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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)

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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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Nokia 7.1: HMD Global nearly perfects this one

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Nokia 7.1

New Delhi, Dec 15: HMD Global, the Finnish company that manufactures and markets the iconic Nokia-branded phones, has launched devices in India at a steady pace this year.

Its mid-priced smartphones, including the Nokia 7 Plus that was launched in April, were received fairly well in the highly-competitive Indian smartphone landscape.

The handset maker’s focus has been on manufacturing value-for-money devices for the price-conscious Indian buyers with good hardware and neat Android One experience.

Its latest offering, the Nokia 7.1 Plus, is a new mid-ranger that comes in a single configuration of 4GB RAM with 64GB on-board storage for Rs 19,999.

The device is the first to feature “PureDisplay” screen technology for HDR10 cinematic-quality entertainment.

Here’s how the Nokia 7.1 fared in real-life usage.

Talking about its biggest USP — “PureDisplay” screen technology that enables HDR10 support on the display — indeed translated into deeper contrast and vivid colours on supported applications.

HDR10 essentially converts SD content into HDR content on supported apps.

The full HD+ 5.84-inch screen with 19:9 aspect ratio was the best feature of the smartphone.

However, the smartphone doesn’t compromise on design either, which was clearly visible as soon as we picked it up; the aluminium frame laid over glass rendered an appealing design to the phone.

Our gloss midnight blue review unit looked beautiful when held up in light. However, the glass back also meant the phone becomes a fingerprint magnet.

Despite the use of glass in the front and back, the phone felt every bit solid in our hands.

In the middle sits a vertically stacked dual-lens camera set-up while the fingerprint sensor sits just below it.

Talking about the front of the phone, there’s a notch, though it was smaller than many other handsets, thus giving us ample space to either side for the status bar.

The addition of a standard 3.5-mm headphone jack and futuristic USB type-C fast-charging surely were added bonuses.

The rear camera set-up includes a main 12MP sensor with an f/1.8 aperture, and a secondary 5MP lens. The ZEISS tuned camera let us take some pretty good pictures with enough details and good dynamic range. We particularly liked how the shooter handled close-up shots.

Low-light imaging was satisfactory and at par with most smartphones in the same price segment. There’s an 8MP lens in the front for selfies that also supports the much-talked about portrait-style Bokeh effect.

Thanks to Android One, this is an easy to understand device sans any bloatware which also means there are no unnecessary apps.

There’s a Qualcomm SnapDragon 636 system on chip (SoC) on-board which certainly isn’t a flagship chipset. However, the handset handled most tasks, including browsing multiple social media accounts and videos pretty smoothly.

What doesn’t work?

The 3060mAh battery is typically average and would barely last a day on a single charge. We also noticed the phone was performing a bit sluggishly on certain occasions that included heavy gaming.

Conclusion: The Nokia 7.1 stands out in this price segment, courtesy its design language. The sleek, glass sandwich design is to be considered and so does the neat Android One experience.

By Krishna SinhaChaudhury

(Krishna SinhaChaudhury can be contacted at [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>)</mailto:[email protected]>

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Pre-order Microsoft Surface Go now on Flipkart in India

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New Delhi, Dec 15: With an aim to take on the Apple iPad Pro and Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, Microsoft on Saturday brought its smallest and affordable Surface Go device to India, starting at a price of Rs 38,599.

Weighing at just 1.15 pounds and 8.3 mm thin, the 10-inch, two-in-one device is now available for pre-order with Flipkart, the company said in a statement.

The Surface Go with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage will cost Rs 38,599 while the 8GB RAM and 128GB variant can be purchased for Rs 50,999.

The Surface Go type cover (black) will cost an additional Rs 8,699 and the signature type cover (colour) will cost Rs 11,799.

Microsoft launched the Surface Go globally earlier this year.

The 2-in-1 device comes with the Surface Pen — with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and a 3:2 high-resolution “PixelSense” custom calibrated display designed to render the pages of most school textbooks.

Powered by the 7th Generation Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4415Y and protected by Gorilla Glass 3, the device offers up to nine hours of battery life.

Surface Go also has several ports for various needs, including Surface Connect for charging and docking, USB-C 3.1 for data, video, and charging, a headphone jack and a MicroSD card reader for storage expansion.

For users who require connectivity via video calls, the Surface Go features a 5-MP HD camera and rear auto-focus 8MP HD camera, along with dual microphones.

“Commercial customers can opt for Windows 10 Pro which brings essential business security features to protect devices and infrastructure from modern threats,” said Microsoft.

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6.8 million users possibly affected by latest photo bug: Facebook

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San Francisco, Dec 15: US top social media network Facebook admitted that about 6.8 million users may risk their private photos being exposed to third-party apps.

The company on Friday said more than 1,500 apps built by 876 developers may have also been affected by the bug that exposed users’ unshared photos during a 12-day-period from Sept. 13 to Sept 25, Xinhua news agency reported.

Facebook said it has fixed the breach and will roll out next week “tools for app developers that will allow them to determine which people using their app might be impacted by this bug.”

Those affected by the bug were apps “that Facebook approved to access the photos API and that individuals had authorized to access their photos,” Facebook added. The bug allowed those apps to see pictures of Facebook users that they were not granted access to.

Facebook said it will give its users notification about the possible exposure of their private photos, and that it will be working with developers to delete those copies of photos from impacted users.

The disclosure is another example of Facebook’s failure to properly protect users’ privacy that may drew more criticism of its privacy policy.

The world’s largest social media network has been grilled over the past year for its mishandling of user data, including its involvement in a privacy scandal in March when Cambridge Analytica, a British political consultancy firm, was accused of illegally accessing the data of more than 87 million Facebook users without their consent.

The private information of Facebook users was alleged to be used to influence the U.S. 2016 general elections in favor of President Donald Trump’s campaign.

Last month, Facebook announced that up to 50 million users could have their accounts controlled by hackers due to a security bug that its CEO Mark Zuckerberg called “very serious.”

IANS

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