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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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Naspers feeds into Latin America’s tech funding

Movile will get $400m funding from the SA-based technology investment giant for iFood expansion.

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Movile is to receive US$500-million in funding for iFood in the largest tech funding in Latin America to date. Naspers and Innova Capital have committed to invest $400m of new capital into Movile to use for further investment in iFood, the leading online food delivery platform in Latin America, of which Movile is a majority shareholder.  

Movile and Just Eat have already invested $100m in iFood during 2018. iFood’s extraordinary growth and the vast market opportunity in Brazil and more broadly in Latin America has driven the increased investment commitment. 

iFood’s monthly orders in Brazil have fed more than 9 million customers in the past twelve months, 16 times the nearest online competitor, in terms of daily active users. This means its partner restaurants are serving the biggest population of consumers ordering food in Latin America. iFood has 50 000 restaurant partners and uses 120 000 couriers. 

The increased investment commitment from Naspers, Innova and Movile is expected to accelerate growth, speed up product development and innovation, and fuel geographical expansion for iFood across the region. The company’s vision is to gain deeper knowledge of consumers through artificial intelligence technology, to personalise the food delivery experience – and at a reduced price, because of improved logistics. 

“Movile is very fortunate to have long-term investors who have supported us for the past decade to help achieve our goal of transforming the lives of more than one billion people and thus we are able to continually back iFood to ensure it remains the market leader,” said Fabricio Bloisi, Movile CEO. 

“Our entire ecosystem of companies is focused on allocating resources and energy towards our one billion people goal. iFood is leading the way, fueling unprecedented growth through its innovative technology platform, providing consumers, couriers and restaurants with the best experience in food ordering and delivery.”  

Larry Illg, CEO of Naspers Ventures, said: “iFood has established itself as a technology leader in Latin America and its success stacks up with some of the most innovative food companies that are leading regions in North America, Europe and Asia.  We have been impressed by their execution in Brazil and remain committed to backing the company on its path to transform the entire food chain to better serve consumers.” 

Online food delivery is experiencing massive expansion globally. According to latest reported results, Grubhub grew daily average orders 39% year-on-year, reaching over 416 000 orders per day. In Latin America, iFood has reached 390 000 orders per day just in Brazil in the last week of October, compared with 183 000 in October 2017, representing 109% growth.

iFood CEO Carlos Moyses said: “We want our consumers to have an amazing delivery experience from the moment they order their food to the moment it arrives. Our partners – the restaurants and delivery fleet – make that happen by living our purpose of improving people’s lives using our services.

“iFood exists for our customers and, with an increased investment commitment of this size, we will be able to build out our state of the art technology platform, and increase our courier and restaurant partners to even better serve our current and future customers in Latin America.”

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Hide your sheep, Spyro is reigniting

Spyro, the iconic purple dragon that entertained living rooms worldwide in the late ‘90s, is making a return with the release of Spyro Reignited Trilogy.

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Spyro Reignited Trilogy introduces players to a fully remastered game collection with a re-imagined cast of characters, animations, environments, new lighting and recreated cinematics—all inHD.  Now fans can explore more than 100 lush environments filled with new detail, that brings the Dragon Realms and Avalar to life . The trilogy is available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Pro and the family of Xbox One devices from Microsoft, including the Xbox One X.

South African distributors Megarom provided the followjng information:

In Spyro Reignited Trilogy, lead developer Toys For Bob is giving fans an all scaled-up version of the original three Spyro games that started it all, Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! and Spyro: Year of the Dragon, but with a modern-day feel that makes it fresh and fun for today’s player. Adding to the fun, voice actor Tom Kenny is returning to the franchise as the voice of Spyro in all three remastered games. Longtime fans will be treated to Toys For Bob’s reimagined version of the classic soundtracks, in addition to an all-new title-screen theme from original soundtrack composer Stewart Copeland.

Additionally, the new game brings an in-game audio feature that allows players to switch between the original and the newly remastered soundtracks, for those who want a more classic gameplay experience. Players can simply fly in to the “options menu” at any time during gameplay, unleash their preferred nostalgic or scaled-up groove, and glide right back into the Spyro action without losing saved data.

“It’s been a real pleasure to bring back one of most iconic video game characters of all time through the Spyro Reignited Trilogy,” said Paul Yan, Co-Studio Head at Toys For Bob. “We’ve poured everything we’ve got into making sure every detail was done right to deliver a great Spyro experience for fans. We hope players will have as much fun revisiting the Spyro world and characters as we did remastering them.”

In the road up to the official release of Spyro Reignited Trilogy, Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, created a first-of-its-kind, life-sized, fire-breathing and talking Spyro Dragon drone. The drone took off from “Stone Hill” castle near New York City, spreading his wings across the U.S. to explore the cities and iconic landscapes that resemble levels and themes from the original Spyro games. As part of the tour, the Spyro drone chased sheep, fired up some BBQ and delivered an early copy of Spyro Reignited Trilogy to fellow O.G. and entertainment icon, Snoop Dogg. Highlights from the Spyro drone’s delivery to Snoop Dogg can be found here.

“Fans have been asking Activision to bring Spyro back for some time now. The response to Spyro Reignited Trilogy has been great thus far, and we’re absolutely thrilled that we’re able to continue to reimagine and reinvigorate some of the most iconic videogames and characters of all time with our remastered experiences,” said Steve Young, Chief Revenue Officer at Activision. “With this year being the 20th anniversary of Spyro, there’s no better time to pay homage to everyone’s favorite purple dragon.”

The Spyro community is invited to geek out and elevate their fandom even further through the elite global partnerships from the Activision Blizzard Consumer Products Group (ABCPG). Collaborations with Funko, Traly Pins, Exquisite Gaming, KidRobot, USAopoly, Trends International, Rubber Road, and Changes have created new avenues for fans to share their love for the return of Spyro, the original roast master. Spyro consumer products across apparel, collectibles, figurines and more are now available at retailers worldwide. Fans can also take advantage of the GameStop exclusive Spyro TOTAKU Collection.

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