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Vivo brings in high-end Xplay 6, midrange X9 and X9 Plus

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Vivo Xplay 6

Vivo has really stepped up its game this week. After releasing the V5 in India a couple of days ago, the Chinese manufacturer went back to its home country to launch its new flagship Xplay 6, along with two additions to the X series.

This has to be the company’s answer to pressure forged by rivals Xiaomi and Huawei after they came out with some of the most impressive hardware we’ve seen this year. Vivo can rest easy with its second-place ranking in China, but there’s no telling when the tides could shift to another brand’s favor — just ask former top-ranker Xiaomi.

[irp posts=”7758″ name=”Vivo V5 with 20MP front camera launched in India”]

The Xplay 6, in particular, is no joke. Although it imitates a lot of the established ideas from fellow Chinese flagships, the price competes with Google’s Pixel phones at a bewildering CNY 4,498; that’s $655, seriously!

What makes this smartphone so special? Looking down the feature list, there’s nothing out of this world if you’re updated on the latest mobile tech.

Vivo Xplay 6 rose gold

Vivo Xplay 6 in rose gold

Standing out the most is the curved 5.46-inch Quad HD AMOLED display, which is something you’d find on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. But the Xplay 6’s advantage over its Korean counterpart is the use of 6GB of memory and a larger 4080mAh battery with built-in fast charging.

There’s also the inclusion of smartphone technology’s latest trending feature: a dual-camera setup. With a pair of 12- and 5-megapixel rear cameras, the former does the photo taking with the help of optical image stabilization, while the latter provides depth information to produce sharper subjects with blurred-out backgrounds.

Curiously, Vivo decided to go with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor instead of the newer 821. Reminds us of what HTC had done earlier with the Bolt. The Android version is also stuck at 6.0 Marshmallow, and not the much maturer 7.0 Nougat.

Vivo Xplay 6 gold

Vivo Xplay 6 in gold

Even if you consider the full-metal body, fingerprint scanner in front, and super-cool rose gold color, the Xplay 6 is a tough sell. You can purchase it beginning December 12, if you really must.

And then we have the X9 and X9 Plus, which fit between the lower-end V5 and premium Xplay 6. The 5.5-inch X9 retails at CNY 2,798 ($407) for the 64GB storage variant, and the 128GB storage option goes for CNY 2,998 ($436); both are already available for pre-order. No details have been revealed for the 5.88-inch X9 Plus.

The X9 and X9 Plus have one thing in common, and that’s the dual-front-facing cameras. One is 20 megapixels in resolution, and the other has an 8-megapixel image sensor for depth info, just like the rear camera setup of the Xplay 6. Both have a plain 16-megapixel shooter at the back.

Vivo X9 rose gold

Vivo X9 in rose gold

Other than that, you can already spell out what else they offer. The smaller X9 has a midrange Snapdragon 625 processor, 4GB of memory, and 3050mAh battery. As for the larger X9 Plus, it has a faster Snapdragon 653 chipset, 6GB of memory, and 4000mAh capacity for its battery.

If all these sound too expensive for you, you can always look down the pricing ladder towards the Vivo Y55. It got our thumbs up in both its full review and our best budget phones list, plus it costs only $165.

[irp posts=”7340″ name=”Vivo Y55 unboxing and review”]

Sources: Fone Arena, (2)

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A new iMessage feature alerts you of any government spies

Anyone can use it

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Do you have an irrational fear of government hackers spying on your text messages? If you do, Apple has a new feature to help alleviate your phobia. Starting today, users can opt into the new iMessage Contact Key Verification feature, a security measure designed to prevent any unwanted snooping on your messages.

If it sounds too specific, it’s because Apple designed the feature for those who face “extraordinary digital threats,” like journalists and politicians. Naturally, this subset of the population can benefit from keeping their conversations away from snoopers (which includes, according to Apple, state-sponsored attackers). However, there’s no denying that the feature is also a boon to users who want an extra layer of protection for their messaging needs.

To use the feature, both the sender and the receiver need to have the option turned on while using their device. On a more basic level, the device will alert both users if an unexpected party suddenly crashes and enters the encrypted conversation. A more advanced level even allows iMessage users to compare verification codes, ensuring that both parties are indeed talking to whomever they intend to talk to.

While most users might not find a lot of use for an exorbitant amount of protection against hackers, it’s a step in the right direction for total message encryption. Despite some significant hiccups, Apple remains focused on bringing encryption to its users.

SEE ALSO: Apple is tracking users even with settings turned off

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Gaming

Microsoft is being prevented from buying Activision Blizzard

Sued by the FTC

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The year started off with a bang. Microsoft, already a respectable name in the gaming industry by itself, announced the impending acquisition of Activision Blizzard for US$ 68.7 billion. Perhaps it’s fitting that the year will end right back where it started. The FTC is officially suing Microsoft to block the monumental purchase from going through.

Announced today, the United States’ FTC (or Federal Trade Commission) has filed a legal claim against Microsoft, stating that the acquisition will allow the company to suppress competition between its rivals in the gaming industry. The commission believes that it has enough to effectively block the purchase. Allowing Microsoft to go through with the purchase will supposedly enable the company to prevent Activision Blizzard’s titles — including the Call of Duty franchise — from coming out easily on other platforms.

Since the announcement of the acquisition, Activision Blizzard has gone through a rocky year. The company had its dirty laundry aired out: a plethora of disagreeable practices from within the company. Exacerbated by the rocky launches of Diablo Immortal and Overwatch 2, it’s not exactly a stellar year for the company.

In fact, it’s not a good year for monopolistic practices either. Recently, Ticketmaster found itself under the microscope after a massive kerfuffle preventing Taylor Swift fans from purchasing tickets to the star’s upcoming concert.

While the deal between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard is still up in the air, it seems company acquisitions aren’t as easy as this year has made them out to be.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft announces a modular Adaptive Mouse

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Google is merging Waze with Google Maps

Apps will remain separate

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It’s not a secret. Google owns both Google Maps and Waze. Though both certainly come with their own pros and cons, using either app can boil down to a matter of preference, especially in driving cities. Starting soon, the two might even look more alike. Google is merging the teams of Google Maps and Waze together.

Since acquiring Waze in 2013, Google has kept the app’s development separate from Google Maps. Even knowing this face, it’s hard to draw comparisons between the two. They felt like separate products, and they were.

Now, as announced today (via Wall Street Journal), Google will merge Waze’s team (which consists of over 500 employees) with the larger team that oversees Maps, Earth, and Street View. While there are no plans to lay off any employees, incumbent Waze CEO Neha Parikh is expected to leave the company after the merger.

Though a merger might spell the end for Waze, Google remains committed to keeping its own services separate from each other. However, by merging the teams, the company can reduce a lot of redundant work that the two teams have in common.

From a more generalized standpoint, Google Maps and Waze are incredibly distinct apps. While the latter focuses more of directions for drivers, Google Maps offers a grander sweep of directions for all travelers including those who prefer to walk or take public transportation.

SEE ALSO: Google Maps introduces a new way to be a tourist

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