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Mi Mix 2: Good design language but an underperforming camera

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Tech Review:

New Delhi, Oct 31 : Smartphones with bezel-less screens have become one of the biggest trends this year with handset majors like Samsung, Apple, LG and Micromax turning to displays with 18:9 aspect ratio for an immersive viewing experience.

But it was Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi that started the buzz last year with Mi Mix — the first Android smartphone to ditch thick bezels and the traditional aspect ratio of 16:9.

Mi Mix was introduced as a concept phone, and this year the company has taken a step further with the introduction of Mi Mix 2 that has a premium design language and refined ergonomics.

The Rs 35,999 smartphone falls in the “affordable flagship” category and is being seen as the company’s attempt to break away from its usual “value-for-money” image.

How does it fare when it comes to real-world performance? Let’s see.

At the first glance, Mi Mix 2 impresses with its ceramic body and premium looks. The frame is made of 7-series aluminium alloy that renders a sturdy feel, appears to be strong enough to withstand a few falls.

The ceramic back has a glossy finish and catches light that makes it look incredible. In fact, it is the only mainstream ceramic smartphone that competes with Android co-creator Andy Rubin’s “Essential” phone which is not yet available in India.

The 5.99-inch IPS display has good brightness levels that helps lessen the reflective nature of the glass.

Moreover, the Corning Gorilla Glass 4 on the front, an 18K gold-plated camera ring and gold-coloured “Mix designed by Xiaomi” branding at the rear makes the device stand out in the crowd.

Mi Mix 2’s primary 12MP camera equipped with Sony IMX386 sensor is the same that comes with the company’s flagship Mi 6 smartphone.

The rear shooter with an f/2.0 aperture, phase detection auto-focus (PDAF) and dual LED flash captured good photos, with enough details in proper light only.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset with 6GB RAM that results in smooth performance.

Xiaomi’s custom user interface (UI) MIUI 8 based on Android Nougat 7.1.2 is decent enough. However, fans of stock Android operating system (OS) may dislike the interface because it has slightly larger square icons for apps and customisation is limited.

In addition to impressive looks, we found the smartphone’s battery life to be among the best.

The phone runs a 3,400mAh battery but there is almost zero battery drain when the device is idle, unlike many flagship phones out there.

Having said that, we also did not notice the smartphone getting heated up during browsing or while running multiple applications in the background.

The battery lasted a little over a day on moderate usage which should appeal to most users.

What does not work?

Unlike what we had expected, there was noticeable distortion in the images in low-light conditions and inconsistent ambient lighting.

The location of 5MP front camera is rather awkward as it has been moved down to the chin of the device. It is capable of taking selfies that are not up to the mark.

Conclusion: Mi Mix 2 is a good attempt by Xiaomi to break away from its usual “budget smartphone brand” image. The smartphone has an appealing ceramic body phone and offers good battery life. However, smartphones such as OnePlus 5 and Honor 8 Pro easily outperform it in terms of camera performance.

IANS

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‘Tech giants must spend real money on media literacy in India’

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New Delhi, Sep 22: To ensure smartphones remain a force for good, device makers need to spend some “real money” on media literacy in India so that people can take full advantage of the new technologies and learn to distinguish what messages to believe and what not, says the author of a new book on how the smartphone is changing the country.

“Media literacy should ideally start from elementary level in schools,” Ravi Agrawal, author of “India Connected: How the Smartphone Is Transforming the World’s Largest Democracy” told a gathering at The American Center here on Friday.

In the absence of such education, there could be misuse of technology, as evidenced by several cases of lynching incidents in India linked to rumours spread on WhatsApp, he said, while participating in a discussion on the impact of smartphones and the Internet on the Indian economy and society.

“Smartphones are doing to India what the automobiles did to America about a century ago. In fact, the power of smartphonoes in changing the lives of Indians has been stronger than that of automobiles and electricity,” said Agrawal, who is also the Managing Editor of Foreign Policy magazine.

While smartphones have opened new doors of opportunities for millions of people in India, the transformative power of the device has not always been for good, he pointed out.

“There have been intense discussions in the developed countries on how smartphones have driven screen addiction among teenagers which has been linked to depression and other mental health issues. But such discussions are missing in India,” he said, highlighting how the country is ill-prepared to deal with the adverse effects of technology.

Agrawal’s book, published by the Oxford University Press, has three parts: Opportunity, Society and the State.

“While the smartphone has unleashed many positive changes, it has not been so successful in breaking the barriers of class and caste in connecting Indians to their fellow countrymen,” said Agrawal who worked as CNN’s New Delhi Bureau Chief and Correspondent before joining Foreign Policy.

With 481 million Internet users (as of December 2017), India has the second highest Internet user base in the world after China, according to a report by not-for-profit industry body Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

Most of the people in India access the Internet through their smartphones.

IANS

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Samsung launches 2 smartphones in 2 Galaxy J series

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Gurugram, Sep 22: Refreshing its budget J series, Samsung India on Saturday launched Galaxy J4+ and J6+ for Rs 10,990 and Rs 15,990, respectively.

Galaxy J6+ and Galaxy J4+ with glass-finish design and Dolby Atmos will be available from September 25 on retail outlets, Amazon, Flipkart and Samsung Shop.

“Galaxy J series is India’s most popular smartphone series, making up almost a third of all smartphones sold in India. We are making the J series even more exciting by introducing side fingerprint, emotify, glass finish and new reflective colours,” Mohandeep Singh, Senior Vice President, Mobile Business, Samsung India, said in a statement.

Galaxy J6+ is equipped with 4GB RAM + 64GB storage while Galaxy J4+ comes with 2GB RAM + 32GB ROM.

Both the smartphones are powered by a 3,300mAh battery and run Android Oreo operating system (OS).

Both Galaxy J6+ and J4+ offer true HD experience as they have L1 Widevine certification. This, coupled with Dolby Atmos, enables consumers to enjoy a full 360 degree surround-sound experience.

Galaxy J6+ comes with “Side Fingerprint” sensor — a first for any Galaxy device — which unlocks the phone in the most secure manner.

Galaxy J6+ comes with 13MP+5MP dual rear camera and an 8MP front camera while the Galaxy J4+ sports a 13MP rear and a 5MP front camera.

The new smartphones come with true HD+ infinity design that gives users nearly 15 per cent more display area without increasing the overall size of the device, the company claimed.

Both devices are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor.

IANS

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Google still allowing third-party apps read your Gmail: Report

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Washington, Sep 21: After facing a backlash over reports in July that third-party app developers can read your Gmail, Google has once again defended its policy to allow third-party apps to access and share data from Gmail accounts.

According to a CNNMoney report on Thursday, Gmail lets third-party developers integrate services into its email platform.

“Developers may share data with third parties so long as they are transparent with the users about how they are using the data,” said the report, quoting from a Google letter sent to the US Senators.

Google also makes “the privacy policy easily accessible to users to review before deciding whether to grant access”, said Susan Molinari, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs for the Americas at Google, in the letter.

The Wall Street Journal reported in July that despite assuring users to “remain confident that Google will keep privacy and security paramount”, the search giant is still allowing third-party app developers scan through Gmail accounts.

Gmail has nearly 1.4 billion users globally — more users than the next 25 largest email providers combined.

Later, Google said in a blog post that the company is continuously vetting developers and their apps that integrate with Gmail before it opens them for general access.

According to Google, it gives both enterprise admins and individual consumers transparency and control over how their data is used.

“We make it possible for applications from other developers to integrate with Gmail — like email clients, trip planners and customer relationship management (CRM) systems — so that you have options around how you access and use your email,” said Suzanne Frey, Director, Security, Trust and Privacy, Google Cloud.

Before a published, non-Google app can access your Gmail messages, it goes through a multi-step review process at the company, it said.

“It includes automated and manual review of the developer, assessment of the app’s privacy policy and homepage to ensure it is a legitimate app, and in-app testing to ensure the app works as it says it does,” Frey noted.

In 2017, Google had said its computers will soon stop reading the emails of its Gmail users to personalise their ads.

IANS

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