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First look: ASUS ZenFone 3 Laser, ZenFone 3 Max

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While the world awaits the arrival of the ZenFone 3, in Vietnam, two new ASUS budget phones were made official as the company continues its 2016 makeover of popular smartphone spin-offs.

The ASUS ZenFone 3 Laser and ZenFone 3 Max join the ZenFone 3, ZenFone 3 Ultra, and ZenFone 3 Deluxe announced in its native Taiwan last May 2016.

And just like their higher-end cousins, the 2016 Laser and Max feature polished metal unibody designs that look identical and feel better in the hand—not to mention they’re thinner and lighter than their predecessors’. It’s obvious they share the same DNA, but there are different selling points for each phone: a more capable camera for the Laser; a long-lasting battery for the Max.

The designs don’t match the premium aesthetic of the other ZenFone 3 models—we’re not entirely convinced the cases are entirely made of metal—but that can be forgiven.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow is the platform of choice for these latest ZenFones, and this time around, the software nuances that layer the interface are prettier and less intrusive and don’t seem to impact responsiveness too much. Of course, they come with (mostly) upgraded internals as well, which is expected of smartphone successors.

The one thing you won’t find on most budget phones, however, is a fingerprint scanner present on the back of both devices. It’s fast and reliable, though it bears noting the Laser unlocks faster. Neither is as good as the one on the ZenFone 3 or ZenFone 3 Deluxe. For what it’s worth, the scanner on the Laser is oblong in shape; the Max’s has a squarish design with rounded edges.

zenfone-3-laser-camera

Of the two, the ZenFone 3 Laser takes photography more seriously, with a camera bump to show for it. The device sports a 13-megpixel rear camera that takes better photos than the 13-megapixel shooter on the Max, and works well enough to allow for some background blur. There’s also an improved laser autofocus system around the back (which the Max doesn’t have) for quick, crisp shooting.

A 5.5-inch, full-resolution display with curved corners dominates the front of the device, while an octa-core Qualcomm 430 chip backed by 4GB of RAM powers the entire assembly.

The ZenFone 3 Max, meanwhile, is better equipped to handle the rigors of daily use, with its moderately sized 5.2-inch display and 4,100mAh battery and ability to charge other phones or devices.

Zenfones old and new. From left to right Zenfone 3 Max, Zenfone Max, Zenfone 3 Laser, Zenfone 2 Laser

ASUS ZenFones old and new. From left to right: ZenFone 3 Max, ZenFone Max, ZenFone 3 Laser, ZenFone 2 Laser

But although the high-capacity cell is something all road warriors will appreciate, we can’t help but question ASUS’ choice to include a smaller battery than that of the original Max. We suppose a compromise had to be made to come up with a sleeker phone, but time will tell if consumers embrace the decision. Nevertheless, the 3GB of RAM inside the new Max should be plenty for multitasking.

Anyway, you get the idea. Different phones for different types of users—ASUS followed the same formula last year to great success. The company shipped 20.5 million ZenFones in 2015; this year, it has set a grander goal: 25 million units sold globally.

The ZenFone 3 Laser and ZenFone 3 Max are priced at 5,990,000 (around $270) and 4,490,000 ($200) Vietnamese dong, respectively. They’ll soon be available in Vietnam, and a wider rollout is expected in the future. The Philippines might see them hit stores in August at the earliest; India and the rest of the world might have to wait until the third quarter of 2016.

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Apple plans to remove the iPhone’s Lightning port soon

In anticipation for the AirPower wireless charger

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A few years ago, Apple eliminated the audio jack from its iPhones, ending years of tangled cords and loose-fitting earbuds. The move rightfully irked audio fans, citing lost AirPods and monopolized accessories.

Sadly, Apple is continuing its war against I/O ports. By September, the company will release their first official wireless charging mat, the AirPower.

Of course, Apple’s AirPower isn’t the first exclusive charging mat in the smartphone industry. Currently, Android smartphones also tout their own Qi wireless charging mats. However, despite wireless prevalence, Android phone makers have not announced plans to remove wired charging altogether.

Shockingly (or perhaps not), Apple already has plans to remove the iPhone’s Lightning port. According to Bloomberg writer Mark Gurman, the company considered removing the port as early as the iPhone X.

At the time, Apple did not have the guns to back up their vision. Since the AirPower hasn’t launched yet, a push for wireless exclusivity is ill advised.

Although, with the AirPower’s nearing release, Apple’s desire to eliminate all wired accessories is slowly coming to reality. Despite last year’s setback, Apple is still adamant to create a completely wireless iPhone.

Notably, the Lightning port’s capabilities extend from just simply charging. The port also supports media and file transfers from larger devices. Eliminating the port also puts a premium on wireless file transfers.

Without a Lightning port, Apple is realizing an iPhone that will look like a slab of glass. As of now, a Lightning-less iPhone will likely spark more controversy for Apple. The company has already earned a lot of ire for removing the 3.5mm audio port.

Regardless, an I/O-less iPhone is coming sooner than we would like.

SEE ALSO: Apple might switch to USB-C, fast charging in the future

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Whole country shuts down internet to prevent cheating, shuts down Facebook

Going extreme!

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The internet is a wonderful, wonderful thing. But, with great power comes great responsibility.

Following incidents of online exam leaks, Algeria has decided to shut down nationwide internet for high school exams. The blackouts, happening June 20 to 25, mean both mobile and lined internet would be turned off for an hour after the high school diploma exam starts. It has been reported that Facebook will also be blocked throughout the entire period.

Students and staff are also asked to surrender all electronic devices that can access the web when entering any of the 2,000 exam halls. As added measure, the area where the tests are being printed are being secured — metal detectors, surveillance cameras, and signal jammers have been installed.

It was in 2016 when an exam leak happened online that caused widespread cheating. Determined to prevent the incident from happening again, last year’s exams commenced with limited social media access. This year, the government is going all-out. Education Minister Nouria Benghabrit said that although they are “not comfortable” with this setup, “We should not passively stand in front of such a possible leak.”

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Alleged Samsung Galaxy S10 appears in the flesh with virtually no bezels

True or not, we’re excited about it

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Alleged Samsung Galaxy S10 | Image credit: @UniverseIce

With the Galaxy S9 phones available in the market and selling like hot cakes, Samsung is already (or has always been) prepping their tenth S-series flagship. There’s a new leaked image going around the internet lately, and it could be the Galaxy S10 we’ve been wanting to see.

Noted leaker IceUniverse posted a photo on Twitter with a caption “This may be a design beyond” and a photo of a phone with it. The photo in question shows off an all-screen phone with virtually no bezels at all. The sides appear to be curved, just like how Galaxy S phones’ have been in the past years.

There’s also no selfie camera or any visible sensors in front, so they could be somewhere inside the phone. Vivo and OPPO have been pioneering the use of a pop-up mechanism to achieve a high screen-to-body ratio with the NEX and Find X. Samsung might follow suit — unless they have something else in mind.

Also, with no space for the iris scanner, the South Korean company could also use under-display fingerprint sensors or maybe something similar to Face ID to complement the front camera.

Of course, nothing is final and it’s still too early to tell how Samsung’s 2019 flagship will look like. The Galaxy Note 9 will come earlier than the Galaxy S10, so Samsung could test the waters of some new features on their upcoming large-screen phone.

Let’s take things with a grain of salt, but we’ll keep our expectations high. If this turns out to be true in the end, Samsung deserves to be recognized for avoiding the notch completely.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S9 steals the crown from iPhone X as best-selling phone

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