when the pandemic has increased our reliance on technology.

Japan developing wooden satellites to cut space junk:

A Japanese company and Kyoto University have joined forces to develop what they hope will be the world’s first satellites made out of wood by 2023. Sumitomo Forestry said it has started research on tree growth and the use of wood materials in space. The partnership will begin experimenting with different types of wood in extreme environments on Earth. Space junk is becoming an increasing problem as more satellites are launched into the atmosphere. Wooden satellites would burn up without releasing harmful substances into the atmosphere or raining debris on the ground when they plunge back to Earth.

Game of thrones games maker dies ‘after poisoning’:

A Chinese tycoon who died on Christmas Day was poisoned, according to Shanghai police. Lin Qi, 39, was the chairman and chief executive of games developer Yoozoo, best known for the Game of Thrones: Winter Is Coming strategy game. The Shanghai police statement pointed to one of Mr Lin’s colleagues – identified only by his surname Xu — as the main suspect. Mr Lin was believed to have a net worth of around 6.8bn yuan (£960m), according to the Hurun China Rich List. Many employees and ex-employees gathered outside Yoozoo’s office to mourn his death.

What will happen to charges after Brexit?:

Since 2017, UK consumers have, within reason, been able to use the minutes, texts and data included on their mobile phone tariffs when travelling in the EU. The same is true for consumers from other EU countries visiting the UK. There are fair use limits, which mean you can use your mobile phone while travelling in another EU country, but you could not, for example, get a mobile phone contract from Greece and then use it all year round in the UK. Before the rules changed, using a mobile phone in Europe was expensive, with cases of people returning from trips to find bills for hundreds or even thousands of pounds waiting for them.

Hacked firm issues urgent security fix:

Network tools specialist SolarWinds has updated its flagship Orion software, 11 days after revealing a major breach. On 13 December, it disclosed that Orion had been compromised. It was used as a means to penetrate US government networks and companies including Intel. It was later revealed that the product had also been compromised by malware from a suspected second perpetrator, adding a separate backdoor. SolarWinds said industry experts were helping it investigate the attacks. The Texas-based company provides computer network management tools to a wide variety of clients including British accountants Deloitte, US chip-maker Nvidia and the Californian cloud-computer software firm VMWare.

Hackers threaten to leak plastic surgery pictures:

Hackers have stolen the data of a large cosmetic surgery chain and are threatening to publish patients’ before and after photos, among other details. The Hospital Group, which has a long list of celebrity endorsements, has confirmed the ransomware attack. It said it had informed the Information Commissioner of the breach. On its ‘darknet’ webpage, the hacker group known as REvil said the “intimate photos of customers” were “not a completely pleasant sight”. It claimed to have obtained more than 900 gigabytes of patient photographs. The Hospital Group, which is also known as the Transform Hospital Group, claims to be the UK’s leading specialist weight loss and cosmetic surgery group.

Doctor who’s Christmas special to be offered in 4k hdr on iplayer:

The BBC is to screen Doctor Who’s Christmas special in 4K resolution and high dynamic range (HDR) colour via iPlayer. When the programme is broadcast, viewers will be prompted to switch to the higher quality streamed version by pressing the red button.US video platforms including Disney+, Netflix, Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video commonly offer content in this format. But it is more rare on the BBC and Sky. To take advantage of the facility, households will need a compatible TV and a relatively fast internet connection. The BBC recommends a minimum 24 megabits per second (Mbps) connection. By contrast, regular 1080p high definition (HD) programmes require a 6.3Mbps connection, and standard definition (SD) content 1.1Mbps.

Deepmind’s AI agent Muzero could turbocharge youtube:

DeepMind’s latest AI program can attain “superhuman performance” in tasks without needing to be given the rules. Like the research hub’s earlier artificial intelligence agents, MuZero achieved mastery in dozens of old Atari video games, chess, and the Asian board games of Go and Shogi. But unlike its predecessors, it had to work out their rules for itself. It is already being put to practical use to find a new way to encode videos, which could slash YouTube’s costs.”The real world is messy and complicated, and no-one gives us a rulebook for how it works,” DeepMind’s principal research scientist David Silver told the BBC.

Alibaba being investigated by China over monopoly tactics:

Chinese tech giant Alibaba is being investigated by regulators over monopolistic practices. China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) made the announcement, recently. Regulators have previously warned Alibaba about forcing merchants to sign exclusive deals which prevent them from offering products on rival platforms. Financial regulators will also meet with Alibaba’s financial technology offshoot Ant Group in the coming days.

Nuro set to be California’s first driverless delivery service:

California has given the go-ahead for a commercial driverless delivery service for the first time. Robotics start-up Nuro plans to start its driverless delivery operations as early as next year. It previously tested its R2 vehicles in the state in April, but the permit will let it charge people for its service. The firm’s vehicles will be limited to 35mph (56km/h), and will be restricted to operating in “fair weather” conditions. “Issuing the first deployment permit is a significant milestone in the evolution of autonomous vehicles in California,” said California Department of Motor Vehicles director Steve Gordon.

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