The Redmi Note 7 was announced last week featuring the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 with an extremely low price of around £138 in its launch countries, though more like £240 in the UK.
The more powerful Redmi Note 7 Pro is expected to be announced sometime in February (maybe at MWC) and the specifications have recently been revealed online.
The upgraded phone will feature the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 and will likely be the first phone on the market with this chipset. It is the new upper-midrange chip from Qualcomm and initial reports suggest that it not only outperforms the SD660 but also the Snapdragon 710 sitting just above it. In order to keep the chipset affordable Qualcomm have used a slower GPU, less capable ISP and has used a more cost-effective 11nm manufacturing process.
Furthermore, the phone will feature a 48MP similar to its cheaper model but instead of the Samsung, it will now use the Sony IMX586 sensor.
Regarding the differences between the two sensors, there is not a great deal of information and it appears that both are 0.8-micrometer (μm) pixel image sensors,
Both sensors appear to use the same technique of combining four pixels into one. With Samsung it is called Tetracell technology deliver light sensitivity equivalent to that of a 1.6μm-pixel image sensor at 12Mp.
Sony uses Quad Bayer color filter array, where adjacent 2×2 pixels come in the same color, making high-sensitivity shooting possible. During low light shooting, the signals from the four adjacent pixels are added, raising the sensitivity to a level equivalent to that of 1.6 μm pixels (12 megapixels), resulting in bright, low noise images.
So basically the same.
The phone is likely to share all the other specifications from the normal Redmi Note 7
The new phone is believed to be priced around CNY 1,399 – 1,499 range, which translates into around £160 to £175.
I wouldn't normally write about MasterCard news but for me this a a great near feature rolling out and I am sure it will affect many other people too.
Companies frequently lure us into free trials of a service, with Netflix and Amazon Prime being two of the biggest examples. However, if you don't cancel within the trial period you will get charged. This is particularly bad if it is a yearly service.
MasterCard is putting a stop to this though, they have announced a new policy that will require merchants to get authorization from you before authorising any payments from your card. It will then need companies to provide you with monthly updates with pricing and clear instructions on how to cancel if you need it.
When you sign up for a free trial, giving over your MasterCard card number, the merchant will be required to send you a text or email notifying you that you will have to pay to continue the subscription. That message has to include the subscription cost, payment date and merchant name presented clearly so you know exactly who you are dealing with. The message will also have to include instructions on how to cancel in case you decide you're better off without it.
It is not quite as thorough as a double opt in method that would require you to click a link and confirm the subscription but it is certainly a step in the right direction. Hopefully with the instruction requirements it will also means merchants are less likely to make cancelling so hard.
When you allow the merchant to continue billing they will still have to provide you with monthly receipts that show you the monthly cost. That should make it easier to track price changes in your subscription so you don't get hit by unexpected price jumps.
Technology is advancing every day and so it brings the urge to make homes “smarter”. There are apps and systems that keep emerging daily aimed at helping you save energy and also simplify everyday tasks. Many digital companies like Sony, Panasonic, Intel, Vivint, and Google Nest are taking note of the growing market demand for smart homes.
According to a survey in 2015 done by icontrol, it was revealed that at least 50% of consumers intend to buy smart home products for their homes.
Here are some smart gadgets that you would sure like to have in your “smart” home.
1. The universal remote that does everything but cook.
A Massachusetts-based firm, Savant, has invented a universal remote controller that is just on another level. This sleek design and futuristic device costs approximately $499 and can operate either by touch or voice recognition. It is also compatible with at least 380,000 different entertainment devices. It can control lighting as well as music systems. It can also pre-program like a TV to tune to news, put on some blues when you want and create what the company calls “instant ambiance”.
2. Domgy, an artificial intelligence powered dog.
Chinese artificial intelligence dog, called Domgy is a great pet robot that you simply must have in your house. It has a number of affectionate programs that makes it fun to have around. Domgy doesn’t require long walks, bathroom breaks or feeding. It has features that include face recognition software making it easily identify strangers and even intruders. This is, therefore, a safer, more reliable security system. Its rechargeable battery lasts for only 6 hours.
3. A $240 light bulb.
Light bulbs have evolved since Thomas Edison’s times. This new invention by Sony can light up a room as well as the user’s ears. It is a bulb that is a combo of a 2 watt Bluetooth controlled speaker and an LED light bulb. Additionally, you can connect it to your smartphone and computer to adjust its brightness or volume.
4. Energy Sense-ability.
Electronic gadgets can really strain your wallet through heavy electrical bills. This new Energy monitor helps you save money and conserve the environment as well. The sense monitor can be installed in your home’s electric panel and connected to a mobile app creating a timeline of all your appliances which you can regulate from your smartphone.
5. Battling the bulge with high tech scales.
There is a new and improved scale that has replaced the old traditional bathroom scale. This is the Withings Body Cardio Scale. It has upgraded features that can measure not just your weight. It can gauge your heart rate, body fat percentage and general cardiovascular health. Just like other smart home products, the Withings Scale is Wi-Fi enabled and can also be operated on your smartphone device.
In a nutshell, you simply do not want your home to remain analog while most homes are advancing in the digital world. Save energy, save money and smile all the way to the bank while also conserving your environment. These are just but a few smart gadgets that you should consider having in your home.
OPPO the brand behind the innovative Find X, today announced its forthcoming 10x lossless zoom technology. They have however not announced a device using it but stated that the 10x lossless zoom technology meets commercial standards and is ready for mass production. OPPO will showcase the breakthrough technology in Barcelona at MWC 2019.
To employ the new technology, OPPO has developed a triple-camera solution consisting of “Ultra Wide Angle + Ultra Clear Master + Telephoto”. The ultra-wide-angle camera has an equivalent focal range of 15.9mm, bringing a unique capability to the wide-angle viewfinder. The primary camera guarantees photo quality, and the telephoto camera, with 159mm equivalent focal range, combined with the original “peep-up structure” to support high-magnification zoom, can ensure a high-quality long-distance shot.
All three cameras operate in tandem to maximize their respective advantages, optimize imaging quality at various zoom ranges to achieve 10x zoom in a relay manner. To maintain image quality at all ranges, OPPO has introduced dual OIS optical image stabilization on both standard and telephoto cameras.
In addition to the triple-camera structure, OPPO's pioneering “periscope structure ” is also paramount to achieving 10x lossless zoom. The periscope-inspired design makes full use of the width and thickness of the phone through the lateral arrangement and refraction of the lens set. The space is saved, and the mobile phone can use a larger optical component under the premise of ensuring that the mobile phone body is thin and light, so that the mobile phone has a telephoto shooting capability.
Wide zone optical fingerprint recognition
OPPO also released a new wide zone optical fingerprint recognition technology, which effectively recognizes an area up to 15 times of the current mainstream optical solution. Users can unlock or pay by using fingerprint anywhere in the entire area. The on-screen optical fingerprint sensor provides users with a flexible, free and interactive experience that is also easy, natural and just right.
However the problem with Z-Wave is that it often doesn't work with other smart devices using more accessible standards such as bluetooth and WiFi. This is a problem the Athom Homey aimed to solve a couple of years ago with the smart home hub that was compatible with more standards than any other device on the market.
The radios inside the Homey can control a vast array of smart home equipment including those using Z-Wave, ZigBee, Bluetooth, WiFi plus 433 MHz and 868 MHz system too.
Athom claim the Homey is compatible with over 50,000 devices across 1,000 brands which includes big names such as Belkin, Google Chromecast, Philips Hue, LG, LIFX, Marantz, Nest, Netatmo, Samsung, Sonos, Sony and Tado.
So for TVs there are multiple options of control with Samsung and LG models having IP based control as well as control via infared.
It will start, dock or check on the status of a iRobot Roomba 980 vacuum cleaner or control your Siemens EQ9+ S500 Home Connect coffee machine. The range of possibilities is endless.
The device was launched back in 2017 and since then Athom has been working hard on improving the device and have finally released the second generation of their firmware with a brand new mobile app.
Homey v2.0 OUT NOW! - YouTube
The update replaces the Homey Desktop App with the Homey app for Android and iOS.
The new app is designed to fully control your Homey system with a usable and attractive interface. This includes the implementation of their Flow editor which is featured in the desktop app.
Homey v2.0 is aware of the weather on your location. When you set Homey’s screensaver to display the weather, the LED Ring will tell you if it’s sunny, raining or even thunderstorms. All weather conditions show their own animation to you’ll always be up to date.
The weather is even logged to Insights, and it’s incredibly fun to see that when it’s cold outside your thermostat starts using more energy.
To compliment the new software Anthem are launching a new more powerful device, the Homey Pro which is designed for power users.
With a 1 GHz Dual Core CPU and 1 GB of RAM, users can now install more than twice the amount of apps on Homey Pro.
Homey Pro is available at € 399,- for pre-order right now and will be shipped in February.
Homey (Early 2019)
The original Homey device has also been tweaked, though Anthem have actually removed some features due to lack of use, this includes both the NFC and microphone functions.
The Homey 2019 is shipping now and comes with the new Homey v2.0 firmware.
Each year a there is a common trend of Huawei owned Hisilicon announcing their flagship system on chip then Qualcomm to launch theirs a few months later which then beats it. While there is only a 3-month difference between announcements Huawei launch their flagship Mate series device in October while Qualcomm based devices don't come out until March almost 5 months after. So half the year is spent saying the Qualcomm is better than the Kirin then vice versa.
So it comes as no surprise that the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 benchmarks indicate that it is better than the Kirin 980 in several banchmarking apps as well as all the other chips before it including the Exynos 9810 and Snapdragon 845.
Several publications were able to get access to the Qualcomm SD855 Reference Device (QRD) during CES last week and many of them got to benchmark the device. So the following results are not a real-world device but assuming Qualcomm hasn't been up to any funny business it should represent what you will see in coming devices this year.
This test was carried out by Android Authority where a direct comparison was made against the Kirin 980 and the current Mate 20 series dominates the top of their charts with the RoG Phone and OnePlus 6T in fourth and fifth spot.
AnTuTu tests all aspects of the phone and uses three scores for its final mark, one for CPU, another for UX which represents user experience and a third for 3D which represents the graphics capabilities.
The Reference Device which uses the new Adreno 640 GPU scored 360,444 — 17 per cent over the Huawei Mate 20 and 44 per cent faster than the Exynos 9810 in the S9 Plus.
Looking at the individual results reveals where it dominates though, the CPU score is only 5% ahead of the Kirin 980 but the GPU score is 156356 compared to 110372 which is a 41% improvement.
Both Android Authority and Anandtech did tests using GFXBench with Anandtech having the most details results. There are too many to mention here but the Manhattan 3.1 Offscreen test shows a 30% improvement over the Huawei Mate 20 Pro (Kirin 980) though it is still third behind the Apple XS using the A12.
Similarly, in the T-Rex Offscreen test, the results show a 23% improvement over the Huawei Mate 20 Pro (Kirin 980) but still behind the Apple XS.
Perhaps the most significant results of this test was not its raw performance but its power efficiency, which its average power use being one of the lowerest of any flagship chip, only beaten marginally by the iPhone XS (A12) on the Manhattan test.
According to Anandtech the Snapdragon 855 is posting a ~30% efficiency boost over the Snapdragon 845, all while slightly improving performance.
Android Authority did some Geekbench but did not compare to the 980. According to GSMArena the Huawei Mate 20 Pro scores 3291 for single-core and 9793 for multi-core.
For the Single core test, the Qualcomm Reference device scored 3518. A 46% leap over the Snapdragon 845, and 6% faster than the Exynos 9810 and just shy of 7% improvement over the Kirin 980
The Snapdragon 855 in the QRD scored 11178, 26% faster than the Snapdragon 845, 29% faster than the Exynos 9810 and 14% faster than the Kirin 980.
Overall, unsurprisingly the Snapdragon 855 beats all other chips before it that are available on Android, and the cycle continues.
For me, the raw performance of a phone is rarely a concern nowadays, for the vast majority of users no one is going to notice the difference between the performance of the Snapdragon 855 compared to the Kirin 980. The most promising feature of the Snapdragon 855 is the power efficiency improvements, while phone batteries are increasing in size, and phones are comfortably lasting a full day, any improvement made here is welcome.
The Origem HS-3 wireless earphones are not currently
released yet and will be available via crowdfunding tomorrow. The past few
weeks I have had chance to use these new headphones and see if some of the
claimed features make a difference.
There are two aspects that make these stand out from many other headphones, firstly the HDR (High Dynamic Range) Audio Algorithm which automatically maps, culls, mixes and optimises sound across all frequency levels. HDR algorithm detects the sound pressure of the listening environment and volume of the sound to adjust for all different frequency levels dynamically. The result Origem HS-3 delivered is detailed highs, crystal clear mids, and powerful bass, like a perfect combination of subwoofer, mid-range and high-frequency speaker which traditional acoustic gears can’t achieve.
Then there is the voice control, Origem HS-3 recognises your commands immediately after you
speak it. Unlike most Bluetooth earphones, you don’t need to tap or press any
button to activate voice control. Origem HS-3’s built-in innovative voice
recognition system can accurately pick up your voice and answer your commands
in an instant. Enjoy hands-free control over your music and phone calls
The rest of the features are mostly standard as far as
Bluetooth earphones go, these are IPX5 Waterproof and Sweatproof. The X means
there is no data for particle protection from dust, which doesn’t matter
really, and five means water projected by a nozzle (6.3 mm) against enclosure
from any direction shall have no harmful effects. So, these should be good for
running in the rain or the sweatiest of gym sessions.
They also claim to use fast charging which requires only 30
minutes of charging to enjoy a non-stop 6 hours' playtime. They also use
Bluetooth 5 which should reduce battery usage
and an improved range.
Design and Build
My sample came packaged rather poorly in a plain brown box, and in a plastic wrapper, I assume these were early samples so I will not judge them negatively for this.
The earphones have an over the ear hook which is my
favourite style of earphones especially
for sports, however, unlike most competing earphones these use a thin metal
hook which is attached to a hinge and screw. I feel like this is more form over
function, flexible plastic has a tendency
to bounce into shape whereas these will need manually adjusting into place. A
hinged joint is just adding a point of failure that is bound to cause some
The controls are located
on the cable below the right earpiece. Thanks to the over-ear design it doesn’t pull the earpiece out of place.
Finally, the earpiece
itself is quite lightweight with the logo printed on the side. You get the
usual different sized earpieces to improve sound and comfort.
I have an issue with getting earphones to fit well with my
ears, often this causes poor sound
quality due to a bad seal with my ear. These fit quite well with me, and the
ear hook design means that they are less prone to drop out or need adjusting. I
have used them for a couple of runs as well as gym sessions, and I have had no issues with them falling out.
Even though I am not overly fond of the metal ear hook it caused no issues
during my testing period.
I am very sceptical of the HDR claims especially with
headphones that cost $59. However, my Mate 20 Pro shows them as using the aptX
codec which will provide improved streaming over Bluetooth and I have found the overall audio quality to
be very good. These are bass dominant,
not quite as much as the Soundcore Spirit X but definitely
very bassy, for me this is great as I mainly use earphones for exercise and the
bass favours high tempo or aggressive music.
With the mids and highs,
there is a good level of detail and clarity, with little to no harshness or
tininess. Overall the sound profile is good, and
these will suit most modern style of
music, though you may want something more neutral
for easier going music.
This was the other
feature that I was sceptical of, but it actually
works really well though how useful it is will depend on the usage. When I went for a run, it was great, allowing me to control the
music without having to mess around with the earpiece or my phone. All you need
to do is say next song, previous song, pause music, or play music and it does
what you say.
For me there is limited use to this, I am not going to use
voice commands while walking around the street with the public around me, but
for running it was great.
Even though I approached these with some doubt, they turned
out to be much better than expected, and
they are good earphones overall, with a price of $59 via Indiegogo they are
well into the affordable range.
I can’t say for sure
if the HDR audio anything does much for the sound, or if it is marketing fluff,
either way, they still sound good.
Overall these well worth considering if you are on the lookout for some new earphones.
You can find out more information about the Origem HS-3 here, and I will post the Indiegogo link when the campaign goes live.
The SoundMAGIC E11 wired headphones are almost iconic in when it comes to high quality budget earphones. I used them myself for several years and I still recommend them to anyone looking for a great sounding pair of earphones for a reasonable price.
These earphones have finally received the Bluetooth treatment in the form of the SoundMAGIC E11BT.
SoundMAGIC has gone back to the drawing board with the E11BT, retaining the classic shape of the well known and loved SoundMAGIC E10 models and updating it with a new design, improved materials, the latest Bluetooth v5.0 technology and a very impressive battery life up to 20hrs – providing a more mature and comfortable listening experience.
The SoundMAGIC E11BT is supplied with a newly designed silver plated copper cable, surrounded in a flexible and tough coating – joined together with a flexible neckband providing extreme comfort for long listening periods.
Built into the neckband are two small yet powerful batteries – able to provide up to 20 hours of playback when fully charged. This shows SoundMAGIC’s understanding of the market, and their dedication to providing models to suit all needs and uses.
To get the most from the convenience of going wireless, SoundMAGIC has used the latest Bluetooth v5.0 technology with the E11BT – able to wirelessly transmit audio in CD-like quality with extended transmission range and long battery life.
SoundMAGIC has produced the E11BT with an in-line, 3 button control and microphone. This allows users to control volume, track skipping and play/pause functions as well as take calls. The E11BT is fully functional with Bluetooth compatible devices.
You can order the SoundMAGIC E11BT earphones today from Amazon for £69.99
Essentially used for typing, keyboards has made its way to a wide range of devices, from TV to tablets. Whatever you’re using your keyboard for, the type of keyboard you use, whether traditional or non-traditional split keyboards, each has its own pros and cons.
Keyboards are pretty divided into two main groups today – mechanical keyboards and membrane keyboards.
When it comes to membrane keyboards debate, gamers are overwhelmingly going with the later. This comes down to one key benefit of mechanical keyboards, particularly gaming mechanical keyboards- nth-key rollovers.
Nth-key rollover refers to a keyboard’s ability to register multiple keys at once. Usually on a membrane keyboard, if you were to depress two keys simultaneously, only one key would register. A good gaming mechanical keyboard can support up to 5-keys rollver, registering up to 5 different key presses at the same time.
This all translates to faster response times and the ability to run multiple commands all at once, two things that are critical in the world of split second gaming.
Force Required to Press a Key
Keyboards use different switch technologies, providing different levels of tactile and audible response. When looking to buy a mechanical keyboard for instance, you’ll need to pay attention to the switch it uses and the actuation force as this impacts finger fatigue.
Contrary to membrane keywords, mechanical keyboards do not require the user to press the keys down hard all the way to register. This means less force when typing, avoiding pain and fatigue in the fingers, wrists, and shoulders.
Both membrane- and mechanical keyboards come in ergonomic form such as tenting and split design. Once again it comes down to the force required to register a key press. With a membrane keyboard it requires quite a bit of energy to press a key down to the very bottom so it registers.
The keys on a mechanical keyboard require less force and you therefore type faster. You don’t have to press the keys all the way down for symbols to appear on the screen, and this certainly gives mechanical keyboards an advantage over their membrane counterparts. For fast typists and games this is an important feature.
Speed and Audio Feedback
Many people prefer the speed you get with mechanical keyboards, as unlike membrane keyboards, they don’t need this hard pressing for registering of the button. Furthermore, there is a satisfying audio click with each press of a key on a mechanical keyboard, which facilitates blind typing a lot better.
Razer, Corsair and Logitech are the leading brand names with mechanical keyboards and prices range from $130 to $300. There are budget friendly options however for under $60.
Razer also offers budget friendly membrane keyboards such as its Cynosa Chroma which is also in the region of $60. Generally membrane keyboards are more affordable, as cheaper materials are used to build them and they have a simpler design.
Speaking of price, that’s one thing about membrane keyboards – they don’t last very long. Membrane keyboards are popular because they are cheap to produce, but after a year or two you find them getting stuck and hard to press.
While mechanical keyboards are more expensive, their longevity may ultimately make them as affordable as the membrane keyboard. The mechanical switch with metal spring wears very slowly and these keyboards can last for years and years. In fact, mechanical switches are tested for 30 to 70 million key presses while with membrane keyboards it is just 10 million key presses.
Membrane keyboards, essentially made of plastic, are much lighter than mechanical keyboards, which have a lot of metal in them. Also, membrane keyboards are somewhat smaller than most mechanical keyboards, making it possible to use one on your lap or to balance one on a shelf.
Noise levels on a keyboard can be important and irritating at the same time, and mechanical keyboards happen to be noisier than membrane keyboards because of clicks at the beginning and end of keystrokes. Membrane keyboards are much quieter thanks to the silicone or rubber cushioning.
Membrane keyboards have several layers – top membrane layer, holes layer and bottom membrane layer. The keyboards comes with pressure pads, and when you press these it completes the circuit, sending the command of the given key. When the key is pressed, it moves through the second layer, allowing the pressure pads to pass through and make contact with the conductive traces on the top of the bottom membrane layer.
The keyboard’s surface is flat and printed with symbols. Pressing them, they perform the same tasks as a keyboard with mechanical keys.
Mechanical keyboards, on the other hand, use switches for the typing signal. Each key with this particular keyboard has its own switch. There are many switches, each performing differently and the different colors – blue, brown,red and black – represent something different. The black, as an example, will require the most amount of pressure. Each key comes with a clicking sensation when the key is pressed. The keycaps with these keyboards are also exchangeable, so that users can customize their device.
When it comes to keyboards, you can’t possibly recommend one over the other as what suits your style may be an irritation for someone else. In general however, mechanical keyboards offer better ergonomics, while membrane keyboards are easier on the wallet, and lighter.
Display: 6.2 inch 18.7:9, 2246 x 1080 pixel 402 PPI, capacitive, IPS, glossy: yes 90% screen to body ratio
Camera: 16.0MP + 8.0MP front and rear
Weight: 165 g
OS – Android 8.1
Battery Capacity: 3850mAh and USB-C
Design and Build
Umidigi always packages their phones well, with a premium look and feel. The phone ships with a charger, USB cable, SIM ejector pin, a headset jack adapter and it comes with a TPU case for some added protection.
The phone itself looks and feels great with its stand out
feature being the 90% screen to body ratio of the screen and its notch, these
things that are normally found on much
more expensive phones. The rear of the phone is a glossy plastic with a carbon
fibre type design to it. While the plastic shell may be less desirable than other materials I have no issue with it,
it makes the phone a little lighter and
it is less likely to smash than glass.
The twin cameras on the rear have a small bump to them, with the fingerprint
scanner being slightly recessed and sitting slightly
The phone has a USB-C port for both charging and audio. It
is excellent for a phone this price to
use USB-C, but it is disappointing that
they cut out the 3.5mm jack.
The display is one of the stand out features of this phone, its 6.2-inch FullHD+ display at a resolution of 1080 x 2246 and a display ratio of 19:9 combined with a notch definitely give it a look of a far more expensive phone. The bezels are not quite as thin as some flagships but it certainly looks better than the excellent Xiaomi Mi A2 lite.
The notch is quite large, and
this is likely due to the fact it houses two front-facing
cameras, which match up to the spec on the rear.
Even with the large notch and slim bezels, the phone manages to achieve an impressive 90% screen to body ratio.
The display is IPS with a pixel density of 403 PPI and performs admirably for a phone at this price point. I found it can get quite bright and it works well outside in sunny conditions. It also has excellent black levels and contrast so watching media on it is quite enjoyable.
The front and rear camera have the same specification of 16-megapixel
and 8-megapixel snapper with a f/2.0
aperture and five element lens. That’s based
on Sony’s IMX371 image sensor.
I found the camera to perform much better than other phones
at the same price and with its excellent front camera specification if you are
fond of selfies, this is the perfect
As I am quite poor with photography, all my shots are done in auto mode, with some with the HDR enabled. I also used the bokeh feature when shooting the sign.