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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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ZDNET

Apple releases emergency update for older iPhones and iPads

If you’re running iOS 12, this is an update for you.

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Apple is getting pretty committed to the idea of pushing out security updates to older iPhones and iPads. Not only will the company continue to support iOS 14 come the release of iOS 15, we are also seeing a trickle of patches for older versions of iOS.

If you have an iPhone or iPad that’s still running iOS 12 — because that was the end of the line for your device — then Apple has released an emergency update that you need to download and install as soon as possible.

Why?

Because of the three security fixes contained in this update, two “may have been actively exploited.” In other words, the bad guys might already be using the vulnerabilities to compromise smartphones and tablets.

Must read: Apple will finally give iPhone and iPad users an important choice to make

iOS 12.5,4 is available for the following devices:

  • iPhone 5s
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPad Air
  • iPad mini 2
  • iPad mini 3
  • iPod touch (6th generation)

To check what version your device is running, tap on Settings > General, then on Software Update. Here you will see what version your iPhone of iPad is running along with any updates.

Note that if you have stayed on iOS 12 but the device is compatible with later versions, then this update will not be available to you. Your path is to upgrade to the latest release of iOS 14 or iPadOS 14.

There have been several high-profile security issuers plaguing iPhone and iPads over the past few months, and while for some there’s a hesitancy to install updates, it is the first and best line of defense against attack.

And iOS 12 and later will do it for you. Tap on Settings > General > Software Update > Customize Automatic Updates and then turn on Install iOS Updates.

Because of the three security fixes contained in this update, two “may have been actively exploited.” In other words, the bad guys might already be using the vulnerabilities to compromise smartphones and tablets.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/apple-releases-emergency-update-for-older-iphones-and-ipads/

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SSD market to reach $51.5 billion in revenue by 2025: IDC

The IDC is predicting that SSD unit shipments will increase with a CAGR of 7.8% in coming years.

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The International Data Corporation is expecting an increase in worldwide solid state drive (SSD) revenue and shipments over the next four years, according to a newly published forecast of the market.

The IDC said SSD unit shipments are expected to grow with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.8% and revenues are slated to increase at a CAGR of 9.2% from now until 2025. The market will reach $51.5 billion in revenue by 2025, according to IDC.

IDC also predicted that SSD capacity shipments worldwide will expand further at a 2020–2025 CAGR of 33.0%.

Jeff Janukowicz, research vice president at IDC, explained that the worldwide demand for SSDs has increased because the pandemic has accelerated the need for transformation.

The steep increases are driven by growing demands for storage that expanded throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as millions increasingly worked and schooled from home, using their own devices in many instances.

Demand for PCs has skyrocketed and the IDC said higher SSD demand is also reflected in the enterprise market, where companies are making investments in both cloud and traditional IT.

“IDC believes that most of the long-term trends remain intact, enabling broader SSD adoption over the forecast period, and worldwide SSD units and capacity shipped are higher than the prior forecast thanks to increasing demand from client devices, enterprise storage customers, and cloud service providers,” Janukowicz said.

The IDC added that there have been some key developments in the SSD market globally, including:

  • The pricing of SSDs is still volatile and elevated because of the increased demand.

  • Technological advancements, like NAND flash, will emerge in the next few years and “will continue to enable more cost-effective solutions helping to further increase demand for SSDs.”

  • Client SSDs are in higher demand because of permanent moves toward remote work and remote schooling.

  • Demand for SSDs among cloud and traditional IT market segments has continued to hold strong.

  • IDC believes lower prices will help “drive demand elasticity and system optimization around flash.”

The report also predicts similar growth in the HDD industry because of how COVID-19 has affected the markets for enterprise storage systems, PCs, personal and entry-level storage devices, video surveillance systems, and consumer electronics products. Worldwide HDD industry petabyte shipments are slated to see a compound annual growth rate of 18.5% through 2025, according to IDC.

Edward Burns, research director for IDC, noted that the client HDD market has had a long-term secular decline due to rising SSD attach rates. But the COVID-19 pandemic has over the near term increased the demand for certain types of HDDs, particularly mobile HDDs as well as capacity-optimized HDDs, Burns added.

Jeff Janukowicz, research vice president at IDC, explained that the worldwide demand for SSDs has increased because the pandemic has accelerated the need for transformation.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/ssd-market-to-reach-51-5-billion-in-revenue-by-2025-idc/

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Avaddon ransomware group closes shop, sends all 2,934 decryption keys to BleepingComputer

Bleeping Computer worked with Emisoft to create a free decryptor that any Avaddon victim can use.

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Avaddon ransomware group, one of the most prolific ransomware groups in 2021, has announced that they are shutting the operation down and giving thousands of victims a decryption tool for free.

BleepingComputer’s Lawrence Abrams said he was sent an anonymous email with a password and link to a ZIP file named, “Decryption Keys Ransomware Avaddon.”

The file had decryption keys for 2,934 victims of the Avaddon ransomware. The startling figure is another example of how many organizations never disclose attacks, as some reports have previously attributed just 88 attacks to Avaddon.

Abrams worked with Emsisoft chief technology officer Fabian Wosar and Coveware’s Michael Gillespie to check the files and verify the decryption keys. Emsisoft created a free tool that Avaddon victims can use to decrypt files.

Ransomware gangs — like those behind Crysis, AES-NI, Shade, FilesLocker, Ziggy — have at times released decryption keys and shut down for a variety of reasons. A free Avaddon decryption tool was released by a student in Spain in February but the gang quickly updated their code to make it foolproof again.

“This isn’t new and isn’t without precedence. Several ransomware threat actors have released the key database or master keys when they decide to shut down their operations,” Wosar told ZDNet.

“Ultimately, the key database we obtained suggests that they had at least 2,934 victims. Given the average Avaddon ransom at about $600,000 and average payment rates for ransomware, you can probably come up with a decent estimate of how much Avaddon generated.”

Wosar added that the people behind Avaddon had probably made enough money doing ransomware that they had no reason to continue.

According to Wosar, ransom negotiators have been noticing an urgency when dealing with Avaddon operators in recent weeks. Negotiators with the gang are caving “instantly to even the most meager counter offers during the past couple of days.”

“So this would suggest that this has been a planned shutdown and winding down of operations and didn’t surprise the people involved,” Wosar explained.

Data from RecordedFuture has shown that Avaddon accounted for nearly 24% of all ransomware incidents since the attack on Colonial Pipeline in May. An eSentire report on ransomware said Avaddon was first seen in February 2019 and operated as a ransomware-as-a-service model, with the developers giving affiliates a negotiable 65% of all ransoms.

“The Avaddon threat actors are also said to offer their victims 24/7 support and resources on purchasing Bitcoin, testing files for decryption, and other challenges that may hinder victims from paying the ransom,” the report said.

“What’s interesting about this ransomware group is the design of its Dark Web blog site. They not only claim to provide full dumps of their victims’ documents, but they also feature a Countdown Clock, showing how much time each victim has left to pay. And to further twist their victims’ arms, they threaten to DDoS their website if they don’t agree to pay immediately.”

img-8885-1.jpg DomainTools

The group has a lengthy list of prominent victims that include Henry Oil & Gas, European insurance giant AXA, computer hardware company EVGA, software company Vistex, insurance broker Letton Percival, the Indonesian government’s airport company PT Angkasa Pura I, Acer Finance and dozens of healthcare organizations like Bridgeway Senior Healthcare in New Jersey, Capital Medical Center in Olympia, Washington and others.

The gang made a note of publishing the data stolen during ransomware attacks on its dark web site, DomainTools researcher Chad Anderson told ZDNet last month.

Both the FBI and the Australian Cyber Security Centre released notices last month warning healthcare institutions about the threat of Avaddon ransomware.

screen-shot-2021-06-11-at-10-11-24-pm.png Australian Cyber Security Centre

The notice said “Avaddon threat actors demand ransom payment via Bitcoin (BTC), with an average demand of BTC 0.73 (approximately USD $40,000) with the lure of a decryption tool offered (‘Avaddon General Decryptor’) if payment is made.”

The group was also implicated in multiple attacks on manufacturing companies across South America and Europe, according to the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

Cybersecurity firm Flashpoint said that alongside REvil, LockBit, and Conti, Avaddon was one of the most prolific ransomware groups currently active.

Digital Shadows’ Photon Research Team told ZDNet in May that a forum representative for the Avaddon ransomware took to the Exploit forum to announce new rules for affiliates that included bans on targeting “the public, education, healthcare, and charity sectors.”

The group also banned affiliates from attacking Russia or any other CIS countries. US President Joe Biden is expected to press Russian President Vladimir Putin on ransomware attacks at a summit in Geneva on June 16.

“This isn’t new and isn’t without precedence. Several ransomware threat actors have released the key database or master keys when they decide to shut down their operations,” Wosar told ZDNet.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/avaddon-ransomware-group-closes-shop-sends-all-2934-decryption-keys-to-bleepingcomputer/

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