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MWC: Samsung reimagines the phone camera

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At this year’s Mobile World Congress Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones with a dual aperture lens that powers a low light camera, Super Slow-mo video capabilities and personalised AR Emojis.

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ deliver an enhanced entertainment experience with powerful stereo speakers tuned by AKG, surround sound supported by Dolby Atmos and a refined edge-to-edge Infinity Display – a key staple in Samsung’s design heritage. In addition, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ will come with the new SmartThings app, which unites Samsung’s existing IoT services into one single, smart experience.

“The way we use our smartphones has changed as communication and self-expression has evolved,” said Craige Fleischer, Vice President of Integrated Mobility, Samsung South Africa. “With the Galaxy S9 and S9+, we have reimagined the smartphone camera. Not only does the Galaxy S9 and S9+ enable consumers to shoot the best photos and videos anywhere, it’s a smartphone that’s designed to help them connect to others and express themselves in a way that’s unique and personal to them.”

Samsung provided the following information:

Today’s cameras are for more than taking pictures – they’re for connecting and communicating. Consumers want a smartphone camera with state-of-the-art technology, so they can express themselves with high-quality images and tools to tell their own, unique story. The Galaxy S9 and S9+’s cameras are built with these consumers in mind, with a Super Speed Dual Pixel sensor with dedicated processing power and memory that can combine up to 12 frames into one amazing shot for the highest photo quality possible. The Galaxy S9 and S9+’s camera features include:

  • Super Slow-mo: Make every day moments epic with dynamic, slow-motion video that captures 960 frames per second. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ also offers automatic Motion Detection, an intelligent feature that detects movement in the frame and automatically begins to record – all users have to do is set up the shot. After capturing the Super Slow-mo video, users can select background music from 35 different options or add a tune from their favourite playlist. Users can also easily create, edit and share GIF files with a simple tap in three playful styles of looping to watch the action over and over.
  • Low Light Camera: Good lighting is the secret to any great photo. But often, photos are taken in less-than-ideal lighting conditions and most smartphone cameras have a fixed aperture that can’t adjust to low or bright lighting environments resulting in grainy or washed out pictures. Similar to the way the iris of a human eye expands and contracts, Samsung’s Dual Aperture (F1.5 – F2.4) automatically lets in more light when it’s dark and less light when it’s too bright, taking photos that are crisp and clear anytime, anywhere.
  • AR Emoji: Samsung lets users create an emoji that looks, sounds and acts just like them. AR Emoji uses a data-based machine learning algorithm, which analyses a 2D image of the user and maps out more than 100 facial features to create a 3D model that reflects and imitates expressions, like winks and nods, for true personalization. AR Emoji shares your real-life feelings not only in video but also with a range of stickers in uses a standard AGIF file format, so users can share their emojis across most third-party messaging platforms.
  • Bixby: Samsung’s intelligence platform, integrated into the camera, uses augmented reality and deep learning technologies to provide helpful information about a user’s surroundings. With real-time object detection and recognition, Bixby instantly generates information directly on top of the image that the camera is pointing at. Users can translate foreign languages and currency in real time with Live Translation, learn about their surroundings, purchase products seen in the real world and track calories throughout the day.

Entertainment Reimagined

Smartphones are often our go-to choice for entertainment, which is why Samsung created a device that offers premium sound experiences with stereo speakers tuned by AKG. Whether users are watching their favourite movie or streaming their favourite artist’s latest album, sounds are clear, crisp and rich in quality. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ also support Dolby Atmos, giving the effect of 360-degree sound.

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ audio experience is complemented by Samsung’s revolutionary Infinity Display. First introduced on the Galaxy S8, the bold, bright Super AMOLED Infinity Display blends right into the phone with virtually no distracting bezels. With adaptive contrast enhancement, users can use their device even in direct sunlight.

A Device that Fits with the Connected Lifestyle

As the first smartphone to support the new SmartThings app, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are the central hub to manage every facet of the connected lifestyle at home, at the office or on the go. The SmartThings app will be introduced with S9 and S9+ and will connect to other Samsung and non-Samsung devices.

For those constantly on the move, the next-generation Samsung DeX empowers a mobile lifestyle by bringing a large, full-screen experience to the mobile handset. With DeX Pad, a new docking system, users can easily connect the Galaxy S9 and S9+ to a larger monitor, keyboard and mouse to expand the mobile experience with enhanced document editing or even full-screen gaming. Users can also transform the Galaxy S9 and S9+ into a Touch Keyboard and Touch Pad with the DeX Pad.

The Best Comes Standard with the Galaxy Foundation

Samsung sets the gold standard for smartphones including IP68 water and dust resistance, and fast wireless charging. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ go a step beyond. The devices now support expandable memory of up to 400GB and are equipped with the latest premium application processors offering powerful performance and sophisticated image processing.

In addition, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ give users the peace of mind knowing that their phone is protected by Knox 3.1, Samsung’s latest defence-grade security platform. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ support three different biometric authentication options – iris, fingerprint, and facial recognition – so users can choose the best way to protect their device and applications. The devices support Intelligent Scan, a new verification that intelligently uses the collective strength of iris scanning and facial recognition technology to quickly and conveniently unlock a user’s phone in any environment. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ also introduce Dedicated Fingerprint, giving users the option to use a different fingerprint to access Secure Folder than the one used to unlock the phone.

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ takes health to the next level with an improved optical sensor built directly into the device, providing richer, more accurate information on user’s health status. This sensor allows the Galaxy S9 and S9+ to keep track of users’ Heart Load Factor, a new measurement of the real-time demand placed on your heart.

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ will be available starting in March 16, 2018 in select markets and will be offered in Midnight Black, Titanium Grey and a new hue, Lilac Purple.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ Product Specifications

  Galaxy S9 Galaxy S9+
OS Android 8 (Oreo)
Display 5.8-inch Quad HD + Curved Super AMOLED, 18.5:9(529ppi) 6.2-inch Quad HD + Curved Super AMOLED, 18.5:9,  (570ppi)

 

Body 147.7mm x 68.7mm x 8.5mm, 163g, IP68 158.1mm x 73.8mm x 8.5mm, 189g, IP68
Camera Rear: Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP AF sensor with OIS (F1.5/F2.4)

Front: 8MP AF (F1.7)

Rear: Dual Camera with Dual OIS

–       Wide-angle: Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP AF sensor (F1.5/F2.4)

–       Telephoto: 12MP AF sensor (F2.4)

–       Front: 8MP AF (F1.7)

AP 10nm, 64-bit, Octa-core processor (2.7 GHz Quad + 1.7 GHz Quad)
Memory 4GB RAM

64GB + Micro SD Slot (upto 400 GB)[11]

 

6GB RAM

128GB + Micro SD Slot (upto 400GB)

 

SIM Card Single SIM:  Nano SIM

Dual SIM (Hybrid SIM): Nano SIM + Nano SIM or MicroSD slot

Battery 3,000mAh 3,500mAh
Fast Wired Charging compatible with QC 2.0

Fast Wireless Charging compatible with WPC and PMA

Network Enhanced 4X4 MIMO / CA, LAA, LTE Cat.18
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), VHT80 MU-MIMO, 1024QAM, Bluetooth v 5.0 (LE up to 2Mbps), ANT+, USB type-C, NFC, Location (GPS, Galileo, Glonass, BeiDou)
Payment NFC, MST
Sensors Iris sensor, Pressure sensor, Accelerometer, Barometer, Fingerprint sensor, Gyro sensor, Geomagnetic sensor, Hall sensor, HR sensor, Proximity sensor, RGB Light sensor
Authentication Lock type: pattern, PIN, password

Biometric lock type: iris scanner, fingerprint scanner, face recognition, Intelligent Scan: multimodal biometric authentication with iris scanning and face recognition

Audio Stereo speakers tuned by AKG, surround sound with Dolby Atmos technology,

Audio playback format: MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, WMA, AMR, AWB, FLAC, MID, MIDI, XMF, MXMF, IMY, RTTTL, RTX, OTA, APE, DSF, DFF

Video MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, ASF, AVI, FLV, MKV, WEBM

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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