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Strong effort from an entity-lister, but your tiny child hands may struggle • The Register

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Review Most phones are compromised in some way, which makes it all too easy to overlook the good bits. An example of this would be the Huawei Mate 40 Pro, which was near perfect, except for the lack of apps.

For the ZTE Axon 30 Ultra, the downside is a real ache in the first dorsal interosseous muscle between the thumb and index finger, at least for those with paws smaller than a bear’s. That’s a big but for a phone that ticks lots of boxes. It looks good, it’s fast, it’s well polished, and it comes with a set of decent cameras. Too big to hold and that whole proposition falls apart.

Those with large mitts, however, are well-catered for. It’s a flagship, but it’s not priced as such. The base model starts at £649, which puts it alongside the Samsung Galaxy S20FE, but cheaper than most Android flagships like the Galaxy S21 or the OnePlus 9 Pro.

Let’s start at the screen, which is often the deciding component that makes or breaks a device. This measures 6.7 inches from corner to corner, making it one of the largest devices on the market. This – as well as the backplate – is coated in Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5.

The panel has a standard 1080p resolution, and runs at refresh rates as high as 144Hz. The system can automatically scale this depending on the situation, with competitive games running at the higher rate, static content at 60Hz, and browsing plonked somewhere in the middle. In practice, though, you will want to crank this down to a more reasonable 90Hz, which gives you the benefit of buttery animations, but without the battery pulverisation that comes with running your device at 144Hz (or even 120Hz).

The panel itself is an OLED affair, which delivered satisfactory levels of colour fidelity and contrast. It also packs a remarkably responsive under-screen fingerprint reader. I tend to prefer physical fingerprint readers simply because they are often better, but I found it hard to fault this.

Performance

ZTE provided The Register with the base model, which comes with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. For an extra £90, you can bump this to 12GB and 256GB respectively. While the additional 4GB of RAM is unlikely to make much of a performance difference, the added storage may prove welcome to those who hoard media and apps, and take photos with pixel-binning disabled.

It has no 3.5mm jack.

Under the hood, you will find a potent Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 platform, with bundled 5G connectivity (although band support in the US is fairly lacking). As you would expect, this handled virtually everything I threw at it without breaking a sweat. Multitasking felt fluid, and webpages rendered with little to no delay.

The battery is big, although at this point standard, rated for 4,600mAh. With the refresh rate at 90Hz, I was able to get a full day of usage. Another nice touch is the inclusion of 65W wired charging. ZTE provides a compatible charging brick, although in the case of this review unit, ours came with a European plug.

Wireless charging is sadly absent. This is something we see on the low-to-mid side of the phone market, with wired speeds prioritised at the expense of the mere existence of wireless charging. Is it much of a problem, though? Not really. Wireless speeds are slower, and it is a comparatively energy inefficient way to charge your phone. When you can fully replenish a battery in less than 40 minutes, this is something that’s easy enough to overlook.

The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra comes with Android 11 pre-installed, with the company committing to an upgrade to Android 12 later down the line (it is one of the devices that can enrol in the Android 12 beta). The exact cadence and lifespan of security updates remains an unknown, however.

The company used its MyOS UI here and doesn’t make many diversions from the stock Android experience. The few tweaks to be found – which mostly hinge around quick-access to routine settings – improved the experience, rather than complicated it, but there have been grumblings about response times.

Cameras

Within its sizeable bulge, you will find no less than four cameras. You may be pleased to hear that ZTE avoided the cardinal sin of including just one functional primary camera, and an assortment of superfluous, low-resolution nonentities.

The primary camera uses a 64MP lens, which takes detailed and vibrant shots in good lighting conditions, and thanks to its accompanying optical image stabilisation (OIS) is able to cope with inevitable hand jitters. There’s also an ultra-wide and portrait lens, both with 64MP sensors, although sadly without OIS.

Finally, ZTE also threw in an 8MP telephoto lens, which can optical zoom by as much as five times. This is a nice touch, and isn’t necessarily guaranteed, even on phones within this particular price bracket. Although it doesn’t capture quite as much detail, the results are good, even when touching the limits of its zoom range.

The implementation of the camera is good. Although quality isn’t quite what Huawei had accomplished with its RYYB sensors in the most recent flagships, it’s more than serviceable, producing decent shots for social media and the web. It watermarks all images by default – although it’s easy enough to turn this off.

Conclusion

The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra isn’t perfect, but its a good mid-ranger. The display and chassis are both genuinely nice to look at, although I doubt they are particularly conducive to repairs. As we saw with Samsung’s latest premium phones, when you encase a phone in glass, it makes routine fixes that much harder.

Similarly, the lack of wireless charging is a bit annoying, although it is relatively easy to live with, given the fast wired charging on offer. Some may also be deterred by ZTE itself, which has found itself ensnared in the same telecoms supply chain melodrama as Huawei, albeit to a lesser extent.

Finally, there is the size. This is a big phone. Personally, I like that as it lends well to Netflix binges and a rich browsing experience. Those with smaller hands, or simply a preference to use a phone with one hand, will likely want to look elsewhere. ®

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NUIG to spend €5m on research to help address global issues

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Several key research areas have been identified by NUI Galway to work towards for 2026.

NUI Galway’s recently launched research and innovation strategy includes a €5m investment on support for its multi-disciplinary research teams as they grapple with several global issues.

The strategy, which lays out plans for the university’s next five years of research, focuses on six areas: antimicrobial resistance, decarbonisation, democracy and its future, food security, human-centred data and ocean and coastal health.

“As a public university, we have a special responsibility to direct our research toward the most pressing questions and the most difficult issues,” said to Prof Jim Livesey, VP for research and innovation at NUI Galway.

“As we look into the future, we face uncertainty about the number and nature of challenges we will face, but we know that we will rely on our research capacity as we work together to overcome them,” Livesey added.

The plan focuses on creating the conditions to intensify the quality, scale and scope of research in the university into the future. This includes identifying areas with genuine potential to achieve international recognition for NUI Galway. It also aims to continue to cultivate a supportive and diverse environment within its research community.

NUI Galway has research collaborations with 3,267 international institutions in 114 different countries. The university also has five research institutes on its Galway city campus, including the Data Science Institute, the Whitaker Institute for social change and innovation and the Ryan Institute for marine research.

Its research centres in the medtech area include Science Foundation Ireland’s Cúram and the Corrib Research Centre for Advanced Imaging and Core Lab.

The university will also continue to involve the public with its research and innovation plans through various education and outreach initiatives. It is leading the Public Patient Involvement Ignite network, which it claims, will “bring the public into the heart of research initiatives”.

Another key area identified in the strategy report is the development of partnerships with industry stakeholders. NUI Galway has spun out many successful companies in recent years, including medtechs such as AuriGen Medical, Atrian, Vetex Medical and Neurent.

According to MedTech Europe, Ireland has the highest number of medtech employees per capita in Europe along with Switzerland.

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France hails victory as Facebook agrees to pay newspapers for content | France

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France has hailed a victory in its long-running quest for fairer action from tech companies after Facebook reached an agreement with a group of national and regional newspapers to pay for content shared by its users.

Facebook on Thursday announced a licensing agreement with the APIG alliance of French national and regional newspapers, which includes Le Parisien and Ouest-France as well as smaller titles. It said this meant “people on Facebook will be able to continue uploading and sharing news stories freely amongst their communities, whilst also ensuring that the copyright of our publishing partners is protected”.

France had been battling for two years to protect the publishing rights and revenue of its press and news agencies against what it termed the domination of powerful tech companies that share news content or show news stories in web searches.

In 2019 France became the first EU country to enact a directive on the publishing rights of media companies and news agencies, called “neighbouring rights”, which required large tech platforms to open talks with publishers seeking remuneration for use of news content. But it has taken long negotiations to reach agreements on paying publishers for content.

No detail was given of the exact amount agreed by Facebook and the APIG.

Pierre Louette, the head of the media group Les Echos-Le Parisien, led the alliance of newspapers who negotiated as a group with Facebook. He said the agreement was “the result of an outspoken and fruitful dialogue between publishers and a leading digital platform”. He said the terms agreed would allow Facebook to implement French law “while generating significant funding” for news publishers, notably the smallest ones.

Other newspapers, such as the national daily Le Monde, have negotiated their own deals in recent months. News agencies have also negotiated separately.

After the 2019 French directive to protect publishers’ rights, a copyright spat raged for more than a year in which French media groups sought to find common ground with international tech firms. Google initially refused to comply, saying media groups already benefited by receiving millions of visits to their websites. News outlets struggling with dwindling print subscriptions complained about not receiving a cut of the millions made from ads displayed alongside news stories, particularly on Google.

But this year Google announced it had reached a draft agreement with the APIG to pay publishers for a selection of content shown in its searches.

Facebook said that besides paying for French content, it would also launch a French news service, Facebook News, in January – a follow-up to similar services in the US and UK – to “give people a dedicated space to access content from trusted and reputable news sources”.

Facebook reached deals with most of Australia’s largest media companies earlier this year. Nine Entertainment, which includes the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, said in its annual report that it was expecting “strong growth in the short-term” from its deals with Facebook and Google.

British newspapers including the Guardian signed up last year to a programme in which Facebook pays to license articles that appear on a dedicated news section on the social media site. Separately, in July Guardian Australia struck a deal with Facebook to license news content.

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Flight Simulator says Windows 11 has been downloaded on Xbox • The Register

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Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule, designed to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, will not fly until the first half of next year at the earliest, as the manufacturing giant continues to tackle an issue with the spacecraft’s valves.

Things have not gone smoothly for Boeing. Its Starliner program has suffered numerous setbacks and delays. Just in August, a second unmanned test flight was scrapped after 13 of 24 valves in the spacecraft’s propulsion system jammed. In a briefing this week, Michelle Parker, chief engineer of space and launch at Boeing, shed more light on the errant components.

Boeing believes the valves malfunctioned due to weather issues, we were told. Florida, home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where the Starliner is being assembled and tested, is known for hot, humid summers. Parker explained that the chemicals from the spacecraft’s oxidizer reacted with water condensation inside the valves to form nitric acid. The acidity corroded the valves, causing them to stick.

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