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HTC’s ‘unexpected surprise’ is surprisingly disappointing

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HTC U Ultra announcement

Last week, HTC Taiwan’s Facebook page teased a new phone launch for March 20. The announcement finally came, but it’s actually something we had known about for the past couple of months.

The logical guess was the arrival of a successor to last year’s flagship HTC 10, which was revealed around this time in 2016. Instead, we’re all being treated to a more expensive version of the underwhelming HTC U Ultra that was unveiled last January.

HTC U Ultra Sapphire

The limited edition version adds a sapphire screen to the already premium smartphone. This raises the introductory price from the $750 of the original to — wait for it — $950 after converting from the New Taiwan dollar price of NT$ 28,900. Oh, boy.

Fortunately, the built-in storage has been upped from 64GB to 128GB, but that still isn’t enough to justify the $200 increase. Sure, sapphire displays are a rarity in smartphones, but tests have shown the more ubiquitous Gorilla Glass to be more than sufficient for daily grinds and occasional drops.

This is such a disappointment for long-time HTC fans. The best phone to come from the manufacturer’s factory in recent memory — the Google Pixel — isn’t even branded as an HTC. The U Ultra with its underpowered specs and outrageous price isn’t enough to stand against the flagships we’re seeing this year.

Care to share your strategy with us, HTC?

SEE ALSO: HTC introduces overly expensive U Ultra and smaller U Play

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Xiaomi Mi 9 beats iPhone XS Max and Galaxy Note 9 on DxOMark

Just behind Huawei’s best camera phones

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Xiaomi Mi 9 | GadgetMatch

Xiaomi has unveiled the Mi 9 earlier today. It’s the Chinese manufacturer’s first smartphone to sport three rear cameras and it’s also their best rated on DxOMark.

The Mi 9’s cameras are composed of a primary 48-megapixel sensor with f/1.75 aperture, a 16-megapixel wide-angle shooter, and a 12-megapixel telephoto with 2x zoom. But for the sake of the camera review, DxOMark only used the main 48-megapixel shooter.

With an overall score of 107, the Mi 9 easily beats the likes of the Apple iPhone XS Max and Samsung Galaxy Note 9, which scored 105 and 103, respectively. This gives the phone the third spot on DxOMark’s charts, just two points behind the leading Huawei phones.

In its testing, DxOMark gave the Mi 9 an individual photo score of 112 thanks to the phone’s consistent and spot-on target exposure. It captures images pleasantly with accurate white balance. Noise levels are also kept under control, plus the autofocus system works swiftly in almost all circumstances.

Of course, there are cons about the Mi 9’s shooter. DxOMark finds the dynamic range to be slightly limited with loss of fine details. There are also unnatural compression effects in the bright areas of high-contrast shots.

The Mi 9 shines in the video department as well. DxOMark gave the phone a video score of 99, the highest so far in video recording. The 4K video capture is top-notch paired with impressive image stabilization.

You may read the full camera review of Mi 9 on DxOMark’s website here.

From us here at GadgetMatch, we also played around the Mi 9’s camera during our hands-on. Check out these samples and tell us what you think of them:

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SEE ALSO: Xiaomi unveils Mi 9 with Snapdragon 855 and 48MP primary camera

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Xiaomi unveils Mi 9 with Snapdragon 855 and 48MP primary camera

Has all the specs fans want

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Xiaomi Mi 9 | GadgetMatch

After the week-long tease, Xiaomi has officially announced the Mi 9. As seen with all the pre-launch material, the Mi 9 is going to be a beastly smartphone with all the latest specs and features you’d expect. Indeed, fans are in for a treat.

The Mi 9 directly succeeds the Mi 8, which is Xiaomi’s main series of flagship devices. The overall design hasn’t changed much; the curved glass design (using Gorilla Glass 5) is still the overall aesthetic of the Mi 9. Although, there are some noticeable tweaks to make the Mi 9 more appealing.

For starters, the notch has been vastly reduced, making the 6.39-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display more immersive. It’s topped with the latest Gorilla Glass 6 and has support for Always-On display. Xiaomi has also integrated the fingerprint scanner to the display coupled with AI face unlock for faster authentication.

Going inside the phone, we have the Snapdragon 855 processor and Adreno 640 graphics chip. By using the most powerful mobile chipset for Android phones, the Mi 9 is a certified powerhouse. It’ll also come with up to 12GB of memory and up to 256GB of storage.

Camera-wise, the Mi 9 has four cameras overall: three at the back and one in the front. The triple rear camera setup is composed of a main 48-megapixel primary shooter with an f/1.75 aperture, a 12-megapixel sensor with a telephoto lens, and a 16-megapixel shooter with an ultra wide-angle lens.

On the software side, there’s AI scene detection and a steady handheld night mode for taking photos in the dark. As for selfies, the small notch houses a 20-megapixel camera complete with AI portrait selfies and scene detection, as well.

A modest 3300mAh battery powers everything. It can charge quickly up to 27W over USB-C. However, the standard retail package comes with an 18W charger only. Not only that, the Mi 9 is capable of 20W rapid wireless charging. For comparison, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro that was unveiled in October last year supports up to 15W wireless charging.

The new Xiaomi flagship starts at CNY 2,999 or roughly US$ 445 for the base 6GB+128GB variant. For CNY 3,299 (US$ 490), you can already get the 8GB+128GB variant. But, if you want the limited edition transparent Mi 9 with 12GB of memory and 256GB of storage, you’ll have to shell out CNY 3,999 or almost US$ 595.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi has become an undisputed leader by market share

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Vivo V15 Pro is a midrange phone trying to redefine mobile photography

Can it actually replace a DSLR?

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Vivo launched a lot of phones last year, each having a unique feature like a pop-up camera or in-display fingerprint scanner. While the industry usually tried to avoid moving parts in a phone, Vivo turned it around into a feature. With the V15 Pro, the brand wants to establish supremacy in the midrange segment by offering flagship innovation at a competitive price.

The phone has been launched in India today and retails for INR 28,990 or roughly US$ 410. It is available via all major retailers and online sellers starting today.

On the front, the V15 Pro has a 6.4-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display. Thanks to the elimination of a notch, it has a 91.6 percent screen-to-body ratio and smaller bezels. The front camera is located in an elevating module that pops up automatically when required.

The rear gets a gradient design and a massive triple camera array. The array includes a 48-megapixel primary lens, 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, and a 5-megapixel depth sensor. The primary sensor can capture an insane amount of detail and to improve performance further, four pixels can be merged into one, creating a 12-megapixel high-quality picture.

The elevating module houses a 32-megapixel selfie camera. Vivo has added a ton of new filters in the camera app and modes like AI Beauty, AI Portrait, and AI Super Night to ensure better output. For authentication, the phone uses a combination of face unlock and an in-display fingerprint scanner.

Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 675 processor coupled with 8GB of memory and 128GB of internal storage. It has a 3700mAh battery which supports Dual Engine fast charging. The V15 Pro also has a dedicated button to summon smart assistants like Google Assistant and Vivo’s Jovi.

Lastly, the phone ships with Android 9 Pie-based Funtouch OS and includes new features like Game Mode 5.0.

SEE ALSO: Vivo now has its own smartphone sub-brand named iQOO

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