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ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe unboxing

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It may be late to the market, but the ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe is finally starting to trickle out, with Asia being the next stop for the Taiwanese manufacturer’s most premium — and most expensive — smartphone yet.

ASUS certainly took its sweet time releasing this one, and it shows: The Deluxe is luxe from the inside out and beyond the hardware. Its box alone is likely to elicit “oohs” before it’s even opened, enough to give the impression that what’s inside is valuable. (To be perfectly clear, it is; the $700 5.7-inch Deluxe costs as much as an iPhone 7 Plus or a Pixel XL.)

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Our 5.7-inch Deluxe in gold came in this sturdy navy blue box. The box features a magnetic flap that keeps it closed and holds the package together.

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The inside of the box reveals a fancy interior (accentuated by ASUS’ concentric-circle detailing, of course); it is broken up into compartments with the unit up top, and the accessories and documentation stored underneath. There’s a pull-out tab for the hidden compartment.

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The bundled charger (and Type-C cable) outputs at up to 9 volts and supports fast charging. We’ll reserve our judgment for the review, but so far we’ve been able to consistently get back to a full charge in a little over an hour.

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The white-and-silver wired earphones are housed in a plastic casing. It comes with three sets of additional earbud attachments, so you’re more likely to find one that fits snug in your ear. We like them. A lot. Apart from the phone (duh!), they’re the highlight of this unboxing. We haven’t tested them thoroughly yet so we can’t be sure of their quality. Check back in the coming days.

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The branded SIM eject tool is the same one you’ll find bundled with other ZenFone models released this year.

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First impressions

By now, you must be wondering: “So, what about the handset?” Well, there’s certainly a lot to like about the the ZenFone 3 Deluxe. It’s lightning fast — absolutely the most powerful and responsive ZenFone we’ve used thus far, bar none; the AMOLED display is lovely and incredibly crisp; and the cameras take vibrant, detailed images.

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Everything seems to be in order here. But, as you know, some phones — especially the most expensive ones — deserve a deeper dive than others. And we’ll be sure to take that plunge in the days to come. By then, we’ll be sure to arrive at a definitive conclusion as to whether or not this phone is worth the wait and high price of admission.

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Huawei’s new charging tech is 10 times faster than current speeds

There’s just one problem…

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Fast charging has been an invaluable technology on smartphones since being introduced a few years ago, and it keeps getting faster and more stable. But it has run into a bit of a plateau, one that Huawei is looking to overcome.

The Chinese manufacturer has found a way to speed up the charging process by 10 times, which they boast in this video:

If this becomes a reality, you could one day charge your phone from zero to 48 percent in only five minutes. For comparison, it often takes 30 minutes to hit 50 to 60 percent with today’s fastest quick chargers.

As expected, there’s a catch. The process shows the phone’s battery being taken out and transferred to a separate charger. This is beginning to feel more like a throwback than a look into the future.

This is likely because a traditional lithium-ion battery — found in all smartphones today — is still being used. The workaround would then be to improve the technology surrounding it.

Handsets won’t be the only home for this new development. Huawei hopes to place this in electric vehicles, mobile power supplies, and laptops, as well.

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Google lead designer reveals prototypes of Pixel 2, Home Mini, Pixelbook

A touch of human

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It’s not too often that we get a behind-the-scenes look at the drawing boards of premium hardware products, but when we do, it’s magical.

Ivy Ross, who’s the lead designer of Google’s latest devices, revealed the ideas and executions she and her team put into making their gadgets.

Published on The She Word (a series featuring the women of Google on the company’s blog), Ross discussed a variety of topics ranging from her early beginnings as a young designer to the aesthetics of Pixel and Home devices.

When asked what the most important design principle of Google’s hardware is, she had this to say:

Human. By that I mean friendly, emotionally appealing, and easy to fit into your life and your home.

She goes on to explain that three-dimensional and tactile aesthetics are important after spending so much time in front of flat screens. That’s why her design team puts so much emphasis on fabric materials.

Through images, the blog post also showed off the progress from multiple prototypes to finished product for Google’s most important items:

The visual progression of the Pixel 2 XL’s design is arguably the most interesting. You can see how the flagship phone went from a squarish panda to a more rounded one.

Ross became the head of design for Google’s hardware team in mid-2016, and has since made her mark as the company’s most human designer to date.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook on iPhone battery issue: ‘Maybe we weren’t clear’

iOS update can prevent intentional slowdown

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Apple ended last year on a sour note, admitting that they intentionally slowed down their iPhones in order to compensate for aging batteries. While this seems practical from a technical standpoint, consumers were enraged by Apple’s lack of transparency with the matter.

iPhone users felt like they were being forced into purchasing a newer model or going for an expensive battery replacement simply to continue having a fluid iOS experience.

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s interview with ABC News was able to shed more light on the topic. Cook admits that his company wasn’t clear with the performance throttling and they’re now taking the proper steps in order to regain the public trust.

The company began by offering discounts on replacement batteries, although this will only last until the end of 2018. The more permanent solution comes in the form of a software update that’ll allow users to monitor their iPhone battery’s health.

What’s more interesting is the ability to disable the performance throttling altogether once the update arrives. Apple advises against this, however, saying that the feature is in place to prevent “the device unexpectedly shutting down” and protect its electronic components.

Still, it’s nice to have access to such an option. This will let users maximize the full capacity of their iPhone until the handset’s battery is on its dying legs.

Unfortunately, the apologies and fixes haven’t stopped people from suing Apple through class action lawsuits. Chances are the Cupertino company will succeed in the end (they always have), but we can at least sleep better knowing that we aren’t imagining iPhones slowing down through time.

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