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ZTE Axon 20 5G first take: World’s first under display camera may offer a glimpse of the future Review

ZTE is known for innovation in the smartphone market with first dual rear cameras, first foldable phone, and one of the first to 5G. The front-facing camera, sensors, and handset speaker are all under the display so that users experience a front that is nearly all display.

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ZTE is known for innovation in the smartphone market and with today’s official launch of the ZTE Axon 20 5G we see the availability of a phone with the world’s first under display front-facing camera. There is no notch, hole punch, rotating, or mechanical rising camera here and you simply get a full display experience.

In addition to the camera, a light, fingerprint sensor, and handset speaker sound system are all found under the display. The ZTE Axon 20 5G is available to order in the EU, UK, and Asia for a price of $449/ €449 /£419.

While there are currently no plans to launch the ZTE Axon 20 5G in the US, I had the chance to spend about a week with a unit in order to check out the new camera technology and lovely design.

Also: Best Android phone for you (December 2020)

Specifications

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
  • Display: 6.92-inch 2460 x 1080 pixels resolution OLED
  • Operating system: Android 10
  • RAM: 6/8 GB options
  • Storage: 128/256 GB internal options with microSD card support
  • Cameras: Rear quad-camera system with 64MP, 8MP wide-angle with 120-degree view, 2MP depth lens, and 2MP macro lens. 32MP front-facing camera positioned under the display.
  • Wireless technology: 5G, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, GPS/GLONASS
  • Battery: 4220 mAh with Qualcomm Quick Charge 4 Plus support
  • Dimensions: 172.1 x 77.9 x 7.98 mm and 198 grams
  • Colors: Black, Blue, Purple, Orange

Hardware

While the ZTE Axon 20 5G is a very solid and capable mid-range phone with an affordable $449 price, the focus is on the under display front-facing camera as a technology demonstration. I spent most of my time with the device checking out this camera system and the cool technology that allows the camera to function through several layers of glass. I expected the first such camera to result in poor or compromised photos, but I was pleasantly surprised by the results.

ZTE achieved this feat by developing a system using display materials, dual-control chip and integrated circuit, pixel matrix optimization, and a shooting algorithm with the promise of improvement in future phones based on lessons learned and advancing technology. The company worked with its display partner with adaptive micron-size material and new films to create the display that a camera can work through.

When you look at the display in bright light, especially if there are lighter colors at the top, you can angle the phone and see a very small square slightly yellow grid that identifies where the front-facing camera can be found. However, in typical daily use you are unlikely to ever see where the camera is positioned. ZTE did an amazing job of hiding the camera under the display and the technology is impressive.

Watching full screen Netflix shows on the ZTE Axon 20 5G is a great experience with flawless playback and nothing interrupting the display at all. The display has 10-bit color depth and also supports a 90Hz refresh rate.

The handset speaker is not visible because the sound system uses the under display sound generator and display to act as the top speaker. A dedicated speaker also fires out the bottom with the phone supporting DTS-X Ultra audio.

The power and volume buttons are on the right side with nothing positioned on the top or left side. The USB-C port, SIM/microSD tray, and speaker are on the bottom.

Swinging around the back we see a gorgeous back glass design composed of ten layers of glass. 36 processes were carried out to creat the unique texture on the back with waves spreading across the back in different lighting conditions. The black and orange colors are the standard available with other variants available in other areas of the world.

Also: Google Pixel 4a 5G review: Affordable 5G phone with stunning camera performance

In the top left corner of the back we find a quad-camera system with a 64MP primary shooter powering most shots. AI is also present in the camera software with the software optimizing for different subjects. Some situations, such as super night shot, utilized multiple sensors to capture photos.

While I couldn’t test out this feature, ZTE innovated in the 5G antenna design to make sure that high speed train passengers were able to stay connected to their networks.

Overall, it is an impressive hardware package, especially for less than $500. The front-facing photos were not as crystal clear and vibrant as other phones I have tested, but for people like me who rarely use this shooter it is nice to have it hidden from view and not compromise the viewability of the display.

Software

The ZTE Axon 20 5G launched with Android 10 and the November 1, 2020, Android security patch. MiFavor 10.5 is the UI that is used by ZTE, but it offers a fairly stock Android experience with no bloatware or extra apps. Most of the UI customization is in some settings and extra utilities.

Always-on display mode is available, you can toggle 90Hz or 60Hz for the refresh rate, a Z-POP utility lets you quickly launch your favorite apps (similar to Samsung Edge), face recognition can be used for less secure access, and other typical Android customization options are present.

The primary custom software element is the custom camera software. In video mode you can choose to shoot a vlog and then choose from six different templates that add music and transition effects as you capture video content. You can also shoot in full screen movie mode and more so make sure to tap the arrow next to the word video in the camera software to try the various options.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/product/zte-axon-20-5g/

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National Australia Bank keeping staff connected with Google Pixel rollout

More than 2,000 Google Pixel devices were issued to NAB’s customer contact teams to enable them to support customers remotely.

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When National Australia Bank (NAB) recently revised its device strategy to look at new ways it could support the mobility of its employees and reduce the time and cost of support legacy devices across multiple platforms, the big bank partnered with Google to issue more than 2,000 Pixel devices to its customer contact teams.

Each device, managed with Android enterprise, was rolled out by Vodafone using “zero-touch” enrolment to set up the devices and configure each one with the necessary applications.

“With zero-touch enrolment, each Pixel setup was 20 minutes faster than our previous device enrolments, saving our IT team and colleagues over 500 hours during the initiative. With our communication and collaboration apps available right out of the box, our teams could get to work right away to help customers,” NAB Mobility manager Simon Thoday said.

Another consideration of the rollout was how customer data was going to remain secure, with Thoday pointing out that using Android Enterprise provided the solution to that question.

“Pixel security updates from Google provide a reliable cadence of ongoing protection as threats evolve, and the work profile hits the right balance between security and privacy for our teams,” Thoday said.

“Our contact centre teams use Pixel devices that are fully managed, which allows us to provide the necessary security controls, and wipe and re-enroll them when transferred to a new employee,” he said.

“Branch managers use Pixels with the work profile, separating work and personal applications. This gives employees the ability to use the device in a personal capacity while our IT team manages and ensures data security over the work profile.”

Additionally, with managed Google Play, NAB can assign the apps that are necessary on its managed devices.

“Providing our teams the flexibility to assign apps to the right teams is a major time saver and ensures everyone has the resources they need,” Thoday said.

“Branch managers can look up customer service records or answer a ping more quickly from their Pixel, instead of returning back to their desk and logging back on to their desktop computer. Android Enterprise has been a catalyst in a more mobile and responsive environment for our various teams.”

Earlier this month, the red and black bank completed its transition to TPG to deliver fixed and mobile network services across the bank.

The transition follows a deal struck between the two companies in September for the newly merged telecommunications giant to deliver fixed network services across NAB’s corporate offices, business banking centres, and branches, as well as providing mobile connectivity to the majority of the NAB workforce.

Vodafone delivered the solution to more than 80% of NAB’s mobile fleet across corporate offices and branches in metro and major regional areas. The company said Vodafone, alongside Google, would also be providing those who opt for a company phone with the Pixel 4a.

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Another consideration of the rollout was how customer data was going to remain secure, with Thoday pointing out that using Android Enterprise provided the solution to that question.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/national-australia-bank-keeping-staff-connected-with-google-pixel-roll-out/

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Crackonosh malware abuses Windows Safe mode to quietly mine for cryptocurrency

The malware is thought to have generated millions of dollars in just a few short years.

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Researchers have discovered a strain of cryptocurrency-mining malware that abuses Windows Safe mode during attacks.

The malware, dubbed Crackonosh by researchers at Avast, spreads through pirated and cracked software, often found through torrents, forums, and “warez” websites.

After finding reports on Reddit of Avast antivirus users querying the sudden loss of the antivirus software from their system files, the team conducted an investigation into the situation, realizing it was due to a malware infection.

Crackonosh has been in circulation since at least June 2018. Once a victim executes a file they believe to be a cracked version of legitimate software, the malware is also deployed.

The infection chain begins with the drop of an installer and a script that modifies the Windows registry to allow the main malware executable to run in Safe mode. The infected system is set to boot in Safe Mode on its next startup.

“While the Windows system is in safe mode antivirus software doesn’t work,” the researchers say. “This can enable the malicious Serviceinstaller.exe to easily disable and delete Windows Defender. It also uses WQL to query all antivirus software installed SELECT * FROM AntiVirusProduct.”

Crackonosh will scan for the existence of antivirus programs — including Avast, Kaspersky, McAfee’s scanner, Norton, and Bitdefender — and will attempt to disable or delete them. Log system files are then wiped to cover its tracks.

In addition, Crackonosh will attempt to stop Windows Update and will replace Windows Security with a fake green tick tray icon.

The final step of the journey is the deployment of XMRig, a cryptocurrency miner that leverages system power and resources to mine the Monero (XMR) cryptocurrency.

Overall, Avast says that Crackonosh has generated at least $2 million for its operators in Monero at today’s prices, with over 9000 XMR coins having been mined.

Approximately 1,000 devices are being hit each day and over 222,000 machines have been infected worldwide.

In total, 30 variants of the malware have been identified, with the latest version being released in November 2020.

“As long as people continue to download cracked software, attacks like these will continue and continue to be profitable for attackers,” Avast says. “The key take-away from this is that you really can’t get something for nothing and when you try to steal software, odds are someone is trying to steal from you.”

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Have a tip? Get in touch securely via WhatsApp | Signal at +447713 025 499, or over at Keybase: charlie0

Crackonosh has been in circulation since at least June 2018. Once a victim executes a file they believe to be a cracked version of legitimate software, the malware is also deployed.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/crackonosh-malware-abuses-windows-safe-mode-to-quietly-mine-for-cryptocurrency/

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South Australia splashes out on space, defence, and cybersecurity in 2021-22 Budget

The South Australian government believes tech-focused sectors such as defence, space, and cybersecurity will have a key role to play in the state’s future.

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In taking a forward-looking approach into what the future of South Australia will look like, the South Australian government has announced it will bolster investment in tech-focused sectors such as defence, space, and cybersecurity as it hands down the 2021-22 Budget [PDF].

“This Budget is our blueprint for a stronger South Australia, creating jobs, building what matters and delivering better services to further secure our growing global reputation as one of the safest and most attractive places in the world to live, work, and raise a family,” Treasurer Rob Lucas said on Tuesday.

Some of the specific funding announcements include AU$20.8 million to upgrade the existing buildings at Lot Fourteen to make way for the expansion of space, digital, hi-tech, and cyber companies, with a particular focus on companies involved in small satellite development.

Separately, AU$6.6 million will be contributed over five years to assist with the SASAT1 Space Services Mission, which will see a local manufacturer launch a small satellite in mid-2022 as well as deliver space-derived services to the state.

South Australia’s Defence and Space Landing Pad program has also received a boost, with the state government saying it will deliver AU$860,000 over three years for the program that is used to support international defence and space companies that bring new, sought-after capability to South Australia.

Local artificial intelligence and health technology companies are set to receive additional support through a AU$1.6 million allocation delivered over four years. Under this investment, AU$985,000 will be used for grants to support AI and health technology companies through matching co-funding for health application pilots, and $589,000 to deliver project support activities, including investment concierge services.

Meanwhile, AU$2.6 million will be earmarked to support small businesses developing digital and cyber security capabilities as well as other capabilities to enter the national market.

The Budget papers also indicated AU$21.1 million over three years will be dedicated towards the implementation of stages three and four of the South Australia Police Shield project, which involves linking South Australia Police’s data and records management system directly with other justice sector agencies. The state government touted the move will improve collaboration and data sharing capabilities.

In a bid to boost bushfire response, the 2021-22 Budget revealed that it will contribute AU$7.7 million over four years towards the ongoing management, support, and maintenance of automatic vehicle location systems (AVL) used by the emergency services sector. AVL provides real time location information of firefighting and other emergency response vehicles during incidents. AVL is expected to be installed in approximately 1,400 vehicles at a total cost of AU$12.7 million.

Additionally, the 2021-22 Budget indicated support for the state government’s commitment to improving digital services for citizens remains ongoing through its AU$120 million Digital Restart Fund, noting that AU$4.3 million in 2021-22 will be put towards the South Australian government’s online services portal, AU$5.5 million over two years for the expansion of the residential aged care enterprise system, AU$1.3 million over two years for the child and family services information systems, and AU$500,000 in 2021-22 for the Safeguarding smartphone app.

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/south-australia-splashes-out-on-space-defence-and-cybersecurity-in-2021-22-budget/

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National Australia Bank keeping staff connected with Google Pixel rollout

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