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MWC: Samsung reimagines the phone camera

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At this year’s Mobile World Congress Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones with a dual aperture lens that powers a low light camera, Super Slow-mo video capabilities and personalised AR Emojis.

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ deliver an enhanced entertainment experience with powerful stereo speakers tuned by AKG, surround sound supported by Dolby Atmos and a refined edge-to-edge Infinity Display – a key staple in Samsung’s design heritage. In addition, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ will come with the new SmartThings app, which unites Samsung’s existing IoT services into one single, smart experience.

“The way we use our smartphones has changed as communication and self-expression has evolved,” said Craige Fleischer, Vice President of Integrated Mobility, Samsung South Africa. “With the Galaxy S9 and S9+, we have reimagined the smartphone camera. Not only does the Galaxy S9 and S9+ enable consumers to shoot the best photos and videos anywhere, it’s a smartphone that’s designed to help them connect to others and express themselves in a way that’s unique and personal to them.”

Samsung provided the following information:

Today’s cameras are for more than taking pictures – they’re for connecting and communicating. Consumers want a smartphone camera with state-of-the-art technology, so they can express themselves with high-quality images and tools to tell their own, unique story. The Galaxy S9 and S9+’s cameras are built with these consumers in mind, with a Super Speed Dual Pixel sensor with dedicated processing power and memory that can combine up to 12 frames into one amazing shot for the highest photo quality possible. The Galaxy S9 and S9+’s camera features include:

  • Super Slow-mo: Make every day moments epic with dynamic, slow-motion video that captures 960 frames per second. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ also offers automatic Motion Detection, an intelligent feature that detects movement in the frame and automatically begins to record – all users have to do is set up the shot. After capturing the Super Slow-mo video, users can select background music from 35 different options or add a tune from their favourite playlist. Users can also easily create, edit and share GIF files with a simple tap in three playful styles of looping to watch the action over and over.
  • Low Light Camera: Good lighting is the secret to any great photo. But often, photos are taken in less-than-ideal lighting conditions and most smartphone cameras have a fixed aperture that can’t adjust to low or bright lighting environments resulting in grainy or washed out pictures. Similar to the way the iris of a human eye expands and contracts, Samsung’s Dual Aperture (F1.5 – F2.4) automatically lets in more light when it’s dark and less light when it’s too bright, taking photos that are crisp and clear anytime, anywhere.
  • AR Emoji: Samsung lets users create an emoji that looks, sounds and acts just like them. AR Emoji uses a data-based machine learning algorithm, which analyses a 2D image of the user and maps out more than 100 facial features to create a 3D model that reflects and imitates expressions, like winks and nods, for true personalization. AR Emoji shares your real-life feelings not only in video but also with a range of stickers in uses a standard AGIF file format, so users can share their emojis across most third-party messaging platforms.
  • Bixby: Samsung’s intelligence platform, integrated into the camera, uses augmented reality and deep learning technologies to provide helpful information about a user’s surroundings. With real-time object detection and recognition, Bixby instantly generates information directly on top of the image that the camera is pointing at. Users can translate foreign languages and currency in real time with Live Translation, learn about their surroundings, purchase products seen in the real world and track calories throughout the day.

Entertainment Reimagined

Smartphones are often our go-to choice for entertainment, which is why Samsung created a device that offers premium sound experiences with stereo speakers tuned by AKG. Whether users are watching their favourite movie or streaming their favourite artist’s latest album, sounds are clear, crisp and rich in quality. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ also support Dolby Atmos, giving the effect of 360-degree sound.

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ audio experience is complemented by Samsung’s revolutionary Infinity Display. First introduced on the Galaxy S8, the bold, bright Super AMOLED Infinity Display blends right into the phone with virtually no distracting bezels. With adaptive contrast enhancement, users can use their device even in direct sunlight.

A Device that Fits with the Connected Lifestyle

As the first smartphone to support the new SmartThings app, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are the central hub to manage every facet of the connected lifestyle at home, at the office or on the go. The SmartThings app will be introduced with S9 and S9+ and will connect to other Samsung and non-Samsung devices.

For those constantly on the move, the next-generation Samsung DeX empowers a mobile lifestyle by bringing a large, full-screen experience to the mobile handset. With DeX Pad, a new docking system, users can easily connect the Galaxy S9 and S9+ to a larger monitor, keyboard and mouse to expand the mobile experience with enhanced document editing or even full-screen gaming. Users can also transform the Galaxy S9 and S9+ into a Touch Keyboard and Touch Pad with the DeX Pad.

The Best Comes Standard with the Galaxy Foundation

Samsung sets the gold standard for smartphones including IP68 water and dust resistance, and fast wireless charging. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ go a step beyond. The devices now support expandable memory of up to 400GB and are equipped with the latest premium application processors offering powerful performance and sophisticated image processing.

In addition, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ give users the peace of mind knowing that their phone is protected by Knox 3.1, Samsung’s latest defence-grade security platform. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ support three different biometric authentication options – iris, fingerprint, and facial recognition – so users can choose the best way to protect their device and applications. The devices support Intelligent Scan, a new verification that intelligently uses the collective strength of iris scanning and facial recognition technology to quickly and conveniently unlock a user’s phone in any environment. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ also introduce Dedicated Fingerprint, giving users the option to use a different fingerprint to access Secure Folder than the one used to unlock the phone.

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ takes health to the next level with an improved optical sensor built directly into the device, providing richer, more accurate information on user’s health status. This sensor allows the Galaxy S9 and S9+ to keep track of users’ Heart Load Factor, a new measurement of the real-time demand placed on your heart.

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ will be available starting in March 16, 2018 in select markets and will be offered in Midnight Black, Titanium Grey and a new hue, Lilac Purple.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ Product Specifications

  Galaxy S9 Galaxy S9+
OS Android 8 (Oreo)
Display 5.8-inch Quad HD + Curved Super AMOLED, 18.5:9(529ppi) 6.2-inch Quad HD + Curved Super AMOLED, 18.5:9,  (570ppi)

 

Body 147.7mm x 68.7mm x 8.5mm, 163g, IP68 158.1mm x 73.8mm x 8.5mm, 189g, IP68
Camera Rear: Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP AF sensor with OIS (F1.5/F2.4)

Front: 8MP AF (F1.7)

Rear: Dual Camera with Dual OIS

–       Wide-angle: Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP AF sensor (F1.5/F2.4)

–       Telephoto: 12MP AF sensor (F2.4)

–       Front: 8MP AF (F1.7)

AP 10nm, 64-bit, Octa-core processor (2.7 GHz Quad + 1.7 GHz Quad)
Memory 4GB RAM

64GB + Micro SD Slot (upto 400 GB)[11]

 

6GB RAM

128GB + Micro SD Slot (upto 400GB)

 

SIM Card Single SIM:  Nano SIM

Dual SIM (Hybrid SIM): Nano SIM + Nano SIM or MicroSD slot

Battery 3,000mAh 3,500mAh
Fast Wired Charging compatible with QC 2.0

Fast Wireless Charging compatible with WPC and PMA

Network Enhanced 4X4 MIMO / CA, LAA, LTE Cat.18
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), VHT80 MU-MIMO, 1024QAM, Bluetooth v 5.0 (LE up to 2Mbps), ANT+, USB type-C, NFC, Location (GPS, Galileo, Glonass, BeiDou)
Payment NFC, MST
Sensors Iris sensor, Pressure sensor, Accelerometer, Barometer, Fingerprint sensor, Gyro sensor, Geomagnetic sensor, Hall sensor, HR sensor, Proximity sensor, RGB Light sensor
Authentication Lock type: pattern, PIN, password

Biometric lock type: iris scanner, fingerprint scanner, face recognition, Intelligent Scan: multimodal biometric authentication with iris scanning and face recognition

Audio Stereo speakers tuned by AKG, surround sound with Dolby Atmos technology,

Audio playback format: MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, WMA, AMR, AWB, FLAC, MID, MIDI, XMF, MXMF, IMY, RTTTL, RTX, OTA, APE, DSF, DFF

Video MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, ASF, AVI, FLV, MKV, WEBM

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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