Category Archives: smartphone

POCO Launches M3 Smartphone with More Than You Expect



Spun out from Xiaomi, POCO Global today launched the POCO M3, the third generation of its POCO M-series phones. Aimed at the entry-level, the M3 has features that would have been unheard of at this price point even a year ago. The moniker for the presentation was “More Than You Expect” and I’m pleasantly surprised at what “entry-level” offers now – fast processor, large detailed screen, big battery, decent camera. For those new to POCO, their range goes M, X, F with F being the flagship models and X the mid-range units, and over 6 million phones have been sold.

Starting with the outside, the POCO M3 has a large 6.53″ Gorilla Glass 3 display on the front, and on the rear there’s an anti-fingerprint textured back for a secure grip. POCO isn’t hiding anything here with two brightly coloured finishes in POCO Yellow and Cool Blue, though there is an understated Power Black option. At this price point, a glass back isn’t realistic but for the target audience of young entertainment-on-the-move enthusiasts this isn’t a bad thing – it’s grippy and there’s no need to worry about smashing the back glass. The triple-camera array (with flash) is arranged in a wide POCO-branded camera bump (more on this later), and physically the smartphone is 162 x 77 x 9.6 mm and weighs in at 198 g. There’s a power button with a fingerprint sensor on the side.

Returning to the front, the display is FHD+ meaning 2340 x 1080 pixels, 395 ppi and a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The screen to bezel ratio is 90.3% so the screen fills the phone, as it were. Inside the M3 is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 662, a 4G processor launched in 2020 which outperforms the Snapdragon 665 by 10%. The 662 comprises a Kryo 470 octa-core CPU running at up to 2.0 GHz and an Adreno 610 GPU. The POCO M3 will be available in two variants, 4GB+64GB and 6GB+128GB, and if that’s not enough storage, the phone can take a microSD card up to 512 GB – that’s quite a few films. There’s a dual 4G SIM tray too.

To keep the M3 powered up, the phone comes with a large 6,000 mAh battery which is expected to give 5 days of battery life for light use and 1.5 days under heavy use. Or to put it another way, that’s 196 hours of music or 17 hours of streaming video. The phone supports 18 W fast charging and wired reverse charging via USB C. It comes with a 22.5 W charger in the box.

Round the back, the POCO M3 comes with a triple camera configuration in a thin but unnecessarily wide camera bump. This design isn’t an accident and is intended to stop the M3 wobbling when lying on a table or desk. Returning to the cameras, the main lens is a 48 MP unit paired with a 2 MP depth sensor along with a 2 MP macro unit. On the front, it’s an 8 MP teardrop selfie cam. The M3 comes with some clever filters and effects including night mode, portrait mode, “movie frame”, time-lapse and color-focus, which removes the colour from the photograph except for the focal point of the picture.

Fan favourites, the M3 includes an IR blaster and retains the 3.5 mm earphone jack, along with dual speakers. Out of the box, the phone will be running the MIUI12 flavour of Android 10.

What about the price, or the value, as Xiaomi suggests? Impressively, even the 128 GB version comes in well under US$200. The two models are priced very competitively at

  • 4 GB + 64 GB is US$149
  • 6 GB + 128 GB is US$169

The POCO M3 will be available this week from 27th November. What day is that? Oh, yes, it’s Black Friday. As a special BF deal, there’s US$20 off both models at Amazon, Mi.com, AliExpress and Lazada but check local T&Cs.

The launch event is available on YouTube below. Skip through to about 29 minutes in.


Qualcomm Received License to Sell Chips to Huawei



Qualcomm Inc. has received a license from the U.S. government to sell 4G mobile phone chips to Huawei Technologies Co Ltd., Reuters reported. This decision means that Qualcomm has complied with a rule that the U.S. Department of Commerce unveiled in May of 2020 that requires licenses for sales to Huawei Technologies of semiconductors made abroad with U.S. technology.

In August of 2020, Qualcomm asked the Trump administration to roll back its restrictions on the sale of advanced components to Huawei Technologies so that Qualcomm could sell chips for 5G phones to Huawei. At the time, The Wall Street Journal reported that Qualcomm was telling U.S. policy makers that their export ban won’t stop Huawei from obtaining necessary components. The company also said the export ban risked handing billions of dollars of Huawei sales to its overseas competitors.

The request by Qualcomm came after a patent-rights dispute with Huawei was resolved. The settlement gave Qualcomm a $1.8 billion lump-sum payment from Huawei to cover previously unpaid fees. It also included a multiyear deal to license Qualcomm’s patented technologies for Huawei use.

Obviously, that part of the settlement would not have worked out for Qualcomm unless it obtained a license from the U.S. Department of Commerce. A Qualcomm spokeswoman told Reuters, “We received a license for a number of products, which includes some 4G products.”

Engadget reported, in August of 2020, that after September 15, 2020, Huawei would no longer have access to the manufacturing it needs to continue making the Mate 40’s Kirin 9000 processor. The result was that Huawei was running out of smartphone chips.


OnePlus Rounds Out Range with Nord N10 and N100 smartphones



As promised at the launch of the 8T earlier in the month, OnePlus has announced two new Nord smartphones, the N10 5G and the N100. These join the existing Nord in the smartphone line-up but unlike the original Nord (the N1?), the N10 and N100 will be coming to North America. Let’s take a quick look at specs and pricing but it’s perhaps more interesting to review OnePlus’ overall line up and the impact of that.

N10 5G

The N10 5G is unsurprisingly a 5G phone with a Snapdragon 690 octa-core CPU backed up by 6 GB RAM and 128 GB of storage. In a first for OnePlus, the N10 will take a microSD card up to 512 GB. The screen is a 90 Hz 6.49″ 1080 x 2400 (FHD+) display giving 405 ppi. Quad cameras round the back – 64 MP main lens, 8 MP ultra wide, 2 MP macro lens and 2 MP monochrome lens. 16 MP selfie camera on the front. And all this is powered by a 4300 mAh battery with support for Warp Charge 30T. It’s priced at GB£329 and will be available later in November.

Below the N10 in the range is the N100 though both phones are physically very similar. The N100 is not a 5G phone but it’s still powered by Qualcomm, only this time it’s a Snapdragon 460 octa-core CPU supported by 4 GB RAM and 64 GB of storage. Like the N10, the N100 will take a microSD card but only up to 256 GB. The screen is a 6.52″ 720 x 1600 (HD+) display giving 269 ppi. Triple cameras round the back – 13 MP main lens, 2 MP macro lens and 2 MP bokeh portrait lens. 8 MP selfie camera on the front. And all this is powered by a 5000 mAh battery with support for 18W fast charge. It’s priced at GB£179 and will arrive on 10 November.

N100

So OnePlus is very much filling out the product range in areas that are definitely not flagship killers. Let’s look at the prices (all GB£) across the portfolio for phones that are (or will be) available to buy.

  • N100 – £179
  • N10 – £329
  • Nord – £379
  • 7T – £469
  • 8 – £549 / £599
  • 8T – £549 / £649
  • 8 Pro – £799 / £899

Looking at this, OnePlus has now got a phone for you whatever your budget (and I think the base price of the 8 is likely to drop by £50 soon). That’s quite a turnaround in six months from when arguably there were only two phones in the range – 8 and 8 Pro. I know that’s not strictly true with older models being on sale too, but it seems to me that there’s now a conscious effort to have phones at every price point. Let’s not forget that the 7T is only a year old and Apple has a similar strategy for its previous generation models too.

OnePlus still meet their value criteria as all of these look pretty well-specced for the price point, though some commentators reckon the Nord and the 8T are the best value devices given the specs. Personally, my smartphone budget is usually sub £500 and my last two mobile phone purchases were both “previously enjoyed” models, saving even more money. But that’s not the point here: OnePlus now have a full portfolio of products from £179 to £899 offering value-for-money smartphones whatever you have to spend.


DOOGEE S96 Pro Sees in the Dark with IR Night Vision



DOOGEE claim to be the “world-leading rugged phone brand” and their flagship phones have the capabilities – dustproof, waterproof, shockproof – with the certifications to back it up – IP68, IP69K, MIL-STD-810G. Today, DOOGEE add another string to their bow with the introduction of night vision in the new S96 Pro smartphone. Yes, night vision.

As part of a rear quad camera array, the S96 Pro has a 20 MP night vision camera using a Sony IMX350 sensor chip with an 80° field of view. The IMX350 is an ultra-low-light sensor but for those really dark nights, the camera is supported by four infrared night vision lights and four LED lights providing both invisible and visible light. Regrettably, DOOGEE haven’t provided any sample photographs but the S96 should be able to provide some amazing images at night.

For the rest of the quad array, the S96 Pro sports a main 48 MP sensor, an 8 MP wide-angle sensor with 130° field of view and 2 MP macro camera. Don’t worry, selfie lovers aren’t left out with with a waterdrop 16 MP front-facing camera. The screen is a 6.22’’ HD+ waterdrop screen made from Corning Gorilla Glass with a 1520×720 resolution giving 270 ppi.

In terms of the CPU, it’s a MediaTek Helio G90 octa-core processor chipset running at 2 GHz, backed up by 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of UFS storage. It should be pretty nippy with plenty of space for apps and media. This is all powered by a whopping 6350 mAh battery, which is possibly the largest battery I’ve seen in smartphone in some time. DOOGEE reckon on two to three days between charging in normal use, but if it needs topped up, this can be done wirelessly or via 24 W USB C fast charge.

Maintaining DOOGEE’s rugged standards, the S96 is waterproof and dustproof to IP68 and IP69K. The depth rating isn’t just for accidental immersion in a puddle or sewer as DOOGEE offer an underwater camera-mode for photography up to 5 m deep in short dips. For prolonged underwater, it’s 30 mins at 1.5 m.

There’s no 5G here but frankly, there is unlikely to be 5G in the back end of nowhere. The S96 Pro does have 2G, 3G and 4G all well covered along with 11acbgn wifi and support for all four satellite positioning systems (GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou and Galileo).

Pricewise, the S96 Pro is US$299.99 or GB£237 and is available now from AliExpress. International delivery and customs duties can be avoided by waiting until December when the phone will be stocked by Amazon.

The S96 Pro is the definition of a tool smartphone. Rugged, waterproof, dustproof, shockproof, night vision, huge battery. This the phone to buy when any other phone would fail and you need it to work, no questions asked.


OnePlus Officially Launches the 8T



After more leaks than a colander, OnePlus has officially launched the OnePlus 8T smartphone. As expected, this is an evolution of OnePlus 8 from earlier in 2020 and while there is no 8T Pro, there is a new Nord special edition coming to Europe.

Sticking with the 8T for now, there aren’t any great surprises from what was revealed in advance, though unlike the 8’s curved screen, the new 8T has a flat 6.55″ OLED screen, 2400 x 1080 pixels (402 ppi) with a 120 Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ support. It’s rated A+ from DisplayMate and it’s the first flat screen to be given this rating. I have to admit not being a great fan of curved screens, so I’m pleased to see this.

Inside the 5G 8T there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 supported by up to 12 GB RAM and 256 GB storage with UFS 3.1. Given the power on tap here, OnePlus have improved thermal performance to consistently deliver high-level gaming performance – Fortnite runs at 90 fps. In terms of electrical power, it’s a 4500 mAh battery and as pre-announced, it supports OnePlus’ 65W Warp Charge which will charge the phone by 60% in 15 minutes. That’s quick.

The phone comes in a choice of two finishes, Aquamarine Green and Lunar Silver but they are tied to the storage size of the device (at least in the UK). For Aquamarine Green, it’s the 8 GB + 128 GB version, and for Lunar Silver, it’s the larger 12 GB + 256 GB one. The Lunar Silver is a matte frosted glass finish, whereas the Aquamarine Green is a glossy finish, though it’s supposed not be a fingerprint magnet. I liked the Green of the 8 and 8 Pro.

Round the back, it’s a quad-camera array with the main lens rocking a 48 megapixel unit with optical image stabilisation. The other lenses include a 16 MP ultrawide with 123° field of view and there’s a 5 MP macro camera let’s you get in up close. Finally, there’s a 2 MP monochrome lens and the in-display selfie camera on the front is 16 MP.

There have been camera improvements for low light levels in this iteration. For still photography, Nightscape photo mode will automatically be engaged when it’s dark, and for video recording, there’s a new Video Nightscape mode which brings light enhancement to videos.

The 8T will come pre-installed with Android 11 in the shape of OxygenOS 11 which is optimised for one-handed use. They’ve partnered with Bitmoji to bring avatar digital experiences to OnePlus – “The Digital You” – and balance personalisation with privacy by using avatars to represent you in the digital world. I’m obviously too old to get excited by this…

If you’ve been a major museum recently, you might have come across Rewild, an AR app developed with Phoria, Netflix and Google to bring the natural world to life. The app’s been enhanced for OxygenOS and now delivers 4K content to the 8T.

Pricewise the OnePlus 8T will come in at 599€ / GB£549 for the 8 GB +128GB, and 699€ / GB£649 / US$749 for the 12 GB + 256 GB version. The 8T smartphone is available now for pre-order from OnePlus and wider availability from 20th October in UK. The full specs are here.

In other news, there’s a OnePlus Nord special edition that comes in Gray Ash with 12 GB RAM & 256 GB storage. It’ll be priced at 499€ / GB£469 and available from 15th October. Nord models for the US market will be announced later in the month.

The OnePlus Buds Z earbuds were also announced for those people who prefer in-ear headphones. With an IP55 water resistance rating, they’re perfect for getting sweaty at the gym. Steven Harrington has done a special edition but otherwise they’ll be available in white and grey options for GB£55 /  US$49.99 and available from 4th November. I think I might get some of those if I can snag a pair of the special editions.

There were also hints of a currently unannounced product, perhaps a smartwatch….Watch this space.

 


OnePlus Drip-Feeds Details Ahead of 8T



With not even a week to go before the full reveal of the OnePlus 8T, the company has been steadily drip-feeding teasers for the upcoming ‘phone. It’s OnePlus’ modus operandi but at times you wonder if there’s any surprise left for the big day.

Here’s what we know about the 8T so far:

  • It will come with OxygenOS 11 (Android 11) out of the box
  • The display will have a 120 Hz refresh rate.
  • The smartphone will have a Snapdragon 865 processor.
  • There will be improvements for low light images.
  • The main camera will be a 48M unit with OIS. See writing on the camera unit here.
  • The 8T is going to come in Aquamarine Green with a beautiful glass body. A Lunar Silver variant has been leaked.
  • Warp charge will support 65 W charging
  • There isn’t going to be an 8T Pro.
  • The back of the phone is going to look like the picture. Taken from this YouTube teaser.

It doesn’t look like the North American Nord models will be showcased next week as a further OnePlus reveal has been pencilled in for later in October.  But here’s hoping for “one more thing”. Rumours have been swirling for months about a OnePlus smartwatch…

In other OnePlus news, the company has created a virtual interactive experience in the OnePlus World, which offers a strange mix of games, activities and a musesum of OnePlus devices. It’s worth a visit….once.

If you want to follow along for the launch of the 8T, the follow the event online on https://www.oneplus.com/launch at 10:00AM EDT / 15:00 BST / 16:00 CEST / 19:30 IST on Wednesday 14 October. Stay tuned!


OnePlus 8T Unveiled on 14 October



OnePlus have announced the launch event for the OnePlus 8T: 1500 BST / 1000 EST on 14 October. This isn’t entirely unexpected as OnePlus have long operated a biannual release strategy but with Covid-19 and the separate release of the Nord model, anything was possible in 2020. Fortunately, there is some stability in the world.

OnePlus is always looking for opportunities to bring the latest technology to our tech-savvy users as soon as we feel it meets our high standards,” said Pete Lau, Founder and CEO of OnePlus. “With the upcoming OnePlus 8T, we are once again raising the bar for ourselves in terms of the overall user experience, thanks to some new features that we are excited to introduce for the first time in a OnePlus device. I am confident that the OnePlus 8T will once again exceed expectations and deliver an unparalleled flagship experience.

Still, not all our questions have been answered. The OnePlus website refers to a special edition of the Nord, which could be for the USA. Who knows? The press release refers to the 8T as the newest flagship device. Are we to take from this that there will be no 8T Pro? Sounds like it. There have also been persistent rumours of a OnePlus smartwatch. Perhaps it’ll be “one more thing…” But whatever happens we can expect a couple of weeks of drip-fed details and titbits in advance of the big day. The event will be live streamed at https://www.oneplus.com/launch.

As with previous OnePlus launches, community members can enter a competition to get their hands-on an 8T in advance for a phone review. Details here. Good luck.