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Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Apple iPhone X review

30 Jan

DPReview smartphone reviews are written with the needs of photographers in mind. We focus on camera features, performance, and image quality.

The iPhone X is the newest flagship phone from Apple. It comes with twin optically stabilized 12MP rear cameras, a 7MP front-facing camera with ‘TrueDepth’ technology, artificial background blur and specialized lighting effects, DNG Raw file capture, and of course is otherwise a highly capable and extremely speedy mobile device.

And it should be, given the asking price: at an MSRP of $ 999, the iPhone X (pronounced iPhone Ten, which I’ll admit I’m still getting used to) is priced comfortably higher than many of its current competitors that also come with an emphasis on photographic prowess.

Out-of-camera JPEG in HDR mode.
ISO 20 | 1/229 sec | F1.8
Photo by Carey Rose

As with just about every modern high-end smartphone, the results of the picture-taking process on the iPhone are as much about clever software tricks as they are about the hardware. With the software and hardware combined, does the iPhone X truly offer image quality comparable to so-called ‘real cameras?’ Is artificial background blur driving the final nails into the interchangeable-lens camera coffin?

Of course, the answer isn’t all that simple, and depends an awful lot on the preferences of the user behind the lens. But let’s dive in and take a look at what Apple’s latest smartphone shooter is capable of.

Key Photographic / Video Specifications

  • Dual 12MP sensors
  • 28/56mm equivalent focal lengths
  • F1.8/2.4 aperture
  • On-sensor phase detection
  • Quad-LED flash
  • DNG Raw capture and manual control with 3rd party apps
  • 4K video at 60 fps
  • 1080p 120/240fps slow-motion video
  • 7MP front-facing ‘TrueDepth’ camera with F2.2 aperture

Other Specifications

  • 5.8-inch, 2436×1125 OLED
  • Apple A11 Fusion chipset
  • 3GB RAM
  • 64/256GB storage
  • 2,716mAh battery
  • Wireless charging (Qi compatible)

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Apple will stop automatically slowing down your iPhone, will let you decide

18 Jan
Photo by Suganth

Apple’s iPhone slowdown controversy has reached what seems like its final stage last night, when Tim Cook announced in an exclusive interview with ABC News that the company would give users the option to keep their older iPhones running at full speed, even once the battery had become, in Cook’s words, ‘unhealthy.’

The controversy began a few weeks ago when several iPhone users online shared benchmarks that showed older phones—iPhone 6 and 6s models—were being slowed down to less than half their original CPU performance. This led to wild speculation about so-called ‘planned obsolescence’: the idea that Apple was slowing down phones to encourage users to upgrade to newer models.

Apple admitted to releasing an update that slowed down iPhones whose batteries had become older, but the company was vehement that it was done in the users best interest—a way to prevent unexpected restarts. Cook reiterated this point in last night’s interview with ABC News.

“When we did put [the update] out, we did say what it was, but I don’t think a lot of people were paying attention and maybe we should have been clearer as well,” says Cook, explaining that Apple did notify users, probably in the update release notes. “And so we deeply apologize to anybody that thinks we had some other kind of motivation.”

In the short cut of the interview above, this apology is all that’s mentioned, but a longer version of the interview also revealed another very interesting tidbit: Apple’s forthcoming battery update will let users choose whether or not their phones are slowed down once the battery becomes ‘unhealthy.’

As MacRumors quotes from a longer cut they were able to embed:

We’re also going to… first in a developer release that happens next month, we’re going to give people the visibility of the health of their battery.

[…]

…we will tell someone we’re reducing your performance by some amount in order to not have an unexpected restart. And if you don’t want it, you can turn it off. Now we don’t recommend it, because we think people’s iPhones are really important to them, and you never can tell when something is so urgent. Our actions were all in service of the user. I can’t stress that enough.

Whether or not these changes—and the discounted battery replacements announced a couple of weeks ago—will be enough to get Apple out of a few of the lawsuits currently being pursued against the company is yet to be seen. But for users who wanted more transparency from the company, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Apple Photos: An Under-Appreciated Post-Processing Software Powerhouse

13 Jan

As the market for digital cameras has intensified in recent years, the options available for post-processing software has exploded as well. There are dozens of great options for casual, enthusiast, and professional image-makers who are looking to get the most out of their images.

Programs like Lightroom, Luminar, CaptureOne, Affinity Photo, GIMP, DarkTable, and AfterShotPro, are all highly capable photo editors. It can be a daunting proposition to try and pick one that’s right for you.

Fortunately for Mac users, there is a fantastic option already available to you for free sitting right on your own computer. Apple Photos is a program you might have overlooked in the past, but with steady improvements over the years, it is now a serious contender when it comes to post-processing your pictures.

Apple Photos: An Under-Appreciated Post-Processing Software Powerhouse

A Brief History

The story of Apple Photos starts in 2002 with Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs introducing an all-in-one program to let users catalog, edit, and share their digital pictures. This new software called iPhoto was revolutionary at the time, giving casual users a way to manage all their digital imaging assets in a way that was fast, simple, and easy to understand.

I used iPhoto from the first version that was released and even now it’s kind of amazing how well that initial offering worked, though it was clearly lacking many features we take for granted today. A few years later Apple waded into the professional photo editing market with Aperture, a program that was like iPhoto on steroids and was seen as a direct competitor to Adobe Lightroom.

Merger of Aperture and iPhoto

As the decade wore on and Apple saw how much people were using their mobile phones for taking and editing pictures it decided to kill off Aperture and iPhoto and replace them with a single program called Photos. This new application offered users a way to manage, edit, and share their photos much in the same way iPhoto and Aperture functioned, but also gave people the ability to sync their photo collections and even individual photo edits across all their devices.

With Photos, it was possible to crop a picture on your iPhone and then have that same cropped version of the picture show up on your Apple desktop a few seconds later – a syncing nightmare that was virtually impossible using the panoply of programs previously available from Apple.

Apple Photos: An Under-Appreciated Post-Processing Software Powerhouse

Evolution of Photos

One significant tradeoff when consolidating apps and enabling cross-device editing with Apple Photos was a lean feature set that, compared to Aperture, was downright anemic and even came up short when compared to iPhoto. Photographers hopeful for a fresh new program with all of their favorite features were dismayed and abandoned Apple Photos in droves only to rush headlong into the welcoming arms of Adobe, Macphun (now called Skylum), Corel, and other developers.

However over time, Apple has delivered on its promise to improve Photos and with each iteration, the program becomes more capable, not to mention speedier, than ever before. It can now hold its own against many of the other post-processing software options available on the market. It’s safe to say that if you haven’t used Apple Photos in a while you might be surprised at how good the current version is, and if you have never even tried the program you are in for a real treat.

Sunflower photo processed in Apple Photos app.

Photo management simplified

The core principle of Apple Photos has always been simplicity. Even back to the original days of iPhoto, Apple’s philosophy has been to make their image-editing programs as easy to use as possible. I can personally attest to this with my dad as an example.

He is a retired railroad mechanic who prefers working on small engines in his garage instead of tinkering on the computer. But he is perfectly capable of connecting his Canon Rebel T4i to his Mac, offloading his images into Photos, and post-processing them using the tools provided. Underlying that simplicity is a powerful set of editing tools that started out all too basic but have grown to be quite competent over time.

One library

The Photos app is built around the concept of a unified photo library, such that any photos you take on your phone automatically sync with your computer and vice versa. Because of that, the interface looks much the same whether you’re on a desktop, laptop, iPad, or iPhone.

Your pictures aren’t stored in the cloud per se, but Apple does use its cloud-based infrastructure to sync all your pictures while keeping the actual image files stored on your individual devices. To enable this all you have to do is click a checkbox in Apple Photos on your desktop and flip a slider on your iPhone and the program will take care of the rest.

Apple Photos: An Under-Appreciated Post-Processing Software Powerhouse

Organization

Photos organizes your images based on time data and does its best to group pictures into what it calls Events based on time and location data. Scroll through your library and you will see images grouped by categories such as People, Places, Favorites, and Memories as well as Albums which are collections of photos that you create manually or automatically using metadata (i.e. all photos with the keyword “Vacation” and “Kansas”.)

Unlike Google Photos and some other cloud-based services, none of your images are analyzed by Apple for the purpose of gathering data that can be used in advertising. A boon to privacy advocates and others who just want to keep other companies away from their pictures.

Apple Photos: An Under-Appreciated Post-Processing Software Powerhouse

Sorting and viewing images

However, some degree of machine learning is present in Photos, as the software attempts to group your images automatically with Memories based on time and location data. It also automatically looks for faces which it uses to populate the People category.

If you have ever scrolled through your near-endless Lightroom Library you might be surprised at how well Photos handles the presentation element of photo management. You can use the options buttons at the top of the screen to organize your images by Photos, Moments, Collections, or Years. All your images are available in each view, but the Photos app groups them dynamically so as you scroll up and down you will see them grouped together in specific ways. If you click Moments your images are grouped almost like day-to-day activities, whereas Collections shows photos in larger groups and Years literally displays an entire year’s worth of images at once.

Apple Photos: An Under-Appreciated Post-Processing Software Powerhouse

Grouping options for how to display your thumbnails – Moments, Collections or Years (shown here).

All this is fairly simple and intuitive, and if you have a trackpad on your Mac you can mimic the pinch-to-zoom feature found on iPhone and iPad devices to zoom in and out of your entire photo library. Longtime Lightroom users will note several deficiencies in this design methodology, though, and a host of missing features like Compare, Survey, and fine-grained sorting criteria not to mention Lightroom’s far superior Library Filter.

This illustrates the point that Apple Photos is not intended to be a full-on replacement for Lightroom. Nevertheless, it can be a good starting point for amateurs or even enthusiasts looking to get a little more control over their image organization.

Powerful post-processing editing features

Image management is one thing, but post-processing or editing is a whole other matter entirely. Unfortunately, this is where Apple Photos has traditionally fallen flat. The first version of Photos had an editing feature set that was positively anemic and downright infuriating to longtime users of Aperture. They felt they had been hung out to dry by Apple, and it was not even worth comparing to programs like Lightroom, Photoshop, and others.

But like the fabled tortoise racing against the hare, Apple has steadily injected an ever-growing list of editing tools into Photos. It’s now not only competent but worth considering for anyone who wants to dive deeper into more professional-style editing.

Basic and advanced tools

Select a photo and click the Edit button to open up a cornucopia of editing tools. They cover all the basic options you would expect to find in any prominent image editor and even a few surprises. Of course, you can perform basic edits like Crop, Red Eye Removal, and White Balance and if that’s all you want then you’re good to go.

There are also highly advanced tools like RGB Levels and RGB Curves in which individual color channels can be edited, Selective Color that lets you adjust Hue, Saturation, and Lightness for Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue, and Magenta colors. Also present is a Noise Reduction option that allows for Luminance and Color noise, and even a Lightness tool with the freedom to adjust seven different parameters including Exposure, Brilliance, Highlights, Shadows, and Contrast.

Apple Photos: An Under-Appreciated Post-Processing Software Powerhouse

Filters

Apple Photos also has a nice array of filters. They work just like those in Instagram or other programs like Luminar, with one-click presets such as Vivid, Dramatic, Mono, Noir, and more. Add to this a pretty good auto-enhance option and the ability to undo edits one at a time or revert to the original with one click, and you can see how this program might be worth a second look. I remember using it when it first launched and was immediately put off by its overly-simplistic workflow and lack of features. But now I would honestly recommend it to anyone who is considering buying a subscription to Lightroom or investing in any other image editing post-processing software options on the market.

Apple Photos is not perfect, but it could suit your needs better than you might realize. The best part is it’s absolutely free if you own a Mac computer, iPhone, or iPad. There’s something special about editing a picture on your desktop, picking up your phone and seeing all your changes automatically synced, and then realizing it’s all happening without any monthly fee or another type of additional payment.

Apple Photos: An Under-Appreciated Post-Processing Software Powerhouse

Caveats and Limitations

All of this editing and organizational finesse comes with a rather large asterisk or two, as there are some significant drawbacks to Apple Photos that savvy photographers need to be aware of.

The most important is that this is an Apple-only program, so if you use Windows or Linux you’re out of luck. The mobile version is firmly ensconced in Apple’s infamous walled garden which means it never has been, and never will be, available for Android phones.

Also despite the lack of a subscription model, if you want to take full advantage of the iCloud-based storage options you will need to shell out some cash for iCloud Drive. Apple only gives users a paltry 5GB for free. Fortunately, iCloud plans are quite reasonable, and I am perfectly happy with my 50GB plan that only costs 99 cents per month.

Apple Photos: An Under-Appreciated Post-Processing Software Powerhouse

If you want to take full advantage of Photos’ cloud-based options, you might want to purchase additional storage. Fortunately, this is optional and it’s entirely up to you whether you want to do this, and how much storage to buy.

What’s missing

Finally, there are some notable features missing from Apple Photos that users of Lightroom, Luminar, and other apps will likely bemoan – and rightly so. There’s no history panel, no brush adjustments, no radial or graduated filters, no way to share presets, no plugin architecture for third-party expandability, no way to sync edits across multiple photos, and the list goes on.

Even simply exporting a photo can be frustrating. You only have a few options available by default like sharing to online social media sites or setting an image as a desktop background. These can be customized albeit not nearly to the same level as many other programs. It’s safe to say that if you want to give Apple Photos a chance it’s best to keep your expectations in check.

Apple Photos: An Under-Appreciated Post-Processing Software Powerhouse

Unless you want to post images directly to Facebook or Flickr, you might get a little frustrated with the default sharing options.

Conclusion

I hesitate to make a solid recommendation regarding Apple Photos because it really is dependent on the needs of each individual user. Other than to say a once low-end unimpressive program without much going for it has now been transformed to the point that I think it could really be useful for a lot of people.

While it’s still not up to par with its Aperture ancestor and continues to lag behind a lot of other options on the market in terms of features and capability, it’s a free, powerful, highly effective photo manager and editor that just might surprise and delight you if you give it a chance.

The post Apple Photos: An Under-Appreciated Post-Processing Software Powerhouse by Simon Ringsmuth appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Apple apologizes for iPhone performance issues, offers discount on battery replacement

29 Dec

In a “letter to our customers” posted on its website, Apple took a more active stance in the iPhone slowdown ‘scandal’ that has been making headlines over the past week. The company once again explained why it was reducing performance on older iPhone models, but the letter went a step further, apologizing to customers for the lack of transparency and offering a few potential solutions to placate angry iPhone users.

The letter first describes how batteries age, and explains that the company changed its power management system to reduce “unexpected shutdowns” on iPhone 6 and SE models last year. (Apple did the same with iPhone 7 models recently).

In response to negative feedback from customers (and perhaps lawsuits) Apple will be reducing the price of replacement batteries by $ 50 (to $ 29) for out-of-warranty iPhones. Furthermore, the company plans to release an iOS update that will, “give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery, so they can see for themselves if its condition is affecting performance.”

The battery replacement program will begin in January and run throughout 2018. More information will be posted soon on apple.com.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Apple facing several lawsuits over intentionally slowing down old iPhones

29 Dec
Photo by Robin van der Ploeg

Earlier this week, we shared the news that Apple had admitted to slowing down older iPhones—an accusation originally leveled at the company by several Redditors and bloggers who found their phones’ performance had been cut in half, and would only return to full performance with a battery replacement.

This admission, in which Apple defended this ‘feature’ as benefiting users, has now sparked several lawsuits.

Background

Last week, Apple confirmed that older iPhones—specifically iPhone 6/Plus, iPhone 6S/Plus, and iPhone SE—were indeed being slowed down on purpose, but denied any malicious intent (e.g. trying to trick people into upgrading to a newer iPhone).

Instead, in a statement to The Verge, Apple said the ‘feature’ had been implemented, “to deliver the best experience for customers” by preventing sudden shut downs or damage to the internal components that can be caused by an older battery trying to provide peak current it just can’t handle anymore.

This explanation makes sense, and several technologically savvy commentators online (and even some readers in the DPReview comments) speculated that other companies likely do this same thing. But the lack of transparency—essentially only admitting that this was being done after being called out publicly—left many Apple users upset… and a few of them are doing something about it.

And Now

According to USA Today and The Verge, several lawsuits have been filed against Apple over this iPhone throttling. In the United States, suits have been filed in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York among others, but the lawsuits over this admission extend as far as Israel, according to Reuters.

One of the first, a proposed class-action lawsuit in Los Angeles filed last Thursday by two consumers, claims breach-of-contract because users never agreed to allow Apple to slow down their iPhones.

The latest suit, filed by five iPhone users in New York, New Jersey, and Florida, seeks class-action status and accuses Apple of fraud, deception and breach-of-contract for not notifying users that it was slowing down old iPhones. The lawsuit states that, had they known batteries were to blame for their phones slowing down, these plaintiffs would have chosen to replace their batteries instead of purchasing a new phone.

Apple has not released any comment on the lawsuits filed thus far.

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Apple admits to slowing down older iPhones as the battery gets weaker

27 Dec
Photo by Marcelo Silva

If you like to use your iPhone as a daily shooter, you may have noticed your older model (iPhone 6, 6s, and SE) slowing way down, making it far less usable. The good (or is it bad?) news is you’re not imagining it; it turns out Apple has purposely slowed down your phone’s CPU. But according to the Cupertino-based tech giant, the change is not meant to encourage an upgrade… it’s in your best interest.

This controversy began on Reddit earlier this month, when user TeckFire pointed out that his iPhone 6s had become very slow, only to speed back up again after the battery was replaced. TeckFire published Geekbench scores as proof, and other users followed suit, showing that Apple was more or less cutting performance in half—that’s not a small performance decrease:

You can imagine the initial response to these revelations. The headlines ran something like this: Apple is secretly slowing down old iPhones, are they trying to force users to upgrade to a new phone? We’ll never really know if Apple’s intent is nefarious, but according to the company itself, it most certainly is not.

In a statement to The Verge, Apple admitted to the slowdown, but claimed it was done in users’ best interest:

Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.

You can read the full statement on The Verge, but the gist is simple: yes we’re slowing down older phones, but it’s not because we want to force people to upgrade, it’s a feature to ensure ‘the best experience for customers.’

Photo by Jun Seita

The unfortunate part of all this is that the explanation came after the controversy broke. If Apple had been transparent about this fact—explaining the benefits of a new battery and how the old battery could actually cause damage to your phone if the CPU was left to run at full capacity once the battery reached a certain performance threshold—iPhone users could have seen it as a positive. As it stands, it’s unlikely Apple’s statement/explanation will satisfy every old iPhone user out there.

Speaking of whom, if you’re using an iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, or iPhone SE and notice a performance slowdown, it might be time for a battery replacement. Apple charges $ 80 for the service (unless you want to do it yourself and void the warranty), and your phone’s CPU should start running at peak again after the upgrade.

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Moment releases new case and lenses for Apple iPhone X

21 Nov

Moment has launched a new photography case and lenses for the iPhone X, all of them currently listed for preorder on the company’s website. The protective case, which is simply called Photo Case, is black with a canvas or optional walnut wood backing, and is joined by wide-angle, macro, super fisheye, and telephoto lens options.

The lenses attached directly to the Photo Case.

Moment’s system gives the iPhone X—and select other phones—a sort of interchangeable lens system, enabling photographers to quickly attach and remove various lenses to the device as needed. The Photo Case doubles as a slim protective case, featuring microsuede on the inside, a thin rubberized body, and support for an optional wrist strap.

The lenses, meanwhile, are made with glass and feature Moment’s new bayonet system for locking the lens to the case. Moment explains that its lenses are durable due to the use of “aerospace grade metal” and a unique hardening process. The company offers a 12-month warranty for their lenses.

The Moment for iPhone X is available to preorder at the following prices:

  • Photo Case: $ 30
  • Wide Lens: $ 100
  • Superfish Lens: $ 90
  • Macro Lens: $ 90
  • Tele Lens: $ 100

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RAW Power: An iOS raw editor designed by the former Apple Aperture lead

17 Nov

Apple’s mobile operating system has been able to shoot RAW images for a while now, but iOS 11 added broad support for raw formats from other cameras, opening up the door for new apps to leverage this ability and let you edit your professional camera’s RAW photos on your phone or tablet. Enter RAW Power, an iOS app designed by Nik Bhatt, founder of Gentlemen Coders, who was a lead developer for Apple’s Aperture and iPhoto.

With RAW Power, iPhone and iPad owners can use their devices to edit any raw file supported by iOS 11… and that list is long and comprehensive.

As Apple details on its support site, iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra both support raw image formats from dozens of cameras from multiple makers including Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Fujifilm, Hasselblad, and others. RAW Power presents a way to edit those images via iOS 11, offering features like white balance, sharpen, curves, and others that can’t be found in Apple’s own Photos app.

Plus, since it’s hooked up to iCloud, edits can be synced across devices so you can start editing on mobile and pick that up later on your desktop, or visa versa—as long as you have iCloud photo library enabled, that is.

According to the app’s devs, RAW Power also offers a Depth Effect feature designed specifically for photos taken with a dual-camera iPhone model. And Apple users who also have a Mac can edit the same image between both platforms via the RAW Power macOS extension.

RAW Power is currently available through iTunes for free, though users who want access to the depth, advanced curves and white balance tools will need to unlock them with a $ 10 payment. To find out more about the RAW Power app, head over to the Gentlemen Coders website or download it from the iTunes App Store.

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Cinematic 4K footage shot with the Apple iPhone X

10 Nov

Matteo Bertoli, a California-based cinematographer, got a chance to try out the iPhone X’s video capabilities in Kauai and has just published the results. And before you ask – Bertoli states that it was all shot handheld.

“I DID NOT use any lenses, accessories, tripods or sliders. Everything was shot handheld, the only thing I had on the phone was the silicon case, that’s it. Also I DID NOT use Filmic Pro. Everything was done with the native camera app. Shot in 4K at 24fps,” he states on YouTube.

Bertoli did grade the footage in Davinci Resolve 14. He also stays that, impressively, most of the video was shot using the telephoto camera. The secondary camera module’s inclusion of OIS and a brighter F2.4 aperture means it’s more useful for these kinds of applications.

Take a look at the footage above and let us know what you think in the comments.

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Corephotonics sues Apple over dual-camera zoom patents

08 Nov

Israel-based company Corephotonics—which is best known for its smartphone dual-camera systems—has filed a patent infringement case against Apple in federal court. The company claims that has used Corephotonics’ dual-camera zoom technology in the iPhone 7 Plus and 8 Plus without authorization.

According to the complaint, Corephotonics Chief Executive David Mendlovic had attempted to negotiate a partnership with Apple. However, while Corephotonics received positive feedback on their technology from Apple, the iPhone makers refused a licensing deal, suggesting Corephotonics patents could be infringed with little consequence.

From the lawsuit:

As one of its first acts as a company, Corephotonics reached out to Apple in the hopes of establishing a strategic partnership. Corephotonics received many encouraging reports and positive feedback from Apple about its technology, but the parties never concluded a license to the Corephotonics technology.

In fact, after one failed effort to negotiate a license, Apple’s lead negotiator expressed contempt for Corephotonics’ patents, telling Dr. Mendlovic and others that even if Apple infringed, it would take years and millions of dollars in litigation before Apple might have to pay something.

Corephotonics investors include Foxconn and chipmaker MediaTek, which are both suppliers to Apple. In the lawsuit the company is represented by legal firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, which also advised Samsung Electronics on its patent litigation with Apple.

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