The “other” Korean electronics giant, LG, came out with guns blazing last week, unveiling a family of fiercely competitive new smartphones for the South African market, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
Barely days after Samsung presided over a global launch of two new “phablets” aimed at solidifying its hold on large-format smartphones, the “other” South Korean electronics giant, LG, reminded South Africans of its own credentials across formats large and small.
The star of the show at a Johannesburg media event was the new LG G4 Beat smartphone. This is a scaled-down version of the G4, launched earlier this year to unanimous acclaim for its cutting edge camera. The G4, a 5.5-inch curved phablet, features automatic as well as manual shooting, and provides smartphone photographers with the most control yet seen in a phone camera.
Now the same technology is available in the 5.2-inch G4 Beat. As with the G4, the entire phone is curved, according to LG, to match the natural curve of the palm. The big sister may just have been too big to feel comfortable in the hand, but the Beat really is a natural.
“We have a natural arc in the palm of our hands,” says Deon Prinsloo, GM Mobile for LG Electronics SA. “So we retained the arc in the design of the G4 Beat which allows you have the same distance from the eye to all parts of the phone, and it fits better in human hand. It is narrower and slightly smaller than the G4, without sacrificing display size.”
The smaller screen means it competes for attention with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9 rather than with the larger phablets. The display may suffer by comparison – it has nothing like the same resolution – but in many other respects, it is remarkably competitive.
Remarkably, because the Beat comes to the shelves at what seems like an absurdly low price: less than R300 a month on contract, and R4 900 for a cash purchase. The Galaxy S6 costs around R12 000.
Aside from the Beat’s 1.5GHz processor – comparable to high-end phones – it offers Full HD 1080p video recording and playback. The 8MP laser auto-focus camera’s Manual Mode gives fine control over shutter speed, ISO, exposure and white balance – previously not possible on phone cameras.
The phone is likely to find enormous appeal in the youth market, which has in the past proved essential to the cool credentials of technology brands. BlackBerry once owned that market, but was unable to maintain the cool factor.
Can LG claim a foothold here? If not, it won’t be for want of trying.
A second phone in the G4 family is about to make waves in that market. It’s called the G4 Stylus, and it is even more remarkable than the Beat. It is a 5.7-inch phone, meaning it is going up against the phablets, like the new 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 5, the 5.5-inch Apple 6 Plus and Huawei G7, and the giant 6-inch Huawei Ascend Mate 7.
But here’s the reason one can once again invoke the word “remarkable”: like the Galaxy Note, it sports a large 3000 mAh battery for extended use and a stylus geared to making notes and drawings on the screen. Unlike the Note 5 and iPhone 6 Plus, it is intended to be an affordable phone for the student market. At under R4000, it even knocks the cost socks of the Ascend Mate 7’s already generous R6000 pricetag.
Prinsloo is not shy about making comparisons with competing devices. In particular, the Galaxy Note: “For many, it is impossible to access the Note. A lot of consumers would like a big display with note-taking capability, but most can’t afford the R600-700 per month contract price. Hence we developed the G4 Stylus, which will cost less than a third of that.”
The core target markets are scholars, teenagers aged 14-plus, students and young professionals. It is likely that, between them, the G4 Beat and Stylus will find no shortage of takers in many other niches, too.
- Specifications of LG G4 Beat:
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 Processor
- Display: 5.2-inch Full HD IPS LCD (1920 x 1080, 423ppi)
- Memory: 8GB ROM / 1.5GB RAM
- Camera: Rear 8MP / Front 5MP
- Battery: 2,300mAh (removable)
- Operating System: Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
- Size: 142.7 x 72.6 x 9.85mm
- Weight: 139g
- Network: 4G LTE / HSPA+ 42.2Mbps (3G)
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b, g, n / Bluetooth 4.1 / NFC / A-GPS / Glonass / USB 2.0
- Colors: Metallic Silver / Ceramic White / Shiny Gold
- Other: In-Cell Touch / Color Spectrum Sensor / Gesture Interval Shot / Full HD 1080p Video
Key Specifications of LG G4 Stylus:
- Display: 5.7” HD IPS LCD (257 ppi)
- Processor: Quad Core 1.2GHz
- Camera: 8MP / 5MP
- 1GB/ 8GB
- Battery: 3,000mAh
- Size:154.35×79.2×9.38 mm
- Stylus Pen
Welcome to world of 2099
The world of 2099 will be unrecognisable from the world of today, but it can be predicted, says one visionary. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK met him in Singapore.
Futuristic structures tower over the landscape. Giant, alien-looking trees light up with dazzling colours amid the hundreds of plant species that grow up their trunks. Cosmetic stores sell their wares via public touch-screens, with products delivered instantly in drawers below the screens.
This is not a vision of the future. It is a sample of Singapore today. But it is also an inkling of the world we may all experience in the future.
Singapore was the venue, last week, of the World Cities Summit, where engineers, politicians, investors and visionaries rubbed shoulders as they talked about the strategies and policies that would enhance urban living in the future.
As part of the Summit, global payment technologies leader Mastercard hosted a small media briefing by one of Singapore’s leading thinkers about the future, Dr Damian Tan, managing director of Vickers Venture Partners. The company’s slogan “We invest in the extraordinary,” offers a small clue to Tan’s perspective.
“We look as far forward as 2099 because, as a venture capital firm, we invest in the long term,” he tells a group of journalists from Africa and the Middle East. “Companies explode in growth because there is value in the future. If there is no growth, they won’t explode.”
The big question that the Smart Cities Summit and Mastercard are trying to help answer is, what will cities look like in the year 2099? Tan can’t give an exact answer, but he offers a framework that helps one approach the question.
“If you want to look at 81 years into the future, and understand the change that will come, you need to double that amount and look into the past. That takes us to 1856. The difference between then and now is the difference you can expect between now and 2099.”
Click here or on the page link below to read on: Page 2: Soldiers and Health in 2099.
- Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube
Street art goes electric
Kaspersky Lab and British street artist D*Face have unveiled the first-ever “art helmet” design at the Formula E finale for electric cars in New York.
The ‘Save The World’ helmets will be raced by DS Virgin Racing’s drivers, Sam Bird and Alex Lynn, as they traverse the New York street circuit during the final races of the Formula E season.
The announcement signals the first art helmet by a Formula E team, continuing the heritage of art in motorsport and the cybersecurity brand’s commitment to contemporary art, creativity and innovation. D*Face took inspiration from Kaspersky Lab’s tagline, “A Company To Save The World”, and hopes that his colourful work will inspire people to take positive action.
D*Face will announce his first-ever art car design with a custom-made livery for the DS Virgin Racing Team. Its design will be released at the “Art Goes Green” event after Saturday’s race. The helmets and art car are the latest installations in the “Save the World” collection, following a major permanent public mural that was installed in Brooklyn, New York, in May.
D*Face, whose real name is Dean Stockton, said: “It is exciting to work with Kaspersky Lab on this project and create art with a real message of hope for a better future. After all, this is our world and we need to look after it. It will take every one of us to make a real lasting, impactful change. I love the mentality of the DS Virgin Racing Team and that of Formula E by showcasing sport in a way that doesn’t harm the environment, but is still just as exhilarating and fun.
“It is time for us all to stand together and make a change… be that stopping data steals, climate change, plastic waste or using damaging fuels. I want everyone to make a pledge to do one thing that will help make a change.”
As a sponsor of DS Virgin Racing Team, Kaspersky Lab is responsible for protecting the team’s devices against cyber threats. The company sees the technical environment in the global sport of Formula E as the next frontier in furthering its research and development of new technologies to keep vehicles secure in the digital world.
Sylvain Filippi, Managing Director at DS Virgin Racing, said: “The whole team fully supports this great initiative and our thanks got to Kaspersky and D*Face for their collaboration. It’s an honour to have such an innovative artist bring his talents to bear in our team ahead of the season-finale; the car, drivers’ crash helmets and mural all look amazing.”
Aldo Fucelli Pessot del Bo, Head of Global Partnerships and Sponsorships at Kaspersky Lab added: “There is a need for innovation on a global scale, both in contemporary art and in the fast-growing sport of Formula E. Now, for the first time ever, Kaspersky Lab is proudly bringing together the two sectors in an effort to Save the World and unleash creativity, encourage freedom of expression and further innovation.”