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Google Pixel 3 Lite: Why bringing back the headphone jack is a good idea

There have been rumors of a possible budget variant of Google’s flagship Pixel smart-phone; it was only recently that we got a glimpse at what it might look like. It has been referred to as the “Pixel 3 Lite”, and it combines the design of the Pixels with a smaller 5.5-inch display and a mid-range Snapdragon 670 processor. Although the usual complaints about the antiquated design and large bezels persist in this phone, one of the issues that a significant portion of consumers have been clamouring for a long time might have finally been addressed. By far the most interesting aspect of this phone is Google’s apparent decision to include a headphone jack for the first time since their very first Pixel phone.

Phones and headphone jacks have complimented each other for the longest time. For most of us, our first feature phones had a 3.5 mm jack, and it was perhaps the most interesting aspect of the phone to each of us at the time—cue countless hours of ripping MP3 files and loading them onto tiny memory cards. With smartphones, the need of a headphone jack was even greater—smartphones aimed at being the convenience guarantor and having a 3.5 mm jack on your smartphone was the convenient way to listen to music or recordings. And while the industry has transformed from feature phones to flip phones to finally smartphones, the headphone jack has largely remained constant. In an industry as focused on innovation as the smartphone industry change is the only constant. Thus we had to part ways with our headphone jacks, while Bluetooth and USB-C ports look to be the future. However, is that a good thing?

Firstly, the reason the headphone jack stuck around for so long is that it worked. It was a solved problem; there wasn’t much reason to move forward. Yes, we always strive for quicker and more convenient ways to solve a problem; provided the problem is still solved with the amount of quality retained. And the bottom line is, Bluetooth just doesn’t do that. Bluetooth audio quality is nowhere near the quality offered by most cabled equipment, yet. They simply can’t play high bit-rate files, or at least at the same quality wired equipment can. However, it is convenience vs. quality here, with different people obviously valuing different things. Audiophiles will always value cabled equipment, while consumers who value the convenience and portability of Bluetooth will opt for it. But the thing is, it isn’t too much to ask for both options on a device, especially when the manufacturing cost is so small.

It isn’t fair to say Bluetooth is bad for listening to music. High-end Bluetooth equipment can dish out music that is only perceptively worse than wired equipment. But to achieve that quality with Bluetooth, one has to spend a lot more than one had to for a wired option of similar quality. There is essentially no way to listen to a raw, loss-less sound on Bluetooth earphones; they just aren’t capable of it yet. All sounds need to be encoded to the Bluetooth headset, then decoded back to play. This is essentially the same tech as it was in 2004 when the first stereo Bluetooth headset came out. So Bluetooth still has a long way to go to match the 3.5 mm jack in performance.

Bluetooth headphones, ironically, offer less diversity than wired headphones. Active noise cancelling, bass-heavy, treble-heavy, you name it. There are headphones offered specifically to gamers, joggers, for Skype calls, etc. There’s a ton of flexibility when it comes to wired headphones, mainly because they’ve been around for longer and have had the time to address each specific need in the market. Bluetooth simply doesn’t offer that kind of flexibility yet. Bluetooth is mostly aimed at an active lifestyle, being more portable. They tend to have minimal builds, make complete seals with ear cups for better noise cancellation, and mostly just need you to adapt to it rather than it adapting to you. That doesn’t work for a lot of people and as it has been said before, there is simply no reason not to have both wired and Bluetooth options.

The weight then falls onto the USB-C type ports and dongles to make the argument for no headphone jacks. And I’m just going to say this flat out—dongles are bad. A lot of DACs and amps simply don’t work with the USB-C tech, and using one port to both charge your phone and listen to music causes an unnecessary amount of wear and tear. It is also a sloppy thing to use, as it’s easy to lose and just adds a new point of failure, being an external accessory.

On the point of convenience, Bluetooth doesn’t necessarily become the convenience provider most distributors make it out to be. Having a Bluetooth device means having another device to charge. At the same time when smartphone companies are trying to offer quicker ways to charge your phone to maximize time utilization—like fast chargers and larger batteries—doesn’t having another device to charge actually feel less convenient (if not completely defeating the purpose)? Bluetooth might indeed be the future, as it can only be improved upon. The problem is it hasn’t been fixed yet. There was never anything added to the experience of owning a device without a headphone jack, options were only taken away from it. For this reason, the headphone jack coming back in a market leader’s next big device is a welcome change. I personally feel like this is a good decision by Google, and eagerly await the return of the 3.5 mm jack in all its glory.

Huawei: Enemy of the US?

Huawei has had a hell of a year. From toppling the smartphone giants Apple’s iPhone in terms of sales to the several US government-related controversies, it’s certainly not been a dull period for the Chinese tech giants. It should come as no surprise that much of Huawei’s history is marred in many such controversies. However, you may be surprised how many of the controversies throughout the years remained unchanged. Here, we look at a few controversies the company has gone through in just this calendar year. The list will be listing these controversies from the oldest of the year to the newest. In fact, the last entry on this post only happened yesterday!

January – Defending US Government Communications Act

A French newspaper linked Huawei to the hack of the African Union Headquarters in Ethiopia. The Chinese government, of course, denied the acquisitions. Right after this, the US government would propose the Defending US Government Communications Act, call for FCC to investigate the company, and even got AT&T to pull out of an agreement with Huawei. Verizon, on the other hand, would stop carrying Huawei products in the future. This was only the start, and Huawei would have a rough year ahead of them.

February – Intelligence heads think Huawei is spyware

Huawei: Enemy of the US?

On February 14, 2018, heads of six U.S. intelligence agencies testified to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence against the use of Chinese telecom products by U.S. citizens. Like those of Huawei and ZTE. Christopher A. Wray, director of the FBI, stated that they were “deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks”. Huawei responded to the allegations, arguing that its products “[pose] no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor, sharing as we do common global supply chains and production capabilities,” and that it was “aware of a range of U.S. government activities seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei’s business in the U.S. market”

March – Best Buy stops selling Huawei

Best buy, one of the largest retailers of consumer technology in the US, stops selling Huawei products. Huawei takes another hit to their bottom line, and the pseudo war against the Americans start taking its toll.

April – US Government forbids self from using Huawei tech

On April 17, 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held a preliminary, 5-0 vote. It was on rules forbidding the use of government subsidies to purchase telecom equipment from companies deemed to be a risk to national security. A draft of the policy specifically even named Huawei and ZTE as examples. This would further restrict Huawei, as anyone who wants to work intimately with a massive employer like the US would have to make certain to not have Huawei phones.

May – The Pentagon bans Huawei phones from retail stores on military bases

In an unsurprising move, the Pentagon went ahead and banned Huawei from all military base retail shops. Huawei in a statement basically didn’t even address it. Instead, they said, “We remain committed to openness and transparency in everything we do and want to be clear that no government has ever asked us to compromise the security or integrity of any of our networks or devices.”

June – Revelations of Facebook and Huawei’s secret data-sharing pact

This was during that time of the year when everyone on Facebook started to get worried about how Zuckerberg may be misappropriating our data. Naturally, if it’s controversial, Huawei would have to be mentioned somewhere. This was simply one such case. A series of reports this week revealed that, for the past 10 years, Facebook’s broad sharing of data extended not only to app developers but to phone companies as well. Of course, one of the phone makers on top of that list would be Huawei.

July – Huawei overtakes Apple

In possibly the only positive news for Huawei during the whole year, they managed to outsell iPhones for the second quarter of this year. Huawei shipped over 54 million handsets in the second quarter compared to the 41.3 million iPhones that Apple sold. This would make them the second biggest phone sellers of the globe.

August – Huawei caught faking camera shots in ads

The shot in question

And we’re back to Huawei being completely morally bankrupt. To play the devils advocate, they never explicitly stated that it wasn’t a DSLR shot. They just heavily implied it with the wrist position.

Taking of the shot

September – Huawei caught cheating benchmark test for P20

Huawei gets caught with their pants down, as the list gets sillier. Again. Shocking. Literally just weeks removed from the last fiasco, in September, AnandTech discovered that Huawei’s P20 had been programmed to maximize performance specifically when running 3DMark, a popular benchmarking app. Huawei admitted to this in a statement to Android Authority.

October – The only non-controversial month

Huawei announced a few new phones like the 5G foldable they are working on. They announced the new Mate 20. They asked Trump to change his device to Huawei as reports of iPhone tapping became known. All in all, a real month of R&R for the execs of Huawei.

November – Americans discourage allies from using Huawei devices:

R&R would end soon, however. In November, the US would ask many of it’s allies to stop using the tech giants products. Allegedly. Sources claim that US government officials have met with counterparts in Germany, Japan, and Italy, and are reportedly considering offering financial incentives to countries who opt not to use equipment from the Chinese manufacturer.

December – Canadian authorities arrest The CFO:

Huwaei: Enemy of the US?
Huwaei’s global CFO Wanzhou Meng

However, the latest chapter of the story was told only yesterday. Huawei Vice-chairperson and CFO Meng Wanzhou, daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Canada at the request of U.S. authorities. She faces extradition to the United States on charges of violating sanctions against Iran. 

As anyone can see, at this point the company has become an absolute magnet for controversy. They’ve clashed so hard with the US government this year you might mistake them to be Iran or something. Huawei is backing off of US markets. Barring random marketing campaigns they do to generate buzz, the company’s future there seems uncertain. Yet, with a dominating share in Chinese markets, they remain safe globally.

Check out our first impression on the Huawei Nova 3i here.

Samsung wins best brand award

Samsung Mobile has been recognized as Bangladesh’s No. 1 Handset Brand by Bangladesh Brand Forum. The South Korean electronics giant was also announced 3rd best brand in refrigerator category. Top officials of Samsung Bangladesh received the awards on behalf of Samsung Mobile and Samsung Consumer electronics during the award ceremony on December 8, 2018, at Le Méridien Dhaka.

The objective of the Best Brand Award is to exhibit and celebrate the success of the brands, achieved through excellence in meeting the needs of the Bangladeshi consumers. Bangladesh Brand Forum partnered with Nielsen Bangladesh to identify the top brands of Bangladesh, with the aim to acknowledge the brands that have established themselves to a meaningful height in terms of business value and contribution to consumer life.

On this occasion, Md. Muyeedur Rahman, Head of Mobile, Samsung Mobile Bangladesh said, “We are extremely proud to have received this award. It is an indicator of our customers support towards our products and services. As we continue to thrive as a brand, Samsung remains dedicated to creating innovative possibilities and experiences for our consumers through our products and services. Our heartfelt gratitude and thanks to all our customers, partners and stakeholders without whom this was not possible.”

This Bangladesh Brand Forum is a platform for recognizing the success of the business community of Bangladesh and portraying their achievements in brand building. The program was launched to find the most loved brands of Bangladesh based on the nationwide survey conducted by Nielsen Bangladesh and giving away a prominent publication consisting of winning brand stories to all the attendees as the Bangladesh Brand Forum tradition.

Oppo F9: stylish but underpowered

The new Oppo F9 has taken the market by storm. With its one-of-a-kind notch, it certainly looks very unique. It also has very powerful cameras on its front and back. However, a notch and a couple of cameras alone don’t make a good phone great.

Display and appearance

The new Oppo F9 is a very sleek and stylish phone. The F9 is covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 6 on both sides and has a big 6.3-inch IPS LCD screen with minimum screen bezel and a very small water drop notch. The F9 has all the standard sensors you would come to expect, including a fingerprint one on the back.

The Oppo comes in three different colours, and they all look very fashionable. The gradient colour scheme is very unique and really helps the phone stand out amongst its peers. All in all, it’s a phone that wouldn’t be out of place in the hands of a supermodel, as Deepika Padukone has shown already.

Camera

Oppo is the self-proclaimed selfie expert. So it should come as no surprise how powerful its cameras are. The front camera is a whopping 25 megapixels and our testing at launch proved its power. The back cameras are also quite powerful, at 16 and 2 megapixels respectively. Oppo has targeted the selfie-taker with their tagline, so this is only expected.

Pouting is easier with the Oppo F9’s AI assisted mammoth front camera, which has a whopping 25 megapixels.

The Oppo F9 also features AI integration with the cameras. The cameras can automatically pick up what kind of photo you are trying to take and adapts to it. The image quality of the camera can be easily compared with the best in the market right now.

Battery

Another Oppo F9 marketing gimmick has been the fast charging capability of the phone. The Oppo F9 has VOOC technology, which makes charging very quick. In fact, the phone’s tagline claims that the phone can muster 2 hours’ worth of talk time with only 5 minutes of charging.

The Oppo F9 has a 3500 mAh battery, which makes this an impressive claim. It’s safe to say the claim is mostly true – we got 4% of charge in less than a minute.

Chipset and power

So far, the phone has looked quite good. This section is where that changes. With so many premium features packed into a phone that costs a fourth of the average iPhone, some concessions had to be made. The phone packs a very mediocre Mediatek MT6771 Helio P60 chipset.

It does have an octa-core CPU, but it is paired with a Mali-G72 MP3 GPU. This makes the phone considerably less powerful than a flagship should be. The phone comes in 4 and 6 GB RAM variants. Both have 64 GB of internal storage. It has a dedicated slot for memory expansions of up to 256 GB. The Oppo F9 has 4G dual sim capability also.

Verdict

The Oppo F9 has quite a few things going for it. It has really quick charging, and the only phone in the same price range that has similar quick charging is the Lenovo Z5. The display is beautiful with possibly the nicest looking notch we’ve seen yet. The cameras are world class and can go toe to toe with every flagship in the market. The price, at 28,990 and 31,990 BDT for the 4 and 6 GB variants, is pretty low for a flagship quality phone.

Yet, there are some huge shortcomings for the Oppo F9. The power of the phone leaves much to be desired as they seem to be the only ones using Mali GPU’s in this day and age. For casual users and selfie addicts, this is a good phone and comes recommended. However, the mobile gaming community and others who want a lot of power in their phones would find the Oppo F9 to be lacklustre at best.

Apple is now a trillion Dollar company. Here’s what lies ahead.

Apple made history on August 2nd, 2018 when it became the first US-owned publicly-traded company to reach a market capitalization in access of one trillion dollars. This is no small feat. Of course, Tim Cook insists it is just another milestone on the road to a brighter future. “It’s not the most important measure of our success,” Cook told Apple employees in an email after the event. “Financial returns are simply the result of Apple’s innovation, putting our products and customers first, and always staying true to our values.”

At $216.7 per stock as of 24th August, Apple’s stock market cap is now greater than the combined capitalization of Exxon Mobil, Procter & Gamble and AT&T. Apple shares constitute 4% of the S&P 500 index. So far, Apple shares have gained 23% in 2018, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has only gained 3% and the S&P 500 has gained 6%.

How did we get here?

Most folks reach for the movies and documentaries on Steve Jobs for an overview of Apple’s history. Other than to watch an uncannily good performance by Fassbender as Jobs, the visual adaptations do not feel necessary to understand Apple’s success.

Apple was founded in the late 1970s by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. They went public with the venture in 1980 after the success of the Apple IIs helped usher in the PC era. Job was driven out of Apple, but returned in the 90s to rescue the company from near bankruptcy. Since then, Apple has gained a firm foothold in the tech industry, selling its Macs and MacBooks. The iPhone helped usher in the current smartphone era.

The iPhone, introduced by Jobs in 2007, has sold more than one billion units and remains the most profitable smartphone product worldwide.

Cook, who took over as CEO following Jobs death in 2011, is no visionary. However, Cook played an instrumental role in streamlining Apple’s operations during Jobs second tenure with the company. He reduced inventories, offshored manufacturing to contractors and reached long-term deals for memory chips and other important components.

However, in the last decade, Apple’s innovations are sparse. iPhone sales slowed down in 2016 and Apple compensated by releasing increasingly expensive phones and introducing more accessories such as the Apple Watch. Pushing products such as the Homepod and new services such as Apple Music were economically great decisions but were not ‘out of the box’.

In the services sector alone, Apple is doing very, very well. In Q2 2018, revenue from services surged by 31% over Q1 to $9.5 billion. The expected annual revenue for FY2018-19 is $37 billion. Wearables sales, including the Apple Watch and AirPods, increased by 37% to $3.7 billion.

We are here. But what are the issues to deal with for the future?

Clearly, things are going swimmingly right now at the house of Jobs. But will it continue in the future?

Stagnant iPhone Sales

The most important issue is that iPhones sales have remained stagnant on an annual basis. Apple only shipped 41 million units in Q2 2018. This is partly due to smartphone saturation and fatigue. It is partly due to having far too many iPhone models on the market, at the same time.  The iPhone 6S, SE, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus and X– that’s seven different iPhones!

This is in stark contrast to previous lineups, which included, at most, three variants at any one point of time. There are significant price differentials and different features (such as dual cameras, bezel-less displays, and face ID), so the threat of product cannibalization is not yet serious. However, a fuzziness exists between the different product lines. This holds true for other product categories as well, such as MacBooks and iPads.

Products are not differentiated enough

A clear case can be made between buying the 12.9 inch iPad Pro and the 7.9 inch iPad Mini. But what feature will influence my buying decisions for the middle form the 9.7 iPad? Similarly, the MacBook Air remains hugely popular. But it is a heavily dated product, bordering on obsolescence. Meanwhile, the MacBook Pro’s current design continues to be divisive. It’s a stylish notebook but offers little power for users who need a little more bang for their (considerable) buck. Worldwide Mac sales were down by 5% to $6.9 billion compared to FY2017-18. iPad sales rose by 6% to $5.9 billion.

No future without China & India

China and India are the world’s two largest markets by population size. Mainland China accounts for around one-third of all iPhone users globally.  Apple is a distant fifth in China. At 11% market share, Apple trails behind Huawei (19%), Oppo (18%), Vivo (17%) and Xiaomi (12%).  According to Newzoo, as of July 2017, there were 243 million iPhone users from Mainland China. iPhones constitute 33% of a total of 728 million users. Apple’s market share in this huge markets needs a lot more attention.

Apple’s market share in India is even drier, posting a 3% overall market share. It leads the premium sub-category with around 47% market share, leading ahead of Samsung and One Plus.

Cook recognizes that Apple’s position in India needs a lot more focus.

“We continue to put great energy there, and our objective over time is to go in there with all of our different initiatives from retail and everything else. It’s a huge market and it’s clear that many people will be moving into the middle class over time, as we’ve seen in other countries.”

To Apple’s credit, the Cupertino based company posted great financial results in both South Asian countries: Indian revenues were up by 20%, and Chinese revenues were up by 21%. Is it enough?

More competition

After Apple, the four other biggest tech companies are locked in a tight race for second place. Right now, Amazon is a safe bet to become the second company to reach the trillion-dollar milestone. Apples enjoyed a 34% increase in market cap which outstrips the S&P 500’s 14% increase in the last 12 months. However, Apple’s numbers are pale in comparison to the gargantuan 85% increase by Amazon in the same time period.

Valued at $889 billion, Amazon is now the second-largest publicly-listed U.S. company. Alphabet and Microsoft follow closely at $856 billion and $830 billion, respectively. Google-owner, Alphabet’s stock rose 32 percent over the past 12 months and is up by nearly 18 percent in 2018. Together with Facebook, the five largest U.S. companies account for 15 percent of the S&P 500.

Huawei, in the meanwhile, leapfrogged Apple to become the second largest smartphone manufacturer worldwide, shipping 54 million units in Q2 2018. Huawei posted a 41% year-on-year growth. They built on the strong sales of the flagship, P20, and the strong performance of the Honor sub-brand, which contributed to two-thirds of this quarter’s sales growth.

Moving beyond milestones: Updated products, more services

Apple isn’t idle by any means. It’s set to release new iPhones this fall. This new lineup is rumored to include a much larger (and more expensive) version of the iPhone X. A cheaper alternative of the premium flagship may also be on the way. On the service end, Apple is investing a billion dollars into developing its own original library of television programming. Big names like Steven Spielberg, David S Goyer, and Oprah Winfrey are already attached to the projects, including an adaptation of Asimov’s Foundation series.

On the other products end, Apple is planning to update its earphones lineup. A pair of high-end headphones and Airpods with noise cancellation in 2019 will launch. Further into the future, Apple is increasing its focus on AR. There is speculation of its involvement in the self-driving industry. There were initial plans to build an Apple Car of some sort, but those ambitions may be on hold for more manageable pursuits. These may include a bid to create an operating system for self-driving cars or infotainment systems augmenting driving functions.

Another often overlooked segment where Apple is poised to win big time is its increasing dominance with Apple Pay. According to Juniper Research, the total number of OEM mobile wallet users will increase to 450 million by 2020. Apple is set to corner 50% of a market. That 50% is worth a whopping $300 billion in revenues. However, this road is not without competition, like it already faces from Alibaba’s Alipay in China.. It will face stiff competition from the likes of Walmart and Amazon in the US,

Whatever the case, it looks like Apple’s trillion-dollar train shows no sign of slowing down. Let’s hope the company will use its considerable market power and leverage to bring more exciting products and disruptive innovations down the line.

Helio launches their flagship S60

Helio, a concern of the Edison Group, has recently launched their new flagship phone, the Helio S60. It was launched in a grand ceremony at Spectra Convention Hall in the Capital’s Gulshan 1 area.

The ceremony had many upper management officials of Edison Group present. Mr Aminul Islam, the Chairman of the group, announced the S60 at the event. Mr Maksudur Rahman, Senior Director of the group, was also present at the launch.

smartphone, helio, bangladesh

Much of the phone seems inspired by the iPhone X. There is a notch in the front of the 6.2-inch FHD screen. The screen is made of Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The rest of the phone is also very iPhone-like. It has a metal back, with two back cameras. The S60 also boasts an integrated AI, namely the P60 AI. It will supposedly support better photography, performance and power savings.

The S60 also has state of the art security with 3D face ID. This feature helps the phone to be unopenable to anyone but the user of the said phone. It is a hardware-based feature, which is certainly something different in today’s market. There is also a finger scanner at the back for more security.

face ID, 3D, lockscreen

The back cameras are of 16 and 5-megapixel resolution respectively. There is an LED flash in the middle. The company promises great a photography experience for the user. The front camera is 16 megapixels and does seem to take pretty good selfies, at least in good lighting. It comes with 4 GB’s of RAM alongside 64 GB onboard memory. The battery is bulky at 3000 maH and yet the phone is certainly closer to the slimmer side of the smartphone spectrum, which seems like an achievement. It comes with Type-C charging option as well as wireless charging. Every S60 also comes with a free wireless charger, sweetening the deal.

Priced at 25,990 BDT, the phone brings a fairly premium product within budget. There are EMI options available for select banks.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is a fine flagship, but not a giant leap for Note-kind

On paper, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is a dream flagship phone. Let’s just take a glance at the spec sheet- Snapdragon 845, 6 GB or 8GB memory, dual aperture cameras and a 1TB maximum combined storage capacity. At a starting price tag of $1000- and a price cap of $1250, the Note 9 is also the priciest premium flagship on the market.

Is it worth an upgrade from a Note 8 or an Apple iPhone X? Short Answer: No. Long Answer: it depends on how long you are ready to wait for a more meaningful upgrade. But if you are looking for a first buy instead of an upgrade? It’s a no-brainer. There are few machines out there that can compete with this, unless you want to wait for the Pixel 2 and iPhone X successors.

Bigger and Better

The physical differences between the Note 8 and Note 9 are very subtle. The new Note’s slightly larger- 6.4 inches compared to the 2017 version’s 6.3 inches. The bottom bezel is also a smudge lower, and the fingerprint sensor now sits comfortably below the cameras. Instead of the traditional blue and black colors, the new Note 9 comes in blue and lavender colors for the US market and black and copper colors for the international market.

The Note 9 inherits the S9+’s dual aperture feature, letting in more light than its predecessor. Low light photography is also likely to be noticeably better. The Dual Pixel autofocus makes capturing sharp shots more convenient.

Another new feature, called the Scene Optimizer, is Samsung’s counter to Huawei’s and LG’s AI photography features. Once you point your Note 9 camera at a scene, it will detect the objects and adjust brightness, contrast, saturation and other settings to get you a filter-ready image. There is another new trick called Flaw Detection, where the camera detects frequent mistakes such as blinking subjects or smudged lens and asks you to retake the photo.

While the camera system is a definite upgrade over the Note 8, it will be hard pressed to beat Pixel 2’s cameras, which are still considered the market best. On the hardware front, Huawei also changed the game by launching a triple camera system with the P20 Pro. At any rate, it won’t be unreasonable to expect this year’s Pixel upgrade to trump the new Note as well.

More Bang for Your Buck

The major touted upgrade, this time around, is the revamped S-pen. The stylus can now act as a remote control for the handset. Some example use cases for this are changing slides during presentation and remotely controlling the camera. The S-pens are also colored- the lavender models are paired with a purple stylus, while the blue models come with a neon yellow stylus.

Battery life is one major area where Samsung has consistently lagged behind Apple. I am using a Note 8 as my daily driver since last December, and the battery drain increased considerably after the Oreo software upgrade. Although it’s Snapdragon 835 chip is great at multitasking, the phone frequently overheats, though not to the degree of older gen phones like the Note 5.

With the Note 9, Samsung has fit in a larger 4,000mAh battery into a frame that has increased only slightly in comparison to the Note 8. What makes this possible, in part, is the new “water carbon” cooling system, whose thermal spreader is three times larger. While this sound promising, I will hold my praises for the Note 9 until it’s been more properly tested under CPU-intensive conditions over time.

The performance bumps- a faster Snapdragon processor and a higher maximum memory- do make the pot sweeter for Note enthusiasts. Smartphone gamers will also receive an additional incentive- Fortnite for Android will be Note 9 exclusive for its first month of release.

Buy or Pass?

If you have yet to experience the joy of using a Samsung Galaxy Note device, then Note 9 is a fine device to lure you onto the stylus bandwagon.

However, if you are still satisfied with your Note 8, or would rather experiment with alternatives, then I suggest waiting until later this year, when the new iPhones and Pixels come out.

And of course, if nothing picks your fancy, there’s always the S10 and the Note 10 for next year.

Huawei Nova 3i launched in Bangladesh

The successor to the famed Huawei Nova 2i has just been released in Bangladesh, called the Nova 3i. The nova 3i improves upon almost every aspect of it’s predecessor. Its design has been revised to match the 2018 smartphone aesthetic.

The device was launched in Bangladesh at an event today, held at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon, Dhaka. Country Director Aaron Shi introduced the phone in the press event.

The main selling point of the smartphone is the amazing AI-assisted photography. Featuring two camera sensors at the back and two up front, the smartphone is indeed a stunner when it comes to photography.

Another highlight feature of the smartphone is the brand-new Kirin 710 chipset with AI capabilities. The Kirin 710 is a massive leap ahead of the dated Kirin 659 previously used in Huawei’s entry level smartphones. A benchmark by GSMArena shows the Kirin 710 losing the battle by almost a 5% difference, which is huge. Huawei advertises this chipset as the next generation of their mid-level chipset, touting it as the successor to the 6xx series chipset.

The phone’s UI features Huawei’s very own EMUI 8.2, a UI that builds an entire ecosystem built with Huawei services and partners. Services include AI shopping and AI communications, which streamlines the user experience and adds value to other services. The UI also offers AI gallery, claiming to intelligently select pictures when you search for it on your phone’s gallery app.

The smartphone features 128GB ROM and 4GB RAM, enough to satisfy multitasking needs. In addition to the upgraded chipset and chunky RAM, Huawei also promises extra under-the-hood optimization called GPU Turbo to optimize its graphics capabilities for selected games such as PUBG and Mobile Legends.

The smartphone is available for pre-order from August 1st to August 10th and will be available in physical stores from August 11th. It will cost 28,990BDT. Customers who pre-book the smartphone will receive an attractive gift box with 5GB of free Grameenphone internet. 6-month EMI facility can also be availed to purchase this handset. With competitive pricing and a brand-new chipset, the Huawei Nova 3i is a surely compelling purchase in the saturated smartphone market in Bangladesh.

Lenovo Z5: Hype or Quality?

The Lenovo Z5 made headlines across the internet when it was originally announced. The Vice President of Lenovo released sketches and pictures suggesting a fully bezel-less screen along with flagship beating specs and an enormous 4 terabytes of internal storage. For a phone that’s classed as a budget phone, it was quite the boast. Now that it has been released, it’s safe to say that all of these were blatant lies, but that doesn’t make this a bad phone to get. I got one for myself last month and it’s a phone that has its own pros and cons like any other.

Specs

The Lenovo Z5 comes with a mid-line Snapdragon 636 processor with an octa-core 1.8 GHz CPU. The GPU used on this device is the Adreno 509, which is admittedly a fairly high end GPU for a phone. With 6 GB of RAM and 64 or 128 GB of internal storage which can be expanded with a memory card, it’s safe to say that the phone has no shortage of memory. It comes with a built in Chinese version of Android 8.0. The specs on this phone are not the best in the world, but certainly up there with the best budget phones out there, either equaling or outright beating other budget phones. It comes with a 3300 MAh battery that can be charge very quickly thanks to its type-C USB quick charging. The phone is sure to run most if not all games on the Play Store at the highest graphical quality, which might make gamers pick this up over other phones in its class.

The specs on this phone are not the best in the world, but certainly up there with the best budget phones out there, either equaling or outright beating other budget phones.

Display and Appearance

The phone looks absolutely gorgeous. Built with glass on the front and back, it really looks like a premium phone bought for a lot more money than it actually costs. However, it is not completely bezel-less, as the VP of Lenovo had alluded. It has an iPhone X-esque notch and a chin. The screen is an IPS LED screen that displays brilliant colors 402 ppi density with a 1080p resolution. The screen is 6.2 inches, and the screen-to-body ratio is 83.6%.

Camera

The camera was also hyped to be something special. While it certainly is very good, it’s not as good as it was rumored to be. The dual back camera has a resolution of 16 MP and 8 MP with dual LED dual tone flash. It has an AI camera as rumored but it’s not as groundbreaking as it was supposed to be. The camera has the standard features of HDR, panorama and the rest that you can find in most phones these days. The front camera is a bit of a letdown. While the 8 MP camera does a fine job during daytime or in good lighting, it really breaks down in bad lighting situations.

The phone looks absolutely gorgeous. Built with glass on the front and back, it really looks like a premium phone bought for a lot more money than it actually costs. However, it is not completely bezel-less, as the VP of Lenovo had alluded.

Miscellaneous

The phone comes with a headphone jack, a rarity in the post iPhone 7 age. It has a slot for a second sim, which is also the SD card slot. It has a really good speaker built into the phone, to the point where I really didn’t feel like using my earphones, at least when not in public. It has a fingerprint sensor on the back, as well as accelerometer, proximity sensor and other standard sensors.

Verdict

The Lenovo Z5 is a very good phone to get for the price. Priced at around 200 Euros, expected it to be around 25,000 in Bangladeshi Taka when it reaches our shores. However, it is nowhere near as good as it was marketed to be, and that certainly takes a few points off of the overall score for the phone. I would still recommend it to the reader if you want to purchase a phone without killing your wallet, while also having a luxurious looking phone that plays games well.

Xiaomi officially now in Bangladesh

On July 17th 2018, Xiaomi, one of the tech giants of the world have officially expanded into Bangladesh. CEO of Xiaomi, Manu Jain, held a presentation in Dhaka where he introduced the company and their products and revealed their plans for Bangladesh. Currently, they’re only launching their smartphone Redmi S2 with a reasonable price.

Manu Jain insisted on them being a tech company, misidentified by most as a smartphone company. Xiaomi also aims to expand their famed e-commerce venture, “mi.com”, in Bangladesh. The e-commerce venture started back in 2011 with the Mi 1 at an affordable price. It’s a platform of Xiaomi for selling their electronics and home appliances, 3rd largest in India and China.

Upon being asked the question of Xiaomi’s future plans for Bangladesh, CEO Manu Jain said, “We want to make one thing clear, we are not just a smartphone brand. Bangladesh is an exciting market for smartphones, and we do want to expand our electronics side into Bangladesh. But our team is really small right now, and we’ll be doing research on the market for further expansions. We hope to fully expand and launch in Bangladesh within a few months.”

During his presentation, Manu Jain the strategy for Xiaomi. Their electronics and ecosystem was linked with their user interface called MIUI, through which people can stream content, have a financing solution and entertainment portal. These media portals are operated through Mi Store, Mi Home and Youpin. Pricing their products with razor-thin margins while manufacturing their electronics helped Xiaomi become giants.

For the time being, Xiaomi has released the Redmi S2 in Bangladesh through their national distributor, Solar Electro Bangladesh Ltd. The 3/32 variant of the smartphone will cost 14,999BDT and the 4/64 variant will cost 17,999BDT, respectively. The smartphone can be bought through Daraz.com with options of 0% EMI payment or 10% off pre-payment if ordered through a VISA, MasterCard or American Express card. The smartphone will be released offline very soon, as promised by Manu Jain. A year of local warranty is applicable for the smartphone, and international warranty may be available soon.