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.

Gaming

PUBG Mobile is making a comeback as Battlegrounds Mobile India

Will be exclusive to India

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Battlegrounds Mobile

After an excruciating wait, it’s official — PUBG Mobile is coming back to India. But this time, it’ll have a new name: Battlegrounds Mobile India with some added features, and an India-centric focus.

Krafton, the game’s developer, has announced it’ll be launching the Battlegrounds Mobile India soon. The game will bring an AAA-rated multiplayer experience alongside exclusive in-game events, tournaments, and leagues. While a launch date isn’t available, Krafton did confirm that pre-registration will be opened up soon.

The game will be free-to-play and incorporate the same battle royale concept that made it popular. Although, little detail is available about maps, guns, vehicles, and the plot (if there is any) of the game.

Furthermore, the game’s developer said that it would comply with all local laws and compliances. This includes data localization — storage of data within Indian borders. The announcement has cheered millions of players in the country who’ve been waiting for an alternative ever since the primary game was barred.

Why PUBG had to go

In mid-2020, India and China were involved in a fatal border skirmish that left many casualties on both sides. Following the conflict, India took a stringent anti-China stance and banned a host of apps that were developed or backed by Chinese companies. TikTok, owned by ByteDance, was among the first to come under the hammer.

PUBG Mobile was also included in the ban because Chinese giant Tencent was a distribution partner of the game. Following the ban, Krafton quickly removed Tencent from the agreement and announced plans to launch a new game independent of any Chinese influence.

Indian developers rode the hype wave, and many TikTok clones were touted as the next big thing. On the same lines, nCore Studios tried to bridge the gap by launching FAU-G, but it was a colossal failure. In fact, it still doesn’t have a battle royale mode, so it’s safe to assume Call of Duty: Mobile is the only practical alternative left for users right now.

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News

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE leaks, will enter production in July

And could launch in August

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Galaxy S21 FE

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is reported to be in the works, and its production may start sometime in July. It will be an upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, which was launched last year.

According to @DSCCRoss on Twitter, the Galaxy S21 FE will enter production in July, just a month before its expected launch. The Galaxy S21 FE will likely be part of Samsung’s Unpacked event in August, where it usually also launches foldable phones. A noted analyst of DisplaySearch backs his claim.

 

The phone is said to come in four color options: gray, light green, light violet, and white. The predecessor also had colorful options, so it’s not surprising to see the palette selection here.

In terms of design, it will look like the Galaxy S21 based on leaked renders. It will feature a punch-hole display and three rear cameras. Rumors have also suggested that it’ll have a “glastic” construction. It consists of a polycarbonate construction that feels like glass. The Note 10 Lite sported a similar design too.

In terms of specs, Galaxy S21 FE is said to feature a 6.4-inch AMOLED display, and it will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 processor. In line with all Galaxy-branded phones, it’ll run on OneUI out-of-the-box.

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Apps

TikTok, Reels clone YouTube Shorts launches in the US

Everyone wants a piece of the pie

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shorts

YouTube unveiled its short-video-making tool called Shorts last year, but it was in beta and limited to India. Shorts is now available to all creators in the US after testing them with select creators.

The initial release was quite hasty as it was supposed to bridge the vacuum left by TikTok’s ban in India. However, Instagram was much faster and well prepared to take on the challenge, dominating the turf over many local apps like Chingari, Roposo, and MX TakaTak.

YouTube is also adding a dedicated space in the bottom tab by replacing the explore button. In India, YouTube Shorts has a dedicated space on the top bar of the app. YouTube also displays Shorts in the home feed of the app after around 2-3 videos.

The goal is to incorporate a short video format in the existing app. While watching a “short”, users can tap on the music option to hear the full song via YouTube. Soon, the feature also will work the other way: From a YouTube music video, you will be able to click a “create” button right from the video to make your own Short.

Shorts will expand

The video platform’s music team has signed licensing agreements to use snippets of millions of songs from over 250 labels and publishers. It plans to expand Shorts to more markets later this year but it hasn’t specified which ones.

Ahead of the US launch, a bunch of new features has been added as well. There’s now an option to record 60-second clips in addition to the 15-second option. But users will not be able to add music from the YouTube library to 60-second Shorts. There are also new filters and effects in the YouTube Shorts camera.

In its most recent earnings report, YouTube confirmed that Shorts were generating 6.5 billion daily views, a substantial uptick over the 3.5 billion daily views that the feature was generating in late January.

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