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ZTE is in panic mode after US imposes trade ban

MediaTek pledges help but is it enough?

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We’re in the endgame now. After suffering through the turmoil of the past few months, ZTE is now feeling the full force of government intervention.

Since last year, the Chinese-born company has found itself embroiled in a controversy involving US politics. The United States government accused the company of selling its merchandise to Iran, a no-no country for US imports.

Since the accusation, ZTE has pleaded guilty, initially agreeing to fire the erring employees. However, the company has failed to do so. Now, they face a US ban that threatens to eradicate their business for at least seven years, if not forever.

Following up on its warnings, the US has banned ZTE from doing business within the territory, from selling phones to buying parts for them. The company is now in the fallout, enlisting a crisis team to handle the massive issue.

The ban has ensured that ZTE can’t rely on Qualcomm, Dolby, and Google products anymore. They have yet to find adequate replacements. However, the Taiwan-based MediaTek has already secured a permit to supply the company with fresh parts to replace Qualcomm.

For a finnicky industry when it comes to specs, getting new parts isn’t as easy as a 1-2-switch. For example, ZTE’s premium handsets rely on Qualcomm’s more powerful chops. Further, a switch from Qualcomm to MediaTek heavily affects public perception.

Currently, ZTE is in negotiations with the US government to reverse the ban. They have also requested US telcos to retain stock space for them, should the ban be reversed.

However, the future remains bleak for the tech company. Without US sales or parts, the company has halted to a standstill. While they can still sell to other countries, the withdrawal of US parts has taken their toll on ZTE’s sales.

According to some reports, employees are left without things to do, despite still reporting to work. ZTE officials, however, are requesting their employees to maintain a state of calm amid affairs.

ZTE maintains that they have enough cash to remain in business in the meantime. However, if they don’t find resolution to this issue, ZTE might find itself on the chopping block of failed smartphone brands.

SEE ALSO: ZTE’s new concept phone has two notches

News

Xiaomi partners up with Alita: Battle Angel for a transparent Mi 9

This used to be the ‘Pro’ variant

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Image credit: Xiaomi

The launch of the Mi 9 from Xiaomi is around the corner, but that doesn’t mean we’ll just wait for the official announcement. We’ve heard rumors about a Mi 9 model with a transparent back like the Mi 8 Pro from last year. Well, the rumors are true and it’s more special than before.

An official teaser for the special edition Mi 9 appeared online today and it brings the blockbuster film Alita: Battle Angel to the picture. Xiaomi partnered up with the film to present the Mi 9: Battle Angel.

Check out the action-packed promotional video below:

The teaser shows the main features of the transparent Mi 9: triple rear cameras, a Snapdragon processor (which is already confirmed), and wireless charging.

Since the Mi 9: Battle Angel will have a transparent back like the Mi 8 Pro’s, it also has a window to its awesome-looking circuit board, but it’s likely not the actual thing. What’s more interesting is the visible wireless charging coil right in the middle of the battery.

The phone will be launched alongside the other Mi 9 variants on February 20. Essentially, the Mi 9: Battle Angel model will be a marketing ploy in China since the movie will hit the theaters in the region two days after the launch.

Price-wise, the phone is rumored to cost CNY 5,999 or roughly US$ 885.

SEE ALSO: What could the new unicorn Xiaomi Mi 9 be called?

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Gaming

TNC Predator, Afreeca Freecs Fatal win Predator League APAC 2019

For Dota 2 and PUBG, respectively

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After three long days of battle in Bangkok, Thailand from February 15 to 17, two champions have emerged from the two featured games of the Predator League in Asia Pacific 2019.

For Dota 2, it’s TNC Predator from the Philippines; and for PUBG, the champ is none other than Afreeca Freecs Fatal from South Korea.

Their winnings come from a prize pool worth US$ 250,000. Each champion receives US$ 75,000 for their efforts, while the runners-up split the remaining pot.

The grand event concluded after over 3,500 competing teams from 16 countries were eventually reduced to only 26 groups in Bangkok for the finals.

This was the Predator League’s second event in the APAC region. In 2018, it was held in Indonesia. Next year’s event will take place in the Philippines.

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Cameras

Fujifilm X-T30 is a lightweight 4K mirrorless camera

Cheaper version of the X-T3

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Image credit: Fujifilm

After Canon‘s announcement of the new EOS RP, it’s now Fujifilm‘s turn to present their latest offering: the X-T30. Fuji’s new mirrorless interchangeable camera is the successor to 2017’s X-T20.

The X-T30 is positioned to be a cheaper variant of the flagship X-T3 camera, but they actually share many common features and specs. It’s got a compact and lightweight body at just 383g which looks similar to the premium model, but with some minor changes at the back. It’s got a focus joystick instead of a d-pad, but retains the touchscreen.

Speaking of, it’s a 2-way tilting LCD panel with 1.04 million dots. The EVF, on the other hand, is a 2.36-million-dot OLED color viewfinder with a near 100 percent coverage area.

Image credit: Fujifilm

Inside the camera is a 26.1-megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor with an ISO range of 160 to 12800, which is expandable up to 51200, and backed by an X-Processor 4. With this, the X-T30 can shoot 30fps at 1.25x crop and 20fps without a crop using the electronic shutter. If you wish to use the mechanical shutter, the speed will be reduced to 8fps.

It has a hybrid AF system with 100 percent phase-detect AF, face detection, and eye tracking. Autofocus is also improved even in low-light. Focusing can be selected either through the touchscreen or joystick.

When it comes to video, the camera can shoot 4K at 30fps and up to 120fps when downscaled to 1080p. It’s capable of 10-bit recording and 4:2:2 DCI 4K video through the HDMI port. Fujifilm’s Film Simulation modes are also available.

The Fujifilm X-T30 will be available in March starting at US$ 899 for the body only. It’ll go up to US$ 999 when bundled with an XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS lens, or US$ 1,299 when bundled with an 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens.

SEE ALSO: Fujifilm Instax SQ20 hands-on: How good is it?

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