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Flash Plus 2 is an exciting sub-$200 phone from the brand formerly known as Alcatel

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When I hear the word Alcatel, I get flashbacks from the very late nineties, when apart from the likes of Nokia and Motorola, it too made cellphones. I can still remember the first Alcatel One Touch, a larger and rounder Nokia 5110 look-a-like.

Almost 20 years later, Alcatel is staging a comeback. Over the last few years the company has generated a reasonable amount of interest in its Flash line – budget smartphones with reasonably good specs.

But despite its rich past, this week, mother company TCL announced it was dropping the Alcatel branding from Flash phones and creating Flash as an independent brand. Albert Wong, general manager of Flash 3C tells GadgetMatch the moves was inspired by Flash’s younger demographic. “We found actually the people who buy online are much younger. They have a different behavior.”

The first new Flash smartphone is the Flash Plus 2, announced this week. At under $200, its probably one of the most interesting phones this year. Sure, it doesn’t offer anything innovative, but the Flash Plus 2 offers features and specs that not even all midrange smartphones offer.

Alcatel-Flash-Plus-2

A 5.5-inch, 1080p display fronts the user, while an octa-core Helio P10 chipset from MediaTek takes care of everything else from computing to running Android Marshmallow. The Flash Plus 2 is available with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of expandable storage, or you can get it with 3GB of RAM and 32GB storage. It also The Flash Plus 2 is also equipped with a 3,000mAh battery, a 13-megapixel rear camera, and a 5-megapixel front-facer that offers a Beauty mode for photos and video (yes, video!).

Of course, the design choices that led to the Flash Plus 2 are equally noteworthy. The phone goes metal, with chamfered edges and a curved back that gets a brushed finish for a premium look and feel. As far as sub-$200 phones go, it’s also among the few that has a fingerprint sensor for added security and more.

It’s this disruption that Flash hopes will be the key to its success. We’ve been impressed many times this year by manufacturers offering great midrange smartphones, but with its competitive price point, the Flash Plus 2 is in a league of its own in the segment.

Like many up-and-comers, Flash is focused on building its community of users and offering its phones exclusive via online partners. “The most important thing for us is to satisfy our consumers.”

According to Wong, many new features of the Flash Plus 2 came from understanding user pain points, like the phone’s front-facing flash and its dedicated micro SD card slot. The community will also have a say in color options for its upcoming replaceable metallic casings for the Flash Plus 2.

Available in silver and gold paint jobs, the Flash Plus 2 will debut later this month across Southeast Asia, including Malaysian, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

Flash executives tell GadgetMatch they believe APAC is one of the biggest open markets for mobile phones, where they can skip operators and resellers and sell directly to consumers. The company also promises to offer higher-end products later this year.

Laptops

Acer announces new Chromebook Spin 11 for a cheaper price

Fully compatible with a Wacom pen

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It’s a case of déjà vu. A year after the first one, Acer has announced the Chromebook Spin 11 for a second time. This time, it has better parts, a cheaper price, and more consumer-friendly availability.

Previously, the Spin 11 was launched exclusively for the education sector, offering the needed durability and flexibility for a student. The new Spin 11, however, packs more punch for a lower price. The announcements comes only a few weeks removed from Acer’s other announcements at CES 2018.

The new Chromebook Spin 11 (CP311-1H/CP311-1HN) comes in three flavors of processors — Intel Pentium quad-core N4200, quad-core Celeron N3450, or dual-core Celeron N3350. It’s a bit more than the previous model which came only with the N3350.

Acer also offers variability with storage and memory. It is available in either 4GB or 8GB LPDDR4 for RAM. Meanwhile, it offers 32GB or 64GB variants for internal storage.

It also comes with a 11.6-inch IPS display with a 1366 x 768-pixel resolution. Like the previous model, the notebook is fitted with a 360-degree hinge that allows for laptop, tablet, display, and tent modes.

The Spin 11 pushes the emerging trend for USB Type-C charging. While it does reduce variability, it will boast of an uptime that lasts “all day.”

Besides charging, it sports two USB-C 3.1 ports, two USB-A 3.0 ports, and a microSD reader for connectivity. Likewise, Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.2 round the laptop out for wireless connectivity.

However, the new notebook’s biggest upgrade is its compatibility with a Wacom EMR stylus, which comes packaged with the CP311-1HN model. It doesn’t require a battery and is resistant to trauma. Before the Spin 11, only a handful of hybrid notebooks came with a stylus.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 11 will start shipping out in March. It’ll come with a price tag of US$ 349.

SEE ALSO: Acer’s new Swift 7 is thinner than ever

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Drones

DJI launches new Mavic Air drone

It’s the size of a smartphone!

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DJI is at it again with its consumer quadcopters.

The Chinese company has launched the new Mavic Air and it fits right between the Mavic Pro and the smaller Spark. Think of the Spark’s size but with the folding arms of its predecessor.

DJI says the Mavic Air is lighter by 41 percent compared to its previous model but receives the entire gesture system of the Spark — something that attracts consumers. This means you can make it snap a photo, make it move to a different spot, and call it back to land by simple hand actions.

Using your hand to manipulate the drone has a range limit of almost 6 meters (19 feet). Connect a smartphone and it bumps up the range to 80 meters, but using a dedicated remote will increase that to 4km.

Just like the Mavic Pro, the Mavic Air has a 4K video resolution, 12-megapixel image sensor, and three-axis gimbal. It also has HDR, and low-light shooting to help you achieve better photos in general. DJI also threw in a new software algorithm that lets users stitch together 32-megapixel shots for panoramas and photo spheres.

DJI added 8GB of internal storage to the Mavic Air. There’s also a USB-C port which is a bump up from the Pro’s micro-USB, although battery life saw a downgrade as the new Air has a maximum flight time of 21 minutes. In real-life usage, that means around 16 minutes.

Don’t let it dishearten you, since position tracking, obstacle avoidance, and the ventilation system have all been improved according to DJI.

Finally, and unlike the Pro, it comes in different colors. The new Mavic Air will be available in white, black, or red. Pricing will start at US$ 799 which is a little more expensive than the Spark but more affordable than the Mavic Pro. Pre-orders start immediately and shipping will commence next week.

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An upcoming Nokia phone is rumored to have a penta-camera setup

When two are not enough

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In the photo: Nokia 8

Remember the PureView camera phones from Nokia? They lead the race of megapixels in a smartphone and the best possible image quality back in the day. In 2018, we might see the rebirth of PureView-like phones from Nokia, but it won’t be about megapixels anymore.

According to a leak from China’s Baidu social network, a concept phone is rumored to be in the works which will have five lenses positioned in a circle and paired with an LED flash. It’s not named PureView, but it’ll be called Nokia 10.

The diagram shown above is supposedly the layout of the back of the phone. The LED flash is at the center of the six circles which should be the camera lenses, but what’s the additional circle for? We don’t know yet but since this is just a rumor, we shouldn’t really expect too much. The lone circle outside of the group is the fingerprint reader.

The rumored phone will be powered by the new Snapdragon 845 processor which can support up to seven camera sensors and up to 32 megapixels for pictures and 4K for videos. Other than that, there’s not much info available for now.

We might see the phone later this year, probably during IFA 2018 in Berlin, but there’s really no solid info on the upcoming Nokia phone yet.

SEE ALSO: Nokia 8’s camera performance underwhelms at DxOMark

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