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Pixel and Pixel XL make you care about photography and Google’s new Assistant

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Google Pixel views

Google’s highly anticipated, and heavily leaked, smartphones are now official. They’re high-end, strong on software, and effectively replace the Nexus series as Google’s flagship smartphone lineup. Without further ado, here are the Pixel and Pixel XL.

It seems like all the Google Pixel leaks we’ve seen in the past week were indeed legit. If you’ve been following our coverage, you would’ve already had a clear look at the design and specifications of the internet giant’s latest smartphones.

Google Pixel main photo

As expected, the only difference between the two handsets is size: The Pixel has a 5.2-inch AMOLED screen with a Full HD resolution, while the 5.5-inch Pixel XL has a noticeably better Quad HD AMOLED panel. The difference in measurements extends to the batteries, wherein the Pixel and Pixel XL have 2770mAh and 3450mAh capacities, respectively.

The lack of major differences is a big deal, because you aren’t forced to choose a larger phone just for its beefed-up features. This is something Google failed at with the Nexus 6P and 5X; the former was equipped with flagship-level specs, but the latter had the pocketable size nearly everyone wanted at the time.

Whether you go big or small, you’re treated to a metal unibody with a glass coating around the fingerprint scanner mounted at the back. With a thickness of 7.3mm for both handsets, they won’t win any style awards, but the inclusion of a 3.5mm audio jack will delight a lot of traditional audiophiles.

The shared internals include a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB of memory, storage options of 32GB and 128GB, and fast charging through a USB Type-C port, but what really stands out is the camera. Having a 12.3-megapixel main shooter and 8-megapixel selfie camera with no optical image stabilization whatsoever may not seem special, but the real-world performance says otherwise.

Google Pixel angles

If you recall our recent article on the iPhone 7’s DxOMark rating, you’d know that the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge’s camera is the benchmark’s king with 88 points. Well, with the release of the new Google phones, the Galaxy has been unseated by the Pixels’ 89 points — the highest ever recorded in DxOMark’s mobile phone database. Impressive!

In case you’re wondering, the phones are manufactured by HTC, but Google is keeping this piece of information under the rug. The company wants Pixel to feel like a fully integrated Google product. To do that, the brand’s new virtual assistant is at the forefront of the Pixel phones.

Along with Android 7.1 Nougat, the Pixel phones are the first to come with Google Assistant, which is the company’s answer to Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. Google spent a ton of time explaining all the core functions at the event, but in a nutshell, the virtual assistant is really efficient at catering to your personal requests. The more you use it, the smarter it gets.

With the improved artificial intelligence, you can search through photos with ease and listen to your favorite music on the fly, all done by voice command. Google Assistant is pretty much the replacement of Google Now, the now obsolete assistant of every other Android device.

Google Pixel colors

The color options are quite humorous; you have Quite Black, Very Silver, and Really Blue. What isn’t funny, however, is the pricing. Prices begin at $649 for the smaller Pixel — as much as you’d spend on a brand-new iPhone 7. The 128GB variant costs $749, while the larger Pixel XL goes for either $769 or $869 for the 32GB and 128GB storage options, respectively.

On the bright side, the phones come with unlimited cloud storage on Google Photos at original quality and full resolution. That’s great value, and might make the 32GB storage option enough if you have a reliable internet connection on hand.

You can pre-order as early as today if you live in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, or Germany. Fans in India will have to wait until October 13 to begin ordering.

MWC 2018

LG announces V30S ThinQ with artificial intelligence built in

It’s all about AI

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As early reports suggested, LG didn’t introduce a completely new flagship at MWC 2018 but rather an updated V30 handset with the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) platform, ThinQ.

More and more companies are banking on AI. If you recall, the ThinQ platform of LG was first introduced at CES 2018 earlier this year and the V30S ThinQ is LG’s first AI phone. According to LG, the focus of their AI platform for phones is on the camera and voice recognition features.

LG V30S ThinQ in Moroccan Blue

With Vision AI, the new V30 will have three new intelligent camera features. First is the AI Cam which analyzes subjects in the frame and automatically sets the shooting mode among eight categories: portrait, food, pet, landscape, city, flower, sunrise, and sunset.

In the short time we spent with the phone, we can confirm that the AI functionality does work as promised. We shot a couple of food snaps over dinner, and the resulting photos indeed look better than those compared to the original V30. More exhaustive tests and samples will come soon in a Hands-On piece.

Then there’s QLens that lets you visually search for products. For example, you see an item that you like and to know more about it or purchase it online, you can point the phone’s camera to it and it’ll look it up for you. Lastly, the Bright Mode aims to enhance low-light photography on the V30 by pixel binding.

As for the voice recognition, LG has Voice AI which allows users to run apps and tinker with settings through voice commands. That’s not a groundbreaking feature nowadays, but it works with Google Assistant and it’ll be an LG-exclusive with direct and specific functions.

LG V30S ThinQ in Platinum Gray

The LG V30S ThinQ (quite a mouthful) is built on the V30’s physique and they look identical, but specs-wise, it received some upgrades. The updated phone now has 6GB of memory and 128GB of expandable storage, but if you need more space, there’s a V30S+ ThinQ variant with 256GB of storage.

In an effort to make the new V30S ThinQ distinguishable from the older version, LG gave it two new colors: Moroccan Blue and Platinum Gray. Both have a lenticular finish on the back which displays different hues under certain lighting conditions.

SEE ALSO: LG V30 Review: Can it replace your vlogging camera?

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MWC 2018

Alcatel’s new 5, 3, and 1 smartphone series get 18:9 displays and Android Go

All of them have tall displays!

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TCL, the parent company of Alcatel, just launched an army of 18:9 smartphones. Why? Because 2018 smartphones should sport the new aspect ratio to keep up with the trend, and you now have a lot to choose from.

Alcatel is proud to present their latest smartphones with a taller display, and they made it available across each of their phone series. The brand also introduced a new design philosophy for its mobile devices called Simganic which is described as human-centric and iconic. The new design language is present on all the new phones starting with…

Alcatel 5 Series

The latest Alcatel 5 brings flagship design for just under EUR 300 with its near-bezel-less 5.7-inch FullView HD+ 18:9 display encased in a premium brushed metallic unibody. Powering the well-crafted device is a MediaTek MT6750 processor (this is really getting old) and it boots the dated Android Nougat.

The processing power may be a bit disappointing, but selfie lovers will appreciate the phone’s dual front cameras. It has a combo of a 13-megapixel f/2.0 main selfie shooter, a secondary super wide-angle 5-megapixel camera, and a dedicated front LED flash. For the rear, you get a standard 12-megapixel camera with dual-tone flash.

For security, the Alcatel 5 has a facial recognition feature called Face Key which is claimed to work in less than half a second. If you don’t like scanning your face, the fingerprint reader is found at the back of the phone.

The Alcatel 5 will come in Metallic Black and Metallic Gold for EUR 230 (US$ 280) in select markets that the brand serves.

Alcatel 3 Series

You can always get a cheaper phone with about the same features, and that’s what the Alcatel 3 Series is for. You’re not just getting one choice here but three — Alcatel 3V, Alcatel 3X, and Alcatel 3. All come with 18:9 displays, fingerprint readers, and Face Key unlock.

The Alcatel 3V is the biggest in the series with a 6-inch 2K display, MediaTek MT8735A processor, 2GB of memory, and up to 32GB of expandable storage. It has dual rear cameras with a 12- and 2-megapixel combo for bokeh effect, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. The phone boots Android Oreo out of the box and packs in a 3000mAh battery.

Second in line is the Alcatel 3X which has a 5.7-inch HD+ display, MediaTek MT6739 processor, up to 3GB of memory, and up to 32GB of expandable storage. This one also has dual rear cameras (13- and 5-megapixel sensors) and a 5-megapixel shooter for taking selfies. Quite unfortunate that it’s loaded with Android Nougat, but you still get a sizable 3000mAh battery like the bigger sibling.

The Alcatel 3 is the most modest among the bunch with its 5.5-inch HD+ display, MediaTek MT6739 processor, 2GB of memory, and 16GB of expandable storage. It has a 13-megapixel rear shooter and a 5-megapixel selfie camera for photography — pretty basic but will get the job done. Despite being the base phone, the Alcatel 3 gets Android Oreo and a 3000mAh battery.

As for pricing and colors, the Alcatel 3V will be available in Spectrum Black, Spectrum Blue, and Spectrum Gold for EUR 190 (US$ 235), while the Alcatel 3X will be on sale for EUR 180 (US$ 220) in two more colors: Metallic Blue and Metallic Gold. The Alcatel 3 will be sold for EUR 150 (US$ 185) with the same color options as the 3V.

Alcatel 1 Series

If we’re talking about budget phones, let’s not forget about the most affordable in the lineup. The Alcatel 1X will definitely not break the bank starting at just EUR 100. Even with a cheap price tag, it still comes with a 5.3-inch 18:9 display but with a lower resolution at just 960 x 480. Don’t expect too much from its 8-megapixel rear and 5-megapixel front cameras, but they are there when you need them. The phone has a 2460mAh battery to keep it going and a fingerprint reader along with the Face Key security unlock.

The Alcatel 1X boots Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, but it will also be available with Android Oreo (Go edition) in select markets, making it the first Android Go phone of Alcatel.

The phone will come out in April in single and dual-SIM variants for EUR 100 (US$ 125) and EUR 110 (US$ 135), respectively. It’ll be available in two finishes: Suede for the black and blue colors, and Satiny for the gold and rose options.

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MWC 2018

TCL gives Android tablets a chance with affordable Alcatel 1T series

Cheap but still up to date!

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Android tablets may not be a common sight nowadays, but that doesn’t mean manufacturers have given up on them. TCL Communication banks on the opportunity of putting affordable slates on the market with the new Alcatel 1T series.

The Alcatel 1T series of tablets is envisioned by the Chinese company as devices that are accessible to consumers, especially to families that share common devices like tablets. The new devices come in two versions — 10-inch and 7-inch.

The bigger tablet is aptly called the Alcatel 1T 10 with its 10.1-inch IPS display that has a resolution of 1280 x 800. It’s powered by a MediaTek MT8321 processor with 1GB of memory and 16GB of expandable storage. Thanks to its size, it comes with a fairly large 4000mAh battery that’s said to last for eight hours on a single charge. Its cameras are basic at just 2 megapixels for both the front and back.

It’s Alcatel’s most affordable 10-inch tablet to come out starting at just EUR 100 or roughly US$ 125 when converted and will come in two colors: Premium Black and Bluish Black. An optional dedicated Bluetooth keyboard and textured cover will also be available as its accessories.

As the series’ mini version, the Alcatel 1T 7 is a lightweight and pocketable option. As the name implies, it has a smaller 7-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1024 x 600. It’s powered by the same processor and memory as the 10-inch version but comes with a lower 8GB of expandable storage. Its cameras are also just 2 megapixels on each side. The smaller tablet has a 2580mAh battery which is claimed to last for 7 hours of usage.

The Alcatel 1T 7 retails for just EUR 70 or about US$ 86. It’ll come in Premium Black and Bluish Black color options, too.

While the two differ in size, they come with the same set of features including Android 8.0 Oreo and a dedicated Kids Mode that’s pre-loaded with apps and content for the young ones. It also has built-in parental control for setting usage limits.

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