Amazon Halts Sales of BLU Smartphones Over Privacy & Security Issues

Back in November of last year we reported on an issue concerning a BLU smartphone that had a controversial piece of software on them known as Adups. The original report came from KryptoWire who pointed out that the BLU R1 HD that was being sold by Amazon had this invasive software pre-installed on the devices. This software is from Shanghai Adups Technology Co. Ltd. and is said to be installed on over 700 million devices worldwide.

For those unaware, Adups is very similar to a well known piece of software in the United States called CarrierIQ. CarrierIQ was advertised as a mobile diagnostic software suite, but recorded a ton of information about a person’s smartphone. The list included capabilities such as SMS recordings, SMS transmission, IMSI, IMEI exfiltration, call log transmission, command injections and more. Adups’ software suite does all of that and more.

adups

Source: KryptoWire

At the time, BLU released a statement saying Adups wasn’t supposed to be included in smartphones that were shipped in the United States. The company said they had a 3rd-party handling OTA updates and they simply “made a mistake”. They assured us that a new OTA update was pushed out that disabled this software so no more information could be transmitted back to servers in China. Many had thought the issue was over and done with, but 9 months later and Amazon has decided to step in.

While Amazon had been selling the BLU R1 HD as part of the company’s Prime Exclusive smartphone collection, but the retailer was also selling a number of other smartphones from BLU. We’re unsure if this Adups software is the reason why Amazon decided to halt sales of BLU’s smartphones, but the company did say “security and privacy of our customers is of the utmost importance” and that BLU’s phones would be unavailable from Amazon.com until the issue is resolved.

If it is indeed because of Adups, then it’s curious as to why it took Amazon 9 months to finally do something. BLU says they are in a process to review so they can get their devices reinstated on the Amazon website.

Source: CNET

Motorola Unveils the new Moto G5S and Moto G5S Plus

If you felt that this year did not have as many phone releases as a smartphone enthusiast could want, Motorola has got you covered. The Lenovo subsidiary has taken it upon itself to ensure there is at least one product in every imaginable budget, with a myriad of feature combinations and even build quality. The new Moto G5S and Moto G5S Plus thus build up on the Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus.

The Moto G5S upgrades on the previous device by opting for a metallic unibody design as opposed to the metallic back cover on the Moto G5. The side effect of this change is likely the non-removable battery, as Motorola no longer mentions a removable battery as a feature on the new device. To offset this side effect, the battery has been increased to 3000 mAh capacity as opposed to the 2800 mAh battery on the G5. But to offset this offset, the display is also bigger at 5.2″ FHD compared to the 5″ FHD display.

The SoC option on the device remains the same as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 continues to power the G5 line. Motorola’s press release remains silent on the RAM and storage capabilities of the device, so we can assume it to be similar to the previous ‘generation’, namely 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. This set of specification can change depending on regional availability.

Other upgrades on the Moto G5S include gesture recognition support on the fingerprint sensor, as well as upgrades on the cameras. The front camera is now a 5MP sensor with a “wide-angle” lens and LED flash, while the rear camera is now a 16MP shooter with PDAF.

Moto G5S Plus

Like the Moto G5S, the Moto G5S Plus also comes with a metallic unibody construction. The display size has been upped to 5.5″ FHD from the 5.2″ FHD on the Moto G5 Plus. But for some reason, Motorola has decided to stick with the 3,000 mAh battery as on the previous device. The spec sheet for the device also tells us about the absence of NFC.

The SoC remains the same with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625. The phone will come in RAM and memory combinations of 3GB + 32GB and 4GB + 64GB, but again, this is likely to be affected by regional availability as with past Moto G phones. Thankfully, the phone does come with microSD card support upto 128GB.

The Moto G5S Plus also now supports gesture recognition on the fingerprint sensor. The rear camera sees the biggest upgrade as the G5S Plus sports a dual rear camera setup comprising of two 13MP cameras with f/2.0 aperture. Motorola does not specifically detail on how the setup works in tandem, but does mention depth-of-field effects such as selective focus and bokeh as well as selective black and white mode. The front camera is also upgraded to an 8MP sensor with a “wide-angle” lens, f/2.0 aperture and LED flash.


Availability and Pricing

The new Moto G5S and Moto G5S Plus will be available starting this month across the world, although the US will have to wait until fall for the phones to land.

The Moto G5S starts at €249 (~$294), while the Moto G5S Plus starts at €299 (~$353).


What are your thoughts on the Moto G5S and Moto G5S Plus? Were these “Special Edition” devices really warranted at this stage in Motorola’s release cycle? Let us know in the comments below!

Motorola Promises Three Generations of Moto Mods Support on the Moto Z Lineup

One of the frequently asked questions when it comes to modularity implementations is just how long the OEMs are committed to their vision and feature. LG’s attempt at modularity was a self-confessed disaster on the LG G5 and despite their promises, the OEM failed to provide the ecosystem support needed for a fledgling idea to flourish. But then, Motorola introduced Moto Mods.

Lenovo, through Motorola, seems more intent on making it work. Motorola’s vision of modularity involves case-like extensions that snap on to the back of their flagship lineups and extend functionality beyond what the phone could perform on its own. But then again, Motorola’s commitment to the ecosystem would dictate how much and for how long customer interest would remain present towards Moto Mods.

As reported by TechRadar, Motorola spokesperson have commented that Motorola is looking to provide three generations of Moto Mods support, allowing next generation Moto Z devices to support past Moto Mods.

Motorola has confirmed three generations of support for Moto Mods, so the next gen devices will support current mods.

TechRadar reports that this means when the next of the Moto Z flagship will be released, it will work with with last years mods like the Hasselblad camera mod and JBL Soundboost.

It is important to remember that promising something does not mean that it is guaranteed to take effect. LG proposed something similar with the LG G5 and LG Friends, promising modular designs with their future smartphones. But as we all know by now, the LG G6 completely ditched modularity, opting to become a complete smartphone by itself. Motorola is promising past Mod support on future Moto Z devices, but we would still advise taking this with a pinch of salt. Because at the end of the day, the corporate balance sheet holds stronger preference over mere promises. Luckily, they’ve kept their promise so far.

What are your thoughts on Motorola’s promise of three generation of Mod support? Do you believe such a promise is feasible for Lenovo? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: TechRadar

Daydream Support is Rolling Out to the Galaxy S8/S8+

We have a lot of different companies trying to solidify their foundation in the VR industry. From standalone units meant for the PC with products from Oculus and HTC, all the way down to cardboard viewers from some who are just wanting to use the platform for marketing. A lot of these platforms are trying to isolate themselves from the competition in hopes of obtaining more marketshare for themselves, but Google is taking a different approach with Daydream.

Much like how they handled Google Cardboard, Google wants to bring in as many devices to Daydream as possible. Granted, this can be described as their own platform similarly to how Samsung has theirs with the Gear VR, but Google is actively working with other OEMs to add support for Daydream. There are a number of hardware and optimization targets these OEMs have to hit in order for their device to be eligible, but the Daydream View is capable of working with devices from other OEMs whereas the Gear VR is not.

Adoption rate of Daydream’s platform has been much slower than Google Cardboard because of these requirements, but Google expects 11 devices to support it by the end of this year. So far, only a handful of devices on the market have support for Daydream. This includes the Pixel, Pixel XL, Moto Z, Mate 9 Pro, Porsche Design Mate 9, Axon 7, and the Zenfone AR from ASUS, but more are coming. Google has even just announced the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are getting the update right now.

Support for this is being added thanks to a new OTA update so it could take a bit of time before your device receives it. Those who purchased the Galaxy S8 or S8+ from a carrier will need to wait for an approved OTA update before they receive it. Reports from the community say Daydream applications and games will not work in the Gear VR though, so customers will need to purchase a Daydream View in order to enjoy the content.


Source: @googlevr

OxygenOS v4.5.7 for the OnePlus 5 Adds EIS for 4K Video, July Security Patches and More

The latest flagship smartphone from OnePlus has received a handful of software updates since it has been released. The latest and most vital update fixed the 911 emergency calling issue that some people were experiencing and now the company is rolling out a new one. While this new OTA update for the OnePlus 5 does include some bug fixes and stability improvements, it also adds a couple of new features and makes the device more secure.

When reviews of the OnePlus 5 were published, a lot of attention was put on the camera of the device. Mainly because OnePlus themselves hyped up how much they were working on improving its performance. There are definitely some improvements over the OnePlus 3/3T and its other smartphones on the market, it just didn’t live up to the hype for some people in the community. One big criticism was how its EIS feature didn’t work when recording 4K videos.

With OxygenOS version 4.5.7 for the OnePlus 5, EIS should now work when recording 4K videos. We’ll have to wait until the OTA update hits our devices so we can try it out, but this is something that many people have been waiting for. This new OTA update also introduces the new OnePlus Slate font as well. Not only that, but it the OTA update includes Android’s July security patches, and also updates your device to the latest GMS package.

Then we get to optimizations and bug fixes and are told standby battery life should be improved and WiFi connectivity should be as well. A bug was fixed that caused occasional sound leaks in the speakers when using earphones and another that fixed missing sound channels when recording videos. Lastly, OxygenOS version 4.5.7 for the OnePlus 5 also fixed a camera shutter sound bug in silent mode for Indian region. You can find the full changelog down below.

OxygenOS v4.5.7 Changelog

OnePlus 5 OxygenOS v4.5.7

New additions:

  • Introducing the all new OnePlus Slate font
  • Added EIS for 4k video recording

Updates:

  • Updated Android security patch level to 1st July 2017
  • Updated to latest GMS package

Optimizations:

  • Wi-Fi connectivity improvements
  • Standby battery enhancements

Bug Fixes:

  • Fixed occasional sound leaks in the speakers when using earphones
  • Fixed camera shutter sound bug in silent mode for Indian region
  • Fixed missing sound channels when recording videos

Source: OnePlus