Electronics


iPhone 13 mini seems to be the least favorite model of the latest Apple smartphone lineup, accounting for only 5 percent of total pre-orders in Vietnam.

The most favored is iPhone 13 Pro Max with 70 percent pre-orders, followed by iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro, each 12.5 percent, according to data from retail chains.

But the iPhone 13 mini, the smallest and cheapest of the lineup, is set to see shortages due to a lack of supply.

For retail chain CellPhoneS, only 2 percent of its iPhone 13 imports are mini.

“We might only meet 50 percent of customer demand,” said spokesperson Nguyen Lac Huy.

The unofficial market, where buyers pick up the phone in Singapore and Hong Kong and bring them back to Vietnam, does not seem to have a lot of supply for iPhone 13 mini either.

“We only imported a small number as there is almost no demand from customers,” said a smartphone vendor in downtown Hanoi.

Last year, the iPhone 12 mini was also the least favorite. Many stores had to repeatedly lower prices to get rid of their inventory.

The four models of the iPhone 13 line is set to be officially delivered to Vietnam starting Oct. 22.

Microsoft could be working on its own chips for future Surface devices, a LinkedIn job listing suggests. It reveals that the company is looking for a Director of SoC Architecture.

Although the LinkedIn post by no means proves that Microsoft is working on a custom chip, it’s appearance roughly coincides with a rumor about Microsoft and AMD’s collaboration on an Arm processor for laptops. Apparently, it will lead to better graphics performance than Qualcomm silicon manufactured on older architecture. Per that report, the chip will use last year’s Cortex-X1 core and mRDNA 2 GPU, and it will feature an Exynos modem for 5G connectivity.

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Bloomberg said back in December 2020 that Microsoft was working on in-house chip designs for server computers that run its cloud service and was also exploring a chip for powering some of its Surface computers. At that time, the chip design unit was allegedly reporting to the head of the Azure cloud business, and not Surface boss Panos Panay.

Microsoft has seemingly also poached processor engineers from Intel, AMD, Nvidia, and Qualcomm.

The Surface Pro X that was announced in October 2019 is fueled by a custom chip known as the Microsoft SQ1 that the company jointly developed with Qualcomm.

An in-house chip will help Microsoft reduce its reliance on third-party vendors and it will also give it greater control over performance and costs.

This is something some of its industry peers are already doing. Apple is highly likely to announce its second-generation Arm-based chip tomorrow for the new Macs and possibly next year’s iPad Pros. Google has also made an in-house chip for its 2021 flagship smartphones.

The chip shortage is now having an impact on Apple’s iPhone 13 series. Those knowledgeable about what is going on inside Apple’s camp say that the company will cut its production targets for this year by as many as 10 million units reducing the number of handsets made this year to 80 million from the original target of 90 million. Both Broadcom and Texas Instruments are the chipmakers who aren’t able to deliver the number of components they promised to Apple according to anonymous sources.

Texas Instruments supplies Apple with chips for its displays and one chip that has become hard to find powers the OLED panels on iPhone models. Broadcom produces wireless components for the iPhone. Lead times in the chip industry, which measures how long it takes a manufacturer ordering chips to receive them, is at a record-setting 21.7 weeks compared to nearly 12 weeks at the same time last year.

Broadcom is fabless which means that it relies on independent foundries like TSMC to manufacture its semiconductors. While Texas Instruments does make some chips itself, it also relies on TSMC to produce some of its chip designs. This means that both must scramble to get their semiconductors made by TSMC and since Apple is the end-user of these components, Apple is the company that is getting the brunt of the shortage.

Apple already has been able to sidestep price hikes of as high as 20% instituted by TSMC. As the latter’s largest customer, Apple was able to get away with only a 3% price increase while also avoiding getting hit by the shortage. But even Apple now can’t escape what is happening around the world.

Once again, what brought on the shortage were car manufacturers who early last year figured that their new car business was dead meat in the wake of the pandemic. So they cut back on ordering chips and when demand for new cars turned out to be much better than expected, automakers backed up their trucks to take as many chips as they could buy. This shortage could continue next year and might not run its course for some time.

New orders for the iPhone 13 series made through Apple’s website will not be delivered until November in some cases and if you want to pick up your new handset at an Apple Store, you’re out of luck. The phones are “currently unavailable” for Apple Store pick up. And today’s report says that Apple’s carrier partners are also seeing delays in receiving new iPhone shipments.

What is at stake here is Apple’s fiscal first-quarter of 2022, which is known as the holiday quarter since it includes Chanukah and Christmas. The company is expected to take in $120 billion in revenue during this year’s holiday quarter, up 7% from last year’s fiscal first-quarter revenue. Interestingly, a decade ago the $120 billion would be more than a complete year’s worth of revenue for Apple.

Both the U.S. and China would love to become self-sufficient when it comes to semiconductors. The U.S. has made this rather tough for China by not allowing a Dutch company named ASML from shipping a $150 million machine called extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machine to China’s top foundry, SMIC. The EUV machine is used to print circuit designs on wafers that are eventually cut into individual chips.

With billions of transistors used on semiconductors like the A15 Bionic (which has 15 billion transistors stuffed inside it), etching circuit patterns require a machine that can etch an extremely thin line on the wafer and that is what the EUV machine does. ASML is working on its next-generation EUV that it says will allow foundries to build more powerful and energy-efficient chips over the next decade.

Units of electronics manufacturing giants Intel and Samsung are set to fully resume operations by the end of November after months of social distancing-triggered production disruption.

Saigon Hi-Tech Park is helping its tenants, many of which are currently running at about 70 percent capacity, to resume full operations next month, the park’s deputy manager Le Bich Loan said in an interview.

The park is home to Samsung, Intel, and Nidec Sankyo Corp, a maker of magnetic card readers and micromotors.

Nidec is also looking to resume full capacity by the end of next month, according to Saigon Giai Phong.

Many companies operating in Saigon Hi-Tech Park lost about 20 percent of their export orders in July and August, Loan said.

In the last several months HCMC has been imposing various levels of social distancing, which restricted the operation of factories.

When Apple decided to use its own “Apple Silicon” on Macs replacing Intel processors, Intel was not happy. Today, Intel got back at Apple by posting a series of videos showing how Apple fans can be tricked into thinking that innovations created by Intel were discovered by Apple. In the first video called Breaking the Spell, a moderator named Kevin meets with Apple fans (“I’m an Apple girl in an Apple World,” says one) for some one-on-one discussions.

Kevin has these Apple fans watch a video that they believe is about to show off a new Apple product. The video shows a chip called CPU Pro and on the screen, the video says, “Systems you can customize,” “Laptops you can upgrade,” and “Now you’re in control.” The Apple fans watching the video shake their heads up and down. This is what they have all been wanting.

The moderator captures the attention of the Apple fans by asking them whether they would be interested in a device that plays over 57,000 different games effortlessly. He then shows an animation of a laptop with two 4K touchscreens. And if the laptop could fold into a tablet, that would be even better, the Apple fans said. “I would like to have my iPad and my laptop combined,” said one.

Kevin goes out of the room and brings back a two-in-one laptop/tablet. “That kind of eliminates the need of an iPad,” one Apple fan says. The moderator then asks, “What if I told you that everything we’ve been talking about today is available now?” But Kevin then reveals, “But this was not Apple. That is a PC powered by Intel.”

When the group hears that it was Intel, not Apple, that was behind the device that had just seen, they are stunned. Some laughed, others said, “Really” in disbelief. Several were ready to whip out their credit cards right away. The tag line: “When you break Apple’s spell the choice becomes clear.”

Intel released the video on Monday and titled it a social experiment. You might recall that Apple was about to use a new 5G modem chip developed by Intel until it reached a settlement wiping out litigation between Apple and Qualcomm. As a result, Apple is able to stuff Qualcomm’s 5G modem chip inside both the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 series. Eventually, though, Apple plans on designing its own 5G modem chips.

In July 2019, Apple purchased most of Intel’s smartphone modem chip business for a cool billion dollars. And this past summer, roughly two years after it bought Intel’s smartphone modem chip operations, prescient TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that by as early as 2023, Apple might be ready to use its own 5G modem chip for the handsets that would make up the iPhone 15 line.

Losing this business would be a terrible blow to the pocketbook for Qualcomm since the latter cannot make up for the loss of this business by designing Apple’s AP chips. Apple does that itself while having the chipset built by TSMC. Kuo said that Qualcomm might be forced to enter new markets in order to compensate for losing Apple’s 5G modem chip business for the iPhone.

Even if Apple does start including a 5G modem chip that it designed itself with the iPhone 15, some older models that could still be in production would continue to use Qualcomm’s 5G modem chips. If for some reason you are unaware, Apple started offering 5G connectivity on the iPhone with the 2020 iPhone 12 series.

This year, Apple started replacing Intel processors on Macs with the M1. This is a powerful chip designed by Apple and is built by TSMC using the 5nm process node. It contains a whopping 16 billion transistors.

Counterpoint Researc has lowered its estimate of global smartphone deliveries this year. Shipments of the device were originally forecast to hit 1.45 billion units in 2021 for a 9% annual gain, but thanks to the chip shortage Counterpoint has cut its estimate for this year to 1.41 billion smartphones shipped for a 6% growth rate year-over-year. The shortage of semiconductors started to be an issue during last year’s fourth quarter and it has continued since.

Inventories of chips held by manufacturers are now scraping the bottom of the barrels and many manufacturers have said that during the second quarter, they received only 80% of the number of components ordered. And to make matters worse, things were worse during the just-completed third quarter of the year with some firms receiving only 70% of the number of components ordered.

Counterpoint Research claims that 90% of the smartphone industry is affected by the shortage. Even though components like the Display Driver IC (DDI), the main semiconductor used on smartphone displays, and power management integrated circuits (PMIC) have both been in short supply, advanced planning helped the smartphone industry continue to grow. Additionally, hoarding of Application Processors (AP) and camera sensors have allowed smartphone manufacturers to continue showing growth.

The Application Processor (AP) is just a fancy term for what we usually refer to as the chipset used on a phone. For example, the AP used with the iPhone 13 series is the A15 Bionic. Counterpoint blames the shortage of AP chips on low yield rates tallied by new assembly lines churning out chips in fabrication facilities owned by the foundries. Qualcomm and Mediatek, two of the top AP vendors for the smartphone industry, rely on Samsung and TSMC respectively to build the chips Application Processors sold to phone manufacturers and low yields add to the chip shortage.

Tom Kang, Research Director at Counterpoint Research, stated, “the semiconductor shortage seems to affect all brands in the ecosystems. Samsung, Oppo, Xiaomi have all been affected and we are lowering our forecasts. But Apple seems to be the most resilient and least affected by the AP shortage situation.” While Counterpoint didn’t explain why Apple was able to get off the hook, the answer is pretty easy to understand.

As the largest customer of the world’s largest foundry, Apple surely gets special treatment from TSMC. It’s not just about supply. For example, starting in January, TSMC will hike its prices by 20% but Apple will see just a 3% rise in the price it pays TSMC for its chips. Apple accounts for over 20% of TSMC’s revenue, but less than 20% of its profits.

Apple is being negatively impacted by TSMC’s announcement weeks ago stating that the 3nm process node, which was to be used to produce the A16 Bionic for next year, is too complex and will be delayed until the A17 Bionic for the iPhone 15 series. This could mean billions of fewer transistors will be packed inside the A16 Bionic resulting in a smaller improvement in performance and energy efficiency for the iPhone 14 line.

So to reiterate, the 2022 A16 Bionic will be made using the 4nm process node and if the issues related to the complexity of the 3nm process node are ironed out in time, the A17 Bionic will possibly be the first 3nm chipset to power a smartphone.

Apple fans are hoping that the company works on the A16 Bionic’s CPU. The CPU on the A15 Bionic showed very little improvement compared to the A14 Bionic as Apple faced an exodus of engineers from its unit that designs semiconductors.

The transistor count on the A15 Bionic rose 27% to 15 billion compared to the 11.8 billion on the A14 Bionic, and the 8.5 billion transistors carried by the A13 Bionic. More telling was the transistor density on the A15 Bionic, which measures the number of transistors that fit inside a square mm. That metric rose to 135.14 million from 134.09 million the previous year.

While the iPhone has avoided getting hit by the chip shortage, Apple did admit that the iPad and the Mac were hurt during the company’s fiscal third quarter which ended in June. Following the earnings report, Tim Cook told the media during the conference call that “The shortage primarily affected Mac and iPad. We had predicted the shortages to total $3 to $4 billion. But we were actually able to mitigate some of that, and we came in at the low-end part of that range.”

Among other manufacturers that had to make adjustments due to the chip shortage, Google was forced to limit the release of its Pixel 5a mid-ranger to the U.S. and Japan. We won’t know whether Google will have to stagger the release of the Pixel 6 series until it officially announces the new line possibly later this month.

Samsung has started removing ads from its first-party apps. The company held a ‘town hall meeting’ back in August at which time we quoted Samsung’s mobile chief TM Roh who said, “We decided to delete ads from basic apps such as Weather, Samsung Pay, and Samsung Themes.” Samsung eventually released an official statement confirming the removal of the ads.

The new versions of these apps sans advertisements were first spotted by Samsung customers in South Korea who posted the news in the company’s Community Forum. A comment from a Samsung executive announced that the ads were removed from the Health app on October 1st. The executive said, “This is the Samsung Health Operation Manager. Please note that the banner at the top of the Samsung Health app will not be provided from October 1.

Even though Samsung has only confirmed that it was removing ads from the aforementioned first-party apps in its home country of South Korea, U.S. users have also seen ads disappear from these apps as well. Banner ads have been removed from Samsung Pay, the previously mentioned Health app (which used to show advertisements for Samsung’s line of smartwatches along with workout tips), and the Weather and Theme apps. For example, the Weather app has replaced the banner ads it used to show at the top of the screen with the temperature and forecast.

It should be pointed out that while the banner ads are no longer seen on the Samsung Pay app, there is still a “Featured section” that includes offers. But that is in line with the app’s use as a mobile payment system. If the ads do not disappear from the first-party apps on your Samsung handset, you might need to “force stop” them to remove them from these apps.

To force stop the app on your Samsung device, go to Settings > Apps and scroll to find the name of the app that you want to stop. Tap on the name of the app and tap on “Force stop” located in the bottom right corner. A pop-up menu will appear stating that if you stop the app, errors could occur. Tap on “OK.” Reopen the app and the ads should be gone.

Samsung is not the only smartphone manufacture to include ads. Xiaomi and Oppo are two such companies to include them with their UI. But Samsung was hearing from customers who didn’t want to shell out $1,800 for a premium phone like the Galaxy Z Fold 3 only to feel that Samsung was trying to convince them to spend more money on their products. The removal of the ads is taking place via a server-side update which means you should not expect a new update to be sent your way OTA.

While Samsung offers other first-party apps, the firm has yet to announce that ads will be dropped from these titles as well. Still, it would be a good look for Samsung if it were to finish the job and offer all of its own apps without ads on a global basis. Some Samsung customers also noted how cluttered first-party apps look with the ads included.

At the time Samsung announced back in August its plan to drop the ads from the four basic first-party apps, the company said, “Our priority is to deliver innovative mobile experiences for our consumers based on their needs and wants. We value feedback from our users and continue our commitment to provide them with the best possible experience from our Galaxy products and services.”

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is close to finalizing the construction of a $17 billion semiconductor factory in Williamson County in the U.S. state of Texas, three people with knowledge of the matter said. Samsung told Reuters that it is continuing due diligence in multiple locations and that it has yet to make a decision. The factory will make advanced logic semiconductor chips and is likely to create about 1,800 jobs, Samsung previously said in filings to state officials.

One of the people said though no decision has been made, the Austin suburb of Williamson County is the frontrunner due to the subsidies on offer as well as the likelihood of stable sources of electricity and water. A winter storm shut down at Samsung’s existing chip plant in Austin during the first quarter caused the equivalent of 300 billion to 400 billion won ($254 million to $339 million) of damage to wafer production.

All three people declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak with the media. Samsung previously said it would start construction on the new 6-million-square-foot (557,418-sq-meter) plant in January, with production up and running by the end of 2024. The plan comes at a time when the global auto industry faces a significant semiconductor shortage.

“With the United States turning semiconductors into a strategic material, it is becoming a risk to be concentrated only in Asia,” said Park Sung-soon, an analyst at Seoul-based Cape Investment Securities. “Samsung wants to be on the ground in the U.S.”

In the global chip contract manufacturing industry, Samsung is second to TSMC which had 52.9% of market share compared to Samsung’s 17.3% as of end-June, according to analysis provider TrendForce.

Samsung is making its Galaxy devices even more useful than they are right now with the addition of a new feature that will turn them into digital car keys. Thanks to the revolutionary UWB technology, Samsung Galaxy users will be able to unlock, lock, and start their cars using their smartphones.

UWB is a short-range, wireless communication protocol that uses radio waves to function, similar to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Unlike these two though, UWB sends radio wave at a much higher frequency, enabling highly accurate spatial awareness and directional capabilities that allow smartphones to correctly understand their surroundings better.

More importantly, UWB enables passive entry, which means you’ll be able to lock and unlock your car, start the engine, open the trunk and even activate your personalized settings through your smartphone. The digital key can be shared if you’re lending your car to a friend, and you can even set a time limit on how long the shared key will work.

Initially, Samsung’s digital key will be available in NFC and UWB with the Genesis V60 luxury electric vehicle in South Korea by the end of the year. Also, the smartphone maker announced that the UWB digital key is compatible with Galaxy S21+ and Ultra, Note 20 Ultra and Z Fold 2 and 3.

The delay in iPhone 13 parts manufacturing in Vietnam is set to improve in mid-October as one key facility could resume production after months of Covid-19 disruption.

The facility in southern Vietnam, a key iPhone camera module manufacturing facility in the country, has gradually resumed production in recent days, an executive familiar with the situation said.

The delay in making the new sensor-shift optical image stabilization module is causing buyers of iPhone 13 to face longer delivery times, it said.

“There’s nothing we can do but to monitor the situation in Vietnam every day and wait for them to ramp up the output,” one of the executives with direct knowledge told the news outlet.

The module is used on all four new iPhone 13 models. Previously, it was only in the premium iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Vietnam has suffered severe Covid-19 impacts in the fourth wave, resulting in strict restrictions being imposed on factories and transportation in many localities, especially in HCMC and neighboring Binh Duong Province.

Some of Apple’s iPhone contract manufacturers in China have had to shut down for a few days because of new regulations related to the use of energy in the country. This doesn’t sound like good news for Apple especially when it has backorders of iPhone 13 units to fill. The good news is that not all of Apple’s suppliers are affected and those that are have cut back on their jobs for other companies instead of Apple.

Still, factories churning out parts like speakers and motherboards will have to shut down for a few days. Because of a shortage of coal, tougher standards related to emissions, and strong demand from manufacturers, coal prices have surged hitting records and forcing users to ration energy. Analysts studying China’s economy say that the reduction in production due to the power shortage is resulting in a drag on the country’s economic growth.

The energy shortage has affected factories in China’s key industrial regions and besides Apple, Tesla suppliers have also had to stop their assembly lines. 15 companies in the country have had production interrupted by the new regulations, and over 30 such firms listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange have had to stop production to comply with new limits on the use of power.

Nomura Securities says, “The power-supply shock in the world’s second-biggest economy and the biggest manufacturer will ripple through and impact global markets.” China says that it aims to start bringing down carbon emissions following a peak in 2030, dropping down to net-zero by 2060.

The company that makes motherboards for the iPhone, Unimicron Technology Group, closed three of its subsidiaries starting at noon on September 26 to midnight on September 30. A spokesperson for Unimicron attributed the shutdown to the firm’s effort to “comply with the local government’s electricity limiting policy.” The spokesperson added that production lost by the shutdown will be made up with products sourced from its other facilities.

Concraft Holding makes speakers for the iPhone and during the five-day period during which it will be shut down to conserve energy, it will use inventory to meet demand. As for Foxconn, Apple’s largest assembler of iPhone handsets, sources unnamed by Reuters said that the impact on the manufacturer has been limited to the production of non-
Apple products like notebook computers. In addition, Foxconn moved some scheduled production to October and made the necessary adjustments with its staff.

Outside of those changes, Foxconn states that it hasn’t seen any impact at any other production centers throughout China. The Chinese government wants to see to see the growth in electricity use come in lower than GDP. But in the first half of this year, electricity use rose 16.2% compared to GDP growth of 12.7% during the same time period.
Eson Precision Industry Co, a Foxconn affiliate, has suspended production from Sunday to Friday and the world’s top foundry, TSMC, says that there will be no impact from the power shortage on the company’s business. Another Taiwan-based chipmaker, United Microelectronics, who counts Qualcomm among its customers, also said that it has experienced no impact from the new power regulations in China. UMC said that its “Hejian fab in Suzhou is currently running at full capacity utilization of 80,000 plus wafers per month.”

Larry Hu, chief China economist at Macquarie Group, says, “This is largely a self-inflicted supply shock. It’s clear by now that Beijing is willing to sacrifice higher growth this year in exchange for structural reforms in some areas.”

Surprise surprise, Apple Store employees will receive a hefty $1000 bonus this year. The good news for Apple employees was first reported by Bloomberg. Those who joined the company before March of this year will receive a $1000 bonus. Newer employees will receive $500, which is still a pretty good sum. This information comes from reliable sources of both Bloomberg and 9to5Mac.

“The bonuses will be an unusual perk since Apple rarely gives companywide payouts. The last major one was $2,500 worth of restricted stock units in 2018. That bonus followed tax changes allowing Apple to bring back cash from offshore accounts at a lower cost. The new bonuses will be issued via cash in paychecks, rather than as stock units, the people said.”

Apple Store staff won’t be the only one to get a nice bonus this year. AppleCare and online sales employees are getting one grand as well, which means the company is serious about keeping its customer service happy.

9to5Mac states that the reason the Cupertino company gives such bonuses is that it wants to retain its existing employees before and during the holiday season. As most of you know, the iPhone 13 series is the company’s biggest upcoming release, and it is set to be a big one. This means that Apple will need all the labor force it has to keep its customers happy.

Plenty of stuff if you ask us. The first thing that comes to mind is buying a new iPhone 13 device. Yes, the iPhone 13 Pro Max costs more, but Apple staff can always go for the $999 iPhone 13 Pro or the even less expensive iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini.

Apple CEO Tim Cook once again made it clear that he is not happy with those who work at Apple and have a side hustle selling leaked information to those who pass these secrets on to Twitter tipsters and others. Cook wrote an email to employees last week and naturally, that missive leaked. Cook said in the email that Apple is doing “everything in our power to identify those who leaked” and he also stated that “people who leak confidential information do not belong” at Apple.

Cook was upset to see details of a global employee meeting, held last Friday, September 17th, leak. During the internal meeting, the executive announced that Apple would demand frequent COVID testing for Apple employees who have yet to receive a vaccination, but that the company would not force workers to get the jab. He also was not happy that details of his response to the judge’s ruling in the Epic v. Apple bench trial were leaked.

Cook wrote in his letter, “I want you to know that I share your frustration. These opportunities to connect as a team are really important. But they only work if we can trust that the content will stay within Apple. I want to reassure you that we are doing everything in our power to identify those who leaked. As you know, we do not tolerate disclosures of confidential information, whether it’s product IP or the details of a confidential meeting. We know that the leakers constitute a small number of people. We also know that people who leak confidential information do not belong here.”

The executive added, “As we look forward, I want to thank you for all you’ve done to make our products a reality and all you will do to get them into customers’ hands. Yesterday we released iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and watchOS 8, and Friday marks the moment when we share some of our incredible new products with the world. There’s nothing better than that. We’ll continue to measure our contributions in the lives we change, the connections we foster, and the work we do to leave the world a better place.”

Earlier this year, in an effort to stop leaks, Apple instructed its manufacturing partners Foxconn and Wistron, to conduct criminal background tests on all assembly line workers. Those found to have a criminal background would be banned from entering areas where unreleased Apple products are being developed and assembled. Additionally, all visitors to these factories must flash a government-issued ID, and guards must keep tabs on the movement of factory workers with possession of important components and products.

There is a bit of inconsistency involved here. While Apple is promoting the privacy of its own employees by restricting the biometric information (like fingerprints) that Foxconn and Wistron can collect from Apple employees visiting these facilities, it still wants its manufacturing partners to collect this data from its own employees.

The report that Apple held an internal meeting about leaks which itself leaked might have led you to experience deja vu. That’s because back in 2017 the company held an internal seminar called “Stopping Leakers – Keeping Confidential at Apple.” It was hosted by employees from Apple’s Global Security division. As you might have guessed, the seminar leaked.

Arguably, the worse year for Apple iPhone leaks came in 2013 when images of the different colored rear shells for the more affordable iPhone 5c leaked. Many of these iPhone 5c leaks were traced to Australia’s Sonny Dickson, who at the time was a teenager.

In 2017, Dickson told Reuters that he had 5 to 10 sources inside China who purchased prototype parts from assembly line workers paying $250-$500 a pop. The sources sent him videos of the parts and sometimes they sent him the parts themselves.

Two Korean technology giants are seeking to hire thousands of people in Vietnam, including workers, engineers and IT staff. In September, Samsung announced it is looking to hire 1,000 production staff for its Bac Ninh factory. A month earlier it said it wanted to recruit 3,000 workers for its Thai Nguyen plant.

The company plans to expand operations at the former to increase production of flagship phones Z Fold and Z Flip to 25 million units a year.

It is also looking to recruit thousands of employees to work in R&D. It is building a $220-million R&D center in Hanoi with 2,200 – 3,000 researchers and other staff, and plans to open it in 2022.

LG’s factory in Hai Phong is also hiring new laborers, including IT and R&D engineers.

It is offering VND9,5-13 million for a technician’s position. The LG Display factory in Hai Phong also announced that it is in need of 5,000 more production workers.

Due to Covid-19, the recruitment is only in Hai Phong and candidates from elsewhere cannot apply this time, an HR official said.

LG has three large factories in Hai Phong, mainly producing phones, TVs, air conditioners, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, and refrigerators.

Samsung has six production facilities in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Bac Ninh and Thai Nguyen provinces that make handheld devices and home electronics, and employ more than 160,000 workers.

Samsung is set to expand its plant in the northern province of Bac Ninh this year to increase its production capacity of foldable devices.

The company would kick off the expansion project within the second half of this year, targeting full operation by the end of 2021 or early next year at the latest.

This is to increase Samsung’s annual production capacity of foldables by 47 percent from the current 17 million to 25 million.

Experts say once Samsung completes the expansion, the company would be able to produce 10 million units of Galaxy Z Fold models and 15 million units of Z Flip models a year.

Samsung’s decision to ramp up capacity is mainly driven by soaring market demand. Its third-generation foldable models recorded 920,000 pre-orders in South Korea, 1.8 times more than its latest smartphone Galaxy S21, the report stated.

“Samsung’s factories that make foldable devices are already operating at full capacity. Samsung has no option but to expand its facilities,” a source told the newspaper.

It will likely add three more production lines to its current seven, which would allow the company to manage the production volume more flexibly, the source added.

Samsung, the biggest foreign investor in Vietnam, has six plants and is building a new research and development center in Hanoi, which would open next year. Around 3,000 Vietnamese engineers are set to be employed there.

The South Korean company has invested over $17.7 billion in Vietnam, has 110,000 employees and exported over $56 billion worth of products last year.

Apple today previewed Apple Changsha, the first Apple Store in Hunan province. Situated in the heart of the provincial capital city, Apple Changsha’s location provides easy access for customers across central China.

“We are thrilled to be opening in Changsha, a community filled with creativity and profound cultural heritage,” said Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s senior vice president of Retail + People. “So many of our team members already call Hunan province home, and they are ready to welcome and support their neighborhood at Apple Changsha.”

The new store is located in the popular Changsha IFS shopping mall and faces the bustling Huangxing Road, one of the top urban attractions in the city. Visitors entering the store from outside will encounter the uniquely designed double-height façade, which features a completely new gradient frit and mirrored coating treatment that blurs the transition from top to bottom and shifts in appearance during different times of day or seasons. The all-new glass façade was sustainably manufactured in Tianjin, China, and is the first Apple Store in the world to utilize this façade technique.

From the interior mall entrance, customers will immediately come across the Forum and the freestanding video wall, home to Today at Apple sessions. Led by Apple Creative Pros, free daily sessions provide creative inspiration, teach practical skills, and help customers learn how to go further with their Apple products. To celebrate the grand opening, Creative Pros will host the exclusively tailored Today at Apple session “Art Walk: Discover the Colors of Changsha” beginning September 5, giving customers an opportunity to explore the city and capture its vibrant colors on iPad Pro. Visitors are able to register for the session today at apple.com.cn/today/event/art-walk-discover-the-colors-of-changsha.

Surrounding the Forum are display tables and avenues, where customers can explore curated Apple products and accessories or receive personal technical support from Geniuses. Throughout the store, customers can get shopping help from Apple Specialists and learn more about monthly financing options, Apple’s trade-in program, or try the newly launched Apple Pickup service.

The new store includes nearly 100 highly trained retail team members, who collectively speak many languages including Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean, and French.

Apple Changsha opens Saturday, September 4, at 10 a.m. CST in China. The store will open with the same health measures for both retail team members and visitors as seen in all Apple Store locations across China, including a mask requirement, temperature checks, and social distancing.

Demonstrated at the Smart China Expo 2021, Oppo’s magnetic wireless charging system is called MagVOOC and consists of two adapters, one of which supports 20W speeds while the other supports 40W charging.

The 40W charger resembles a typical wireless charging stand. If you don’t have a compatible MagVOOC smartphone from Oppo, it’ll work over the Qi charging standard at speeds of up to 15W.

The smaller 20W charger, on the other hand, looks a lot like Apple’s MagSafe charger. Like the bigger charger, it supports Qi charging too, though this time speeds are limited to 10W.

In addition to those products, Oppo showcased a dedicated 20W MagVOOC Power Bank that includes a 4,500mAh battery. Again, it includes Qi charging support with the aim of being compatible with wireless earphones and smartwatches.

It’s unclear when Oppo will release its newly announced MagVOOC products to the public, but if the brand is already willing to demonstrate them in full, a launch shouldn’t be too far off.

Back in 2011 Xiaomi launched the Mi 1 in China, and thus entered the increasingly competitive smartphone market, eventually overtaking goliaths such as Apple and Samsung, at least according to some research agencies.

The successful Chinese phone maker is offering a reward to some of its first customers – those who bought the aforementioned Xiaomi Mi 1 ten years ago.

According to Xiaomi, its first Android phone sold 184,600 units, so if we imagine that all of those who bought a Mi 1 are eligible and request the refund, that equates to about $57 million in refunds, or around $309 for each person.

Of course, Xiaomi’s first users were all in China and conditions are sure to apply, plus it’s likely that the refunds are in the form of store credit. But in any case, this is a fun way for Xiaomi to acknowledge and thank the people who invested in the then-young company with their trust and hard-earned money.

And what’s the successful company up to now? From its humble beginning with the Mi 1, running Android 3 on one gigabyte of RAM, the Chinese company’s most recent flagship is the Mi 11 Ultra, which we reviewed earlier this year and found to be solid.

Also, recent Xiaomi Mi 12 spec rumors hint that Xiaomi’s next premium smartphone will be quite a flagship killer, possibly boasting a 200-megapixel camera and supporting wireless charging of up to 100 watts.

If you’re a fan of Xiaomi, you may also want to check out our list of the best Xiaomi phones to check out in 2021.

Shenzhen-headquartered drone maker DJI is to close its Hong Kong flagship store in Causeway Bay – but the company says the move is unrelated to strict new laws restricting drone use in the territory.

The three-story, 930sqm store, which displays the brand’s range of aerial and handheld devices and includes a space where people can carry out test flights, will close from next Monday.

A sign affixed to the storefront says DJI remains committed to its customers and partners in Hong Kong and elsewhere in the world and that the company would continue to develop the industry’s most advanced drones and creative camera technology.

Responding to an inquiry from the South China Morning Post, a DJI spokesperson said the flagship’s closure reflected the company’s evolving needs and had “no connection” with the new regulations requiring drone operators to be trained and licensed to fly the devices. That law takes effect next June.

After the store’s closure, the company’s drones will remain on sale online and through authorized dealers.

DJI opened the store in September 2016. At the time it was the brand’s third retail store, following one in Shenzhen and another in Seoul.

A flight cage on the ground floor showcases drones in action and a SkyPixel Gallery on the first floor features international aerial photography. A technical support center and space for workshops, seminars, and special events are located on the second floor.

Under the new Hong Kong law, drones weighing between 250gm and 7kg must be registered, and pilots must undertake online training. Insurance will become mandatory.

Vietnam’s largest electronics retailers, Mobile World and FPT Shop, saw H1 mobile phone and laptop sales in the first half of the year.

Mobile World posted total revenues of nearly VND62.5 trillion ($2.7 billion) and pre-tax profits of more than VND2.5 trillion in the six-month period.

Of this the sales of mobile phones, laptops and relevant accessories was over VND15.6 trillion, a year-on-year increase of 7 percent.

The Mobile World management board said the sales performance was really impressive because hundreds of the company’s stores have had to temporarily shut down or restrict sales amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

The FPT Digital Retail Joint Stock Company, which runs FPT Shop, earned total consolidated revenues of over VND9 trillion and consolidated before-tax profits of VND76 billion in the first half of this year, realizing over half and two-thirds of its annualized plan, respectively.

Up to 85 percent of the total revenues came from mobile phone, laptop and accessories sales, which grew 13 percent year-on-year.

While mobile phone sales grew 16 percent on year for Mobile World and laptop sales remained unchanged, FPT Shop saw a 31 percent year-on-year surge in laptop sales to over VND1.3 trillion.

As of end June, Mobile World had 936 stores, up 23 stores over late 2020, but down from nearly 1,100 stores in late 2017. Meanwhile, FPT Shop had 625 stores, up 30 stores against late last year.

According to Counterpoint Research, smartphone sales in Vietnam in the second quarter of this year grew 11 percent year-on-year.

Meanwhile GfK has reported that sales of gaming laptops in the country grew 217 percent in the first five months of the year.