ZTE Axon M Phone Unfolds Into a 6.75-Inch Diagonal Display

Today’s topics include the release of ZTE’s Axon M dual-screen foldable smartphone; Qualcomm announcing the Snapdragon 636 chip and successful 5G tests; Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 release; and two Chinese hacking groups targeting Japanese firms and resurrecting old malware.

Beating other smartphone makers like Apple and Samsung to the punch, ZTE announced Oct. 17 its folding dual-screen Axon M smartphone at a special event in Brooklyn, N.Y. It will go on sale for $725 in the U.S., China, Europe and Japan within the next month exclusively through AT&T.

The phone has twin 5.2-inch full HD TFT LCD displays on the front and back that can be unfolded into a wide 6.75-inch diagonal viewing screen. Each screen provides 1,920-by-1,080 resolution and is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for protection.

The Axon M can be used in four modes—a dual mode for side-by-side apps running at the same time, an extended mode using the entire 6.75-inch display, a mirror mode to share the same content with friends across from each other, or it can be used like any other handheld smartphone.

Qualcomm unveiled its Snapdragon 636 processor Oct. 17, which it claims has a 40 percent performance improvement in devices and a 10 percent increase in gaming and browsing performance over its predecessor, the Snapdragon 630.

The 636 is compatible with the 660 and 630 offerings, so that “manufacturers can use the same modem and camera architecture to enable fast and efficient testing and calibration, cutting down on significant resources or time normally required when developing products on brand new platforms,” said Kedar Kondap, Qualcomm vice president of product management.

At the Qualcomm 4G/5G Summit, Qualcomm also announced it had gotten a 5G data connect on the X50 5G modem chipset. This is a significant step toward delivering mobile devices that work with the upcoming cellular standard, according to Sherif Hanna, staff manager for technical marketing for Qualcomm.

Microsoft unveiled the Surface Book 2 Oct. 17 with the goal of creating "a device without compromises [that can] support all-day work," according to Ryan Gavin, general manager of Surface Commercial at Microsoft.

The second-edition 13-inch Surface Book 2, a two-in-one hybrid device that features a detachable screen, is joined by a 15-inch model that includes a quad-core, eighth-generation "Coffee Lake" Intel Core processor, an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU and 16GB of RAM.

Gavin described the new Surface Book 2 lineup as "the most powerful Surfaces ever," noting that the devices are "completely fan-less," enabling quiet and power-efficient computing on the go. Battery life stretches to 17 hours in a docked configuration and 5 hours in tablet mode. The Surface Book 2 ships on Nov. 16, with prices starting at $1,499.

While North Korean and Russian cyber operations have dominated the news, Chinese-linked hackers continue to target organizations worldwide.

“Chinese groups are still very active and fairly capable,” Matthew Webster, a senior researcher at security firm SecureWorks, told eWEEK. One such group has revived a decade-old remote access Trojan known as “Hacker’s Door,” claims security firm Cylance, while a second group, known as Bronze Butler, steals intellectual property and confidential data from Japanese companies, according to SecureWorks.

Additionally, the discovery of the Hacker’s Door RAT “shows that threat actors are comfortable relying on third-party tools to reduce development time [and] costs for malware,” stated Cylance. “This tool will continue to be uncovered as part of targeted attacks for some time, as the ease of use and advanced functionality makes ‘Hacker’s Door’ the perfect RAT for any adversary’s arsenal.”