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The Motivator

Phones are getting too heavy: this carbon-fiber phone offers an alternative



Surviving in the smartphone market, even as an established name with millions of dollars in backing, isn’t easy. It’s like playing Minecraft in Survival Mode with a few friends who can help you out. Entering the smartphone market as a new player is playing Minecraft on Hardcore: any mistake, and it’s all over.

There’s probably no need to remind you, kind reader, that the likes of venerable BlackBerry and zero-hit-wonder Essential were killed off in the past weeks.

Managing to convince people to buy a premium smartphone that isn’t branded with Apple or Samsung is a tough job. Still, companies are trying.

Carbon Mobile

Carbon Mobile Mk II in hand

Enter Carbon Mobile (not to be mistaken with Karbonn Mobiles, the Indian phone brand), a fearless and brand new Android smartphone manufacturer, working at the micro-scale. The debut phone for the company, based in Berlin, is the Carbon 1 Mk II, and, unsurprisingly, it’s made from carbon fiber.

The Carbon 1 Mk II has a single purpose with its carbon fiber build: weight. It’s a really lightweight device. At just 125 grams, and 6.3mm thick, picking it up feels like it’s missing some kind of key component, like the battery or screen. But that’s a good thing. By comparison, the new Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is 222g and the iPhone 11 194g. This thing is thin, and remarkably light.

The Mk II branding here with the Carbon 1 tells a story, unlike Sony’s debacle.

Unlike the Sony Xperia 1 II naming silliness, the “Mk II” branding here with the Carbon 1 attempts to tell a story. The Mk 1 was the first prototype, which was never mass-produced. As Carbon Mobile refined its product it iterated to the Mk II. The Mk II is now close to being fully ready for the market, but not quite the mass market.

Carbon Mobile isn’t pretending it will have a gigantic impact, at least initially. It’s a self-confessed niche product, with limited availability, and a price that makes it one for gadget guys.

Will it work? Let’s take a look at the company’s first product.

Carbon 1 Mk II: Details

Carbon Mobile Mk II screen on

The 6.0-inch Carbon 1 features an AMOLED display, a MediaTek P90 with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, a dual 16MP rear camera, and a 20MP front-facing camera. There’s some bezel at the top and bottom as you can see. It’s not an overt forehead/chin combo., but it is noticeable.

The Carbon 1 Mk II packs a 3,050mAh battery, and that carbon-fiber body wraps around the back, with a fingerprint sensor on the side.

It’ll run Android 10 out of the box, and the dual-rear and selfie camera system has had third-party tuning by a specialist company. (Carbon Mobile couldn’t further specify the company name performing the camera optimization, and we weren’t testing final-spec software during hands on time.)

The phone’s display is protected by Gorilla Glass 6, but a new thin spec of glass. At 0.4mm thick, it was developed by Corning specifically for the Carbon 1. Corning saw a challenge it liked, according to Carbon Mobile. Regular Gorilla Glass 6 is between 0.6mm to 0.8mm on most phones.

The Carbon 1 also features a monocoque design, and the company is aiming for a score of 9 or 10 on iFixit’s fixability scale, with spare parts and repair guides to be provided. It’s not quite modular, but it is designed to be repairable — a novel approach in the day of the sealed-up glass slab.

Carbon 1 lacks grunt, using a 2018 spec MediaTek chip, and a small battery means it won’t win any endurance races.

The Carbon 1 is thin on power. None of the above specs will blow the minds of your typical smartphone enthusiast. The MediaTek Helio P90 SoC is a little bit 2018, rather than 2020. The small battery doesn’t look like it’ll win any endurance races either, not that I would want to game on it for long. The Android 10 build we saw was very light, close to stock.EDITOR’S PICK

A definitive guide to everything that affects smartphone battery life

Carbon Mobile knows the phone is competent without being outstanding, and the focus is really on the attributes of carbon fiber. The material is notoriously difficult to work with for small objects, and the perfect tolerances required in a smartphone are hard to achieve.

Carbon Mobile Mk II phone in hand

Carbon-fiber is also a terrific insulator, which is essentially the worst of all choices for a smartphone that needs radio reception. The company solved this problem through the use of HyRECM technology, or hybrid radio-enabled composite materials, an advanced material not used in smartphones before. It has been deployed in key areas for the antennas to ensure adequate reception is available.

Carbon-fiber: ‘extremely difficult’ to work with for a number of key smartphone neccessities.

Another factor of insulation is heat dissipation. Calling the problem “extremely difficult,” Carbon Mobile worked to use other materials in the device to help move heat away from the processor. These problems explain why other manufacturers may have experimented with carbon fiber — including some niche phones that featured the material as a covering — but never committed to using it as the primary build material in a phone.

The company has a further eye on carbon fiber accessories, including wireless earbuds in later 2020, a white Carbon 1 product by 2021, and more.

What’s the Carbon 1 Mk II like?

I had a few minutes in Berlin to play with early prototypes of the Carbon 1 Mk II, and the light feeling is really there. The lightness will be the major takeaway for everyone, while the thin profile also makes it very easy to pocket. It’s not every day that a company brings along a scale to prove the weight of the device is accurate

Carbon Mobile Mk II on a scale

Carbon fiber is tough but it’s not particularly high on the Mohs hardness scale, coming in at about a 2. That means shoving the device into your pocket with keys and coins probably will scratch it. Carbon Mobile explained it has applied a nano-coating to offer better protection. At the time of our briefing, extended lifetime tests (including harsh drop tests) were taking place to understand overall lifecycle toughness. The finish also seemed to be easy to mark with grease from hands and fingers. The logo on the back will illuminate in a Razer-ish kind of manner, and pulse for notifications.

Ironically, my Dell XPS 15 has a carbon fiber finish, but the feeling is very different.

Carbon Mobile Mk II up close

So is all the materials-wrangling worth it for the carbon fiber look and the light weight? It’s easy for me to say no, but I’m not the target audience.

I prefer both value and well-proven technologies for my money. But for gadget fans seeking to impress with something brand new, and with an initial what-on-earth impact due to the weight and spec, it hits those marks. I feel more like this device could be the start of something interesting in consumer products. While wireless earbuds are already light, it may be that Carbon’s promised carbon fiber earbuds are even more comfortable and better in-ear than plastic.

Pricing and availability: expensive phone, cheap swag?

carbon mobile mk ii side view

The Carbon 1 Mk II will be priced at €799, meaning it’s at a massive premium considering the specs and general offering. However, Carbon Mobile points out none of the comparable devices are made out of anything nearly as interesting as carbon fiber. The carbon fiber wouldn’t tempt me to buy it, but you may feel different, especially if owning something unique is part of your swag.

In terms of availability, it’s worth mentioning the Carbon 1 won’t be available in the U.S. or in Asia. While these are huge markets, it is understandable that they might be considered too difficult to crack for a first attempt, at least initially.

Instead, Carbon will sell the Mk II in the company’s home, Germany, along with Austria and Switzerland by late spring or summer. The company is hoping to expand to Scandinavia and the Nordics within months, and sell into the Netherlands, Belgium, and the Middle East by late 2020 or early 2021.

We’ll take a closer look at the final Carbon 1 Mk II device as review units are made available.


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The Motivator

3 Things To Do Stay Safe On Houseparty App




Following the novel coronavirus pandemic that has forced many countries across the globe to announce a lockdown, people have been exploring different ways to keep in touch with friends and family.

One of the apps that have come to the rescue for many is the Houseparty app. Houseparty is owned by Epic Games, the company behind popular battle royale game Fortnite.

Houseparty is a social networking service that enables group video chatting through mobile and desktop apps. Users receive a notification when friends are online and available to group video chat. On average, users spend approximately 51 minutes a day on the app in a group or one-on-one chats.

Recently, accusations surfaced on social media that the platform has led to other online accounts being hacked. Many uses alleged that their other online accounts including NetflixeBayInstagram and Spotify were being hacked thanks to the Houseparty app.

When signing up to Houseparty, users are able identify friends using phone contacts, as well as connect to Facebook and Snapchat to find and invite people on the platform.

The thing that really sets Houseparty apart from other apps is hinted at by its name. Anyone who’s friends with someone else in a chat can join – meaning that you’re likely to run into strangers – and it is not necessarily easy to lurk without being noticed.

Reacting to the hacking allegations, Houseparty put out a tweet to users saying all accounts are safe and that it does not collect passwords for other sites.

In a statement, the service said it has found “no evidence” of such a breach.

“We’ve found no evidence to suggest a link between Houseparty and the compromises of other unrelated accounts,” a spokeswoman said.

“As a general rule, we suggest all users choose strong passwords when creating online accounts on any platform.

“Use a unique password for each account, and use a password generator or password manager to keep track of passwords, rather than using passwords that are short and simple.”

In case you are one of those using Houseparty to stay social during this period of the coronavirus lockdown.

Lock sensitive chats
You are instantly on and live the moment you open your Houseparty app. With the way the app is structured, it means that anyone can join your for a conversation. The idea is like wandering into a houseparty and trying to see who is willing to have a chat. This same structure applies to everyone you are chatting with too so you could be in a serious conversation and without changes, another friend opts into that chat too.

To avoid this, the first thing you should note is to be careful of who you add on the app. Secondly, it is important to lock any conversation that you don’t want unexpected people jumping into. You can do this by clicking the little lock icon at the bottom of the chat once everyone you want to be online is available, but you need to remember to do that every time.

Turn off your notifications
As stated earlier, the minute you log on the app, Houseparty sends out a notification that you are online. As a user of Houseparty, you will both be sent plenty of notifications and have plenty of notifications sent about you and both can be very annoying. You can control your notifications by opening the app and clicking the smiley face in the corner of the screen – there, you’ll see the option to “Manage Notificatications”, and clicking that gives you the ability to stop them being sent when you open the app or being sent to you when somebody else does the same.

Another option to explore is to turn off notifications completely. You do this on both Android and iOS, but that will mean that you won’t even receive a notification if someone calls you, and you’ll still be sending out notifications to other people, too.

You can also change these settings on a per-person basis. If you scroll down a little on the notifications screen, you’ll see the option to “mute” or “ghost” any given person. Ghosting them means that they won’t see when you come online while muting somebody means you won’t get notifications when they come online.

Sneak in
Many people are unaware of this feature but one of the most useful features on Houseparty is that you can choose to sneak in. If you hold down the app icon, you’ll get the option to “sneak in” to Houseparty, meaning that you’ll open it up and be on the app without sending a notification to everyone.


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The Motivator

Minecraft just unlocked free education content as a COVID-19 distraction




With the COVID-19 outbreak, a lot of things have ground to a halt, including education in some places. Schools in many regions of the world are closed until the worst of the outbreak is over, with some universities and high schools switching to online instruction. In order to help keep the wheels of education turning, Mojang and Microsoft have launched a free collection of educational content for Minecraft on the Minecraft Marketplace.

“Educators around the world are doing everything they can to provide digital lessons for the half a billion students who are out of school due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mojang’s Sofia Dankis wrote on the Minecraft blog today. “This is not an easy task and we want to do our part to help keep young minds sharp and stimulated.”

Mojang has uploaded some lessons from Minecraft: Education Edition to the Minecraft Marketplace, which are free to download for everyone who owns the Bedrock Edition of the game (sorry, Java players). The lessons from the Minecraft team include the International Space Station and The Human Eye, but those Mojang-crafted missions make up only a small part of what’s on offer.

That’s because Mojang has also made 10 lessons from Marketplace community creators free as part of this promotion. The lessons give players the chance to explore Greek history, marine biology, bees, and even fractals, so this collection of 12 lessons covers a pretty wide range of topics.

All of them are free to download from the Marketplace until June 30th, 2020, giving you a little over three months to claim them. The full list of lessons can be viewed over on the Marketplace, and they’re compatible with any device that runs the Bedrock Edition of the game.


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The Motivator

FIFA 20 vs Pro Evolution Soccer 2020: Which one should I get?




The two biggest football games have plenty of unique features and modes. What are the differences between them?

Football fans love debating between two things, whether it is Messi vs Ronaldo or pro-VAR vs anti-VAR, there will always be people who come down on one side or the other.

The FIFA vs Pro Evolution Soccer debate has lasted decades and despite FIFA’s dominance in the number of sales category, many hardcore PES fans believe that their game is the superior one.

Both FIFA 20 and PES 2020 are excellent games in their own right, but what are the differences between the two?


  1. FIFA 20 vs PES 2020: Licenses
  2. FIFA 20 vs PES 2020: Career Mode and Master League
  3. FIFA 20 vs PES 2020: Ultimate Team and My Club
  4. FIFA 20 vs PES 2020: Best players
  5. FIFA 20 vs PES 2020: Icons and Legends
  6. FIFA 20 vs PES 2020: Graphics
  7. FIFA 20 vs PES 2020: Gameplay

FIFA 20 vs PES 2020: Licenses

The main criticism FIFA fans have for any version of Pro Evolution Soccer is the lack of licensed teams in the game.

EA Sports has long had the rights to use the real names of the vast majority of teams, but Konami recently acquired exclusive rights to Juventus, meaning that Italy’s most successful team are called Piemonte Calcio in FIFA 20. From over 700 teams in 37 leagues in the game, only Juventus are unlicensed. Every other team has their correct name, kits and club crest.

In PES 2020, 19 of the 24 leagues are fully licensed, including Ligue 1 and Serie A, but only Arsenal and Manchester United from the Premier League use their real names. Manchester City are called Manchester Blue in PES 2020 and while Barcelona are licensed, Real Madrid are not. Los Blancos are named Madrid Chamartin B, with the rest of La Liga all having fake names.

PES 2020 allows you to edit club names, badges and kits. These edits can also be saved as options files which can be exported and imported. Fan sites such as PES World have made these available for download, meaning you can download these and transfer them to your console via a USB device.

FIFA 20 also has exclusive rights to the Champions League and Europa League, and recently added both CONMEBOL club competitions, the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana, complete with logos, stadiums and broadcast packages.

FIFA 20 vs PES 2020: Career Mode and Master League

For most players, Career Mode and Master League are very similar game modes as you take control of a club, managing key aspects such as transfers, contracts, scouting and playing the games themselves. In PES 2020, Master League added new cutscenes like those in FIFA 20 for signing players and negotiating contracts.

Master League offers the option of playing as a legendary manager such as Diego Maradona or Johan Cruyff rather than using your own custom avatar. As well as taking charge as a manager, Career Mode also lets you start as a specific player, seeing your career progress by playing matches, improving your rating and earning moves to better clubs. 

FIFA 20 vs PES 2020: Ultimate Team and My Club

The most popular modes in both games are Ultimate Team and My Club.

These game modes allow you to build your dream squads, with FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) focused on opening packs and trading on the transfer market and My Club giving you easier access to super players, but the challenge lies in making sure you can earn enough GP to keep them active in your squad.

My Club is much more straightforward than FUT, as it does not have mechanics you need to learn like chemistry and players are not set to just one assigned position. As a result, it is much easier to build a team with both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in PES 2020 than it is in FIFA 20.  

FIFA 20 vs PES 2020: Best players

With both Barcelona and Juventus licensed in PES 2020, the game’s best players are both Messi and Ronaldo, with the pair each receiving an overall score of 94.

FIFA 20 places Barcelona’s Messi as the best player in the game with a 94 rating and Piemonte Calcio’s Ronaldo in second with a score of 93.

These are the 10 best players in the world using the combined ratings from both games:

PlayerFIFA 20 RatingPES 2020 Rating
Lionel Messi9494
Cristiano Ronaldo9394
Eden Hazard9191
Kevin De Bruyne9190
Jan Oblak9190
Virgil van Dijk9091
Mohamed Salah9090
Sergio Aguero8991
Luis Suarez8991

FIFA 20 vs PES 2020: Icons and Legends

Both FIFA 20 and PES 2020 contain notable former players, known as ICONs in FIFA 20 and Legends in PES 2020.

Some of these players are specific to one game or the other, but a few such as Diego Maradona, Paolo Maldini and Lothar Matthaus are included in both games.

Brazilian duo Pele and Ronaldo are FIFA 20 ICONs only, while Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn and England‘s David Beckham are exclusive to PES 2020.

Here is the complete list of every Icon and Legend in FIFA 20 and PES 2020.

FIFA 20 vs PES 2020: Graphics

One of the biggest draws in PES 2020 has been their attention to detail regarding graphics. The players look realistic and the animations are smooth, which adds to the real-life feel of the game.

FIFA 20’s extensive licensing means they have broadcast packages for all of Europe’s top leagues and competitions, which means playing a match between two Premier League teams looks and feels like a real Premier League game.

Both games use 3D scanning to add real faces, with each adding new player scans throughout the season to update their database and make their games look more realistic.

FIFA 20 vs PES 2020: Gameplay

Gameplay is a big difference between FIFA 20 and PES 2020.

Some players like the more arcade-like feel of FIFA, which is easier to pick up and play for newcomers to the game. Matches are fast and exciting but can sometimes end as high-scoring encounters, unlike PES’s more patient approach.

PES 2020 aims to reflect real-life football with its gameplay, meaning you will experience a lot more scoreless draws while playing it than you would in FIFA 20.

Both games have their critics, who prefer one style to the other, so it is best to give both a try to see which game’s play style suits best.


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