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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.

[irp posts=”2875" name=”Flash Plus 2 review”]

Gaming

TNC Predator, Afreeca Freecs Fatal win Predator League APAC 2019

For Dota 2 and PUBG, respectively

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After three long days of battle in Bangkok, Thailand from February 15 to 17, two champions have emerged from the two featured games of the Predator League in Asia Pacific 2019.

For Dota 2, it’s TNC Predator from the Philippines; and for PUBG, the champ is none other than Afreeca Freecs Fatal from South Korea.

Their winnings come from a prize pool worth US$ 250,000. Each champion receives US$ 75,000 for their efforts, while the runners-up split the remaining pot.

The grand event concluded after over 3,500 competing teams from 16 countries were eventually reduced to only 26 groups in Bangkok for the finals.

This was the Predator League’s second event in the APAC region. In 2018, it was held in Indonesia. Next year’s event will take place in the Philippines.

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Cameras

Fujifilm X-T30 is a lightweight 4K mirrorless camera

Cheaper version of the X-T3

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Image credit: Fujifilm

After Canon‘s announcement of the new EOS RP, it’s now Fujifilm‘s turn to present their latest offering: the X-T30. Fuji’s new mirrorless interchangeable camera is the successor to 2017’s X-T20.

The X-T30 is positioned to be a cheaper variant of the flagship X-T3 camera, but they actually share many common features and specs. It’s got a compact and lightweight body at just 383g which looks similar to the premium model, but with some minor changes at the back. It’s got a focus joystick instead of a d-pad, but retains the touchscreen.

Speaking of, it’s a 2-way tilting LCD panel with 1.04 million dots. The EVF, on the other hand, is a 2.36-million-dot OLED color viewfinder with a near 100 percent coverage area.

Image credit: Fujifilm

Inside the camera is a 26.1-megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor with an ISO range of 160 to 12800, which is expandable up to 51200, and backed by an X-Processor 4. With this, the X-T30 can shoot 30fps at 1.25x crop and 20fps without a crop using the electronic shutter. If you wish to use the mechanical shutter, the speed will be reduced to 8fps.

It has a hybrid AF system with 100 percent phase-detect AF, face detection, and eye tracking. Autofocus is also improved even in low-light. Focusing can be selected either through the touchscreen or joystick.

When it comes to video, the camera can shoot 4K at 30fps and up to 120fps when downscaled to 1080p. It’s capable of 10-bit recording and 4:2:2 DCI 4K video through the HDMI port. Fujifilm’s Film Simulation modes are also available.

The Fujifilm X-T30 will be available in March starting at US$ 899 for the body only. It’ll go up to US$ 999 when bundled with an XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS lens, or US$ 1,299 when bundled with an 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens.

SEE ALSO: Fujifilm Instax SQ20 hands-on: How good is it?

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MWC 2019

LG V50 ThinQ will be company’s first 5G smartphone

Arriving right before MWC 2019

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We have yet another leak ahead of LG’s press conference happening right before Mobile World Congress 2019. This time, it’s for the company’s first 5G smartphone, the V50 ThinQ.

It comes in the form of a tweet by Evan Blass, who also spilled the beans on LG’s upcoming G8 ThinQ flagship a few days ago.

This confirms that the 5G smartphone LG will be showing off at MWC in Barcelona, Spain is the V50 ThinQ. Previously, we knew of such a handset coming on February 24, but we didn’t know what branding it would go under.

The leak, however, points to exclusivity with US carrier Sprint. It might also be a limited partnership, but we can more or less confirm that the V50 ThinQ will carry a Snapdragon 855 chipset in order to handle 5G signals.

In addition, we can see an extra camera on the front and back as compared to the G8 ThinQ’s setup. Sadly, it seems like the wide notch is sticking around.

Surprisingly, the V50 ThinQ is launching less than five months after the V40 ThinQ’s release. LG may be prioritizing its 5G rollout and needs an existing series to lay it on.

We’ll learn more once LG takes the stage on February 24 to reveal all its new devices, which might also include a foldable phone.

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