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Samsung’s foldables fall to more realistic prices and harden up • The Register

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Samsung has revealed a new pair of foldable smartphones at prices that are no longer outrageous to city traders, but still up there, at $1,799 and $999 respectively.

The new Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 don’t diverge far from Samsung’s foldable template. The former is a clamshell with a screen on the front and a larger single foldable display spanning its inner leaves. The Flip is a square little unit with a small screen on its exterior which folds open to offer a single display and a form factor that’s about the size of a conventional smartphone but a little chunkier.

Samsung has charged a premium price for the Fold and Flip and positioned them as not just smartphones but fashion statements despite the lack of features like waterproofing. The Fold was first released in 2019, and devices handed to the media for review in April that year suffering display issues, with screens malfunctioning and in some cases just going blank altogether. The May release date was then shelved, but by July it had redesigned its bendy screen.

This time around, Samsung has made the device more rugged and reduced the prices.

The Fold 3 now starts at $1,799 after the Fold 2 debuted at $1,999 (and at £1,599 in the UK). The Flip now starts at $999 – down from $1,199.99/£1,229 in the UK. The Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G with 512GB of storage is currently $1,399, but Samsung offers it for as little as $580 with rebates and trading in an iPhone 12 Pro Max (the 512GB version of which sells for $1,399).

UK and EU pricing were not available at the time of publication, but El Reg suspects the prices will be higher than the conversion rates, as we saw with previous releases.

The newer Fold and Flip are still therefore priced at a premium, but have tougher glass, a new “armour aluminium” shell, and have an IPX8 rating meaning they can survive immersion in 1.5 metres of fresh water for up to 30 minutes. The latter means the foldables have caught up with the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note ranges, perhaps making the premium for a foldable easier to justify.

The new handsets have 5G radios and pack a 5nm process eight-core CPU. Samsung mentioned the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G SoC in some material seen by The Register, but other documents don’t name the CPU.

Samsung Galaxy Fold 3

The Galaxy Z Fold 3. Click to enlarge

The Fold’s main screen is 7.6 inches at 2,208 x 1,768, 374 ppi, and 120Hz refresh rate. The front screen is a 6.2-incher at 2,268 x 832 and 387 ppi. Folded, the device measures 67.1 x 158.2 x 16.0mm and weighs 271 grams. Once unfolded, you’ll have a 128.1 x 158.2 x 6.4mm machine on your hands. By way of contrast, the Galaxy S21 is 7.9mm deep, so the Fold is chunky when folded and slim once unfurled.

Three 12MP cameras are found at the rear, the cover has a 10MP selfie-shooter, and a 4MP camera lurks invisibly beneath the main display.

A 4,400mAh battery gets the job of keeping it all ticking over.

The Flip 3 opens to offer a 6.7-inch display at 2,640 x 1,080 and 425ppi. The cover screen is a 1.9-incher at 260 x 512 but improves on its predecessor.

A 10MP selfie shooter and two 12MP rear-facing cameras take care of your photography needs.

Samsung Galaxy Flip 3

The Galaxy Z Flip 3. Click to enlarge

The device folds out from a 72.2 x 86.4 x 17.1mm clamshell to a 72.2 x 166.0 x 6.9mm form factor, and weighs 183g. A 3,300mAh battery is aboard.

Both devices have fingerprint readers, NFC, are ready for Samsung Pay, can recognise your face as an authentication mechanism, and run Android 11.

Samsung has tweaked Google’s OS to improve windowing on the Fold. A demo witnessed by The Register showed off side-by-side windows and the ability to resize menus to make them more or less obvious on the device’s main screen.

Pen pals

Samsung has created two new versions of its S-Pen electro-stylus to go with the Fold 3. The S Pen Pro also works on a Galaxy Tab or Galaxy Book and is 173.64mm long. A smaller S Pen Fold Edition is just 132.1mm.

Neither slots into the device, as the S Pen did with the Galaxy Note. Instead, Samsung now offers cases that house both the smartphone and pen.

Also new is the Galaxy Watch4, which debuts the refreshed Wear OS built by Samsung and Google. Samsung has also updated the Galaxy Buds.

The Register has not been able to get hands on with the new devices, but videos shown by Samsung suggest the foldables are more practical and less of a novelty.

Samsung’s ambition has long been to create a device that satisfies almost every mobile scenario – the last Galaxy Note was given a 120Hz screen refresh rate and touted as ideal for gaming or using Microsoft Office’s mobile apps. In truth, it did neither spectacularly well – 120Hz screens are battery-burners, and even with handwriting and speech recognition included the device doesn’t lend itself to rapid content creation.

The Register expects that Samsung’s Android tweaks are what will make or break the Fold in terms of making the form factor truly useful because if they make it a real tablet alternative, it will find a niche.

And if it doesn’t, it still has fashion victims to target. ®

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Chinese could hack data for future quantum decryption, report warns | Hacking

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Chinese hackers could target heavily encrypted datasets such as weapon designs or details of undercover intelligence officers with a view to unlocking them at a later date when quantum computing makes decryption possible, a report warns.

Analysts at Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm, say Chinese hackers could also steal pharmaceutical, chemical and material science research that can be processed by quantum computers – machines capable of crunching through numbers at unprecedented speed.

In a report titled “Chinese threats in the quantum era”, the consultancy says encrypted data could be stolen by “Chinese threat groups”. It says quantum-assisted decryption will arrive faster than quantum-assisted encryption, giving hackers an edge.

“Encrypted data with intelligence longevity, like biometric markers, covert intelligence officer and source identities, social security numbers, and weapons’ designs, may be increasingly stolen under the expectation that they can eventually be decrypted,” the report says. It says “state-aligned cyber threat actors” will start to steal or intercept previously unusable encrypted data.

However, it adds there is a “very small” likelihood that quantum computing could break the latest encryption methods before 2030. The analysts say quantum computing’s advantages over classical computing – the computing used in everything from laptops to mobile phones – are at least a decade away.

“Although quantum computers’ current abilities are more demonstrative than immediately useful, their trajectory suggests that in the coming decades quantum computers will likely revolutionize numerous industries – from pharmaceuticals to materials science – and eventually undermine all popular current public-key encryption methods,” the report says.

Quantum computing is viewed as an exciting development. For example, experts say it could predict accurately what a complex molecule might do and thus pave the way for new drugs and materials.

China is already a strong player in the field, and Booz Allen Hamilton says it expected the country to surpass Europe and the US – where IBM recently made the most powerful quantum processor – in quantum-related research and development.

“Chinese threat groups will likely soon collect encrypted data with long-term utility, expecting to eventually decrypt it with quantum computers,” the report says. “By the end of the 2020s, Chinese threat groups will likely collect data that enables quantum simulators to discover new economically valuable materials, pharmaceuticals and chemicals.”

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UK Space Agency asks kids to make a logo for first launches • The Register

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Good news for those in the UK with primary school-aged kids and wondering what to do when the next bout of home-schooling hits: design a logo for the first UK satellite launches.

2022 could be a big year for launching satellites from Blighty’s shores as the first launchers gear up for a historic blast-off. Assuming the facilities have been built and all the necessary consents given and boxes ticked.

There are currently seven possible spaceport sites across the UK, from Cornwall in England through Llanbedr in Wales and up to the Western Isles in Scotland. Cash has been lobbed Cornwall’s way to support a horizontal launch by Virgin Orbit from Spaceport Cornwall and more toward Scotland for Orbex’s ambitions to launch vertically from Sutherland.

Should all the approvals happen and construction be completed, there is every chance the UK might host its first launch at some point in 2022.

Hence the need for a logo and thus a competition aimed at inspiring kids to consider a career in the space industry. And, of course, it is all worthy stuff: “Logo designs,” intoned the UK Space Agency, “should reflect how data from small satellites can help inform solutions to climate change as well as generate a source of pride in the UK’s space ambitions.”

What, we wondered, could possibly go wrong?

We put this question to Rob Manuel, one of those behind web stalwart b3ta.com. B3ta has a long history of (among other things) image challenges, the results of which tend to pop up, often unattributed, in timelines around the world. Now heading into its third decade, the site continues to push out a weekly Friday newsletter to email subscribers.

In terms of how to engage participants, Manuel said: “If anyone asks me, and they rarely do, I encourage competitions to be as open as possible – publish the results as they’re coming in. Try and create a buzz that something is happening rather than everything going in the bin.”

“As for things going wrong,” he went on, “well, there’s always an element who’ll want to subvert it.”

The competition is open to children aged 4-11 and will run until 11 March 2022. There are two age categories (4-7 and 7-11) over 12 regions in the UK. Designs can be drawn, painted, or created on a computer and either submitted on the logoliftoff.org.uk site or via post. Some basic questions also need to be answered, and children can work on their own or in a team of up to four.

We asked the UK Space Agency if it would take Manuel’s advice and post entries ahead of the competition close. We will update should it respond. ®

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Video analytics platform RugbySmarts named ‘most investable’ at SportX

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The Galway tech start-up was one of two winners at the sport-focused pre-accelerator programme.

A start-up developing real-time video analytics for sports has been named ‘most investable’ at SportX, a new pre-accelerator in Ireland for founders with sports and wellness business ideas.

RugbySmarts took the title at the inaugural SportX showcase last week, securing a cash prize.

The Galway-based start-up aims to automate and simplify sports analytics using AI,  machine learning and computer vision, helping coaches to improve player and team performance with a platform that could also be transferred to other sports.

RugbySmarts was founded last year by CTO William Johnstone, who has previously worked with Connacht Rugby, and CEO Yvonne Comer, who is a former Ireland international rugby player.

Meanwhile, the award of ‘best impact on sport’ was given to TrojanTrack. This start-up, founded in 2021 by Dublin-based Stephen O’Dwyer, is looking to combine quantitative biomechanical analysis with deep neural network tech in the equine industry.

The aim is to gain feedback on a horse’s injury or gait imbalance without using invasive technology, such as motion-tracking software that requires markers to be attached to the animal’s skin.

‘Next-gen sports-tech entrepreneurs’

SportX was launched earlier this year by advisory firm Resolve Partners, Sport Ireland and ArcLabs – the research and innovation centre at Waterford Institute of Technology.

The aim of the pre-accelerator programme was to build on tech and business ideas for the sport and wellness industries, giving founders access to academic, clinical and commercial resources.

The six-week programme involved workshops and engagement with advisers, entrepreneurs, subject experts and investors. Participants also had the opportunity to pitch to the US-based Techstars Sports Accelerator.

At the SportX showcase last week, nine teams had five minutes each to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges.

The two winners were selected by the panel, which featured Gary Leyden of the ArcLabs Fund 1 GP, Sport Ireland’s Benny Cullen and Niall McEvoy of Enterprise Ireland.

At the launch of SportX earlier this year, Leyden said the goal of the programme was to find “the next generation of sports-tech entrepreneurs who can leverage the amazing enterprise and sports-related supports within the south-east of Ireland”.

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