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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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YouTube Premiere adds new tools for more interactive experience

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New Delhi, Dec 3 : YouTube has announced new features namely Live Redirect, Trailers, and Countdown Themes specifically designed to make its Premieres service more exciting.

“Since March 1, 2020, we have seen over 85 per cent growth in daily Premieres from over 8 million channels. And over 80 per cent of these channels had never before used Premieres. We want to continue enabling these real-time, communal experiences now more than ever. That’s why we are launching three new features to help creators,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

The first, Live Redirect, allows creators to livestream a pre-show before they release a new video and then automatically redirect viewers to their Premiere right before it starts. YouTube has been testing this feature for a couple of months.

Next, Trailers will allow users to upload a pre-recorded hype video that will be played on the watch page in advance of the Premiere. With the option to range from 15 seconds to 3 minutes in duration, it will help create an even more compelling experience and encourage viewers to set a reminder to tune into the Premiere.

Lastly, YouTube also announced the ability to set Countdown themes as a way to build excitement among the viewers. YouTube will offer a wide range of themes, vibes, and moods to choose from, such as calm, playful, dramatic and sporty, etc.

Live Redirect and Trailers have started rolling out to eligible creators starting today, and Countdown Themes will be available in the coming months.

“We can’t wait to see the new ways these features bring us together, giving your audience a front-row seat to your next Premiere. Give them a try and let us know what you think,” the company added.

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Some iPhone 12 series units losing LTE, 5G service: Report

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iPhone 8
CUPERTINO (U.S.), Sept. 12, 2017 (Xinhua) -- Security personnel are seen inside Apple Park as a special event is CUPERTINO (U.S.), Sept. 12, 2017 (Xinhua) -- Phil Schiller, Apple's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, introduces new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus during a special event in Cupertino, California, the United States on Sept. 12, 2017. Apple Inc. released a series of new products and services in Cupertino on Tuesday. (Xinhua/IANS)

Since the end of October, a few hundred users have taken yo Apple’s forums to report that their iPhone 12 (with reports seemingly covering all fourmodels) drops the cellular connection on 5G and 4G networks. This seems to be happening more often with Verizon and AT&T users but T-Mobile clients experience the issue too.

Multiple reports arise of iPhone 12-series losing LTE and 5G service

A separate Reddit thread has been created just for this and owners of iPhone 12 say that this happens mostly while they are traveling by car. The workaround, for now, is to turn on the airplane mode on and off again. One of the commenters said that he was able to reach one of the PR execs and he confirmed that Apple is aware of the issue and is currently investigating. Perhaps a fix is on its way.

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UK bans installation of Huawei 5G telecom gear from Sep 2021

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated Chinese telecom companies, Huawei and ZTE, as national security risks to America’s communications networks.

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Huawei Technologies

London: The UK government announced on Monday that the Chinese telecom giant Huawei will not be able to install its 5G equipments in the country from September 2021.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said that as per its earlier decision, the UK carriers will no longer be able to install Huawei equipment beginning September 2021.

The UK government has laid out a roadmap for removing all telecoms equipment made by “high risk vendors,” including Huawei, from the country’s 5G network by 2027, reports CNET.

In July this year, the UK government had announced a ban on the purchase of new Huawei kits for 5G from next year and said that the Chinese telecom giant’s equipment will be completely removed from 5G networks by the end of 2027.

The telecoms operators have seven years to remove its existing technology from their 5G infrastructure at an expected cost of 2 billion pounds.

The decision came following new advice produced by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) on the impact of US sanctions against the telecommunications vendor.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated Chinese telecom companies, Huawei and ZTE, as national security risks to America’s communications networks.

In a U-turn, the UK government that earlier allowed Huawei to sell its 5G technology in the country, signalled a tougher stand against the Chinese telecom giant.

Huawei called the decision “bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone”.

Struggling to keep its consumer business afloat in the wake of the US sanctions, Huawei this month announced to sell off its Honor smartphone business assets to China-based Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology Co Ltd.

The company said that the sale — which could be around $15 billion according to multiple reports — will help Honor’s channel sellers and suppliers make it through this difficult time.

Honor smartphones have been hit by US sanctions that prevent Huawei from doing business with the US companies.

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