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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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Notre Dame, Scoop Makhathini, GoT, top week in search

From fire disaster to social media disaster, the top Google searches this week covered a wide gamut of themes.

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Paris and the whole world looked on in shock as the 856-year-old medieval Catholic cathedral crumbled into ash. The tragic infernal destruction of this tourist attraction of historical and religious significance led South Africans to generate more than 200 000 search queries for “Notre Dame Cathedral” on Monday. Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire that razed the architectural icon.

In other top trending searches on Google this week, radio presenter Siyabonga Ngwekazi, AKA Scoop Makhathini, went viral when it appeared he had taken to Twitter to expose his girlfriend, Akhona Carpede, for cheating on him. Scoop has since come out to say that he was not responsible for the bitter rant and that his account was hacked. “Scoop Makhathini” generated more than 20 000 search queries on Wednesday.

Fans generated more than 20 000 search queries for “Sam Smith” on Tuesday ahead of the the British superstar’s Cape Town performance at the Grand West Casino. Smith ended up cutting his performance short that night due to vocal strain.

Local Game of Thrones superfans were beside themselves on Sunday, searching the internet high and low for the first episode of the American fantasy drama’s eighth season. “Game of Thrones, season 8, episode 1” generated more than 100 000 queries on Google Search on the weekend.

As the festivities kicked off in California with headliners such as Childish Gambino and Ariana Grande, South Africans generated more than 2 000 search queries for “Coachella” on Saturday.

South Africans generated more than 5 000 search queries for “Wendy Williams” on Friday  as it emerged that the American talk show host had filed for divorce from her husband Kevin Hunter after 21 years of marriage. Hunter has long been rumored to have been cheating on Williams, which reportedly finally led to the divorce.

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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5G smartphones to hit 5M sales in 2019

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According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Early 5G smartphone models will be expensive and available in limited volumes. Samsung, LG and Huawei will be the early 5G smartphone leaders this year, followed by Apple next year.

Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “We forecast global 5G smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Less than 1 percent of all smartphones shipped worldwide will be 5G-enabled this year. Global 5G smartphone shipments are tiny for now, due to expensive device pricing, component bottlenecks, and restricted availability of active 5G networks.”

Ville Petteri-Ukonaho, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, added, “Samsung will be the early 5G smartphone leader in the first half of 2019, due to initial launches across South Korea and the United States. We predict LG, Huawei, Xiaomi, Motorola and others will follow later in the year, followed by Apple iPhone with its first 5G model during the second half of 2020. The iPhone looks set to be at least a year behind Samsung in the 5G smartphone race and Apple must be careful not to fall too far behind.”

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, added, “The short-term outlook for 5G smartphones is weak, but the long-term opportunity remains huge. We forecast 1 billion 5G smartphones to ship worldwide per year by 2025. The introduction of 5G networks, by carriers like Verizon or China Mobile, opens up high-speed, ultra-low-latency services such as 8K video, streaming games, and augmented reality for business. The next big question for the mobile industry is how much extra consumers are really willing to pay, if anything, for those emerging 5G smartphones and services.”

Strategy Analytics provides a snapshot analyses for the outlook for 5G smartphone market in this Insight report: 5G Smartphones : From Zero to a Billion

Strategy Analytics provides a deep-dive into the air-interface technologies that will power phones through 2024 across 88 countries here: Global Handset Sales Forecast by 88 Countries and 19 Technologies : 2003 to 2024

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