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ASUS ZenFone 7 series with improved Flip Camera now official

All flagship specs

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While everyone seems to be stepping away from moving camera modules, ASUS is doubling down on them. The company introduced the Flip Camera on the ZenFone 6 and it improves the feature on the ASUS ZenFone 7 series.

Yes, series. There are two ZenFones this year — the ZenFone 7 Pro and the ZenFone 7. We’ll show you the difference between the two later on but here’s a rundown of what you can expect from the new ZenFone flagship.

Flip Camera in service of an All display screen 

This was the trend not too long ago. Phone makers were putting pop-up cameras on their phones to deliver an all-screen experience. But it had to go in 2020 in favor of other components and to pull down production cost.

ASUS, though, zigs while everyone else zags. The triple lens on the Flip Camera is headlined by a 64MP Sony IMX686 sensor, a 12MP ultrawide lens, and a 3X telephoto zoom lens.

The Flip Camera is much improved. There’s a new motor module for better weight endurance. The moving part itself is made with what ASUS is calling Liquid Metal. It’s a material that’s light but tough. And they also have an angle sensor so the Flip knows what it’s pointing to at all times.

That screen is also one of the best in the business on paper. It’s a 6.67-inch Samsung AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate. It’s a 20:9 ratio and goes up to 700nits for outdoor brightness. It also supports HDR 10+.

Top-of-the-line specs

Like its sister phone the ROG Phone 3, the ASUS ZenFone 7 series is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus and 865 SoCs. That means the phones also support 5G. And while this isn’t a gaming phone per se, it can surely hold its own when playing popular titles like PUBG, Mobile Legends, and Call of Duty. 

Complimenting the processor are the 8GB LPDDR5 RAM and up to 256GB of UFS 3.1 internal storage. Rounding up the specs talk is a 5000mAh battery with support for 30W fast charging.

A clean Android experience

While it has a Zen UI 7 skin on top, it comes pretty close to the vanilla Android 10 experience that many users prefer. The changes that ZenFone made are focused on performance optimizations like new sound control, better battery management, and new display features.

On the hardware side the power-button is multi-functional and they’re calling it the All-in-one smart key. It’s a power button, capacitive fingerprint reader, and Smart Key.

A single press behaves as usual but you can customize what it does when you press twice or when you press and hold. This can be anything from triggering a voice assistant to switching certain features on/off like bluetooth, flashlight, and many more.

ASUS also brought over Game Genie from the ROG Phone 3 to help manage your notifications and your hardware while you game.

The differences between the Pro and non pro variants

Unlike most other phone series, there’s not a lot that’s setting the ASUS 7 Pro apart from the ASUS 7. This means, no matter which one you opt for, you will get a flagship experience.

The ZenFone 7 Pro is powered by the Snapdragon 865 Plus SoC while the ZenFone 7 is powered by the Snapdragon 865 SoC. They have the same camera setup except the main and telephoto lenses of the non pro variant don’t have OIS or optical image stabilization.

Lastly, the two phones have different RAM and ROM configurations:

  • ZenFone 7 Pro — 8GB + 256GB
  • Zenfone 7 — 6GB/8GB +128GB

Pricing and availability 

The ASUS Zenfone 7 series will come in two colors: Aurora Black and Pastel White. It’s currently only available in Taiwan but will be released globally at a later date. Pricing are as follows:

  • ZenFone 7 Pro : NT$ 27990 (US$ 954) 
  • ZenFone 7 : Starts at NT$  21999 (US$ 954)

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Xiaomi’s foldable phone spotted in the wild

Is this a prototype?

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Everyone’s getting into foldable smartphones these days. After Samsung’s semi-successful foray into the market, other smartphones are rushing to compete with the South Korean giant. One of the earliest experimenters with the form factor, Xiaomi is apparently making strides in the foldable market. In China, Xiaomi’s foldable phone was spotted out in the wild.

In a now-deleted Weibo post (saved by GSMArena), the leaked phone is a whopper of a device. It’s obviously that Xiaomi’s foldable phone since it runs MIUI 12. It looks a lot larger than Samsung’s Galaxy Z lineup. However, it’s large enough to wield in a subway, as the photo portrays.

Whatever this is, it doesn’t look like it’s doing well. The device has a sizable crease running along its midsection. Back in the Galaxy Fold’s early days, Samsung had the same problem before fixing it in later iterations. Since the technology already exists, it’s likely that the spotted Xiaomi device is an early version of whatever the company is actually working on.

Xiaomi has teased an upcoming foldable phone in the past. However, the company has not outed a consumer-friendly foldable phone outside of prototypes. The last time we heard about a potential Xiaomi foldable phone was an old patent revealed last year.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi patents an upcoming foldable phone

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Samsung will remove the free charger from more phones

Confirmed in an official Q&A

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The cat’s out of the bag. After months of persistent rumors, Samsung has finally ended its free charging adapters and wired earphones starting with the Galaxy S21 series. The controversial decision mimics Apple’s identical ones last October. One question remains, though: Will Samsung remove the free charger in other smartphones? Apparently, yes.

In an official Q&A with Samsung’s officials, the company explained why it chose to remove the free charger from the flagship series. As expected, Samsung is taking the same stance as Apple; that is, everyone already has a bunch of extra chargers lying around anyway. Further, the removal will help in Samsung’s sustainability goals for the future.

However, in explaining their stance, Samsung has revealed its plans for the future. “To support our Galaxy community in this journey, we are transitioning to removal of the charger plug and earphones in our latest line of Galaxy smartphones,” Patrick Chomet, executive vice president of product and innovation, explains.

Besides the Galaxy S21 series, Samsung is likely phasing out the free chargers in future models, too. Thankfully, if you haven’t acclimated to the charger-less future yet, the company is not changing last year’s smartphone packaging; not yet at least, according to online store pages.

If Samsung is truly removing its chargers for future models, we’ll know soon enough. Unlike Apple, who releases smartphones more sporadically, Samsung launches numerous models throughout the year. After starting the year off with a charger-less bang, 2021 is going to be an exciting roller coaster for flagship users.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S21 Series Hands-on

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Trump administration blacklists Xiaomi, 10 other Chinese companies

Xiaomi headed the Huawei way?

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The US has added Xiaomi and 10 other Chinese companies to a blacklist amid national security concerns. The current blacklist is only focused on companies that have military ties and strategic importance in China.

The Defense Department released names of additional “Communist Chinese military companies” operating directly or indirectly in the United States.

Although adding Xiaomi to the list is surprising, the company has largely remained apolitical and focuses on making affordable smartphones. Considered to be China’s answer to Apple, Xiaomi plays a crucial role in progressing China’s telecommunication industry. It surpassed Apple in global smartphone sales in the third quarter, according to IDC.

Xiaomi is China’s second-largest smartphone maker and dominates multiple developing markets like India. Xiaomi’s stock plunged more than 10 percent following the announcement, although it’s considered to be a knee-jerk reaction at the moment.

The ban means that Xiaomi risks getting delisted from global benchmarks like MSCI and American stock exchanges. Just last week, China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom were removed from MSCI indexes. This largely affects their ability to raise capital from the open market in the future due to global compliance complications.

In response, a Xiaomi spokesperson told GadgetMatch, “The Company has been in compliance with the law and operating in compliance with the relevant laws and regulations of jurisdictions where it conducts its businesses. The Company reiterates that it provides products and services for civilian and commercial use. The Company confirms that it is not owned, controlled, or affiliated with the Chinese military, and is not a “Communist Chinese Military Company” defined under the NDAA. The Company will take an appropriate course of actions to protect the interests of the Company and its shareholders.”

Other companies banned

Apart from Xiami, the additional companies blacklisted include Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment, Luokong Technology Corporation, Beijing Zhongguancun Development Investment Center, GOWIN Semiconductor, Grand China Air Company, Global Tone Communication Technology, China National Aviation Holding, and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC).

Furthermore, the ban is a stepping stone for US authorities to curb Chinese companies’ growth in the international market. The US took a similar step with Huawei and gradually pushed it out of every possible industry. Today, Huawei can’t use Google Mobile Services, cannot ship phones to the US, and has lost significant ground in supplying 5G equipment to telcos worldwide.

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