Tag Archives: smartphone

Xiaomi Announces Redmi Note 9 and Note 9 Pro Phones



There’s hardly a day goes by at the moment without a smartphone launch and today it’s the turn of the Redmi Note 9 and Note 9 Pro. Redmi is one of Xiaomi‘s brands along with Mi and Pocophone, and unlike its Chinese competitor Huawei, Xiaomi still has access to US technology so there’s full access to Google Play and updates to Android. While Xiaomi and Redmi aren’t well known in the UK and USA, they’re hugely popular world-wide, with both Note 8 phones featuring in the global top 10. I watched the on-line launch and there were over 14,000 people viewing YouTube.

Typically, the Redmi phones are priced at less than GB£300 while still offering decent specs on paper, such as 6 GB RAM, 128 GB storage and a 64 MP camera. These aren’t all-round flagship phones – there’s no wireless charging for example – but offer good value for money with a couple of flagship-level features, such as the high definition camera. The demonstration photography and video shown at the launch was very impressive. Let’s take a look.

The Note 9 Pro is the usual smartphone design with a 6.67″ FHD+ display (2400 x 1080) on the front with a 16 MP in-display camera centred at the top. Round the back, there’s a quad camera setup with a 64 MP main shooter, an 8 MP ultra wide-angle camera, a 5 MP macro camera and a 2 MP depth sensor, which sounds interesting. There’s a finger print sensor on the side, and phone comes in three colourways; interstellar grey, glacier white, tropical green. Overall dimensions are 165.75 x 76.68 x 8.8 mm, and the 9 Pro weighs in at 209 g.

The Pro has a quirky video mode called Kaleidoscope which is exactly as you’d imagine, giving weird reflections and angles, just like looking down a kaleidoscope. It works on both the main rear camera and front selfie camera.

Powering the Note is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G made up of a Kryo octa-core 2.3 GHz CPU paired with an Adreno 618 CPU. It’s the first time that a Snapdragon CPU has featured in a Redmi phone. There’s 6GB of RAM and a choice of 64 GB or 128 GB of storage with expansion up to 512 GB via memory card. There’s a 5020 mAh battery with 30W fast charge via a USB C port. That’ll charge to 50% from 0% in 30 mins or less.

As expected at this price point, it’s 4G only, though it does take a pair of SIMs. There’s Bluetooth 5.0 and a 3.5 mm headphone socket, and unusually an IR remote which is good for controlling TVs and other AV gear.

Moving on to the Redmi Note 9, it has a similar form factor and style but lower specs for the cameras and the processor. This time, it’s 6.53″ FHD+ display (2340 x 1080) with a 13 MP in-display selfie cam on the top left. On the rear, there’s a similar array of four cameras: a 48 MP wide-angle main camera, an 8 MP ultra-wide angle camera, a 2 MP macro and a 2 MP depth sensor. The finger printer sensor is on the rear too, and there’s a selection of three colours: midnight grey, polar white and forest green. The Note 9 is slight smaller but fatter than the Pro, with dimensions of 162.3 x 77.2 x 8.9 mm and 199g.

Inside is a MediaTek Helio G85 which uses an octa-core 2.0 GHz CPU and an ARM Mali-G52 GPU. There are two models, one with 3 GB RAM and 64 GB storage and another sporting 4 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. As with the Pro, storage can be expanded with a memory card to 512 GB. There’s a 5020 mAh battery with 18W fast charge via a USB C port. That’ll give more than 2 days worth of power in normal use.

As with the Pro, there’s 4G and a pair of SIMs. Bluetooth 5.0, headphone socket and the IR blaster.

Pricing-wise, the Redmi 9 Pro 64 is US$269 for the 64 GB one and the 128 GB model is $US299.
For the Redmi 9, the 3 GB / 64 GB version is US$199 and the 4 GB / 128 GB one is US$249.
Both will be available from mid-May.

I’m afraid pricing and availability is still to be confirmed for the UK, though I imagine it will be in line with current pricing and the US prices.


Motorola Returns to the High-End with Edge and Edge+



Motorola‘s been firmly established as the go-to provided of mid-range phones with its long running g-series of handsets, but the absence of a top-end phone has been noticeable, despite the appearance of a rebooted Razr. Fortunately, Moto have addressed this with the launch today of two new devices, the Edge and Edge+. Motorola reckon these will be the fastest, loudest and boldest.

This time round, Motorola are sticking to the traditional flat slab format – there are no folding screens here. The Edge+ is the high-end flagship supported by the less powerful Edge, which is still well above the g-series in terms of spec.

Both use the same screen each sporting a 6.7″ 21:9 aspect ratio “Endless Edge Display” with HDR10+ and 90 Hz refresh rate. It’s a 10 bit FHD+ OLED display and as is the fashion, it’s curved at the sides, though it seems the curves have quite a small radius, giving a significant edge to the screen (has the penny dropped?) Motorola are taking advantage of this Edge for actions – swipe down to show notifications, notifications – it’ll glow when a call comes in, and status, showing battery level when charging. There’s demo video here.

Under the hood, they’re both sporting the popular Qualcomm Snapdragons, but the Edge+ gets the faster Snapdragon 865 paired with 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB of storage. This combination of processor, RAM and storage appears to be the definition of high-end for 2020. The Edge takes the Snapdragon 765, with 6 GB RAM in Europe (4 GB USA) and 128 GB of storage, though this can be supplemented up to 1 TB with a memory card.

Unsurprisingly for 2020, both phones are 5G devices, with the Edge+ working with both mmWave and sub-6GHz frequencies. There’s WiFi 6 in there too.

A 5000 mAh battery will keep the Edge+ phone powered up for two days in normal use, though what constitutes normal will clearly vary. The Edge has a slightly smaller 4500 mAh battery and much like the OnePlus 8 series, the Edge+ has wireless charging (15W) but the Edge doesn’t, surviving with only 18W TurboPower wired charging.

Round the back, it’s a triple camera setup for the Edge+, with a 108 MP main shooter, a 16 MP ultrawide lens with macro vison and an 8 MP telephoto lens. The selfie camera is a 25 MP sensor with a hole-punch in the top left of the display. The Edge has slightly lower specs with a 64 MP main lens, but otherwise the 16 MP ultrawide lens with macro vison and an 8 MP telephoto lens are unchanged.

With dual stereo stereo speakers and precision audio tuned by Waves Audio, both Edge phones have the loudest, most powerful audio on a smartphone, and in news that will delight audiophiles, the phones both retain the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Regrettably, the Edge+ won’t be coming to the UK and it’s a Verizon exclusive in the US to run on their superfast 5G. It’ll be available in the US on 14 May priced at a cool US$999. In Europe, residents of Italy, Scandinavian countries and Serbia will be able to get their hands on the phones.

For the UK, the Edge will go on sale in May 2020 priced at GB£579 from O2, John Lewis, Amazon and Argos.


OnePlus 8 Hands-On Review



True to form, OnePlus has announced its spring line up of smartphones, the OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8 Pro. Fortunately, I was sent a pair of review handsets and in this article, I’ll be going over the 8. While rumours still abound about a third lower level phone, the 8 remains the entry point into OnePlus’ range. I think it will be very popular as it shares many of the characteristics of its big brother but at a lower price. Let’s take a look…but first a word of warning. It’s really hard to write two completely different reviews for two very similar phones, so I’m going to admit right up front that some of the paragraphs are completely lifted from the review of the 8 Pro only with the detail changed for the 8. Sorry.

The 8 comes in rectangular box, bathed in the usual OnePlus red. Inside the box, the phone comes initially clothed in a slightly opaque covering. Once unwrapped, the frosted glass Glacial Green on the back becomes apparent. It’s lovely, both to look at and hold. There’s a slight matte texture to the rear glass so it’s not super slippy to hold (unlike my 6T), but you’re going need a case, and OnePlus kindly includes a transparent bumper case in the box too. In terms of colours, the Pro will offer two colour options in the UK. Onyx Black which will have 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage, and Glacial Green with 12 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. A third colour, Interstellar Glow, will not available in the UK. I know the rear looks blue in the photos but that’s the way the back reflects light under different conditions.

Physically, the phone is 160.2 x 72.9 x 8.0 mm and weighs in at 180 g, so it’s slightly shorter and lighter than the 8 Pro, but these dimensions are very much in-line with previous generations of the phone, like the 6T. However, it’s a bigger screen for the same body size. Returning to the physical characteristics, it follows a similar layout to most OnePlus phones. USB-C 3.1 port on the bottom, volume controls on the left, power button on the right, alert slider on the right above power, cameras on the back. The SIM tray is at the bottom next to the USB port and supports two SIMS that are inserted back-to-back. A SIM ejection tool is included. There’s no audio socket and there hasn’t been for a couple of generations.

For the screen, the 8 has a lovely 90 Hz “fluid display”. It’s very fast, it’s clear and the colours look great. With a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels and a screen size of 6.34″/6.55″, it comes out as 402 ppi. I can’t see the dots unless I look really close. The screen has rounded edges, hence the two measurements for size. It’s an AMOLED screen with 3D Corning Gorilla Glass on top keeping it safe. Like the 8 Pro, the screen has the curved edges, but I think the curves are sharper on the 8, making it more like a traditional flat screen. There’s an in-display fingerprint sensor which is impressively fast – it’s noticeably quicker than the one on my 6T.

Under the hood, and just like the 8 Pro, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 CPU, paired with an Adreno 650 GPU. The RAM is LPDDR4 and storage is courtesy of UFS 3.0 at either 128 GB or 256 GB. 5G is provided by the X55 chipset and WiFi 6 is supported. Performance-wise, after three runs GeekBench 5 gave average scores of 915 single-core and 3385 multi-core which comfortably beat last year’s 7T. Bizarrely, the 8’s GeekBench 5 score actually beats the 8 Pro.  I don’t know why.

Unlike the 7 and 7T, the 8 doesn’t have a teardrop camera and instead has a discreet hole-punch 16 MP camera in the top left of the screen. Round the back, the 8 has three other cameras; a 2 MP macro camera, a 16 MP ultrawide with a 116 degree field of view and a 48 MP main camera. The front camera and main camera all use Sony sensors. The cameras do stick out the back by a couple of millimetres, so a case of some kind is going to be essential to avoid scratching. The camera app itself has been improved to take advantage of the cameras automatically and will sometimes suggest that a photo would be better taken in a different mode. If you want bokeh, the portrait mode does a good job blurring the background. The macro camera’s good fun and you can play with your children to capture some of those ever-popular mini-beasts. I was really impressed by the level of magnification that was possible with the 48 MP camera and the colours are good and true to life.

The two photos below were taken from the same spot at nearly the same time. The upper one is the ultrawide and middle one is the main camera without any magnification, and the lower one is the main camera with 2x magnification.

Unlike the 8 Pro, there’s no funky colour filter camera, but there are still some effects available within the app. Here’s my shed in “black and white”. Astute readers will notice that it’s been painted (cf 8 Pro review).

Inside the phone is a 4500 mAh battery which is only 10 mAh smaller than the 8 Pro. Hmm, I think there might be a little shenanigans there to make sure that the top-end phone has the bigger battery. In what I think of as ordinary use, I got the best part of two days out of a charge, but yes, game playing is still energy expensive. For charging, OnePlus’ Warp Charge 30T delivers 30W of power and will charge the 8 from 1% to 50% in 22 minutes – I’ve actually tested this and it’s true. A Warp Charge 30 charger and cable come in the box with the 8, so there’s nothing extra to buy.

The other new feature relates to battery longevity. The perceived wisdom is that keeping lithium-ion batteries at 100% is not optimal and that overtime the capacity of the battery degrades. The 8 now has a feature (undoubtedly powered by AI) where the phone uses behaviour patterns to predict when 100% charge is needed and to charge to hit the target. For example, if you plug the 8 in at night just before going to bed, it won’t start charging until say, 0530, knowing that you usually grab the phone while having breakfast at 0700.

Based on Android 10, OxygenOS has seen a few improvements here and there but retains its closeness to stock Android that is very much part of its appeal. The most obvious of these is dynamic backgrounds which swirl and morph when the phone is turned on or you swipe between launcher pages. It’s really fun. For lovers of dark modes, OnePlus has developed a new mode theme from the ground up. I’m not generally a dark mode user, but what I did see during testing looked good: I could be a convert.

Games play really well on the 8. I tried out Call of Duty, X-Plane and Galaxy on Fire for starters and they’re all great. The 8 includes “gaming mode” and “fnatic mode” which lets you tailor the gaming experience by devoting resources and blocking notifications when you’re in the zone, as it were. It’s a super smooth experience.

The only downside I’ve discovered to the 8 is with the pre-installed screen protector. First, it’s not as well installed as it is on the 8 Pro. On the Pro, I had to look really hard to find the edges of the screen protector; it’s just about seamless and there’s no cut-out for the camera. Whereas on the 8, it’s quite obvious, particularly round the hole-punch camera. And secondly, the screen protector on the 8 seems to be a perfect dust magnet! I didn’t have this problem with the 8 Pro and it’s very annoying.

Pricing-wise…

OnePlus 8
8 GB / 128 GB – US$699 / GB£599
12 GB / 256 GB – US$799 / GB£699
The OnePlus 8 series will be available SIM-free from OnePlus.com, John Lewis and Amazon from 0900 on 21 April, with all John Lewis purchases also coming with Bullets Wireless 2 headphones while stock lasts.

Overall, this is a seriously good phone at a good price and very much continues the progression of the standard OnePlus phones. It’s a premium-feeling phone, it looks fabulous, there’s no skimping on the performance and everything else like the screen and the cameras are within spitting distance of the 8 Pro. You get 5G, WiFi 6, fast charging and OxygenOS. Frankly, if it was my money and the choice was between an 8 at £599 and an 8 Pro at £799, I think I’d buy the 8 and keep the £200 change.

Thanks to OnePlus for supplying the 8 for review.


OnePlus 8 Pro Hands-On Review



OnePlus typically announces new models in the spring and the autumn, and despite Covid-19 this year is no different with the launch today (14th April)  of the OnePlus 8 and the flagship 8 Pro. Fortunately, I was sent a pair of review handsets and in this article, I’ll be going over the flagship edition, the 8 Pro. As will be seen shortly, the Pro has a couple of new features that bring OnePlus back to the top of its game. Let’s take a look.

The 8 Pro comes in rectangular box, bathed in the usual OnePlus red. Inside the box, the phone comes initially clothed in a slightly opaque covering. Once unwrapped, the frosted glass Glacial Green on the back becomes apparent. It’s lovely, both to look at and hold. There’s a slight matte texture to the rear glass so it’s not super slippy to hold (unlike my 6T), but you’re going need a case, and OnePlus kindly includes a transparent bumper case in the box too. In terms of colours, the Pro will offer two colour options in the UK. Onyx Black which will have 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage, and Glacial Green with 12 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. A third colour, Ultramarine Blue, will not available in the UK. I know the rear looks blue in the photos but that’s the way the back reflects light under different conditions.

Physically, the phone is 165.3 x 74.4 x 8.5 mm and weighs in at 199 g, so it’s slightly taller than you might expect but this is reflected in the screen’s 19.8-to-9 aspect ration. More on the screen in a minute… Returning to the physical characteristics, it follows a similar layout to most OnePlus phones. USB-C port on the bottom, volume controls on the left, power button on the right, alert slider (yay!) on the right above power, cameras on the back. The SIM tray is at the bottom next to the USB port and supports two SIMS that are inserted back-to-back. A SIM ejection tool is included. There’s no audio socket and there hasn’t been for a couple of generations, but in an OnePlus first, the 8 Pro comes with an IP68 rating, meaning it will withstand water ingress at 1.5 m for 30 minutes. Perfect in case you have a little accident (but I didn’t test this).

For the screen, the 8 Pro has a gorgeous 120 Hz “fluid display” which scored the Best Smartphone Display accolade from DisplayMate, getting top scores in ten different areas. I can’t comment on that level of detail other than to say it’s pretty impressive. It’s very fast, it’s clear and the colours look fantastic. With a resolution of 3168 x 1440 pixels and a screen size of 6.55″/6.78″, it comes out as 513ppi. I can’t see the dots. The screen has rounded edges, hence the two measurements for size. It’s an AMOLED screen with 3D Corning Gorilla Glass on top keeping it safe. The display supports HDR giving blacker blacks and whiter whites, and the colour accuracy has been improved too with 10-bit colour representation. There’s an in-display fingerprint sensor which is impressively fast – it’s noticeably quicker than the one on my 6T.

Under the hood, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 CPU, paired with an Adreno 650 GPU. The RAM is LPDDR5 which is both faster (30%) and more energy-efficient (20%) than the previous generation. Storage is courtesy of UFS 3.0 at either 128 GB or 256 GB, though there are couple of new tricks to improve performance. 5G is courtesy of the X55 chipset and WiFi 6 is supported. Performance-wise, after three runs GeekBench 5 gave average scores of 893 single-core and 3302 multi-core which comfortably beat last year’s 7T.

Unlike previous the previous two Pros, the 8 doesn’t have a pop-up selfie camera and instead has a discreet hole-punch 16 MP camera in the top left of the screen. Round the back, the 8 Pro has four other cameras; a 8 MP 3x telephoto with OIS, a 48 MP ultrawide with a nearly 120 degree field of view, a 48 MP main camera and a 5 MP colour filter camera. The front camera, the ultrawide and main camera all use Sony sensors. The cameras do stick out the back by a couple of millimetres, so a case of some kind is going to be essential. The camera app itself has been improved to take advantage of the cameras automatically and will sometimes suggest that a photo would be better taken in a different mode. If you want bokeh, the portrait mode does a good job blurring the background. I was really impressed by the level of magnification that was possible – I took a photograph of a horse and could zoom in on my PC to see the individual eyelashes round her eyes.

For video, the 8 Pro uses both OIS and EIS together for smooth video, and a technology called 3-HDR which enhances lighting in video. It’s impressive especially when there’s a strong backlight.

The two photos below were taken from the same spot at nearly the same time. The upper one is the ultrawide, the middle is the main camera and lower one is the telephoto.

The colour filter camera lets you do funky things with the colours. I haven’t quite figured out all the settings but here’s my shed. Yes, it’s in need of paint, but the one on the left is colour enriched and on the right, it’s erm, different. Perfect for standing out on Instagram.

And in big (but pre-announced) news, the 8 Pro will support wireless charging. The Warp Charge 30 Wireless delivers 30W of power and will charge the 8 Pro from 0% to 50% in 30 minutes. I wasn’t able to test this as wireless chargers weren’t provided, but wired charging worked as specified, boosting the battery by 50% in 23 minutes. The wireless charging conforms to the Qi standard for 5W and 10W charging: I was able to use an old Zens wireless charger successfully on the 8 Pro but it does charge much more slowly! A Warp Charge 30 charger and cable come in the box with the 8 Pro.

Inside the phone is a 4510 mAh battery which gives absolutely oodles of power. In what I think of as ordinary use, I got the best part of two days out of a charge, but yes, game playing is still energy expensive. The other new feature relates to battery longevity. The perceived wisdom is that keeping lithium-ion batteries at 100% is not optimal and that overtime the capacity of the battery degrades. The 8 Pro now has a feature (undoubtedly powered by AI) where the phone uses behaviour patterns to predict when 100% charge is needed and to charge to hit the target. For example, if you plug the 8 Pro in at night just before going to bed, it won’t start charging until say, 0530, knowing that you usually grab the phone while having breakfast at 0700.

Based on Android 10, OxygenOS has seen a few improvements here and there but retains its closeness to stock Android that is very much part of its appeal. The most obvious of these is dynamic backgrounds which swirl and morph when the phone is turned on or you swipe between launcher pages. It’s really fun. There’s also motion estimate and motion compensation (MEMC) to smooth video playback on the 120 Hz screen. It’s intended to interpolate frames, and reduce motion blur and ghosting, when watching films and videos recorded at lower frame rates. The feature can be turned off, but Netflix looked and sounded great.

Games play really well on the 8 Pro. I tried out Call of Duty, X-Plane and Galaxy on Fire for starters and they’re all great. The 8 Pro includes “gaming mode” and “fnatic mode” which lets you tailor the gaming experience by devoting resources and blocking notifications when you’re in the zone, as it were. It’s a super smooth experience. In addition, Google Stadia is coming to the One Plus 8 Pro and other OnePlus phones.

Pricing-wise…

OnePlus 8 Pro
8 GB / 128 GB – US$899 / GB£799
12 GB / 256 GB – US$999 / GB£899
The OnePlus 8 series will be available SIM-free from OnePlus.com, John Lewis and Amazon from 0900 on 21 April, with all John Lewis purchases also coming with Bullets Wireless 2 headphones while stock lasts.

Overall, this is a flagship phone with premium materials and high-end features. The feel in the hand is lovely, the cameras are impressive, the display is gorgeous. And the new features like 5G, IP68 and wireless charging are all very welcome. I’m not going to pretend the 8 Pro is cheap, because it’s not, but you are buying a great phone.

Thanks to OnePlus for supplying the 8 Pro for review.


No Surprises at OnePlus 8 Series Launch?



The new OnePlus 8 series will launch tomorrow but there have been so many leaks, both official and unofficial, that it makes you wonder what they have left to announce. Here’s what’s been revealed over the past week or so…

Display

There will be a new “fluid display” with a 120 Hz refresh rate which has received an A+ rating from DisplayMate and the Best Smartphone Display Award. According to DisplayMate’s analysis, the OnePlus 8 series display sets or matches more than ten smartphone display performance records in nearly all key categories for the best displays on the market, including colour accuracy, image contrast, display brightness and screen reflection, with four categories scoring visually indistinguishable from perfect. The full details of the award are under embargo but check here after the keynote.

OnePlus has quickly established itself as an industry leader in display performance, consistently providing among the best implementations of OLED technology on the market,” said Dr. Raymond Soneira, President of DisplayMate Technologies. “The OnePlus 8 series continues that tradition of excellence, improving on the outstanding results of last year’s OnePlus 7 series and keeping OnePlus ahead of the curve.

In other screen news, OnePlus has announced that the 120 Hz fluid display will feature technologies like motion estimate and motion compensation (MEMC) to smooth video playback and 10-bit colour for a more accurate display of colours across the spectrum.

Design

OnePlus teased the new design with a short YouTube video revealing a new Glacial Green finish. Don’t know if this the 8 or the 8 Pro…

OnePLus has talked a little about CMF – colour, material, finish – which embodies how a smart phone (or any product) feels in the hand. Pete Lau, CEO, talks about this and the impact of some of the materials over in the OnePlus community forums.

CPU and Storage

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 will power the OnePlus 8 series, giving significant improvements in both CPU and GPU performance (25%) while being more energy-efficient (also 25%). In addition, video recording processing is much improved with a similar reduction in power consumption.

The newest generation of smartphone RAM, LPDDR5, will be used too, with high-speed data transfer rates of 6,400 Mb/s. Woo-hoo. With a focus on improving battery life, LPDDR5 has 45% less power consumption compared with LPDDR4.

OnePlus already usings UFS 3.0 flash storage but two new technologies have been added to the hardware story – Turbo Write and Host Performance Booster. Turbo Write uses the upper section of the ROM’s storage as a high-speed read/write interval. In theory, each read/write will enter this high-speed buffer, and then proceed to the next command of data transfer. I guess what this means is that there is a fast cache that data can be shuffled into before being written into the main storage area.
In addition, HPB (Host Performance Booster) can further improve the random read performance after extended use.

5G

All the OnePlus 8 series phones will be 5G.

Wireless Charging

The new OnePlus 8 Pro will feature wireless charging using Warp Charge 30 Wireless, giving a 50% charge in just 30 minutes. OnePlus has been one of longest holdouts on the wireless charging front (Palm had it on the Pre in 2009…) so it was inevitable that to keep a credible flagship phone, it needed wireless charging. The technology has a power input of 30W, hence the 30 in Warp Charge 30. If a OnePlus charger isn’t available, the 8 Pro can be charger from any Qi wireless charger, albeit at a slower rate. Both 5W and 10W charging speeds are supported with Qi.

Going by the diagrams, there will be Warp Charge Wireless dock but as yet, no photos and no price.

Online Pop-Up

With everyone staying at home to keep Covid-19 at bay, the usual city pop-ups for the early adopters would illegal in most countries round the world. Previously, these events have been hosted in cities like Paris, Helsinki, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Rome, Milan, Madrid, Barcelona and Brussels. As expected these days, the event is going on-line and anyone buying a OnePlus 8 device from the official website shortly after the launch keynote will get a special pop-up box that includes their new devices plus some OnePlus branded goodies. Limited quantities and first-come-first-served, just like the real world pop-ups.

Watch Online

If there’s still enough to keep you interested, the OnePlus Series 8 launch will kick off at 1100 EST, 1500 GMT, 1600 BST and 1700 CEST. Follow along at the OnePlus official website http://onepl.us/8serieslaunch or YouTube http://onepl.us/8SeriesLaunchEvent.

I’ll be bringing you the details of the new phones after the keynote launch…..whatever they are!


Xiaomi Mi Fan Festival Starts This Week



Given Huawei’s predicament, fans of Chinese phones might be looking for a new source of value-for-money hardware. In which case, look no further than Xiaomi which offers a wide range of gadgetry, from smartphones to smart homes, from luggage to scooters. There’s even a smart kettle that will heat water to a pre-defined temperature: of course, the desired hotness is set via an app.

Xiaomi encompasses a number of sub-brands, including Mi, Redmi and Pocophone. Both Mi and Redmi have extensive smartphone ranges and prices starting from less than £100 going up to nearly £700 for the Mi Mix 3 5G. The latter comes with a Snapdragon 855 processor, 6 GB RAM, 128 GB storage and a 6.3″ AMOLED screen from Samsung.

Personally, I have no experience of the phones, though I’ve used some of the smart home sensors with my SmartThings setup. The motion sensors are cheaper, smaller and the battery lasts longer than the Samsung equivalents.

Each year, Xiaomi has a Fan Festival which offers deep discounts on a range of different products. This time, the four-day event runs from Tuesday 7th April to 10th April, with big reductions, some based on the number of “Likes” received. The one caveat is that there is limited stock so don’t dawdle if you see a bargain. In theory, you could get the aforementioned Mi Mix 3 for £239.

For Xiaomi’s latest, the new Mi Note 10 and 10 Pro (right) will be priced at £369 and £459, which is £90 off RRP for both of them. These smartphones have a whopping 103 MP rear camera, which is actually just one of five cameras, including telephoto and macro lenses.

For extra discount, there are three additional coupons; MFF20 for £20 off when spending £200 or more; MFF50, £50 off £300 or more; and MFF80 for £80 off when you spend £400 or more.

I imagine there will be other deals and bargains too, so keep your eyes peeled from Tuesday onwards.


OnePlus 8 Series Launches 14 April



In news that’s unlikely to shock anyone, OnePlus has announced that their 8 series of smartphones will be unveiled through an online event at 11am EST on 14 April. If I’ve converted that right, it’s 15:00 GMT / 16:00 BST.

What can we expect? As usual, OnePlus will undoubtedly drip-feed little teasers in advance of the event but a few things are already out in the open.

  • There’s going to be more than one device. It’s a series, but is it two devices or three?
  • All the devices will be 5G. The press release says, “bringing a full series of 5G devices”.
  • There’s a new display with a 120 Hz refresh rate. That’s up on last year’s 90 Hz.
  • It’s not going to be purely iterative. From the release, “a handful of other new and exciting technologies”. Rumours abound for wireless charger and water resistance.

With the OnePlus 8 series, we’re excited to introduce our most powerful and beautiful smartphone series ever, combining blazing fast 5G capabilities, specially engineered high refresh rate displays and OnePlus’ signature powerful performance setup. The OnePlus 8 series will bring a truly ‘burdenless’ experience to all our users, who have come to expect nothing but the best all-around flagship smartphones from us,” said Pete Lau, Founder and CEO of OnePlus. “No detail is too small for us, as OnePlus always strives to deliver the best user experience possible with our premium flagship devices.

If you want to watch the event (and it’s usually done well), it’ll be live-streamed from the OnePlus at https://www.oneplus.com/launch and YouTube http://onepl.us/8SeriesLaunchEvent.