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Apple has confirmed its iPhone 12 handsets will be its first to work on faster 5G networks.

The company has also extended the range to include a new “Mini” model that has a smaller 5.4in screen.

The US firm bucked a wider industry downturn by increasing its handset sales over the past year.

But some experts say the new features give Apple its best opportunity for growth since 2014, when it revamped its line-up with the iPhone 6.

“5G will bring a new level of performance for downloads and uploads, higher quality video-streaming, more responsive gaming, real-time interactivity and so much more,” said chief executive Tim Cook.

There has also been a cosmetic refresh this time round, with the sides of the devices getting sharper, flatter edges.

“Tim Cook [has] the stage set for a super-cycle 5G product release,” commented Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities.

“Although the soft macro-economic and Covid backdrop will clearly dent some demand, we believe the underlying growth drivers for the iPhone 12’s success are unparalleled.”

He added that about 40% of the 950 million iPhones in use had not been upgraded in at least three-and-a-half years.

In theory, the Mini could dent Apple’s earnings by encouraging the public to buy a product on which it makes a smaller profit than the other phones. But one expert thought that unlikely.

“Apple successfully launched the iPhone SE in April by introducing it at a lower price point without cannibalising sales of the iPhone 11 series,” noted Marta Pinto from IDC.

“There are customers out there who want a smaller, cheaper phone, so this is a proven formula that takes into account market trends.”

The iPhone is already the bestselling smartphone brand in the UK and the second-most popular in the world in terms of market share.

Apple's sales grow. Shipments (July 2019-June 2020).  .

If forecasts of pent up demand are correct, it could prompt a battle between network operators, as customers become more likely to switch.

“Networks are going to have to offer eye-wateringly attractive deals, and the way they’re going to do that is on great tariffs and attractive trade-in deals,” predicted Ben Wood from the consultancy CCS Insight.

Apple typically unveils its new iPhones in September, but opted for a later date this year. It has not said why, but it is widely speculated to be related to disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ceramic shield

Apple said the iPhone 12 has the same 6.1in (15.5cm)-sized screen as its predecessor, but the device itself is 11% thinner, 16% lighter and has smaller bezels.

image copyrightAPple

image captionThe iPhone screen is made of a new material that should be harder to damage

It added that the screen was also higher resolution and used a “ceramic shield” to protect its display to offer “four times better drop performance”.

A new A14 Bionic chip – the first to be built on a five nanometre process – is being used to carry out more advanced enhancements to photos.

The firm said it would deliver night-mode selfies without using the flash, as well as better deal with colour, contrast and noise in challenging settings.

It showed off a forthcoming mobile version of League of Legends as an example of the “console-quality games” it now claimed to be able to handle.

And the addition of a magnet array in the phone’s back will allow compatible chargers to “snap on”, as well as accessories including a wallet to be held.

The iPhone Mini shares these features but in a smaller form.

The iPhone 12 will start at $799 and the iPhone 12 Mini $699.

5G follower

Samsung first launched a 5G-enabled Galaxy S10 phone back in February 2019, and Huawei, OnePlus and Google are among others to have added the capability too.

But experts say there has only been limited interest in the feature to date.

“Apple is rarely the first to launch new technologies but waits for a technology to be mature enough to build new customer experiences on top of it,” commented Thomas Husson from the research company Forrester.

“I think we’re slowly reaching this tipping point.”

The UK was the second European nation to start rolling out 5G.

But while this has helped give it a lead, coverage remains sporadic.

In the US – Apple’s largest market – 5G speeds are particularly slow. In fact, according to one study, downloads over Canada’s 4G networks are typically faster,

And in some countries, 5G has not yet to become available to the public.

However, in China – Apple’s second-biggest market – the government has encouraged its rapid deployment, and recently announced both Beijing and Shenzhen had achieved “full coverage”.

“There’s no qu

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Mosque says it ‘regrets’ sharing video aimed at the beheaded teacher. French interior minister wants it to be closed





A French mosque has expressed regret for sharing a video that is believed to have provoked the gruesome murder of a history and geography teacher. The country’s interior minister has demanded that it be closed down.

The teacher, Samuel Paty, was beheaded last week after he showed his class a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed as part of a lesson on freedom of expression. Police shot and killed the suspect, an 18-year-old Chechen refugee, in a standoff following the grisly attack. The murder, which occurred in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, shook France, triggering demonstrations and a government crackdown against Islamic extremism in the country. 

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Paty was targeted after the father of one of his students published several videos on social media in which he denounced the instructor as a “thug” and said that he had issued a complaint against him. The videos reportedly spread among the region’s Muslim community and one of them was even shared by a local mosque, the Grand Mosque of Pantin. 

The mosque’s rector, Mohammed Henniche, now says that he “regrets” the decision to share the clip, but insisted that the video never identified the teacher by name and was not a call to violence. 

“There is no call to hate, and no call against this teacher,” he told Franceinfo. 

The mosque removed the post after Paty’s murder and issued a statement condemning the attack.

Despite its

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Ireland to put nation under ‘Europe’s strictest’ quarantine for six weeks amid record daily Covid-19 infections





Dublin has decided to impose a national lockdown for six weeks that has been described by the Irish government itself as the harshest in Europe – all to curb the spread of Covid-19 that has been topping record levels for days.

Under the newly announced measures that are scheduled to come into force starting midnight Wednesday, all non-essential retail stores will be shut down while restaurants and pubs will have to reduce their work to take-away services only.

The people in Ireland would also be barred from traveling more than five kilometers away from their homes. Yet, unlike many other European nations, Ireland does not plan to shut down schools. Essential services such as construction will be exempted from the lockdown as well. As will be hotels – but only if their rooms are rented by people working in any “essential” sectors.

“In the effort to suppress the virus, we’ve already introduced what is probably Europe’s strictest regime,” Prime Minister Micheal Martin said in a televised address on Monday.

The government has decided that the evidence of a potentially grave situation arising in the weeks ahead is now too strong.

The move comes just two weeks after Dublin dismissed a “surprise” call by the nation’s health authorities to introduce the highest – fifth – level of restrictions amid the growing infection numbers.

The nation has already topped its autumn record for daily new Covid-19 cases five times over the last nine days, although the numbers still remain lower that those recorded on April 10 when the infections surpassed 1,500 in a single day, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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US to remove Sudan from its terrorism sponsors list in exchange for $335 MILLION payment to terrorist attack victims – Trump





Washington will take Sudan off its list of state sponsors of terrorism as soon as the African state pays $335 million in compensation to victims of Al-Qaeda attacks on US embassies, President Donald Trump has said.

The US and Sudan reached an agreement on the payment, Trump announced in a Twitter post, adding that once the money is transferred he will remove it from the terrorist sponsors list. The president called it “a big step” for Sudan and said that American people would finally get long-deserved justice.

GREAT news! New government of Sudan, which is making great progress, agreed to pay $335 MILLION to U.S. terror victims and families. Once deposited, I will lift Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. At long last, JUSTICE for the American people and BIG step for Sudan!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 19, 2020

Just minutes after Trump made his announcement, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok also took to Twitter and thanked the US leader.

“We very much look forward to your official notification to Congress rescinding the designation of Sudan as a state-sponsor of terrorism, which has cost Sudan too much,” he said, calling his nation’s presence on the notorious list “the heaviest legacy” of its previous “regime”.

Thank you so much, President Trump! We very much look forward to your official notification to Congress rescinding the designation of Sudan as a state-sponsor of terrorism, which has cost Sudan too much.

— Abdalla Hamdok (@SudanPMHamdok) October 19, 2020

Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism dates back to 1993 and is related to the nation’s former long-time leader, Omar al-Bashir, whom the US accused of supporting various militant groups, such as Hezbollah. The list inclusion also prevented Khartoum from accessing foreign financial aid and debt relief mechanisms.

Al-Bashir was toppled in a military coup last year following mass protests, and a transitional government led by Hamdok was put in charge. The new authorities arguably urgently needed foreign assistance to restore the nation’s economy following the political turmoil.

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