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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.

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LG G7 ThinQ will have a dedicated button for Google Assistant

No ThinQ for you

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Raise your hands if you enjoyed Samsung’s Bixby button. Now, put those non-existent hands back down. However, if you were one of the scant few who did use it, you might enjoy the upcoming LG G7 ThinQ.

As you might have noticed from leaked renders, LG’s new flagship sports an extra button that curiously looks like a dedicated ThinQ button. Now, we have reports that our hunches have a little bit of truth to them.

According to CNET, the G7’s inconspicuous little button links directly to Google Assistant, rather than LG’s ThinQ AI. The button will occupy the phone’s left edge, opposite the power button on the right.

Even without the button, users can pull up the Google Assistant by long-pressing the home button or through voice commands. A dedicated button will eliminate the need for a long press or for shouting “Okay, Google” in public.

Like LG’s other phones, the G7 will have voice commands exclusive to LG. Previously, these mainly include the various functions available to their camera technology. With the G7, we can hope for a more generalized slew of commands tailored for other phone functions.

With the G7 ThinQ, LG will be the first smartphone maker to ship with a dedicated button for Google. Before, dedicated AI buttons linked only to their brand’s exclusive assistant. Most popularly, Samsung’s Bixby button opened the phone’s assistant of the same name.

Sadly, like Bixby, LG won’t allow G7 users to rebind the button for other apps. This exclusivity is the same pain point that the Bixby button suffered from.

Of course, the LG G7 ThinQ will still launch officially on May 2 in New York. Anything can happen before then. If the reports are true, its Google Assistant button will enjoy more staying power if LG allows us to rebind it for other purposes.

SEE ALSO: LG G7 ThinkQ appears in a promo teaser showing a new angle

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Vivo launches V9 Youth with FullView display and dual rear cameras

It is a toned-down version of the V9

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Nearly a month after the launch of its V9 smartphone, Vivo has expanded the series with the V9 Youth.

The new Vivo V9 Youth was launched in India for INR 18,990 (US$ 287) and will be available on both online and offline channels. While the offline availability of the device starts today, the online platforms such as Flipkart, Paytm Mall, Amazon, and Vivo E-store will begin selling the phone from April 24.

The smartphone, as Vivo claims, is designed keeping in mind the young and dynamic consumer base and hence is packed with a host of new features like dual cameras on the rear, Android 8.1 Oreo, face unlock, and there’s also something called a Game Mode to deliver an uninterrupted gaming experience.

The V9 Youth focuses on its camera capabilities. The highlight of the smartphone is its dual rear cameras with 16- and 2-megapixel sensors. Selfie lovers get a 16-megapixel camera at the front alongside the AI Face Beauty feature. The device comes with a triple-card slot for adding two nano-SIM cards and one microSD card. On the rear, it also has a fingerprint sensor.

It comes with a metal unibody design and will be available in black and gold color options. On the front, the Vivo V9 Youth sports a 6.3-inch Full HD+ display with a 19:9 aspect ratio. Under the hood is a Snapdragon 450 SoC coupled with 4GB of RAM. It comes with 32GB of internal storage that can be expanded up to 256GB using a microSD card.

It’s backed by a 3260mAh non-removable battery and lacks fast charging support. The device runs Android 8.1 Oreo with the company’s own FunTouch OS 4.0 running on top of it.

“With the launch of ‘Vivo V9 Youth,’ we are bringing the best features of our flagship V9 in a new avatar for our young and modern consumers,” said Kenny Zeng, CMO, Vivo India.

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Vivo Y71 receives pricing in the Philippines

Vivo’s newest affordable smartphone

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After making a quiet debut in India, the Vivo Y71 is making its way to the Philippines. Even better news: It comes with a lower starting price.

In the Philippines, you can purchase the Y71 beginning at PhP 7,990 (US$ 152). That’s lower than the US$ 170 price we reported before, but take note that this is for the 2GB memory configuration. If you want the variant with 3GB of memory, you’d have to shell out PhP 8,990.

Besides that, the two models share the same specifications, from the Snapdragon 450 chipset and 16GB of expandable storage, to the 3360mAh battery and 6-inch 720p 18:9 screen.

The only real difference is in the cameras. Both have the same 5-megapixel front camera, but the 3GB memory version has a 13-megapixel rear camera while its cheaper sibling has only 8 megapixels for its main shooter.

You can find the Vivo Y71 in online and offline retailers in the Philippines beginning today.

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