The chip advance set to make smartphones smarter

iPhone user
Apple’s new iPhones are set to be the first consumer gadget powered by 5nm chip technology

When Apple unveils its new iPhones, expect it to make a big deal of the fact they’re the first in the world to be powered by a new type of chip.

This, we’ll likely be told, will let owners do things like edit 4K video, enhance high-resolution photos and play graphically-intensive video games more smoothly than was possible before while using less battery power.

The “five nanometre process” involved refers to the fact that the chip’s transistors have been shrunk down – the tiny on-off switches are now only about 25 atoms wide – allowing billions more to be packed in.

Effectively it means more brain power.

Travel back just four years, and many industry insiders doubted the advance could be delivered so soon.

That it has been, is in large part down to the ingenuity of a relatively obscure Dutch company – ASML.

It pioneered a way to carve circuitry patterns into silicon via a process called extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography.

Its machines cost a cool $123m (£92m) each, which is high even in relation to other semiconductor industry tools.

But it’s currently the only company making them. And they are still more cost-effective than alternative options, in part because of a low defect rate.

“At such small scales precision is key,” said Dr Ian Cutress, who reports on the sector for Anandtech.

“What they’re doing is akin to hitting a stamp on the surface of Mars with a paper aeroplane.”

ASML likens its technology to making the leap from using a marker pen to a fine-liner.

But rather than ink it uses what it terms “feeble light” generated via a mind-boggling process.

Light wavelengths graphic
ASML’s process uses light at a 13.5nm wavelength, sitting in

French Consumers Encouraged to Stop Spending on New Smartphones

(Bloomberg) — France is preparing incentives for consumers to shift spending habits to used electronics, in an attempt to lower the impact on the environment and provide a boost to local ecommerce startups.



a person holding a bag and walking on a sidewalk: A pedestrian uses a smartphone while wearing a protective face mask outside the LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE luxury goods store in Place Vendome, in Paris, France, on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. The euro-area economy may be headed for its first recession in seven years as the coronavirus outbreak takes an increasing toll on businesses and consumer confidence.


© Bloomberg
A pedestrian uses a smartphone while wearing a protective face mask outside the LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE luxury goods store in Place Vendome, in Paris, France, on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. The euro-area economy may be headed for its first recession in seven years as the coronavirus outbreak takes an increasing toll on businesses and consumer confidence.

The government said it will deploy a scoring system on devices’ re-usability from January, and will set aside 21 million euros ($25 million) from its stimulus plan to fund re-usability startups and projects.

Environment minister Barbara Pompili and her colleague for Digital Affairs, Cedric O, told Bloomberg that the government is in talks to boost second-hand purchasing, but didn’t detail the plans which are still being finalized. O said a new form of tax on goods was unlikely because companies would shift the cost on consumers.



a person standing in front of a table: A customer tries a Redmi Note 5 display model smartphone inside a Xiaomi Corp. store in Paris, France, on Friday, May 25, 2018. Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi opened it's first store in Paris and plans for more shops in France, Spain and Italy, testing the appetite of consumers in developed markets as its executives consider a U.S. expansion.


© Bloomberg
A customer tries a Redmi Note 5 display model smartphone inside a Xiaomi Corp. store in Paris, France, on Friday, May 25, 2018. Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi opened it’s first store in Paris and plans for more shops in France, Spain and Italy, testing the appetite of consumers in developed markets as its executives consider a U.S. expansion.

Read More: Porsche, Ferrari Cars Face $59,000 Gas Guzzlers Tax in France

“We want to incite people who want to buy a handset to think first about refurbished ones,” Pompili said.

Selling refurbished handsets has been a long-standing business. Both Apple Inc. and Samsung offer second-hand phones on their websites, and the global market for used smartphones is expected to

5G smartphones reach 14% of U.S. sales as average price drops by 30%

As the only successor to the 4G cellular technology used in smartphones and mobile computers, 5G was guaranteed to be a hit at some point — the only real question was how long it would take to truly go mainstream. This week, a report from Counterpoint Research suggests that a steep fall in 5G phone prices helped kick their U.S. sales into high gear, though the firm notes that the numbers will likely change substantially following Apple’s entry into the 5G market this month.

The trend lines are clear: Average selling prices of 5G phones fell by $218 from January 2020 to July 2020, reaching an all-time low of $730 — a drop of roughly 30% — while 5G phones increased their share of total smartphone sales from 3.3% to 11.6% during the same period. Counterpoint notes that the August percentage is an even higher 13.5%, aided in part by the release of even more affordable phones such as the T-Mobile/TCL REVVL 5G. That’s a sharp uptick from 2019, when 5G was found largely in phones priced at or over $1,000, and constituted only 1% of sales.

Adoption of 5G technology remains a chicken-and-egg scenario worldwide, as carriers are hoping for widespread 5G device adoption to justify buildouts of 5G networks and dismantling of older 3G tower hardware, but neither can fully happen without the other. Once higher speed, lower latency 5G towers are ubiquitous, carriers have promised that transformative new industrial, automotive, and mixed reality applications will become widely available, but 5G’s initial adoption is relying largely on business and consumer demand for faster internet access.

5G’s growth in the United States is especially interesting given the comparatively mediocre performance of U.S. 5G networks, which have continued to deliver uneven and inconsistently better than 4G performance across the large