An even smarter smartphone

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In 1859 Sir William James Herschel discovered that fingerprints remain stable over time and each is unique. As a chief magistrate in the Raj he became the first to institute their widespread use for identification and authentication purposes in British-controlled India in 1877. What started in India has now gone even more high-tech in neighbouring China, with the announcement this week that smartphone maker Xiaomi’s new Mi 5s phone will incorporate ultrasonic fingerprint identification for greater security. The company says its technology is more accurate than that used by rival handset firms, since it uses 10,000 micro sensors. Xiaomi founder and boss Lei Jun claims his firm had spent two years perfecting mass production of the technology, saying it showcased “our innovation capabilities”. The move likely presages a push by the Chinese firm to take on Apple Pay in the payments sphere; though some consumers may be more excited to know the new $299 Xiaomi handset also comes with a 13 million pixel dual camera made by Sony.

Rivalry in China’s smartphone arena is hotting up: Apple launched its new iPhone 7 earlier this month and it too came with a beefed-up camera. Meanwhile Huawei’s P9 smartphone has incorporated a camera made by leading international brand Leica.

All of that competition led to less welcome news this week for Lenovo. In order to restructure its lossmaking smartphone division it has confirmed reports it will cut 1,000 jobs at the Motorola unit it purchased in 2014 for $2.8 billion.

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