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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 could feature Under Display Camera and S Pen, replace Galaxy Note21
by Rajesh Pandey
It is looking increasingly likely that Samsung will not launch the Galaxy Note21 series next year. A new report claims that Samsung has "confirmed" the launch of a new foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Z Fold3, in June next year. The device will feature S Pen support along with an Under Display camera. Apart from the Galaxy Z Fold3, Samsung also plans to add S Pen support to the Galaxy S21 Ultra that's reportedly scheduled to launch in January next year. The latter might not ship with an S Pen slot though while the Galaxy Z Fold3 is expected to have a slot for it.
Seemingly, Samsung has already decided that it will be launching the Galaxy Z Fold3 in June next year, with the final samples of the device going into mass production. The company has been able to successfully add an in-screen digitizer underneath the Ultra-Thin Glass of the Z Fold3 and has also managed to ensure that the protective glass does not scratch easily with the use of the S Pen.
As per the report, Samsung was planning on adding a pop-up camera on the Galaxy Z Fold3 to provide a full-screen experience. However, since pop-cameras are not reliable, the firm has been focusing on building its Under Display Camera technology for its upcoming foldable. Nonetheless, nothing is set in stone and if Samsung sees that the performance of the Under Display Camera is not good, it might end up skipping the technology from the Galaxy Z Fold3.
Google Camera 8.1 brings Pixel 5's camera UI and Cinematic Pan to older Pixel phones
by Rajesh Pandey
Google is rolling out a new update for the Google Camera app that brings the new Pixel 5 camera UI to older Pixel phones. The Google Camera 8.1 update also brings some of the new features that Google debuted on the Pixel 4a 5G and the Pixel 5 to the Pixel 4 and Pixel 3 including Cinematic Pan. This allows for smooth panning shots that have a cinematic feel to them.
The update also brings a revamped Camera UI with a quick zoom toggle and new UI buttons.
The Google Camera 8.0 app has so far been exclusive to the Pixel 5 so far. While it has been possible to sideload a new version of the Google Camera app on older Pixel phones, the process of doing so with v8.0 was not that straightforward and required a factory reset. This deterred many Pixel owners from getting their hands on the Pixel 5 version of the Google Camera app. Thankfully, with the roll-out of Google Camera 8.1, Google is bringing the same new UI to all Pixel phones including the Pixel 2 series.
For now, the rollout seems to be a slow one from Google, with very few reports from Pixel 4 owners on the internet receiving the Google Camera 8.1 update with the new UI. A wider rollout should happen in the coming few days or weeks.
At the moment, it is unclear if the Google Camera 8.1 update also brings any of the other new Pixel 5 camera features like Night Sight portrait mode to older Pixels or not.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra display could support 120Hz at WQHD resolution
by Rajesh Pandey
Leaks surrounding the Galaxy S21 series have already started making their way to the internet despite the official unveiling of the devices still over two months away. The latest leak courtesy of @UniverseIce has revealed some key specs of the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
The device will feature a 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED LTPO panel but unlike the Galaxy S20 and Note20 Ultra, it will actually be able to support the high refresh rate at WQHD resolution. Existing Samsung flagships do feature a 120Hz display but that is only available when running the displays at FHD+ resolution. The use of an LTPO panel is also a big deal as it allows for a variable refresh rate which will help reduce power consumption. Samsung is already using an LTPO panel on the Galaxy Note20 Ultra.
Other specs of the Galaxy S21 Ultra revealed by the leaker point to the device supporting 45W fast charging and featuring a 108MP HM3 primary camera sensor. Despite supporting 45W fast charging, Samsung is only expected to bundle a 25W USB-C fast charger with the Galaxy S21 Ultra as it has done with its other devices.
Samsung plans to announce the Galaxy S21 series earlier than usual next year to counter the iPhone 12 series from Apple. A recent leak points to the company announcing the Galaxy S21 series in mid-January and putting the devices on sale by the end of the month. Like the Galaxy S20 series, Samsung intends to launch three different Galaxy S21 models next year, with renders of all three devices already being leaked.
iPhone 12 review: The real flagship
by Rajesh Pandey
It has been well over a decade since Apple launched the first iPhone but every time a new iPhone is launched, it sets the standard for other Android flagships to beat. This time around, Apple has launched four new iPhone models across its iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro lineup, and it's the iPhone 12 that's expected to be the most popular of the lot.
The iPhone 12 is the one that receives the biggest upgrade from its predecessors with a new design, better display, improved cameras, and more. How good does that make the iPhone 12 then? Is it better than other Android flagships out there? Or has Apple missed the mark somehow this year? Read my review to find out.
CPU A14 Bionic, 5nm fab, 16-core Neural engine GPU 4-core Apple GPU, 50% faster than any other mobile GPU Display 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display, 2532 x 1170 (460 ppi), Haptic Touch, HDR Display, True Tone Body 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4 mm, 164g, IP68 certified Camera 12MP f/1.6 primary shooter, 1.4um large pixels and OIS, 7P lens + 12MP f/2.4, 119-degree ultra-wide, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3, Front - 12MP f/2.2 | Night mode, Portrait mode, Dolby Vision video recording support Video 4K - 60fps, 1080p - 60fps, Front - 1080p - 30fps, Dolby Vision HDR recording Memory 4GB Storage 64GB, 128GB, 256GB Battery Up to 17 hours of video playback, 20W fast charging support, Qi wireless charging, MagSafe Other Features Face ID, Stereo speakers, IP68 certified up to 6m Connectivity 5G (mmWave support only in the U.S.)
Dual-SIM with eSIM support
GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou
Wi-Fi 6 with MIMO
NFC with Reader mode
Ultra-Wideband chip Colors Black, White, (Product)Red, Green, Blue Price $799
The iPhone 12's design is a throwback to the iPhone 4s from 2011. It has a squarish chassis with flat glass panels at the front and rear. The squarish design means the iPhone 12 can stand upright on its top and bottom corners. The chassis is the only part of the iPhone 12 that has received a major redesign. Otherwise, the front and rear design of the device is similar to the iPhone 11, with Apple only offering new color shades to distinguish the iPhone 12 from its predecessor. This also means that the dreaded notch is still there at the top of the display, though this does not bother me much as it tends to blend into the peripheral vision. The bezels surrounding the display have been reduced as well, which has allowed Apple to make the device more compact.
The button placement on the iPhone 12 is on point as they are all within easy reach. The side key is located on the right while the volume rockers and mute switch are located on the left edge. They are all easily clickable even with a case on and there's nothing to complain about them. The Lightning port is located at the bottom between the two speaker grilles. With almost every other device I own now using USB-C, I seriously wished Apple replaced Lightning with USB-C on its new iPhones as well.
The entire iPhone 12 series uses a more durable Ceramic Shield glass for the display which Apple claims is up to 4x more durable. While I can't put that claim to test, glass is still glass and so I will still recommend putting a screen protector on the display if you want to keep it free from scratches. The rear still uses strengthened glass from Corning.
The most surprising part of the iPhone 12 is its weight. I have used an iPhone 11 and when I picked up the iPhone 12, I was surprised at just how light it felt. The in-hand feel, while premium, is nothing exceptional, and the device feels more like a toy with such a lightweight design. The iPhone 12 Pro with its stainless steel chassis feels much better in hand.
I would also like to touch on the missing earphones and power adapter with the iPhone 12. While the lack of earphones does not bother me, the missing power adapter is definitely an issue. While I have plenty of USB-C power adapters, none of them can support the USD-PD 3.0 2.2A/9v profile which is required to fast charge the iPhone 12 series.
The iPhone 12 comes with a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display. The display size is the same as the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR from the last two years, but Apple has switched to an OLED panel this time around. Apple tends to use the best displays on its devices and the iPhone 12's display is no exception. The Super Retina XDR display on the iPhone 12 has its brightness levels, contrast, viewing angles, and color accuracy on point. The peak brightness of the display is slightly lower than what you get on the iPhone 12 Pro but I did not have any issues while using the device even under direct sunlight or when watching HDR content.
There's no Always-on Display support on the iPhone 12 despite having an OLED panel. If this is a feature that you have gotten used to on your existing smartphone, you might be bummed about it missing from the iPhone.
Yes, that massive notch is still there The only missing piece of the puzzle with the iPhone 12's Super Retina XDR display is that it still has a 60Hz refresh rate. Coming from the OnePlus 8T's 120Hz display, I did notice the difference in refresh rate immediately but got used to it after a few hours. Should Apple have shipped the iPhone 12 with a 120Hz display? I do wish so. Is it a deal-breaker? Definitely not.
The on-paper camera specifications of the iPhone 12 might not sound very impressive when compared to other Android flagships. Apple is basically sticking to the same camera sensor and setup as the iPhone 11 series from last year, with the only exception being a wider f/1.6 aperture and a new 7P lens. This means you still get a primary 12MP shooter along with a 12MP ultra-wide angle camera. Irrespective of what the specs suggest, the iPhone 12's camera game is on point. It can take great photos irrespective of the scenario and lightning conditions.
The only two issues that I have repeatedly noticed are that some photos end up with a warm look particularly the ones that are taken indoors. Secondly, lens flare is actually a very common issue on the iPhone 12 and it showed up more frequently on it than on any other phone that I have used recently. The front 12MP camera can also take decent selfies and the addition of Night Mode and Deep Fusion greatly helps when taking selfies in dark conditions. There is also a big gap in image quality between the primary and the ultra-wide camera. Samsung and other Android OEMs have reduced this gap by a big margin and it would have been great to see Apple doing the same as well.
Gallery: iPhone 12 camera samples
Video recording is another highlight of the iPhone 12. Videos shot on the iPhone 12 look amazing and the stabilization is very impressive as well. And unlike my Exynos 990-powered Galaxy S20 Plus which tends to lag and stutter after taking a few shots, the iPhone 12 remains perfectly smooth even after recording 4K 30fps Dolby Vision videos.
The iPhone 12 offers a true point-and-shoot experience that is going to please almost everyone. For power users though, there's no Pro mode here to control the ISO, exposure, or shutter speed in the stock camera app, though you can always download a third-party app from the App Store for this.
Performance and Battery Life
With an iPhone, performance is the last thing you need to be worried about. Apple claims the A14 Bionic chipset inside the iPhone 12 is 50% faster in both CPU and GPU department than any other mobile chipset out there. Considering that the A13 Bionic chip inside the iPhone 11 is still faster than any other mobile SoC out there, this is not a claim that needs much verification. Some Android devices might score higher than the iPhone 12 in benchmarks but they cannot offer sustained performance, something which the iPhone can do.
Apps open fast, heavy games run smoothly, and the phone does not bog down even while recording 4K 30fps HDR videos that are over 5 minutes in length. There are no overheating issues here as well since the A14 Bionic is fabricated on the 5nm fab from TSMC making it more power-efficient. The benchmark scores below also show just how powerful the iPhone 12 is. Android flagships have gotten faster and even ship with high refresh rate displays, but the iPhone is still the one that's hard to beat in terms of performance and smoothness.
One thing where the iPhone 12 lags behind its competition is in terms of RAM. Various teardowns have confirmed the iPhone 12 series ships with 4GB RAM while the iPhone 12 Pro series has 6GB RAM. In regular use, you are not going to have any issues with 4GB RAM. However, if you are a heavy multitasker that frequently switches between multiple apps on your Android device, you are going to notice app reloads more frequently on the iPhone 12. It's not a bummer as most apps retain their state even after being pushed out of memory and they reload fairly quickly as well but it's something that might affect a certain section of users. I did not really have any issues with the limited RAM on the iPhone 12 despite running multiple heavy apps and games and switching between them frequently.
Apple hyped 5G a lot when it launched the new iPhones last month. However, 5G is still not available in most markets of the world including where I live. While 5G might be a big deal in the future, there's not just enough incentive right now to go and upgrade to a 5G iPhone right now.
As for battery life, the iPhone 12 is not going to win any awards in this department that is until you consider its form factor. I was able to get a day of battery life from the phone with around 30% left in the tank, though my phone usage has gone down due to the pandemic. An hour or so of video calls throughout the day though and I had to plug the phone into a charger by around 9 pm. When you look at the iPhone 12's size though, you realize that the battery life it offers is actually quite impressive. There are barely any Android devices in this form factor and even flagship Android phones like the Galaxy S20 series cannot offer the same battery life as the iPhone 12 despite coming with bigger batteries.
The iOS 14 experience on the iPhone 12 is going to be similar to any other iPhone that you have. With iOS 14, Apple has revamped the home screen experience by adding support for widgets. There's now also the option to change the default browser and mail app to a third-party one. And in typical Apple fashion, the company has further improved the privacy features and now there's even an option to grant an app with access to only selected photos from one's library. Picture-in-Picture mode has also finally made its way to iOS 14 which means you can finally watch Netflix while browsing the web or jot down notes while on a video call.
iOS still has its own set of restrictions and issues like you cannot record calls, the Notification Center still requires work and is not as slick as that of Android, and more. However, if you can live in Apple's walled garden, iOS will reward you with high-quality apps and games.
If you are looking for a reasonably-sized flagship smartphone that ticks all the important boxes -- a great display and design, all-day battery life, great cameras, and smooth performance, the iPhone 12 is perhaps the only choice you have, and a great one at that. There's simply no Android device with the same form factor that can rival the iPhone 12. Plus, when you factor in that you can use the iPhone 12 for the next 4 years easily without any issues, it becomes an even better phone to own.
If you already own an iPhone XS or an iPhone 11, I won't recommend upgrading to the iPhone 12. However, for iPhone X and older owners, the iPhone 12 is definitely going to be a worthy upgrade. And if you are frustrated with all the Android flagships out there for some reason or another, the iPhone 12 is the one to go for.
By Abhishek Baxi
Qubo Baby Cam, a baby monitor with AI smarts and Alexa integration, launches in India
by Abhishek Baxi
Hero Electronix has launched a smart baby monitor in India with a kid-friendly design. The highlight of the Qubo Baby Cam is its AI-powered features like virtual cradle and baby cry monitor which have been tailored to address the specific needs of parents.
Hero Electronix is a Hero Group company that forayed into the consumer technology market in 2019 with the launch of Qubo connected smart devices. The US$5 billion Hero Group is one of the top business houses of India.
Qubo Baby Cam is designed to be an extra pair of eyes and ears to work on parents’ behalf. It is designed like a penguin to visually blend in any kid’s room due to its toy-like appearance. The baby cam offers 1080p Full HD video stream with night vision to monitor the baby from the companion Qubo app. Apart from real-time monitoring, the app also gives you a time-lapse video of the child’s activities through the day that you can save for memories or share with your friends and family. There’s also two-way talk with echo cancellation that lets parents connect with their children or babysitters.
The AI features are what makes it different from any other smart security cameras. You can create a smart virtual cradle that ensures that your new-born is always in a designated safe zone. There’s ‘baby cry alert’ that is able to isolate the baby’s cries from surrounding noise and generate an instant alert on the app if the baby is upset. The baby cam can also play a customized lullaby in case the child tends to move or start crying.
The Qubo Baby Cam works with Amazon Alexa devices with screens, like a TV with Fire TV Stick or an Amazon Echo Show. There’s no support for Google Assistant though. The entire Qubo portfolio as yet works only with Alexa.
The Qubo Baby Cam is available at a price of ₹7,490 ($101) across leading online and offline stores in India. As per market estimates, the projected size of the smart home/security market in India is expected to touch $6 billion by 2022 and $53 billion globally.