File photo of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (Image: Getty Images)
In a note to Microsoft employees, Nadella said that every-day racism, bias and hatred in the news today is not new.
Last Updated: June 1, 2020, 11:50 AM IST
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has joined Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai in condemning the death of African-American George Floyd, saying our identity, our very existence is rooted in empowering everyone on the planet.
In a note to Microsoft employees, Nadella said that every-day racism, bias and hatred in the news today is not new. “It’s far too often the experience and reality in daily lives, particularly for the Black and African American community,” he said.
“I know it’s not enough to just have empathy for those impacted, for the communities who are experiencing this hate, firsthand, who are scared for their safety, and for their loved ones,” Nadella added. He said that in this moment, people can start by checking in with each other, ask colleagues how they’re doing and what they need, have empathy for what others are feeling.
“It’s incumbent upon us to use our platforms, our resources, to drive that systemic change, right? That’s the real challenge here. It’s not just any one incident, but it’s all the things that have led to the incident that absolutely need to change”. Demonstrations and riots have spread to cities across the US after a video went viral of Floyd being suffocated to death by a white police officer in the Minneapolis on May 25.
Microsoft last year launched the Criminal Justice Reform Initiative. This initiative invests in partnerships and programmes working to drive reforms, focusing on policing. “Have empathy for those who are scared and uncertain, and join me and everyone on the senior leadership team, in advocating for change in our company, in our communities, and in society at large,” said Nadella.
Apple has paid a $100,000 (~Rs 75 lakh) bounty to a 27-year-old Indian researcher Bhavuk Jain for cracking a critical and zero-day vulnerability that he found within the ‘Sign in with Apple’ ability that is found on some websites and several third-party applications. The critical flaw, according to Jain, could have allowed hackers to break into an Apple user’s account details who log into third-party apps like Dropbox, Spotify, Airbnb, Facebook-owned Giphy and more.
Launched in 2019, the “Sign in with Apple” feature allowed users to simply and quickly sign into third-party apps by sharing their Apple email IDs. Interestingly, when logging in, Apple used to authenticate a JWT (JSON Web Token) which used to contain the user’s Apple ID email addresses as well. However, If the user decided to hide the Email ID, Apple generated its own user-specific Apple relay Email ID. That’s where the bug existed.
According to Jain, he could request a JSON Web Token for any legitimate Apple account and the sign-in would be verified valid each time. This, Jain said, is a critical flaw that could allow a hacker to take over any account as he only needed to know the email addresses associated with an Apple ID to get a validated token and obtain access.
“The Sign in with Apple works similarly to OAuth 2.0. I found I could request JWTs (JSON Web Tokens) for any Email ID from Apple and when the signature of these tokens was verified using Apple’s public key, they showed as valid,” Jain said. “This means an attacker could forge a JWT by linking any Email ID to it and gaining access to the victim’s account,” he added.
According to Jain, this critical vulnerability may have had a long-lasting impact on hundreds and thousands Apple users as it could have allowed a full account takeover.
“This bug could have resulted in a full account takeover of user accounts on that third party application irrespective of a victim having a valid Apple ID or not,” Jain said. It is worth noting that Apple has made ‘Sign in With Apple’ mandatory for a lot of developers since it is mandatory for applications that support other social logins.
While Apple is yet to release an official statement on the development, but Jain asserted that Apple carried out an investigation and patched this critical bug. The Cupertino-based tech giant also ensured there was no misuse or account compromise due to this vulnerability, following Jain’s report.
This is truly the affordable iPhone you were waiting for. This does not compromise at all in terms of the specs and the experience. It is a thoroughbred iPhone, albeit in a compact form factor. Which also makes this a very rare combination of compact and powerful. How many Android phone options do you get which offer a similarly handy footprint and yet pack in the most powerful specifications there are at this time? The answer lies in a word that starts with “Z” and ends with “ero”. The second generation of the Apple iPhone SE is a melding of the past with the present, representative of the future.
The Apple iPhone SE prices start at Rs 42,500 and that is before you take advantage of an HDFC Bank cashback offer which brings the effective price down to Rs 38,900. For an iPhone that runs largely the same specs as an iPhone 11, that is a steal deal.
Design is familiar, and yet very likeable
There is no running away from the fact that the second-generation Apple iPhone SE is basically the same body as an Apple iPhone 8 from 2017. It may have been a good-looking phone then, but it’s a beautiful phone now. And that came after the iPhone 7, the iPhone 6S and the iPhone 6. There could perhaps have been the argument that Apple should have gone with the iPhone 8 Plus body instead, but that 5.5-inch size would have not appealed to anyone who wanted a compact phone and would have pegged it too close to the 6.1-inch iPhone 11 in the size stakes. Apple says that the 4.7-inch screen size has been its most popular, and continues to be its most popular screen size, over the years. There must be some merit in the argument that not everyone wants a bulky phone.
You could be on the other side of the fence and say that the design looks a bit out of place now, and you would have a point there. The thick bezel above the screen stands out now, and the space below the screen for the Touch ID fingerprint sensor integrated within the Home button does add to it vertically. But Apple will counter that with pristine build quality. It feels fantastic to hold, much thinner than what our hands have become used to, no rough edges, no flex and everything is just right in place. It weighs just 148 grams, which is featherweight category in these times. You can have this in three colours at this time—Black, White and the gorgeous (PRODUCT)RED.
It is IP67 water resistant which means it isn’t averse to getting a bit wet, and the glass on the back enables wireless charging as well in case that catches your fancy. Incidentally, it also supports fast charging, but Apple doesn’t bundle that charger this time around.
All said and done, this is a proper iPhone. The build. The design. The attention to detail. The experience. Need I also remind you that there are no good compact Android phones right now.
Home button: a blast from the past
The Home button had stopped being a physical button quite a while ago. Good to see Apple has carried that forward with that reassuring haptic feedback every time you press on it. Touch ID on the iPhone SE is fast, very fast.
The magic number on the canvas is 4.7
It also isn’t the same 4.7-inch display carried forward. Apart from all the under-the-hood improvements, you will surely notice the True Tone Display feature, which that matches everything you see on the screen with the ambient lighting around you. The result, as we have experienced with the MacBook, the iPhones and the iPad Pro is that there is much less strain on the eyes than otherwise. This screen is LCD, and not an OLED. In the real world, people really don’t care. As long as it works, they are happy. And this most definitely works. It is bright, shuns reflections quite well and colours look good too. Yes, you’ll probably feel it’s a bit more restrained if you are using a higher resolution display all this while, but the thing is, most iPhone SE buyers will likely be the ones who have held on to their older iPhones till now—and for them, this is familiar yet an upgrade.
That being said, if you do intend to switch from a larger phone to this, you will feel the keyboard is a bit more compressed than what you are used to. It is a learning curve, make no doubt about it.
It is Futureproof, including for iOS updates: Leaving Android far behind
Power isn’t in short supply either. And that is putting it diplomatically. The iPhone SE runs the same A13 Bionic chip as the iPhone 11 series, which means it isn’t playing catch up. There is no faster smartphone processor right now, all chipmakers considered, and that gives the iPhone SE a solid foundation to build on. It also means that iOS updates will be available for this phone for many years to come. That is immediately better than most Android phones, including the expensive flagships, which see the end of the update goodness after about 2 years. If you are lucky, that is.
We have come such a long way since the iPhone 8’s time, that the A13 Bionic chip is 1.4x faster than the A11 which powered that phone back in the day. And it is 2.4x faster than the original iPhone SE. The party piece of the A13 Bionic is the 8-core Neural Engine that does 5 trillion operations per second.
Battery life is a day, and comfortably so. A lot of that is limited by the physics of size, which means it doesn’t get a battery pack as large as an iPhone 11. But since there are less display pixels to light up, the tradeoff has worked well.
But you do miss out on some things: 5G and more
The iPhone SE doesn’t make the shift to USB C, nor does it show any love for the headphone jack. This does not have 5G as well, and Apple for some reason doesn’t bundle a faster charger in the box even though the iPhone SE is fast charging capable.
Camera relies on software: More than ever before
The 2020 iteration of the Apple iPhone SE gets a 12-megapixel camera at the back. Yes, it is a single-camera system. It does get a new image signal processor, the enhancements of the Neural Engine of the A13 Bionic and new algorithms working behind the scenes after you tap the shutter button in the camera app to take a photo. The biggest beneficiary has to be the Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting. It is all software based, but the iPhone SE can take some really good portrait photos. The neural engine is trained to focus on people, and you get depth control as well. If you are wondering that this is already more versatile than the photography capabilities of the iPhone XR, which also has a single camera system, you would be absolutely right. It is not just the new hardware, but also updated algorithms and image processing that makes all the difference.
The full gamut of Portrait Lighting modes are available as well—Natural Light, Studio Light, Contour Light, Stage Light, Stage Light Mono and High-Key Light Mono are all available on the iPhone SE. Then there is Smart HDR as well and the ability to shoot 4K videos at 60fps. For the price that you pay for this iPhone SE, the photography performance is absolutely fantastic—great dynamic range, sharp, vivid colours that are well distinguished and overall photography that is quite close to the iPhone 11. It will struggle a bit in low light, because there isn’t a second sensor to provide more data, and there isn’t a night mode either. It’s a bit perplexing that, considering Google has managed better low light photos all thanks to AI and software, on single camera systems for a while now.
At the front sits a 7-megapixel FaceTime camera, and to be honest, we would have loved an upgrade here.
WHAT ABOUT THE ANDROID ALTERNATIVES?
Purely in terms of price, there will be the persistent debate about how the iPhone SE matches up to the Android counterparts. The thing is, the fact that you are considering the Apple iPhone SE second-generation means you want top-notch performance. That discounts a lot of the pretend flagship killer Android phones, and we get into the business end of that debate with the OnePlus 7T with prices starting Rs 34,999 and the new OnePlus 8 with prices starting at Rs 44,999 though availability is limited at this time. But they only get factored into the equation if you aren’t adamant about a compact screen size. In which case, why wouldn’t you also consider the iPhone 11? It is all too complicated, isn’t it? That is the power of choice.
The Last Word: Smaller size does not mean a compromise
The thing is, the 2020 iPhone SE would be a definite upgrade for anyone still rocking an iPhone older than let us say the iPhone XR—the performance boost will hit you in the face in the most pleasant manner. The camera matches the much more expensive iPhone 11 for the most part, which is a huge bonus for the new iPhone SE. There are three storage options to choose from, and I would seriously recommend paying a little more for the 128GB option over the 64GB one, just to add to the longevity aspect of your purchase. You want an iPhone. You got an iPhone. And this wouldn’t leave you penniless either.
Apple’s second-quarter production is expected to be 35 million units, down 5 per cent from the first quarter.
Last Updated: May 29, 2020, 11:54 AM IST
Apple is likely to delay the launch of new iPhone 12 series by at least two months which may take place in November instead of the usual mid-September time-frame. According to a report by investment bank Cowen, Apple’s second-quarter production is expected to be 35 million units, down 5 per cent from the first quarter and down 13 per cent from the same period last year.
The analyst said that the production supply chain has generally returned to normal output rates, but downstream demand remains uncertain. Cowen predicts that Apple’s iPhone shipments in the second quarter will reach 30 million.
Jon Prosser, a reliable Apple insider, earlier said there is also the possibility that a later iPhone 12 launch event could allow more people to attend in person. A late announcement will give the Cupertino-based tech giant time to reopen more stores in different markets that are closed due to lockdown. Apple has so far reopened 256 out of its over 500 retail stores.
File photo: US President Donald Trump (Image: Reuters)
Twitter on Tuesday for the first time-tagged Trump’s tweets about unsubstantiated claims of fraud in mail-in voting with a warning prompting readers to fact check the posts.
Last Updated: May 28, 2020, 11:14 AM IST
U.S. President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on social media companies on Thursday, White House officials said after Trump threatened to shut down websites he accused of stifling conservative voices. The officials gave no further details. It was unclear how Trump could follow through on the threat of shutting down privately-owned companies including Twitter Inc. The company declined to comment.
The dispute erupted after Twitter on Tuesday for the first time-tagged Trump’s tweets about unsubstantiated claims of fraud in mail-in voting with a warning prompting readers to fact check the posts. Separately, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington on Wednesday upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit by a conservative group and right-wing YouTube personality against Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple accusing them of conspiring to suppress conservative political views.
In an interview with Fox News Channel on Wednesday, Facebook’s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said censoring a platform would not be the “right reflex” for a government worried about censorship. Fox played a clip of the interview and said it would be aired in full on Thursday. Facebook left Trump’s post on mail-in ballots on Tuesday untouched. The American Civil Liberties Union said the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution limits any action Trump could take. Facebook and Google declined to comment. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
“Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen,” Trump said in a pair of additional posts on Twitter on Wednesday. The president, a heavy user of Twitter with more than 80 million followers, added: “Clean up your act, NOW!!!!”
Republican Trump has an eye on the November election. “Big Tech is doing everything in their very considerable power to CENSOR in advance of the 2020 Election,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday night. “If that happens, we no longer have our freedom.”
STRONGEST THREAT YET
Trump’s threat is his strongest yet within a broader conservative backlash against Big Tech. Shares of both Twitter and Facebook fell on Wednesday. Last year the White House circulated drafts of a proposed executive order about anti-conservative bias which never gained traction. The Internet Association, which includes Twitter and Facebook among its members, said online platforms do not have a political bias and they offer “more people a chance to be heard than at any point in history.”
Asked during Twitter’s annual meeting on Wednesday why the company decided to affix the label to Trump’s mail-in ballot tweets, General Counsel Sean Edgett said decisions about handling misinformation are made as a group. “We have a group and committee of folks who take a look at these things and make decisions on what’s getting a lot of visibility and traction …,” he said.
In recent years Twitter has tightened its policies amid criticism that its hands-off approach allowed fake accounts and misinformation to thrive. Tech companies have been accused of anti-competitive practices and violating user privacy. Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon face antitrust probes by federal and state authorities and a U.S. congressional panel. Republican and Democratic lawmakers, along with the U.S. Justice Department, have been considering changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a federal law largely exempting online platforms from legal liability for the material their users post. Such changes could expose tech companies to more lawsuits.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley, a frequent critic of Big Tech companies, sent a letter to Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey asking why the company should continue to receive legal immunity after “choosing to editorialize on President Trump’s tweets.”
The bug impacted apps such as Audible.com, Discord, Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube, among others.
Last Updated: May 27, 2020, 12:03 PM IST
Apple has fixed a bug in its Family Sharing system that prevented some iOS and iPadOS apps from opening. The bug led to iOS users getting an error indicating that an app was “no longer being shared with you” and directed them to buy the app from the App Store.
Apple has now resolved the bug that affected iPhone and iPad apps over the last weekend, reports TechCrunch. Several iOS users earlier reported that they were seeing dozens of pending app updates for their iOS devices. Some of them even saw as many as 100-plus new updates to install. The bug impacted apps such as Audible.com, Discord, Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube, among others.
Even before Apple worked to fix the bug, some users found that they could solve it by deleting and redownloading specific apps. Apple confirmed the problem has now been resolved for all affected customers.
The plan to bring contents for kids was revealed through a 30-second ad spod titled ‘The Next Generation’.
Last Updated: May 25, 2020, 2:10 PM IST
Apple has released a 30-second ad on YouTube and other channels to promote child-friendly movies and shows on its Apple TV+ streaming service as summer vacation begins in most countries including in India. The 30-second ad spot titled ‘The Next Generation’ showcases content like ‘Ghost Writer,’ ‘Helpsters,’ ‘Snoopy in Space’ and ‘Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth,’ among others.
The video that was released on Sunday describes the streaming service as offering “original series and films to inspire the next generation of dreamers, explorers, and believers”. “Here We Are” is the latest show to become available within the group, landing on the service on April 17, reports Apple Insider.
The film is adapted from the best-selling children’s book by Oliver Jeffers and created by animation firm Studio AKA. Meanwhile, WarnerMedia has announced its new streaming service HBO Max will be available from May 27 on Apple devices, fully integrated with the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TVs. Customers who are billed through the App Store or through Apple TV Channels for HBO Now will be upgraded automatically to HBO Max at no additional charge.
This is the updated Truecaller for Android, which is more powerful at blocking spam (Image: News18)
Just recently, Truecaller gave the Android app its biggest update in a while—complete with a redesign, much more powerful spam blocking tools for calls and messages and a very useful full-screen Caller ID.
Last Updated: May 24, 2020, 11:56 AM IST
How irritating is it that you are in the middle of a busy workday, some busybody is intent on sharing creative ideas that you don’t really need, and deadlines are looming large. It is all going pear shaped, perhaps. In the midst of all this, your Apple iPhone rings. It’s an unknown number. You probably think it’s the restaurant calling to confirm the reservation for your special date with the very special someone later in the evening. Or it is some important work call. Or maybe an update on the courier package you were waiting for—after all it has to arrive today, before the date. But no, it is an unwanted, unsolicited and unwarranted call by a very persistent tele caller convincing you need a new car and a loan to go with that. Doesn’t this happen with you quite often? Does it get on your nerves? It happens with me much more than I would strictly prefer, and it really does get on the nerves.
You and I are not alone in this. Truecaller, the most popular app in the world for managing spam calls and messages, says that in 2019, there were 26 billion spam calls detected. That is pure spam, not unknown calls identified. India logged 25.6 spam calls per user per month on an average, up from 22.3 calls on an average per user per month a year ago. That makes mobile phone users in India the fifth most troubled when it comes to spam, behind Brazil, Peru, Indonesia and Mexico. “Another devastating fact we found during this year is that 1 out of 3 women in India receive sexual harassment or inappropriate calls and SMS on a regular basis,” says the Truecaller data specifically about India.
Community platform LocalCircles also has worrying data to share. The Do Not Disturb (DND) registry is absolutely not working in India. More than 70% of smartphone users still get unwanted SMS even though they are on the DND list. A lot of those come from the mobile service providers themselves. Oh, the irony.
The thing is, when it comes to someone having your back in terms of dealing with spam, there really is no better app to have on your phone than Truecaller. Unfortunately, the experience and spam protection capabilities still are significantly different between Android phones and the Apple iPhone.
Just recently, Truecaller gave the Android app its biggest update in a while—complete with a redesign and much more powerful spam blocking tools for calls and messages. Oh, and the full-screen Caller ID as well, which can save you from engaging with absolutely unnecessary spam calls the moment your phone rings. “Truecaller has been invested in spam blocking for over 10 years now. Our primary purpose is to make communication more efficient for everyone. We have the highest accuracy because our spam and scam markings are community driven. For instance, in India alone, we have over 150 Million active users who help us by identifying spam, scams and fraud calls,” says Rishit Jhunjhunwala, Vice President of Product at Truecaller.
Have you also read?
Truecaller Gets a New Coat of Paint For Android, But in Reality it is Much More Than That
As an iPhone user, it is but obvious to feel left out.
Let me start off by saying that I absolutely love the Apple iPhone experience. Everyone who knows me even remotely knows I’ll not give up an iPhone for an Android phone, as my primary communication device. For me, no other phone comes close to the iPhone for everything that I need. Be it iMessages, FaceTime, Photos, Notes, Apple Music or iCloud, everything just comes together brilliantly, on the hardware and software side of things. The attention to detail to the smallest of things, be it the UI or the UX, make all the difference between an ecosystem that includes an iPhone, a Mac computing device, an iPad, AirPods and an Apple Watch, as against a loosely cobbled together ecosystem that would try to bring together an Android phone, a Windows 10 computing device, some smartwatch and some tablet.
Have you also read?
How I Got My Work Machine Just Right: Apple MacBook Pro, Microsoft 365, Google Drive & More
Yet, even though things have changed significantly over the years, the walled garden problem still remains. And that is perhaps most highlighted every time the phone rings. Truecaller for the iPhone, no matter how robust its foundations may be, simply cannot provide me the same level of spam call or even spam SMS protection that Android users get. The simple reason—Truecaller isn’t allowed access to the CallKit in the way it needs to work effectively. Simply put, CallKit is what dictates the display for incoming or outgoing calls on the calling screen on your iPhone, the call dialing, third party calling services including WhatsApp, as well as any Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service. A few years ago, Truecaller just got enough access with iOS 10 and beyond to show a pop-up detailing who was calling. But that has, at best, been spotty and doesn’t always work well—sometimes the notifications pop up, and mostly they don’t. The thing is, such a method was always going to be a compromise.
Spam management shouldn’t be a compromise, to be very honest.
In my humble opinion, iOS 14 could just be the perfect time for Apple to do a course correction in the battle against a global scourge—spam calls. It has done so before. Apple allowed CallKit to handle VoIP apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype and more to integrate into the Phone app on the iPhone. So much so that WhatsApp call screens and interface also looks the same as a regular voice call landing on an iPhone. In fact, I’ve noticed WhatsApp calls also show in the call history in the Phone app.
It is most certain that Apple continues to focus on user data privacy and doesn’t want any app to compromise the security of iOS. However, Truecaller’s case has merit. It is perhaps worth the time and effort to figure out a solution for millions of iPhone users around the world, who struggle with spam calls on a daily basis. I really hope the day when Truecaller works on my iPhone like it works on an Android phone, comes sooner rather than later.
Apple has a reputation for generally paying more attention to user privacy than many of its competitors. However, according to the whistleblower that brought to light the contractual Siri transcription gaffe from last year, Apple is not quite being held accountable enough for what it is doing with user data. In an attempt to do this, Thomas le Bonniec has written to all of Europe’s data protection regulators, alleging that Apple “continues their massive collection of data” — something that is in violation of fundamental human rights, as well as Europe’s data protection laws.
In his letter, which was viewed and reported by The Guardian, le Bonniec has accused companies like Apple for “wiretapping entire populations despite European citizens being told the EU has one of the strongest data protection laws in the world.” On this note, he has further called for the European regulators to actively investigative Apple’s dealings with user data, which according to him have not been investigated enough.
Excerpts of le Bonniec’s letter, which has been published by The Guardian, says:
I listened to hundreds of recordings every day, from various Apple devices (eg. iPhones, Apple Watches, or iPads). These recordings were often taken outside of any activation of Siri, eg in the context of an actual intention from the user to activate it for a request. These processings were made without users being aware of it, and were gathered into datasets to correct the transcription of the recording made by the device.
The recordings were not limited to the users of Apple devices, but also involved relatives, children, friends, colleagues, and whoever could be recorded by the device. The system recorded everything: names, addresses, messages, searches, arguments, background noises, films, and conversations. I heard people talking about their cancer, referring to dead relatives, religion, sexuality, pornography, politics, school, relationships, or drugs with no intention to activate Siri whatsoever.
These practices are clearly at odds with the company’s ‘privacy-driven’ policies and should be urgently investigated by data protection authorities and Privacy watchdogs. With the current statement, I want to bring this issue to your attention, and also offer my cooperation to provide any element substantiating these facts. Although this case has already gone public, Apple has not been subject to any kind of investigation to the best of my knowledge.
Apple has typically had a far stronger reputation in terms of data collection and privacy, in comparison to rivals such as Amazon, Facebook and Google. In 2019, however, its general privacy reputation was disrupted when le Bonniec anonymously brought to light Apple’s contractual programme, which employed third party human sub-contractors across the world to listen in on snippets of real world conversations from unsuspecting users, all in an attempt to “improve” Siri functionality.
Ever since it was brought to light, Apple promptly issued an apology for such a practice, that too without adequately informing its users. It then stated that the Siri transcription review programme was moved in-house, which adds accountability and made sure that no user remained identifiable through these recordings.
Now, it remains to be seen if investigations into the matter are renewed based on le Bonniec’s letter, and if so, what repercussions would the brand require to face.
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In April, overall smartphone shipments in China was up over 94 per cent in comparison to March and reached 40.8 million.
Last Updated: May 22, 2020, 10:59 AM IST
Apple bounced back in April in China after a dull March owing to lockdowns, selling 3.9 million iPhones which is nearly 160 percent increase from the previous month. In April, overall smartphone shipments in China was up over 94 percent in comparison to March and reached 40.8 million, reports CNBC. Apple closed all its retail stores outside Greater China in March as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. All the Apple stores in Greater China are now open.
According to the IDC, Apple has always had a significant share of smartphones in use in China because iOS-based iPhones have a longer replacement cycle than Android phones. In 2019, Apple continued to have the largest user base among smartphone vendors in China, with iPhones in use accounting for 18.9 percent – representing a slightly lower percentage than in 2018 – of all smartphones in use in China.
The mid-range smartphone segment in which the new iPhone SE falls ($400-$600 exclusive of tax) experienced a contraction in China throughout 2019 as vendors gradually shifted away from the segment to the mainstream price range emphasizing performance to price and to the high end.
“The new iPhone SE has a clear target audience, i.e. users of older iPhone models. It is therefore not so much an attack as a defense amid increasingly intense competition for users in the domestic market as Apple attempts to keep existing iPhone users in the iOS fold,” according to Xi Wang, research manager at IDC China.
According to the latest report from Counterpoint Research, smartphone sales in China experienced the roughest March quarter in recent memory, dropping by 22 percent compared to Q1 2019 values. The iPhone 11 was the best-selling device for the January–February period, marking the seventh consecutive month it reigned supreme. Apple also managed to increase its market share. “Consumers continued to purchase iPhones from e-commerce platforms despite the shutdown of Apple stores across China during February,” said Ethan Qi, senior analyst at Counterpoint.