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Hisense adds AI-cameras to handsets

Hisense has entered the AI-camera space with the Infinity H30, aimed at the mid-range market. BRYAN TURNER tests the new camera technology.

Click below to read the review.

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While many know Hisense for its TVs and appliances, it has an impressive lineup of smartphones. Its latest Infinity H30 smartphone packs a serious punch in the mid-range market, including features like a low-bezel screen and AI camera.

Out the box, the phone comes with the usual charger, charging cable and earphones. There is a surprise in the box: a screen protector and a clear case. A nice value-add to the already affordable smartphone.  

The polycarbonate plastic body feels premium, especially for a device in this price range. It has a colour changing body, depending on the angle at which it is held. The colour of the device we reviewed is called Ice Blue, and shimmers in darker and lighter blues. Aesthetically, this is a big win for Hisense.

The 6.5″ screen is a narrow-bezelled FHD+ display with good colour replication. Hisense is known for creating colour-accurate displays and it’s good to see it continue this legacy in its smartphones. The shape of the display is interesting, taking some design notes from Huawei’s Dewdrop display with what Hisense calls the “U-Infinity Display”. It makes the phone look really good. 

On the rear of the phone, one finds a dual-camera setup with fingerprint sensor. On the bottom of the phone, there is a speaker, a USB Type-C Port and a headphone jack. The speaker’s placement on the bottom isn’t optimal and the sound is muffled if one accidentally covers the single speaker area.

The 4,530mAh non-removable battery is very capable, providing a good 12 hours of medium usage (checking messages every half hour and playing an online game every hour) until it reaches 20%. The battery capacity isn’t the only power feature of the device; it runs on the latest Android Pie operating system, which includes AI power-saving software measures to keep background apps from using battery.

It is a little disappointing to see the device came with some pre-installed games. Fortunately, one can uninstall them. Hisense makes up for this by issuing Android updates and security patches as the come out. This, coupled with the MediaTek Octa Core processor, provides a good user experience for playing games and multi-tasking.

The H30 has a whopping 128GB of on-board storage, and it can be expanded even more with a MicroSD card. The 4G-LTE capabilities are perfect for most high-speed broadband situations, with around 40Mbps download and around 10Mbps upload in an area with good cell service.

The 20+2MP rear camera configuration is good at taking shots on Auto mode, but pictures can be better after figuring out all the camera modes available. There is a professional mode for those who want to be extra creative with their photography. It also includes a baby mode, which plays various noises to make a baby look at the phone for a better picture. The AI mode can be enabled to make full use of the processor in the device, and fif the camera mode to be selected based on scenes photographed. 

The 20MP front camera performs equally as well. This camera is the reason for the U-like shape at the top of the screen. The camera app has beauty-face filters, for those wanting a slimmer face or smoother skin.

Overall, the Infinity H30 is a prime example of a good phone in an affordable price range.  The camera is very capable, and the AI processing helps what would otherwise be a regular camera. The aesthetically pleasing colour saves the day, and makes this mid-range device look like a high-end flagship. The device is retailing for R5,499 from most major carriers.

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Huawei launches WiFi router with powerline connectivity

The new router by Huawei, the WiFi Q2 Pro, features PLC Turbo technology that sends data signal over power lines for more signal in one’s home.

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Huawei has launched a new Wi-Fi router, the Huawei WiFi Q2 Pro, which is the first hybrid home PLC (power line connectivity) and Wi-Fi System. This router reduces common problems experienced with other Wi-Fi routers, such as weak signal strength, poor coverage and slow connection speeds. 

The Huawei WiFi Q2 Pro three-pack hybrid utilises both mesh Wi-Fi technology and PLC turbo technology – which combines the best of both worlds. This hybrid consists of a main station and two secondary routers. The secondary stations can be plugged into a wall socket anywhere around the home to cover areas of poor signal and bring full-speed broadband to that location.

Wide-reaching connectivity with PLC Turbo technology

The PLC Turbo technology differs from traditional PLC modems, as it has a three-pin plug, which means the modem is less affected by electromagnetic interference from other household appliances. The Q2 Pro can also monitor interference from neighbouring Wi-Fi networks in real time and automatically switch the user’s Wi-Fi network to channels with the least interference.

In addition, PLC networking addresses the issue that Wi-Fi signal strength decreases significantly when it passes through walls, as PLC networking does not have to go through walls. This can help maintain excellent broadband speeds of up to 200Mps in every corner of the home, reducing frustrations related to a loss of signal and intermittent Wi-Fi coverage when moving around your house. 

Simply plug and play for full coverage

The router can be configured through the use of the Huawei AI Life app. Users can plug in the device, and the WiFi Q2 Pro’s secondary routers will automatically sync the Wi-Fi network’s name and password from the base router, ensuring an easier set up.

Users with very large homes, such as bed and breakfast establishments for example, also have the option to further improve the coverage by purchasing additional satellites. One HUAWEI WiFi Q2 Pro base can support up to 15 secondary routers simultaneously. 

Triple security protection

It also has advanced security features to protect the user’s home from hackers or people who want to covertly use their Wi-Fi. If someone attempts to crack the user’s Wi-Fi password using brute force cracking software, the router will recognise it and automatically blacklist them.

The router also has a Guest Wi-Fi feature, which operates on a completely different channel to a user’s main Wi-Fi network. This protects a user’s main Wi-Fi connection, as it uses a different SSID and password. Users can also disable their guest Wi-Fi network when their guests leave.

The Huawei WiFi Q2 Pro three-pack hybrid is available for R4,999.

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Motorola One Zoom gets high camera score

The Motorola One Zoom, with a quad camera array, has scored a high 87 in the DxOMark rear camera test.

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The latest device from Motorola, the One Zoom, is a competitively-priced mid-ranger with the quad-camera photography specifications of a flagship. Alongside the standard-wide, ultra-wide, and depth-sensing cameras found on its sister model the G8 Plus, the One Zoom is the first Motorola smartphone to feature a tele-lens. It captures video at up to 4K resolution and there’s a large 6.39-inch Super AMOLED display for reviewing images and videos. Built on the Snapdragon 675 chip set, it isn’t quite as powerful as a top-end flagship, but even so, it offers some impressive specs at an attractive price.

Key camera specifications:

• Quad-camera
• Primary: 48MP 1/2-inch sensor with f/1.7-aperture lens, OIS
• Tele: 8MP sensor with f/2.4-aperture, 3x optical tele-lens, OIS
• Ultra-wide: 16MP sensor with 13mm-equivalent f/2.2-aperture lens
• 5MP depth sensor
• Dual-tone LED flash, panorama, and HDR
• 2160p/30fps video

For scoring and analysis in our smartphone camera reviews, DxOMark engineers capture and evaluate over 1600 test images and more than 2 hours of video both in controlled lab environments and in natural indoor and outdoor scenes, using the camera’s default settings. This article is designed to highlight the most important results of its testing.

DxOMark provided the following review:

With an overall DXOMARK Camera score of 87, the One Zoom ranks as the best Motorola device we’ve tested to date, surpassing the Moto Z2 Force and G7 Plus at 82 and 80, respectively. All three remain some ways off the pace compared to the best performers at the top of our database, however, and overall the One Zoom offers comparable image quality to such older devices such as iPhone 7 Plus at 88 and the Samsung A50 at 86.

Securing a Photo sub-score of 92 points, the One Zoom is a nice improvement in still image quality compared to the Moto G7 Plus. The addition of the tele-lens certainly helps in the zoom category, and slightly better results for exposure, bokeh, wide-angle shots, and artifacts make the One Zoom an attractive upgrade for Motorola enthusiasts. Exposures are accurate in well-balanced lighting conditions, with good contrast ensuring pleasant results in many images. Detail is generally acceptable in outdoor and indoor images, too, but oversharpening creates an aggressive pattern effect and there’s more visible noise compared to top-performing devices.

The Motorola One Zoom records accurate exposures in well-balanced light outdoors, but the level of noise is high for this type of scene.

Exposure isn’t quite as good in challenging lighting, with limited dynamic range resulting in highlight and shadow clipping, and backlit scenes tend to be underexposed. Color is also an opportunity for improvement. While white balance is generally stable, a slight yellow cast is usually visible; and although color shading is well controlled, color rendering is often inaccurate, which can make skin tones look unnatural. Autofocus performance is also a little mixed, as good accuracy ensures shots are always in sharp focus, but a 500ms delay between requesting focus and capturing a shot is slower than much of the competition. Wide-angle shots are just about acceptable, but they tend to be underexposed, with low detail and visible artifacts such as color quantization. Exposure is good using flash mixed with additional light sources, but the lack of dynamic range with the flash turned off is a problem for night shots due to significant highlight clipping.

Motorola One Zoom: ultra-wide shots are slightly underexposed. 
Motorola One Zoom, low dynamic range in night shots 

Detail holds up pretty well in zoom shots in bright light when shots are in focus, but we did observe some autofocus instabilities using zoom in the lab. Oversharpening and quite a lot of noise indoors and in low light are visible in zoom shots, too. In Portrait mode, the simulated background blur effect is strong but pleasant, and although some masking errors are visible in complex areas, depth estimation is generally accurate. Artifacts are mainly well controlled, too, with the main issues being ringing and a loss of sharpness towards the corners, which is visible in most images.

Motorola One Zoom, long-range zoom 

For video, better scores for exposure, autofocus and stabilization have improved the One Zoom’s performance over the G7 Plus. Its main strengths are effective stabilization when shooting handheld and keeping the camera fairly static, but it’s not quite as good with walking and panning scenes, when frame shifts commonly occur. Noise is well controlled in indoor and low-light videos, but detail is fairly low, with heavy oversharpening again visible. Autofocus is repeatable in all lighting conditions, but tracking could be improved, as there are noticeable steps or jumps visible as you try to keep a moving subject in the frame. Color is again a key opportunity for improvement with video on the One Zoom, with inaccurate rendering in most videos, as well as a blue/green color cast when shooting outdoors.

Conclusion

The One Zoom’s quad-camera setup with its ultra-wide, telephoto, and depth-sensing sensors makes Motorola’s latest device an attractive proposition for budget-conscious smartphone photography enthusiasts. Accurate autofocus, nice exposures in well-balanced lighting, and a pleasant blur effect in bokeh shots ensure that it’s capable of some nice results, too. However, improvements to the performance of the zoom and ultra-wide cameras, as well as better color rendering and dynamic range, are needed before Motorola will start to challenge devices in the top half of our database.

The original article can be found here.

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