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THE BLACKBERRY KEY2 ARRIVES WITH DUAL CAMERAS AND A REFINED LOOK

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TCL has officially announced the BlackBerry Key2, its sequel to last year’s KeyOne. It’s a midrange smartphone with the company’s iconic physical keyboard. The Key2 looks a lot like its predecessor, except TCL — which makes most BlackBerry phones now — has slimmed down the top bezel and made space for slightly wider keys. The navigation buttons on top of the keyboard are now backlit as well, so they disappear when not in use, making the screen look bigger than it is.

 

The Key2 also slims down the chunkier and industrial-looking KeyOne. From far away it could almost pass for a Samsung Galaxy Note 8, but one look at its physical keyboard, and you know it’s a BlackBerry. That’s what the brand is counting on to push sales. BlackBerry’s senior vice president Alain Lejeune said in a statement that TCL’s goal had been to “capture all the traits that have made BlackBerry smartphones iconic, while introducing new innovations and experiences,” which mostly come through software.

Still, even if the Key2 is “the most advanced BlackBerry smartphone ever,” it hasn’t moved far from the past. The Key2 has a 4.5-inch LCD screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio, just like its predecessor. When you use either phone, it’s a trade-off between screen space for streaming shows or playing games and the keyboard for sending emails. The screen real estate dilemma grows worse if you prefer a virtual keyboard at times, especially for entering symbols like & and {}, which aren’t offered on the physical keyboard.

But while TCL didn’t do anything new with the phone’s size and screen, it did add a highly advertised extra camera on the rear of the phone. The Key2 has dual 12-megapixel cameras, one with an aperture of f/1.8 and one with a f/2.6 that provide Portrait Mode and faster autofocus. The front 8-megapixel camera has slow-motion and panorama modes as well as the ability to record 1080p video at 30 fps. Its camera specs rival more expensive flagships like the iPhone 8 Plus, although they fall slightly short compared to the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or S9’s lower aperture lenses.

Another aspect where the BlackBerry Key2 shines is battery life. The Key2 has the same big 3,500mAh battery seen in the KeyOne that should get you through two days of use.

TCL decided to remove the extra right shift key and replace it with a “speed” key, which resembles an app launcher and lets you set specific keys as shortcuts. For example, you can set it up the so that “I” opens up Instagram. Then when you press I, while holding onto the speed key, Instagram opens. This can be done for any of the 52 keys on the physical keyboard.

The spacebar still doubles as a camera shutter key and as a fingerprint sensor. The Key2 also lets you use the entire keyboard as a touchpad, which can be used mainly for scrolling webpages. Now, you can gesture on the keyboard to scroll through pages; just be careful not to press down on any keys.

The Key2 keeps the 3.5mm headphone jack on the top left, and places the power button and volume controls on the right side. The phone also keeps the “convenience key” seen on the KeyOne, which is an extra button on the right that can be programmed with a shortcut. (That makes a total of 53 programmable keys.)

Some of the BlackBerry Key2’s more interesting updates can be found in its security apps, Dtek, Locker, and Power Center. (These software updates will also roll out to the KeyOne.) BlackBerry spokespeople told me that while these security updates had been in development long before Cambridge Analytica, they were even more necessary at a time like this. Dtek, in addition to being able to offer information about your operating system and security, can now tell you what permissions each app has received and detect if an app is acting strangely.

The Locker mode, which started as a BlackBerry Motion exclusive, came to the KeyOne last December as part of a monthly security update. Now on the Key2, it will come preinstalled. In addition to being a place for you to store fingerprint-protected private photos and files, it’s now a hub for you to store private apps and access Firefox Focus, Mozilla’s private browser.

Finally, Power Center will learn your charging habits. So if it figures out that you usually charge your phone at 10PM every night, if you skip a night, it will warn you and tell you how much time you have left before you’re low on battery.

The rest of the Key2’s specs are slight improvements to the KeyOne. The Key2 runs Android Oreo out of the box and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, which is typical for midrange phones right now. Both RAM and internal storage have been doubled to 6GB of memory and storage options of 64GB and 128GB. The Key2 starts at $649 for the basic storage option and starts shipping globally this month. It comes in black or gray.

I can only envision that you’d use this phone if you love your physical keyboard like you enjoy the satisfying clack of a mechanical keyboard or typewriter, or if you’re nostalgic for the 2000s and also happen to be paranoid about security. The question remains: are any of you BlackBerry fans still out there?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source:  https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2018/6/7/17413402/blackberry-key2-dual-cameras-look

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Mobile Phones

SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 9: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SAMSUNG’S LATEST PHONE

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A new S Pen, more storage, longer battery life, and a slightly larger display all add up to equal Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 9.

After months of rumors, leaks, speculation, and anticipation surrounding the Galaxy Note 9, we finally have an official announcement directly from Samsung.

We now know every last detail about the company’s latest flagship smartphone, built for pro and enterprise users alike. From increased storage, to a Bluetooth S Pen – there’s a lot to like about the Note 9.

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • 6.4-inch display is slightly larger than the Note 8
  • 128GB or 512GB storage options
  • Pricing starts at $999
  • S Pen does a lot more than scribble on the display

SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 9: RELEASE DATE

  • Preorders start Aug. 10 at 12:01 am ET
  • Orders will arrive by Aug. 24

Samsung, carriers, and some retail partners will begin taking preorders for the Note 9 on Friday, August 10 at 12:01 am ET. Deliveries are currently scheduled for August 24, the same day as in-store availability

SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 9: PRICING

  • So much for “reasonable” pricing
  • Tops out at $1,250

The Galaxy Note 9 will be available in 128GB or 512GB, with the former priced at $999. For the 512GB model, you can expect to pay $1,249. Keep in mind, both models offer microSD card support of up to 512GB – so don’t go all out on internal storage unless you really need a phone with up to 1TB of storage.

SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 9: DESIGN

  • Not a design overhaul
  • Fingerprint sensor is moved
  • It still has a headphone jack

When rumors first started circulating about the Note 9, they ran the gamut. From a fingerprint sensor hidden under the display to fancy new S Pen features — we heard it all. We now know the fingerprint sensor did move, but not under the display. Instead, the sensor is still on the back of the phone, but this time around it’s under the dual camera setup.

The Note 9 more or less looks just like last year’s Note 8. It has a slightly bigger display, measuring 6.4-inches compared to 6.3-inches on last year’s model. But not much else has changed.

The Note 9 will be available in a new ocean blue and lavender purple in the US, with black and copper color options internationally.

SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 9: FEATURES

  • Bixby 2.0
  • Big update to the S Pen
  • Smarter camera
  • Fortnite

S Pen

For the first time since it was released, the S Pen now has Bluetooth connectivity and will add the ability to control various aspects of the Note 9. From launching apps to media playback, the S Pen has new tricks. Read more about what you can do with the S Pen on the Note 9 here.

Camera features

When taking a photo on the Note 9, the camera app will now analyze your picture and let you know if it detects any potential issues with a new feature called Flaw Detection. For example, when taking a group photo, the app will detect if someone blinked and a small alert will pop-up letting you know you should probably take another photo.

Fortnite and gaming

The most popular game on the planet right now, Fortnite, has teamed up with Samsung. Fornite is available for a limited time exclusively to Samsung Galaxy users.

You can download the game from Fornite’s website.

DeX

Samsung’s software feature that transforms a smartphone into a desktop-like experience, DeX, no longer needs a dedicated dock. Instead, a simple HDMI adapter and a monitor is all it takes to use DeX.

SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 9: SPECIFICATIONS

  • Bigger battery
  • Bigger display
  • Increased base storage

For those who like to geek out on every last specification for a device, here you go:

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 2.35 GHz quad-core
  • Display: 6.4 inch, 2960×1440-pixel resolution Super AMOLED (516 ppi)
  • Operating system: Android 8.1 Oreo
  • Storage: 128GB/512GB internal with microSD expansion card slot
  • Memory: 6GB (128GB model) or 8GB (512GB model) LPDDR4
  • Rear cameras: 12-megapixel f1.5/f2.4 OIS, and 12-megapixel telephoto f2.4 OIS with 2x optical zoom, 10x digital zoom.
  • Front camera: 8-megapixel f/1.7 with autofocus
  • Water resistance: IP68
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), VHT80 MU-MIMO, 1024QAM, Bluetooth 5.0 BLE, ANT+, GPS/Galileo/Glonass/BeiDou, MST, and NFC
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Barometer, Fingerprint Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor, Heart Rate Sensor, Proximity Sensor, RGB Light Sensor, Iris Sensor, and Pressure Sensor Battery: 4,000 milliamp-hour with Quick Charge 2.0 and fast wireless charging
  • Size: 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8-millimeters
  • Weight: 201 grams

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Mobile Phones

THE GALAXY S9’S DEX PAD LAUNCHES MAY 13 FOR $99.99

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Preorders are up today, and new Galaxy S9 buyers can score one for free.

Hot off the launch of the Galaxy S9 last month, Samsung is about to release one of the device’s main accessories, the Samsung Dex Pad. Plug your flagship Samsung smartphone into this little dock, then plug in a monitor, mouse, and keyboard, and you’ll have a full-blown desktop OS interface powered just by your phone. Preorders are open today on Samsung.com, and the device ships May 13. Starting today, Samsung is also offering a free Dex Pad to anyone who buys a Galaxy S9 or S9+ from Samsung.com.

This is Samsung’s second take on a Dex docking pad. The first-gen version was the “Dex Station,” which held the phone upright. This new version lays the phone down flat so it can double as a touchpad if you don’t want to use a mouse.

Android apps can support keyboard and mouse controls, but most aren’t particularly well-optimized to take advantage of non-touchscreen interfaces. Samsung has a list of apps that are supposedly “Dex optimized,” and there are some heavy-hitting app developers signed up, like Google, Adobe, and Microsoft. With Chromebooks bringing Android apps to a keyboard-and-mouse platform, too, more and more apps will hopefully start to support things like keyboard shortcuts and tab focus.

 

 

 

 

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Desktops

SAMSUNG’S TAB S4 IS BOTH AN ANDROID TABLET AND A DESKTOP COMPUTER

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Today, Samsung is unveiling the successor to its well-rounded yet expensive Galaxy Tab S3 from last year. The new Galaxy Tab S4 improves upon last year’s slab in nearly every way, and it should be more versatile for users thanks to included Samsung Dex software. Confined to accessories until now, Samsung Dex software lets users connect a Samsung mobile device to a monitor and then use the device as a pseudo-desktop.

The first Dex dock came out over a year ago and was designed to be used with Samsung smartphones. Users could plug their device into the dock, connect it to a monitor, pair a keyboard and a mouse, and use the setup as they would a full desktop PC. The system ran a version of Android that Samsung modified to better suit a desktop UI, which included a lock screen and a task bar area with app icons. Dex on the Galaxy Tab S4 works just like this, with a couple of extra features that leverage the power of a tablet.

When connected to a monitor, both the big screen and the tablet’s screen can be used simultaneously. In a short demo, Samsung showed how the device supports up to 20 open windows at once and how features like split screen and drag-and-drop can be used just as they would on a desktop PC. Users can launch Dex when not connected to a monitor as well, and that produces the same modified Android UI on the tablet’s 10.5-inch, 2560×1600 Super AMOLED display.

Samsung claims users can launch any Android app while using Dex, but it’s unclear how many are truly Dex-optimized to fit a larger screen and make use of keyboard shortcuts. Big players, including Google, Adobe, and Microsoft, signed up to support Dex back when the software was still new, and more developers have been optimizing their Android apps for Chrome OS devices as Google’s browser-based operating system has gained popularity. Undoubtedly, more Android apps can be used comfortably on desktop-sized screens than when Dex originally launched.

In addition to Dex, the Tab S4 supports signature Samsung features like Air Command, translate, off-screen memos, and live message. Originally confined to Galaxy Note devices, live message lets users create gifs of themselves and decorate them with pen drawings before sending them in a message to friends and family. Samsung redesigned the S Pen that accompanies the Tab S4 to be easier to hold in your hand and more like a traditional pencil, but even with those changes it still doesn’t require charging. We’ll have to test it further to determine how much better it is than the previous stylus.

The Tab S4 is slightly bigger than the Tab S3 with its 10.5-inch display, and it runs on a Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of memory, and up to 64GB of internal storage with space for up to 400GB with the use of a microSD card. It has a 13MP rear camera and an 8MP front-facing camera while supporting 4K video recording at 30fps, and inside are four speakers tuned by AKG.

Samsung added a lot of heft to the Tab S4’s battery—the company claims the 7,300mAh battery can support up to 16 hours of video playback. On paper, it’s a solid improvement from the Tab S3’s 6,000mAh battery, so we’re interested in putting it through our battery tests to see if Samsung’s estimates hold up.

The Galaxy name is synonymous with Android, but the decision to make yet another Android tablet is a curious one. Android tablets are being left in the dust as Chrome OS infiltrates the tablet scene. It’s possible that Samsung will consider making a Chrome OS tablet in the future—but the Galaxy Tab S4 supports Android and Android only, unlike the company’s Galaxy Book of yesteryear that came in Android and Windows varieties.

The Galaxy Tab S4 will be available August 10 starting at $649 for the Wi-Fi version. Samsung will also sell an LTE version of the tablet through Verizon, but starting price for that model hasn’t been disclosed yet. The Book Cover Keyboard for the Tab S4 costs $149.

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