|From: FJB||3/21/2018 11:04:23 AM|
Kotlin's killin' Java among Android devs
Java on Android is dying, and before long will be dominated by Kotlin, or so says a selective slice of developer data.
Realm, which offers a real-time database popular among mobile application makers, has crunched the numbers from its pool or 100,000 or so active developers.
The company on Tuesday published its findings, a habit it intends to repeat on a quarterly basis.
The figures aren't particularly relevant for the general pool of Java developers, which Oracle recently put at 12 million. But they suggest the Android ecosystem is undergoing rapid change.
Introduced in 2011 by JetBrains, known for its Integrated Development Environment (IDE) software, Kotlin only reached 1.0 last year. This year, it was endorsed by Google as a first-class language for Android development.
JetBrains says Kotlin is more concise than Java, requiring about 40 per cent fewer lines of code. It also says Kotlin is also more type-safe and supports functional programming constructs.
Among Android developers using either Java or Kotlin – and not other languages via Android NDK – 94.9 per cent used Java in September 2016 and 5.1 per cent used Kotlin.
A year later, the ratio has shifted to 85.7 per cent Java and 14.3 per cent Kotlin, a fairly sizable change.
"Since Google blessed Kotlin as an acceptable language on Android, which happened in May at Google I/O, Kotlin use has just exploded, " said Paul Kopacki, veep of marketing at Realm, in a phone interview with The Register. "We think by the end of next year, Kotlin will have eclipsed Java for Android apps."
According to Realm, 20 per cent of Android apps built with Java prior to Google I/O are being rewritten in Kotlin.
Kopacki said developers using Realm's database have shown significant interest in converting Java code to Kotlin.
Realm's report says Kotlin's traction is particularly strong in Germany, Japan and India, in that order, with the US in fourth place.
The Register checked in with Stack Overflow for data on Kotlin and was told that while there is indeed growing interest, it's still small compared to other languages. ®
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|From: FJB||4/25/2018 6:38:58 AM|
Huawei P20 Pro review: The best phone you'll never buy
87 Engadget Score
For the past few months, Huawei has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons — the US government warned against buying the company's phones, which led to the breakdown of near-final deals with AT&T and Verizon. Then Best Buy, one of its few US retail partners, backed away too. We're not sure if the concerns hold any weight, but one thing is clear: It sucks to be Huawei right now.
And in the midst of that turmoil, Huawei revealed its new P20 Pro, a remarkably well-built device with a triple camera system and loads of style. I doubt that would ever win over a Sinophobic bureaucrat though, so there's a strong chance no one in the US will ever be able to walk into a store and buy one. That's a shame because after using it as my daily driver for a while, I'm convinced it's one of Huawei's all-time best, and one of the year's great Android phones.
Engadget ScoreKeyProsStunning design and build quality2+ day battery life
Impressive Leica triple camera system
Solid performanceConsNot for sale in the USThe notch will bug some peopleNo headphone jackCamera’s Master AI can be overzealousSummaryHuawei is dealing with its fair share of trouble in the US, but that doesn't mean it forgot how to make a great phone. From build quality to design to camera performance, the P20 Pro is every bit a first-rate flagship smartphone. That doesn't mean it lacks quirks, though: the AI powering its ambitious triple camera is a little overzealous at times, and since it uses a chipset from last year, the P20 Pro isn't as outright fast as some devices we've recently tested. That said, its potent blend of style, solid software and a great camera experience make the P20 Pro one of the year's great Android phones.
Chris Velazco/EngadgetHardwareHuawei's build-quality has been top notch for some time now — just look at last year's P10 and the more recent Mate 10s. I'd argue style is just as important as overall build, though, and in that respect, the P20 Pro sits in a league of its own. No phone we've tested this year has turned as many heads on the streets of New York City. And that's all because of the fantastic Twilight finish. (There are also black, blue and pink gold models if those are more your speed.) You can't exactly call it subtle, but the glossy blue and purple gradient is unlike anything else you'll find on a smartphone, and I don't know that I can give it up.
That said, I've been using the P20 Pro for a few weeks and its body has started to pick up some pretty gnarly nicks. That's true of me and any phone with a mostly glass body, but what can I do? There's no phone that deserves to be obscured in a case less than this one.
The P20 Pro's back might grab all the attention, but there's a lot going on up front, too. Huawei went with a 6.1-inch OLED screen that runs at 2240x1080 — for those of you keeping track, that's a 18.7:9 aspect ratio, which means the screen is a little more than twice as tall as it is wide. 18:9 screens are much more common, but the company's decision here has ensured two things. First, the phone never feels unwieldy or uncomfortable. And more important, that slice of extra space up top offers some flexibility when it comes to the notch.
Yeah, yeah, the notch. Going off everything we've seen so far, it seems safe to call 2018 the year of the notched smartphone screen. The cutout here provides space for the earpiece and the 24-megapixel front camera, and after those first few moments, the notch is easily overlooked. If you hate them on principle, though, there's an option to obscure the notch entirely with a black bar -- since that leaves us with a standard 18:9 display, you'll still get to see everything you need to on-screen.
Chris Velazco/EngadgetOtherwise, the display doesn't leave us with much else to talk about. Colors were vivid and punchy, and despite being spoiled by 2K screens, I have few complaints. I do wish the screen was a bit brighter, though: It's finally starting to get nice in New York City, and the screen is sometimes tough to see in broad daylight.
A few more things worth pointing out: The P20 Pro is rated IP67 for water- and dust-resistance, and it survived a couple runs through the rain with no trouble. There's also no headphone jack, and while that's not as big as a deal as it was last year, it still stings. The pack-in earbuds are nicer than I expected, but the real surprise was the P20 Pro's main speaker — it can sound a little hollow, but it's among the loudest on a smartphone.
Huawei's Leica triple camera feels like a game-changer.The camerasAs handsome as the phone is, the P20's design isn't the star here — it's the insane Leica triple-camera system. At first, the idea of combining a 40-megapixel RGB camera, a 20-megapixel monochrome camera and an 8-megapixel telephoto camera seemed like overkill. Ultimately, the way these three come together is seriously special. Note the word "special," not "perfect". There are some shortcomings here, but I honestly cannot remember the last time I had this much fun shooting photos with a smartphone.
While the "Pro" moniker might suggest otherwise, you don't need to know your ISOs from your apertures to start capturing great images. (But there is a Pro mode with all usual fine-grained settings.) In general, the P20 Pro takes fantastic, detailed photos with great dynamic range even if you leave everything on Auto — the f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization on that main 40MP camera do a phenomenal job of sucking up light and keeping things crisp. Color accuracy is good too, even in lower light, thanks to the color-temperature sensor baked into the flash module. Note that while you have the option of shooting at that full, 40MP resolution, you're probably better off avoiding it because the sensor's very small pixels can't capture as much light. By default, that 40MP camera shoots at 10MP, and that's where the best results occur because the camera is pixel binning, or treating four pixels as one in the final photo.
The thing about the P20's camera is that you don't have to shoot alone -- you have an assistant called Master AI. Think of it as an artificially intelligent Auto mode: The company trained the Pro to identify different scenarios and adjust the camera's settings accordingly. After all, a photo of a sunset shouldn't be treated the same way as a portrait or an urban landscape.
The camera's great at recognizing faces, but sometimes struggles with other objects. Chris Velazco/EngadgetThe Master AI is on by default and it's impossible to miss. Let's say you're getting ready to shoot the New York City skyline. Once everything is lined up just right, a bubble might pop up indicating that the camera sees blue skies — it'll fire up the right preset and you'll suddenly see the buildings take on more contrast and the sky turn a more vibrant shade of blue. If you're just milling around with friends, on the other hand, pointing the camera at someone's face fires up Portrait mode. It's a lot like LG's approach to camera modes in the V30S ThinQ, except Huawei's version works much faster.
More often than not, I appreciated the help Huawei's camera AI gave me — it tended to paint the world around me in a more generous light. The Master AI's persistence raises an interesting question about the value of cameras, though: Should it just shoot what it sees or should it try to improve on objective reality? Just about every AI-chosen camera mode results in a photo of a flower or a sky or a plate of food that looks a little better than the real thing. For people constantly trying to show off the best versions of their lives, the P20 Pro is an incredible tool. Purists who'd rather see things just as they are, however, will be glad to know that the AI can be disabled. (By the way, Huawei, it would've been nice to be able to toggle it right from the viewfinder screen.)
Chris Velazco/EngadgetAnd just to be clear, the Master AI doesn't get everything right. In fact, sometimes it felt like a liability. I've taken my fair share of shots in bars and at the local Engadget karaoke dive, and the camera often defaulted to portrait mode when I pointed it at someone, even when there wasn't enough light. In those cases, I would've prefered the AI just keep to itself completely. Because it didn't, those accidental portraits came out soft and unsatisfying. The camera AI also offers different presets for "flowers" and "greenery" but often has a really hard time telling the two apart. Ultimately, the biggest drawback to this AI integration is its lack of consistency — even so, it works well enough that I keep it on anyway.
The P20 Pro might also be the best smartphone camera I've ever used in the dark, and not just because of its large sensors. Huawei developed a Night mode that's pretty spectacular. Rather than just take a standard long exposure, the P20 Pro takes multiple exposures over the course of four seconds and combines the best bits of each shot into a single photo. It's essentially HDR tuned specifically for nighttime use.
If you try to use it in areas with some ambient light, the results don't differ too much from regular Auto mode photos. When things get really dark, though, the results were impressive: They were mostly noise-free, surprisingly bright, and packed with much more detail than I expected. It's not always perfect, though -- if you're snapping a landscape that has people milling around in it, expect some blur.
We're still not done. Those three cameras can also come together for what Huawei calls "hybrid zoom." If you zoom in up to 3x, it's all optical and you won't notice any loss in image clarity. Dial that up to 5x, though, and we're in hybrid-zoom territory, where the camera combines data from the 40MP main and 8MP telephoto cameras. (Quick aside: You can't shoot 5x zoom photos at the full 40MP resolution because the sensor crops the edge of the image.) That 5x experience isn't lossless, but it's close. I'd advise you to stick with the 3x optical zoom when you can, but either way, hybrid zoom actually makes respectable long-range shooting with a smartphone possible.
To close the chapter on the P20 Pro's cameras, let's turn to the 24-megapixel front-facing sensor. Again, total overkill — who needs to see their own face with that much clarity? The standard beauty mode is back to help digitally smooth out skin and make eyes larger, but again, the Portrait mode's results are hit or miss here. When it comes to selfie portraits, Google's Pixel 2 still sets the standard. At least the Face Unlock works well. Huawei's approach differs from Apple in that the process is completely 2D — the phone captures data points from an image of your face and checks against that when you log in. It works very quickly, but makes sacrifices on the security front.
Performance and batteryFor all of the weird, ambitious things Huawei has tried to accomplish with the P20 Pro, the stuff inside the phone is actually quite conventional. The P20 Pro packs the same Kirin 970 chipset (complete with neural processing unit) as last year's Huawei's Mate 10 Pro, along with the same 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Sorry, no microSD card slots here. That's a pretty potent package, but last year's chipset just isn't as quick as the Snapdragon 845. The P20 Pro still has enough power to handle most tasks without breaking a sweat, and it has taken to my daily frenzied multitasking with few issues. Just don't expect flawless performance when you break out the heavy-duty games like PUBG, which was occasionally choppy, but not to the point of frustration.
Chris Velazco/EngadgetOn the software front, the P20 Pro runs Android 8.1 Oreo with the latest, lightest version of the company's EMUI interface. That slightly scaled back approach to software probably helps keep the phone moving at a respectable clip. I'll be honest, I hated EMUI and basically everything it stood for. To my surprise though, it's slowly but surely becoming a pleasure to use. As with a lot of other interfaces on Chinese smartphones, the whole thing feels a little overwrought, with gobs of features and add-on apps that remind you we're a long way from stock-Android country. Even so, there's a sense that Huawei is trying to be more thoughtful with the software it sticks on its phones. More problematic are some of the app issues I've encountered: Google Maps is sometimes jerky and unresponsive, and I've heard of other units having trouble displaying Instagram stories.
One thing I haven't really gotten a feel for is the Kirin 970's neural processing unit, or NPU. It does a lot of the computational heavy lifting for the camera's Master AI, but Huawei has said in the past that the NPU could also help optimize a device's performance. That sounds great in theory; unfortunately, I haven't had the phone long enough to see for myself. I did, however, get a pretty good feel for the P20 Pro's 4,000mAh battery. On average, one charge was enough to see the phone through between 2 and 2.5 days of pretty consistent use. You'll notice a hit in battery life if you use the camera a lot — that's probably a result of the NPU kicking into high gear, at which point the whole phone gets warm.
Chris Velazco/EngadgetWrap-upIn building the P20 Pro, Huawei wasn't just being ambitious — it was being audacious. The result is a flagship phone that's good enough to compete with the iPhones and Galaxys of the world. Don't get me wrong: It has its share of shortcomings, and the approach to software and emphasis on the camera ensure it won't make sense for everyone. That said, Huawei gets enough right here that I can't help but be disappointed that it will probably never go on sale in the US. For the rest of the world looking for a new flagship smartphone, the Huawei P20 Pro definitely deserves your attention.
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|From: FJB||4/28/2018 5:03:16 PM|
| Sources: T-Mobile, Sprint deal would value Sprint at $24B-$26B; T-Mobile majority owner Deutsche Telekom to get 42% stake, 69% voting interest in combined firm — T-Mobile US Inc. and its German owners are advancing toward a deal that would value Sprint Corp. at about $24 billion, according to people with knowledge of the matter.|
More: New York Times, Gizmodo, Reuters, Engadget, Axios, CNBC, Android Central, The Verge, Houston Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, PhoneDog.com, TmoNews, SlashGear, Droid Life, TechCrunch, Axios, BGR, and reddit.com
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|From: FJB||4/30/2018 6:20:43 AM|
|T-Mobile, Sprint announce merger; combined company valued at USD146bn|
30 Apr 2018
T-Mobile US and Sprint Corporation have entered into a definitive agreement to merge in an all-stock transaction at a fixed exchange ratio of 0.10256 T-Mobile shares for each Sprint share or the equivalent of 9.75 Sprint shares for each T-Mobile US share. Based on closing share prices on 27 April, this represents a total implied enterprise value of approximately USD59 billion for Sprint and approximately USD146 billion for the combined company.
The combined company will be named T-Mobile, and it will be headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, with a second headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas. John Legere, current President and CEO of T-Mobile US will serve as CEO, and Mike Sievert, current COO of T-Mobile, will serve as President and COO of the combined company. The remaining members of the new management team will be selected from both companies during the closing period. Tim Hottges, current T-Mobile US Chairman of the Board, will serve as Chairman of the Board for the new company. Masayoshi Son, current SoftBank Group Corp Chairman and CEO, and Marcelo Claure, current CEO of Sprint, will serve on the board of the new company.
Mr Legere commented: ‘This combination will create a fierce competitor with the network scale to deliver more for consumers and businesses in the form of lower prices, more innovation, and a second-to-none network experience – and do it all so much faster than either company could on its own. As industry lines blur and we enter the 5G era, consumers and businesses need a company with the disruptive culture and capabilities to force positive change on their behalf.’
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|From: FJB||6/9/2018 11:36:36 AM|
Is the $15 a month Sprint unlimited deal that good? We surveyed the competition. Nothing comes close.
Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY Published 9:00 a.m. ET June 9, 2018 | Updated 10:12 a.m. ET June 9, 2018
Both network carriers say this is a way to stay competitive in the race to have the fastest 5G network. If approved, Sprint will be absorbed into T-Mobile. USA TODAY
MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. — The average monthly unlimited rate for a family plan from the big carriers starts at around $100, so a lot of heads turned this week when Sprint had a better offer: $60 for a family plan, or $15 for one line.
The pricing is so unprecedented — $15 a line, that it warrants a look at what else you can get from the competition for $15 to $20. (Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T charge $160 monthly for their family plans, although T-Mobile has military and senior discount plans available at $40 per line.)
Rick Broida, who writes the Cheapskate column for CNET, calls Sprint's offer "amazing," and unlike any he's seen from a major carrier before. "For someone looking to get service on the cheap, this is unheard of."
But there are limitations, namely that it's on the Sprint network, which is historically weaker than competitors—one reason that Sprint and No. 3 carrier T-Mobile have proposed merging. And the deal is for a limited time, although Sprint hasn't specified dates.
Looking for alternatives? Here's what else is out there.
—FreedomPop also has a $15 unlimited monthly plan, but details are sketchy. Called "Unreal Mobile," it will be available by the end of June, with unlimited talk, text and data, but only some of that will be high-speed data. CNET reported that it will be just 1 GB of high speed data, but FreedomPop CEO Stephen Sokols told USA TODAY it will be way more and "competitive," with Sprint. He says he will release more details when the plan launches.
FreedomPop, which also offers a free service of talk, text and data (500 minutes, 200 texts, 500 megabytes of data) has been dogged by complaints about its customer service online. Sokols admits its service has "historically been poor," but he's invested in recent months to get it up to speed. He adds that subscribers to what's considered FreedomPop's "premium" service will be able to reach human beings with customer issues.
Wireless service for Unreal will be provided by Sprint and AT&T, and customers are encouraged to bring their phones, or to buy low-cost phones from FreedomPop, with what Sokols says will be as low as $50.
—TextNow. Like FreedomPop, TextNow also has a free, Wi-Fi-only plan for free calls and texts. But you'll need a new phone number for the service TextNow provides. For $19.99, you can get unlimited talk and texts, and just 2 GB of data. This might work for you if you use your phone in Wi-Fi most of the time, like at work or school, but in the field, those YouTube videos, Facebook messages and constant looks at e-mail will eat up fast.
—MintMobile. The $15 deal will get you unlimited talk and text, and 2 GB of data per month. To get the $15 rate, you need to commit to multi-month pricing.
—Republic Wireless. Here you'll pay $25 for unlimited talk, text and 2 GB of data. Add $5 for each extra 1 GB of data.
—Virgin Mobile. If you're interested in a great short-term rate, Virgin offers $1 monthly, but only for 6 months. The unlimited talk, text and data then goes to $50 monthly. A year's service would cost you just over $300, a good deal more than 12 months with Sprint at $180.
All three a virtual tie, but each had questions they couldn't answer. Tune in to find out where Apple, Google and Amazon fell down. USA TODAY
In other tech news this week. For your talking TV: Amazon and Sonos both introduced new devices this week to turn you into the remote control. Amazon's Cube is the Echo speaker for TVs, a streaming player with no physical remote control. Designed for the TV, the $89 device lets you operate the TV with your voice, and play music as well. The Sonos Beam is a compact $399 sound bar for bringing better sound to the TV, and letting you operate it via voice as well.
The iOS12 update. At the Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple previewed iOS12, the mobile operating system update that will be released in the fall. Key features include parental controls and notifications when websites like Facebook are snooping on you. What it didn't do is use the WWDC to announce an overhaul of Siri, the Apple personal assistant that has fallen behind Alexa and Google in terms of smarts.
BlackBerry keeps trying. The Key2 is the latest attempt from the veteran wireless company to revive its brand. The $649 phone sports a physical Qwerty keyboard, industrial-strength security and long battery life.
Goodbye Yahoo Messenger. Oath, the company that now owns Yahoo, shut down Yahoo Messenger, one of the earliest instant messenger platforms Friday. Earlier it also said goodbye to the even older AIM from AOL.
Which has better music smarts, Siri, Alexa or Google? We posed 40 questions, and a bonus round of 10 for songs based on lyrics. Click here to find out which is best.
This week's Talking Tech podcasts Sonos, we love you. We lay out our reasons why the Sonos One is hands down the best buy for anyone who loves music and is interested in a connected speaker.
Apple iOS12 update. The latest from the WWDC.
Why Apple wants Facebook to stop tracking you. New security tools coming in iOS12 and macOS Mojave.
Can we really kick tech addiction? USA TODAY's Edward C. Baig joins me to weigh in.
All about the Bird: Why we think the Bird scooter, and the technology that operates it, makes it hands down the coolest gadget of 2018, so far.
Alexa, change the channel. A preview of new products from Amazon and Sonos to change the channel with our voices.
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|From: FJB||7/7/2018 9:17:08 AM|
|Future phones: foldable like a napkin, with up to nine cameras and able to charge over thin air|
Smartphone bodies haven’t changed that much in the past few years – the iPhone 8 isn’t much different to the iPhone 6 – but they’re about to. These are some of the major hardware changes coming in the near future
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 July, 2018, 10:33am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 July, 2018, 10:32am
Your next smartphone might be just a little different. Picture this: you pull your phone out of your pocket and unfold it like a napkin into a tablet. You press your finger on the screen, and it unlocks. You switch to the camera app, and a spiderlike array of lenses shoot simultaneously to capture one giant photo.
video @ link
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|From: FJB||8/9/2018 11:44:21 PM|
| Samsung announces Galaxy Note9, shipping August 24, with a 6.4" display, Snapdragon 845, 4,000mAh battery, dual rear cameras, DeX, 128GB/512GB storage for $950+ — After months of rampant speculation (and plenty of leaks and rumors), it's finally here: the Samsung Galaxy Note9 …|
More: CNET, CNET, Android Police, The Verge, eWeek, 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, Samsung Global Newsroom, Samsung Newsroom, New York Times, SiliconANGLE, Softpedia News, PCWorld, Tom's Guide, TechCrunch, Mashable, The Tech Report, XDA Developers, Gotta Be Mobile, The Guardian, MacRumors, VentureBeat, iPhone in Canada Blog, MobileSyrup, The Next Web, Ars Technica, ZDNet, AnandTech, PC Gamer, Engadget, Laptop Mag, IGN, The Verge, ZDNet, Digital Trends, Business Insider, Wall Street Journal, Android Police, Android Police, Thurrott.com, CNBC, Wired, Mashable, The Verge, TechCrunch, Engadget, Engadget, TechCrunch, TechCrunch, 9to5Google, and Engadget
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|From: FJB||8/22/2018 3:28:46 PM|
Xiaomi’s new Pocophone F1 undercuts rivals with a low price and high-end processor
Xiaomi has long sold devices that punch above their price class, but now the company is taking the bang for your buck even further. Poco is the company’s new budget-focused brand that will be used first in India before coming to other parts of the world. The first Pocophone device is the F1, which has flagship features, including a top-of-the-line processor, but will sell for even less than many of Xiaomi’s already aggressively priced devices.
The Pocophone F1 is packed with specs like a high-end Snapdragon 845 chip and a substantial 4,000mAh battery. It’s got a 6.18-inch 1080p display with an 18.7:9 aspect ratio. There’s also a Qualcomm Adreno 630 GPU, a 20-megapixel selfie cam, and dual rear 12-megapixel and 5-megapixel cameras. The F1 will offer all of those features and specs for just $300 when it arrives in India next week.
Jai Mani, the lead product manager for Xiaomi’s India ambitions, tells me that the company scoured Reddit forums while developing the F1, seeing users write that what they wanted were bigger batteries and a decent processor, but lamenting that “we’re geeks, no one will listen to us.” Those comments inspired the product team to incorporate the Pocophone F1’s big battery and high-end processor.
The Pocophone F1 is priced and specced competitively with the OnePlus 6, which has been very popular in India since its release. In developing markets where many tech companies like Apple face stagnating growth and growing regulation, Xiaomi continues to do well, especially in India. In Q2 2018, the company grew 106 percent year over year, selling 3.3 million units of the low-end Redmi 5A in the country and beating out the likes of Samsung, Vivo, and Oppo.
The Pocophone F1 is a much more premium offering than the Redmi 5A. The Snapdragon 845 processor is far more powerful than anything used in the Redmi line. Its display has got decent color contrast, and its max brightness setting is bright enough. Yet it uses Gorilla Glass 3, which is a part Xiaomi had handy in its supply chain. The outdated nature of the glass (we’re on Gorilla Glass 6 already) demonstrates Xiaomi’s cost-cutting methods — it used older materials to cut costs so it could spend more on other components.
Another area where the Pocophone F1 cuts corners is in the construction of the phone. The phone comes in blue, red, or black with a plastic back or in a special “Armored” edition with a rubbery Kevlar backing, which is the model we got to test out. The rubber lends the phone a cheap, toy-like quality. The front display is marred by a thick notch and it has slight bezels on the sides. Xiaomi also did not splurge for an oleophobic coating, so the Pocophone F1 picks up grease easily on the front and back, whether you’re browsing and eating a sandwich, or simply touching the phone with clean fingers.
Making phone calls, you’ll hear a slightly tinny quality to the audio, indicating that the speaker also wasn’t a priority.
Mani explained to me that Xiaomi’s thinking here is that you don’t really need a smartphone with a gorgeous all-glass body, which is fragile and needs to be covered by a phone case anyway.
If you can get past the looks of the phone, and you’re only looking for speed and performance, then the Pocophone F1 has a lot to offer. The Pocophone follows the growing trend of Asian phones, including the Meizu 15 and the Oppo R15 Pro, that have 20-megapixel selfie cameras. That’s a jump in resolution from even Apple’s iPhone X, which has a 7-megapixel front-facing cam, giving you a smoother selfie to edit on beauty apps.
The dual rear-facing cameras are less exciting with their standard specs and so is the “AI camera,” which has 25 modes for landscape, food photos, and more. In general, photos taken on the F1 come out bright and saturated, which is great for festive-looking pics, but less so for producing accurate images. I can barely see a difference between regular photos taken without the AI camera and photos taken with it — they’re slightly brighter and more colorful, but it’s such a subtle change, it doesn’t really matter.
Xiaomi also gives the Pocophone F1 several features that might appeal to gamers. It has a decent GPU and self-proclaimed liquid cooling technology designed to reduce CPU heat. It runs graphics-intensive games like PUBG Mobile smoothly and without lag.
The Pocophone F1 runs Android 8.1 Oreo with a MIUI skin. It’s currently on MIUI 9.6, but will update to version 10 over the course of the next month. It has a USB Type-C charging port and it supports USB 2.0 and Bluetooth 5.0.
You can set a PIN, add a fingerprint, and use face unlock. Xiaomi has a security warning during the setup of face unlock that it’s less secure than other unlocking methods, as others can impersonate you using a photograph or similar object. Still, for what it’s worth, I tried to unlock the phone with a nearly identical image of myself as the face data I gave, and it stayed locked, so that’s one point in favor of Xiaomi’s security. The phone also stayed locked when I was wearing headphones.
Both the fingerprint sensor and face unlock work very quickly, unlocking the phone in under a second. The fingerprint sensor curiously works even if your finger is covered in fried Oreos and powdered sugar. The face unlock glitches out more often, and sometimes can’t recognize my face.
So far, the phone will not be available in the US and the company doesn’t have any concrete plans to bring it here. India will be the first market for the device, though Xiaomi says it plans to expand the Pocophone brand to its other global markets in the future. Storage options range from 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB, with regional prices hovering in the $300 to $400 bracket. The 6GB/64GB model is launching in India at 20,999 rupees ($300), while the most expensive model is the 29,999-rupee ($429) “Armored Edition” with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.
Xiaomi has said in the past that it would like to bring its phones to the US, but it’s been years since the company first made such claims. Currently, it sells accessories like headphones and batteries in the US. Mani tells me that the company is still actively eyeing the US, wondering if price-conscious offerings would work in this market. Are there price-conscious smartphone users here, or is everyone satisfied with an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy device? That’s a question Xiaomi still has to work out.
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