Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The evolution of cellular mobile technology (from 1G to 5G)

Do you still remember the first generation of mobile phone running on 1G analog cellular telecommunication network? The phone is as bulky as a brick with large external antenna. The average talk time for each battery recharge is about 35 minutes only. It was a luxury item.

Mobile phones started to become popular during the 2G digital era, whereby SMS text messages were made possible. Sending SMS at that time was not as convenient as today, as the phones were having physical T9 keypad, and typing alphabets would need more than one strokes.

Apple has changed the world during 3G era by introducing iPhone supported with iTune app store. Physical keypad was totally removed from the phone, giving larger space for its touch screen.

Today we are at 4G era, moving forward to 5G soon.

The table below summarizes the evolution of cellular mobile technology from 1G to 5G. We can see that for each advancement of generation, or sub-generation in between, there would be an increase in data transfer speed, and wider range of network application usage.

5G will be essential for the IoT connected world, particularly for connected vehicles and smart cities.

5G technology promises to greatly reduce the latency (the "preparation time" required before 2 wirelessly connected device to start transmitting data to each other) to around 1 milliseconds, compared with the current 30 milliseconds in 4G LTE.

5G technology also promises a 20 times increase in network speed from 4G, bringing gigabit Internet access possible to all mobile devices.

5G technology also promises a much stable and reliable signal strength by utilizing massive MIMO beamforming technology, which is a matured technology already in used in Wireless-AC WiFi networks for years.

On the other hand, 5G will require much stronger end-to-end cybersecurity protection and user privacy protection.

Are you excited to the upcoming 5G technology? It is said that key industry players are already working on 6G, which will mesh over satellite WiFi technology.

Monday, February 18, 2019

EPF declared 6.15% (conventional) / 5.90% (shariah) dividend for 2018

The Employees Provident Fund (EPF, a.k.a. KWSP) has just declared the dividend rate for financial year 2018.

For year 2018, the dividend declared for conventional account is 6.15% while for Shariah account is 5.90%. The dividend has already credited into members' account, and you can check for it by login into your EPF i-Account.

Year 2018 was the second year of dividend declaration for Shariah account, while dividend for conventional account has been declared annually since 1952. The dividend for Shariah account in both 2017 and 2018 were lower than the dividend for conventional account of the same year.

The 6.15% dividend for EPF conventional account in 2018 is 10.87% lower than the 6.9%  dividend declared for 2017 (last year).

Calculation: (6.15-6.90)/6.90 = -0.75/6.90 = -10.87%

It is 4.24% higher than the 5.90% Shariah dividend declared for the same year.

Calculation: (6.15-5.90)/5.90 = 0.25/5.90 = 4.24%

You can click here to check the historical EPF dividend pay-out rates from 1952 until today to judge yourself whether the dividend payout rate in 2018 is satisfactory or not.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Smart devices Li-polymer battery fast charging technology and compatibility

Nowadays, one of the selling points of smart devices (phones, tablets, watches, cameras, etc.) is how soon can they recharge their Li-polymer battery. There are already products which claim to be able to recharge from 10% to 100% within 20 minutes.

The battery charging speed is an important convenience indicator. If your mobile device can recharge its battery within a short period of time, it will greatly reduce your waiting time for its battery recharging, and also reduce the need of bringing along a power bank.

Imagine that when you are on the move and taking a short break at a place, you just need to borrow a power source for 5-10 minutes to quickly recharge your phone to bring up its battery level to be sufficient for the rest of the day, there will be less worry for you about the phone running out of battery power, and you don't need to wait for a long time for the recharging process.

The Li-polymer battery fast charging technology evolves following the evolution of USB into Type C era, and the introduction of industry standard called USB Power Delivery (USB-PD).

Traditionally, the USB cable has more emphasis on data transfer than charging function. The maximum power or Wattage (Power = Voltage x Current) a traditional USB cable and its charger can deliver is merely 2.5W.

With the current USB 3.1 standard, theoretically the maximum charging power can go as high as 100W. The more wattage the charging mechanism can deliver, the faster will be the charging process.

The charging mechanism consists of:
  • The charger
  • The cable
  • The device (phone/tablet/etc. for non-removable battery)
  • The battery
For fast charging to happen and to be safe, all the 4 charging components must be compatible and working well with each other. Otherwise, you will probably end up with traditional 2.5W slow charging, or your fast charging will be at risk of overheat, overcharge, battery damage or even device damage.

Compatible fast charging components will form a charging mechanism that can deliver stable fast charging wattage, and has electronic circuits and mechanisms to protect the battery and device from being damaged (such as catching fire, explode, bulking, malfunction, ...), overheat, overcharge, etc.

Different device manufacturer has come out with different kinds of fast charging mechanism, under different brand names such as Quick Charge, TurboPower, Pump Express, SuperCharge, VOOC, and so on.

If the device and battery is USB-PD compliance, then you can fast charge it with 3rd party or other brand of USB cable and/or charger that are also USB-PD compliance.

If the device and battery is Qualcomm Quick Charge compatible, then you can fast charge it with 3rd party or other brand of fast charger with Qualcomm Quick Charge chipset inside, using USB cable that supports 5A current transmission.

If you want to play safe, the rule of thumb is to fast charge your device using original charger and original cable from the same manufacturer designed for your device.

It seems that Oppo Super VOOC can charge its supported Oppo phones more faster than the others, however the Super VOOC charging mechanism is pretty proprietary. Huawei SuperCharge 2.0 found in its Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20X and later model of devices can also charge pretty fast at 40W, and is compatible to USB-PD and Qualcomm Quick Charge, although the wattage might be lower when fast charged with 3rd party compatible charger and cable.

Here are some tips if you want to buy a power bank, 3rd party charger or 3rd party USB cable:
  • Choose the USB cable that can support 5A charging. It is backward compatible and more future proof.
  • Choose the power bank that support Quick Charge 3.0 or Quick Charge 4.0+ to enable fast charging with compatible devices. Make sure it also has built-in mechanism to protect the battery and device properly. Choose for branded product that is reliable.
  • Choose the wall charger that support the same charging voltage and current with your original wall charger. Make sure it also has built-in mechanism to protect the battery and device properly. Choose for branded product that is reliable.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Automate Flow: Let your phone / tablet inform you when its battery is 100% fully charged

This is an example of Automate flow. To learn more about Automate for Android phones, click here.

It is advisable to unplug your phone / tablet from its battery charging source once its battery is 100% fully charged.

Although modern Li-polymer battery has overcharge protection in its circuit and in its charger, overcharge can still happen when the battery is aged (exceeded its warranty period), or you are using 3rd party charger and/or 3rd party charging cable, which might not work well with its overcharge protection mechanism.

Some common symptoms of battery overcharged including overheat and/or battery bulking (permanent damage).

This is a simple Automate flow that lets your phone / tablet speak to you to inform that its battery is 100% fully charged, so that you are alerted and can proceed to unplug it from the charging source.

You can change the speaking voice, its pitch and speed, in your Android text-to-speech setting.

Automate Flow: Auto disable WiFi when you are travelling in a vehicle unless you are connected to a hotspot

This is an example of Automate flow. To learn more about Automate for Android phones, click here.

Normally when we are travelling in a vehicle, we have no WiFi access. Disabling the WiFi function of our Android smartphone and/or tablet will help to conserve some battery usage.

However, there might be situation when our phone/tablet is connected to a mobile WiFi hotspot which is in the vehicle. In this case, we won't want to disable the WiFi function.

Below is the Automate flow that will automatically disable WiFi when you are travelling in a vehicle, unless you are connected to a WiFi hotspot.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Online check whether handphone / tablet is genuine local original set with SIRIM MCMC Label registration

Communication products particularly handphones and tablets sold by authorized distribution channels in Malaysia are required to be certified by SIRIM under the Communications and Multimedia (Technical Standards) Regulations 2000.

Certified products will carry a genuine MCMC Label with serial number, normally stuck on the packaging box. Alternatively, it could be in the form of electronic MCMC Label stored digitally in the device, displayable on the screen normally from About page.

As such, you can know whether your handphone and/or tablet is genuine local original set by checking for its IMEI number(s) and/or Serial Number with SIRIM MCMC Label registration. If the result of the check is "not found" then your device is not registered with SIRIM, and most probably was imported from non-proper channel, or is a clone/counterfeit product.

There are 2 common ways to perform the checking online. One way is through the SIRIM e-comM enquiry website, and another is by using the SIRIM Check Your Label mobile app.

Below is the URL to check using the IMEI number of the handphone/tablet. For dual-SIM products, both IMEI numbers can be checked respectively:

And you can download the Check Your Label mobile app from Google Play Store (for Android) and Apple iTune Store (for iOS).

The Check Your Label app will display slightly more information than the e-comM website.


Online checking for Huawei smartphone warranty period expiry and applicable country

If you have bought a new Huawei product such as a smartphone / tablet / laptop and have registered for its warranty, whereby the registration was done by your dealer or by yourself, you can actually check for its warranty information in Huawei Consumer Products website by using the serial number of your product.

You can, of course, make use of the same webpage to check whether:

  • Your product has already been registered for warranty or not.
  • Your product is a new set or used/refurbished set. Used or refurbished set will have warranty expiry shorter than the full warranty period.
  • Your product is an original local set or non-local set.
  • Your product is genuine Huawei product or counterfeit product with invalid serial number.

You just need 2 steps to perform this warranty checking.

Firstly, you need to know the serial number of your product, which is printed on the label at the packaging box.

For Huawei smartphone, the easiest way to find out your phone's serial number is by dialing *#06# which will display its serial number and IMEI number(s) on the screen. You can then long tap on the displayed serial number to copy it into your clipboard.

Another way to view the smartphone's serial number is by going to Settings > System > About Phone > Status.

Once you obtained the product serial number, open your web browser and visit to this webpage: https://consumer.huawei.com/my/support/warranty-query/

Paste or key-in your device serial number, and also enter the 4-characters captcha as verification code, then press the Search button.

For Huawei smartphone, the product warranty information page will show out:
  • The product name and model number
  • The product serial number
  • Expected warranty expiration date
  • Applicable scope
  • Screen damage warranty expiration date
  • Premium service expiration date

In addition, the device warranty expiration information is also available in the HiCare mobile app most probably pre-installed in the Huawei smartphone. Just open the app in the phone, tap on Me option, you'll be able to find the warranty expiration date and applicable country under the Device Benefits section.

Just tap into the Warranty and/or Screen Insurance image link to view the detail information.

Furthermore, you can continue to check whether your device is genuine local original set with SIRIM MCMC Label registration.

Hint: Click on the "Older Posts" link to continue reading, or click here for a listing of all my past 3 months articles.