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Galaxy Z Flip ongoing review: Battery life, weird design choice, star features so far

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Battery life. Screen durability. Camera quality. Coolness factor. These are some of the top questions I’ve set out to answer this week while testing the Galaxy Z Flip, Samsung’s new flip phone with a foldable screen. At the start of my fourth full day, I’m starting to really like the novel and engaging flip phone. It’s different, but in many respects, the design works. The Galaxy Z Flip is starting to prove that foldable phones deserve to live on to the next generation.

My colleagues have already compared the Z Flip to the Motorola Razr (not the final assessment, of course), and pit the two against each other in a cringey but irresistible drop test. The Galaxy Z Flip costs $1,380 while its biggest competition, the Motorola Razr, comes in at $1,499. By the time my rated review is in, we’ll have an even clearer idea where each one wins and loses and where foldable phones should go in 2020.

Here’s what you need to know before we dive in. The Galaxy Z Flip uses ultra-thin glass for its 6.7-inch display and has a hinge that’s stiff enough to stand up on its own, so you can use the device hands-free when it’s on a tabletop. It has two batteries that combine to give you 3,300 mAh of capacity (the smallest Galaxy S20 5G has 4,000 mAh), and there’s a 1.1-inch pill-shaped screen on the outside when you close the phone.

New insight: Battery life

I’ve been keeping a hawkish eye on battery life since powering up the Z Flip for the first time. My final battery rating will combine my real-world observation with battery drain tests in the lab, so stay tuned.

Yesterday, I got about 13 and a half hours of use out of the Z Flip (it hung on an extra 25 minutes on 1% battery, which suggests it isn’t calibrated yet).

Thirteen-ish hours would be appallingly dismal for a standard phone that costs $1,400. By comparison, the $1,100 Galaxy Note 10 Plus can easily take me from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and still have 20% to 30% remaining in power reserves. I never worry about it, even if I’m going out until the wee morning hours. So far I can’t say that about the Galaxy Z Flip. 

However, I do feel that you could use it normally during a typical workday and top it up later if you’re planning to burn the midnight oil. Note that phone batteries typically weaken over time. The Z Flip comes with a 15-watt charger.

Quick thoughts

  • One-handed use: It works, but takes some muscle to flip open this way. The unlock/power button is on the top half of the phone, which isn’t ideal for one-handed use. At least not with my hands.
  • Huge fingerprint magnet: Because of Samsung’s care warning, I’m a little concerned about my ability to keep the inner screen clean with a microfiber cloth. Pressing too hard could cause damage to the glass and components below.
  • Watching Netflix and YouTube: You get thick black bars on either side in landscape mode. It’s a place to put your hand without messing with the screen. You can pinch and zoom to fill the screen, but you’ll crop off the top of peoples’ heads.
  • Free case: It’s good enough and gives me peace of mind in case I drop the phone.
  • Pocketability: The Z Flip has felt comfortable and secure in any pocket I’ve put it in, unlike the unwieldy Galaxy Note 10 Plus and even the folded-up Fold, both of which have toppled out.
  • Typing on the keyboard: No complaints about my smaller fingers. I prefer Google’s Gboard keyboard over the default.
  • Holding while exercising: I successfully jogged and hiked with the Z Flip by cupping the hinge end in my palm. I didn’t feel I was going to drop it.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip impresses from almost every angle50 PHOTOS

Star feature: A phone that can stand on its own

I adore the Z Flip’s ability to hold itself upright. While watching video, reading a news story, taking selfies and even running performance tests, propping the Z Flip’s screen up or turning the whole thing on its side meant I didn’t have to hold it. It made my selfies better (when using a timer). It’s remarkable how many angles the hinge will support before snapping fully open or closed (yes, there are magnets on all four corners). 

That rigidity means you’ll need to exact a bit more pressure to close the phone and snap it or pull it open, but I haven’t felt like I’m straining against it. Yet the result is that you can prop the Z Flip on its base and tilt the screen at any number of angles to take a selfie photo with a friend — or a portrait shot — watch a video, or do any number of things. 

The same goes for slightly bending the phone in half while watching a video so it can become its own stand. When you bend it, some apps dynamically shift into a split-screen mode so you see the action on the “top” and the controls or comments on the “bottom.” Not enough apps take advantage of the feature straight out the gate, but it’s one I hope to see Google and others embrace for the sheer convenience factor.

3 cameras in all

The Galaxy Z Flip has two 12-megapixel sensors (wide-angle, ultra wide-angle) and a 10-megapixel internal camera. So far, they’re all pretty good, and what I expect from a Samsung phone. Image quality already seems better than on the Razr, which took “just OK” photos on its 16-megapixel camera, according to my colleague Patrick Holland.

I’ve been happy with the pictures I’ve taken so far, especially in abundant lighting. They’ve all been good enough to share, and some are good enough to print. Testing continues…

The Z Flip has a new photo mode that it shares with the Galaxy S20 trio of phones: Single Take. This photo mode captures up to 10 different still photos and four different videos. So far I’m less enamored with this one. I haven’t figured out what kind of scenario to use it in and when I tried it out on a street performer, I wound up deleting a lot of the haul because I wasn’t that happy with the quality and composition.

That said, there were some usable shots I got too, and it didn’t take a lot of time or obsessive focusing to get them, which is also good.

Selfie camera is good, but taking selfies isn’t always

I’ve gotten pretty good selfies from the Galaxy Z Flip so far, especially when opening the device so it sits up on its own and using the timer so I don’t have that awkward “selfie arm” that shows up in the typical handheld shot. 

What isn’t so good is trying to take a selfie when the Z Flip is closed. You can double-press the power button to launch the front-facing camera when the phone is closed. You know it’s ready for you when you see yourself on the tiny 1.1-inch cover display. Swipe the area to switch to a wide-angle selfie, then press the volume-down key to take the shot.

All that is well and good, but the diminutive cover screen makes for a short, pill-shaped viewfinder that isn’t actually useful for positioning yourself in the larger context of the image. It’s also so small that you can’t really see yourself.

If you’re taking a picture of another person, you can press an on-screen camera control to turn that cover screen into a viewfinder for them, but now they’re so far from the camera that it doesn’t do much good.

The outer screen: Smaller than it needs to be

The selfie viewfinder situation is the most obvious symptom of the Z Flip’s comically small display, but I’m at a bit of a loss with the rest of its features.

It’s good for seeing the time and battery percentage (though I’m going to poke around for an always-on setting). It’s not as good at other things. You can tap for Wi-Fi networks and to see missed calls and alerts. For example, I scrolled to see a Slack notification, tapped it, and saw my co-worker’s Slack message roll across the screen like a ticker. You can open the phone to open the app.

Motorola is on the right track giving the Razr the ability to send canned smart replies and voice messages, which gives the phone more to do from the outer screen without having to open it up.

Is the Z Flip’s screen easy to scratch?

So far, so good for me. Torture tests are in progress around the internet (including at CNET), but my goal isn’t to try to break the Z Flip. It’s to authentically use it. 

I don’t see any fingernail scratches or divots on my screen at this point, or any other blemishes. It’s something I’m keeping an eye on as I test the device. 

The Z Flip’s ultrathin glass screen is meant to shield the display from the more raucous elements, while also providing a smoother surface that more convincingly conceals that telltale crease where the screen bends in half. That doesn’t mean it’s hardy. Samsung still warns that the Z Flip is fragile enough to break if you press too hard on the screen, close it around keys or drop it into water or a big pile of dust.

The Z Flip is subject to Samsung’s one-year warranty in the event of damage, as well as Samsung’s premier concierge help for foldable phones

The Z Flip’s hinge has nose hairs, kind of

The Galaxy Fold’s first design caused some pretty public embarrassment to Samsung when dust and crumbs easily worked their way into the hinge and under the screen. Those early reports on reviewers’ phones caused Samsung to delay the Fold’s launch by about four months and completely redesign it. The good news is that those learnings have been carried into the Z Flip.

The hinge is protected by elements like interior vinyl fibers — which sound a lot like nostril hairs — to keep dust out of the mechanism. There are also plastic caps bordering the inside of the phone at the hinge, which also help rebuff the elements. I run my fingernails around the thick plastic bezel and note how sealed it feels. On the Galaxy Fold and Motorola Razr, I felt I could pry my fingernail under the screen without much effort.

The protection of these interior fibers only goes so far. Samsung clearly notes on the phone’s overwrap care instructions that it’s susceptible to dust and water damage, so be alert. There’s the typical one-year warranty and a concierge service for 24/7 customer care.

But does it have a crease?!

Look, every foldable phone I’ve seen has a crease. When the light shines directly on it, you see it. When you run your finger down the seam, you feel it. When an exciting thriller or documentary movie plays, or when you’re sucked into an engaging article or game, you hardly notice it at all.

I do feel the Z Flip’s glass cover material helps minimize the hated crease. So does the fact that the width of the bend is actually pretty minimal — just shy of three inches — compared to the Galaxy Fold’s 6.34-inch vertical seam.

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Systems

Samsung developing two new high-end Exynos chipsets, one features AMD GPU

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It is rumored that Samsung will soon introduce the Exynos 2100 chipset and that it won’t be plagued by performance and power efficiency issues that plagued the Exynos 990. However, that isn’t the only processor that the South Korean smartphone giant is working on. The company reportedly has two more Exynos processors in the pipeline.

The Exynos 2100, which is expected to be a part of the Galaxy S21, goes by the internal model number Exynos 9840. According to Ice Universe (@UniverseIce on Twitter), Samsung is working on the Exynos 9855 and the Exynos 9925. So, we can expect the Exynos 9855 to debut with the Galaxy S22 in 2022. The Exynos 9925 will reportedly feature AMD’s Radeon graphics, and we can expect it to be released only in 2023. However, some previous rumors had claimed that we could see an Exynos chipset with AMD graphics as soon as 2021, so we can only be certain after an official announcement from Samsung.

Samsung had recently unveiled the Exynos 1080 processor with 5nm process, Cortex-A78 CPU cores, Cortex-A55 CPU cores, and the ARM Mali-G78 GPU. The Exynos 1080 is expected to be a mid-range processor and could debut inside a Vivo smartphone, followed by the Galaxy A52 and the Galaxy A72.

Samsung fans have been waiting for an Exynos chipset that can beat its Snapdragon counterpart for years, but most of them are now losing hope, especially after the dismal performance of the Exynos 990. The South Korean firm’s semiconductor design arm needs to work harder to meet consumer expectations.

Source: https://www.sammobile.com/news/samsung-developing-two-new-high-end-exynos-chipsets-amd-gpu-2022/

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A custom USB-C cable can jailbreak the T2 chip in a MacBook Pro

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The security researchers that found a vulnerability in Apple’s T2 chip have developed an exploit using a clone of an internal debugging cable that can hack a Mac without user action.

Earlier in October, the checkra1n team developed the unfixable vulnerability that essentially allows an attacker to jailbreak the T2 security chip in a Mac. Once they do, all types of malicious attacks can be carried out on an affected macOS device.

Now, the team has demoed a real-world attack that takes advantage of a technique similar to one leveraged by specialized USB-C cables used internally by Apple for debugging.

As depicted in a YouTube video, and accompanying blog post, the exploit causes a machine to shut down once the cable is plugged in. From there, it’s placed into DFU mode and checkra1n is run to achieve a root SSH session. A second video posted to the team’s YouTube account showed that the attack was successfully carried out by modifying the Apple logo at boot.

The attack is carried out by software reverse engineered from specialized debug probes, which are used by Apple and known under internal code names such as “Kong,” “Kanzi,” or “Chimp.” These cables work by allowing access to special debug pins within a USB port for the CPU and other chips.

These “Chimp” or “Kanzi” cables have leaked from Cupertino and Apple retail in the past. Security researcher Ramtin Amin created an effective clone of the cable, dubbed a “Bonobo” and used in the video. Combined with the checkra1n team’s exploits, it allows for this type of attack to be carried out.

Although the video demonstration shows them modifying the Apple logo, the team notes that the same exploit can be used to replace a device’s EFI and upload a keylogger. That’s possible because a mobile Mac’s keyboard is connected directly to the T2 chip.

The proof-of-concept exploit was disclosed by checkra1n security researchers Rick Mark, Mrarm, Aun-Ali Zaidi, and h0m3us3r. The team also announced that a version of the cable will soon be available for sale.

Who’s at risk, and how to protect yourself

As noted earlier, these specialized debug cables can sometimes be found in the wild. With a commercial clone soon to be available, there’s a good chance that most Mac models on the market with a T2 chip could be vulnerable.

Of course, the attack requires direct physical access to a Mac, which rules out most types of scenarios for the average user.

However, users who may find themselves targeted by nation-states or cybercriminals should ensure that they have keep their Mac safe by maintaining physical security of the device.

Source: https://appleinsider.com/articles/20/10/13/a-custom-usb-c-cable-can-jailbreak-the-t2-chip-in-a-macbook-pro

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iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 11: Everything Apple changed and who should upgrade

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On Tuesday, Apple unveiled four iPhone 12 models: the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro will be available starting Oct. 16, while the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max will be available starting Nov. 13 (here’s how you order all four iPhone 12 models on two different days). If you’re thinking about upgrading from last year’s iPhone 11 to the iPhone 12, you may be wondering: What exactly is the difference?

We’ve gathered all of the iPhone 12 specs and prices to help you see how the new phone stacks up against the iPhone 11. You can also determine if you should buy a new iPhone now or wait, and the best ways to sell or trade in your old iPhone.

Different size screens

Apple announced four iPhone 12 models: the iPhone 12 Mini (5.4-inch), the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro (6.1-inch), and the iPhone 12 Pro Max (6.7-inch). By comparison, there are only three iPhone 11 devices: the iPhone 11 (6.1-inch), the iPhone 11 Pro (5.8-inch) and the iPhone 11 Pro Max (6.5-inch).

Same refresh rate

Though there was speculation that the iPhone 12 Pro’s display may have a 120Hz refresh rate and a ProMotion display (like the iPad Pro), this ended up being just a rumor. Both the iPhone 11 and the iPhone 12 refresh at 60 frames per second, or 60Hz. Most phones are the same. But some, like the Galaxy S20 and the OnePlus 8 Pro, refresh at 120Hz. The higher the refresh rate, the faster and smoother a phone feels when you’re scrolling through apps and websites.

Better cameras

As is typically the case with new iPhones, the iPhone 12 has upgraded camera capabilities over the iPhone 11 — especially the iPhone 12 Pro models. The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini largely stick with the iPhone 11’s camera design, with regular, ultrawide and selfie cameras. But they also offer Night Mode photos that now work on the ultrawide and selfie cameras, too, and an improved HDR mode for challenging scenes with bright and dark elements.

Meanwhile, the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max get major photography improvements, including a larger image sensor and a fourth telephoto camera for more distant subjects, too. The iPhone 12 Pro has the same 2x zoom telephoto reach as earlier iPhones — a 52mm equivalent focal length — but the Pro Max’s extends to 2.5x zoom, or a 65mm equivalent lens.

Despite this, the iPhone 11 camera is nothing to sneeze at: It has a Night Mode and an ultrawide-angle camera that can add extra detail in photos, along with a great video camera.

The addition of 5G

All iPhone 12 models offer next-generation 5G cellular connectivity, as virtually all new Android phones arriving in the US already have. This means the phones can tap into the high-speed wireless network on the go — which might seem slightly less exciting during the pandemic, as we’re spending more time at home, but will still future-proof your device for the rise of 5G.

The iPhone 11 does not offer 5G connectivity, though many people seem to believe it does.

Price

The 2019 iPhone 11’s base model cost $699, which was $50 less than the 2018 iPhone XR. Now, with the addition of the iPhone 12, the iPhone 11’s price has dropped to $599.

The iPhone 12 Mini costs $699, the iPhone 12 is $799, the iPhone 12 Pro is $999, and the iPhone 12 Pro Max is $1,099.

For more about the iPhone 12 and everything else Apple announced, check out our roundup. You can also check out our review of the iPhone 11 and all of its features.

Source: https://www.cnet.com/news/iphone-12-vs-iphone-11-everything-apple-changed-who-should-upgrade/

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