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Google Pixel 2 XL: Promising flagship device with stunning camera

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Google Pixel 2 XL
Pixel 2 XL. (File Photo: IANS)

Tech Review

New Delhi, Nov 9 : As Google joined race in the premium smartphone segment by launching Pixel last year, Apple and Samsung, the two segment leaders, took immediate note of it.

The fight was no more between the two traditional arch rivals as Google entered the arena after bidding adieu to its Nexus line-up in favour of Pixel smartphones that it designed, developed and marketed on its own.

The first Pixel devices created a ripple in the market. Now, the tech giant has launched the second edition of the Pixel line-up and we got the bigger sibling — the Pixel 2 XL — for review.

At the starting price of Rs 73,000 (64GB variant), the device is set to give some tough competition to iPhone 8 Plus. Let’s see how.

Pixel 2 XL’s build and appearance will impress you the moment you hold it. Google has served up a metal unibody smartphone with a soft matte finish that makes the device extremely ergonomic. This is something all-glass and metal body phones lack these days.

The matte finish also ensures the device remains free of fingerprint smudges. This feature is, however, subjective and some might find it a bit “plasticky”.

Pixel 2 XL joins the bandwagon of bezel-less display smartphones and hence has a taller-than-wider frame to accommodate a 6-inch 18:9 screen in a smaller frame and has almost 76.5 per cent screen-to-body ratio.

However, this is not a flagship with the slimmest bezel as LG has fitted Pixel 2 XL with front-firing stereo speakers which is a refreshing change from usual bottom firing ones.

A major high point as well as the best feature is Pixel 2 XL’s camera. It doesn’t house a dual-sensor like Apple iPhone 8 Plus, but the single camera lens outperforms many flagship devices out there in the market.

There is a 12MP primary sensor and an 8MP fixed-focus selfie camera.

The rear shooter has been upgraded with a brighter f/1.8 aperture and optical stabilisation (OIS), as well as electronic stabilisation, resulting in detailed images with crisp colour reproduction and accurate tones.

Focusing on a subject happened in a snap and there was literally no shutter lag for us.

Low-light photography was pretty impressive albeit with a slight decrease in the focus speed.

It’s also interesting to see how the primary camera’s portrait mode churns out great images with blurred background sans dual sensors.

The front shooter too is capable of producing quality selfies and portrait shots.

We especially liked the hefty 3520mAh battery that enabled us to get a day-and-a-half usage on a single charge. It really took power-intensive tasks for us to drain the battery on this device.

Apart from unlocking the device in a snap, the fingerprint sensor on Pixel 2 XL can also be used to access the notification panel with a swipe down.

“Google Lens” uses machine learning (ML) capabilities to recognise places, objects and streets, etc, from the clicked images to give more information about them.

What does not work?

On the most-talked about “blue tint” issue, we did notice it the moment we tilted the phone at different angles. Also, the colours look a little washed out when compared to flagships like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

However, Google has promised to fix the issue via an update in the coming weeks.

We did not find the screen “burn-in” issue that some early users had reported during a week-long use.

The pressure sensors on the lower edges of the device activate Google Assistant which is similar to what we saw on HTC U11.

It is a bit disappointing to see it fire up only Google Assistant and silence incoming phone calls. However, the user can change the intensity of pressure to avoid activating it while pulling it out of pocket.

Conclusion: A great camera, timely updates and security patches (which other OEMs tend to miss), a plain understated design language, stock Android Oreo Operating System (OS) and top-notch Snapdragon 835 chipset make the device a promising, power-packed flagship over iPhone 8 Plus.

IANS

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Elon Musk quits OpenAI group to avoid conflict with Tesla

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Elon Musk (File Photo)

 San Francisco, Feb 23: SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has quit the board of OpenAI, a non-profit artificial intelligence (AI) research company he co-founded that aims to promote and develop friendly AI that benefits the humanity.

“Elon Musk will depart the OpenAI Board but will continue to donate and advise the organisation. As Tesla continues to become more focused on AI, this will eliminate a potential future conflict for Elon,” the research group said in a blog post on Thursday, welcoming some new donors.

In 2014, Musk said AI was humanity’s biggest existential threat later adding that the United Nations needed to act to prevent a killer robot arms race.

OpenAI has fast become a significant voice in the global machine learning community.

Its research has been wide-ranging, including teaching computers to control robots with minimal instruction and the creation of AI agents to play popular video game Dota.

OpenAI recently contributed to the “Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence” report, which warned AI was ripe for exploitation by rogue states, criminals and terrorists.

Drones turned into missiles, fake videos manipulating public opinion and automated hacking are just three of the threats from artificial intelligence in the wrong hands, experts said in the report.

They said that those designing AI systems need to do more to mitigate possible misuse of their technology and that governments must consider new laws to tackle such misuse.

IANS

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Airtel offers Rs 2,000 cashback on Motorola, Lenovo 4G device

As part of the offer, Moto C would be available for Rs 3,999, Moto E4 for 6,499 and Lenovo K8 Note for Rs 10,999.

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AIRTEL

New Delhi, Feb 23: As part of its “Mera Pehla Smartphone” initiative, Telecom services provider Bharti Airtel announced to offer a cashback of Rs 2,000 on select 4G Motorola and Lenovo smartphones.

Two popular 4G smartphones from Motorola — Moto C, Moto E4 and Lenovo K8 Note are available with the offer.

As part of the offer, Moto C would be available for Rs 3,999, Moto E4 for 6,499 and Lenovo K8 Note for Rs 10,999.

“We look forward to working with Motorola to bring smartphones within the reach of more and more customers,” Vani Venkatesh, Chief Marketing Officer, Bharti Airtel, said in a statement.

“It is a great opportunity for Airtel subscribers to upgrade to 4G and enjoy the meaningful experiences across Motorola & Lenovo smartphones,” added Sudhin Mathur, Managing Director, Motorola Mobility India and Lenovo MBG India.

IANS

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New iPhone app to aid heart attack survivors

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Corrie app

New York, Feb 23: A new iPhone-based app may help patients who survived a heart attack to maintain their health and reduce the number of hospital readmissions, according to a study.

The “Corrie” app is the first cardiology app for the Apple CareKit platform and is designed to help patients navigate the hospital discharge process by educating them about heart disease.

The app allows them to keep track of medications, follow-up appointments and lifestyle changes needed after a heart attack.

“We have found there are many gaps in care in patients recovering from a heart attack,” said lead author William Yang, from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, US.

“We wanted to engage patients in their own care, and help them transition from the hospital to home using existing technology,” Yang added.

Heart attack patients “may suddenly have new doctors and more medical visits, including cardiac rehab, and the app helps them track and centralise all those appointments”, he said.

The app helps patients to keep track of all their medications, including how much to take and at what time.

It also syncs with the Apple Watch to monitor heart rate and keep track of how much they are walking and with a Bluetooth blood pressure monitor.

Yang said the app has also proven useful to patients even while they were still in the hospital as it allows patients to store important medical information on the app.

The results were presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Cardiovascular Summit in Las Vegas.

IANS

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