Tag Archives: smartphone

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.


DOOGEE Adds S58 Pro To Rugged Line-Up



Hardly a day goes by at the moment without a new smartphone being announced and here we have DOOGEE, adding the S58 Pro to their rugged line-up. Unlike the average smartphone, the S58 would be entirely at home in a futuristic sci-fi thriller with its radical design, but closer to earth the S58 Pro is perfect for the great outdoors with advanced shock protection and IP68 water resistance.

For those unfamiliar with DOOGEE, the company is a Spanish-Chinese enterprise founded in 2013. The company claims to be the “world leading rugged phone brand” and their flagship tough phone carries IP68, IP69K and MIL-STD-810G certification. Sitting towards the lower end of the DOOGEE range, the new S58 Pro continues the tough tradition with IP68 certification and shock protection.

Let’s take a look at some of the specs. The S58 Pro is powered by a MediaTek Helio P22 octacore CPU with 6 GB RAM and 64 GB storage. For additional space, the Pro will take a microSD card up to 256 GB. The screen is a 5.71″ display with 1520 x 720 pixels giving 295 ppi. There’s a small pinhole in the top centre for the selfie camera.

Powering the S58 Pro is a 5180mAh high-capacity battery which supports 12V/2A fast charging, giving over 2 days of average use. In more detail, the phone will play video for 16 hours, games for 12 hours and music for 42 hours. That’s fairly impressive.

Returning the cameras, the S58 Pro a triple camera array on the rear, with a 16 MP main shooter using the Sony IMX298 sensor, a 2 MP ultrawide and a 2 MP macro camera. The selfie cam on the front uses a 16 MP Samsung unit. There’s nothing to write home about here, but it’s all perfectly acceptable for the price point. Also round the back is the S58’s fingerprint sensor which is easy to use while staying secure.

With the technical specs out the way, let’s look at what makes the S58 Pro a little bit special. On the outside, the S58 looks rugged right from the start. It’s protected by a high strength rubber more usually found in off-road tyres which helps provide 1.5 m drop-protection. The phone is certified to IP68 which means it can be used underwater or in humid environments and can be submerged up to 1m deep underwater for up to 24 hours or 1.5m depth for 2 hours. For the adventurous traveller, the phone copes with extremes of temperatures from 70°C to -55°C. That’s quite chilly. The S58 is available in Army Green, Fire Orange and Mineral Black.

Interestingly, the S58 Pro has an extra button on the side which can be customised to access seven shortcuts for apps. This can be changed by the user and includes turning on the torch, opening an SOS app, starting game mode, recording a voice memo, taking screenshots and turning on the underwater camera. I haven’t actually seen this feature in action but it sounds like it could be very useful if you’re trying to use the phone while wearing gloves or if you need to get at an app quickly.

In terms of pricing, the DOOGEE S58 Pro sneaks in under the US$200 and GB£200 mark, making it good value for an outdoor-oriented phone. The S58 Pro is available now from Gearbest and AliExpress for US$199.99 and from Amazon UK for GB£189.99.


Xiaomi Launches the POCO X3 NFC



Xiaomi today launched the POCO X3 NFC, the third generation of its POCO sub-brand after the F1 and F2. Aimed at the value-conscious gamer, the X3 has a couple of flagship level features that unquestionably set the X3 NFC apart at this price point. The moniker for the presentation was “Exactly What You Need” and I think they delivered.

Starting with the outside, the the POCO X3 NFC has a large 6.67″ LCD Gorilla Glass 5 display on the front and a lovely curved back which beautifully reflects the Shadow Gray and Cobalt Blue of the two colour options. It’s a polycarbonate back, rather than say, glass, but given the number of smashed backs I’ve seen recently, this is not a bad thing. The quad camera array (with flash) is arranged in a circle at the top, and physically the smartphone is 165.3 x 76.8 x 9.4 mm and weighs in at 215 g. There’s a power button with fingerprint sensor on the side.

Returning to the front, the display is FHD+ meaning 2400 x 1080 pixels, 395 ppi and a 20:9 aspect ratio. It’s described as 2.5D which I think means the display has curved sides, and there’s a tiny 3.8 mm hole for the selfie cam at top centre. Stealing from the flagships, the X3’s display has a refresh rate of up to 120 Hz and can dynamically switch from as 50 Hz though 60 Hz, 90 Hz and on to 120 Hz as circumstances demand. The 120 Hz gives that super smooth screen refresh when needed, but if the screen’s only showing a static picture, the display can fall back to 50 Hz to save on power and extend battery life. That’s pretty clever stuff.

For the edge in gaming, the X3 comes with 240 Hz touch sensitivity – that means it can discriminate between touches down to 0.004s. That’s four thousandths of a second, but when playing games at a high level, it can give an edge over another player who plays on a phone with 120 Hz touch sensitivity.

Inside the X3 NFC is the first appearance of Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G. It’s an enhanced version of the 720G and 730G 4G chipsets, comprising a Kyro 470 octa-core CPU and an Adreno 618 GPU. The Kyro is able to boost a pair of “gold” cores to 2.3 GHz for gaming performance and the Adreno GPU includes Qualcomm’s “Elite Gaming” extensions to minimise jank and stutter for smooth movement. The POCO X3 NFC will be available in two variants, 6GB+64GB and 6GB+128GB, and if that’s not enough storage, the phone can take a microSD card up to 256 GB.

The gaming experience is further enhanced with a powerful z-axis linear motor for haptic feedback with 150 different “feels” available. There are stereo speakers too, which have a cool dust blaster feature than clears the cruft and debris out of the speakers. Worth checking that out in slow-mo.

Heat dissipation is always an issue with gaming phones: if the heat can’t get away from the CPU fast enough, the processor’s going to slow down to reduce heat output. The POCO X3 comes with LiquidCool Technology 1.0 Plus which is a fat heat pipe to spread energy through the X3’s internal frame and aims to keep the phone about 6°C cooler than without it. If that’s not enough, Xiaomi have partnered with Black Shark to offer the FunCooler and FunCooler Pro with the X3. Funky lights!

To keep the X3 NFC speeding along, the phone comes with a 5,160 mAh battery which is expected to give 2 days of battery life for an average user. But who is average? To quantify in more detail the battery life, it’s 10 hours of gaming or 17 hours of video. The phone supports 33 W fast charging and it takes just 65 minutes to go from 0% to 100% with the included charger.

Round the back, the POCO X3 NFC comes with a quad camera configuration. The main lens is a 64 MP unit using the Sony IMX 682 sensor, along with a 13 MP 119° wide-angle shooter. A 2 MP macro unit and a 2 MP depth sensor rounds out the rear. On the front, it’s a 20 MP selfie cam. The X3 comes with some clever filters and effects including “gold vibes” that brings out and enhances the yellows, and a “cyberpunk mode” which enhances blues and pinks – both effects look great. There’s also some clever AI effects to add night-time effects to day-time skies. Stars, auroras…

Although there’s a fairly big clue in the name, the POCO X3 NFC supports NFC for swiping those credit cards at the till. Fan favourites, the X3 includes an IR blaster and retains the 3.5 mm earphone jack. Out of the box, the phone will be running Xiaomi’s MIUI12 flavour of Android and POCO Launcher 2.0 and the company is committing to 3 years of consistent system updates.

What about the price? Impressively, even the 128 GB version comes in under GB£250 – I think that’s a good deal given the features on offer here.

  • 6 GB + 64 GB is £199 / 229 €
  • 6 GB + 128 GB is £249 / 269 €

The X3 will be available from tomorrow globally, but will be coming to the UK from 17th September on both mi.com/uk and Amazon UK. For early birds, there’s £20 off the 128 GB version bringing the price down to just £229. That offer will last until 8th October 2020.

This looks like a very compelling offering for the value-conscious gamer and I’m sure it’ll get plenty of attention.

The launch event is available on YouTube below. Skip through to about 35 minutes in.


Xiaomi Ecosystem Updates for the UK



Xiaomi launched in the UK back in November 2018 and has made considerable progress in brand recognition and product availability – I know a couple of people who have bough Mi phones or Smart Bands and say good things. Certainly there’s probably an element of benefitting from Huawei’s misfortune but I think that does a disservice to Xiaomi’s products which go from personal gadgets and personal transport to smart homes and smart phones.

Xiaomi continues to move forwards and recently revealed its plans for UK partnerships for electric scooters and smart phones, plus the availability of the latest Mi Smart Band 5. Checking out these scooters, I definitely need to get one of these in for review…

Motoring and cycling specialists Halfords will be stocking Xiaomi’s new scooters. At the top of the range is the Mi Electric Scooter Pro 2 at GB£599. This e-scooter has a range of 45 km and can reach speeds of 25 km/h (15.5 mph) with a 300 W motor, and folds up for easy storage. It’s available now from Halfords.

Also available is the Mi Electric Scooter 1S, a cheaper variant of the Pro 2 at £499, but still coming with a range of 25 km and a top speed of the 25 km/h (15.5 mph) from the 250 W motor. Both the 1S and the Pro 2 have double brakes for safety.

At the bottom of the range is the Mi Electric Scooter Essential at £399 which can cover a distance of 20 km at a speed of 20 km/h. This scooter comes with 8.5″ pneumatic tyres, E-ABS and disc brakes and will be available soon.

Please remember that currently electric scooters can only be ridden legally on private land. UK Government trials are underway using commercial rental scooters. For a bit of fun, check out this race between a Xiaomi scooter and a jet-pack. Really…a jet pack

On the phone side, Xiaomi has partnered with 3 UK to offer the Mi 10 5G and Redmi Note 9 smartphones from 28th August. These are phones at opposite ends of the handset market. The Mi 10 comes with 6.67″ 90 Hz screen with a Snapdragon 865 CPU, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB storage, 5G and a quad camera setup with a 108 MP main shooter. Photos are analysed and improved using AI to get the best possible image. Priced at £799, it’s not cheap but there’s plenty of value in the Mi 10. On contract, 3 are offering a number of deals, including some with six months half-price.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Redmi Note 9 is only £149 with a 6.53″ FHD+ screen powered by a Mediatek Helio G85. There’s an AI supported quad camera round the back, with a 48 MP primary lens, and comes with 3 GB RAM and 64 GB of storage. Again, 3 have offers on the phone if buying the phone outright isn’t your thing

Finally, the Mi Smart Band 5 has a large 1.1″ AMOLED colour display, tracks 11 different sport types and is water-resistant to 50m, which means it’s perfect for swimming. With a two week battery life and magnetic coupling, it can spend more time on the wrist and less time on the charger. Priced at only £39.95 it seems like a complete bargain!

If you want to see more on all these products, the UK launch video is on Twitter.