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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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Netflix expands to France, over 20 titles for 2020

In a move to expand its European presence, but with major implications for Francophone Africa, Netflix has entered France and now employs 40 staff at its France office.

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Netflix has opened its new Paris office, in the heart of the 9th arrondissement. This new office is set to boost Netflix’s presence among France’s creative community, and it promises over 20 French productions in 2020.

Netflix France now employs 40 people, across films and series, partnerships and marketing.

“It is a real honour to be in France, with its rich culture and history of storytelling,” said Reed Hastings, founding chairman and CEO of Netflix. “This office is a sign of our long-term commitment to the country, and will enable us to work even more closely with the French creative community on great shows and films that are made in France and watched all around the world.”

Netflix has, since launching in France in 2014, developed 24 French titles, including 6 films, 9 series, 5 stand-up shows, 3 documentaries and 1 unscripted series. This is not only to serve France, but also the Francophone countries of the world, which include Belgium, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Canada.

2019 was a year of great success for original stories in France, with the horror and young adult sci-fi series Marianne and Mortel, comedies Plan Coeur and Family Business, the film Banlieusards, and Grégory, the documentary series about a case that touched France.

The French content executives have unveiled several original shows to be produced by Netflix over the coming years, as well as a range of series and films made by production partners for Netflix.

“We are incredibly proud of the productions we’re currently filming, the ones we are developing and the ones we’ve unveiled today,” says Damien Couvreur, Netflix’s director of series in France. “The establishment of a new French creative hub brings new opportunities for us to work with the best and most exciting creative talent in France and to bring diverse genres and content to everyone who loves French storytelling.”

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Leak reveals Huawei P40 Pro

A high-resolution render of the Huawei P40 Pro, released by Evan ‘Evleaks’ Blass, shows that it will probably include five rear lenses, two front lenses, and a ceramic build. BRYAN TURNER investigates

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The highly-anticipated Huawei P40 Pro is set to be unveiled in Paris in late-March. Many rumours surround its hardware build as well as its software capabilities since Huawei lost the rights to preload Google Apps on the phone.

From the leak, it seems the P40 Pro will feature a near-bezelless screen, like the Mate 30 Pro, which debuted late last year. The screen drops the notch, in favour of a dual-camera cut-out, similar to the Samsung Note 10+. The leak also shows there are small buttons on the side of the device for volume control and locking the device. This is an interesting step back from the buttonless Mate 30 Pro.

The most impressive aspect is the seven cameras which this device will house, five on the back and two on the front. The rear camera system seems to showcase a slight bump, and features a new type of periscope-style telephoto camera. This is expected to provide an 18-240mm equivalence between ultrawide and telephoto. The device is also expected to provide a whopping 13x optical zoom, thanks to the periscope camera.

The build is expected to be glass on the front and back, both of which are curved for ergonomics. From the render, it showcases classy design using ceramics. On the bottom, there’s a USB Type-C port with a speaker grill. And there’s no surprises about the absence of a headphone jack, which hasn’t featured for a while now.

The only real question-mark hanging over this device is: what about Google apps? Huawei is currently touring Europe, showing off the power its smartphones still have without having Google apps installed. Hopefully, they will fill that education gap before the release date of the P40 Pro, less than two months away.

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