Winners and losers of the week: Apple's surprise launch, Huawei’s AI software under scanner

Winners and losers of the week: Apple's surprise launch, Huawei’s AI software under scanner

Did the last week just go by like a flash? Honestly, it feels like it’s been just one or two days since I wrote my previous ’Winners and Losers’ article for NextPit. Anyway, while it was a sedate week as far as new product launches were concerned, some really interesting things did happen in the last 7 days. Without any further delay, let’s dive straight in. As usual, before we head to our winners and losers, I think it makes sense to talk about a few honorable mentions. 

When I used the term ‘sedate’ to describe the last week, it was mainly because of the lack of new smartphone launches relevant to NextPit’s core audience – which is in Europe. If you lived in the more exciting part of the world (as far as smartphone launches are concerned), Asia, the past week was reasonably exciting.

In China, for example, Oppo announced the launch of its new camera-centric Reno 5 lineup. The two smartphones introduced by the company include the Oppo Reno 5 and the Reno 5 Pro. Both these handsets seem to be positioned as upper mid-range devices, with the Reno 5 getting the Snapdragon 765G chipset and the Pro version sporting the MediaTek Dimensity 1000 chip. Both these devices will soon make their way to India and, well, Europe.

Another major development this week was the revelation of the launch date of Samsung’s upcoming flagship Galaxy S21 series. By the looks of it, we could see the announcement of the new S Series lineup on January 14. As usual, there will be two variants of the phone - one powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC and another getting Samsung’s own Exynos chipset. Except this time, the Exynos variant might not be the underdog.

Winner of the week: Apple with the new Airpods Max

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Don't hate us for this. But this has to be our winner of the week / © Apple

As it turns out, Apple’s previous ‘One more thing’ event where it announced the new M1-based MacBook lineup wasn’t actually the last products Apple had to show us this year. Earlier this week, the company - to the surprise of many - announced the launch of the company’s first-ever over-ear headphones. The new AirPods Max has all the hallmarks of a typical Apple product. It looks good (this is debatable), appears to offer decent performance, and is ridiculously expensive for what it has to offer. But hey, people might make a beeline for this anyway because of the Apple logo. Our editor Antoine has an interesting take on this new expensive toy from Apple.

Loser of the week: Huawei for its ‘Uighur Alert’ AI software

Chinese telecom major Huawei is our candidate for the loser of the week because of what appears to be its involvement in the Chinese government’s plan to suppress its minority Uighur population. Documents leaked online last week revealed that the company was complicit in the development of an AI-based facial recognition system to surveil the Uighurs. While Huawei did not deny the existence of such software, the company’s rather weak explanation was that the software was not being used in the real world and that whatever appeared in the report was merely a test.

Well, that sums up our Winners and Losers piece for this week. Hopefully, I shall have something less depressing to share with you in the next edition of this weekly column! 

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