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
Huawei Mate 20 unveils ‘higher intelligence’
The new Mate 20 series, launching in South Africa today, includes a 7.2″ handset, and promises improved AI.
Huawei Consumer Business Group today launches the Huawei Mate 20 Series in South Africa.
The phones are powered by Huawei’s densest and highest performing system on chip (SoC) to date, the Kirin 980. Manufactured with the 7nm process, incorporating the Cortex-A76-based CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the SoC offers improved performance and, according to Huawei, “an unprecedented smooth user experience”.
The new 40W Huawei SuperCharge, 15W Huawei Wireless Quick Charge, and large batteries work in tandem to provide users with improved battery life. A Matrix Camera System includes a Leica Ultra Wide Angle Lens that lets users see both wider and closer, with a new macro distance capability. The camera system adopts a Four-Point Design that gives the device a distinct visual identity.
The Mate 20 Series is available in 6.53-inch, 6.39-inch and 7.2-inch sizes, across four devices: Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X and Porsche Design Huawei Mate 20 RS. They ship with the customisable Android P-based EMUI 9 operating system.
“Smartphones are an important entrance to the digital world,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG, at the global launch in London last week. “The Huawei Mate 20 Series is designed to be the best ‘mate’ of consumers, accompanying and empowering them to enjoy a richer, more fulfilled life with their higher intelligence, unparalleled battery lives and powerful camera performance.”
The SoC fits 6.9 billion transistors within a die the size of a fingernail. Compared to Kirin 970, the latest chipset is equipped with a CPU that is claimed to be 75 percent more powerful, a GPU that is 46 percent more powerful and an NPU (neural processing unit) that is 226 percent more powerful. The efficiency of the components has also been elevated: the CPU is claimed to be 58 percent more efficient, the GPU 178 percent more efficient, and the NPU 182 percent more efficient. The Kirin 980 is the world’s first commercial SoC to use the Cortex-A76-based cores.
Huawei has designed a three-tier architecture that consists of two ultra-large cores, two large cores and four small cores. This allows the CPU to allocate the optimal amount of resources to heavy, medium and light tasks for greater efficiency, improving the performance of the SoC while enhancing battery life. The Kirin 980 is also the industry’s first SoC to be equipped with Dual-NPU, giving it higher On-Device AI processing capability to support AI applications.
Read more about the Mate 20 Pro’s connectivity, battery and camera on the next page.
How Quantum computing will change … everything?
Research labs, government agencies (NASA) and tech giants like Microsoft, IBM and Google are all focused on developing quantum theories first put forward in the 1970s. What’s more, a growing start-up quantum computing ecosystem is attracting hundreds of millions of investor dollars. Given this scenario, Forrester believes it is time for IT leaders to pay attention.
“We expect CIOs in life sciences, energy, defence, and manufacturing to see a deluge of hype from vendors and the media in the coming months,” says Forrester’s Brian Hopkins, VP, principal analyst serving CIOs and lead author of a report: A First Look at Quantum Computing. “Financial services, supply-chain, and healthcare firms will feel some of this as well. We see a market emerging, media interest on the rise, and client interest trickling in. It’s time for CIOs to take notice.”
The Forrester report gives some practical applications for quantum computing which helps contextualise its potential:
- Security could massively benefit from quantum computing. Factoring very large integers could break RSA-encrypted data, but could also be used to protect systems against malicious attempts.
- Supply chain managers could use quantum computing to gather and act on price information using minute-by-minute fluctuations in supply and demand
- Robotics engineers could determine the best parameters to use in deep-learning models that recognise and react to objects in computer vision
- Quantum computing could be used to discover revolutionary new molecules making use of the petabytes of data that studies are now producing. This would significantly benefit many organisations in the material and life sciences verticals – particularly those trying to create more cost-effective electric car batteries which still depend on expensive and rare materials.
Continue reading to find out how Quantum computing differs.