In the final stretch of #techtember, the tech world had served some major surprises. These surprises were not directly related to the launch events of the previous week or those expected in the coming days. On the one hand, we have USB-C that seems to be gaining traction as the de facto charging plug standard, albeit by force. On the other hand, an investigation has raised suspicions about Xiaomi. Welcome to this week's Winners and Losers column!
Still in the midst of the Xiaomi and Apple launch hangover and ahead of the highly anticipated Pixel 6 and Galaxy S21 FE announcements, European authorities have ensured that tech sites have enough material to vary their content. Before we explain our choices, let's recall some of the main news from the world of technology in the past week.
OnePlus becomes less and less independent
After the announcement that OnePlus and Oppo would work in an even more integrated manner - "synergy" must have been the hashtag used by the marketing teams, and even stating that the Oxygen OS skin would continue to be supported, surprise! The two brands will be integrate their respective mobile operating systems as early as 2022.
This news was confirmed by OnePlus, although they did not announce what the name of the new mobile operating system will be called. The good news is, manufacturers have announced that the new skin will be available for some of the models that are already on sale.
The announcement about the future of the brand (line?) OnePlus confirmed a rumor that has been circulating for some time now that the company would not launch its traditional "T" model this year. The reason is the reorganization of the brand's portfolio, which will have OnePlus' "R" line as its "entry-level flagship" option.
You can check out the new features of the systems in detail at the links above, but in summary, the new versions would increase the integration of devices within the Apple ecosystem, include several new features, improved security, and privacy tools, while bringing advanced controls for notifications with the Focus system.
Just as important as all of this and also a cause for envy for my 2018 smartphone that remains "stuck" on Android 10, is the fact that the updates are available for devices like the iPhone 6S (2015), iPad Air 2 (2014) and Apple Watch Series 3 (2017).
Realme overtakes Huawei in Q2
It went somewhat unnoticed but this week, the consultancy Counterpoint published its quarterly report on the mobile market. And the highlight was Realme, which unseated fellow countryman Huawei from sixth place in Q2 2021.
The BBK Group brand had a 5% share of the smartphone market and fell behind its sister brands Oppo and Vivo, both with 10% apiece. Adding up the conglomerate's total shipment volume, BBK would comfortably take the top spot, ahead of Samsung (18%), Xiaomi (16%) and Apple (15%).
The order and percentages are not much different from the report released by Canalys in July, which recorded only the top five manufacturers by shipment volume. The second half of the year traditionally has a turnaround in numbers, influenced by the launch of the new generation iPhone and end-of-year business dates.
Besides celebrating the rise in the manufacturer rankings, Realme announced the launch of its Realme UI 3.0 skin for October. Indifferent to the internal reorganization by its sister companies Oppo and OnePlus and their respective operating systems, the customization should already be based on Android 12. The company, however, gave no further details about which device will debut the new operating system version.
Winner of the week: A door for all to rule
On Thursday (23 September) the European Commission (EC) announced a proposal to standardize charging plugs on devices in the bloc. The directive proposed the adoption of the USB Type-C connector for portable devices, including smartphones, tablets, speakers, video game consoles, cameras, and headphones.
If approved by the European Parliament and the European Council, the measure would not force Apple to retire the Lightning connector, but it would force the company to include a USB-C port in its devices. Some sites also speculated whether the directive would open up scope for the mythical "portless iPhone," but that's best left to legal experts in the comments.
In addition to standardizing the plug used in devices, the Commission also intends to set the standard for fast charging, including compatibility (good luck informing the endless combinations of voltage and amperage), as well as mandating an end to the inclusion of the charger on the sales packaging of devices.
In any case, the current proposal would give 24 months for manufacturers to adapt to the directive, beginning from its approval date, and this could happen as early as 2022. The measure would not affect laptops and chargers themselves at first, as in the latter case, the EC has disclosed that it will revise its regulation to align power supplies with the proposal for devices.
Currently, the Lightning plug is used in some of Apple's best-selling devices, including the entire iPhone line, iPad (9th generation, 2021), the iPod Touch, the AirPods and Beats earphones, as well as various input devices (pen, mouse, keyboard, remote control, etc). The USB-C port, meanwhile, is found on the company's notebooks, as well as the latest generations of iPad Pro, Air, and iPad mini tablets.
Loser of the week: Xiaomi accused of including censorship tool
Earlier this week, Lithuania's cybersecurity body, the NCSC, published the results of a study concerning Chinese smartphones that are sold in the country. The investigation revealed that Xiaomi smartphones refers to a word filter with political and religious terms, allegedly meant for censorship in apps.
The word list, according to the investigation, is automatically downloaded but is not activated on devices sold in Europe (and presumably other countries outside the Chinese government's sphere of influence, although it can be activated remotely).
The accusation comes from a country that is in the midst of diplomatic tensions with China, which could raise suspicions of it being a retaliatory move. On the other hand, if confirmed, this would not be the first controversy involving hidden features in Xiaomi handsets. Be as it may, the manufacturer has denied any kind of censorship in its devices.
And in this climate of expectation, we close the column for yet another week. Do you agree with our picks this week? What are your winners and losers from the past few days? Are you looking forward to the expected announcements in the coming days? Leave your comment below and see you in the next edition!