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In the ring we have two phones from opposite ends of the smartphone world: one is Apple’s newly announced iPhone SE and the other Google’s Pixel 3a from last year.

Both sell for the exact same price. Both are intended to disrupt the trend of rising phone costs. Both pose the same question: Do you really need to buy a thousand-dollar smartphone?

At the end of the day you decide which one is for you, and most likely it will boil down whether you prefer iOS or Android.

Perhaps the more important point to be made here is that these phones don’t cost US$ 1,000 — they are sub-US$ 400. And that’s just fine. No — that’s not just fine. That’s great! We need more competitors in this space.

So if you’re in the market for an smartphone today and don’t want to spend a lot of money, these two are definitely the best phones to consider.

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Next Xiaomi phone will reportedly have a 120x zoom camera

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Smartphones cameras are absolutely brutish nowadays. Whether to capture a picturesque landscape, to record a fast-paced basketball game, or to gaze lovingly at all your pores, today’s smartphones can already replace our professional cameras in all but the most rigorous of photoshoots. Every year, the industry pushes the boundaries even further into unbelievable levels. What else can a smartphone camera accomplish?

According to Xiaomishka, a Xiaomi-focused outlet, Xiaomi is working on the next level of smartphone cameras. Codenamed the “CAS,” an upcoming device will reportedly sport a 108-megapixel camera, capable of up to 12x optical zoom and 120x digital zoom.

Of course, this isn’t the first time a smartphone crossed the 100x digital zoom barrier. Earlier this year, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra pushed a similar camera with up to 100x digital zoom. Based on our own tests, the periscope lens is a beast, capturing sights from kilometers away. We can only assume what Xiaomi’s upcoming project can do.

To deflate the hype a bit, a camera’s digital zoom does not accurately represent its actual capabilities. At maximum digital zoom, photos are usually blurry messes. If you want crisper photos, maximize optical zoom. Though the upcoming Xiaomi device’s 12x optical zoom pales in comparison to the digital zoom, it is still one of the more powerful devices to come out.

Inside, the smartphone will reportedly carry a Snapdragon 775G chipset. It is also rumored to follow the Mi CC9 series, which also touted a revolutionary smartphone camera setup last year. The Xiaomi “CAS” will likely debut sometime in July.

SEE ALSO: Mi CC9 Pro Premium Edition has the best cameras on a phone

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Honor announces Honor Play 4 series with a temperature sensor

Coming first to China

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Temperature guns are now a part of our daily toolkits. Since the start of the pandemic, establishments have started using temperature checks as a rudimentary COVID-19 check. Regardless of its accuracy, the useful and swift tool can detect other fever-inducing diseases in individuals. Naturally, the next step is to make the tool available for the general public.

One of the first smartphones to do so, the recently announced Honor Play 4 Pro will come with a built-in temperature sensor. According to Honor’s Weibo account, the smartphone can detect temperatures between -20 degree Celsius and 100 degrees Celsius, more than enough to detect a potential fever. Further, Honor demonstrated its use to measure temperatures on foreheads and wrists. The temperature sensor only needs to go close to the intended target, rather than touching it directly.

As for its other features, the Honor Play 4 Pro is a capable daily driver. The 6.57-inch smartphone sports a Kirin 990 octa-core chipset, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, and an Android 10 build with Google Play Services. On its rear panel, it carries a 40-megapixel wide + 8-megapixel telephoto dual rear camera setup. On the flipside, it has a 32-megapixel wide + 8-megapixel ultrawide selfie shooter setup. The smartphone grabs its power from a non-removable 4200mAh battery, compatible with 40W fast charging.

The Honor Play 4 Pro also has a little sibling, the Honor Play 4. The larger 6.81-inch smartphone has a MediaTek MT6873 octa-core chipset, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of expandable internal storage. Behind, it carries a 64-megapixel wide + 8-megapixel ultrawide + 2-megapixel macro + 2-megapixel depth quad camera setup. It also has a single 16-megapixel selfie shooter. For power, it has a 4300mAh battery, compatible with 22.5W fast charging.

The Honor Play 4 sells for CNY 1,799 (approximately US$ 253). The Honor Play 4 Pro will retail for CNY 2,899 (approximately US$ 408). If you want the Honor Play 4 Pro with the temperature sensor, it will set you back by CNY 2,999 (approximately US$ 422). All three variants will launch in China first. There is no word whether the smartphone duo will launch internationally.

SEE ALSO: Honor X10 is a flagship phone with 5G and pop-up camera

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realme 6i: Price, availability in Singapore

New budget challenger

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The realme 6i is coming to Singapore and there’s plenty to be excited about.

Mediatek’s Helio G80 powers the device, providing a 35% performance boost from realme 5’s Snapdragon 665. It comes with either 3GB or 4GB of RAM for a fluid experience. Storage still comes at an option of 64GB or 128GB, which is expandable with a MicroSD card. The device comes with realme UI based on Android 10, so users can expect goodies such as system-wide Dark Mode here.

The camera has some massive improvements in tow this year. It still has a quad-camera setup from its predecessor. What’s new is the setup: it now has a 48MP wide-angle + 8MP ultra-wide-angle + 8MP macro + 2MP depth sensor on the back. This should allow for better images with more details and higher resolutions.

The front camera’s got some boost too. realme 6i now has a 16MP up front, which is a 3MP bump from last year.

The display of this device remains at 1600 x 720 resolution. The company could have switched to an OLED panel this year, but they have to cut some corners in order for this device to remain competitive at its target segment. Still, the display should be enough for most users.

These features are all packed in a smartphone with an improved finish and design. The design of Realme 6i is helmed by Naoto Fukusawa, who is also behind the realme X Series Master Edition.

Price and availability

The realme 6i will be available in two colors; Green Tea and Milk White (4+128GB) and will be priced at SG$ 269. The phone will be on sale from June 5, 2020 at all official authorized retailers island wide as well as realme’s Lazada and Shopee flagship stores.

Launch promotion includes free realme 10,000mAH Powerbank worth SG$ 69 with every realme 6i purchased on realme’s flagship stores on Lazada and Shopee between June 5-12.

SEE ALSO: realme 6i review: You gain some, you lose some

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