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Portuguese Tech Firm Uncorks a Smartphone Made Using Cork

Portugal is the world’s largest cork producer and the phone also marks the latest effort to diversify its use beyond wine bottle stoppers

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Tito Cardoso, CEO of Ikimobile, stands inside the Ikimobile factory in Coruche, Portugal, June 21, 2018.
Tito Cardoso, CEO of Ikimobile, stands inside the Ikimobile factory in Coruche, Portugal, June 21, 2018. (VOA)

A Portuguese tech firm is uncorking an Android smartphone whose case is made from cork, a natural and renewable material native to the Iberian country.

The Ikimobile phone is one of the first to use materials other than plastic, metal and glass and represents a boost for the country’s technology sector, which has made strides in software development but less in hardware manufacturing.

A Made in Portugal version of the phone is set to launch this year as Ikimobile completes a plant to transfer most of its production from China.

“Ikimobile wants to put Portugal on the path to the future and technologies by emphasizing this Portuguese product,” chief executive Tito Cardoso told Reuters at Ikimobile’s plant in the cork-growing area of Coruche, 80 km (50 miles) west of Lisbon.

“We believe the product offers something different, something that people can feel good about using,” he said. Cork is harvested only every nine years without hurting the oak trees and is fully recyclable.

Portugal is the world’s largest cork producer and the phone also marks the latest effort to diversify its use beyond wine bottle stoppers.

A technician shows a piece of cork used for a smartphone produced at the Ikimobile factory in Coruche, Portugal, June 21, 2018.
A technician shows a piece of cork used for a smartphone produced at the Ikimobile factory in Coruche, Portugal, June 21, 2018. (VOA)

Portuguese cork exports have lately regained their peaks of 15 years ago as cork stoppers clawed back market share from plastic and metal. Portugal also exports other cork products such as flooring, clothing and wind turbine blades.

A layer of cork covers the phone’s back providing thermal, acoustic and anti-shock insulation. The cork comes in colors ranging from black to light brown and has certified antibacterial properties and protects against battery radiation.

Cardoso said Ikimobile is working with north Portugal’s Minho University to make the phone even “greener” and hopes to replace a plastic body base with natural materials soon.The material, agglomerated using only natural resins, required years of research and testing for the use in phones.

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The plant should churn out 1.2 million phones a year — a drop in the ocean compared to last year’s worldwide smartphone market shipments of almost 1.5 billion.

Most cell phones are produced in Asia but local manufacture helps take advantage of the availability of cork and the “Made in Portugal” brand appeals to consumers in Europe, Angola, Brazil and Canada, Cardoso said.

In 2017, it sold 400,000 phones assembled in China in 2017, including simple feature phones. It hopes to surpass that amount with local production this year. Top-of-the-line cork models, costing 160-360 euros ($187-$420), make up 40 percent of sales.(VOA)

Next Story

Apple to Capture Dominant Share in 5G Smartphone Market

Apple is mobilising suppliers to produce its first 5G iPhones next year

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Apple
Apple plans to launch three 5G phones and ship at least 80 million of the new devices, Pixabay

Entry of Apple into the 5G race in the third quarter of 2020 will catapult the iPhone maker to top position, ahead of Samsung and Huawei, a new report has predicted.

According to market research firm Strategy Analytics, Apple will capture a dominant share in the emerging smartphone technology segment next year.

“It may seem counter-intuitive that Apple, which currently has no 5G phones in its portfolio will be able to pass current 5G market leaders Samsung and Huawei,” Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement.

“But with three new 5G models coming next year, Apple merely needs to match its current upgrade rates for newly introduced iPhone models to take the lead next year,” he added.

Samsung currently is the undisputed market leader in 5G smartphones.

“But with the two largest 5G markets in 2020, China and the US, dominated by Huawei and Apple respectively, these two vendors are set to lead in 5G next year,” commented Ville-Petteri Ukonaho, Associate Director at Strategy Analytics.

Apple is mobilising suppliers to produce its first 5G iPhones next year, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.

Apple plans to launch three 5G phones and ship at least 80 million of the new devices, said the report, citing sources.

While leading smartphone players like Samsung and Huawei have launched their 5G phones, Apple’s iPhone 11 series supports 4G.

The new iPhones will carry the most advanced 5G modem chip, known as X55 that is designed by Qualcomm, according to the Nikkei report. The iPhones will be powered by Apple’s latest-generation processor, known as A14.

However, in the longer term Samsung will regain the 5G crown.

Apple
Entry of Apple into the 5G race in the third quarter of 2020 will catapult the iPhone maker to top position, ahead of Samsung and Huawei, a new report has predicted. Pixabay

“As more markets cut over to 5G, Samsung will capture the majority of that share by virtue of its dominance of the overall smartphone market and a broader portfolio of 5G devices across more price-bands,” said Hyers.

Huawei’s potential in 5G smartphone sales is currently limited by the US technology trade ban.

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“Huawei is dominant in China and will likely remain so. But until the ban is lifted, prospects for Huawei in 5G smartphone sales elsewhere are limited,” said Ville-Petteri Ukonaho from Strategy Analytics. (IANS)