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Sharp Android One S3 is compact and waterproof with timely updates

It’s pretty basic but expensive

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The Android One program continues to prosper. When we thought that it was going to die last year, new models from HTCMotorola, Sharp, and Xiaomi were released and welcomed with open arms. To kick off the new year, a new model in Japan was just announced.

The Sharp Android One S3 is fairly compact phone with a 5-inch 1080p IGZO display. The near-borderless trend is yet to arrive on Android One phones, so this one has sizeable bezels. It’s powered by a Snapdragon 430 processor with 3GB of memory and 32GB of expandable storage. It’s pretty low-powered, but at least it runs Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box.

What makes the phone special is its dust and waterproof body. It even has a sturdy casing that can survive a few drops from a height of 1.2 meters.

Camera-wise, it’s got a standard 13-megapixel rear camera with a single LED flash and a 5-megapixel front camera for taking selfies. A 2700mAh battery is its companion to last the whole day, or maybe less.

The phone doesn’t have a fingerprint reader but has a USB-C port for charging and wired data transfers. It’s really a basic phone that runs pure Android and should have timely updates along the way.

It’ll be sold in Japan only for now at a price of JPY 32,400 or about US$ 300.

SEE ALSO: Android One was never really dead

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Google launches Nest Mini, looks eerily similar to Home Mini

More features at the same price

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It’s obvious Google’s new Pixel 4 duo is hogging the limelight, but the company also announced a new Nest Mini speaker. Google is changing the name of its Google Home Mini and integrating it into its Nest line of products.

The integration lets the brand position the product in the “smart home” section and not just limited to a speaker. The Google Home Mini was released in 2017, a smaller, more affordable speaker than the Google Home that came before it.

With all the same Google Assistant capabilities and a more affordable US$ 49 price, the Google Home Mini proved to be one of Google’s best sellers. The Nest Mini will also cost US$ 49 and is available for preorder today and in stores in the US and other countries on Oct. 22.

Nest Mini was mounted to the wall, which is a new option, along with a new color, Sky blue, to add to the Chalk, Charcoal and Coral options.

The company says the Nest Mini also now includes a third microphone that’ll help in noisy environments. There’s a machine learning chip powering proceedings, making the Google Assistant better than ever.

Another useful addition is, there’s now LEDs on both sides of the fabric mesh, indicating where the volume touch points are. That fabric covering is now more eco-friendly; it’s made of 100 percent recycled plastic bottles. All Google Home and Nest speakers let you call devices from the Google Duo app as well.

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Google Pixel 4 won’t be coming to India

Google failed to secure permission from local authorities

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Bad news for Pixel fans in India — shortly after the global launch of the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL today, Google announced that they would not be bringing the new Pixels to the sub-continent.

A Google spokesperson stated that the company, “has a wide range of products that we make available in different regions around the world. We determine availability based on a variety of factors, including local trends, and product features. We decided not to make Pixel 4 available in India. We remain committed to our current Pixel phones and look forward to bringing future Pixel devices to India.”

While Google has not explicitly given a reason, the decision is rumored to be due to the Pixel 4’s headline feature, Project Soli, which is a radar-based motion-sensing chip that depends on using the 60GHz mmWave frequency band. This frequency band is not open for unlicensed civilian usage in India, and the company has seemingly not been able to secure permission from Indian authorities to use it.

In the US, the FCC approved Project Soli earlier this year, and the 60GHz frequency is unlicensed and usable, so Pixel 4 is already up for pre-order.

In India, the local TRAI recommendation in 2014 was to allow for opening up the 60GHz frequency band but it still remains locked and only permitted for military projects. As a result, Google is unable to sell the phone in the country. Disabling the Soli chip won’t be enough either as the mere presence of the 60GHz radar hardware itself is not allowed under current Indian laws.

An alternative available to Google would be to create a different variant of the Pixel 4 without the Soli hardware, but that would have further complicated the entire Pixel experience just for one market.

The Project Soli chip in the Pixel 4 allows for some cool features on the phone, such as the ability to detect human interactions, and recognize gestures, so you could wave your hand to silence a call or skip a song.

At the event today, VP of Product Management at Google Sabrina Ellis even claimed that this allows Pixel 4 to have “the fastest secure face unlock on a smartphone, because the process starts before you have even picked up the smartphone.”

According to research firm Counterpoint, over 99 percent of smartphones shipped in India last year were powered by Android. India is the second largest smartphone market in the world, so Google would be missing out for opting to not sell the Pixel 4. Here’s to hoping Google manages to get permission from the local Indian authorities, because there’s a lot to love about the kind of innovation that the Pixel 4 brings along.

Source: TechCrunch

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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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