As Tax Day Nears, bitcoin is Wreaking Havoc

Cryptocurrencies have had quite an eventful year, but it’s nothing compared to the free-for-all that is going on in the run up to Tuesday’s national tax deadline.

Industry experts believe that much of the recent volatility in the value of bitcoin may have something to do with tax time. You see, although bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are commonly referred to as a form of digital currency, in the eyes of the IRS, cryptocurrencies are capital assets, like stocks or commodities, and are therefore subject to capital gains taxes.

Over the course of 2017, bitcoin saw more than a 1,000% gain in price, creating some pretty significant capital gains for some investors. Tom Lee, managing partner at Fundstrat Global Advisors told MarketWatch that he estimates U.S. households saw about $92 billion in cryptocurrency gains last year. That would put them on the hook for $25.4 billion in taxes, under current law.

Given that huge tax commitment, it is possible that some investors would need to tap into their newfound windfalls to pay the tax man. If it sounds like a conspiracy theory, consider the data. At the beginning of the week, bitcoin fell below $7,000, a six percent loss in the currency’s total value. By Friday morning, with tax day drawing closer, it climbed back up above $8,000, the first time in two weeks it had surpassed that threshold. That has some analysts thinking the tax day theory might actually hold water.

“The selling pressure associated with tax day has subsided right now,” Ryan Taylor, the CEO of cryptocurrency software firm Dash Core told CNN. “As people get their tax returns, there may be new money entering the market.”

But bitcoin price volatility isn’t the only drama unfolding as we near the April 17 tax deadline. There’s also the looming threat of widespread tax evasion.

According to Credit Karma, just a handful of Americans have reported their cryptocurrency holdings. CNBC reports that, of the most recent 250,000 filers on the Credit Karma Tax platform, fewer than 100 people reported capital gains on their cryptocurrency investments.

“There’s a good chance that the perceived complexities of reporting cryptocurrency gains are pushing filers to wait until the very last minute,” Jagjit Chawla, general manager of Credit Karma Tax, said to CNBC. “I want to reassure people that it’s not as complex as it may seem at first glance and that Credit Karma Tax has a number of resources about how to approach bitcoin and taxes.”

That may mean that much of the $25 billion in capital gains taxes that Americans are estimated to owe on their digital currency holdings which will go uncollected. With that much money at stake, it would only make sense that crypto holdings will start to become a major focal point in IRS audits.

So whether you’re bouncing in and out of the crypto market, or simply taking a hope-and-pray strategy that the IRS won’t come knocking, it’s best to remember that staying 100 percent compliant is the key. Cryptocurrency is not going to fly under the IRS’s radar. Being diligent and reporting now will save you a massive headache down the line.

Why Your Network Matters More Than Your Skills (And How To Build A Strong One)

Eleven years into one of the most successful business podcasts on the air, circumstances changed for Jordan Harbinger. Thanks to creative differences, Harbinger found himself out of the company he helped build and left to start over from scratch.

From the outside, it looked like Harbinger, once referred to as “the Larry King of podcasting,” was able to rebound in no time. He launched his new eponymous podcast, The Jordan Harbinger Show, and picked up right where he left off, bringing legions of fans along with him.

I spoke to Jordan about how he did it and his answer surprised me. It wasn’t business savvy or his famous interview skills. He credits his quick return to the spotlight to one thing: His network. “They’re the difference between me recovering my business and being totally screwed.”

Today, Jordan Harbinger shares his approach to networking and how he leveraged his relationships to (quickly) rebuild his empire.

Dig The Well Before You’re Thirsty

Harbinger says you need to create the relationships before you need them. We’ve all been on the receiving end of an email that “pretends” to check in on you, when the person is just buttering you up for an ask.

This is the wrong way to lean on your network. The right way is to build up social capital over time. Check in with people consistently, not just when you need something.

“Creating relationships before you ever need them,” is key, says Harbinger. In fact, he recommends assuming, “you’ll never need them.”

“It’s like putting a tire in the trunk of your car before you get a flat,” says Harbinger. You don’t plan to get a flat. And, in the best case scenario, you never use the spare tire.

“You’ll start treating people differently because you’ll see connections everywhere, NOT just looking for them when you need them, which is too late.”

When you develop a genuine relationship with someone you’re not “asking” a favor, you’re leaning on a friend. This mindset helped Harbinger develop genuine relationships that led to people bending over backward when they learned of his situation.

Famous friends invited him on their podcasts and offered to be guests on his new show. Advertisers followed him to his new show. All the social capital he’d been building up over the past decade was paying off. Precisely because he hadn’t intended for it to.

“Relationships get deeper over time, so planting seeds early makes all the difference.”

But it doesn’t work unless you do this next part.

Always Be Giving (ABG) And Don’t Expect Anything In Return

The secret sauce that makes this kind of networking so powerful is ABG: Always Be Giving. Harbinger says you should, “Hook people in your network up with help, support, etc, WHENEVER you can, even if you have zero idea if they’ll ever be able to help YOU back.”

The old-school approach to networking we grew up with was, “I scratch your back, you scratch mine.” It was transactional and assumed that people didn’t do things out of the kindness of their hearts, but with the expectation that you now “owe” them and they will “cash out” in the future.

Harbinger says this doesn’t work in a connection economy. People can tell when you’re being disingenuous and they’re not going to actually be helpful if you need something.

You want to engender goodwill towards you, but that doesn’t work if you’re not sincere.

“Nobody owes you anything,” says Harbinger, “and if you act like they do, then you’ll end up poisoning your OWN relationships because you’ll get mad when they don’t uphold their end of whatever imaginary contract you’ve created in your head.”

Once you remove the “what can this person do for me” element out of the equation, you never have to think about whether someone is ‘worth helping’ but you just help everyone you can.”

This, he explains, is the key to building genuine relationships. You can’t fake it. If you want to engender goodwill towards you, you have to be sincere. Don’t keep score.

A Massive Advantage That Keeps Paying Dividends Over Time

When you’ve taken the time to invest in people you genuinely care about, you have an unfair advantage in business: You have friends.

Your network is your secret weapon. Especially if it’s made up of, “deep friendships and casual connections that are maintained in the right way,” says Harbinger. His story is a perfect example of how your network gives you “a massive advantage that keeps paying dividends over time.”

“When you help people without the attachment to anything in return, you’ll find all these opportunities you’d never have spotted before…It’s not about “what this person can do for me,” but rather, help people because you care and it’s the right thing to do.”

Why Crypto Is Being Sold as a Solution for Lower Real Estate Commissions

The real estate industry is known for its volatility. One market may be on its way up as another may be crashing to the ground. While real estate professionals and investors alike are used to navigating the ever-shifting ground beneath their feet, there’s a new real estate tech shake-up headed for the industry: cryptocurrency.

To get a better sense of the burgeoning relationship between real estate and decentralized protocols, I connected with co-founder Matthew Herrick at Deedcoin, an organization aiming to tokenize real estate transactions and, subsequently, reduce real estate commissions down to 1%. Our conversation touched on Deedcoin’s unique solution, as well as ways in which the industry as a whole is ripe for cryptocurrency-powered progress.

How do you think cryptocurrency can help people save money on real estate agent fees?

Herrick: Institutions have grown so large over time that some have neglected innovation. Meanwhile, the public has not yet had the technology to provide competitive options without corporate support.

Through decentralized ledgers, a group of people can join together and become a formidable alternative. Deedcoin is this crowd force of the real estate industry. We tokenize commission percentages and therefore giving the public the free market choice of what those should cost.

Homeowners can pay 1% commission through the Deedcoin Network, because we solve the marketing expenditure and customer acquisition problems for agents. Property sellers can utilize 50 Deedcoin to reduce the agent commission from 6% to as low as 1%. Buyers can use 20 Deedcoin to receive 2% of the purchase price back on any home.

Why did you peg Deedcoin’s initial launch price at $1.50 per token?

Herrick: Deedcoin are originally sold at launch for $1.50, but the whole idea of Deedcoin is to let the free market set the value of the solution. Using 50 Deedcoin lets buyers save 5% of their homes value.

For an average home of $240,000, this equates to $12,000 kept in an owner’s pocket while still receiving the same quality service through a local agent. We divided the ideal launch budget by the amount of token for establishing a wide user base through the launch and it came incredibly close to $1.50.

How much money did you raise for your initial coin offering?

Herrick: Deedcoin has been marketing to the public for just over 90 days and has sold just short of $1 million in DEED so far.

We have been southpaw in the way we have launched our project. Many ideas are coming to the token sale with an idea on a napkin called a whitepaper. The team and I think this is a major issue with the blockchain world.

We began in early 2017 in development, filing pending patents, building a platform, and recruiting a national broker network. Because we wanted to prove the concept before asking for money, Deed was a secret to the outside world until January 2018. We felt it was important to keep things quiet while we established the solution to avoid anyone with more funding beating us to market.

As regulation increases, I wonder, is Deedcoin SEC compliant? What about Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML)?

Herrick: Yes, we are SEC compliant. Compliance has been a top priority for Deedcoin since our inception.

Unlike many token sales, Deedcoin is for a large percentage of the population. To be specific, anyone who lives inside a home should own at least 50 Deedcoin to protect their equity when they go to sell.

Due to our wide user base, it was crucial to work within SEC guidelines and sell to U.S. people who are homeowners in our initial footprint. To remain compliant, we developed the concept with our own funding to launch the network, making it a usable product.

Very early in our process, we secured Thompson Bukher LLP out of Manhattan to guide us through every regulation available. We have spent so much time on the phone with attorney Tim Bukher specifically, our teams have become friends. Additionally, for our SAFT sales, we filed a 506D exemption to let the SEC know what we are doing and have a CIK number.

For AML and KYC, all users are screened on registration against the Reuters International database for various factors including watch lists and the politically exposed. The solutions are too great in this technology to let a war with regulation prevent innovation. We believe that working within the guidelines allows the industry to grow and regulation to evolve structurally to provide consumer safety with stifling innovation.

$3,900 fine, 10-year gun ban for Saskatchewan farmer acquitted in shooting death of Colten Boushie

Gerald Stanley has been fined $3,000, plus a $900 victim surcharge, and banned from owning firearms for 10 years after he pleaded guilty Monday to improper storage of firearms.

Police discovered the guns at Stanley’s property when they were responding to Colten Boushie’s fatal shooting, of which Stanley was acquitted.

At the hearing in a courtroom in North Battleford, Sask., a second charge relating to improper storage of a restricted firearm — a handgun — was withdrawn by the Crown, citing insufficient evidence.

The Crown and defence requested a $3,000 fine for Stanley, forfeiture of some of his guns and a firearm ban. 

Stanley’s lawyer, Scott Spencer, said the guns in question were “typical rural firearms” similar to those found on many farms.

“Mr. Stanley frankly wishes he never owned a gun … Mr. Stanley has no desire to ever hold a gun again,” said Spencer.

Photos of guns found in Gerald Stanley’s basement. (RCMP)

Stanley acquitted in shooting death of Boushie

​The Biggar, Sask.-area farmer was acquitted in February in the shooting death of 22-year-old Boushie.

Boushie was shot in the head after he and group of other young people from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation drove onto Stanley’s farm in August 2016. 

Stanley was charged with second-degree murder and after a two-week trial was found not guilty. 

The Saskatchewan Crown is not appealing the jury’s decision. 

Photos of guns found in Gerald Stanley’s bedroom. (RCMP)

Crown says 7 guns stored improperly 

The seven guns alleged to be stored improperly by Stanley, as listed in the court file, are a J. Stevens Arms Company 520 rifle; a .22-calibre semi-automatic rifle; a.22-calibre bolt-action rifle; a Winchester 1200 shotgun; a Lakefield Mark 2 .22-calibre rifle; and a Winchester 1894 rifle. 

A previous charge relating to a Ruger Blackhawk .45-calibre handgun was dropped.

A prosecutor for the Crown said none of the guns were disabled. 

The Tokarev pistol Stanley testified he was holding when it went off and killed Boushie is not among the guns listed. 

Stanley testified during his trial that he normally used that gun to scare off coyotes. On the day Boushie was shot, he and son were planning to shoot targets. 

Survivor of Quebec City mosque shooting doesn’t believe shooter is remorseful

Being able to lift up his five-year-old son is just one of the things Aymen Derbali is aching for, and can no longer do on his own.

The 41-year-old, who became tetraplegic after being struck by seven bullets, hopes the man responsible will receive a sentence that reflects the magnitude of the crime he committed.

“He terrorized an entire population; in that sense this was a terrorist attack,” Derbali said during the sentencing arguments for Alexandre Bissonnette, which continued in Quebec City on Monday.

Bissonnette pleaded guilty in March to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder. He was not handed a terrorism-related charge.

Derbali was the first survivor of the deadly shooting at the Quebec City mosque to describe during sentencing how the shooting shattered the life he knew.

One of the 48 bullets Bissonnette fired that night hit Derbali’s spinal cord, where it is still lodged to this day.Alexandre Bissonnette wears a Make America Great Again hat of the kind used in U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign. (Court handout)

He said it is difficult to accept that his reduced mobility will likely prevent him from ever going back to his hometown, a small village in southern Tunisia.

“I will never be able to fall asleep in my home country again.”

Could have left more victims

Derbali said he arrived late for the Sunday evening prayer on Jan. 29, 2017, and took his usual place at the back of the room.

When he heard gunshots ring out, he turned and saw Bissonnette, “determined, professional, he wasn’t moving,” Derbali told Quebec Superior Court Justice François Huot Monday afternoon.

“He was determined to kill us all,” he said.

Derbali said the outcome could have been much worse if the semi-automatic rifle Bissonnette had brought to the mosque hadn’t jammed, preventing him from firing up to 30 bullets at a time, before having to reload.

The semi-automatic rifle Bissonnette was carrying the night of the shooting jammed, preventing him from firing up to 30 bullets without reloading. (Court exhibit)

“He could have killed many more people,” Derbali said, who fell to the ground after being shot in the leg.

The father of two tried, but failed, to reach Bissonnette, who reloaded his gun and fired at him six more times.

Doesn’t believe regrets

After hearing Bissonnette read a statement in March, where he said he regretted his “senseless act,” Derbali said he didn’t believe “for a second” that Bissonnette was sincere.

“It was probably to try and get a bit of compassion from the public, from citizens, saying he regretted what he did,” Derbali told Huot.

When the judge asked Derbali what kind of sentence he thought he should serve Bissonnette, Derbali asked him to take into account the fact the attack was carefully planned.

Evidence presented in court earlier Monday showed Bissonnette compulsively scoured the Facebook page and website of the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre in the month leading up to the attack, 12 times only in the hours before the shooting.

A report by Bissonnette’s liaison officer, presented in court on Monday, also revealed the 28-year-old idolized mass killers and had wanted to carry out a shooting since high school.

“I could have gone out and killed anyone, I wasn’t targeting Muslims. I just wanted glory,” Bissonnette told his liaison officer Guylaine Cayouette, during a meeting on Sept. 20, 2017.

Derbali said the fact that the mosque’s doors were open to the public made the worshippers an easy target.

“He took advantage of our naiveté, truly,” Derbali said.

The 41-year-old, who moved from Tunisia to study in Quebec City in 2001, said he is now determined to continue the humanitarian work he dedicated much of his life to.

Aymen Derbali is seen here with his daughter Maryem earlier this year. (Maxime Corneau/Radio-Canada)

Before adjourning the day’s hearings, Huot made a point of congratulating Derbali for his courage.

“Despite all your suffering, and all your challenges, you still want to give to humanitarian causes,” Huot said.

“We should all learn from this,” Huot concluded.

More victims are expected to testify over the coming days, as Huot determines when Bissonnette will be eligible for parole.

Alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur’s latest victim came to Canada on MV Sun Sea to ‘protect his life’

Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam came to Canada on the MV Sun Sea in 2010 to “protect his life,” according to a Toronto man who was on the cargo ship with him — but instead Kanagaratnam ended up dead.

Bruce McArthur was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Kanagaratnam, 37, this morning. The alleged serial killer is already facing first-degree murder charges in connection with the deaths of seven other men.

At a news conference, Det.-Sgt. Hank Idsinga said Kanagaratnam’s remains were found in a garden planter at a home on Mallory Crescent, in northeast Toronto, where McArthur worked as a landscaper.

“I’m really sorry about him,” T. Pranavan told CBC News. “When we were in Sri Lanka, we feel our lives were gone so that’s why we came to Canada — to save our lives.”

Nearly 500 Sri Lankan asylum seekers were brought to shore off the B.C. coast in August 2010 after a three-month journey from Thailand on the MV Sun Sea.

Pranavan and Kanagaratnam were two of 492 Sri Lankan asylum seekers brought to shore off the B.C. coast in August 2010 after a three-month journey from Thailand. 

When we were in Sri Lanka, we feel our lives were gone so that’s why we came to Canada — to save our lives.– T. Pranavan

The passengers claimed refugee status due to the armed conflict between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil fighters, but were detained on suspicion that some of them had links to the Tamil Tigers terrorist organization.

Pranavan said he and Kanagaratnam both lost brothers in the war, and shared their experiences while on the ship. He said they didn’t really talk once they got to Canada but he saw a Facebook post about Kanagaratnam last year.

T. Pranavan says he travelled to Canada with Kanagaratnam on the MV Sun Sea in 2010. (CBC)

“I saw the pictures on Facebook that relatives are looking for him, so myself I thought maybe he was hiding himself,” said Pranavan. “I really feel bad.”

Pranavan said he’d thought Kanagaratnam might be hiding because his refugee claim was rejected.

Never reported missing

Kanagaratnam was never reported missing in Toronto, and lived in Scarborough before his death, according to Idsinga.

Police believe he was killed between early September and mid-December 2015.

McArthur is also accused of killing Selim Esen, 44, Abdulbasir Faizi, 44, Majeed Kayhan, 58, Andrew Kinsman, 49, Dean Lisowick, 47, Soroush Mahmudi, 50, and Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40.

Police say it’s unclear how Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam came into contact with Bruce McArthur. (Facebook)

Investigators identified Kanagaratnam from a photograph. The force took the rare step of releasing an image of Kanagaratnam, deceased, to figure out who he was.

A police source previously told CBC Toronto that the image came from a cache of images found on McArthur’s computer.

Police announced last week that they had identified the man and Idsinga said they spent the weekend working to contact family members, many of whom don’t live in the country.

Idsinga said it’s unclear how Kanagaratnam came into contact with McArthur, and he has no evidence linking him to the Gay Village, which most of the other victims had ties to.

Pranavan told CBC News he has “no idea” how Kanagaratnam could have met McArthur, but said life was hard for those who came to Canada on the MV Sun Sea.

“When we enter Canada we hope Canada will give us a bright future,” said Pranavan. “But we don’t get that much welcome to Canada at that time. We really feel sorry and sad about that.”

Canada sending home families of diplomats in Cuba after cases of ‘new type’ of brain injury

Canada is designating Cuba an “unaccompanied post” — meaning diplomats’ families will not be allowed to live with them in the country during a posting — because of new information about mysterious symptoms suffered by Canadian and U.S. diplomats and their families.

Canadian diplomatic staff in Havana were informed of the decision Monday morning. The federal government has made arrangements to bring family members home in the coming weeks.

Ten Canadians in Cuba have experienced symptoms — including headaches, dizziness, nausea and difficulty concentrating — according to government officials who briefed reporters in Ottawa Monday.

‘A new type of … brain injury’

A new report by a Canadian medical specialist raises the possibility that some of the Canadians have experienced a “new type of possible acquired brain injury.” A senior government official said that this injury is new to science.

“The cause remains unknown but could be human-made,” says a media release from Global Affairs.

Officials said that some of those who seemed to recover have since seen the symptoms reassert themselves.

The RCMP is investigating the illness reports.

Some of the affected Canadians are minors; officials did not say how many, citing privacy considerations. Canadian diplomatic staff and their families don’t live together in any kind of housing compound, which closes off one possible avenue of investigation.

There is still no clear explanation for the illnesses. The government says theories about sonic attacks and forms of illness with psychological origins have been ruled out. An environmental assessment conducted April 4 found no suspected causes.

The most likely explanation appears to be medical, said a senior government official. The government said it has seen no indication that Canadian tourists in Cuba are at risk.

Staff members at the embassy will be given the option of postings elsewhere.

Painful, high-pitched noises

The decision to pull family members from the Canadian embassy comes after months of reports of mysterious illnesses afflicting foreigners in Cuba. As of this month, the American embassy in Havana has just ten diplomatic staff left after the United States pulled out the rest of its people following what it described ominously as “sonic attacks” on staff members.

Affected U.S. embassy employees reported hearing painful, high-pitched noises in very specific areas of their homes. At least five Canadians and 24 Americans reported the symptoms back in January. Doctors found the staff members had suffered mild traumatic brain injuries but, so far, have not named a cause.

Back in January, American officials testifying before a Senate committee confirmed Canada had withdrawn some of its diplomatic staff from Havana following the illness reports.

Canada already maintains multiple unaccompanied diplomatic posts around the world, including those in Kabul and Tripoli.

Alberta unveils bill that could wreak havoc on B.C. gas prices in trade war

Alberta’s minister of energy will have sweeping discretionary powers to limit exports of crude, natural gas and gasoline to B.C. under much-anticipated legislation introduced Monday.

Bill 12, titled Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act, gives the Alberta government the ability to retaliate against the B.C. government for any delays to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, by driving up gas prices or slapping restrictions on shipments of other energy products.

“We are very committed to putting pressure on B.C. to come around and focus on what this pipeline actually means,” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said.

The majority of gasoline and aviation fuel used in B.C. is shipped from Alberta through the existing Trans Mountain pipeline.

Limiting exports could create shortages in B.C., forcing it to look elsewhere for gasoline. Alberta could also divert crude oil shipments to rail and truck, in order to free up pipeline space for bitumen.

All these measures could amount to driving up prices at the pump, which could create political problems for B.C. Premier John Horgan.

Kinder Morgan has set May 31 as its deadline for deciding whether it will proceed with the Trans Mountain project. ​

If investor certainty isn’t there by then, Notley said, then the Alberta government may take action. 

“Then that might be the point at which we’re going to have to be a lot more strategic around what products get shipped to what markets by what means,” she said. 

B.C. Attorney General David Eby said he is prepared to take Alberta to court over the legislation if it causes gas prices in his province to jump dramatically.

$10M daily fine

The bill will give Alberta’s Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd power to issue licences for the export of crude oil, natural gas and refined products like gasoline and aviation fuel.

The licences can set limits on where product goes and on how much can be exported over a defined period of time. The minister can determine how product is exported, through pipeline, rail or truck.

Corporations that violate terms of a licence face a fine of $10 million a day.

The government claims it has received a legal opinion indicating the legislation would not violate the Constitution, NAFTA or any internal trade agreements.

If passed, the bill would come into effect upon proclamation.

Jason Kenney, leader of the Official Opposition United Conservative Party, has called on the government to turn off the taps to B.C., but he is reserving opinion on the bill until his caucus can read it more closely. 

“We certainly accept the goal but we have to do our due diligence as the opposition to make sure the bill doesn’t go farther than it needs to,” he said.

Kenney added the UCP may propose an amendment to put a sunset clause on the bill, so the minister doesn’t retain these powers longer than necessary.

The bill was introduced one day after Notley and Horgan met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa to discuss the dispute between the two provinces over proceeding with the pipeline.

Alberta’s proposed law came up in the discussions, and according to Notley, her B.C. counterpart said he hoped that it would not go ahead.

Notley said delays to the proposed pipeline project will cost Canada an estimated $40 million a day in lost revenue.

The Alberta and federal governments are in talks with Kinder Morgan on ways to give the company financial assurances the Trans Mountain pipeline project will go ahead.

The Texas-based company cited resistance from the B.C. government when it announced recently it was halting all non-essential spending on the project.

Huawei P20 Pro review: Three rear cameras, and a lot more

Huawei’s new P20 and P20 Pro are this year’s updates to the well-received P10 and P10 Plus. The main pre-launch talking point about the P20 Pro was its three-camera setup at the rear which, along with AI features, delivers exceptional photography performance — particularly in low light.

Smartphones — particularly top-end handsets — are often described as being ‘all about the cameras’ these days, but there are plenty of other differentiating features, and this £799 (inc. VAT) flagship handset has a lot more to offer than three rear cameras.

The glass backplate isn’t my favourite style as it’s reflective, attracts fingerprints and makes the handset quite slippery to hold. Smaller hands, like mine, struggle to grip the handset tight for one-handed use, and the phone too easily slides off soft surfaces like chairs and sofas. Just as well, then, that the P20 Pro has an IP67 rating for dust and water ingress.

Despite the fuss about them, the rear cameras aren’t particularly visually arresting. Arguably the most notable feature is the way the main pair of lenses protrude significantly from the back of the 7.8mm-thick phone.

Huawei’s flagship P20 Pro runs on the AI-optimised Kirin 970 chipset with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. It’s a dual-SIM IP67-rated handset with a 6.1-inch 1,080-by-2,240-pixel screen, weighing 180g.

Image: Huawei

The lenses for the 40MP RGB and 20MP monochrome cameras protrude significantly at the back.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

The edges of the Huawei P20 Pro are unremarkable, apart from a welcome flash of red on the power button, on the right-hand side. Twin speakers sit on the bottom edge and deliver good sound quality, even with the volume turned up. The speakers flank a central USB-C port, and Huawei provides USB-C earphones plus an adapter for headsets with a 3.5mm audio jack. The SIM slot, on the left edge, will accommodate two SIM cards, but there’s no option to use MicroSD in place of one of the SIMs. Still, there’s a generous 128GB of internal storage, which should be plenty for most use cases.

The front of my black review unit — the P20 also comes in midnight blue and ‘twilight’ — was dominated by the 6.1-inch OLED screen. The long edges are nearly bezel-free, while the top edge that has a slightly larger bezel with a central iPhone X-style ‘notch’ for the front-facing camera and speaker.

If the notch for the front-facing 24MP camera and speaker annoys you, it can be hidden in settings.

Images: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

Top ZDNET Reviews

The bottom edge has a relatively large bezel — all of 9mm, according to my ruler. Still, the near absence of a top bezel means the handset isn’t oversized at 73.9mm wide by 155mm deep by 7.8mm thick. It’s reasonably light at 180g too — Sony’s Xperia XZ2, by contrast, comes in at 198g for its 153mm by 72mm by 11-6mm dimensions.

The large bottom bezel houses a home button that incorporates a fingerprint sensor — not my favoured location for the latter device, as it’s tricky to hit when working one-handed. It’s far more ergonomic to have the fingerprint sensor on the rear, as it is on most recent flagship handsets.

Authentication is also available using face recognition, but the P20 Pro consistently refused to recognise my face so I couldn’t test this feature. I’ve not encountered this problem before, so maybe a software update will sort it out.

The OLED screen is stunning. It’s slightly taller and slightly narrower than the 16:9 aspect ratio screens that are becoming standard, having an 18:7.9 aspect ratio. That provides capacity for the screen to stretch almost to the top of the handset and wrap around the central camera at the top. That little bit of extra screen height means the overall resolution is 1,080 by 2,240 pixels (rather than the 16:8 standard of 1,080 x 2,160).

It’s not something that makes a massive difference to usability, and if the camera-hugging cut-out is irritating, it’s easy to ‘hide’ it in settings, which uses the space to the left and right for system notifications rather than the display itself. That turned out to be my preferred setting.

There are plenty of other ways to customise the display, including fiddling with the colour temperature, and filtering out blue light. Keeping up with the Joneses of the handset world, the Huawei P20 Pro supports HDR10, and it will stream HDR content where you can find it, such as on Netflix. Even without taking advantage of HDR10, video looks great — and given the quality of the audio subsystem, this handset is well suited to mobile gaming too.

You can adjust the OLED screen’s colour mode and temperature, and schedule a reduced-blue-light ‘eye comfort’ setting.

Images: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

We’ll be doing a deep dive on the P20 Pro’s camera performance elsewhere, but will note here that the three-camera system with Leica optics on the back of the handset is extremely impressive. The two main cameras are a primary 40MP RGB sensor with an f/1.8 lens and a secondary 20MP monochrome sensor with an f/1.6 lens. Between them, these cameras ensure that photos are crisp and detailed, delivering particularly good results in low light conditions. The third camera has an 8MP sensor with an f/2.4 lens, delivering 5X hybrid zoom (only available in the default 10-megapixel shooting mode).

The ‘PhotoGenius’ AI system has a go at identifying the subject and adjusts settings accordingly. I found this to be pretty effective, and although a photography purist armed with a real camera would produce shots of the same subjects that look rather different in terms of light and colour, results from the P20 Pro will keep many users happy. And anyone who does a lot of low-light shooting should be particularly pleased with what they see here.

The multitude of shooting options, and the range of tweaks that can be made to settings when you move from auto into ‘Pro’ mode, are made accessible thanks to a scrolling bar that sits beneath the viewfinder area. This makes it more likely that regular users will actually try the pro-level features. It might encourage more people to try the bokeh effect that can automatically kick in if you select portrait mode, for example.

According to Huawei, only the 8MP telephoto camera has optical image stabilisation (OIS), but iFixit’s teradown analysis found OIS hardware on the other two rear cameras as well. Video enthusiasts will appreciate the P20 Pro’s support for 720p footage at ‘super slo-mo’ 960fps.

The front camera is worth an honourable mention too. It has a 24MP sensor and an f/2.0 lens, and takes a very nice selfie indeed. It should suit the narcissists among us well.

The P20 Pro comes in black, midnight blue and ‘twilight’.

Images: Huawei

As usual Huawei couples its own EMUI overlay with Android — in this case Android 8.1 Oreo. Huawei does tend to add a lot of bits and pieces to Android, and that’s the case here. Some of this will appeal, and some may not. Among the many apps added in a Tools folder is a sound recorder and torch app — the latter unnecessary, really, given that a torch setting is accessible from the home screen with a single downward finger swipe.

Tools also contains an app called Mirror, which puts a photo frame around photos and videos. You can blow into the microphone and the screen mists up like a mirror in a steamy bathroom, ready for you to write something on the ‘glass’ with your finger. Bizarre.

Much more useful, in my view, is Smart Controller, which allows you to bring the IR blaster on the top edge of the phone into service as a remote control.

There are lots of other tweaks and touches to be found. Long press an app icon and a series of options appear, making it very fast to add a new calendar event or alarm, or start a timer for example. Generally, my experience with these tools suggests they’re not quite as expansive as those you get with the OnePlus 5T, for example. Still, they should prove useful.

The Huawei P20 Pro performs well, its Kirin 970 processor and 6GB of RAM handling anything I threw at it without delay. The 4,000mAh battery is among the biggest you’ll find on a flagship handset, and it easily got me through a day’s use. Hardened gamers or those into streaming media for hours might have a different experience, but I didn’t take the battery below 50 percent in any full day during the test period.


Image: Huawei

Huawei’s P20 Pro is a superb handset, with its triple rear camera setup the clear headline-stealer. Elsewhere, performance is great and battery life is among the best I’ve seen in recent times. The IR blaster coupled with TV (and other IR device) software is a real winner — I don’t understand why this isn’t standard on more handsets.

Most of the negatives are a little picky, the exception being the fingerprint sensor location. This really should be on the back and not beneath the screen, where it’s very awkward to find one-handed. The lack of MicroSD card support may disappoint some people, but 128GB of internal storage is plenty for me. Reliance on USB-C for the headset connection could irritate too, but Huawei does provide a 3.5mm adapter. I don’t like the glass back, but others will disagree.

Overall though, this might be my flagship handset of the year so far.


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Saudi Arabia intercepts another missile fired by Yemeni rebels

Saudi air defences intercepted a missile fired by Yemeni rebels at the kingdom’s southern city of Jizan on Thursday, the Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels said, the latest in a series of such attacks.

“The missile was fired at Jizan indiscriminately with the aim of hitting civilian areas,” a coalition spokesman told the official Saudi Press Agency.

“It was successfully intercepted… and the debris fell on a residential neighbourhood… but no casualties or damage was reported.”

A missile was launched from Sadaa, the stronghold of Iran-backed Huthi rebels in northern Yemen, the coalition added.

The attack was claimed by the rebels via their news outlet Al-Masirah.

The strike comes after Saudi forces on Wednesday said they intercepted rebel ballistic missiles fired at Riyadh and the south of the kingdom, where two drones were also shot down.

Yemen’s Shiite Huthi rebels have said their cross-border barrage marked the launch of what their leadership has dubbed “the year of ballistics”.

Saudi Arabia has since March 2015 led a coalition of Arab states fighting to roll back the Huthi rebels in Yemen and restore its neighbour’s internationally-recognised government to power.

Riyadh has repeatedly accused arch-rival Tehran of providing the missiles and threatened retaliation against Iran.

Tehran has denied making any arms deliveries and has said the Saudi accusations are a smokescreen intended to divert attention from its deadly bombing campaign against rebel-held areas.

Nearly 10,000 people have since been killed in the conflict, in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Civilian casualties from coalition air strikes have drawn criticism from human rights groups, and in October the UN placed the coalition on a blacklist for killing and maiming children.