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Huawei’s new P9 and P9 Plus phones take a swing at low-light photography

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Huawei, it seems, is really into making premium phones now. Fresh off giving the world the Google Nexus 6P and Huawei Mate 8, the leading smartphone brand in China and number 3 worldwide, having shipped more than 100 million phones in 2015, has unveiled yet another high-priced product in the 5.2-inch P9 and 5.5-inch P9 Plus.

Whereas the Nexus 6P and Mate 8 were all about providing a speedy user experience and pushing the limits of screen size in somewhat manageable form factors, the P9 series’ most marketable quality can be found around the back. To be clear, that’s not to say the P9 and P9 Plus lag behind the curve, or other phones in Huawei’s portfolio for that matter (but we’ll get to this shortly).

A pair of 12-megapixel, Leica-certified cameras sit flush on the back of the P9 and P9 Plus, and Huawei is confident that you’re going to want to use them as soon as you get your hands on its latest creations.

Huawei P9 rose gold

Huawei P9 in rose gold

One of the rear cameras feature a monochrome sensor, while the other packs a traditional smartphone-camera sensor. When they work brilliantly together, just like the Wonder Twins from Superfriends, or for the younger crowd, Batman and Superman in the last act of Batman v. Superman, they’re supposed to produce brighter, clearer shots in low light.

Huawei says they can let in three times more light information and increase contrast by as much as 50 percent. And to that we say: Let’s leave it for consumers and experts in the tech community to determine whether or not the dual-camera setup is worth the money.

We do applaud Huawei’s efforts to try and get smartphones to do a better job of taking photographs where light is scarce. But adding another rear-facer and making the back of a very personal device look at you with horror, like you just plugged a 110-volt hair dryer into a 220-volt socket, isn’t what we had in mind. It certainly doesn’t help that the P9’s fingerprint sensor resembles an open mouth, thus completing the look of a shocked rear panel.

Huawei P9 Plus gold

Huawei P9 Plus in gold

Huawei has also thrown in a laser autofocus module, two-tone flash, and optical image stabilization for less shaky photos and videos into the P9 range’s admittedly expansive set of photography-related features. For the selfie-obsessed youth, the 8-megapixel front camera should suffice.

The P9 and P9 Plus don’t skimp on computing power and memory options, either, with both phones sporting an in-house HiSilicon Kirin 955 chip — the fastest in a Huawei smartphone to date — with as much as 4GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable storage (for the higher-end P9 variant and P9 Plus).

The P9 has a 3,000mAh built-in battery, which is slightly less than the 3,400mAh cell packed into the back of the P9 Plus. But regardless of which P9 variant you go with, you’d be happy to know that there’s a USB Type-C connector with fast charging on the bottom of either handset.

The P9 and P9 Plus resemble last year’s P8, and to a lesser extent, the Nexus 6P, and the company says the phones make use of a metal unibody for a more cohesive and seamless construction.

They’re only 6.95mm thick and have bezels that measure 1.7mm, so Huawei continuing to build fairly compact handsets with big displays isn’t a trend that will likely fizzle out any time soon. A resolution bump to 1,440 x 2,560 pixels (from 1,080 x 1,920) would have been a welcome development, but unfortunately the P9 carries the same, full-resolution display as its predecessor.

The Huawei P9 is priced at £449 ($630 or Php29,000) in the U.K., while P9 Plus retails for £549 ($780 or Php36,000). Shipping starts mid-May.

Laptops

Acer announces new Chromebook Spin 11 for a cheaper price

Fully compatible with a Wacom pen

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It’s a case of déjà vu. A year after the first one, Acer has announced the Chromebook Spin 11 for a second time. This time, it has better parts, a cheaper price, and more consumer-friendly availability.

Previously, the Spin 11 was launched exclusively for the education sector, offering the needed durability and flexibility for a student. The new Spin 11, however, packs more punch for a lower price. The announcements comes only a few weeks removed from Acer’s other announcements at CES 2018.

The new Chromebook Spin 11 (CP311-1H/CP311-1HN) comes in three flavors of processors — Intel Pentium quad-core N4200, quad-core Celeron N3450, or dual-core Celeron N3350. It’s a bit more than the previous model which came only with the N3350.

Acer also offers variability with storage and memory. It is available in either 4GB or 8GB LPDDR4 for RAM. Meanwhile, it offers 32GB or 64GB variants for internal storage.

It also comes with a 11.6-inch IPS display with a 1366 x 768-pixel resolution. Like the previous model, the notebook is fitted with a 360-degree hinge that allows for laptop, tablet, display, and tent modes.

The Spin 11 pushes the emerging trend for USB Type-C charging. While it does reduce variability, it will boast of an uptime that lasts “all day.”

Besides charging, it sports two USB-C 3.1 ports, two USB-A 3.0 ports, and a microSD reader for connectivity. Likewise, Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.2 round the laptop out for wireless connectivity.

However, the new notebook’s biggest upgrade is its compatibility with a Wacom EMR stylus, which comes packaged with the CP311-1HN model. It doesn’t require a battery and is resistant to trauma. Before the Spin 11, only a handful of hybrid notebooks came with a stylus.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 11 will start shipping out in March. It’ll come with a price tag of US$ 349.

SEE ALSO: Acer’s new Swift 7 is thinner than ever

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Drones

DJI launches new Mavic Air drone

It’s the size of a smartphone!

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DJI is at it again with its consumer quadcopters.

The Chinese company has launched the new Mavic Air and it fits right between the Mavic Pro and the smaller Spark. Think of the Spark’s size but with the folding arms of its predecessor.

DJI says the Mavic Air is lighter by 41 percent compared to its previous model but receives the entire gesture system of the Spark — something that attracts consumers. This means you can make it snap a photo, make it move to a different spot, and call it back to land by simple hand actions.

Using your hand to manipulate the drone has a range limit of almost 6 meters (19 feet). Connect a smartphone and it bumps up the range to 80 meters, but using a dedicated remote will increase that to 4km.

Just like the Mavic Pro, the Mavic Air has a 4K video resolution, 12-megapixel image sensor, and three-axis gimbal. It also has HDR, and low-light shooting to help you achieve better photos in general. DJI also threw in a new software algorithm that lets users stitch together 32-megapixel shots for panoramas and photo spheres.

DJI added 8GB of internal storage to the Mavic Air. There’s also a USB-C port which is a bump up from the Pro’s micro-USB, although battery life saw a downgrade as the new Air has a maximum flight time of 21 minutes. In real-life usage, that means around 16 minutes.

Don’t let it dishearten you, since position tracking, obstacle avoidance, and the ventilation system have all been improved according to DJI.

Finally, and unlike the Pro, it comes in different colors. The new Mavic Air will be available in white, black, or red. Pricing will start at US$ 799 which is a little more expensive than the Spark but more affordable than the Mavic Pro. Pre-orders start immediately and shipping will commence next week.

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An upcoming Nokia phone is rumored to have a penta-camera setup

When two are not enough

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In the photo: Nokia 8

Remember the PureView camera phones from Nokia? They lead the race of megapixels in a smartphone and the best possible image quality back in the day. In 2018, we might see the rebirth of PureView-like phones from Nokia, but it won’t be about megapixels anymore.

According to a leak from China’s Baidu social network, a concept phone is rumored to be in the works which will have five lenses positioned in a circle and paired with an LED flash. It’s not named PureView, but it’ll be called Nokia 10.

The diagram shown above is supposedly the layout of the back of the phone. The LED flash is at the center of the six circles which should be the camera lenses, but what’s the additional circle for? We don’t know yet but since this is just a rumor, we shouldn’t really expect too much. The lone circle outside of the group is the fingerprint reader.

The rumored phone will be powered by the new Snapdragon 845 processor which can support up to seven camera sensors and up to 32 megapixels for pictures and 4K for videos. Other than that, there’s not much info available for now.

We might see the phone later this year, probably during IFA 2018 in Berlin, but there’s really no solid info on the upcoming Nokia phone yet.

SEE ALSO: Nokia 8’s camera performance underwhelms at DxOMark

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