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Google Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL still great for photos, now with 90Hz panel

All leaks mostly confirmed

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The Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL are now official confirming most of the leaks that came out leading up to its launch. So what’s different, what improved, and what stayed the same? We’ll go through all of that right now.

No fancy waterfall displays, just thoughtful design

Google appears to be taking plenty of cues from Apple in the design department in the sense that not much has changed. Looking at the device up front, you might mistake it for the Pixel 2XL. That’s because Google is doing away with the notch but it’s keeping the thick bezel for a reason that we’ll get to later on.

On the back, the most notable difference is the square holding its dual camera setup. Yes, just two. One main shooter and another one that’s “roughly 2x telephoto.” Google says, “While wide angle can be fun, telephoto is more important.”

The back is also moving away from the two-toned design we’ve grown to associate with the Pixel. In its place is a solid glass back with only a single color and a frosted matte coating.

The power button is still a different color from the rest of the phone depending on the variant you choose.

Still the best camera on a smartphone?

Plenty of people are eagerly waiting for the Pixel just to see well they will fair in the camera department. Based on the latest numbers by DxOMark, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro currently holds the crown but that might be quickly taken away soon.

The hardware on the Pixel 4 are as follows: 12.2MP main camera with f/1.7 aperture, plus a 16MP f/2.4 telephoto zoom lens that supports hybrid zoom. But the Pixel has always been more than just hardware.

The true crowning glory of the Pixel cameras is Google’s computational photography. And that applies even on the telephoto lens. It combines both the 2x telephoto lens along with Super-Res Zoom to produce high quality, zoomed in images.

There’s now also what Google is calling Live HDR+. It basically means the HDR application happens real-time. Basically, whatever you see right before you take a shot is the photo that you should expect to come it.

That same feature allows Double Exposure — separate slides for highlights and shadows on Pixel 4 before you take your shot.

Computational photography also lends a huge hand in white balancing along with a wider range for portrait mode, and improved night sight.

That front-camera setup

Again, just like on the iPhone, there’s now a lot going on in that thick forehead bezel.

It’s not home to a bunch of new sensors that work together towards a more secure face recognition suite. There’s the selfie camera, a pair of IR cameras, flood illuminators, and DOT projectors.

Google says it’s the first smartphone equipped with a radar. It enables Motion Sense which Google claims is the fastest and most secure face unlock feature on a smartphone. It also allows you to control the Pixel 4 without touching it — similar to the Air Gestures that Samsung first tried a few years back.

Overall equipped with better hardware

Displays with high refresh rate might be a growing trend and the Pixel doesn’t want to be left behind. The phone is equipped with a 90Hz panel, similar to the one on the most recent OnePlus smartphones.

The rest of the device also gets a spec bump. Powering the Pixel 4 is Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC along with 6GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of storage. Nothing to write home about as the numbers pale in comparison to other flagships in 2019. But, again like the iPhone, the Pixel isn’t exactly about the numbers.

You might also be happy to know that both the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL have an IP68 rating.

Pricing and availability 

The Google Pixel 4 starts at US$ 799 and will start shipping on October 24. It will come in three colors: Just Black, Clearly White, and Oh So Orange. It will be available through all major US carriers.

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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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Western Digital launches new portable SSDs with 4TB capacity

Also comes with an NVMe interface

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Western Digital has launched new portable SSDs with a capacity of 4TB. These portable SSDs are geared for consumers and professionals alike with up to four distinct models to choose from.

The first up in this portfolio is the SanDisk Extreme Pro. The SSD offers blazing NVMe performance with 2GB read and write speed. Professionals who regularly deal with large files will benefit the most from those speeds. Thanks to its forged aluminum chassis, it can even sustain those speeds for longer without generating too much heat.

Then, there’s the SanDisk Extreme. Unlike its Pro counterpart, it only offers up to 1.5GB read and 1GB write speed. It also has IP55 water and dust resistance along with two-meter drop protection.

Both aforementioned SSDs are perfect for professionals, but there are also models for everyday consumers looking for high-capacity storage.

First up is the WD Black P50 Game Drive targeted specifically for gamers. The SSD is compatible with any PC, PlayStation 4, or Xbox One game library. As a bonus, it even comes with a read speed of up to 2GB to decrease loading times for games.

Last but not least is the WD My Passport SSD. This popular line of portable storage now comes in a range of gray, blue, red, gold, and silver colors.  Plus, it is shock, vibration, and drop resistant up to 1.98 meters. Built on the NVMe interface, it features a fast performance of 1.5GB read and 1GB write speed.

Price and availability

Western Digital’s portable SSDs will arrive later in Singapore by March 2021 on key retailers and distributors. The SanDisk Extreme Pro will cost SG$ 1,499; SanDisk Extreme at SG$ 1,099; and the WD MyPassport SSD at SG$ 1,099. Meanwhile, the price and availability for WD Black P50 Game Drive are yet to be determined.

Consumers may visit the Western Digital website for SSDs to know more about the complete portfolio.

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Samsung teases laptop with under-display camera debut

Comes first before smartphone debut

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Though most of the spotlight today is on the Galaxy S21 series, Samsung has also teased another upcoming innovation: the under-display camera. In a surprise video from Samsung Display, Samsung is developing an under-display camera debut for an upcoming laptop, rather than a smartphone.

In the Weibo video, Samsung Display teased a notebook called the Blade Bezel. As mentioned, the device will have a hidden camera in the middle.

However, besides the new feature, the Blade Bezel looks like a marvel for the display engineering industry. The laptop in only a single millimeter thick. Plus, it has a 93 percent screen-to-body ratio, redefining what it means to be all-screen. Whatever the Blade Bezel will look like on release, it’s a beauty.

Despite the huge promise, Samsung Display’s confirmation is a big surprise given what we were expecting in the past. Years ago, Samsung was one of the earliest teasers for under-display camera technology. Now, the company has lagged far behind more aggressive adopters of the technology. To date, the company still doesn’t have a smartphone with such a camera.

Hopefully, Samsung is just testing the technology for quality’s sake. However, since laptop cameras are usually lackluster compared to smartphone ones, it might take a while before we get a workable smartphone camera from the company. If anything, past rumors have speculated on the technology’s smartphone debut with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 later this year.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S21 Series Hands-on

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