Features

This cool smartphone doubles as an e-ink reader

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We’ve seen a handful of devices touting two rear cameras recently, but, strictly in terms of hardware tricks, this hardly compares to what one Philippine-based smartphone brand has in store for its customers by the end of the year.

Meet the Cherry Mobile Taiji. At first blush, looking at it from a certain angle, it looks unassuming enough, lame even. This black box made of screen and plastic and Android doesn’t seem any more promising than the last black box you’ve seen, and the tens of others before it. Right? No. But allow us to elaborate.

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On the other end (or back?) of the Taiji is an e-ink display — just like the one the Kindle has only smaller. It measure 4.7-inches, and like the Kindle, it displays everything in black and white to save power. What’s the point of a monochrome display within Android, you ask? Well, it’s primarily for reading ebooks and Japanese manga, but you can also use it to browse the web and check messages and email. You know, basic smartphone stuff.

But you shouldn’t use it for playing games and watching movies. As anyone who owns a Kindle can testify, e-ink displays have a slow refresh rate, meaning things can get laggy, and the one slapped on the Taiji is no exception.

As for the rest of its parts, the Taiji comes with a 5.2-inch display running at full resolution; an octa-core MediaTek processor with 3GB of RAM; 13- and 8-megapixel rear- and forward-facing cameras; a 2,500mAh battery; and Android 5.1 Lollipop. Of course, there’s a catch.

But the good news is that you don’t have to pay a large sum to get it; the Taiji is priced at P12,999, which works out at roughly $260, in the Philippines. Consider the street price of the latest Kindle, which starts at $80 before taxes, or that Russia’s YotaPhone 2, an Android smartphone with an e-ink display, sold for almost $900 when it was released in the UK in 2014. Unfortunately, the Taiji won’t be getting an international release, and you may be hard-pressed to find one on eBay or other auction sites.

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Hands-On

Xiaomi Mi 9 Hands-On: 2019 Flagship Killer?

BEAST!

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Top of the line specs, amazing cameras, and high-speed wireless charging. MWC hasn’t even officially started yet, so it might be premature to say this but has Xiaomi just unveiled the 2019 flagship killer?

We recently got to spend time with Xiaomi’s latest flagship and this is our hands-on video.

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy M20 hands-on: Give the users what they want

Awakening of the sleeping giant

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Samsung has been the smartphone market leader for half a decade now, and its flagship phones continue to be an inspiration for everyone. However, while the brand is dominating in developed markets, it has taken a massive beating in the developing ones.

Thanks to players like Xiaomi, the South Korean brand has consistently lost market share in countries like India. Samsung slowly prepared itself to change strategy by the end of last year and intends to go hard in 2019. It announced the new Galaxy M-series lineup of phones in the budget segment and the M10 and M20 are the first ones to roll off the shelf.

The M20 has been launched in India for INR 10,990 (US$ 154) and comes with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. The option with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage costs INR 12,990 (US$ 182). The phone goes up against the Redmi 6 Pro, Realme U1, and even the Mi A2.

To start with, Samsung has opted to go with a basic design, consisting of a plastic body that is curved at the edges and is pretty glossy. The phone is extremely comfortable to hold, and the build quality is top-notch. Even the buttons are very tactile and bezels are smaller.

On the front is a 6.3-inch TFT display with a Full HD resolution and small water-drop style notch on the top. This is the first Samsung phone to feature a notch, and the display quality is surprisingly good. The color production is vivid and satisfying, while the viewing angles are perfect. It is easily visible even under direct sunlight.

For authentication, a fingerprint scanner is located on the rear and it is fast enough. You also have the option of face unlock and it works quickly in well-lit conditions. It has dual-SIM support and there’s a separate slot for microSD card, as well.

Powering the phone is an octa-core Exynos 7904 processor, which is considered to be on par with the Snapdragon 636. It is a very power-efficient processor with more emphasis on the cameras. Day-to-day tasks are handled smoothly and games like PUBG are playable with low graphics.

It has a dual-camera setup on the rear, consisting of a 13-megapixel primary shooter and a 5-megapixel wide-angle sensor. The pictures clicked during daytime are decently saturated but lack sharpness. Even focus tends to get slow in low-light conditions. The wide-angle lens works best in bright surroundings only and is a very handy tool. For selfies, it has an 8-megapixel shooter with built-in beauty enhancements.

It ships with Samsung Experience 9.5 out of the box and is actually well optimized. There is barely any lag and the UI offers a plethora of customizations and features. The company announced that the Android Pie update will be landing soon. Lastly, it has a massive 5000mAh battery that’ll get you through two days of usage.

Xiaomi has been successful because it offers users a balanced product that suits everyone’s needs. With the M20, Samsung goes down the same road. While the recently announced A-series phones were for photography enthusiasts, the M20 is good enough for everything.

The M20 is no disruptor, but an indication that Samsung is gearing up. And as a generation-one product, it’s performing fairly well.

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Cameras

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

Trying out the new Motion Mode on doggies!

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Fujifilm’s sequel to their first ever digital/analog hybrid is here and it’s looking better than ever. The Instax SQ20 is one classy-looking instant camera but what can it do? With a set of built-in filters and new features like the Motion Mode, it looks like a promising device.

I finally try it out, with help from some doggies, on our hands-on video.

The SQ20 retails for US$ 199 in the US, PhP 12,999 in the Philippines, and SG$ 299 in Singapore.

In case you’re having trouble viewing, watch HERE.

READ ALSO: Fujifilm Instax SQ10 review

READ ALSO: Prynt Pocket unboxing and review: A printer that prints videos?

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