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Hisense adds great low-price smartphone option

The Hisense H11 offers an easy-to-use experience at a very reasonable price, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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At first glance, the Hisense H11’s design is reminiscent of the more recent Samsung Galaxy S smartphones, while the home screen layout is strikingly similar to iOS. This design combination makes the Hisense H11 something special for those moving from Samsung or iPhone for budget reasons.

At a retail price of around R4500, that makes it a startlingly appealing phone.

The smoothed, reflective black plastic back with a matte black trim makes it feel like a high-end device. The 6” screen is a narrow-bezelled HD+ IPS display with excellent viewing angles. 

Like the Hisense F24, the large 18:9 screen and low bezels allow for this phone’s display to compete with the higher end Samsung and Huawei phones. Dropping the physical navigation bar in favour of a virtual navigation bar is a huge improvement, and pushes the handset into a premium space and making it appropriate for upgrades to its operating system.

A huge plus is the pre-set screen protector as the phone comes out of the box. Moreover, the phone comes with another glass protector, which reaches the corners of the phone over the existing screen protector, and a flexi-plastic bumper case. This is an extremely impressive combination of protective items, of the kind one usually finds only with the higher-end Huawei smartphones.

The rear of the phone hosts a reasonably fast fingerprint sensor, although a bit slow for a smartphone in 2018. On the top left, a large-sensored camera lens is paired with a flash below it. This placement is perfect, as the fingerprint sensor and the camera lens are so far apart that mistaking the fingerprint sensor for the camera lens would be unlikely. The inclusion of a type-C port is great, considering the benefits of faster cable speeds for data transfer. Type-C fast-charging capabilities charged the smartphone from 20% to 75% in just under 20 minutes. 

The speaker’s placement on the bottom of the smartphone to the right of the type-C port is optimal and is rarely obstructed. The caveat is the average sound quality, which is a bit tinny at higher volumes. A 3.5mm headphone jack at the top of the phone provides many options for wired earphones and external sound systems. Audio delivered over the headphone jack is high-quality and not distorted. 

The 3400mAh non-removable battery is strong, providing a good 12 hours of medium usage (checking messages every half hour and playing Super Mario Run every 2 hours) until it reached 10%. While the battery capacity is large for a mid-range smartphone, the battery saving software that comes preinstalled prevents misbehaving apps from draining the battery in the background, freeing up the 3GB of RAM where it can.

Unfortunately, some bloatware is installed on this device. From time to time a badly translated pop-up message asks for permission to connect to the “network” for “cleaning” the smartphone. While Hisense is good with updates, this phone is not yet running Android Oreo, which is already close to being replaced.  Nevertheless, it will most probably receive updates, as it features the powerful Snapdragon 630 CPU and the Adreno 508 GPU.

The H11 has 32GB of onboard storage, but it can be expanded by up to 128GB with a MicroSD card in the second SIM slot. The LTE connectivity options are perfect for most high-speed broadband situations, with around 40Mbps download and around 10Mbps upload with good coverage. As with the F24, the 3-choose-2 SIM tray configuration allows for dual-SIM connectivity if you’re willing to sacrifice the SD card slot; or single SIM connectivity with an SD card if you don’t want an extra SIM connection.

The 12MP Sony sensor rear camera is good for quick shots and has decent colour replication. The camera app is improved over the previous versions, making it far more user-friendly than ever before. The 16MP front camera snaps satisfactory selfies, with beauty face features to smooth one’s skin, and a face-chaser focus system.

Videos were recorded in 1080p and the quality was good in brighter situations. It’s a little disappointing to see how the camera underperformed in lower light situations, but the bright flash is a redeeming factor.

Overall, the H11 is a phone for the everyday user who needs to send messages, watch online content and play a game occasionally.  The camera is very capable, but the camera app could be easier to use and night shots could be better. The form factor is aesthetically stunning, with no ergonomic trade-offs.

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New iPhone pricing for SA

The iStore has announced that the latest iPhones, the Xs and Xs Max, can now be pre-ordered at www.myistore.co.za , and will be available in stores starting 28 September 2018.

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iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max feature 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch Super Retina displays that offer remarkable brightness and true blacks while showing 60 percent greater dynamic range in HDR photos. iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max have an improved dual camera system that offers breakthrough photo and video features, A12 Bionic chip with next-generation Neural Engine, faster Face ID, wider stereo sound, longer battery life, splash and water resistance,

Pre-orders will be open for cash purchases and on iStore’s revised payment plan in partnership with FNB Credit Card, allowing customers to pay off their iPhone at a reduced interest rate. However, the contract period is 37 months rather than the usual 24 months.
*FNB Credit Card Payment Plan, price per month over 37 months, a 40% trade-in value after 24 months

How to pre-order – Pre-ordering online for either cash or the FNB payment plan gives customers the benefit of reserving their purchase without having to queue and the added convenience of having purchases delivered directly to their door. Pre-orders of iPhone Xs and Xs Max are completed online by visiting www.myistore.co.za.
FREE iCare Plus – Exclusive to iStore, all customers can get its 2-year extended warranty, which includes one Apple Certified screen repair, that normally sells for R1 999, for FREE. To qualify, customers should secure a voucher online now at www.myistore.co.za , and subsequently redeem it when they upgrade their contract or purchase any new iPhone at iStore (iPhone 8 and newer) between now and 31 December 2018. Offer is limited, secure your voucher now.

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Accenture opens Fjord design centre in Johannesburg

Accenture has launched its first design and innovation studio on African soil, Fjord Johannesburg.

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The company says the move significantly expands its design capabilities and demonstrates its commitment to unlocking Africa’s innovation potential through the creation of experiences that redefine industries in our constantly evolving digital era.

The new studio, opening in November, will be located at Accenture’s new 3875m² offices in Waterfall. It will be led by Marcel Rossouw, design director and studio lead for Fjord Johannesburg.

Said Rossouw, “Brands are constantly asking, ’how does one take a business need or problem, build that out into a definition of a service experience, and then bring it to market?’ It’s about re-engineering existing service experiences, identifying customer needs, prototyping rapidly, iterating often and proving or disproving assumptions. But it’s also about getting feedback from customers. The combination of these factors helps companies advance towards the ultimate service experience.”

Fjord is the design and innovation consultancy of Accenture Interactive. The Johannesburg location marks its 28th design studio globally, solidifying its position as the world’s leading design powerhouse.

Working in the same location as Accenture Interactive will allow Fjord to fuse its core design strategy DNA with the digital agency’s expertise in marketing, content and commerce to create and deliver the best customer experiences for the world’s leading brands. Accenture Interactive Africa‘s blend of intelligent design and creative use of technology has already been used by some of South Africa’s largest and most prominent brands, including Alexander Forbes, Discovery, MultiChoice and Nedbank. The digital agency has also earned industry accolades for its innovative and compelling business results, most notably two gold awards in the Service Design category at the 2017 and 2018 Loeries awards.

“Great design tells great stories,” says Wayne Hull, managing director of Accenture Digital and Accenture Interactive lead in Africa. “It unifies a brand, drives innovation and makes the brand or service distinctive and hyper-relevant in both the digital and physical worlds. This is critical to achieving results. Having Fjord Johannesburg as part of Accenture Interactive, and collaborating with all of Accenture Africa, will provide unique experiences and forward-thinking capabilities for our clients.”

“Businesses in South Africa are becoming more design-aware and are looking to take greater advantage of design skills to compete with the rest of the world,” said Thomas Müller, head of Europe, Africa and Latin America at Fjord. “We’re excited to open our first design studio on the continent and to be part of an emerging market that is ripe for design and innovation, and open for business. Developing markets like South Africa are challenging assumptions and norms about what digital services and products are meant to be, and we’ll strive to put design at the heart of the innovation being produced there.”

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