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Samsung is recalling its best smartphone yet

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If you’ve been thinking about acquiring the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 sometime in the very near future, consider your plans derailed until further notice.

In a statement, Samsung said it is issuing a global recall of its latest phablet, following reports of the phone catching fire and exploding during or after charging. Customers who already bought the Note 7 can exchange it for a new one “over the coming weeks.” The world’s biggest phone maker also said it will stop selling the device momentarily.

According to Samsung, a total of 35 cases have been reported worldwide, with many taking to the internet to report the issue. On August 29, one user uploaded a video of a Note 7 that had burst into flames; the following day, images of another burnt Note 7 were uploaded to a popular social media site in South Korea. An internal investigation has confirmed that faulty batteries were to blame.

An unnamed Samsung official earlier told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency that only 0.1 percent of devices sold so far are affected by the issue, but clearly Samsung is taking no chances and has taken extra measures on the side of precaution.

So far, the Note 7 has launched in 10 countries, including the U.S., South Korea, and the Philippines. News about a confirmed hardware defect would be a major blow to a device hailed by many as the best on the market today. And its timing couldn’t be more off: Samsung’s main rival, Apple, is set to announce the iPhone 7 next week.

Worse still is the adverse impact a widespread recall would have on Samsung’s business. In July, Samsung posted its best quarterly results in over two years on strong smartphone sales. The company had earlier predicted that demand for smartphones and tablets will increase in the second half of 2016.

Below is the full, unabridged statement from Samsung.

Samsung is committed to producing the highest quality products and we take every incident report from our valued customers very seriously. In response to recently reported cases of the new Galaxy Note7, we conducted a thorough investigation and found a battery cell issue.

To date (as of September 1) there have been 35 cases that have been reported globally and we are currently conducting a thorough inspection with our suppliers to identify possible affected batteries in the market. However, because our customers’ safety is an absolute priority at Samsung, we have stopped sales of the Galaxy Note7.

For customers who already have Galaxy Note7 devices, we will voluntarily replace their current device with a new one over the coming weeks.

We acknowledge the inconvenience this may cause in the market but this is to ensure that Samsung continues to deliver the highest quality products to our customers. We are working closely with our partners to ensure the replacement experience is as convenient and efficient as possible.

[irp posts=”9847" name=”Samsung earned record profits despite Note 7 recall”]

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Google Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL still great for photos, now with 90Hz panel

All leaks mostly confirmed

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The Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL are now official confirming most of the leaks that came out leading up to its launch. So what’s different, what improved, and what stayed the same? We’ll go through all of that right now.

No fancy waterfall displays, just thoughtful design

Google appears to be taking plenty of cues from Apple in the design department in the sense that not much has changed. Looking at the device up front, you might mistake it for the Pixel 2XL. That’s because Google is doing away with the notch but it’s keeping the thick bezel for a reason that we’ll get to later on.

On the back, the most notable difference is the square holding its dual camera setup. Yes, just two. One main shooter and another one that’s “roughly 2x telephoto.” Google says, “While wide angle can be fun, telephoto is more important.”

The back is also moving away from the two-toned design we’ve grown to associate with the Pixel. In its place is a solid glass back with only a single color and a frosted matte coating.

The power button is still a different color from the rest of the phone depending on the variant you choose.

Still the best camera on a smartphone?

Plenty of people are eagerly waiting for the Pixel just to see well they will fair in the camera department. Based on the latest numbers by DxOMark, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro currently holds the crown but that might be quickly taken away soon.

The hardware on the Pixel 4 are as follows: 12.2MP main camera with f/1.7 aperture, plus a 16MP f/2.4 telephoto zoom lens that supports hybrid zoom. But the Pixel has always been more than just hardware.

The true crowning glory of the Pixel cameras is Google’s computational photography. And that applies even on the telephoto lens. It combines both the 2x telephoto lens along with Super-Res Zoom to produce high quality, zoomed in images.

There’s now also what Google is calling Live HDR+. It basically means the HDR application happens real-time. Basically, whatever you see right before you take a shot is the photo that you should expect to come it.

That same feature allows Double Exposure — separate slides for highlights and shadows on Pixel 4 before you take your shot.

Computational photography also lends a huge hand in white balancing along with a wider range for portrait mode, and improved night sight.

That front-camera setup

Again, just like on the iPhone, there’s now a lot going on in that thick forehead bezel.

It’s not home to a bunch of new sensors that work together towards a more secure face recognition suite. There’s the selfie camera, a pair of IR cameras, flood illuminators, and DOT projectors.

Google says it’s the first smartphone equipped with a radar. It enables Motion Sense which Google claims is the fastest and most secure face unlock feature on a smartphone. It also allows you to control the Pixel 4 without touching it — similar to the Air Gestures that Samsung first tried a few years back.

Overall equipped with better hardware

Displays with high refresh rate might be a growing trend and the Pixel doesn’t want to be left behind. The phone is equipped with a 90Hz panel, similar to the one on the most recent OnePlus smartphones.

The rest of the device also gets a spec bump. Powering the Pixel 4 is Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC along with 6GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of storage. Nothing to write home about as the numbers pale in comparison to other flagships in 2019. But, again like the iPhone, the Pixel isn’t exactly about the numbers.

You might also be happy to know that both the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL have an IP68 rating.

Pricing and availability 

The Google Pixel 4 starts at US$ 799 and will start shipping on October 24. It will come in three colors: Just Black, Clearly White, and Oh So Orange. It will be available through all major US carriers.

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Accessories

New Google Pixel Buds coming in 2020

Gotta wait a while longer

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The new Google Pixel Buds have officially been unveiled but we won’t get our hands on them until Spring 2020.

Google says the Pixel Buds were designed with the user in mind. It is truly wireless and promises rich sound, clear calls, and a comfortable fit. The company notes how it’s great hardware made exceptional by having Google deeply embedded into it. For instance, it should help you in your out-of-the-country trips with Google Translate built in.

The new Pixel Buds are supposed to last for five hours of continuous playback and extend that to 24 hours through the wireless charging case. The headphones will retail for US$ 179.

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Apple Safari caught sending user data to a Chinese company

Is Apple’s commitment to privacy just a marketing hype?

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Data privacy is a buzzword that Apple likes to throw around as built-in by default on their products. The company proudly boasts that all of their users’ data are safe and secure with their devices. However that may not be true with the recent discovery that Apple’s Safari browser is sending user data to a Chinese company.

The recent discovery involves the Fraudulent Website Warning. It is on by default on all Safari browsers. It alerts users to malicious websites by checking URLs to a list of such websites. Apple uses Google Safe Browsing to check for URLs. Recently, Apple started using Tencent Safe Browsing, as stated in the Safari’s “About Security & Privacy”:

Photo by reclaimthenet.org

Safari sends the user’s IP address by default for its safe browsing feature. An IP address may determine the user’s profile since it reveals their location.

The most concerning part here is that Safari sends a user’s IP address to Tencent. Tencent, a Chinese tech company, has links to the Chinese government. The Chinese government has a poor track record for upholding human rights and data privacy, so it is unsurprising why this discovery is concerning.

Apple recently clarified that only iOS devices in China use Tencent Safe Browsing feature. Also, the company stated that it never share URLs with Google or Tencent. Apparently, users may turn off the feature, but doing so leaves them open to malicious attacks.

The recent discovery sheds light into Apple’s troubling relationship with the Chinese government. Recently, the company gave in to the pressures from the Chinese government — especially with its removal of a police tracking app in Hongkong. So, the connection between Safari and Tencent is concerning, to say the least.

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