Although the Hisense F24 is aimed at the mid-range market, BRYAN TURNER finds that it gets the job done, is well built and even boasts some features found on higher end devices.
In a smartphone space that’s heavily saturated with the iPhone’s latest facial recognition and the Galaxy’s best camera, Hisense carves its own space with the new Infinity F24 smartphone.
What’s special about it? It gets the job done with the features you’d expect from a high-end smartphone, but at a mid-range price.
The all-metal body feels very premium and not a fingerprint magnet, as many metal-bodied phones have been in the past. The 5.99” screen – call it 6” – is a narrow-bezelled HD+ IPS display with good colour replication.
Due to the large screen and low bezels, this phone enters the 18:9 resolution space, which is generally held by the higher-end Samsung and Huawei phones. Hisense is known for creating brilliant displays and it’s good to see it continue this legacy.
The 2.5D glass allowed my finger to glide smoothly along the screen with little resistance, while the design didn’t allow my palm to touch the screen accidentally.
The rear of the phone hosts a very quick-to-register fingerprint sensor. The speaker’s placement, slightly lower down, is not optimal and the sound is muffled when I placed the phone face-up on a cloth surface. A headphone jack at the top of the phone is a nice-to-have, since some manufacturers have been removing them from their smartphones. A slightly-outdated micro-USB port is positioned at the bottom of the phone but this doesn’t reduce the capabilities of the fast charging dual-charge chip, which charged the phone from 20% to 80% in around 30 minutes.
The 3400mAh non-removable battery is very capable, providing a good 10 hours of medium usage (checking messages every half hour and playing Scrabble online every hour) until it reached 20%. The battery capacity isn’t the only factor in this good battery life: the Android Nougat operating system comes with power-saving software measures to keep background apps from using battery and the 2GB of RAM unnecessarily.
It is surprising is that there is almost no bloatware installed on this device, as many phone manufacturers tend to do. Hisense smartphones are well supported with Android updates, and this phone had an update waiting after the first boot. This, coupled with the MediaTek Quad Core processor, provides a good user experience when I played graphic-intensive games, and made multi-tasking painless.
The F24 has 16GB of on-board storage, but it can be expanded by up to 128GB 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 3-choose-2 SIM tray 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’re willing to sacrifice an extra SIM connection.
The 13MP rear camera is decent for quick shots, but pictures can be better after figuring out the camera modes available. That being said, the camera app’s settings are confusing, and it takes a while to identify what setting is right for you.
The 8MP front camera is a different story – I have never seen a selfie so clear. This camera app has beauty face filters, as well as make-up filters. This smartphone even has a hidden front flash for low light conditions, so there are plenty options when you’re snapping a selfie.
Videos were recorded with a good 1080p 30fps quality, and performed well in good lighting. Low lighting lacks a little in performance, with some grain appearing on flash night shots.
Overall, the F24 is a phone for the everyday user who needs to send messages, watch online content and wants to 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.
Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart
Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.
As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page
KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching.
The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter.
The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style.
The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button.
The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on.
In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode.
Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.
Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.
Find them on Kickstarter here.
Taxify enters Google Maps
A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.
People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.
Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.
Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.
If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.
This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.
“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.
Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.