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Samsung Note 10 pushes edge

Samsung unveiled the Note 10 and Note 10+, last night, showing off even larger screens, impressive AR and S-Pen capabilities, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Last night, Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ devices with large screens and S-Pen for professionals and creatives.

The Note range is loved by those who want responsive stylus feedback from bigger form-factor mobile devices. The large-screen and the S-Pen have always been a great combo – both of which Samsung are continuing to innovate.

The Note 10+ is the largest Note device Samsung has released, at a screen size of 6.8″. For those who prefer a more “standard” Note size, the Note 10 sports a 6.3″ display. Both devices are less than 8mm thick.

The previous generation of S-Pen enabled users to take selfies remotely, but did not allow them to change between camera modes from afar. The new S-Pen features a six-axis accelerometer to fix this issue, and enables users to control the Note from far away with gestures of the pen. The S-Pen Software Development Kit (SDK) is also now open to developers of Samsung apps to enable these gestures to work with other apps apart from the camera app.

The Note line’s triple camera systems take note of Huawei’s popular triple camera system, and features a 16MP Ultra-Wide lens, 12MP Wide lens, and 12 MP Telephoto lens. On the Note 10+, the camera array features an additional DepthVision camera which can construct 3D models and allows for better subject distinction from the background.

A new feature, Zoom In Mic, allows users to zoom into sounds that are far away. This enables the video to match the audio and is one of the more practical innovations on the new Note devices.

It also features SuperSteady – the same technology used to stabilise video as in the Galaxy S10. This technology has been tried and tested by Galaxy S10 users to stabilise shaky video with GoPro level stabilisation.

Depending on your stance on preinstalled apps, the included video editor is either a pro or a con. Amateur content creators will most likely appreciate this editor, but more advanced creators will likely need to download another app.

Facial tracking features have vastly improved. The biggest showcase of this technology is AR Doodle, which allows users to attach S-Pen drawings to live photos. We tested it last night and it was very impressive. It shows off the AR capabilities of the Note 10 and should usher in developers to utilise the AR platform.

The Note 10+ features a Depth vision camera to further enable AR capabilities on the rear camera. One can now 3D scan an object with the back camera. These 3D scans can then be 3D printed or attached into an existing video. Samsung US animated a plush toy and attached it to someone virtually to demonstrate the capabilities.

Samsung’s DeX has finally broken free of the clunky dock. It has also shifted away from the “bring your own screen, mouse, keyboard, and dock” to “just plug the Note into a computer”. The new DeX app for Windows and Mac will allow its users to use DeX in a window, and integrates fully with its host operating system to drag and drop files between the computer and the device.

The insides feature impressive hardware, including a vapour cooling chamber to prevent overheating while the phone is performing at maximum processing capacity. In terms of memory, the Note 10 comes with 8GB and the Note 10+ is packed with a whopping 12GB of RAM. Both devices come with a maximum storage capacity of 256GB, while the Note 10+ can be expanded by up to 1TB with a microSD card.

Regions lucky enough to get the Galaxy Note 10 5G will be utilising the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Mobile platform, the leader in 5G modem technology. South Africa has not been confirmed as a launch country for the 5G version of this device.

The battery has also been optimised, with what Samsung calls Intelligent Battery. This enables fast wireless charging and super-fast cable charging at 45W. Samsung says one can get an all-day battery experience from a 30-minute charge. The catch is: a 25W charger comes in the box so users will have to purchase another charger to fully experience 45W charging – a very Apple-like move.

In another Apple-like move, the latest Note devices are also missing a headphone jack. Three years ago, Apple removed the headphone jack from its iPhone and many are still alive to tell the tale, so Samsung Note users will be fine, especially as wireless earphone technology becomes more accessible.

The devices come in three colours in South Africa: Aura Glow, Aura White, and Aura Black.

Preorders start today, and the devices will launch on 30 August. Samsung says the Note 10 will cost R18 999 while the Note 10+ will cost R22 999.

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Tech promotes connections across groups in emerging markets

Digital technology users say they more regularly interact with people from diverse backgrounds

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Smartphone users – especially those who use social media – say they are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds. They are also more connected with friends they don’t see in person, a Pew Research Center survey of adults in 11 emerging economies finds.

South Africa, included in the study, has among the most consistent levels of connection across age groups and education levels and in terms of cross-cultural connections. This suggests both that smartphones have had a greater democratisation impact in South Africa, but also that the country is more geared to diversity than most others. Of 11 countries surveyed, it has the second-lowest spread between those using smartphones and those not using them in terms of exposure to other religious groups.

Across every country surveyed, those who use smartphones are more likely than those who use less sophisticated phones or no phones at all to regularly interact with people from different religious groups. In most countries, people with smartphones also tend to be more likely to interact regularly with people from different political parties, income levels and racial or ethnic backgrounds. 

The Center’s new report is the third in a series exploring digital connectivity among populations in emerging economies based on nationally representative surveys of adults in Colombia, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Tunisia, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam. Earlier reports examined attitudes toward misinformation and mobile technology’s social impact

The survey finds that smartphone and social media use are intertwined: A median of 91% of smartphone users in these countries also use social media or messaging apps, while a median of 81% of social media users say they own or share a smartphone. And, as with smartphone users, social media and messaging app users stand apart from non-users in how often they interact with people who are different from them. For example, 52% of Mexican social media users say they regularly interact with people of a different income level, compared with 28% of non-users. 

These results do not show with certainty that smartphones or social media are the cause of people feeling like they have more diverse networks. For example, those who have resources to buy and maintain a smartphone are likely to differ in many key ways from those who don’t, and it could be that some combination of those differences drives this phenomenon. Still, statistical modelling indicates that smartphone and social media use are independent predictors of greater social network diversity when other factors such as age, education and sex are held constant. 

Other key findings in the report include: 

  • Mobile phones and social media are broadening people’s social networks. More than half in most countries say they see in person only about half or fewer of the people they call or text. Mobile phones are also allowing many to stay in touch with people who live far away: A median of 93% of mobile phone users across the 11 countries surveyed say their phones have mostly helped them keep in touch with those who are far-flung. When it comes to social media, large shares report relationships with “friends” online who are distinct from those they see in person. A median of 46% of Facebook users across the 11 countries report seeing few or none of their Facebook friends in person regularly, compared with a median of 31% of Facebook users who often see most or all of their Facebook friends in person. 
  • Social activities and information seeking on subjects like health and education top the list of mobile activities. The survey asked mobile phone users about 10 different activities they might do on their mobile phones – activities that are social, information-seeking or commercial in nature. Among the most commonly reported activities are casual, social activities. For example, a median of 82% of mobile phone users in the 11 countries surveyed say they used their phone over the past year to send text messages and a median of 69% of users say they took pictures or videos. Many mobile phone users are also using their phones to find new information. For example, a median of 61% of mobile phone users say they used their phones over the past year to look up information about health and medicine for themselves or their families. This is more than the proportion that reports using their phones to get news and information about politics (median of 47%) or to look up information about government services (37%). Additionally, around half or more of mobile phone users in nearly all countries report having used their phones over the past 12 months to learn something important for work or school. 
  • Digital divides emerge in the new mobile-social environment. People with smartphones and social media – as well as younger people, those with higher levels of education, and men – are in some ways reaping more benefits than others, potentially contributing to digital divides. 
    • People with smartphones are much more likely to engage in activities on their phones than people with less sophisticated devices – even if the activity itself is quite simple. For example, people with smartphones are more likely than those with feature or basic phones to send text messages in each of the 11 countries surveyed, even though the activity is technically feasible from all mobile phones. Those who have smartphones are also much more likely to look up information for their households, including about health and government services. 
    •  There are also major differences in mobile usage by age and education level in how their devices are – or are not – broadening their horizons. Younger people are more likely to use their phones for nearly all activities asked about, whether those activities are social, information-seeking or commercial. Phone users with higher levels of education are also more likely to do most activities on their phones and to interact with those who are different from them regularly than those with lower levels of education. 
    •  Gender, too, plays a role in what people do with their devices and how they are exposed to different people and information. Men are more likely than women to say they encounter people who are different from them, whether in terms of race, politics, religion or income. And men tend to be more likely to look up information about government services and to obtain political news and information. 

These findings are drawn from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report. 

Read the full report at https://www.pewinternet.org/2019/08/22/in-emerging-economies-smartphone-and-social-media-users-have-broader-social-networks.

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Nokia to be first with Android 10

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Nokia is likely to be the first smartphone brand to roll out Android 10, after its manufacturer, HMD Global, announced that the Android 10 software upgrade would start in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Previously named Android Q, it was given the number after Google announced it was ditching sweet and dessert names due to confusion in different languages. Android 10 is due for release at the end of the year.

Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global said: “With a proven track record in delivering software updates fast, Nokia smartphones were the first whole portfolio to benefit from a 2-letter upgrade from Android Nougat to Android Oreo and then Android Pie. We were the fastest manufacturer to upgrade from Android Oreo to Android Pie across the range. 

“With today’s roll out plan we look set to do it even faster for Android Pie to Android 10 upgrades. We are the only manufacturer 100% committed to having the latest Android across the entire portfolio.”

HMD Global has given a guarantee that Nokia smartphone owners benefit from two years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates.

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