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Huawei Mate 9 has two rear cameras, gets better the more you use it

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Huawei took the mystery out of the Mate 9 when it officially introduced its latest signature phone at a launch event in Munich, Germany.

The introduction comes at a crucial time for the Chinese OEM, which is said to be losing its step in its native country where sales have declined through the previous quarter. Apple is wrestling with declining interest in the iPhone; Samsung is still picking up the pieces after a series of Note 7 (R.I.P.) explosions.

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And with the Mate 9, Huawei is hoping to seize the unique opportunity that has presented itself. At a glance, the Mate 9 is very much like the Mate 8 before it — not just in terms in design, but also in terms of purpose and positioning. It’s a metal phone fitted with a big, 5.9-inch screen and loads of attractive tech, including Huawei’s homegrown Kirin 960 chip that is said to give the iPhone 7 a run for its processor money.

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Huawei Mate 9

It also has fingerprint hardware on the rear; a 4,000mAh battery with fast charging over a USB Type-C port (almost 60 percent after a 30-minute charge; a full charge after 90 minutes); an IR blaster for controlling TVs, entertainment systems, and the like; and a custom interface that has been tweaked for familiarity on top of Android 7.0 Nougat.

Speaking of software tweaks, Huawei says the phone learns its owner’s behavior over time and optimizes itself to get faster the longer it is used. Which is a bold claim considering that many Android phones suffer from performance issues further down their life cycle, not to mention Huawei stands to gain nothing from making a phone that ages like fine wine. It might even hurt the company’s flagship release cycle down the road.

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The Mate 9’s backside is home to a pair of Leica-branded cameras, similar to the Huawei P9. One camera, a 12-megapixel unit, shoots in color, while the other, 20-megapixel unit shoots in black and white, thus producing rich, detailed, and color-accurate shots. Or, at least, that’s the idea. We can’t say with certainty until we get our hands on a retail unit.

Perhaps the only “meh” choices here are the screen resolution — a 1080p affair (read: non-Quad HD) — and the price. The Mate 9 will retail for 699 euros (nearly $780) apiece when it launches across Europe and in select Asian markets at some point in the next month. It’s coming to the U.S., too, albeit at a much later date.

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Like the P9, the backside is home to a pair of Leica-branded cameras

 

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Mate 9 offers fast charging via a Type-C port

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There’s 64GB of expandable storage

Computers

Apple announces 16-inch MacBook Pro

Most powerful MacBook Pro to date

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Image by GadgetMatch

2019 seems to be the year of ‘Pro’ for Apple with the launches of the iPhone 11 Pro, AirPods Pro, and the Mac Pro with Pro Display XDR. The 17-inch MacBook Pro was discontinued before but the newly announced 16-inch MacBook Pro seems to hit the sweet spot for Apple when it comes to big ‘pro’ notebooks.

Same design, larger footprint

The new MacBook Pro has a larger 16-inch Retina Display with a resolution of 3072 x 1920 at a brilliant 500 nits, replacing the older 15-inch models. It has a DCI-P3 color gamut, ideal for processing shots and grading films all together. This new display offers an immersive visual experience and larger screen real estate without the extra heft.

There’s a massive six-speaker sound system which brings high-fidelity audio experience not just for audiophiles and musicians, but for video editors and podcasters alike. It promises clearer and more natural audio, with the bass able to go half an octave deeper. The microphones also get an upgrade. There’s now less hiss and they deliver cleaner audio recordings.

To address the problems everyone had with the Butterfly keyboard that plagued previous models, Apple has announced a newer Magic Keyboard with a refined scissor mechanism and a more responsive key press. There’s now a separate, physical escape key since more and more users would find their escape keys frozen with the Touch Bar MacBook Pros. The Touch ID slash power button is also separate. It also brings back the inverted-T arrow keys.

Powerful specs for the power users

We all know the 15-inch MacBook Pro is already powerful, but this monster promises a significant performance boost of up to 2.1 times. This is configurable with the latest 6 / 8-core 9th Generation Intel processors. Turbo Speeds are also promised to reach up to 5GHz. For the first time, they offer a massive 64GB of memory and a spacious 8TB SSD option — the largest on a notebook yet.

There’s also a new AMD Radeon Pro 5000M graphics card, which is the first 7nm mobile discrete GPU for professionals. It’s also paired with GDDR6 video memory and an 8GB of VRAM option. This is beneficial for heavy filmmakers and 3D animators alike.

Gaming on Mac may not sound good but it also promises a smoother gameplay of up to 1.6 times. Game developers will also enjoy this machine as Unity will deliver 1.4 times faster fly-through performance than its competitors.

The highest configured 16-inch MacBook Pro promises a performance improvement of up to 80 times over the last highest-end 15-inch MacBook Pro.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro’s new thermal design enables intensive workload over long periods of time. The heat sink is 35 percent larger, resulting to a 28 percent increase in airflow and better heat dissipation. The battery is at its biggest at 100Wh. It promises 11 hours of battery life — one hour more than the previous model.

Pricing and availability

The 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at SG$ 3,499 in Singapore or US$ 2,399 in the US, the same starting price as the previous 15-inch model. It’s available online and through the Apple Store app starting today. In-store availability will come later this week.

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Accessories

Fossil’s new hybrid smartwatch has an always-on e-ink display

It’s called the Fossil Hybrid HR

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Smartphone manufacturers originally saw smartwatches as an extension of the phone instead of a beautiful time-telling accessory that you wear on your wrist. If you’re a watch-wearing person, there was absolutely no reason to buy into the tech at the time. The first few models looked hideous and had terrible battery life.

Years later, fashion brands and watchmakers like Fossil saved the day and made buying a smartwatch seem like a good idea. Along with the usual Wear OS smartwatches, the brand also introduced hybrid smartwatches a few years back. These are the typical circular mechanical watches with removable batteries that you don’t have to charge, with a few useful Bluetooth functions.

In 2019, Fossil’s new generation of hybrid smartwatches feature an always-on e-ink display. This allows the watch to display more information like your heart rate, number of steps, weather information, and notifications.

While getting more information can be a good thing, having a display also means having a built-in rechargeable battery — 55 mAh to be exact. Fossil says it takes around two weeks before it needs charging, and about an hour for a full charge. Previous generations of Fossil Q Hybrid last 6-12 months before the batteries needed replacing.

Like previous generations, you can still do functions like control your music through the buttons of the watch, and change the straps as they come in standard 18mm or 22mm sizes.

At launch there are five Fossil Hybrid HR models — those with leather straps retail for US$195 and US$215 for stainless steel.

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Apps

Facebook Pay will let you send money instantly

Will also be available on Instagram and WhatsApp

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Facebook unveiled its next-generation cryptocurrency Libra early this year. However, the service has received a lukewarm response due to Facebook’s spotty privacy record. Governments and regulators are worried the social network hasn’t done enough to instill confidence after the Cambridge Analytical scandal.

While the giant is trying to find a smooth path for Libra, it’s also ensuring that now-trending opportunities aren’t missed out. With the launch of Facebook Pay, the social network will seamlessly let you transfer money to your friends and acquaintances.

The system supports all major credit as well as debit cards but is being launched in the U.S. only at the moment. We expect availability in other regions following compliance with local laws.

Facebook already lets users send money through the Messenger app. But with Facebook Pay, users will be able to send money via other Facebook apps. To start, it’s rolling out on the core Facebook and Messenger apps, but will be added to Instagram and WhatsApp in the future.

The company has more than a billion active users worldwide. Thanks to a centralized service, it can leverage users from all the various apps it owns. Venmo is currently leading the micro-transactions segment and only time will tell whether Facebook has been able to retain users.

The users can add a PIN or use device biometrics, such as touch or Face ID recognition, for an extra layer of security when sending money or making a payment.

In India, Facebook-owned WhatsApp has been trying to launch WhatsApp Pay, a similar peer-to-peer service. Unfortunately, India’s data localization laws and additional compliances have delayed the release by more than a year.

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