Features

#TBT: Before the Samsung Galaxy Note, there was the Dell Streak 5

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 launched this week, and we were in New York City to witness all the hype and hoopla unfold. The critical consensus so far has been positive, and we think the new big-screen phone is the hat-trick score its makers had hoped for.

The Galaxy Note 7 has the right curves in all the right places; it isn’t afraid to get wet; it’s better at taking notes and making GIFs and translating; and it has a cavity to slot in a microSD card if you think 64GB of onboard storage isn’t enough. In a word: Brilliant.

So brilliant that it makes sense why Samsung is the only manufacturer that has found success where others could not. Armed with a stylus and a screen that acts like paper, Samsung scripted its own legacy in the tech world.

But the idea of expanding a phone’s screen to what some thought were comical proportions wasn’t Samsung’s to begin with.

It equally belonged to Nokia and HTC and a few others; but it belonged most of all to Dell.

In 2010, the same year the iPad was announced, the American tech company came out with the Dell Streak 5. The phone was meant to compete with both the Apple slate and smartphones that maxed out at around 4 inches by offering a 5-inch display, which was considered enormous at the time.

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The Dell Streak 5

It was three inches tall and six inches wide and almost a third the thickness and weight of the iPad; it was pocketable only in the sense that it was possible to force it uncomfortably into regular-fit jeans. I thought the Streak was clunky as it was unwieldy.

But its biggest flaw had nothing to do with its obnoxious design, or the fact that critics and consumers couldn’t decide whether to call it a phone or a tablet. The Streak initially shipped with buggy, outgoing software that drew the ire of everyone.

Unable to recover from a rocky start, Dell discontinued the phone the following year. “Goodbye Streak 5. It’s been a great ride,” a post on the company’s official website read.

Dell-goodbye-streak

In 2011, Samsung made a huge bet on a phone bigger than the Streak 5 and hit the jackpot when it earned critical respect and public admiration.

The Verge gave the Galaxy Note a positive review and called it “one of the most potent Android devices to date.” It received a 7.6 out of 10 from Engadget, which described it as “one of those devices that you’ll either completely love or totally hate.” CNET gushed about its screen size. “The screen real estate is ideal for interacting with HD games and multimedia, and for reading websites and e-books,” the tech site said.

Two months after its launch, Samsung announced it had shipped over one million Note smartphones worldwide, excluding the U.S. The success of the Galaxy Note created massive interest and demand for devices of the same size.

So why the Note and not the Streak? I think it was because the Note was a more refined product that made the most of its size. Samsung didn’t just release another Streak with a bigger screen; it improved on it immensely.

When you look at today’s tech landscape, you’ll see a lot of firsts and superlatives and companies trying to be different for different’s sake. Which is fine and all. Failing is part of the process. But in the quest for the next Galaxy Note, or the next iPhone, the industry would do well to remember the lessons of the Streak.

Being first isn’t always what matters; but being the first to get things right usually does.

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Hands-On

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Hands-on: Best phone of 2018?

Huawei outdoes itself again

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In an industry where incremental updates are the new norm, Huawei manages to wow us again — barely a year after the release of the P20 Pro. The Chinese company is back with the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro which might just be the best among the best this year.

In this video, we go over the phones’ new designs, updated cameras, and new memory card format. We also go through the differences between the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro.

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Features

Huawei Mate 20 vs Mate 20 Pro: What are the differences?

Price isn’t the only factor

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Huawei has once again launched two flagships phones at the same time; one comes with a Pro moniker, while the other does not. Like before, there are some significant differences between the Mate 20 pair to take note of.

While we wait to get our hands on the Porsche Design Mate 20 RS and Mate 20 X, here are the two phones we already know everything about.

Display

One obvious difference is in their displays. While the Mate 20 Pro goes for a notched 6.39-inch 1440p curved HDR OLED display — certainly a mouthful — the regular Mate 20 has a 6.53-inch 1080p RGBW HDR LCD with a much smaller notch.

The Pro model justifies the larger notch by housing a more complex camera system for secured facial recognition, but if that doesn’t matter to you, the regular variant’s Dew Drop notch may be more appealing — and definitely less intrusive.

In addition, the Mate 20 Pro’s OLED tech allows it to curve the edges and equip an in-display fingerprint scanner. It’s essentially the more modern-looking design of the pair.

Performance

Since both models have Huawei’s Kirin 980 chipset installed, pure performance is virtually identical. The Pro and non-Pro also share the same memory and storage configuration of 6GB and 128GB, respectively, although the plain Mate 20 has a more affordable 4GB memory variant available, too.

Another minor difference: The 4200mAh capacity of the Mate 20 Pro, along with the more energy-efficient OLED, provides it with potentially longer battery life than what the Mate 20’s 4000mAh capacity and LCD panel offer.

A more significant advantage for the Mate 20 Pro is its inclusion of a 40W SuperCharge adapter in the package — noticeably better than the 22.5W output of the Mate 20’s. Plus, the Pro version can charge other phones wirelessly using wireless reverse charging tech.

Cameras

Perhaps, you’ll care most about the difference in camera quality and performance. While it’s too early to make photo and video comparisons, an initial look at specs shows that the Mate 20 Pro may have an edge.

There are three modules in place for the Pro: One is a 40-megapixel main camera, another has 20 megapixels and an ultra-wide lens, and the final unit offers 8 megapixels with 3x optical zoom

As for the Mate 20, its main camera has only 12 megapixels, the ultra-wide shooter settles for 16 megapixels, and the 8-megapixel telephoto camera goes up to only 2x optical zoom.

Despite the larger notch of the Mate 20 Pro, they share the same 24-megapixel selfie camera.

Pricing and colors

This part largely depends on where you reside, but in an ideal setting, all five colors — Emerald Green, Midnight Blue, Twilight, Pink Gold, and Black — should be available for both models.

Pricing is another matter, and it again depends per region. In Europe, the Mate 20’s 4GB+128GB configuration retails for EUR 799 and its 6GB+128GB model goes for EUR 849. The Mate 20 Pro’s sole 6GB+128GB variant costs EUR 1,049, making it more expensive by EUR 250 and EUR 200, respectively.

In Singapore, the Mate 20’s 6GB+128GB setup retails for SG$ 998, while the Mate 20 Pro is at SG$ 1,348 — a difference of SG$ 350.

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Huawei Mate 20 series first to have Nano Memory Card

Could this become a trend?

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Aside from introducing a host of flagship features to the freshly minted Mate 20 series, Huawei also introduced a new memory card standard, simply named Nano Memory Card.

It’s available on both the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, and it effectively replaces the microSD slot we’ve become so accustomed to. The question is: What’s so special about it?

The simplest answer is that it has the same size as the nano-SIM card inside any smartphone today. Because of the identical dimensions, the secondary card slot doesn’t have to be designed differently, like what has been done for microSD cards.

In the case of the Mate 20 series, the removable card tray has back-to-back slots: one for the nano-SIM, and the other for either another nano-SIM or separate Nano Memory Card.

As of writing, Huawei will be offering 128GB and 256GB NM Cards, with speeds of up to 90MB/s. They’re hoping it’ll become the new standard, and are producing adapters for additional compatibility.

It’s certainly a more efficient way of adding physical storage to a handset, and allows manufactures like Huawei to use the saved space for other features, like a large battery.

Looking ahead, it seems only logical for other smartphone brands to follow suit, but that would mean consumers would have to buy into a whole new standard and let go of their microSD cards.

The same thing happened with the introduction of the USB-C port, wherein users had to replace their micro-USB cables for the newer, more intuitive system. It’s been a gradual process, but definitely rewarding.

It’ll take a while before we find out if this will become a trend, but for now, we should appreciate Huawei’s courage in taking the first, big step.

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