7 Days: A week of the SNES mini, the Surface mini, and Google's not-so-mini fine

7 Days is a weekly roundup of the Editors' picks of what's been happening in the world of technology - written with a dash of humor, a hint of exasperation, and an endless supply of (Irish) coffee.

We made it! We made it through another week, even though it’s been an exhausting, action-packed week, stuffed to bursting with juicy developments from across the tech world. You might well have missed something amid all the excitement – but don’t worry, because 7 Days is here again to walk you through the week’s top tech news.

We start this week with Facebook, which looks set to become the new social TV network. The company, which announced on Tuesday that it now has over two billion users, is reportedly offering studios up to $3 million an episode for the rights to new shows.

Verizon outraged net neutrality campaigners as it informed users of Tumblr and other Yahoo services that they'll no longer be able to log in using an AT&T email address.

AMD's monstrous new Radeon Vega Frontier Edition GPU went on sale this week, priced at $999. A water-cooled model is on the way too, which will set you back a cool $1,499.

Qualcomm announced its new Snapdragon Wear 1200 processor system-on-a-chip "wearable platform", bringing improved performance and efficiency to smartwatches, fitness trackers, and other devices, along with built-in 4G LTE connectivity.

It also revealed the mid-range Snapdragon 450 mobile platform, promising a 25% performance boost over the 435.

Meanwhile, Vivo showed off a prototype handset using Qualcomm's new ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, hidden beneath the display. Apple and Samsung are rumored to be working on similar implementations for their devices.

Vertu - maker of 'luxurious', tastelessly-styled Android phones, which cost up to $50,000 each - appears to be struggling, as suppliers and staff await payment, amid a legal struggle between the firm's current and former owners. Among its creditors is Microsoft, which is reportedly owed £2.5 million ($3.2 million).

Meanwhile, Google now owes the EU €2.42 billion ($2.7 billion). It was slapped with a record-breaking fine by the European Commission for having "abused its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product".

Unsurprisingly, Google said it "respectfully disagrees" with the findings of the EC's antitrust investigation, and "will consider an appeal" - but the company is still under two further investigations for alleged anti-competitive behavior in Europe.

Google is expected to launch two new Pixel handsets in the not-too-distant future - and according to specs that leaked in recent days, it looks like they'll both be costly flagship-class devices again.

HTC, which made the Pixel phones for Google, loved LG's V10 and V20 so much that it copied their distinctive secondary displays for its own U Ultra flagship. But it seems LG may have gone off them, as it's reportedly ditching the second display for its V30, due this year.

Samsung is preparing to resurrect its fiery flagship - presumably with less fire, exploding, and panic. It confirmed plans to sell refurbished models of its Galaxy Note7 a few months ago, and they're expected to (re)launch next week as the 'Galaxy Note7 Fandom Edition'.

I'll just leave this here:

Moving on...

While the Note7 rises from the dead, Samsung is preparing to launch its successor. It appears that the Galaxy Note8 may have been revealed prematurely, in an accessory render from a third-party (you can view the full image here). The Note8 is expected to come in 64GB and 128GB flavors.

Samsung's latest Galaxy S8 and S8+ range-toppers are hugely impressive, but there have been some complaints about their software. Samsung attempted to address those concerns with a TouchWiz update.

It also released the dual-SIM variant of the S8+ in Europe.

Huawei's Honor brand also launched a new premium device in Europe on Tuesday. The Honor 9 has an octa-core Kirin 960 processor, 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage, and is priced at €430/£380, including a free Band 3 for a limited time.

However, unlike with its predecessor, Honor said it has no plans to launch the 9 in the US.

HMD Global announced that the Nokia 6 - its mid-range handset with a Snapdragon 430 processor, 3GB RAM and 32GB storage - will go on sale in the United States this month, priced at $229.

But buyers will be able to grab one for just $179.99 from Amazon, through its Prime Exclusive Phones program, which puts ads and offers on the lockscreen. The retailer also added four other phones to the program on Tuesday.

The OnePlus 5 officially went on sale on Tuesday, and its release was followed by not one, but two software updates to fix various issues. Earlier in the week, OnePlus CEO Carl Pei addressed some criticisms of the device, but further complaints from users about its display fell on deaf ears, as the company claimed that the annoying issue was completely "natural".

OnePlus also promised to upgrade its older 3 and 3T phones to Android O by the end of the year - but we've heard promises like that from the company before.

Almost seven months after Google released Android 7.1.1 Nougat, Sony finally began rolling it out to the Xperia Z5 family, Xperia Z4 Tablet, and Xperia Z3 Plus.

But Sony also suspended its Android 7.0 rollout for the Xperia XA and XA Ultra due to issues with its over-the-air update systems.

Apple released its public betas of iOS 11 and tvOS 11 on Monday, followed by its macOS 10.13 High Sierra public beta a few days later.

After announcing the "next generation of Skype" a few weeks ago, Microsoft brought the new-look app - "rebuilt from the ground up" - to Apple's iPhones on Tuesday.

Alcatel's IDOL 4 Pro became available to pre-order in Germany this week, priced at a staggering €607 ($690). It was unveiled in February - but it's just a rebrand of the IDOL 4S with Windows 10, which launched in the US on T-Mobile last year, and was dumped by the carrier within six months, following months of deep discounts.

Alcatel is still selling the same device in the US for $275, including a VR headset - which European buyers won't get, despite paying around twice as much for the phone.

Wait - is Alcatel actually serious?!

We got another glimpse of the road not travelled on Tuesday, as new images emerged of 'Northstar', Microsoft's cancelled Windows 10 Mobile flagship.

And in another example of what might have been, the first images of Microsoft's cancelled Surface mini tablet also appeared this week. The photos show a device with chunky bezels, running Windows RT - and that played a big part in its downfall.

The weak app selection in the Windows Store, the continued wait for touch-friendly Office apps while the Surface mini was in development, the fact that Windows RT was heading for a dead end, uncertain market demand for 8-inch devices, and some pretty mediocre specs (including unimpressive battery life), were all factors in Microsoft's eleventh-hour decision to cancel the tablet's launch.

You can also see the Surface mini in red here.

Pre-orders opened in the US for Huawei's new trio of Windows 10 devices, the MateBook D, E and X. Check out my hands-on video with the new devices from their launch event.

Samsung's new Notebook 9 Pro also went on sale in the US, priced from $1,099.

Samsung updated its Flow app enabling users to unlock their Windows 10 PCs using the fingerprint sensor on their phones.

The first Linux distros appeared in the Windows Store for Insiders this week. You might think that hell has frozen over, but that will happen when iTunes launches in the Windows Store.

Popular image editing software Paint.NET has been available for over a decade, and after its next update is complete, its developer will be focusing on bringing the app to the Windows Store too.

But Evernote revealed on Monday that it's ending support for its app on Windows phones, and on BlackBerry devices.

Four people were arrested in the UK following a joint investigation by Microsoft and City of London Police into scam calls, in which fraudsters claim to be calling from Microsoft technical support, to enable them to install malware and ransomware on users' systems.

Another major ransomware attack, known as 'Petya', hit systems across Europe and some other parts of the world this week.

On Friday, Microsoft detailed the extent of the attack, and how it worked, along with recovery options for infected machines. It also outlined how the multi-layered defenses in Windows 10 helped to prevent its spread.

Microsoft said that it will "make life harder for the bad guys", as it revealed details of new security features for business and enterprise customers in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

That update will come with a range of new features to help businesses deploy and manage devices more efficiently, quickly, and securely, including a new set of Windows AutoPilot tools.

Microsoft is now reminding users to install the latest version of Windows 10, and prompting them to review their privacy settings.

French data protection regulator CNIL said this week that Microsoft has halved the amount of data it collects from users systems, and has addressed its concerns over Windows 10 privacy matters, after accusing the company of failing to comply with French laws last year.

Microsoft released its latest cumulative updates for all versions of Windows 10, including Version 1507, which is supposedly no longer supported.

Yet another Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview, build 15228, rolled out to the Fast ring from the 'feature2' branch with no new features.

And yet another Insider Preview, build 16232 rolled out to PCs in the Fast ring with a ton of new features - although there were some known issues to be aware of too.

Microsoft also said that Insiders in the Fast and Slow rings won't be getting any updates to the 'stock' apps for a while.

If you're running the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview, build 16232, on your PC, you might spot a rather unusual dialog, informing you that "Windows is opening a portal to another dimension..."

Microsoft released Xbox Insider Preview build 15063.4073 to the Alpha ring last weekend.

Meanwhile, gamers can now purchase Xbox One games from the Windows Store, as Microsoft phases out the old Xbox Marketplace.

Microsoft kicked off its Xbox Ultimate Game Sale this week, offering chunky discounts on a wide range of titles.

On Tuesday, it also added five more Xbox 360 games to the list of those playable on the Xbox One through the Backward Compatibility program, along with the addition of Call of Duty: Ghosts on Thursday.

Microsoft also revealed that original Xbox games coming to the Backward Compatibility program won't include achievements or widescreen support.

Some people thought that Microsoft didn't make enough announcements at this month's E3 gaming expo, but the company's Aaron Greenberg made it clear that "there are a lot of other projects happening for Xbox."

And Xbox chief Phil Spencer said that he will "never give up on Japan", despite dismal Xbox sales there. Microsoft sold just 265 Xbox Ones in Japan last week, compared with sales of 19,000 PS4s and 6,600 PS4 Pros.

But perhaps the most exciting news for gaming fans this week was the official announcement of the new Super Nintendo Classic Edition console, following in the footsteps of the much loved NES Classic Mini. It will even come with Star Fox 2, which was developed during the SNES era but never released.

There's even a Super Famicom version, with different games!

Our global tech adventure ends this week aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth, the mighty new flagship of the UK's Royal Navy. Despite what you may have read elsewhere, it doesn't run 'Windows for Warships'...


Bonus content

Before we wrap things up for another week, let me first highlight a few extra bits around the site that I hope you’ll enjoy reading.

This week, Apple celebrated ten years since the launch of its first-generation iPhone. Gurkaran Singh took a trip down Memory Lane, looking back on the iconic device, and considering how far it's come since then. (And be sure to check out the 'Wallabies' too...!)

Rich Woods published his detailed review of the Huawei Watch 2, a new device running Android Wear 2.0. There's plenty to like about it, including its fitness features and impressive display - but there are some notable downsides too.

Rich also recorded a video unboxing the MateBook X, Huawei's sleek new Windows 10 notebook, including his first impressions of the device.

Shreyas Gandhe shared his review of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X, a budget-friendly mid-range handset with an affordable price tag and some great features. That's definitely worth a read!

And I wrote an editorial on the state of play with Microsoft's Edge web extensions. Two years after they were announced, and nearly a year after they launched, there's still only a few dozen available - and that's not good enough.

And finally, if you think you've got what it takes to do the job that we do every day, writing about technology, I've got good news for you.

We're looking for people who are passionate about tech to help get the latest news out to our millions of readers around the world. If you want to join the Neowin team, make sure you apply here!


Stay tuned to Neowin in the days ahead for what’s sure to be another exciting week, filled with official news, lots of updates, and plenty of insights from around the world of technology.

For now, though, there’s lots more to read across the site – including all sorts of interesting discussions over on our forums.

From all of us on the Neowin team,
have a great weekend!

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