News

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL retain single rear camera, add wireless charging

No surprises here

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Google’s worst-kept secret has made its official appearance, and it brings features both new and old.

The Pixel 3 series directly succeeds last year’s Pixel 2 and 2 XL, and you can immediately tell that it’s an incremental upgrade. For one, both the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL retain the single rear 12.2-megapixel camera, believing that one is enough to beat the multi-cam setups of competitors. Of course, like the Pixel 2, the Pixel 3’s improvements are software-based.

One new feature is Top Shot, which uses machine learning to choose the best shot in a burst for you; Photobooth does something similar but for the front cameras; Super Res Zoom provides AI-powered zooming; and Night Sight improves nighttime shooting like no other.

On the front, however, are two 8-megapixel selfie shooters that enable wider group shots when needed. For the Pixel 3, they’re found within the top bezel as usual, but the Pixel 3 XL introduces a tall notch to accommodate the two modules while adding more screen real estate.

The screens themselves are the primary difference between the two models, as well as the battery capacities. The smaller Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch 1080p P-OLED display and 2915mAh battery, while the larger variant goes for a 6.3-inch P-OLED display with higher 1440p resolution and 3430mAh battery.

Naturally, Android 9 Pie comes straight out of the box, but Google made sure to add some Pixel flavor here and there. For example, the camera app has a similar navigation system to the OS itself, so moving from one mode to another is faster and includes some haptic feedback.

Perhaps what’s more polarizing about the Pixel 3 pair is the use of glass for the entire back. It’s utilized here instead of metal to allow wireless charging. Don’t worry, the matte feel is still there, so it isn’t as slippery as traditional all-glass phones.

Interestingly, despite having a flagship-grade Snapdragon 845 processor and 64GB/128GB of non-expandable storage, the Pixel 3 pair come with only 4GB of memory. Not that it isn’t enough, but it’s half the amount of other premium phones in the market.

Other noteworthy features are the 40 percent louder front-facing stereo speakers, Active Edge to activate Google Assistant with a squeeze of the phone, IP67-rated water and dust resistance, and Titan Security for more secure data protection.

The Pixel 3 will retail starting at US$ 799, which is more than the Pixel 2’s US$ 649 from last year. As for the Pixel 3 XL, it’ll go for US$ 899. Those are for the 64GB storage variant; adding US$ 100 to either one delivers 128GB of storage.

Both will come in Clearly White, Just Black, and Not Pink.

News

Samsung teases its foldable smartphone’s launch date

It’s coming soon!

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After every smartphone launch this year, 2018 has shaped up as the year of the notch. However, for all the controversies, the notch is only a transitionary period between traditional slab phones and the truly bezel-less phone.

To some, the future consists of pop-up cameras and integrated screens. To Samsung, it’s all about the foldable smartphone. Despite other conflicting rumors, Samsung’s (and hopefully, the world’s first) foldable phone is the brand’s most substantive plan to date.

Rumored for months, the plan ran through the entire gamut of patents, leaks, and speculations. From recent news, the company has confirmed the eventual foldable smartphone. According to reports, the phone will launch sometime next year.

However, a recent tweet narrows this timeframe even further. Straight from the horse’s mouth, Samsung has announced its next event on Twitter.

Subtitled “Where Now Meets Next,” the upcoming Samsung Developer Conference 2018 will open from November 7 to 8 this year. Right now, the event’s website advertises developments in Bixby, gaming, and augmented reality technologies. Additionally, Samsung President and CEO DJ Koh will head the program’s keynote presentation.

However, the teaser video includes a curious icon — a single guillemet unfolding into a straight line. Put more plainly, the symbol resembles the potential unfolding motion of a foldable smartphone.

Across the ages, Samsung has always imbued its symbols with design-centric meaning. The symbol’s inclusion is far from mere coincidence. In fact, the conference is the perfect venue for the technology’s debut. In the past, Samsung has used the event to promote the company’s more technical advancements.

Besides that, an announcement at this event coincides with a probable launch next year. Based on another report, the phone will launch shortly after the Galaxy S10 series. If the technology makes an appearance in November, the actual phone can debut around MWC Barcelona next year.

SEE ALSO: Samsung patents the world’s first all-screen fingerprint sensor

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India

Xiaomi has managed to widen its lead over Samsung in India

44 million total smartphones were sold in a quarter

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Xiaomi is a fairly new brand in India but has managed to create unprecedented hype in the market. While Samsung has been around for more than a decade, the newcomer has created an unchallenged segment for itself. This year we witnessed Xiaomi taking the lead in terms of market share, and according to the most recent research report, the gap between the two has increased.

Going by Counterpoint Research’s Q3 2018 report, Xiaomi now has a 27 percent market share in India, a rise of five percent year over year. Samsung remains unmoved at 23 percent, followed by Vivo. Although, this quarter, the most interesting point to note is Micromax’s comeback in the top five club.

The Indian brand now has nine percent market share, three percent up from last year. The report emphasizes a recent contract the company won from the Chattisgarh state government. In partnership with telecom operator Jio, Micromax has supplied five million smartphones to the women and students in the state.

Another interesting takeaway is that buyers are now purchasing more expensive phones on an average with the US$ 150 to 250 (INR 11,000 to 18,000) segment accounting for a third of the volumes in the quarter. At the same time, the premium segment (US$ 400+) continues to be minuscule with just a three percent contribution in terms of volume.

In the premium segment, OnePlus has a foothold of 30 percent, followed by Samsung at 28 percent and Apple at 25 percent. Unfortunately, Huawei, OPPO, and Vivo are yet to make a dent in this division.

For Xiaomi, the recently announced Redmi 6 series and the POCO F1 have been successful in driving sales in both online as well as offline channels. Samsung continues to rely on its evergreen J-series smartphones along with the Android Go-powered J2 Core. Vivo’s V-series has been a hit as well and OPPO has been piggybacking on Realme sales.

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Gaming

Xiaomi Black Shark Helo is first smartphone with 10GB RAM

Out to compete against the Razer Phone 2 and ROG Phone

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Just six months after the release of the original Black Shark, we now have a successor in the Black Shark Helo.

Even though it forgoes a version number, it feels more incremental than substantial in upgrades. It has all the specs of a 2018 flagship — 6-inch 1080p screen, Snapdragon 845 chipset, and 4000mAh battery — but most are also found in its predecessor.

Same goes for the camera sensors, which are 20 and 12 megapixels for the rear cameras, plus 20 megapixels for the front. But that’s where most of the similarities end.

The most notable improvement is in the memory capacity; it now goes up to 10GB of RAM, which is a first for any smartphone currently available. This configuration comes with 256GB of storage.

Other upgrades are the use of an AMOLED panel instead of LCD (still only 60Hz, though), improved stereo speakers in front, and additional LED lights on the edges. An aluminum frame sandwiched by glass panels reinforce the more premium feel.

Of course, the gaming features are what make this phone what it is. There’s a dedicated button on the side to activate Shark Space, which diminishes background activity to boost performance while playing games. In addition, the liquid-cooling system is back.

Another pleasant inclusion is the attachable controller in the box — two if you get the most expensive package. It provides better control during gameplay and is sure to give you a leg up in competitive play.

The pricing starts at CNY 3,199 (US$ 460) for the 6GB+128GB model, CNY 3,499 (US$ 505) for 8GB+128GB, and CNY 4,199 (US$ 605) for the top-end 10GB+256GB variant.

Availability is currently limited to the Chinese market.

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