SG Smartphone Tech Updates – Highly-Secured Google Pixel 3, 4-camera Samsung Galaxy A9 & Blockchain-powered XPhone

Singaporean love gadgets. In this small island-state with no more than 6 million people, we have one mega electronic fair in every 2 months approximately. It is also not surprising to know that we have one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world. On average, one Singaporean is carrying 1.5 smartphones; no wonder many international brands choose to launch their smartphones in this tiny red dot.

 

There were so many smartphones launches recently in Singapore last week and the consumers have been spoiled for choices. If you have yet to find time to read out all the press releases, this article serves as a summary to make sure you are in the know.

 

Google Pixel 3/Pixel 3 XL

The Google Pixel 3 is probably the most high-profile launches recently. The Pixel UI has won praises in the market and a handful of tech reviewers has commented that the UI used in the Google Pixel line of phones are better than the “stock” android.

 

Besides improvements in the hardware from the earlier pixel phones, the biggest highlight of the Google Pixel 3 is the use of a new security chip called the Titan M. This is the same chip that Google used in their data centre which means that Google is bringing enterprise-level security technology to smartphones.

 

Google has also ditched 3.5mm port joining the likes of Apple to push for adopting new cable standard for our audio devices. For those who are still using the conventional headphones with the standard 3.5mm audio jack, the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL are shipped with USB-C 3.5mm audio jack adaptor. You could still use your old expensive headphones with Google Pixel 3.

 

iPhone users, listen up! Before you feel like converting, you may wish to look on the CNET video below for comparison.

Samsung Galaxy A9

The rise of budget phones in recent years has prompted Samsung to launch mid-range Galaxy A series. Consumers has certainly benefited from the intense competition among the smartphone brands. At a lower price-point, the Galaxy A9 is offering specifications that are very comparable to those so-called “flagship phones” are offering.

 

The Galaxy A9 has caught attention from the media of being the first smartphone in the world that has not 2, not 3 but 4 rear cameras! Every camera sensor has its own purpose – ability for better optical zoom (2x to be exact), able to take wider images, better depth of field and better image qualities under low-light conditions.

The rationale of having 4 camera sensors is to give flexibility to the users who could toggle across different camera sensors to suit the users’ requirement – for instance long shots or wide shots.

 

Blockchain-powered XPhone

Pundi X, a Singapore-based blockchain start-up, has announced their very own smartphone called XPhone that runs on their own Function X OS based off Android OS 9.0. Essentially, it is still an Android phone powered by their own Function X blockchain; that means the data transmitted via your phone i.e. apps, pictures, video, messages, calls or any types of file are being stored or distributed through a network of decentralized nodes.

 

Traditionally, phone users go through the centralized mobile carrier to make a call via a number that is unique to every phone user. With Pundi X’s proprietary FXTP, users could by-pass the conventional internet protocol (http) completely to transmit data to another device. To put it simply, X Phone could potentially work independently at places without mobile signal. You should look at their product demo here.

The idea of X Phone is revolutionary. However, Pundi X comments the viability of its blockchain infrastructure depends largely on the spread of nodes (in this case, number of XPhone users).

Singapore Company goGame Collaborates With The Walt Disney Company; Developed Mobile Game Disney Epic Quest

 

At GameStart Asia 2018, goGame and The Walt Disney Company (Stock Quote: NYSE.DIS) Southeast Asia revealed a first look at the gameplay of Disney Epic Quest, an original mobile title that brings Disney and Pixar characters into one action-packed digital experience for all ages. Developed and published by the Singapore-headquartered goGame, Disney Epic Quest is the first Disney mobile game to debut in Southeast Asia. The free-to-play game will be available on both Android and iOS devices and will launch across the region in 2019.

David Ng, Founder and CEO, goGame

David Ng, founder and CEO of goGame, said “As a mobile game company with a strong Asian presence, it’s a great honour to work on a Disney game that’s developed by, hosted in and published for our fastgrowing Southeast Asia region. And as fans of Disney and Pixar, we’re proud to be able to bring the magic of their characters from the movie screens to mobile screens and ultimately, to the heart of our players.”

 

Dan Dossa, VP & GM, Consumer Products Commercialisation The Walt Disney Company South Asia

“At the heart of everything we do at Disney is great storytelling, and we draw upon the most beloved stories and characters from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars to create high-quality interactive game experiences for fans of all ages,” said Dan Dossa, Vice President & General Manager, Consumer Products Commercialization, The Walt Disney Company South Asia. “Our collaboration with goGame underpins our commitment to our Southeast Asian fans to deliver games unique to local tastes and preferences”.

 

Disney Epic Quest is an action role-playing mobile game that brings together Disney and Pixar characters in a digital universe. Players will assemble a squad of three Disney and Pixar characters who embark on a journey to save their digital realm from a menacing virus that has infected the land.

 

The game will launch in 2019 in Southeast Asia, and will be available in English, Bahasa Indonesia, Simplified Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese.

 

Starting today, fans from around the world can pre-register their interest on the official website at www.playdisneyepicquest.com to be notified when Disney Epic Quest is available in their region. Those who are eager to try the demo for themselves may also visit the Disney booth at GameStart Asia 2018, Suntec Convention Centre from 13–14 October 2018.

Super X-Fi is cool! But What’s Next For Creative?

This is the follow-up post on the article I have written in March (If you have yet to read the article, you could access it from here). The Creative stock (stock quote: C71.SI) has sky-rocketed since then. In Oct 2018, the first Super X-Fi Amp launches exclusively in Singapore. The market response is overwhelming. 600 units sold within the first 20 minutes. This is a huge success for Creative considering this is only the sales number from the small Singapore market. Given the amount of press coverage on this product, I believe this product could also sell well in the region. Now, the next multi-billion-dollar question is,” How is Creative going to unlock the value of Super X-Fi technology?”

 

Super X-Fi AMP – A Good Head Start

3D immersive sound is not something new in the headphones market. In fact, a lot of brands has jumped into the bandwagon but after so many years, we didn’t see a clear market leader in this space. Creative manages to rejuvenate the market interest with their Super X-Fi technology. Tapping on the success of the Super X-Fi Amp, I believe the upcoming Super X-Fi Air wireless headphone which is targeting at the Apple users will be doing well too. In the short term, I am rather confident to see a minor positive impact on the Creative’s financial.

 

 

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I was not entirely correct when I said Super X-Fi Amp works only with Android Device. If your computer supports USB Type C, it should work as well! Once plugged in, your PC will recognize it as speakers automatically. For early adopters, you could get Super X-Fi certified #Aurvana SE Headphones worth SGD99 for free!! While stock lasts…. Access through my referral link, you will get $20 off from the purchase price! Now you only need to pay SGD199!!! My referral link http://sxfi.refr.cc/weewun Upon check out, you should see promocode FRIEND-RH6L72K applied. If not, you could apply manually. #instagadget #Singapore #instatech #sgtech #creativetechnology #promocode #audiophile #instamusic #instaaudio #headphones🎧 #headphones #sgx

A post shared by Neo Wee Wu 梁威武 (@weewu) on

That’s the juicy business story of Creative in the short term. On the flip side, the big boys are not going to sit there and do nothing. They are going to response as well. Selling a Super X-Fi branded headphones is the way to go? Personally, I don’t think so.

 

Audio is not a product. It is an experience!

Most consumers won’t have any idea of what a good sound is, and they are largely dependent on what has been marketed to them by the brands. That’s the reality of mass production. What sets Super X-Fi apart from others? It is giving control to user to do personalization for their headphones. At present, none in the market could personalize sound profile like Creative. The Super X-Fi App maps the structure of the user’s ears and head and the information is then transmitted to the Super X-Fi Chip that is embedded in the product (Headphone or Amp). In another words, the product is personalized to you and to you only. That’s the kind of experience other brands cannot offer but on the flip side, how does Creative going to stay ahead in the market before other brands do the same?

Mapping on Super X-Fi App

Focus A Specific Group of Users and Build a Community

Super X-Fi has aroused the market and the media coverage has brought Creative stock back into the radar of the investors. It is a good start but here comes the real challenge for Creative. Once the product is out, it is as good as opening door to your competitors to see what’s inside your house. This is unavoidable and now, the best thing Creative could do is to place focus on specific group of customers – the early adopters.

 

The early adopters are usually the one who are technically inclined and to some extent, they are what the market called “audiophile”. These are also advance users who demanded the most and because of that very reason, they are also very willing to provide feedbacks on how the product could be further improved. Engaging these users and keeping them interested in the community will help to build a strong brand attachment towards Super X-Fi. These are also influencers that could help to sell the products. It may not come as the surprise that the most powerful salesperson comes from this community.

 

I am pretty sure Creative has thought of this before. The launch of Super X-Fi Amp is well-planned with meeting sessions to educate the consumers who have just bought the product. That level of engagement should continue.

 

Super X-Fi App is More Than Just An App

The core of Super X-Fi lies on the data and that’s the only barrier Creative has against their competitors. The strategy that Creative has adopted is to make the Super X-Fi App available to all; that helps Creative gather a wider spectrum of database which could further enhance Super X-Fi experience in the future update. Unfortunately, I have yet to see any benefits of keeping the app installed in my phone after I have set up my Super X-Fi Amp.

 

It is a pity. I believe the Super X-Fi App could do much more than just setting up my device. First, it could be a way for community to discuss about their experience with the products. Second, the app could equip with advance features that targets specifically at audiophile. Back to the earlier part of the article, I have mentioned that those early adopters are probably audiophile. They would love to explore more about the product and Super X-Fi App could be the channel for them to do so. For instance, Super X-Fi app could also be a tool to fine-tune their sound profile after the mapping process. It may sound counter-intuitive but giving the control back to user may not be necessary a bad thing. These data could be valuable and form an important customers’ insights that could further be used in future product development.

 

Build a Brand Around Super X-Fi

During my interview with Nikkei Asian Review, I said, “Creative as a brand is not selling very well. It is seen as value for money rather than a name for high tech equipment”. Although the Super X-Fi Amp is selling well, my view on Creative’s branding strategy remains unchanged since then. I believe it is important to run SXFI Pte Ltd like a startup and dissociate it from any Creative’s branding strategies.

 

Things look positive for Super X-Fi. There is no need to tag along Creative’s brand and worse, it might backfire Super X-Fi’s branding strategies in the future.

 

Making Frienemy is the Way to Go

The goal is to make Super X-Fi a standard in the headphone market. In general, consumers switch brands because they just love to have choices. Keeping Super X-Fi proprietary to only Creative’s products won’t stop consumers from switching; instead, forming partnership with other headphone makers to bring Super X-Fi’s experience to the mass makes make more commercial sense for Creative.

 

The idea is to establish new standard in the audio product market. Once that is established, Creative can spread its tentacles to even wider spectrum of industries be it music, movie or gaming.

 

Key Takeaway – Users’ Experience and Data

Data is the only way for Creative to fend off competition in the headphone market. Imagine a use case of an XXX brand headphone that is Super X-Fi certified and it must be activated by Super X-Fi app on the phone.

 

Community-based marketing builds brand value through interaction with the users. This interaction provides data of what customer wants. Engage, Entice & Empower users in the community is the only long-term branding strategies for Super X-Fi.

 

 

 

OPPO Singapore Launches R17 Series

Teardrop Front Camera of OPPO R17 Series

OPPO Singapore announced the launch of two new R series products – OPPO R17 and R17 Pro in Singapore. Singapore is the first market globally to launch the R17 series following the Shanghai launch earlier this year.

 

The R17 series adopts Corning® Gorilla® Glass 6 for the first time, with a 91.5% screen-to-body ratio and Hidden Fingerprint Unlock for the R17 Pro. The Corning® Gorilla® Glass 6 is able to withstand a drop from a one-meter height to a rough surface for an average 15 times, doubled that of the Gorilla Glass 5 performance.

Although OPPO R17 Pro Sports 12MP f/1.5-f/2.4) +20MP (f/2.6) + TOF 3D Camera, no finger print sensor at the back of the phone

The R17 Pro also carries SuperVOOC flash charging technology, allowing users to enjoy the safest and most efficient charging technology in the industry. The R17 Pro also support NFC wireless payment, making the transition to mobile payments easy and convenient.

 

The R17 is equipped with a 6GB DDR4 RAM, with octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 mobile platform. It can perform multiple tasks seamlessly such as HD video playing or online mobile games. With 128GB storage space, users have ample space to store all their files.

 

The TOF Camera of OPPO R17 Pro is capable of capturing face image in 3D

The R17 comes with a 25MP front camera and a Sony IMX576 sensor with f/2.0 aperture equipped with real-time HDR support. The R17 series is able to provide up to 8 million different beautification schemes to intelligently match different users across the globe. Additionally, the customised beauty mode can now identify up to four people in the frame and enables users to adjust the facial features and preview the effects in real time. The rear cameras of the R17 series can intelligently recognise 23 photography modes and as many as 864 scenario combinations to ensure every shot taken is the best shot possible.

 

 

The R17 Pro is equipped with a variable smart aperture of f1.5/f2.4 which can automatically adjust to the lighting conditions making images sharper and clearer in both bright and low light situations. The R17 Pro has OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation), which can stabilise images and guarantee a longer exposure time to brighten night-time photography, especially with a 7P lens module. The combination of these two features further heightens precision in night-time photography.

 

Furthermore, with regards to sensors, the R17 Pro uses a Sony IMX362 as its main camera, which has 12 MP with dual-pixel for quick and accurate focusing, and 1.4micron pixels size and 1/2.55 sensor size, for brighter night shots and lower noise level. Overall, the whole hardware system of the OPPO R17 Pro is designed for night photography.

 

The R17 Pro also features TOF 3D camera, upgrading the camera from 2D to 3D and featuring users’ functions like 3D photos, somatosensory games, AR ruler and more.

The OPPO R17 6GB+128GB will be available in Singapore on 6th October at $699.

The R17 Pro 8GB+128GB with SuperVOOC is priced at $999. Pre-order will begin on 3rd November 2018 and it will be available from 10th November 2018.

Are We Seeing X-Mini’s Turnaround?

Poor financial management & failure to adapt to market dynamics are by-far the most serious mistakes that we learn to avoid in Business 101. However, we still heard established companies making these mistakes. Few years back, X-Mini committed all these mistakes.

 

Now, they are making a comeback with their latest range of products. In September 2018, XMI, the company that shocked the world in 2007 with their ionic capsule speakers X-Mini, made a global debut of their first earbuds series. This is their latest product development after XMI’s parent company Insonotech took over listing status of Technics Oil & Gas (stock quote: 5CQ.SI) . The latest round of SGD 5m funding also sees the reshuffling of the key management in XMI – Mr Hoong He Hin takes over from co-founder and former CEO, Ryan Lee, who now serves as the brand’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO).  Mr. Keith Wong is appointed as the new Chief Operations Officer. The share (5CQ.SI) is still suspended pending for the Exchange’s approval at the point of writing.

 

Formerly, the Group CEO of Onwards Media Group Pte. Ltd., Mr. Hoong brings with him 16 years of business development experience in content distribution signaling a change in X-mini’s business direction away from a pure audio speaker maker to an audio specialist in consumer space.

 

“X-mini became a success story for Singapore consumer technology and innovation when it launched its groundbreaking capsule speaker in 2007,” says Mr. Hoong He Hin. “We look forward to taking X-mini to new heights by expanding into new product categories, as well as providing more digital content to our customers in the future. We also plan to double total staff strength from 20 to 40 to build our engineering, product management and sales and marketing teams, in order to meet market demand for new product offerings.”

 

Change For Better

Few years ago, XMI was struggling financially and mostly, it was the management’s fault. In the interview with Straits Times in 2017, one of their co-founders Mr. Ryan Lee admitted that they have overspent and didn’t save enough during the good days. In 2010, they started their own factory in China and revenues has been good averaging SGD 30M a year from 2011 to 2014. However, they got arrogant – overpaying their executives, over-expansion of offices and manufacturing facilities and overproduction. These are some of the oversight from the management.

 

No doubt, Mr. Ryan Lee is a visionary leader but afterall, he is a tech guy who might be more suitable in developing new products. Placing Mr. Ryan as the CTO is the right move, at least in my opinion. His role as CTO will see him continue the core DNA of how the brand first made their name – innovation – across X-mini’s range of products. The brand’s founder says, “We are excited about exploring new technologies for X-mini: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) provide a treasure trove opportunities for the brand, as we continue to innovate by leveraging on our expertise in audio engineering and delivering great sound to consumers moving forward.”

 

Diversity is Good but Lacks Focus

XMI is taking steps to rebuild the business and expand its product range, with new staff and management to drive the business forward. Since the fund injection in 2017, the company has turned a corner in terms of getting a whole new product range on the market and made significant inroads in re-establishing a market presence in this region.

 

This time, XMI launches 8 different earbuds; each of them selling at different price positioning themselves as a brand-for-all. You could get a good-quality, entry-level earphones slightly less than USD 15 (I am referring to the newly launched X-Mini Nova). The better model, the X-Mini Xtlas which supports Hi Res audio, is selling not more than USD 100. Marketers who are reading this part may have noticed this – the price difference between the high and the low-quality is a mere USD 85. In terms of pricing strategies, X-Mini is trying to sell different models to different market segments within this narrow price band of USD 85 and that could “confuse” the market value of the brand. Think of this scenario – the 15-dollar earbuds may sell well in developing economies, but the market will label “X-Mini” as a cheap brand and when that happens, how is the market going to response when XMI is also selling high-quality X-Mini earbuds but comparatively cheaper than similar products of different brands?  On top of that, how about the profit margin when you are selling below market price?

 

Market has changed even in our neighboring countries. The rise of middle-class presents an opportunity as they are demanding more and have the capacity to spend. Streamlining your product ranges and consolidating your resources to create one or two killer products to capture this market segment may be a better bet than trying to capture all. I have my doubts on the feasibility of their current strategies.

 

Being a tech writer, I am lucky enough to get first-hand information of the latest gadget in town. I know how to sniff out good product. Standing as a consumer’s point of view, X-Mini sells good products at attractive price-point. Unfortunately, most consumers don’t have the level of knowledge and usually make buying decision based on what they see, hear and feel about the brand. To put it in another words, X-Mini as a brand has yet to stand out against competition from the big boys. From a marketing prospective, I can’t identify the positioning of X-Mini.

 

Looking At The Bright Side

On the positive note, there are people in the market still believe in X-Mini. In

X-Mini Debuts Their First Earphones Series

2015, Polaris Ltd (Stock Quote: SGX:5BI) is one of the early investors who extended their help to XMI by investing 30% of equity interest through an unsecured loan of USD 1.5M. During the same period, XMI’s founders also sought help from 3Fs (the common term used in the business world to describe the kind of investors of a startup – 3Fs namely Friends, Family & Fools). In 2016, they managed to raise USD 8M. In the same year, they parted way with Polaris.  This year, they received a further SGD 5M.

 

If the funding round continues, XMI should be able to overcome their financial woes and even further entrench their business footholds in the region. Judging from their corporate action with the SGX-listed Technics Oil & Gas, I believe potential investors in Singapore or perhaps South East Asia will be interested in the company. I am expecting more fund-raising activities from XMI which I think it is by far, the most important factor to determine whether the company could be turned around.

Singtel launches iPhone Xs and Apple Watch Series 4

Singapore, 21 September 2018 – Singtel this morning launched the iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max and Apple Watch Series 4 at its Singtel Comcentre Shop.

A long queue of Singtel customers formed around the Singtel flagship store hours before the shop opened. First in line was Mr K. A. Ng, 37, who had queued since 5.30am to get his hands on the new iPhone before heading off to work.

 

 

“Singtel has provided top notch service to me over the years and the booking process for the iPhone this time round has been really smooth,” said Mr Ng, who has been a Singtel customer for more than 20 years. “I’m excited to be the first to purchase the new iPhone Xs Max and I love its gorgeous new Gold colour and advanced camera capabilities.”

 

Singtel is offering customers who buy the iPhones an exclusive Apple bundle that includes a new DataX4 add-on, MobileSwop Unlimited service and Apple Music, at a promotional price of S$26.90 per month, a 32 percent discount from the usual price of S$39.78. Customers who subscribe to this bundle will also enjoy S$100 off their new iPhone.

 

Singtel is the only provider in Singapore that enables cellular connectivity on the new Apple Watch. Customers can activate their cellular connectivity with a free 6-month subscription of Singtel’s NumberShare service (usual price S$6.90/mth).

 


Although Singtel is offering cellular services to the new Apple Watch 4, nothing has been confirmed with Apple to roll up cellular services through the new iPhone Xs’ embedded eSim. Singtel spokesperson’s reply, “We are getting more information from Apple to review the offering of digital eSim on iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max and iPhone Xr.”

 

 

 

Realme, OPPO’s sub brand, Looks To Enter Southeast Asia Market.

OPPO has joined the fight against Huawei to capture the youth market. Similar to Huawei’s Honor, Realme is a separated brand under OPPO that targeted at global youth to deliver advance technology features at affordable price range.

 

Established in May 2018, Realme aims to bring performance and design that the young generation need from a smartphone. They launched their first smartphone Realme 1 in India during the first half of the year. Sales has surpassed business expectation. The Realme1 was sold out two minutes after it was made available, making it onto the Amazon ‘Best Seller’ list. 400,000 units of the Realme1 were also sold just two months after the launch.

 

The company never stop to continue the good momentum. Realme’s latest series, the Realme2, set a new record during its launch in India when a total of 200,000 units were sold in under 5 minutes. “With very few options available in the market to meet the ever-changing customer demand, Realme is focusing on bridging the gap by providing products with the latest innovations along with strong performance and stylish designs. As Realme is targeting the global market, we aspire to inject fresh momentum into the global smartphone industry,” said Sky Li, Founder and Global CEO of Realme.

 

Speaking at the launch of the Realme2, Madhav Sheth, Chief Executive Officer, Realme India said, “Being a young smartphone brand in the most diverse and thriving market in the world, we have witnessed unprecedented demand for our smartphones since launching Realme1. In just 30 days, we gained 4% of the online market share, and were ranked 4th in the fastest growing online smartphone market. As a youth-centric brand, we will always thrive to offer customers with the best at optimum prices.”

 

The Realme2 is expected to exceed the Realme1’s achievement. The company has never given a clear time length on when the phones are coming to Southeast Asia but promises that consumers will soon be able to get their hands on the smartphones and enjoy a lot more at surprising prices. Afterall, consumers in this part of the world will have one more choices when comes to budget smartphone.

 

 

NETS Services Will be Available Outside Singapore For the First Time

Singapore consumers can now use the NETSPay app to make e-payments when they travel overseas; this is made possible through the joint partnership between NETS and global payment network UnionPay.

The enhanced NETSPay app comes with a new wallet feature that enables consumers to top up and pay for purchases at over 7.5 million UnionPay QR code merchants globally via QR codes. They can also make contactless payments using their near-field communication (NFC) enabled smartphones at close to 12 million UnionPay QuickPass contactless acceptance points without the need to use fiat foreign currencies when travelling.

The enhanced NETSPay app also offers a number of new features. In addition to overseas payments, users can send money to or receive money from other NETSPay users via mobile numbers or QR code. In addition, those looking to send gifts to family or friends can send e-angbaos (or electronic red packets) to their loved ones using the app. This is in addition to QR code payments in Singapore, including SG QR.

“This partnership between UnionPay and NETS is significant on several levels. First – the launch of the enhanced NETSPay app affirms our commitment to providing innovative payment products and services that can enable greater convenience and ease of payment for local consumers and businesses. Second – the enabling of NETSPay acceptance at UnionPay QR code merchants and UnionPay QuickPass contactless acceptance points around the world will allow local NETS users to make QR code and contactless payments everywhere they go, including at key destinations such as Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand when they travel overseas,” said Wenhui Yang, General Manager for UnionPay International South East Asia.

Commending on the partnership, NETS Group CEO Jeffrey Goh shares, “Working with a leading global partner such as UnionPay is part of our efforts to make NETS services seamless for our Singapore consumers. Now whether you’re shopping in Shanghai or paying for your chicken rice at your favourite hawker stall in Singapore, all you need is NETSPay.”

 

OnePlus 6 Review – A Phone That Satisfies (almost) All

Long story short: If I were looking to change my phone, this would be it.

The Good

OnePlus 6 sports a dual rear camera system. The main rear camera is 16 MP with Sony IMX 519 sensor. The secondary rear camera is 20 MP with Sony IMX 376K sensor

Smooth Operator

OnePlus 6 packs the powerful Snapdragon 845 (same as Samsung Galaxy Note 9) which makes everything oh-so smooth. Graphic intensive games did not pose any problems to the phone at all. For the gamers out there, you may be pleased to know that the phone has a gaming mode which gives you the option to block incoming notifications and to lock the screen brightness.

Not Huawei P20 Pro, but no complaints

Since everyone is focusing on cameras these days, let’s talk about cameras. OnePlus 6 sports a dual rear camera system. The main rear camera is 16 MP with Sony IMX 519 sensor. The secondary rear camera is 20 MP with Sony IMX 376K sensor. Both cameras have an aperture of f/1.7. The main camera has OIS and EIS.

Digital Zoom by OnePlus. It is hard to spot the monitor lizard.
Night Shot by OnePlus 6

 

Food Photo

Overall OnePlus 6 produces photos that are pleasing, if not exceptional. Night shots are decent but can be a bit grainy. Don’t bother with the digital zoom though.

No more eye strain

OnePlus 6 features a beautiful 6.28-inch AMOLED display which offers rich colours and a great contrast. If you prefer a more realistic colour representation, OnePlus 6 offers the possibility to change the display profile to sRGB or DCI-P3 palette. A new feature on the OnePlus 6 is the Reading Mode, which turns the display into a monochromatic one (so that it looks somewhat like a Kindle display) so that prolonged reading is easy on the eyes. I find myself loving this feature so much that I read tons of Wikipedia articles in the Reading Mode. I totally dig using Kindle’s Android app in the Reading Mode. I am now quite convinced that me that I can keep my actual Kindle in my drawer. Heck, I even switched to Reading Mode while watching some movies on the phone just for the fun of it. That said, if you launch the camera app or photo gallery, the software is smart enough to know that Reading Mode isn’t useful, and colour will fill the display. After you hit the home button or switch to another app, the screen will turn back to greyscale.

Headphone jack

Since my favourite Sennheiser headphones are not wireless, I need the headphone jack. So yay!

Usable right out of the box

You know how you cannot really use the phone properly during the first few days because you leave the plastic protector on the phone in case it gets scratched. The problem is only resolved when you finally get your screen protector and case to protect your purchase right? With the OnePlus 6, the screen protector is adhered already at the factory (flawless dust-free application) and a nice case comes in the box, so you can use your phone straightaway without fear.

The Not-so-good

Not enough juice for some

The OnePlus 6 comes with a 3,300 mAh battery which in my humble opinion, is not quite enough. For general use, it will easily last a day, but when I play Pokemon Go I find that I cannot play to my heart’s content. The phone does charge very quickly with OnePlus’s Dash Charge (around 60% in 30 mins) though so there’s an upside.

Not waterproof (at least officially)

It is noteworthy that OnePlus 6 does not have any IP rating for waterproof resistance. I conducted some informal and unscientific tests on my own and can confirm that OnePlus 6 will remain safe in the rain or by the swimming pool (BY, not IN). Some people have conducted more professional investigations (read: tear-down) and concluded that the OnePlus 6 has at least enough protection to give the device an IP67 rating. However, if you are tempted to submerge your phone in the water, keep in mind you are doing so at your own risk.

No room for expansion

OnePlus 6 does not have SD card support so you are restricted to the 64 GB or 128 GB that you buy. My concern isn’t about whether there is enough storage or not. I like to have everything on my SD card so that when I change phones I can transfer all my stuff via SD card quickly.

And no, I don’t want to backup my stuff to Google. They already know more about me than they need to.

Sometimes, I don’t know where I am

I find that the GPS signal is weaker on the OnePlus 6 than on my old OnePlus 3T. When playing Pokemon Go indoors, I find that the GPS signal is lost very often. That said, when outdoors without obstruction, the GPS gets a lock on the location very quickly and is accurate.

The “I can’t be bothered”

Notch

There is a notch on the OnePlus 6. It is possible to change the display such that you don’t see the notch. Some people love the notch, some people hate it. I don’t really care about it or care for it. I don’t find it distracting, yet I don’t find much benefit for it either.

Wireless charging

Personally, I don’t understand why people complain about the lack of wireless charging. I can use the phone while it’s charging with the USB cable, but I cannot use the phone when it is placed on the wireless charging pad. Wireless charging is slower anyway.

Until all my furniture have wireless charging pads built into them, I simply couldn’t care less. I rather have a lower price on the phone.

Speaker

As mentioned earlier, I use my headphones so I hardly find myself using the loud speaker on the OnePlus 6. But this point is probably worth a mention anyway. OnePlus 6 has a single, down-firing loudspeaker. The sound quality isn’t very impressive. Maybe it has got something to do with the case, but there’s some sort of a buzzing sound like something is shaking. I will happily stick to my headphones.

 

In conclusion, OnePlus 6 is a good phone that generally can satisfy most users. It is not the cheapest phone out there, but compared to other phones offering similar specs, you will be hard pressed to find another phone that offers better value than the OnePlus 6.

 

Article Contributed by Poisonvine.com

 

July – The Month For Budget Phones – ASUS Zenfone Max Pro (M1), Huawei nova 3i, Honor Play

July in Singapore is filled with exciting launches of budget phones. Last week, ASUS and Huawei launched their ASUS Zenfone Max Pro (M1) and Huawei nova 3i. This week, another new contender in Singapore – Honor launches Honor Play. All these products are selling competitively at the price range of $300 – $450. This post, I am doing a quick comparison of the specs of these phones and hopefully, gives some ideas in your next purchase.

 

Camera

Samsung and iPhone started the idea of Face Unlock but it is not longer a technology barrier for other smartphone markers. All 3 phones offer the face unlock features. I am not a fan for this feature but I am impressed with the technology and how front-facing camera have evolved for the past 1 years.

 

The ASUS Zenfone Max Pro (M1) and Honor Play comes with 8MP and 16MP front-facing camera respectively whereas the Huawei nova 3i is equipped with dual 24MP and 2MP front-facing camera. Judging from the specs alone, the Huawei nova 3i seems to edge above the other 2 phones. In fact, the resolution of the front-facing camera of the nova 3i is higher than its rear camera which is packed with dual 16MP and 2MP lens. The nova 3i’s front-facing camera is also armed with the popular Huawei’s AI photography technology.

 

Model is doing a selfie with Huawei nova 3i

The Honor Play has the same dual camera specs as the Huawei nova 3i. As a separated brand owned by Huawei, the rear camera of the phone comes with Huawei’s AI photography technology. If you are a fan of Huawei’s mobile phones, I am sure this feature is something that you are seeking for.

 

In terms of rear camera specs, the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro (M1) has dual 13MP + 5MP camera lens. The secondary 5MP camera enhanced the bokeh effects of the photo. The rear camera supports 4K recording.

Processor and Memory

Kirin 970 processor made it to the world stage when Huawei introduced their

Honor Play showcased at Raduga Center

flagship Huawei Mate 10 last year. This time, the same Kirin 970 processor in Huawei Mate 10 is used to power the Honor Play. This budget phone is essentially a premium smartphone and it has a 4GB of RAM and 64 GB of ROM that could be expanded with external microSD capacity upto 256GB.

 

On the other hand, the nova 3i from the parent company is equipped with the newer Kirin 710 processor. The new processor is designed to give a better performance specifically for the mid-range phones. The nova 3i has a 4GB of RAM and 128 GB of ROM that could be expanded with external microSD capacity upto 256GB.

 

Unlike Huawei, ASUS uses older Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, one that is commonly found in mid-range smartphones, in their Zenfone Max Pro (M1). For the past 1 year, the 636 processor has proven to be reliable in terms of performance and power consumption. The Zenfone Max Pro (M1) has a 3GB RAM and 32GB of Rom but could be expanded with external microSD capacity upto 2TB.

 

Port – USB Type C, Micro USB , Audio Jack

Fortunately, budget and midrange phones do not always copy everything that a premium phone has. ASUS Zenfone Max Pro (M1), Huawei nova 3i and Honor Play keep the 3.5mm audio jack. You could still enjoy your music on these devices with your current headphones.

 

Among the 3 phones, the Honor Play is the only one with the USB Type C port where as the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro (M1) and the Huawei nova 3i come with the conventional micro-USB ports. Nonetheless, all 3 phones have fast charge features.

 

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro (M1) showcased in Singapore

Battery Capacity

Battery capacity for Huawei nova 3i and Honor Play are 3,340 mAh and 3,750mAh respectively whereas the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro (M1) is packed with 5,000mAh. Judging from the pure hardware perspective, it is impressive to put such a big battery into a phone.

 

Verdict

Let’s just be practical – If you need a phone that works and nothing else, the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro (M1) seems to be a better option. The phone has bigger battery which technically speaking, could last longer eliminating the need of bringing a power bank. With external microSD storage upto 2TB, you could store all your documents and images in your phone.  Unlike the Huawei nova 3i and Honor Play, the microSD card slot is dedicated one which means that there is no need to compromise one sim card slot for external storage. You could still use the dual sim cards simultaneously. If you are one of those who is holding 2 numbers – one for personal and one for work, this is a good feature to have.

 

From 25th July to 30 July, ASUS is having a special launch promotion for Zenfone Max Pro (M1). Price will drop from SGD 348 to SGD 258. Perfect for budget-constraint freelancers who use their personal device for both work and leisure.

 

If you are looking for fun – Honor Play is the first gaming phone that is designed for young mobile users who do not have deep pocket to burn. The Kirin 970 processor has already proven its capability in Huawei Mate 10 but this time, consumers do not need to pay a premium price to get superior performance. The famous Huawei’s GPU Turbo is of course included in the phone.

 

The phone is selling at recommended retail price of SGD 429 at Qoo10 and Honor Singapore is accepting pre-order starting from today. The shipment is expected to be out from 7 Aug onwards.

 

Social Media and Lifestyle–  If you are one of those who like to share good pictures on your SNS, then the nova 3i is the clear winner. The nova 3i has 4 cameras in total! Powered by AI, the nova 3i can recognise over 200 scenarios across eight categories including Blue Sky, Plant and Beach. The AI function can optimise photos by scene to create a true-to-life effect.

With AI machine learning, the HUAWEI nova 3i also supports 3D Qmoji, which is a social media-friendly feature that digitally transposes the face of a user onto a digital avatar.

The nova 3i is selling at SGD 398 and will be making its public debut on 28 July 2018 at Waterway Point Shopping Mall, East Wing Atrium, Basement 2. From 11am to 9pm, customers will receive a Casio G-SHOCK Analog-Digital Watch (worth $199) with every purchase of the nova 3i, while stocks last.