Oppo Reno 10x Zoom hands-on review

The Oppo Reno is a smartphone that takes its key design feature not from a racing car, the latest fashionable color, or some fabulous piece of architecture — but from a shark.

No, it doesn’t have rows of razor sharp teeth. It does have a motorized selfie camera that pops up from the top of the phone at an angle, making it look like a shark fin. Oppo even calls it a “shark fin camera.”

Shark-like cameras

The shark fin camera is very cool, even by pop-up camera standards. It rises up from the right side to reveal not only the selfie camera lens on the front but also a flash unit on the back. This is clever use of space, and a great way to minimize clutter on the already busy rear panel.

The selfie camera has 16 megapixels packed in along with some trickery to make skin tones look more natural in low-light conditions. I used it in bright conditions and the results were good, although it was difficult to asses the algorithm’s effectiveness.

oppo reno shark fin camera
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The real camera action on the Reno is around the back of the phone. Oppo has two versions of the Reno coming in June — a standard Reno and the Reno 10x Zoom. In case it’s not obvious, you will want the Reno 10x Zoom model if you’re a camera fan. Powerful zoom features are a big trend at the moment, and the camera on here delivers a 10x hybrid zoom. The camera app cycles through 2x and 6x zoom levels before it reaches 10x, or you can use a scroll wheel for more accuracy.

Zoomed in shots at this level in a room with artificial lighting looked solid, but not remarkable. Look closely at the images and detail is lacking — but it’s still amazing you can take any kind of shot like this on a phone. More

I loved the seamless switch between the zoom levels in the interface — it’s like you’re actually shifting the lens manually — and the versatility such a feature provides. Oppo uses a similar periscope zoom technology as the Huawei P30 Pro. The Reno 10x Zoom has a 48-megapixel main camera, a 13-megapixel telephoto, and an 8-megapixel wide angle lens.

Pictures look excellent on the massive 6.6-inch, notch-free AMOLED screen

Photos taken inside looked great in standard mode, full of color and life, and also at 2x. Oppo’s Ultra Night Mode and the Dazzle Color setting are available, and these modes produced some great photos on the RX17 Pro, meaning they should get even better here.

Pictures look excellent on the massive 6.6-inch, notch-free AMOLED screen, which may sound enormous, but the phone is surprisingly compact and light. The bezels are really small, resulting in a 93.1% screen-to-body ratio, and although the phone is quite thick it never felt unmanageable.

Software, specs, and downsides

Shown on the screen is Oppo’s Color OS user interface over Android 9.0 Pie. It’s version 6 on the Reno, and it’s a smoother, more acceptable style than version 5.3 on the RX17 Pro and other recent Oppo phones.

There is a pull up app tray, for a start, and moderately more acceptable icon designs. The notification shade is a cheap rip-off of iOS’s Control Center though. However, the increase in speed and responsiveness is very welcome. In the short time using the Reno, the software has graduated from being almost hateful to just quirky, which is a step up for Color OS.

oppo reno
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The software’s speed is helped by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 inside the phone, which will also power a third version of the Reno — one with 5G. This will be one of the first 5G phones available in the U.K., and it’ll be available on EE’s 5G network when it launches on May 30.

The size of the phone is partially due to a big 4,065mAh battery with Oppo’s VOOC 3.0 fast charging system, which should take it from zero to 100% in about 80 minutes, based on previous experience. It’s great to see so many high-end smartphones launch with big batteries recently.

Now that the software isn’t such a big downside to buying an Oppo phone, are there other problems? The Reno doesn’t have an IP rating, so isn’t strictly water resistant in any way; there’s no wireless charging, and the design isn’t one of the company’s most exciting. It’s a little faceless, despite the pretty green hue on the model I handled.

Price and availability

Oppo is a relative newcomer to the U.K., having only started selling a selection of devices earlier this year. The Reno series is a comprehensive line-up of pretty smartphones, with some compelling specifications. However, clearer nomenclature is needed to tell them apart, and not to confuse potential buyers. The regular Reno does away with the wide-angle lens, the hybrid zoom, and the 855 processor, making do with a Snapdragon 710 processor, and a 6.4-inch screen. It will cost 450 British pounds when it goes on sale June 5.

The Reno 10x Zoom could potentially provide a similar photo experience to the Huawei P30 Pro

The Reno 10x Zoom is the one to look at, and it will cost 700 pounds from June 12, putting it up against the excellent OnePlus 7 Pro. The Reno 5G will come at a later date, and for an unspecified price. I was told I saw the 5G model, but it looked identical to the Reno 10x Zoom, but no 5G test network was available to see it working.

Conclusion

Last time I swooned over an Oppo phone, it was the utterly stunning Find X. How does the new Reno compare? It may not be quite so eye-catchingly gorgeous, but it has a more comprehensive and usable camera, better software, and more power. It’s even future-proofed for those keen 5G early adopters, if you wait and buy the 5G version.

For everyone else, the Reno 10x Zoom could potentially provide a similar photo experience to the Huawei P30 Pro, but for much less money. That’s exciting, and could help Oppo really build its brand among tech fans in the U.K..

Sadly, the Reno will not be for sale in the U.S., so the only way to buy one will be to import one.

First American Financial exposed 16 years’ worth of mortgage paperwork, including bank accounts

Brian Krebs has revealed that a company that primarily works in real estate insurance has left as many as 885 million records exposed on its website — going back to 2003. First American Financial Corp’s big mistake should have been obvious to anybody who would have given a second thought to security. If you had the URL for any document on its website, you could simply add or subtract one to a number in the URL to access another document.

Given the type of business this company is in, those records include incredibly private information. Krebs spoke with Ben Shoval, who brought the exposure to his attention and who says the documents potentially included “Social Security numbers, drivers licenses, account statements, and even internal corporate documents if you’re a small business.”

As of today, the company has closed the hole in its website security. Right now, we can’t know whether anybody actually took advantage of this vulnerability. Contrary to how these sorts of data exposure disclosures usually go, First American Financial isn’t even saying that it has no evidence that the records were accessed. In a statement to Krebs, here’s what it said (emphasis below is ours):

First American has learned of a design defect in an application that made possible unauthorized access to customer data. At First American, security, privacy and confidentiality are of the highest priority and we are committed to protecting our customers’ information. The company took immediate action to address the situation and shut down external access to the application. We are currently evaluating what effect, if any, this had on the security of customer information. We will have no further comment until our internal review is completed.

Lots of private data is actually accessible behind URLs that aren’t password-protected, but are still kept relatively safe because their URLs are complex and unguessable. Google Photos, for example, shares images in this way. But even if you grant that it was good practice for First American Financial to make documents available without a password, it’s still incredibly shortsighted to make those URLs so easy to guess.

Krebs characterizes this data exposure as “truly massive — possibly superlative,” and the number of records and the sensitive information they contained certainly backs that claim up.

We’ve reached out to First American Financial for further comment, but right now it’s unclear what steps people could take to check whether their data was leaked. You can find more information about the exposure at Krebs on Security.

Snap is looking into licensing music for users to embed in posts

Snap is in talks with Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group to license songs for users to embed in posts, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The deal would give users access to a broad catalog of songs to post on Snapchat, much like the features available for Instagram Stories and TikTok.

The licensing deal would come at a time when tech companies are increasingly leaning into music features as a core part of their offerings. The popularity of these videos has allowed social media platforms to launch hit songs — Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” which has been the number one song on the Billboard Top 100 for several weeks, first gained popularity through TikTok as a meme.

Facebook secured a licensing deal with the three major record labels back in 2018, allowing users to put licensed music in their videos across all of its platforms, including Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and Oculus. The company has used the license to roll out features like Lip Sync Live, an obvious copycat of Musical.ly, which was acquired by Chinese giant ByteDance and folded into TikTok last year.

TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is now working on securing more licensing deals as it gears up to launch a music streaming service. Snap’s licensing deal won’t be quite at that scale, but it will be a step toward keeping the app competitive against Facebook and TikTok. As music copyright issues have been a point of contention between record labels and companies like YouTube and Peloton in recent months, it’ll be in Snap’s best interest to secure licenses quickly.

How to see another company’s growth tactics and try them yourself

Every company’s online acquisition strategy is out in the open. If you know where to look.

This post shows you exactly where to look, and how to reverse engineer their growth tactics.

Why is this important? Competitive analysis de-risks your own growth experiments: You find the best growth ideas to adopt and the worst ones to avoid.

First, a warning: Your goal is not to repurpose another company’s hard work. That makes you a thief. Your goal is to identify other companies who face the same growth challenges as you, then to study their approaches for solutions to draw from.

As I walk through uncovering a competitor’s tactics, keep in mind which competitors are worth looking at: For instance, you should rarely over-analyze early-stage companies. They’re unlikely to be methodical at growth.

Meaning, if you blindly copy their site and their ads, it’s possible you’ll be copying tactics that are not actually responsible for their growth. Their success may instead be from network effects or other hidden factors.

Instead, it’s safest to get inspiration from companies who’ve sustained high growth rates for a long time, and who face the same growth challenges as you. They’re likely to have sophisticated growth operations worth studying deeply. Examples include:

  • Pinterest
  • Airbnb
  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Uber

If these aren’t your direct competitors, don’t worry. You don’t need to audit a direct competitor’s tactics to get incredibly valuable insights.

You can look past direct competitors.

You’ll gain useful insights from auditing the user acquisition funnel of any company who has a similar audience and business model.

Examples of audiences:

  • Wealthy consumers
  • Enterprise businesses
  • Middle-class adults who use Chrome
  • Dog owners
  • And so on

Audiences matter because their behaviors and needs differ wildly. Each requires its own growth strategy. You want to audit a company whose audiences is similar to yours.

You also want to ensure the company shares your business model. Examples include:

  • A high-touch sales process with multiple phone calls
  • A consumer ecommerce site with easy checkout
  • A self-serve SaaS signup with a freemium plan
  • A pay-to-play mobile game
  • And so on

Each model may necessitate different ads, landing pages, automated emails, and sales collateral.

Never implement another company’s tactics blindly.

There’s an effective process for growth analysis, and it looks like this:

  1. Source potential growth ideas.
  2. Prioritize them.
  3. A/B test them.
  4. Measure if an A/B variant significantly outperformed its baseline and whether the cost of implementing the winner would be worthwhile.
  5. Only then should you implement it.

Here’s a brief example before we dive into tactics.

Let’s pretend we’re a SaaS company offering consumer banking tools, and that we’re struggling to get users to onboard our app. Our hypothesis is that visitors are bouncing because they don’t trust us with their sensitive information.

Our first step is to define both our audience and our business model:

  • Audience: Tech-savvy, adult consumers.
    Business model: SaaS freemium funnel.

Our next step is to look for companies who share those two aspects. (We can find them on Crunchbase.)

Once we have a few in hand, we look for how they handle customers’ sensitive information throughout their funnel. Specifically, we audit their:

It’s time to learn how we audit all that. I’ll share how our marketer training program teaches marketers to do this on the job.

Some OnePlus 7 Pro phones are having strange phantom tap touchscreen problems

By all accounts, the OnePlus 7 Pro is the nicest phone released by the company yet — with a higher price that reflects as much. But some early buyers are reporting that they’ve noticed phantom screen presses, where apps are responding as if something on the screen had been tapped even when the phone is sitting idle.

OnePlus is aware of the issue, according to Android Police, and says it’s treating it as a high priority after managing to successfully reproduce the problem. If you just bought this phone, you’re no doubt hoping that the phantom taps are something that can be eliminated through a software update and aren’t indicative of a deeper hardware dilemma. The OnePlus 7 Pro has a first-of-its-kind OLED screen with a refresh rate of up to 90Hz.

The Verge has been able to reproduce the ghost presses on one of our OnePlus 7 review units. Like some users on the OnePlus forums, it’s most easy to observe the issue with the app CPU-Z. But others have encountered it in Messages and other apps where phantom taps would prove very bothersome.

This doesn’t seem to be a universal problem that’s affecting all OnePlus 7 Pro phones, but we’ll be keeping an eye on the situation and provide any updates that OnePlus offers regarding a fix.

Social Blade shaped YouTube culture, and creators are now banding together to save it

To those outside of YouTube, Social Blade is just another analytics site that tracks subscriber growth or loss. But it’s not. Social Blade has become a crucial component to being a YouTube creator, providing creators with numbers to prove why they matter as a community.

Now, Social Blade’s time might be up. YouTube’s product team is introducing a change to the platform in August that will hide live subscriber counts. The change will affect third-party sites that use YouTube’s API to render their data, including Social Blade. Dozens of YouTube channels dedicated to live-streaming subscriber battles (like T-Series versus PewDiePie) will no longer work because they won’t have access to Social Blade’s data counter. Social Blade was the first site to quantify YouTube culture’s popularity with easy-to-understand data.

That’s why Social Blade’s existence means everything to the community. Its real-time subscriber counter has become the face of success, and sometimes failure. Social Blade’s counter is just as recognizable as some top creators, and quite frankly, its counter is the most aesthetically pleasing. That’s why many people tweeted in support of the site on Thursday night, managing to get “#SaveSocialBlade” trending across the United States.

“If this had come into effect a few months sooner, the whole PewDiePie vs T-Series meme wouldn’t have even been a thing,” popular YouTube meme creator Grandayy tweeted. “#SaveSocialBlade.”

Some of YouTube’s biggest cultural moments have relied on or incorporated Social Blade. T-Series’ meteoric rise was first noticed by Social Blade; beauty guru Tati Westbrook’s fight with makeup superstar James Charles was fought with Social Blade statistics. It’s not just drama, though. Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon used a live Social Blade counter to celebrate passing 20 million subscribers with his audience. Watching that counter move and cross over into a million, 5 million, or 10 million subscribers is a cultural staple on YouTube — that’s because of Social Blade.

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To say the response from the community to Social Blade’s predicament overwhelmed the team would be an understatement.

“Since we provide most of our services to the community for free as a community service without requiring even a log in most of the time we don’t really even know who is using it,” Social Blade CEO Jason Urgo told The Verge via email. “The amount of people, big and small that have been showing their support and even got us to become a trending topic in a couple of countries last night is just so humbling.”

Many creators used the #SaveSocialBlade hashtag as a way to point out how necessary Social Blade has always been. YouTube has slowly added to its internal studio tool for YouTubers, and is trying to get more people to rely on some of the platform’s internal metric tools that are just being introduced. Killing off a Social Blade’s abilities, however, is the wrong way to go about it.

“To see YouTube effectively killing off Social Blade is painful to watch,” comedian and popular YouTuber Jesse Ridgway tweeted. “We’ve turned to SB for years for live subscriber counts and simplified statistics.”

Urgo told The Verge that a YouTube representative did reach out to the Social Blade team after the hashtag began trending to discuss upcoming API changes. He doesn’t know if that’s going to change anything for his website, but he’s hopeful. YouTubers are mad, and when creators get angry, YouTube tends to listen.

Teenage Engineering’s first record label is a showcase for its delightful synths

Swedish music hardware company Teenage Engineering has developed a cult following around their design-forward synthesizers. Now it’s expanded into another portion of the music industry and launched a record label. Naturally called Teenage Engineering Records, the company says the label only has two rules for releases: “it needs to be a good song,” and the song must use at least one Teenage Engineering instrument.

The label’s first release is “You’re In Love with Your Hair” by newcomer Swedish artist Emil Lennstrand, otherwise known as Buster. This appears to be his first release ever, and Teenage Engineering says he’s currently finishing up a bunch of songs that will be released in the near future. “You’re In Love with Your Hair” was partially made with the 400 — one of Teenage Engineering’s self-assembly modular synths — and immediately starts with a ringing, metallic sound that morphs and mutates as the song progresses.

Teenage Engineering’s 400 synth
Image: Teenage Engineering

Teenage Engineering first debuted the 400 earlier this year. It’s an analog modular synthesizer with a “warm natural analog sound” that’s packed with three oscillators, a 16-step sequencer, filter, LFO, two envelopes, noise, random generator, two VCAs, a mixer, speaker box, and power pack. It comes as a flat pack kit, and requires Ikea-style assembly with folding aluminum panels.

There’s a wide array of instruments available from Teenage Engineering, from its popular Pocket Operator line to the retro-future OP-1 synthesizer, and its flat pack line that includes the 400 and also a monophonic analog synth called the 170. This record label is a smart way to showcase them, make the synths feel accessible, and put a shine on new talent in the process. Take a listen to “You’re In Love with Your Hair” below, or on Spotify.

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CoinBits launches as a passive investment app for bitcoin

Erik Finman is a twenty-something bitcoin maximalist as famous for his precocity as he is for his $12 bet on the currency a few years ago.

Now, Finman, who built his first company while still in High School, is launching a new startup called CoinBits, which allows users to passively invest in bitcoin.

The idea, according to Finman, is to democratize access to the currency by letting everyday folks invest nominal sums through well-known mechanisms like roundups on transactions made with a credit or debit card or through regular transactions from a customer’s savings or checking account to bitcoin through CoinBits.

Every transaction also helps Finman’s own bitcoin holdings grow and makes the young entrepreneur a little wealthier himself through his bitcoin holdings.

Users can make one-time investments of $10, $25, $50, or $100 dollars through the web-based platform and can establish a level of risk for their holdings.

Finman’s app collects no commissions on transactions and 98% of the Bitcoin is stored offline — for safety.

“Overall, investing in Bitcoin is complicated and can feel almost impossible,”. said Finman. “Coinbits allows you to put that spare change in Bitcoin. For example, if you spend $1.75 on French fries, that remaining 25 cents is invested automatically.”

Withdrawals are handled by CoinBits which will give users same-day processing for a 50 cent-fee and offers an easily downloadable record for accountants to deal with any gains or losses associated with bitcoin.

Given the fractional nature of these investments, and the volatility of bitcoin, it’s hard to know what real value investors can reap from these small transactions, but it’s a less risky way to experiment with building bitcoin holdings than take a huge flyer on the market.

Livekick raises $3M to use live video for one-on-one training

Livekick, a startup that gives customers access to one-on-one personal training and yoga from their home (or hotel room, or elsewhere), is announcing that it has raised $3 million in seed funding.

The company was founded by entrepreneur Yarden Tadmor and fitness expert Shayna Schmidt. Tadmor said that with all his travel for work, his fitness routine “really eroded,” so he contacted Schmidt and asked her to train him remotely — they’d connect via FaceTime, he’d mount his phone at the gym and she’d supervise his workout.

“We trained this way for a while, and then we realized: Hey, this is something that other people can really benefit from,” Tadmor said.

So with Livekick, users can sign up for one, two or three live, 30-minute sessions with a remote trainer, who they’ll connect with via the Livekick iOS app or website. (After a two-week trial, pricing starts at $32 per week.) The workouts will be tailored to the space and equipment that you have access to, and the trainers will also assign other workouts for the rest of the week.

Tadmor and Schmidt contrasted this approach with companies like Peloton and Mirror, which are bringing new exercise equipment and classes into the home, but which don’t offer one-on-one interaction with a trainer. Tadmor said this individualized approach is not just better tailored to each user’s needs, but also more effective at keeping them motivated. And Schmidt said the live interaction also ensures that people are doing their workouts correctly and safely.

Livekick screenshot

As for the trainers, Schmidt said this gives them a new way to find clients, particularly during their off-hours.

“For trainers, the hours that user are never booked are usually noon to 4pm — they never get a client because people are at work, obviously,” she said. “So we can give trainers in London those hours because for a user in New York, that’s morning. We can really fill their schedules [and] help them make some more income.”

Beyond consumer subscriptions, Livekick also offers a corporate program called Livekick for Travelers. And just to be clear, the service isn’t just for frequent travelers, as Tadmor noted: “If you live in New York, you have access to a lot of fitness options, but most people don’t. You’ve got to do a lot of commuting to get to a studio with great trainers, and so part of what we’re trying to bring is really let you do that from the comfort of your home.”

And while we recently covered the launch of a similar service called Future, Livekick actually launched in September, and Tadmor said the average retention rate has been over six months.

The round was led by Firstime VC, with participation from Rhodium and Draper Frontier.

“With its leading technology and ethos to make exercise accessible and affordable, we believe Livekick has the capacity to improve the lives and health of millions,” said Firstime’s Nir Taralovsky in a statement.

Facebook down-ranks, but won’t remove, fake ‘drunk’ Nancy Pelosi video

What is truth?
What is truth?

Image: chesnot / Getty Images

If you were horrified by how easy it was for someone to create a fake viral video that made Nancy Pelosi look as if she was slurring her words on stage, you weren’t alone. Facebook is now taking action to stop the misleading video, which has over 2.5 million views, from spreading further — though it won’t go as far as deleting it entirely.

On Wednesday, a video that apparently showed the Democratic congresswoman seemingly “drunk” went viral, first on Facebook, and then on other social media platforms. But Pelosi wasn’t actually impaired while speaking at a Center for American Progress event. Instead, the creator (whose identity is not known) simply slowed down the footage of the speaker of the house to 75 percent, and altered the pitch.

That was it. No A.I., no complicated algorithm, no scary “deepfakes.” Simple video editing was all someone needed to get millions of views and inflame the anti-Pelosi base in the process. 

Now, Facebook is dealing with the video within the framework it has set up for assessing and mitigating fake content. Facebook confirmed to Mashable that it is reducing the video’s presence in News Feed, since a Facebook fact-checking partner has flagged it as “false.” The video will still exist on the platform, but the News Feed algorithm won’t pick it up and place it in people’s feeds. 

Facebook explained that it’s not removing the video because it didn’t violate its community standards. By Facebook’s rules, the information you post doesn’t have to be true. But, Facebook says it is continually working to improve the integrity of the platform by mitigating the viral spread of misleading content and adding context to flagged content.

Although, the context in this case is hard to find. 

Facebook said it would show related articles to point out the content is untrue, but none of the content in a “related videos” sidebar does so. Only when a user presses “share” does a box warning about the veracity of the video appear.

The 'Related Videos' don't show additional context; Facebook presents the fake video, here, without comment.

The ‘Related Videos’ don’t show additional context; Facebook presents the fake video, here, without comment.

Image: screenshot: jack morse/mashable

Why not just call it "fake," tho?

Why not just call it “fake,” tho?

Image: screenshot: rachel kraus/mashable

Facebook’s stance here is that even if a person has a right to post a false piece of content, that doesn’t mean it’s Facebook’s duty to promote that content by giving it wide distribution via News Feed.

Unfortunately, the damage has already been done. As of yesterday evening, the video had already been viewed over 2 million times. Just 12 hours later, that count is up to 2.5 million, and there are multiple clones on Facebook and other platforms. Facebook will treat duplicate videos in the same way — when it finds them. Once again, Facebook is playing a game of catch up with bad actors on its platform, with systems that catch — not prevent — harmful content, after it’s already multiplied and gone viral.

Facebook recently shared that it had deleted over 2 billion fake accounts this year. It is under siege by bad actors and scammers trying to manipulate the platform. And though Facebook’s reasoning about down-ranking, not deleting, makes sense, that might not be a heavy enough hammer to stop content manipulators, and their simple video-editing software, in their tracks. 

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