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Xiaomi Mi 9 SE: The first Snapdragon 712-powered smartphone

The new Xiaomi midrange star

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Alongside the launch of the Mi 9, Xiaomi unveiled the Mi 9 SE. Like its predecessor, the Mi 9 SE is a step below the main flagship offering, but it’s a star on its own. It borrows the looks of the Mi 9 with some changes to meet its price point.

The Mi 9 SE is the first phone in the world to sport the new Snapdragon 712 chipset, the slightly faster version of the Snapdragon 710. The new processor is paired with 6GB of memory and up to 128GB of internal storage.

Much like the Mi 8 SE from last year, Xiaomi has a strong midrange contender here. It’s also just a bit smaller than the Mi 9 with its 5.97-inch AMOLED display and a waterdrop notch.

You might forget that the Mi 9 SE is below the Mi 9 because Xiaomi still gave it triple rear cameras. It has a main 48-megapixel sensor, a 13-megapixel super wide-angle lens, and an 8-megapixel telephoto shooter.

To complete the camera department, it has a 20-megapixel front camera for taking selfies. Of course, the cameras are powered by AI and have beauty filters to boot.

A 3070mAh battery powers the Mi 9 SE and it quickly charges through the phone’s USB-C port using an 18W fast charger. The phone has an in-display fingerprint reader as well, just like the more expensive phones out there.

The phone will come in shades of blue, violet, and black starting at CNY 1,999 (US$ 300) and will go as high as CNY 2,299 (US$ 340) in China.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi Mi 9 beats iPhone XS Max and Galaxy Note 9 on DxOMark

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Next Xiaomi phone will reportedly have a 120x zoom camera

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Smartphones cameras are absolutely brutish nowadays. Whether to capture a picturesque landscape, to record a fast-paced basketball game, or to gaze lovingly at all your pores, today’s smartphones can already replace our professional cameras in all but the most rigorous of photoshoots. Every year, the industry pushes the boundaries even further into unbelievable levels. What else can a smartphone camera accomplish?

According to Xiaomishka, a Xiaomi-focused outlet, Xiaomi is working on the next level of smartphone cameras. Codenamed the “CAS,” an upcoming device will reportedly sport a 108-megapixel camera, capable of up to 12x optical zoom and 120x digital zoom.

Of course, this isn’t the first time a smartphone crossed the 100x digital zoom barrier. Earlier this year, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra pushed a similar camera with up to 100x digital zoom. Based on our own tests, the periscope lens is a beast, capturing sights from kilometers away. We can only assume what Xiaomi’s upcoming project can do.

To deflate the hype a bit, a camera’s digital zoom does not accurately represent its actual capabilities. At maximum digital zoom, photos are usually blurry messes. If you want crisper photos, maximize optical zoom. Though the upcoming Xiaomi device’s 12x optical zoom pales in comparison to the digital zoom, it is still one of the more powerful devices to come out.

Inside, the smartphone will reportedly carry a Snapdragon 775G chipset. It is also rumored to follow the Mi CC9 series, which also touted a revolutionary smartphone camera setup last year. The Xiaomi “CAS” will likely debut sometime in July.

SEE ALSO: Mi CC9 Pro Premium Edition has the best cameras on a phone

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Google sued for tracking Chrome users in Incognito Mode

Incognito Mode is not really private browsing after all

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Over the years, Google has been increasingly scrutinized by the government and public sector for its tracking activities. The latest lawsuit filed in California sheds light on the company’s tracking reach. It alleges that the company misleads Chrome users and continues to track their activities even in Incognito Mode.

A law firm from California — Boies Schiller & Flexner — filed the lawsuit with an aim to seek a minimum of US$ 5 billion in damages. The lawsuit alleges that Google intentionally deceived its users who browse in Incognito Mode by continuing to track their activities even when it is supposed to be “private”.

However, there’s also a chance that the lawsuit may not succeed at all. A Google spokesperson has stated in reply that third parties can still gather any browsing data even when in Incognito Mode. As a matter of fact, there’s a disclaimer warning a user that Incognito Mode is not foolproof, and states that any browsing activity might still be visible to third parties, employers, or service providers.

Incognito Mode is not really private at all

By default, Chrome in Incognito Mode doesn’t store your browsing history, cookies, and form information. These browsing data tell a lot about the user and keeps them signed in on most sites too.

However, most websites by now also rely on other data to build a profile of its users. Ads and other tracking elements enable third parties to gather data on website visitors. Websites can even gather real-time device information like geolocation and IP addresses. As such, third parties can still infer your browsing activity even in Incognito Mode.

There are many ways to circumvent third-party tracking. One easy way is to use an ad-blocking browser extension that blocks ads and other tracking elements. Other ways include using a much secure browser like Brave, Firefox, and Tor.

As for Google Chrome users, they can only hope that Google changes its course and make the Incognito Mode more private. After all, the company earns a majority of its revenue through ads that track users. Making an Incognito Mode that really blocks ads and other tracking elements will somehow affect their revenue, considering that Chrome is the most popular browser in the world right now.

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Facebook starts labeling which media outlets are paid by governments

Indicated in the Page Transparency section

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Facebook has a troubling content problem. For the past few days, the ubiquitous social media network has faced tremendous backlash for its lack of moderation towards political but factually ambiguous posts. Current Facebook employees have even virtually protested against Mark Zuckerberg’s stance on moderation, especially in light of the ongoing Black Lives Matters happening across America.

While the George Floyd issue rolls on, Facebook is attacking the content moderation issue from another angle. Today, the company has started putting official labels on state-controlled media outlets.

Especially after the 2016 presidential elections in America, Facebook faced the possibility that state-backed media could control the global conversation and pave the way for a candidate of their choice. To prevent that controversy from happening again in this year’s elections, the company promised to update current policies to protect against state intervention last year. Today, the update is finally rolling out.

Facebook will start displaying the label under the Page Transparency section wherein pages will indicate which governments are backing their content. For transparency, the company has revealed how it will determine outlets that will need the label. Critically, it won’t apply to outlets based solely on financial support. Instead, Facebook will consider the outlet’s mission statement, ownership, and editorial independence from backers. If an outlet fails the independence test, it can appeal its status by proving its internal measures to prevent state interference.

Though too late to affect the results of the 2016 presidential elections, the measure will hopefully safeguard the 2020 elections and any others after that.

SEE ALSO: Facebook adds new tool to help you delete your cringey posts easily

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