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From The Editors Technology

Samsung Galaxy Watch: First Impressions

Launched alongside the much written and talked about Galaxy Note 9, the Samsung Galaxy Watch comes in two different sizes, offering three different color options.

The 42mm version of the new Galaxy Watch is being made available in two colors – Midnight Black and Rose Gold – and will cost $330 for the non-cellular variant, while the LTE models will cost $50 more when it’s shipped later this year.

This version uses 20mm straps that offer a variety of color options such as Onyx Black, Terracotta Red, Lime Yellow, Lunar Grey, Cosmo Purple, Pink Beige, Natural Brown, and Cloud Grey.

The watch weighs 42 grams and packs a 1.2-inch (30mm) circular Super AMOLED display, with dimensions measuring 41.9 x 45.7 x 12.7mm, most suited for medium and smaller wrists.

Designed for larger wrists, the 46mm edition, however, is available only in silver and costs $350.

The 22mm strap on this one offers fewer color options, which are Onyx Black, Deep Ocean Blue, and Basalt Grey.

It has a slightly larger 1.3-inch (33mm) screen – also Super AMOLED; measures 46 x 49 x 13mm in dimensions and weighs 63g without the strap.

Even before you unbox the Galaxy Watch, you know you can expect a long battery life, automatic fitness and wellness tracking, support for 35-plus workout activities, as well as a good waterproof rating, as these are the features that Samsung proudly flaunts on the box itself.

Included in the box is a charging dock, a USB A to micro USB cable, a wall adapter, an extra strap, a quick start guide, and, of course, the watch itself, which immediately impresses with its Gear Sport-like awesome build-quality.

While it’s definitely a bit on the heavier side, it does look and feel very premium, with a smart-looking silicone strap – sweat-resistant, flexible, and removable – to complement the main unit.

On the back of the Galaxy Watch, you have your heart-rate sensor, with a two-button interface on the side and a rotating bezel on the front – perfectly aligning with the numbers around the circumference of the dial as it rotates around it with the precision and smoothness you associate with a Samsung device.

To set the watch up, you will have to first download the Galaxy Wearable App on your iPhone or Android device and then pair it with the watch via Bluetooth, which shouldn’t take more than a minute, honestly.

If you think you can accommodate the larger of two Galaxy Watch versions on your wrist, then that’s the one we recommend you go for – despite its heavier weight and single color option – purely because of the significantly superior battery-life the 472mAh cell on this one promises, as opposed to the 270mAh cell on the smaller model.

Health being the main component in the Galaxy Watch concept, it builds on Samsung Health app with new breathing and stress management features, in addition to 21 new indoor exercises and 39 tracked workout activities, overall.

Samsung’s AI voice assistant Bixby will now feature on the Galaxy Watch, instead of the S Voice we saw on the Gear Sport, the company revealed at the Note 9 event, without providing too much insight on how it was supposed to work.

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However, it should be able to work in conjunction with your smartphone, as well as the all-new Galaxy Home smart speakers, to mirror the voice commands given to them.

Although it’s a bit too early to give a final verdict on the Galaxy Watch, the first impressions the device invokes are encouraging, when you consider the innovative rotating bezel for navigating the UI, the 60,000 or so watch faces you can choose from, additional quick reply options, and last, and most importantly, a smarter and more robust fitness tracker.

Android compatibility is Android 5.0 and later versions and works as well with iPhone 5 and higher versions running iOS 9.

Powering the Galaxy Watch is Samsung’s very own Tizen operating system, known for its power efficiency and quick response time.

A number of fitness and wellbeing features incorporated in the Galaxy Watch were highlighted in the course of its presentation earlier this month, one of which was its ability to detect variations in the user’s stress levels and respond with a suitable suggestion like, for example, a breathing exercise.

It is also capable of tracking sleep and letting you know the hours of quality sleep you’re getting each night.

By virtue of a Samsung-Spotify tie-up, Galaxy Watch users will also be able to stream music directly from the Swedish streaming service, with the device’s 4GB of onboard storage even making it possible to save them for offline consumption.

Some important points to know about the Samsung Galaxy Watch

  • Multi-colored straps sold separately
  • Using Always-On function may increase battery consumption.
  • Music streaming may increase battery consumption and result in additional data charge depending on your data plan
  • Intended for general wellness and fitness purposes only
  • Availability of apps for Galaxy Watch may differ by carrier or country
  • Using GPS may increase battery consumption
  • Galaxy Watch has a water resistance rating of 50 meters under the ISO standard 22810:2010
  • It is not suitable for diving or high-pressure water activities
  • If the device or your hands are wet, they must be dried thoroughly prior to handling.
  • Wireless charger requires separate power connection
  • A fully charged Galaxy Watch lasts up to 168 hours for 46mm models and 120 hours for 42mm models
  • Actual battery life varies by features and apps used, number of times charged, and many other factors – (source: Samsung.com)
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From The Editors Technology

Vivo Nex: Bezel-Less and Notch-Less Smartphone with a Concealed Selfie Camera

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Vivo launched its stunning new flagship phone, the Vivo Nex, on Tuesday (June 12) at its Shanghai launch event.

If the name Vivo is sounding familiar, it is the same company we saw back in February at the Mobile World Congress where it showcased the concept version of this new flagship, which the company called Vivo Apex, at the time.

The first striking feature of the Vivo Nex – and, probably, the best – is the obstruction-free 6.59-inch screen real estate.

Yes, Vivo has successfully eliminated the oh-so-irritating notch to give you a truly edge-to-edge bezel-less display, boasting an incredible 91.24 percent screen-to-body ratio.

Even before going any further into the details of the Nex, it should be safe to say, from what we know so far, that the company seems justified in claiming that this is the smartphone of the future.

Obviously, getting rid of the notch required Vivo to find an alternative accommodation for the front-facing camera.

Vivo cracked this problem with a truly creative solution, cleverly placing the 8-megapixel front-facing camera inside the phone’s chassis, to stay concealed, until needed.

The coming out of the camera from inside the Nex’s body cannot, really, be described as a pop-up; it’s more of a smooth, fluid movement, as the camera slides up and out.

It certainly looks like this bit of tech is here to stay – and be copied, again and again!

All it takes to get the camera going is a tap on the camera icon in the camera app, and the selfie shooter will be ready for action in just one second.

If you’ve already decided to buy the Nex, mechanism failure should be the least of your worries, as Vivo is believed to have tested the setup in drop and durability tests and claims that the camera can be raised and lowered up to as many as 50,000 times without any glitches, whatsoever.

The gorgeous sweeping display is a super AMOLED panel, with the same under-screen fingerprint reader we’ve seen before from the company; however, this time around, it’s a, somewhat, improved version of the earlier versions.

The Nex’s fingerprint reader is a bit more accommodating when it comes to recognition accuracy, which the company claims is 50 percent higher on the new reader; a tad faster too.

The initial set up of the fingerprint reader is a little tricky, though; however, once it has successfully registered your fingerprint it is quick to recognize it.

Concealment does not end with the front camera; even the Nex’s speaker system is built under the display and employs a technology called “screen sound casting,” which uses the entire display to vibrate and produce sound; that is why you will not see any speaker holes anywhere on the phone.

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The technology may encounter some privacy issues, though, unless Vivo has found a workaround to the problem; as a similar feature on the original Xiaomi Mi Mix was discontinued by the company on the subsequent Mi Mix because the tech had a tendency to broadcast your conversations to everyone around you.

Moving to the back of the phone, you will find a vertically stacked dual camera system – a 12-megapixel f/1.8 shooter and a 5-megapixel f/2.4-aperture secondary camera.

The phone has a charging C port at the bottom.

And, here’ something that will, ahem, surprise you; the phone, actually, has a headphone jack on the top.

Under the hood, the Nex boasts some of the newest and best silicon power, including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and an Adreno 630 GPU

Plus, the phone ships with 8GB of RAM and 256GB onboard storage capacity, with a massive 4,000 mAh battery.

Running on Vivo’s Funtouch OS – which is based on Android 8.1 Oreo – the Nex allows you to use access gesture styles to easily navigate the phone and access different controls, somewhat along the lines of the iPhone X.

The phone also boasts a smart assistant called Jovi and it appears to be Vivo’s answer to Bixby – dedicated button included.

All in all, the Vivo Nex has an incredibly premium feel to it and the massive notch-free bezel-free display is as immersive as a phone screen can, possibly, be.

Many of you out there may not have any issues with having a notched phone, but once you’ve got the feel of a phone that offers a perfect distraction-free screen experience, you’d likely be sold on it.

As of now, the phone is being made available only in China with no information from the company, yet, about the phone’s availability in other markets, including Europe and the U.S.

The 256GB onboard storage version of the flagship is selling for the equivalent of about $780, in China.

Vivo Nex specs at a quick glance

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
  • Memory: 8GB RAM, 256GB onboard storage
  • Display: 6.59-inch Super AMOLED full-HD+
  • Features: In-screen fingerprint scanner
  • Front-facing camera: 8-megapixel pop-up
  • Rear-facing camera: Dual 12 MP (f/1.8, 1/2.5″, 1.4µm, Dual Pixel PDAF) + 5 MP (f/2.4), 4-axis OIS, phase detection autofocus, dual-LED dual-tone flash.

Note: the phone is also available in a cheaper variant with a Snapdragon 710 processor, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of internal storage.

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From The Editors Technology

RED Hydrogen One: A Smartphone of a Distinctively Different Kind

Red Digital Cinema Camera Company – better known for its expertise in manufacturing digital cinematography and photography cameras and equipment, as the name suggests – is now making forays into the world of phones, but of a distinctively different kind – the RED Hydrogen One.

On Saturday, at the exclusive RED Hydrogen One Sneak Peek event in Hollywood, the company gave a demo of the phone’s prototype, and it’s the first impressions that we’re going to talk about, here.

You’ll be surprised to know, probably as much as everybody attending the event was, that there was a lot of a cloak-and-dagger stuff about the phone’s display, what with nobody being allowed to take video or photographs of the phone’s front – the 4 View (4V) holographic display, to be more precise.

So, what you’re going to get here is a bit about the hands-on experience of using the phone, as well as the audio codecs announced at the event.
Let’s start straight away with the display, which can only be described and spoken about, really, as there are no photographs to show.

However, according to Red founder and CEO Jim Jannard, no description would be good enough to do the display justice, and, you know what, he could actually be right.

“There is no way to describe or show the 4 view (4V) display other than seeing it in-person. There’s just no way,” he said at the Saturday event. “We want everybody’s first experience with Hydrogen One to be like yours: in-person.”

But, we’re going to give it a shot, nevertheless.

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Well, for starters, the display can best be described as something quite unique that may, or may not, go on to revolutionize the phone concept. However, as this is only a prototype and, as with all prototypes, there’s a lot that can be done with them to make them commercially viable, based on feedback.

One such area where the company will have to do a bit of tweaking around is the blurring that happens when you tilt the phone off its axis and, while it’s not too big an issue, it does need to be fixed if RED is hoping to sell this for $1,200.

However, for the most part, the 4V experience and effect were really exceptional, to say the least.

Clips from movies like Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Pixar’s animated film Brave – obviously adapted to fit into the 4V scheme of things –played on the 4V display of the Hydrogen One was truly an immersive experience.

There was one more piece that was honestly unique and intriguing; it was a birthday party animation in which a little party popper kind of thing jumps out at you as streamers fall from the sky.

And, everything worked in, both, portrait and landscape orientations.
Even photos and videos shot with the phone played out quite remarkably on the display.

Now, whether this translates to sales or just ends up as a niche device that is pushed at AT&T and Verizon but, probably, not sold, is a matter of wait and watch.

Now, before we move on to some of the other things that the company allowed participation in, let’s just talk a little bit about the RED Hydrogen One’s substantial form factor.

Well, to give it perspective, it’s a bigger device than an iPhone 8 Plus in an Otterbox case and it has that rugged, industrial look to it, which, one has to say – at the expense of sounding somewhat chauvinistic, though – makes it look like a man’s phone.

On the left-hand side of the device you have the volume control buttons – yes, there are two separate buttons for volume up and volume down, respectively.

On the right-hand side you have your power button, with an embedded fingerprint scanner and at the bottom, there will be, what looks like, a little red dedicated camera button – which, actually, makes a lot of sense, considering you’re going to be using the camera with what is going to be extra modules from RED, and that’s where a dedicated button will come in handy.

In another demo, participants were made to video chat with another person, where the two front cameras come into play to create the 4V effect.
So, the person you’re chatting with appears on your screen with a kind of realistic depth that nothing but awes, and no amount of tilting will make any difference to the depth effect.

The A3D audio codec demo was another big highlight of the event, where 3D sound was presented to the participants in over-the-ear Bose QC 35 headphones, as well as through the device’s inbuilt speaker system.

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The least you can say about that spatially oriented audio experience is that it was most impressive.

And, to be honest, the speaker experience was different – in a better way, of course – and definitely more immersive than the headphone demo.

Imagine what it would be like to be able to have a phone where you could watch 4V content with 3D sound; the combined effect of those two factors would really be some experience.

Also present at the event was a team of engineers from Leia, the company that manufactures the hush-hush 4V display, who were discussing gaming environments that they think would attract developers to write code for.

The RED Hydrogen network was also spoken about, which is, apparently, going to be a content-based network, somewhat along the lines of YouTube or Twitch, to name a couple, where people will provide the content to be shared with others.

While most people are likely to be kind of intrigued by the RED Hydrogen One, it remains to be seen if they’ll be intrigued enough to shell out $1,200 for the piece; but, then, there are many who would go for the sheer novelty of it all.

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From The Editors Technology

OnePlus 6: First Impressions

OnePlus has come a long way since it debuted its OnePlus 1, back in April 2014, and while they’ve evolved all the way up to the latest generation OnePlus 6 – which is the subject of our discussion, here – the company has stuck to its guns in so far as retaining most of what it’s done well with the older models.

For example, you still have dash charging, OnePlus’ quick-charge technology promising 63% of max charge in just about 30 minutes, which may not be the fastest in the world but it’s still good to have; and you still have the alert slider and the headphone jack; and, the company has stuck with 1080p, as well.

As these are just our first impressions about this phone, there’s going to be a limit to how much we can tell you, really, but let’s give you all that we’ve learned, so far, starting with the price point.

As has been the trend with almost every other smartphone manufacturer, the OnePlus MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) has increased generation by generation and the most cited explanation for that has been product complexities and increased development costs by most of the players.

To give you an idea, the 6GB RAM and 64GB ROM option of OnePlus 6 is $30 dearer than the OnePlus 5T that it takes over from.

On the brighter side, it’s getting some pretty fancy upgrades and what’s more is that it’s still $200 easier on the wallet than the Samsung S9, or $300 cheaper if you compare it with the S9 Plus.

Here are the different OnePlus 6 options and their price.

  • Mirror Black with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage: $529
  • Mirror Black with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage: $579
  • Midnight Black with 8GB of RAM and 128BB of internal storage: $579
  • Midnight Black with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage: $629
  • Silk White with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage: $579

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So, how does the specs sheet of this device read?

In keeping with this year’s trend, the OnePlus 6 is a super tall device with an aspect ratio of 19:9 and an 84 percent screen to body ratio and is well-endowed with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset, octa-core CPU, Adreno 630 GPU, non-removable Li-Po 3300 mAh battery , and a 6.28-inch Optic AMOLED display with a 2280 x 1080 screen resolution.

The absence of wireless charging on this is a bit of a disappointment, though, but dash-charge somewhat makes up for it.

The dual camera arrangement boasts a Sony IMX 519 primary camera with a 16MP sensor, an f/1.7 aperture and OIS (optical image stabilization), while the secondary camera is a Sony IMX 376K with a 20MP sensor and, again, an f/1.7 aperture.

The OnePLus 6 comes with 6GB or 8GB of low power DDR 4X RAM and a choice of 64GB, 128GB and 256GB of onboard storage in a variety of colors – all listed above along with their prices.

The phone is pretty decent aesthetically, what with a tall body, big screen, and the ubiquitous notch, which, to be fair to the makers, is one of the smallest compared to some of the others we’re continuing to be fed with.

For those of you who absolutely hate that controversial notch, which, invariably, leaves an ugly cut out in your ultra-wide videos, the good news is that OnePlus is allowing users the choice of disabling it in the device’s settings.

The build quality is excellent, with every surface of the OnePlus 6, front and back, made of Corning Gorilla Glass 5 that has withstood some really tough durability tests in the lab.

The signature OnePlus curve to the back gives the 6 a, somewhat, similar shape to other OnePlus phones but the glass does make it a bit weightier.

OnePlus is offering three different finishes to the glass back, including a glossy back or the Mirror Black; a matte finish back which is your Midnight Black, and a white finish or the Silk White.

The phone sits pretty snugly in the hand, especially the matte finish model because even though it’s glass, it’s not as slippery, probably because its surface has received some kind of special treatment to give it the matte look.

The fingerprint reader on the back of this one sits immediately below the vertically oriented dual cameras and is elliptical in shape, instead of the stock circle we’ve seen on the earlier versions, which means less surface area – again, a little bit of a turndown.

Another great addition to the new OnePlus is gesture support when you’re in the complete full-screen mode, which means a drag up will take you Home; a drag up and hold gesture gives you multitask while dragging from the bottom up when inside an app takes you back.

In short, the phone checks far too many boxes to be taken lightly but, again, these are our first impressions and we’ll only be able to recommend a “go for it” or “forget it” after we’ve done a full review of the device.

OnePlus 6 Specs Sheet

BODY

  • Dimensions: 155.7 x 75.4 x 7.8 mm (6.13 x 2.97 x 0.31 in)
  • Weight: 177 g (6.24 oz)
  • Build: Front and back glass with aluminum frame

DISPLAY

  • Type: Optic AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M color
  • Size: .6.28 inches, 98.4 cm2 (~83.8% screen-to-body ratio)
  • Resolution: 1080 x 2280 pixels, 19:9 ratio (~402 ppi density)
  • Protections: Corning Gorilla Glass 5

PLATFORM

  • OS: Android 8.1 (Oreo)
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SDM845 Snapdragon 845
  • CPU: Octa-core (4×2.8 GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4×1.7 GHz Kryo 385 Silver)
  • GPU: Adreno 630

INTERNAL STORAGE

  • 64GB/128GB/256GB

MEMORY

  • 6GB/8GB of RAM

BATTERY

  • Non-removable Li-Po 3300 mAh battery

SOUND

  • Alert Types: Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
  • Loudspeaker: Present
  • 3.5 mm audio jack: Present
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From The Editors Technology

Xiaomi Seems Set to Launch “Pinecone” – Its Very Own Mobile Processor on February 28

The dependence of smartphone manufacturers on chipset makers is gradually drifting away from the norm. After Apple, Samsung and Huawei it is now Xiaomi that will be joining the elite club of smartphone companies to have ventured into processor self-sufficiency.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Feb 9 about the intended launch, and now, it’s more or less official that, come February 28, and Xiaomi will announce the long awaited “Pinecone” at the Beijing National Convention Center at 2 P.M. China time (1.00 A.M. EST) according to an invite, in Chinese, posted by Xiaomi on its MIUI forums site.

The name Pinecone, however, is not final. It is supposed to be the codename for the processor directly translated from Chinese but for now, it is going by that name.

No information has been made available, yet, on the time frame we are looking at. However, if sources and rumors are to be believed, the Xiaomi 6 due to be announced in March will be Pinecone enabled.

The heavy dependence of device makers on Qualcomm for their processor needs has its disadvantages of higher costs, supply issues, and technical woes as was the case with Snapdragon 810 which had overheating issues. In cases like these, the device companies are left high and dry with not too many options, or rather, hardly any option at their disposal.

Samsung being a major Qualcomm’s chips manufacturer is at an advantage having had access to the Snapdragon 835 for some time now while other device companies have been without that particular option for a quite a bit.

The paradigm shift in the device manufacturers’ approach to processor issues is a healthy pointer of what future smartphones with in-house chipsets will have to offer. Better customization and cost advantage are two probabilities that immediately come to mind.

Pinecone will make Xiaomi the second smartphone company in China to go solo on the chipset front after Huawei.

About Xiaomi

Xiaomi is a Chinese electronics company based in Beijing and is the fourth largest smartphone manufacturer in the world. Xiaomi Inc not only designs and develops smartphones but also manufactures laptops, phone apps, and other consumer electronics. The company managed to sell more than 60 million smartphones in 2014.

After the release and success of its first smartphone back in 2011 Xiaomi managed to secure a firm foothold in mainland China which allowed it to go into expansion mode. Among other consumer electronics goods, Xiaomi branched out into, was also a smart home IoT (Internet of Things) device ecosystem.

Lei Jun, founder, and CEO of Xiaomi has been ranked the 23rd richest man in China by Forbes.

The company has offices in mainland China, Malaysia, Singapore, and India with over eight thousand employees, mostly in the Chinese mainland, and is planning to spread its wings further to the Philippines, Indonesia, Brazil and South Africa.

After receiving investor funding of $1.1 billion, Xiaomi’s estimated valuation is over $46 billion making it the fourth richest technology start-up in the world. Xiaomi made inroads into the Indian market on the back of flipcart.com in July 2014.
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