Features

Fast Forward: Expect the Pixel 3, Mate 20, V40 ThinQ, and a lot more

It’s a month of new smartphones

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Curious about what to expect in the tech world? Here’s a quick roundup of upcoming events and launches happening in October!

LG will launch the V40 ThinQ

LG may have been pretty quiet lately, but the South Korean company is all set to launch their new flagship phone. The V40 ThinQ has been confirmed by the company through a video teaser and it’ll bring mobile photography to new heights. The phone will have a total of five cameras — three on the back and two in front. The phone’s design appears to be similar to its predecessor’s, but the specs should be updated. We’ll just have wait for the October 3 launch event.

After all the leaks, Pixel 3 will become official

Image credit: MySmartPrice

If there’s an award for the least exciting phones of the year, it might go to Google’s Pixel 3 series. What’s left to announce about it? We already have numerous leaks, unboxing videos, and even live photos of both the regular Pixel 3 and the notched Pixel 3 XL. We hope Google still has something up their sleeves, because it could be a pretty boring launch if there’s none. Maybe Google can surprise us on the software side of things? The official event is happening on October 9.

Razer will introduce a new gaming smartphone

First-gen Razer Phone

Yet another smartphone is going to be announced in October. The successor to last year’s Razer Phone is going to be unveiled on October 10. There’s not much hype going on for the Razer Phone 2 (the current unofficial name) and that’s probably because it might not look different at all. Earlier leaks revealed it’ll have the same body, so let’s hope for better specs and extra features to make it the best gaming smartphone this year. Also, we wish it’ll be widely available unlike ASUS’ ROG Phone.

Samsung is set to unveil something new

It’s been a pretty challenging year for Samsung. They’re still the leading phone manufacturer in the world, but the numbers are slowing shrinking. The problem is not mainly with their flagship phones, but their midrange lineup. While Samsung and Apple are enjoying the premium segment, the competitive midrange market is now conquered by Chinese manufacturers.

Thankfully, it seems like Samsung is finally answering the call for better midrange options. On October 11, the company will announce a new member of the Galaxy family. We have no concrete details yet, but it could be their first phone with an in-display fingerprint reader or maybe the world’s first phone with four rear cameras.

Huawei will finally make the Mate 20 official

The Mate 20 series is not exactly a secret. Huawei constantly teases their upcoming flagship phones, and the company even confirmed that new Kirin 980 processor will power those handsets. But, when are they coming? Mark your calendars for October 16 because Huawei will officially unveil the Mate 20 series in London then. So far, the leaks have been promising and the upgrades — compared to Mate 10 series — seem to be convincing.

Get your wallets ready, iPhone XR is coming

Since the announcement of the new iPhones, only the iPhone XS and XS Max are available in stores. Stocks of the cheaper and more colorful variant, the iPhone XR, are still pending. Interestingly enough, fans are patient about it and they are willing to wait until October 26. Aside from the US, Singapore is also getting the iPhone XR early. Pricing starts at US$ 749 or SG$ 1,229.


Fast Forward is our roundup of upcoming news, launches, and events. It’s a monthly feature to give our readers a heads-up on what is happening in the tech realm. It’s sometimes difficult to keep track of the calendar, so we do it for you.

Enterprise

Why is Amazon starting a $250 million venture fund in India?

Aims to bring 1 million offline stores online by 2025

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Amazon has announced a US$ 250 million venture fund called Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund that’ll invest in small and medium-sized businesses. The goal is to boost India’s export by using technology and the marketplace’s reach.

Amazon Smbhav will be focusing on the digitization of small businesses, agri-tech innovations to raise farmer productivity, and health tech for quality universal healthcare. The fund was announced at Amazon India’s annual Smbhav Summit.

It intends to tap offline sellers and professionals via the fund and on onboarding a million shops by 2025. Another initiative is “Spotlight NorthEast,” which will bring 50,000 artisans, weavers, and small businesses online from India’s North-Eastern states. The region is known for its local produce like honey, tea, and spices.

The announcement came at a fireside chat at the summit between Andy Jassy, incoming CEO of Amazon and Amit Agarwal, Global Senior VP and Country Head, Amazon India. They also revealed the first bet Amazon was making through the new fund — invoice discounting platform M1xchange, in which it has led a $10 million investment.

Amazon said it created close to 300,000 jobs since January 2020 and one million in total. It also boasted of having almost 70,000 sellers, exporting Indian goods to other markets totaling US$ 3 billion in sales.

The timing of Amazon India’s announcement is key because the e-commerce companies have been barred from delivering in the state of Maharashtra amid a Coronavirus-led curfew. While the restrictions are regional, businesses are unable to get necessary and basic supplies. In a work-from-home world, getting an emergency mice/keyboard or mattress should be easy via digitization, but there are antitrust concerns.

Due to a lockdown, offline sellers cannot operate and thus, don’t want online businesses to eat their share. The Narendra Modi-led government has historically sided with the offline traders since they constitute a majority of India’s market. The offline market is still the king, and the gap between the two is very substantial.

If online players operate exclusively for too long, they’ll start gobbling up market share gradually, killing the smaller businesses. While the aim is to maintain a level-playing field, the current rules aren’t helping anybody at the end of the day. The region also fails to collect indirect taxes over the possible transactions, leading to a cash crunch while the pandemic rages.

The FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) rules for the retail market were changed in 2019, meaning Amazon India could no longer directly sell its products. It had to act like a marketplace to maintain healthy competition since 100 percent FDI is allowed in e-commerce as a tech platform, but not as a retailer.

Thanks to the fund, Amazon can show its commitment to India and its initiatives to encourage online trade. India’s new farm laws also make it easier for private companies to invest in agriculture or partner with farmers for contracts.

Amazon had announced an investment of US$1 billion in January 2020 and its purpose was also the same — digitizing India’s small and medium businesses. Founder Jeff Bezos had said back then, “We are doing this now because it is working. And when something works you should double down on it.”

For now, the concerns of a monopoly are diminished because Amazon is going up against India’s homegrown Flipkart, which Walmart now backs. Reliance is also eyeing this segment and has already kicked off a hyperlocal service called JioMart. Lastly, many other retailers like Dmart, Tata CliQ + Bigbasket, and Grofers are available.

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Accessories

OnePlus Watch Review: Wait for Version 2?

Covers the basics

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OnePlus Watch

Phones. TVs. Wireless Earbuds. OnePlus has been keen on expanding its universe of devices and their latest device continues this mission — the OnePlus Watch.

OnePlus says it’s made sure to give it a more timeless aesthetic and I’ve gotta agree it’s a pretty good looking watch. It feels solid and premium.

The company says the case of each watch sold is hand polished — so that the arc of the case is as smooth as can be. It’s a 46mm round watch face — with 2.5D glass — for a more seamless transition onto its frame.

It’s an AMOLED Panel. The material is stainless steel with a gossy greyish finish. On its underside, what feels like plastic, is cool to the touch.

The watch comes with only one watch band — black silicone. You fasten with this hook and tuck under to secure. But the straps follow the standard quick release system so you can easily replace them with something third party.

First impressions: It feels well built, is comfy when worn, and doesn’t feel too big even with my small wrists.

OnePlus custom Watch OS

The OnePlus Watch runs OnePlus’ own custom watch OS, not Google’s Wear OS.

Navigation is pretty basic. There’s a button that brings up all the available apps. Another press brings you home.

Another button is the customizable function key. Set to workouts by default but can be set to another app — like the stop watch. To go back you swipe to the right just like on Android.

From the home screen you swipe up to view recent notifications and down to view some quick settings. It’s pretty basic in its current state. But hopefully it gets better over time.

OnePlus Watch

What can it do?

On the most basic level the OnePlus Watch is an optional way to keep track of notifications without having to look at your phone.

So for example if a text message comes in, you can have a notification it show up on your watch too. From there you can decide if you need to pull out your phone to reply.

You can also use the watch to make and answer phone calls as long as your phone is nearby. And nope the watch does not come with a cellular model.

Listening to music

The OnePlus watch comes with 4GB of storage — 2GB of which is actually usable.

Getting music on your phone is a manual process. You’ll need an MP3 on your device. Then from the Health App click add music — it’s a long process. I wish there were a quicker way to do this. Once the music is your watch you can just pair most Bluetooth earbuds and listen to your mp3 from your watch without your phone.

I used my OnePlus Buds Z — but had to pair them manually. Hopefully in the future, if the interest here is an ecosystem of devices that works together, you shouldn’t have to pair them if they’re already paired with your smartphone.

Control your TV

In markets where the OnePlus TV is sold, you can also use the OnePlus Watch as a remote for your OnePlus TV.I don’t have one so I can’t really show that to you. But I’m told that 30 minutes after your watch detects that you’re asleep it turns the TV off also.

Fitness Companion

The OnePlus Watch can automatically detect and track up to 110+ workout types. To manually start a workout you can just press on this button over here and pick your desired workout. It’s got built-in GPS to track your walks or runs.

It’s also IP68 water and dust resistant, so not only can you sweat with it, run in the rain or and rinse it off. You can also use it to track your swims.

Health Tracker

In terms of health related features — this is no Apple Watch. The OnePlus Watch provides merely the basics: Sleep and Stress Tracking, a Heart Rate Monitor, and Blood Oxygen Sensor.

Here is a complete list of sensors on the watch:

  • Accelerometer
  • Gyroscope
  • Geomagnetic sensor
  • Barometer
  • Blood oxygen sensor
  • Optical heart rate sensor
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Capacitance sensor

Battery

The OnePlus Watch comes with a 402mAh battery that’s rated to last up to 14 days on a single charge with average use and a week with heavier use.

If you were to go for a long run with GPS on continuously you’d have to run for a full day for the battery to die on you. This cradle comes in the box but no AC adapter is included.

OnePlus recommends a 5V=1A adapter so most chargers you have lying around will be more than enough. Speaking of the cradle — charging is via these two POGO pins. And not via the Qi wireless charging standard.

So is the OnePlus Watch your GadgetMatch?

Well, first let’s take a look at pricing — the watch will retail for US$ 159 dollars and will be available online starting April 14th.

Considering what else is in the market today, that’s a really competitive price. That said, while it’s already a good looking, solidly built watch that can do all the basics well.

I think in its current iteration the OnePlus Watch needs further refining. I feel like navigation could be better, haptics definitely needs some work, and things like having to manually sync your contacts and music is a chore.

If you’re a OnePlus user looking for a great companion smartwatch, for its asking price, it might be worth a look see.

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Smartphones

Excelsior! Unboxing the OPPO Reno5 Marvel Edition

Avengers fans assemble!

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Reno5 Marvel Edition

As the late Godfather of Marvel Comics Stan Lee’s catchphrase means “ever upward”, OPPO keeps revolutionizing to greater heights as they released the OPPO Reno5 into a whole new remarkable limited-edition phone — the OPPO Reno5 Marvel Edition.

Just seeing the package of this phone, it is screaming for Marvel fans to assemble. I can’t wait to show you what OPPO has in store for all of us.

A for Awesome

Up front, we are greeted by the embossed Avengers symbol on the black box further emphasized by the red linings on the edges of the box.

Reno5 Marvel Edition

On the side, you can see the OPPO Reno5 Marvel Edition label, making you realize that this really is a limited-edition phone.

I also love how much attention to detail OPPO has put into this phonee. Even the back of the box lid features the original 6 Avengers drawn on it — Hawkeye, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and Black Widow.

Reno5 Marvel Edition

This is very reminiscent of the opening credits of every Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. It always gives me that feel that I’m about to get into action and join in an adventure, just like unboxing this phone.

Correspondingly, you’ll see the debossed logos of the six original Avengers on the black sleeve where you can also find the user’s guide and warranty manual.

What’s beyond the suit?

Upon lifting the sleeve, the box contains the OPPO Reno5 Marvel Edition phone which comes with an awesome thin but not flimsy plastic case which has the same comical design as the inner part of the box with a big silver Marvel logo.

As for the part where you’d have to fit in your phone, you’ll notice that it has a pattern similar to Spider-Man’s suit.

I’m actually torn when I should use this given that the phone already looks amazing as it is. Both actually look good, so it’s really hard to choose!

Reno5 Marvel Edition

OPPO continues to surprise us as they give us a SIM card Extractor PIN that also has the Avenger logo on it. This would probably be your go-to SIM ejector moving forward.

A runner-up on my favorite when it comes to this phone’s accessories is the earphones. It has the Captain America shield on one earbud and Iron Man on the other. These are 3.5mm audio jack earphones which would most definitely be compatible with your existing smartphone.

Even the USB-Type C cable and adapter has Marvel branding all over it. It comes in this red and black colorway. This is a 50W charger which I could even call “Quicksilver” as it can fully charge the OPPO Reno5 Marvel phone in just an hour.

The Infinity Phone

 The Marvel fan in me went crazy when I finally got to hold, feel and experience the OPPO Reno5 Marvel edition phone.

By unwrapping it from its plastic, the vision of the majestic back of the phone is revealed. At the center of it, an “A” logo is found which combines two iconic Marvel elements — the Avengers logo and Captain America’s shield. You will also notice the letter “X”, taking its inspiration from Black Widow’s logo.

The smudge-proof matte and textured finish of the whole back of the phone which can give you a sensory overload is based on the high-tech Quantum Suits worn by the Avengers on the movie Avengers: Endgame.

Reno5 Marvel Edition

On the right side of the phone, you can also find the red power button while on the left, you can find the red volume rocker.

Both sides of the phone are also accentuated with the Avengers design. I think these are the reasons why the border of the Marvel casing is translucent so can still the see the details on the sides of the phone.

On the front is a 6.4-inch 90Hz AMOLED screen which support a 90HZ refresh rate, providing you with a clear and immersive viewing experience.

Reno5 Marvel Edition

Upon opening it, you are greeted by a revolving Avengers logo, taking you back to the iconic opening scenes of the Avengers: Endgame.

Once you’ve gone through the phone setup, you’ll be in for a treat. You will see a customizable system UI and icons full of Marvel elements, as if you are creating your own Marvel world.

Reno5 Marvel Edition

Echoing the external design of the unit, the phone’s user interface takes inspiration from the Avengers’ Quantum Suits and spacecraft based on the latest version of the ColorOS 11.1

Some easily identifiable icons are the Phone icon based on the logo and the weapon worn by S.H.I.E.L.D director Nick Fury, the Camera icon based on Iron Man, Messages icon inspired by Captain America and Browser icon designed according to Vision.

Reno5 Marvel Edition

The phone also comes with six custom lock screen wallpaper featuring the original MCU Avengers. By just pressing the button at the corner left of the lock screen, you can swiftly select wallpapers by just tapping one of the heroes through a flip book-style animation.

Reno5 Marvel Edition

When charging the phone, a revolving charging status icon based upon the HUD inside Iron Man’s helmet appears over the Avengers wallpaper, which can make you feel like you are preparing for a battle alongside your chosen superhero.

More to Marvel about

 There’s definitely more to the OPPO Reno5 Marvel Edition than all its Marvel details and features.

Reno5 Marvel Edition

This phone is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G processor with up to 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. This means you can continue to enjoy gaming as it can smoothly run your games such as Marvel Super War or Marvel Contest of Champions.

Reno5 Marvel Edition

It is also equipped with powerful camera features — 44MP selfie camera and 64MP Quadcamera setup. As you can see on the photos, the phone has decent dynamic range.

I was able to capture an acceptable amount of information on darker portions of the image as I exposed on the sky. colors also aren’t too saturated.

As for night phoneography, the phone has a fair amount of noise reduction. Even if the image became a bit soft, details can still be seen.

Now if I’d be asked to choose between the original OPPO Reno 5 4G or this Marvel Edition which is at a PhP 1,000 higher price tag? I’d strongly choose the latter.

Everything is marvelous with this phone — from the experience of unboxing it, to using all of its unique and powerful features. As Captain Steve Rogers aka Captain America would say “I can do this all day”. Yes, you’d definitely want to use this all day.

Reno5 Marvel Edition

The OPPO Reno5 Marvel Edition is available in selected OPPO concept stores nationwide and can also be ordered via Lazada and Shopee for PhP 19,999.

SEE ALSO: OPPO Reno5: Ideal upper midranger

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