All posts in “smartphone”

Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL reaffirm Google’s top spot among smartphone cameras

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones are here, and they bring with them sequels to some of the best smartphone cameras available. They’re equal to the task, though – more than, in fact.

Google’s changes to the Pixel cameras are mostly on the software side, but they gain some excellent additional abilities, including a new Portrait mode, as well as optical image stabilization to compliment Google’s digital anti-shake for photos and video.

Google spent a lot of time during its presentation crowing about the Pixel 2 (and Pixel 2 XL, since their cameras are the same) earning the highest ever rating from DxO for a smartphone camera. And that’s not a bad thing, as far as accomplishments go – but for everyday use, a DxO score is about as useful as you GPA once you’ve entered the working world: Maybe something to brag about, but no one else is going to care about anything except the results you produce.

Basics

Luckily for Google, the results from its Pixel 2 cameras (both front and back) are terrific, and among the industry’s best. Are they the best? That’s going to depend a bit on what you’re after, but you can definitely rest assured that you’ll never regret buying either the Pixel 2 or the Pixel 2 XL because of the quality of the photos they take.

In fact, the cameras are a highlight here and a great reason to consider the Pixel 2 as your next smartphone choice. They’re fast, responsive, highly detailed and have great color composition, and they also manage to strike a good balance on the software side of offering a handful of great features, but without feeling overwhelming in terms of options and settings.

Most importantly, the Pixel 2 takes stunning photos basically whenever you pull it out of your pocket, double tap the power button to quickly launch the camera, point and shoot. It’s hard to take a bad picture – or at least an out of focus or unbalanced one in terms of exposure and lighting, and that’s the key to making a camera that’s designed for everyone, as opposed to something honed for specialist craft.

One of the Pixel 2 camera’s greatest strengths is its ability to exercise restraint despite doing a lot on the software side to clean up things like noise in low light images, and combining different exposures to generate HDR images that have balanced lighting across the scene. The images feel more true to the memory of the actual events, and true to what you see with your eye, than other options from top Android device makers that are intent on boosting saturation and contrast for artificial pop.

Portraits

Another big win for Google is the Portrait mode. In some ways, it’s far less flexible than either the iPhone 8’s Portrait mode, or the Galaxy Note 8’s Focus Shift, since it’s using only one lens to produce its depth effect. But in one key way, it’s more generally useful: It’s far less fiddly to use.

Basically, Pixel 2’s portrait feature works just by taking a picture as you normally would with the regular camera, after enabling Portrait from the capture mode menu. The software does its best to produce an image with a sense of depth of field after the fact, and it turns out pretty well – provided your subject is a person or a real animal, like my dog in the examples below.

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Note 8’s after-the-fact adjustable blur is great, and the iPhone 8’s Portrait Lighting produces some terrific results when used properly, but Google’s solution is arguably the best one for the biggest number of people, since it requires very little patience and produces pleasing results much of the time.

Video

Another area where the Pixel 2 builds on the success of its predecessor is in video. The first time around, Google did some amazing things with digital stabilization to produce smooth cuts, even when you’re in motion filming with the smartphone. But with the added optical image stabilization, you can pan, tilt and even walk and shoot without fear of producing something that’s going to unsettle your audience members with motion sensitivity.

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In side-by-side testing, Pixel 2 XL’s video stabilization (embedded above) came out the winner among iPhone 8 Plus (embedded below) and Samsung Galaxy Note 8. It’s smooth enough that my girlfriend said it had a ‘filmic’ quality, which is high praise. You can see a bit of up-and-down motion in the example provided, but it’s actually not much worse than you get with very expensive hardware gimbals like DJI’s Osmo or rigs designed for use with DSLRs.

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Google also offers up an additional “stabilize” option in the video edit settings, which minimizes the up-and-down effect even more. All of this adds up to the ability to shoot clips on the go with not additional hardware that’s suitable for amateur filmmaking at the very least, and for editorial video and creative web content and reporting for sure. Plus, those family videos are going to look positively ‘auteur.’

Razer upcoming smartphone’s specs leak, revealing a gaming powerhouse

Image: razer facebook/screenshot

Razer’s new smartphone is only expected to launch on Nov. 1, but the leaks have already begun.

According to Phone Radar, a listing has already appeared on GFXBench titled “Razer Phone“, that could just very well be the phone we’re set to see in a little over two weeks.

According to the listing, the phone will have a 5.7 inch screen with a 2650 x 1440 resolution, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 64 GB of internal storage — all pretty standard stuff for a smartphone, except for one standout. It’ll also come with 8GB of RAM.

Image: gfxbench/screenshot

To put that in perspective, Samsung’s S8+ has 6GB of RAM, and Google Pixel 2 XL was just released with 4GB of RAM. 

So the upcoming Razer should be a lot more adept at handling heavy 3D games and multitasking, going by its specs. This should come as no surprise, given Razer’s plan to position its phone as a gaming powerhouse.

We could also see aspects of the Nextbit Robin smartphone incorporated, thanks to Razer’s acquisition of the smartphone startup back in January. Some of its hyped features include the ability to manage and offload data in the cloud.

And for those curious to see what the phone will look like, here’s the tiniest of sneak peeks, courtesy of Razer SVP Tom Moss who had earlier last week tweeted a photo of him with CEO Tan Min Liang. 

Look closely at his pocket.

For now, there’s no way of verifying the leaked details, so we’ll just have to wait till next month.

(H/T: Phone Radar)

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Razer’s first ever smartphone could be coming next month

Image:  Joby Sessions/Maximum PC Magazine via Getty Images

Razer is branching out of the gaming market.

The gaming hardware company launched a teaser on Wednesday, showing a man holding a phone-sized device. 

According to the teaser on the company’s website, the product will be launched on Nov. 1, with a tagline that reads “Watch for our biggest unveiling…”

Image: razer/screenshot

It also posted a similar tweet, with a link re-directing users to the company’s website.

Razer SVP Tom Moss had also earlier last week tweeted a photo of him with CEO Tan Min Liang, with what looks suspiciously like a phone peeking out of Tan’s pocket.

But Razer’s announcement should come as no surprise to watchers.

The cult favourite had earlier this year acquired Nextbit, maker of the crowdfunded Android smartphone Robin. 

According to Recode, all of Nextbit’s employees made the move to Razer.

“With the talent that Nextbit brings to Razer, we look forward to unleashing more disruption and growing our business in new areas,” Tan had said at the time, in a statement.

We can only watch and wait until Nov. 1.

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First impressions of the iPhone X

The iPhone X is the probably the most anticipated device. And while it’s set to launch next month, and if you’re looking to get your hands on one, might be best to get your pre-order in as soon as you can. 

There will be a limited supply—The FaceID feature is causing some issues on the production side. You may not be getting it as soon as you’d hoped.

The BlackBerry Motion has no physical keyboard and its battery life is enormous

It’s official: The BlackBerry KEYone has a followup.

BlackBerry Motion, launched Sunday at the GITEX event in Dubai, is a mid-range, 5.5-inch smartphone with no physical keyboard, a large 4,000mAh battery and IP67 water and dust resistance. 

We’ve already seen what the phone looks like thanks to a leak last week, and yes, that bottom bezel actually is that huge. 

But the Motion is likely not here to set design trends; it’s a business phone and with its black/gunmetal color combo and the “soft-grip” textured back, with a large BlackBerry logo, it definitely looks the part. 

The Motion is powered by a Snapdragon 625 processor and has 4GB of RAM, which isn’t on par with top flagships of today but is likely enough for most users’ needs. The screen has a full HD resolution, and the rear/front cameras are a 12-megapixel/8-megapixel combo. 

The most interesting feature of the BlackBerry Motion is that beefy battery, which BlackBerry claims will offer more than 32 hours of mixed use. The phone also supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, meaning you can get a 50 percent charge in “roughly 40 minutes.” And yes, the Motion comes with the good old 3.5mm headphone jack. 

On the software front, the Motion will run Android 7.1 Nougat and come with BlackBerry’s standard security and privacy features as well as the company’s array of productivity apps. One new feature will be the Locker, which gives you the ability to protect some documents and photos with a PIN or fingerprint, bypassing any cloud storage.  

The BlackBerry Motion will initially launch in a “limited” capacity, first in the UAE and Saudi Arabia with a price tag of roughly $463. There’s no word on availability in the U.S. 

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