Explore Greece in the $30 Assassin’s Creed Odyssey for PS4 and Xbox One

Pick your side.

The video game Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is down to $29.99 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 at Amazon today. This is a fairly new game, just released in early October, and still regularly sells for around the $60 price. Today’s deal is a price-match of a one-day sale at Best Buy, so it’s very likely this deal won’t last for very long.

While it is just another game in the long-running Assassin’s Creed series, Odyssey takes some new twists and turns to make the game seem fresh. For one thing, it takes place in ancient Greece. You will be able to choose between Athens or Sparta in the middle of the Peloponnesian War. For another, it adds a lot of RPG elements where previous games depended on a more action-game format. It even brings back a bit of the excellent naval combat from previous games. Watch your men get eaten by sharks. On Metacritic, the game has 82 on PS4 and 87 on Xbox One.

See at Amazon

Today’s sale on board games and more is perfect to get the family together

Don’t miss your turn at grabbing these at some of their best prices ever.

Board games, card games and the like are an easy way to get the family all in the same room for the holidays, though you’ll want to be careful you don’t choose anything that will upset the delicate balance between fun and competition (a.k.a. Monopoly). Luckily for you, Amazon is having a one-day sale on tons of games for kids and adults alike so you can bring a new game to the table this holiday season. Prices are discounted by up to 30% today, and it’s also worth remembering that Amazon’s offering free shipping for everyone through December 18.

There’s a good mix of board games in this sale, so you could choose a classic like Trivial Pursuit for $11.75 or grab something more recent like the Dr. Eureka Speed Logic Game for $9.21. Both games are at new low prices here too. Maybe you want an oversized Jenga set for your backyard or want to build your own roller coaster… in either case, this sale’s got you covered. This $4 Rubik’s Cube would be a nice stocking stuffer too, though it can only be shipped with orders totaling $25 or more.

Other deals in today’s sale include:

This is only a small selection of the games available, so be sure to check out Amazon’s full sale to see if there are any other games your family might love.

See at Amazon

CuriosityStream is documentary heaven for $1.25 per month

CuriosityStream

Most people enjoy a good documentary. You learn interesting things, but you don’t have to read a book, and you often get stunning visuals.

If you know someone who particularly loves documentaries, CuriosityStream is the ideal Christmas gift. It’s an on-demand streaming service specializing in award-winning programming about science, nature, history, technology, society, and more.

Launched by the guy who founded the Discovery Channel, CuriostyStream has an unparalleled library of over 2,000 documentaries to choose from. You’ll find high-quality shows from some of the giants of the genre such as Sir David Attenborough and Professor Stephen Hawking.

CuriosityStream

There are even original documentaries exclusive to CuriosityStream, making it worth the signup fee alone. You can stream them to all of your devices of course.

CuriosityStream at a glance:

  • Stream an unlimited amount of content every month
  • Enjoy your content any time and anywhere via web browser, mobile app, TV, or tablet
  • Explore more than 2,000 documentaries and shows, including award-winning originals
  • Discover new favorites with personalized recommendations
  • Browse collections and lists curated by CuriosityStream’s expert team

CuriosityStream normally costs $3 per month, or $20 per year. However, right now at Tech Deals you can pick up a two-year subscription for just $29.99. That’s just $1.25 per month, and you don’t even have to go shopping.

The deal expires in less than two days, so move quickly if you’re interested. The link below takes you to it.

The AAPicks team writes about things we think you’ll like, and we may see a share of revenue from any purchases made through affiliate links. To see all our hottest deals, head over to the AAPICKS HUB.


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This smart tool lets you filter plans by phone, price, data tiers, and regional availability. Stop overpaying for cell service you hate and a phone that you’re tired of. Use our Compare Phones & Plans tool to fully customize your mobile experience and painlessly transition from one carrier to another!

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) review: The rise of the mid-range

To a lot of people, Samsung just makes flagship devices like the Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy Note 9. However, it also makes a range of mid-tier devices with its “J” and “A” series. The “J” phones are the more competitively priced and the “A” range is designed to be more premium. I recently got hold of a Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) because I wanted to run Speed Test G on it and its Exynos processor. I was so impressed, I thought it warranted a full written review!

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) design

The first things you may notice about the A7 are the bezels. In an age where flagship devices are all about edge-to-edge displays and getting the highest screen-t0-body ratio possible, the A7 (2018) might seem a little jarring. When I showed the device to a teenager in my family, the first reaction was, “wow, look at the bezels.”

The A7 (2018) has a 10 percent lower screen-to-body ratio than a device like the Galaxy S9 Plus, which is one of the reasons it’s cheaper. Making all those curved edges costs money in the manufacturing process. That doesn’t mean the A7 (2018) is ugly — it isn’t. In fact, if you can see past the bezels, it has a certain elegance, even a premium look and feel.

The device has a 2.5D rear glass back, which means it is a glass sandwich with some kind of toughened plastic frame acting as the filling. The glass on the back can be a fingerprint magnet, or more precisely a finger-smear magnet, but that is par for the course nowadays.

The buttons are fine but the volume keys may be a bit too far up. All the buttons are on the right side and the SIM tray is on the left. My biggest gripe is with the power key — not as a power key, but as a fingerprint reader. It works well as a power button, but it is quite narrow, which means using it for authentication or unlocking isn’t as seamless as other Samsung experiences. Yes, you can wake and unlock the phone using your registered finger on the power button, but not 100 percent of the time. Once it in while it will glitch and you need to try again (or even a third time). I guess we have been spoiled by the high accuracy of existing fingerprint reader technology.

On the bottom edge of the device, there is a headphone jack (hooray), a MicroUSB port (not so much hooray), and a single speaker. The audio is clear and loud and doesn’t suffer from distortion at higher levels.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) display

The A7 (2018) has a 6.0-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED Infinity Display. It is bright, clear, and vivid. The colors are rich, and as usual with AMOLED the blacks are deep. Once you have grown accustomed to the bezels, the vibrancy of the display makes using the Galaxy A7 a pleasure. You might even catch yourself wondering why you need to spend so much money on a flagship, when devices like this exist in the mid-range.

There is no physical home button, so on-screen navigation is the order of the day, something that’s been the Samsung way for quite a while now. The 6.0-inch display offers a screen resolution of 2,220 x 1,080 (FHD+), which is actually the default resolution for flagship devices like the S9 and Note 9 (although they can go higher). The display has a 18.5:9 aspect ratio, and a 411ppi density.

Overall the display is certainly a strong plus point for the A7 (2018).

See also: The best displays of 2018

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) software

The A7 (2018) comes with Android 8.0 Oreo and Samsung Experience 9.0. If you are familiar with Samsung’s skin and UI then you will feel right at home here. Because of the unifying nature of the Samsung Experience, the UI looks and responds exactly like a bigger flagship. When I put the Note 9 next to the A7 it is hard to tell them apart from a UI perspective. The settings menu is the same, the Samsung icons are the same, and the theme is the same.

Editor’s Pick

One thing missing compared to its bigger siblings is Bixby Voice. While Bixby Home is present (swiping left from the home screen) the voice assistant isn’t included and there is no dedicated Bixby button. I guess Samsung considers Bixby a luxury for flagship owners. The snarky side of me is tempted to say the lack of Bixby voice is another reason to buy the A7 (2018), but I shall resist! The device still has AI functionality, though — you can access Google Assistant by long pressing on the home key.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) performance

The A7 (2018) uses the 14nm Exynos 7885 processor. It has an octa-core CPU with two 2.2GHz Cortex-A73 CPU cores and six 1.6GHz Cortex-A53 cores. For gaming, there is good news and bad news. The 7885 features an Arm Mali-G71 GPU. The G71 is an advanced GPU using Arm’s latest Bifrost GPU architecture.

Unfortunately the G71 can be configured by chipmakers like Samsung to including anything from 1 to 32 shader cores. The Exynos 8895 in the Galaxy S8 and Note 8, has a G71 GPU with 20 shader codes. The Exynos 7885 has two. That said, I tested the device with both Asphalt 9 and PUBG Mobile (using the Medium graphics settings) and found the gameplay to be smooth.

The Exynos 7885 also has a built-in LTE modem which supports 2G, 3G and 4G, with LTE download speeds reaching 600Mbps. There is also a nifty Image Signal Processor (more on that in the camera section). On board, there is also 4GB of RAM (6GB on some models), 64GB of internal storage (128GB models available) and a microSD card slot.

For those who like benchmark numbers, the A7 (2018) scored 1524 on Geekbench’s single-core tests and 4379 on its multi-core tests. That puts in into the same ballpark as a Galaxy S7 with a Snapdragon 820 processor. For AnTuTu, which also tests the GPU, the score was 123,302. The AnTuTu score puts the A7 (2018) in the same general area as a flagship device from early 2016.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) battery

The 3,300mAh battery in the A7 (2018) is larger than the battery in the Samsung Galaxy S9 and certainly big enough to give you all-day battery life. According to my testing, you should get at least six hours of screen-on time per charge. That number will increase if you mainly do less demanding tasks like watching YouTube. If you enjoy a bit of 3D gaming, then no fear, five hours minimum. Remember, screen brightness can dramatically change the battery life. If you bump up the brightness to max, expect to shave at least an hour off of all those numbers.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) camera

The camera on the A7 (2018) is a story of simultaneous brilliance and woeful inadequacy. It is brilliant in that it has three cameras — one for normal photos, one for wide-angle shots, and one for depth information. It is brilliant in that the depth camera adds the ability to alter the depth of field while taking a shot, and afterwards. It is brilliant in that the main camera has a 24MP sensor and an f/1.7 aperture, which is great for low-light.

It is woefully inadequate in that the wide-angle camera is just 8MP. It is inadequate because it lacks OIS. It is inadequate because it can only record FHD at 30fps.

Related: Best of Android 2018: The best cameras

Maybe “woefully inadequate” is harsh — this isn’t a premium device — but Samsung has managed to raise the standard with the A7 to a tantalizing level, only to fumble the details. For daily use, there is little bad to say about the main 24MP camera. The colors are true, the dynamic range is good, and the HDR functions work well.

However, the 8MP wide-angle camera is just a little too wide. The pictures often suffer from barrel distortion and the slower f/2.4 aperture isn’t as good in low light.


The third camera is for depth information. It uses a 5MP sensor and an aperture of f/2.2. Those numbers aren’t so important as the purpose of this camera is to enable the depth-of-field functions. The inclusion of a bokeh mode is certainly a plus for the A7, as it is often a feature reserved for more premium devices. While the effect isn’t as precise or advanced as flagship devices, it is nonetheless useful and fun to play with.


Having opted for an 8MP wide-angle camera on the back, there is some redemption for selfie lovers. The A7 (2018) has a 24MP front-facing camera! There is a f/2.0 lens and lots of computational photography options, including bokeh selfies, beauty mode, pro-lighting (for “a more glamorous look and feel”), AR emoji, and wide-selfie, which is basically a panorama mode for the front-facing camera.

It’s not like the 8MP sensor and the occasional barrel distortion on the wide-angle camera ruins the camera experience. Overall the A7 (2018) packs a solid setup backed by lots of interesting trickery from the software.

Here are some more sample photos so you can judge for yourself. If you want to see the full resolutions images you can find them here.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) specs

  Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)
Display 6.0-inch Super AMOLED
2,220 x 1,080 (FHD+) resolution
SoC Exynos 7885 Octa (14 nm), 64-bit
CPU Octa-core (2 x 2.2GHz Cortex-A73 & 6 x 1.6GHz Cortex-A53)
GPU GPU Mali-G71MP2
RAM 4 or 6GB
Storage 64 or 128GB
MicroSD card slot
Cameras Rear cameras:
Triple camera: 24MP (F1.7) + 5MP (F2.2) + 8MP (F.24)
Flash

Front camera:
24MP sensor, f/2.0 aperture, LED flash

Battery 3,300mAh
Network 2G:
– GSM850, GSM900, DCS1800, PCS1900
3G UMTS
– B1(2100), B2(1900), B4(AWS), B5(850), B8(900)
4G FDD LTE
– B1(2100), B2(1900), B3(1800), B4(AWS), B5(850), B7(2600), B8(900), B12(700), B13(700), B17(700), B20(800), B28(700), B66(AWS-3)
4G TDD LTE
– B38(2600), B40(2300), B41(2500)
Connectivity MicroUSB
3.5mm headphone jack
Bluetooth 5 (LE up to 2 Mbps)
Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4G+5GHz, VHT80
GPS, Glonass, Beidou
Software Android 8.0
Samsung Experience 9.0
Dimensions and weight 159.8 x 76.8 x 7.5mm
168g
Colors blue, black, gold

Pricing and final thoughts

Overall the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) is a better than average mid-range device. It has a great Super AMOLED screen and an intriguing triple camera setup. The battery life is good and it has a headphone jack! The dual-core GPU could potentially be worrisome to gamers, but if you are more of Candy Crush kind of person, you have nothing to worry about.

If the A7 (2018) doesn’t tempt you, plenty of other mid-range phones have solid chipsets and good cameras, including the Xiaomi Mi A2, Nokia 7.1 Plus, Honor Play, Asus Zenfone 5Z, Moto G6 Plus, or of course the flagship spec’d Pocophone F1.

The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) is available in blue, black, and gold for 279 euros (~$317) in Europe and 249 pounds (~$315) in the U.K. Those prices are dependent on various seasonal discounts. It won’t be coming officially to the U.S. but you can find it on Amazon!

Fortnite quiz: True or false?

Fortnite Season 7 Battle pass skins

Last week, we tested out just how familiar you are with PUBG Mobile. The results were impressive — 97 percent of all participants got at least seven correct answers out of ten. This week, we’ll test out how much you really know about the mobile version of Fortnite, one of the most popular battle royale games on Android.

The quiz below contains 10 statements that revolve around things like weapons and controls, and your job is to figure out whether they are true or false. If you think you’re a Fortnite expert, you should get the majority of them right.

Click the Start button if you’re up for the challenge — and don’t forget to share your score with friends on social media when you’re done.

Note: There is a widget embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s widget.


This is the 21st quiz in our regular weekly series. You can take a few of the most popular ones via the links below or check out all of them by clicking here.

Let us know which questions you thought were the hardest and share your result with others in the comment section.

The 1More Stylish TWS are affordable alternatives to the Apple AirPods

1More Stylish TWS true wireless earbuds.

Android device owners have another alternative to Apple’s AirPods with audio device company 1More’s Stylish TWS. The Stylish TWS are 1More’s first pair of true wireless earbuds.

In terms of design, the Stylish TWS are in-ear earbuds with circular silicone hooks that help them stay in your ears. The earbuds include three different sized ear tips and silicone hooks just in case the installed ones don’t fit.

Each earbud features a multi-functional button near the back. The left earbud’s button lets you play, pause, skip, and rewind your music. The right earbud’s button lets you answer, hang up, and decline incoming phone calls.


1More is known more for sound quality than design, however. To that end, the Stylish TWS feature 7mm dynamic drivers for sound quality and a MEMS microphone to block out environmental noise in phone calls.

Editor’s Pick

Unfortunately, the Stylish TWS will only last two and a half hours at 50 percent volume. The included charging case provides an extra seven hours of listening.

The price makes it easier to deal with the mediocre battery life. You can pre-order the Stylish TWS at the link below for $99.99. You can pick up the earbuds in black or gold, with pink and green color options coming soon.

Does the Nokia 7.1 have wireless charging?

Best answer: No, the Nokia 7.1 does not have wireless charging. You’d think it would because of the glass back, but likely in an effort to keep the price as low as possible, Nokia chose to stick with wired USB-C charging only.

Amazon: Nokia 7.1 ($350)

There’s no wireless charging here

When you see a phone with a glass back, that’s often an indicator that it has wireless charging. This is true for Samsung phones, the Google Pixel 3, the LG G7 and V40, and more. However, it’s not always a 100% sure bet.

While the Nokia 7.1 does have a stunning glass back, placing it on a wireless charger won’t do anything.

It’s always a little disappointing to get a phone that could support wireless charging only to find out it doesn’t, but then again, we really wouldn’t expect a feature like that from a phone that only costs $350.

Thankfully, USB-C wired charging is great

With no wireless charging support, you’ll need to top up the Nokia 7.1 with a wired cable. The 7.1 uses USB Type-C for speedy fast charging, and thanks to the design of USB-C, there’s no “right” way to plug it in. Unlike microUSB, USB-C can be inserted right-side up and upside down.

It also helps that the Nokia 7.1 gets fantastic battery life

If you really don’t like having to plug your phone in to charge, the Nokia 7.1 may still be a good purchase. Thanks to its 3,060 mAh battery and power-efficient Snapdragon 636 processor, battery life is fantastic.

In my full review of the phone, I regularly saw around 5 hours of screen-on time even with moderate-to-heavy use.

This isn’t a phone that’ll last you through two full days, but it will get you through one quite comfortably.

Our pick

Nokia 7.1

$350 at Amazon

A fantastic phone even without wireless charging.

While it would have been nice to see Nokia include wireless charging with the 7.1, it’s still a fantastic device in spite of the feature’s absence. It has a gorgeous design, a fantastic software experience, and a crisp, colorful display.

Apple will update China iPhones to prevent ban, but Qualcomm still fighting

  • Apple will send software updates to several iPhone models in China to remove features disputed by Qualcomm as illegal. This will, hopefully, avoid a Chinese iPhone sales ban.
  • However, Qualcomm is at the same time fighting for the potential sales ban to cover even more iPhone models.
  • Apple admitted that if it cannot avoid the Chinese sales ban, it will be forced to settle with Qualcomm.

Earlier this week, a Chinese court issued a set of preliminary injunctions in the patent fight between Apple and Qualcomm. The injunctions — which heavily favor Qualcomm — essentially put a Chinese sales ban into effect for the Apple iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.

Apple revealed today, via Reuters, that it will push a software update to the Chinese iPhones in question next week. This software update will change and/or remove the disputed Qualcomm technology, which Apple hopes will allow the company to avoid the sales ban.

“Early next week we will deliver a software update for iPhone users in China addressing the minor functionality of the two patents at issue in the case,” Apple said. “Based on the iPhone models we offer today in China, we believe we are in compliance.”

Editor’s Pick

Originally, Apple claimed the sales ban was irrelevant because the iPhone models in question all run iOS 12, which the company argues fixes the issues revolving around the case. However, Apple must have changed its mind, as now it is pushing an update.

Ultimately, it will be up to the Chinese courts to decide if this future software update will be enough to avoid the sales ban.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm is pushing even harder on Apple, apparently emblazoned by the preliminary injunctions win this week. According to The Financial Times (via Engadget), Qualcomm is now pushing for the sales ban to also include the Apple iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR.

Should the Chinese courts deem the software update to not be enough to avoid the ban, Apple concedes it would have no other option but to settle with Qualcomm. If this comes to pass, it would be an enormous win for Qualcomm in its years-long fight with Apple over alleged patent licensing infringement.

However, Apple does not mince words when describing how destructive an Apple sales ban in China would be. Apple had this to say in a December 10 filing, via The South China Morning Post:

“Apple will be forced to settle with the Respondent, causing all mobile phone manufacturers to relapse into the previous unreasonable charging mode and pay high licensing fees, resulting in unrecoverable losses in the downstream market of mobile phones. Apple, many other companies, and consumers … will suffer truly irreparable harm, [and the Chinese government] may suffer hundreds of thousands of tax losses.”

We can only assume that next week we will learn whether the Chinese courts will grant Apple some leniency in this case.

NEXT: Apple tipped to be working on own modem for iPhones, but don’t expect it soon

Getting the best of both worlds with a hybrid smartwatch

As much as we love the functionality that smartwatches offer, there’s no denying that traditional, non-smart watches look way better more times than not. Thanks to the market of hybrid watches, it’s possible to get something that looks like a regular watch but still offers some of the best features of a smartwatch. If you think the hybrid life might be for you, here are the top ones we recommend!

Minimal beauty

Skagen Connected

Our first pick on this list is the Skagen Connected. The sleek, minimalistic design is something we can’t get enough of, with the 41mm case making this accessible for even the smallest of wrists. The watch also tracks your steps, sleep, and notifies you when you get a call or text. It’s even water resistant up to 30 meters!

$110 at Amazon

Long-lasting battery

Fossil Q Men’s Hybrid Smartwatch

Fossil is one of the biggest supporters of Google’s Wear OS, but did you know the company also makes hybrid watches? The Fossil Q Men’s comes with six months of battery life, customizable buttons, and ships with a gorgeous leather band that complements the 45mm black metal case wonderfully.

$117 at Amazon

Rose gold life

Fossil Q Jacqueline

If you’re looking for something a bit more feminine, the Fossil Q Jacqueline is one of the most striking hybrid watches around. It also comes with six months of battery life, 50 meters of water resistance, and a super sleek 36mm case. The rose gold color is a real thing of beauty, as is the included steel mesh watch band.

$175 at Amazon

Powered by Wear OS

LG Watch W7

Without a doubt, the LG Watch W7 is the most advanced watch on this list. Unlike the other options listed here, the W7 is powered by a full version of Wear OS. This means you can use its touchscreen to use apps, track your activity, reply to notifications, and a ton more. However, it’s unlike most smartwatches thanks to the two physical watch hands in the middle of the display.

$250 at Amazon

Best for fitness

Withings/Nokia Steel HR

The Withings/Nokia Steel HR is the hybrid watch to get if fitness tracking is your top priority. It can monitor your heart rate, has 24/7 activity tracking, sleep monitoring, and even Alexa integration. All of your data is synced to the Nokia Health app on your phone, and when it comes to battery life, you should see up to 25 days per charge.

$144 at Amazon

Ultimate style

Michael Kors Women’s Access Slim Runway

Should you prefer form over function, you’ll want to go with the Michael Kors Access Slim Runway. This women’s watch has a 42mm stainless steel case that’s paired nicely with a matching metal watch band. The watch can track your activity throughout the day, view multiple time zones, and is even water resistant up to 50 meters.

$121 at Amazon

Get in shape

Garmin Vívomove HR

Another great fitness-focused hybrid watch is the Garmin Vívomove HR. This watch is capable of 24/7 hear rate monitoring, activity tracking, stress monitoring, and long-lasting battery life that’ll get you up to 5 days in smart mode and 2 weeks in watch mode.

$200 at Amazon

Always in fashion

Fossil Q Grant

The Fossil Q Grant works the same as the other Fossil watches on this list but offers a design that’s a bit classier. The stainless steel case is paired with a tan paint job around the Roman numeral numbers, and when you add that together with the genuine leather watch band, you get something that’s truly stunning.

$155 at Amazon

Value pick

Skagen Signatur Connected

Last but certainly not least, the Signatur Connected from Skagen is the cheapest option on our list and delivers a much better experience than the price tag would suggest. Along with a fantastic, minimal aesthetic, the Signatur Connected also alerts you of notifications from your phone, tracks steps and distance, and is rated for up to 6 months on a single charge.

$70 at Amazon

For people that want a good mix of great aesthetics and useful smart features, the Skagen Connected is a fantastic choice. Not only does it look downright gorgeous, but it has just about every feature you could ask for while also being the most affordable pick on our list. Fitness enthusiasts will be better suited with something like the Withings/Nokia Steel HR, and if you want the absolute most features you can get in something that’s still technically a hybrid watch, the LG Watch W7 is the way to go.

Huawei troubles poised to land on US industry

The Huawei logo.

Huawei is in deep trouble. It might not quite be ZTE levels of trouble, but the winds are swirling.

I’ve written about Huawei’s security and telecommunication equipment problems before. Add in trade wars and criminal allegations, and you’re almost caught up.

Previously I’ve tried to get to the bottom of security issues with Huawei, but the exact secrets have never quite been revealed. The Five Eyes nations firmly believe Huawei is more or less a proxy for the Chinese state, but the public hasn’t seen verifiable proof.

Things are changing. The arrest of CFO Meng Wanzhou, daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, in Canada occurred on Dec. 1. The public wasn’t aware of her detention until Friday, December 7th.

The arrest of Meng Wanzhou is cataclysmic. You may have seen the headlines about Beijing’s fury, threats to Canada, and furor, but it hasn’t taken legal action, as you might have well expected.

The situation currently surrounding Huawei has major implications for worldwide 5G rollout.

Here’s how the South China Morning Post described the aftermath of the arrest:

“The shocked tone rings false. If China’s ambassador to Canada was really so sure Meng’s arrest was wrong, he could have filed a writ of habeas corpus to have her brought immediately before a court to determine the lawfulness of her detention. He did not.”

Meng was eventually freed on a $7.5m bail, and must wear an ankle bracelet along with paying for 24/7 security to ensure she does not attempt to flee Canada, as an extradition hearing is set up. Meng was also forced to surrender all passports and travel documents.

The U.S. Justice Department is seeking to pursue investigations that Huawei violated U.S. sanctions on Iran. While non-U.S. companies are free to deal with Iran — Samsung sells smartphones to Iranians — they can’t sell U.S. technologies like Intel or Qualcomm chipsets or modems. A similar breach of sanctions saw ZTE barred from using U.S. companies’ technology — something later watered down to fines after reported intervention from the White House.

Any such ban would be devastating for Huawei’s business. Of Huawei’s reported 92 core suppliers, 33 are U.S. corporations, including chip makers such as Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Micron.

Any ban on Huawei utilizing U.S. technology, would cause serious issues for the company’s handsets and 5G technology. Huawei manufactures more of its own chips, including an award-winning processor but this could still cripple it. Huawei is largely a symbol of China’s success, both domestically and abroad.

For us, we need to imagine if Tim Cook or Sundar Pichai were arrested in China. The uproar would be immense, and many would feel China would be overreaching.  In this case, the U.S. involving Canada adds a third party, and Canadians may be anxious about retaliation from Beijing having been caught up in the Huawei mess.

Additionally, the U.S. is still pressuring its allies to avoid Huawei telecommunications equipment. Japan is the latest country to exclude both Huawei and ZTE from the 5G network rollout. BT in the UK also recently decided to bar Huawei equipment from its 5G rollout, and remove existing Huawei 4G infrastructure as well.

Why?

Spy agencies come in from the cold

Five Eyes world map

We know that the Five Eyes (U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand — often abbreviated FVEY) attorneys general met this year from an Australian government release later removed from a Home Affairs website, though you can read it here.

Then came a rare set of speeches by top intelligence chiefs. These were significant, even if the words were moderate and indirect.

On Oct. 29, the first ever public speech was made by head of the Australian Signals Directorate Mike Burgess, following Australia’s ban on Huawei’s involvement in 5G networks:

These twin themes of technological and strategic economic shifts can be seen in the government’s recent decision to prohibit telecommunications carriers from using high-risk vendors in 5G networks.

This decision, which was not taken lightly, was supported by technical advice from my agency, all elements of my agency. Our intelligence and offensive cyber experts that led the formation of our cyber security advice. Offence informs defence.

Then came the second-ever public speech by an MI6 boss, Alex Younger on Dec. 3, who sounded a general warning over technology:

But I have also witnessed the damage new technologies can do in the hands of a skilled opponent unrestrained by any notion of law or morality, as well as the potentially existential challenge the data age poses to the traditional operating methods of a secret intelligence agency.

We and our allies face a battle to make sure technology works to our advantage, not to that of our opponents.

“We need to decide the extent to which we re going to be comfortable with Chinese ownership of these technologies and these platforms in an environment where some of our allies have taken a quite definite position,” Younger said in later comments reported by the BBC.

Three days later, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s top spy, David Vigneault, gave his first public speech.

“Plainly said: there is state-sponsored espionage in Canada,” said Vigneault.

None of these spymasters mentioned Huawei or ZTE, but you don’t need to have beaten an Escape Room game to understand the warnings.

Then from the top echelon of the U.S. seat of power came the hugely significant speech by Vice President Mike Pence, a truly extraordinary attack on China at The Hudson Institute. Hostile and directly mentioning China no less than 91 times in remarks heard around the world.

How much does hurting Huawei hurt US networks and allies?

Huawei is banned from involvement with 5G rollout in the U.S., Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Canada may follow suit, with a former prime minister calling for the same limitation. Huawei remains active with 20 5G contracts with other major carriers, and it’s actively involved in 5G rollout and testing in the U.K., despite spy chief concerns.

At the very least, carriers in countries banning Huawei will have a more expensive and difficult rollout of 5G technology. That means consumers will have to wait longer and pay more for 5G when it becomes available. Countries will have to rely on Swedish giant Ericsson and Finnish Nokia, a two-horse race for most major wireless bands. Samsung is a contender in mmWave very high spectrum bands only.

Any country banning Huawei will have a more difficult rollout of 5G technology.

This will likely mean slower U.S. uptake of 5G wireless. We’re already seeing test environments in some major urban centers, but significant 5G penetration outside of major cities soon is unlikely.

The U.S. has legitimate concerns about the importance of 5G infrastructure. 5G will, in as little as two or three years, take over from even wired installations where the traditional routing of major voice and data takes place. Significant and nationwide telecommunications infrastructure could be at risk to Chinese influence, however small, and however much Huawei protests its innocence.

The next major act of significance will be the outcome of Meng Wanzhou’s extradition, and the response from China. For now, China is incensed, but not retaliating. If that changes, U.S. lag on 5G infrastructure could be the least of its worries.