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HUAWEI MATE 9 TAKES ON THE IPHONE 7 PLUS WITH POWERFUL DUAL CAMERAS

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The Huawei Mate 9 doesn't stray from Huawei's design philosophy: it's simple, classy and elegant, but it doesn't exactly stand out in the crowd.

The Huawei Mate 9 doesn’t stray from Huawei’s design philosophy: it’s simple, classy and elegant, but it doesn’t exactly stand out in the crowd.

Huawei’s approach turned out to be different than Apple’s. Instead of focusing on zoom, its secondary camera only took monochrome photos that were combined with the other camera’s color photos for enhanced sharpness and details.

Now, at an event in Munich, the company showed the evolution of that concept with its new phablet flagship, the Huawei Mate 9. The 5.9-inch phone has a dual rear camera with the main sensor taking 12-megapixel color photos, which are then combined with the monochrome photo taken by the other rear camera, which has a resolution of 20 megapixels.

Confused? Yes, the two sensors actually have a different resolution, with the result (in color) being a 12-megapixel photo. Huawei tells me the other, 20-megapixel monochrome photo does wonders for sharpness and detail, but the top resolution you’ll get on a color photo is 12-megapixels. You can, however, take a 20-megapixel monochrome photo, and you can also take photos with a 2x pseudo-optical zoom, though it wasn’t entirely clear to me how is this different from standard digital zoom seen (and seldom used) on basically every smartphone camera out there.

I’ve had a very brief time to try out the phone’s hybrid dual camera system prior to Thursday’s launch, and the photos are indeed very sharp, but it’s hard to say how much an improvement it is over P9’s (already very good) dual 12-megapixel cameras.

The dual cameras also let the phone do another trick from iPhone 7’s book, and that’s bokeh, the depth-of-field effect that makes the object in the front sharp and the background blurry. But Huawei Mate 9 has a slightly more advanced version of the feature, which lets you choose the level of background blurriness you want with a slider, and even apply the effect in post-processing, after you’ve taken a photo.

Other specs on the Mate 9 are unsurprisingly top-notch; the phone combines Huawei’s new Kirin 960 chipset with the latest Mali GPU, which Huawei claims results in very fast performance and top scores in multi-core GeekBench tests. It also has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of memory, stereo speakers, four microphones (which allow for some very precise sound recording) a fingerprint sensor and a 4,000mAh battery. The only line on the spec sheet that might not sound up to par is the screen’s resolution, which is full HD (Huawei has stubbornly refused to go higher than that on any of its phones). It might not look as flashy as the quad HD resolutions seen on some phones, but it also doesn’t drain so much battery, so it’s not a huge downside.

On the software side, the Mate 9 is the first Huawei device to run Android N, and Huawei’s EMUI 5.0, which now — finally — has an app drawer option, so you can make it look a little bit more like Google’s stock Android experience.

The Mate 9 has pretty thin bezels and case, but at 5.9-inches, it might be too large for some.

The phone also has a few nifty, Huawei-specific tricks. The phone uses machine learning (which stays on the device, if you’re concerned about privacy) to learn about your usage patterns and do stuff like predict which app you’re likely to open next and make sure it opens fast. As the phone gets smarter about your habits, it should also get faster over time; 80 percent faster, Huawei claims, after 16 months of use.

Huawei also claims the storage, memory and picture rendering have all been optimized for faster operation. Lastly, the phone now has a secure element called “private space” which you can use to store sensitive data, and even assign a different fingerprint for access.

Finally, a few words on the look and feel. At 5.9-inches, it’s a big phone, and even though its bezels and case are quite thin, it likely won’t be a good choice for those with smaller hands. In Europe it’ll come in two colors: silver and dark grey. It won’t win any originality contests, but combined with Huawei’s great build quality, it looks and feels premium.

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Mobile Phones

SAMSUNG’S GALAXY NOTE 9 IS VERY EXPENSIVE

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We know almost everything about the Galaxy Note 9. While it has problems, the good news is all Samsung’s best changes are about making things bigger. That is, until now…

Polish tech site SpiderWeb has discovered the cost of the Galaxy Note 9 and it confirms bigger is not always better because Samsung is planning a sizeable price increase.

Galaxy Note 9 concept proved too ambitiousYOUTUBE.COM/DBSDESIGNING

In its home country, SpiderWeb cites both a local source and a Samsung representative as saying the Galaxy Note 9 will cost PLN 4,299 ($1,159) at launch. This compares to PLN 3,800 ($1,024) for the Galaxy Note 8.

For context, phones in Europe are typically more expensive than in the US but often only because their prices include sales tax. As such it is hard to see Samsung not pushing the $950 Galaxy Note 8 launch price beyond $1,000 for the Galaxy Note 9 launch Stateside.

This is a figure which has the potential to cause problems both for consumers and Samsung alike.

For consumers, the problem is the Galaxy Note 9 is not like other handsets. Millions are wedded to the Note series’ S Pen and the tightly integrated productivity software which goes with it. There simply isn’t another phone on the market like a Galaxy Note, which provides Samsung with an almost unique level of lock-in for an Android phone.

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Mobile Phones

GOOGLE FINED £3.8BN BY EU OVER ANDROID ANTITRUST VIOLATIONS

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Company made its search engine the default on most phones using operating system

Google has been hit with a record €4.34bn (£3.8bn) fine by the European Union for abusing its market dominance in mobile phone operating systems.

The EU imposed the multibillion-euro penalty after finding that the US tech firm required smartphone manufacturers to pre-instal Google’s search and browser apps devices using its Android operating system, otherwise they would not be allowed to use its Google Play online store and streaming service.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, said Google has used its Android mobile phone operating system “to cement its dominance as a search engine”, preventing rivals from innovating and competing “and this is illegal under EU antitrust rules”.

Vestager added: “The vast majority of users simply take what comes with their device and don’t download competing apps.

“Or to slightly paraphrase what [US free market economist] Milton Friedman has said ‘there ain’t no such thing as a free search.’”

 

Wednesday’s verdict ends a 39-month investigation by the European commission’s competition authorities into Google’s Android operating system. Laying out the statement of objections in April 2016, the commission accused the company of abusing its market dominance on three counts. First, by installing Google search as the default search engine on Android devices; second, preventing smartphone manufacturers from running competing systems; third, denying consumer choice, by giving financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile phone operators to pre-install Google Search.

In response, Google had said users were free to delete its apps. The company had mounted a strong defence of its open-source Android operating system, saying it “keeps manufacturers’ costs low and their flexibility high, while giving consumers unprecedented control of their mobile devices”.

The decision could raise tensions with the US government before a visit to the White House by the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, next week. Juncker will meet the US president, Donald Trump, on 25 July for talks on the economy, counter-terrorism, energy security, foreign policy and security.

According to Reuters, the competition authorities delayed the Google announcement by one week to avoid a clash with the Nato summit, where Trump lambasted the US’s European allies.

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Desktops

CHROME AND FIREFOX GAIN WINDOWS 10 TIMELINE SUPPORT WITH A NEW EXTENSION

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Microsoft’s new Timeline feature in Windows 10 is designed to let you pick up where you left off on multiple devices. While Timeline supports Microsoft Edge for web browsing history, Chrome and Firefox have not yet been updated to officially support the new feature. A third-party developer has now created a Chrome and Firefox extension to bring Windows Timeline support to both browsers.

The new extension is free and works exactly how you’d expect. Browsing history will be synced to the Windows 10 Timeline feature, so you can pick up old tabs across other PCs. Timeline in its current form is only really useful if you’re using multiple Windows 10 machines with the same account, so perhaps a desktop at home and a laptop on the go (or a work machine). The new extension also lets you push a website you’re currently viewing to another Windows 10 machine.

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