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OPPO to Launch F5, its first 6-inch full screen display with A.I. Beauty Recognition Technology

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OPPO is gearing to launch its first ever full screen device, the OPPO F5, on November 20th in Kenya.

The device that was launched in other markets recently will sport a ‘full screen design’ with a full-HD+ resolution, which means the OPPO F5 will feature a display with an 18:9 aspect ratio – something most flagships are yet to offer locally stating that the “Full screen era is here” in Kenya.

The F5 will sport thin bezels and will have no navigation keys at the front and will be promoted as the new “Selfie Expert and Leader.

The device will also feature the Artificial Intelligence – enabled selfie beautification which is likely to also be the biggest highlight of the handset despite having other attractive features and a face recognition.

The Selfie Expert and Leader will feature the ground breaking AI Beauty technology – which uses artificial intelligence from a massive global photo database to beautify a selfie shot. This will be the first time, the AI technology has been integrated into selfies by a camera phone brand in Kenya.’ 

For the camera, the F5 will boast 20-megapixel single camera setup at the front which is said to work in conjunction with the AI, thus a tagline that said, “Capture the real you” implying that the front camera has an improved sensor.

The new teaser from OPPO also reveals that the F5 will come in variant colors.

Features that changed the way we use smartphones {Part 2}

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Picking up from where we paused on “Features that changed the way we use smartphones“, this sequel aims to highlight more features that have been introduced into our smartphones and how it has changed the ways we use our devices.

Quick Charge Technology

This feature and what it does is simple and direct. As the existence and usage of smartphone lengthened, the battery capacity was no longer sufficient and satisfying for daily usage. Smartphone users clamoured for more and verily, several OEMs responded to the distress call and provided users with large battery capacity in the region of 4,000 mAh to 10,000 mAh. However, these batteries took time to charge and the need for Quick charge feature became necessary.

The introduction of the Quick charge feature has led to more confident usage of smartphone as users no longer have to carry their chargers all about. Likewise, the quick charge feature have reduced (or should I say “eliminated”) the need for a power bank. Knowing that devices would charge up in no time, this has given users the liberty to use their smartphones freely and confidently either for play, for work or in regions with poor and inadequate power supply.

Face ID

The ability of smartphone to recognize a particular owner or user of a smartphone by facial properties has given the smartphone a more “human” feel. I compare this to how a mother or a father recognize third siblings, or how you differentiate Jack from Jill when you see them. The Face ID feature of smartphones have also brought more confidence to the average smartphone users as regards data security. The iPhone X is one of the latest device to come with the feature and like the fingerprint touch ID, the Face ID feature can also be used as a confirmation gateway when making purchases on some platforms.

Split-screen or multi-window

Although these two features isn’t something new to some Samsung users, it is however new to some Android Smartphone users entirely.

The split screen feature is inherent to the Android Nougat operating system and it has brought multitasking to a whole new dimension. Running two applications at a time is really cool and like other above-mentioned features, have revolutionized how we use our smartphones in this era compared to the past.

Features that changed the way we use smartphones

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Who remembers the days when there were no phones in existence at all? When all that was used for communication back then were merely letters sent and received through post offices and also the fax machine. Then came the mobile phone. But still, all we could use our phones for was just to receive and make calls.

Years later, our phones became “smart”, many thanks to technology which made it possible to things way do beyond making and receiving calls or text messages. Things like snapping pictures, surfing the internet, downloading multimedia, playing console games and many more. This is 2017, the 17th year of the 21st century and the smartphone world have witnessed so many revolutionary changes that have made it possible to do the “unbelievable” with our devices. Let’s have a look at some of those changes below.

Fingerprint sensor

These days, the presence of absence of the fingerprint scanner on a smartphone is one feature that determines if a buyer purchases a device or not. Back then, about two decades ago biometric scanners were only found on doors and vaults of tops industries and financial institution.

Now, almost all smartphone out there has a fingerprint scanner and a smartphone manufacturer would have to think twice before releasing a device without a fingerprint sensor. The introduction of fingerprint scanners serves the purpose of additional security to smartphone users asides the earlier conventional and less secure pin, pattern and password.

Since no individual have the same fingerprint pattern (not even identical twin), the use of the fingerprint as a device unlock option brings relief to smartphone users knowing that no one aside them, can have access to vital information on their device. Likewise, not only is the fingerprint scanner used as an unlock mechanism, it can be used for verification process and purchase confirmation when buying goods or paying for a purchase online. Smartphone Giants like Samsung (in Samsung Pay) and Apple (Touch ID on iTunes) have adopted the fingerprint as a verification pass/ method during purchase on their platform.

Dual camera

The introduction of two camera sensors  embodiment in smartphones have likewise changed how we use our devices. One camera sensor with nice megapixels quality gave pretty impressive photo and image results, now having two sensors on a device? What would you expect? Absolutely beauty I’d say.

The introduction of dual camera gives images shot by a smartphone more focus, better clarity and separation, and more realistic 3D-like effects on photos. In fact, some photographers have opted for dual camera smartphones with top quality sensors in the place of professional cameras to shoot images. For example, sometimes back in February this year 2017, the cover photo of Billboard’s February edition magazine was shot with an iPhone 7 Plus phone with dual camera. Now you see what I’m saying. This is yet another smartphone feature that have changed how we use our smartphone, for more productive uses.

HMD launches its 4G LTE Android Nougat-powered Nokia 8 in Kenya & Nigeria

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HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones, has announced the availability of Nokia 8 in Kenya at Ksh 59,999.

Nokia 8 is available in Tempered Blue and Steel and comes has Qualcomm® Quick ChargeTM 3.0 for quick charging.  The phone has a Snapdragon 835 processor and is secured with biometric fingerprint authentication.

The 4G LTE phone is available in Single SIM and Dual SIM and runs on Android Nougat 7.1.1.  The phone is powered by a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835 Mobile chipset and has a 4GB RAM and 64GB internal memory with external MicroSD card slot (support up to 256 GB). The phone has a 3090 mAh battery and weighs just 160g.

Nokia 8 has ZEISS optics and has a world-first in enabling Dual-Sight video to be livestreamed natively and in real-time to social feeds such as Facebook and YouTube. Dual-Sight simultaneously harnesses both the front and rear cameras in a split screen visual for both photos and videos. The  Nokia OZO Audio brings a fully immersive audio experience to your 4K video.

4.6mm thin at the edge and just 7.3mm slim on average, Nokia 8’s seamless unibody is precision milled from a single block of 6000 series aluminium and its pure design has been refined through a 40-stage process of machining, anodizing and polishing. Select models feature a high-gloss mirror finish that has taken over 20 hours to complete to achieve a flawless look.

Featuring OZO Audio, Nokia 8 combines three microphones with exclusive Nokia acoustic algorithms to capture audio with immersive 360° spatial surround sound. Share your 4K videos with OZO Audio anywhere – binaural codecs enable high fidelity playback even on devices without OZO Audio.

Powered by the Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform, Nokia 8 doesn’t compromise on performance. The Nokia 8 have been co-developed with ZEISS optics for an optimum all round experience.

 

Key specs for Nokia 8

  • Networks:

 

  • GSM: 850/900/1800/1900
  • LTE:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, 39, 40, 41
  • Network speed: LTE Cat. 9, 3CA, 450Mbps DL/50Mbps UL
  • Available in Single SIM and Dual SIM
  • OS: Android Nougat 7.1.1
  • Chipset: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835 Mobile Platform
    • MSM8998 (4* 2.45GHz Qualcomm® Kryo™ + 4* 1.8GHz Kryo)
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB internal memory with external MicroSD card slot (support up to 256 GB)
  • Form factor: Splashproof IP54 touch monoblock with capacitive system keys
  • Display: 5.3” IPS LCD QHD 2560 x 1440, 700nts screen brightness, Corning® Gorilla® Glass 5, 2.5D Glass
  • Camera with ZEISS optics:
    • Primary camera: 13MP (Colour + OIS) + 13MP (Mono), 1.12um, f/2.0, 76.9˚, PDAF, IR range finder, dual tone flash
    • Front facing camera: 13MP PDAF, 1.12um, f/2.0, 78.4˚, display flash
  • Battery: Integrated 3090 mAh battery with Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0 compatible (18W, 5V/2.5A, 9V/2A, 12V/1.5A)
  • Dimensions: 151.5 x 73.7 x 7.9mm (camera bump 0.4mm)
  • Weight: 160g

 

 

Know Your Smartphone Screen: Types and Quality {Part 2}

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This piece is a sequel to the earlier post “Know Your Smartphone Screen: Types and Quality {Part 1}” where we discussed some types of screen used on smartphones, their advantages and benefits over other type of display screen, downsides, their relative quality, those commonly used in majority of smartphones and why, among other information.

Continuing from where we left things, two other types of screen will be discussed as related to quality under the headers below.

PMOLED Screen

We have discussed about AMOLED in the preceding article {Part 1}. PMOLED stands for Passive Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode and is in the same OLED family as AMOLED; call them sisters. Unlike the AMOLED which has a storage capacity and can take more pixel units, the PMOLED has no storage capacity and can only accommodate small number of pixels. That could be probably why PMOLED screens are mostly small in size (can only be sized at about 3 inches).

Due to the restriction in pixel sizes and quantity, PMOLED screen often have lower resolution and are not commonly used in smartphones. They are mostly found in MP3 players and other gadgets with smaller screens. Another downside to PMOLED usage is the fact that they take up more voltage to power up (since the pixels power up themselves without a back light, as seen in LCDs).

Super AMOLED screen

The Super AMOLED (or S-AMOLED) screen is another type of AMOLED display entirely. Now don’t get confused, let me break it down. In terms of display quality, the AMOLED and Super AMOLED screen are the same. However, the differentiating features is in the design.

In any AMOLED display, there is a layer that detects touch called the digitizer. In Super AMOLED displays, the digitizer is embedded/incorporated directly in the screen panel, while in ordinary AMOLED screens, the digitizer is placed on top of the screen panel. While this may seem not much of a difference, it actually possesses some impacts in the efficient functioning of the Super AMOLED screen.

How? The incorporated digitizer enacts higher refresh rates, reduced light reflection, higher contrast, low heat generation to the Super AMOLED screen. Likewise, the Super AMOLED screen is much thinner than the ordinary AMOLED screen.

However, like every other screen types, there are some downsides. In Super AMOLED screens, there are possibilities of screen burn-in occuring. Screen burn-in refers to when a previously displayed screen is still slightly visible in a newly opened display. For example, when your  Calculator app dashboard still slightly appears when a new app (let’s say Dictionary) has been opened. Also, the S-AMOLED have shorter life span with rapidly deteriorating quality.

That’s where we pause the smartphone screen series for now. More to come. Stay glued to this platform for more.

Know Your Smartphone Screen: Types and Quality {Part 1}

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Most of the time when smartphone buyers scout and shop for new devices to buy, one of the key properties or features taken into consideration is he screen size, screen type and quality. While size is of utmost importance to some gadgets buyers, the screen type is an ultimate decider for other. Also, the quality of images and colours produced by the screen is another smartphone characteristics some users put at the top of their buying preference(s).

However, the types of display used in most smartphones, their quality and the edge they have over one another will be discussed in this piece.

1. IPS LCD Screen

I am pretty sure five out of ten smartphone users have heard of this type of display or one time or the other, used a smartphone that had this type of display screen. IPS is an acronym which in full, stands for In-Plane Switching while as you may already know, LCD still remains Liquid Crystal Display. LCD screens are used in most smartphones because several experimental reports have revealed that the display has better colour reproduction, better colour representation, better display resolution, and densely packed pixels compared to other display types.

Likewise, Images and texts are more readable in outdoor environment and under the effects of sunlight because of the inherent backlight that lights up the screen.
Some reports have also suggested that IPS displays have longer life span than other display. The long-lasting property of this display can be partly attributed to why most original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) adopt this screen type in most of their devices. Also, IPS LCD screens are cheaper and therefore lowers the production costs of the smartphones. Most times, the IPS LCD display the type of display you find on low-end and budget smartphones. It is really economical.

2. AMOLED Screens

AMOLED is also an acronym. The full word is Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (AMOLED) and this display produces top-notch colour and image contrast. Also, unlike the IPS LCD which has a liquid which displays whenever the back light comes on, an AMOLED screen isn’t powered by a backlight. It’s safe to say that this type of display is always on, but not totally.

AMOLED screens are costlier and this is why only well established smartphone brands like Samsung, Sony, HTC etc use this display on their devices. You barely can find a cheap smartphone with an AMOLED screen in the market. It has also been established that AMOLED screen uses less battery life.

However, most AMOLED screen are not as densely pixellated as IPS LCD screens hence, lower image sharpness and quality. The quality of AMOLED screens have also been reported to deteriorate more quickly than other displays, but hey, they don’t consume as much power as other screen types.

iPhone 8 Plus is now the highest rated camera by DxOMark photography gurus

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For those that are not familiar with DxOMark, it’s a team of photography gurus that tests both camera phones and dedicated DSLR’s to provide a metric for ranking them according to the ratings they garnered. They have a website that reports the findings exhaustively and the overall rating scored out of 100.

HTC U11: Previously highest rated smartphone camera

The last reigning champ was HTC U11, it had a score of 90 which was a tie with Google’s Pixel.  Despite what many might be inclined to think, Apple has never topped the list before. Sure, iPhones have great cameras, but they were always a few steps shy of being the best in the world. Samsung has had better luck in the rankings than Apple ever did. It’s newest Galaxy Note 8 has not been rated yet so it will be interesting to see how it competes with the iPhone.

Okay enough teasing, let’s go to the scores. Apple iPhone 8 Plus got a record breaking 94 points, followed by the smaller iPhone 8 with 92 points. The difference in ratings might be due to the fact that the 8 Plus has a dual camera that is lacking on its smaller sibling. HTC U11 is now at number 3 with 90, a position it shares with the Google Pixel. Neither of the two has a dual camera which is the main aspect that propelled the 8 Plus to number 1 due to the “industry-leading Portrait Mode”. Early reviews say that the new iPhones have better photo contrast akin to Galaxy phones and it seems DxOMark got the same findings, ‘Exposure and Contrast’ were the highest rated aspects of photo quality. Stabilization, on the other hand, was the flag bearer of video ranking. In general, the iPhone 8 Plus scored 96 in the photo section and 89 in the video section. The smaller one, iPhone 8, got 93 in photos and 90 in video.

The main rivals for the new iPhones have not been rated yet. I have high hopes for the LG V30 which has the brightest phone camera aperture size in the world at f/1.6 in comparison to Apple’s f/1.8 (the smaller the ’f’ number, the bigger the aperture). Samsung Galaxy Note 8 hasn’t gotten its dual camera tested either. It will be interesting to see how the rankings will shift once all the ratings come in.

Xiaomi joins Apple and Samsung in the Qi Wireless Power consortium

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When wireless charging was invented, leading technology companies that planned to use it came together to form a standard that would guide them forward. Among the companies included heavyweight like Samsung and LG; together with other players, they formed Qi (pronounced as ‘chee’ like in cheese), a Wireless Power Consortium.  Apple later joined in and there first implementation can be seen in the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X. There are similar groups for common technologies like USB and Bluetooth.

Xiaomi is the newest entrant to the group. Evidence of this move was found on the Consortium members’ page. People have already started speculating that Xiaomi will have wireless charging feature in the upcoming Mi 7 flagship.

The company has been known to bring leading technological advancements to the masses for cheap. For instance, they have a drone that goes for below $400 while competitors have starting prices that are double that amount; same case goes for smart home products. Xiaomi also debuted the full screen display technology that is now becoming standard, the first phone to have it was the Mi Mix , which just recently got its successor launched.

Huawei Mate 10 Lite (Maimang 6) full specs and price

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Huawei Mate 10 has many names including Maimang 6 and some rumors called it the G10. However, Huawei launched the phone using the Maimang 6 name in China, but some reports said it would be called’ Mate 10 Lite’ in the international market. This phone marks the first device from the company with a full screen, 18:9 aspect ratio, as well as 4 cameras, two on the front and two others at the back.

Here the full specifications list

  Huawei Mate 10 Lite (Maimang 6)
Display 5.9 inch

IPS

Full screen (18:9 aspect ratio)

2160*1080

409 pixel per inch

Full HD resolution

2.5D screen slight curvature

Internet 3G, 4G LTE
Camera Rear: Dual 16+2MP (2MP is a depth sensor for background blur)

LED Flash

Front: Dual 13+2MP (2MP is a depth sensor for background blur)

OS Android 7.1 Nougat

EMUI 5.1

CPU Kirin 659
GPU Mali GPU
RAM 4GB RAM
Storage 64 (Expandable up to 256GB)
Battery 3340mAh with Fast Charge via USB-C
Body 156.2*75.2*7.5mm

Full metallic frame

164g weight

Colours Pearl White, Graphite Black, Platinum Gold, Sapphire Blue
Special features ·         Fast charge (10 min charge = 2hrs video)

·         Four total cameras (2 on the front , two on the back)

·         Uses secondary 2MP sensor for portrait pictures/ bokeh effect/ background blur

·         Fingerprint sensor (Rear mounted)

PRICE $365 ( KES 36,500)

Mobile lender Branch raises $2m to bolster its micro-loans in East Africa

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Micro-lending app Branch has raised $2m (ksh 200m) to bolster its loans to SMEs in Kenya and across the east African region as its loan book hits Ksh 4 billion and demand for loans skyrockets while supply shrinks.

The credit was arranged by Centum-owned Nabo Capital from local investors and fund managers according to Business Daily Africa.

The terms of the deal were not revealed the signifies a shift from normal sources of capital to fintech startups in Africa, and Kenya especially.

In December 2015, Branch became the first African-based startup to raise investment from Silicon Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, whose portfolio includes Facebook and AirBnB, closing a $9.2m Series A round. The mobile-based financial services company has raised over $15m in equity and debt funding to date.

These investment is expected to help it grow its loans portfolio locally as well as take on its competition Tala (formerly Mkopo Rahisi), among others.

“Demand for mobile loans is likely to increase as the caps are shrinking the supply of credit in many traditional avenues,” Daniel Szlapak, director of Africa at Branch told the paper.

In July this year, Branch announced it had disbursed 1,500,000 loans since its launch in Kenya in 2015 and was now eying entry into Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.

In Kenya, Branch had 350,000 customers and disbursing nearly $4m  Sh400 million a month. In Tanzania, the firm said it was growing by 30 per cent month over month since the beginning of the year.

“We’ve seen fantastic growth at Branch because we know what our borrowers expect from their financial partner: they want speed, transparency and convenience.We are disrupting the existing lending space by making credit available at the tap of a button, within minutes of downloading the app – no paperwork or collateral necessary,’’ said CEO Matt Flannery.

Branch offers MPesa loans of up to KSh 50,000 via an Android application that can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store.

Lending decisions are made by a proprietary credit score calculated by analysing over 2,000 data points on applicants’ phones. New borrowers start out with a loan of up to KSh 1,000 and can grow their credit limit based on their repayment performance on previous loans.

The company’s growth has been spurred by its unique policy of offering lower interest rates to customers who have reached higher credit limits, thereby encouraging repeat uptake.

The firm launched a KSh30,000 loan targeted at Uber drivers and partnered with Jumia to give vendors working capital loans.

OPPO F3 FCB Limited Edition starts selling officially in Kenya

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After ruling its plans last week of bringing the OPPO F3 FCB Limited Edition, OPPO Camera Phone has announced an exclusive Barcelona official gift pack to every FCB F3 sold starting from 1st September 2017, the official selling date of the device.

The selfie focused OPPO F3, aka Selfie Expert, was launched in the first quarter of the year to rave reviews and acclaim. Now the mobile giant is taking up several notches with the introduction of the F3 Barcelona Limited Edition, a customized with group selfie features, attractive appearance in red, topping it all off, with the club’s 18K Gold insignia features on the body of the phone, while the user interface is themed in FC Barcelona’s bold and fashionable colours which will be distributed across the country in limited units.

OPPO Brand director, Mr. Jesse Wu said, “OPPO is a leading international camera phone brand known for its exquisite product design and state of art camera technology. The partnership between OPPO and Barcelona football club is not only because of their status as an iconic football club, but because they represent the art of football.’’

OPPO has comfortably positioned itself as a force to be reckoned with, not just in terms of brand penetration and market sustenancein Kenya, but also in terms of its quality, use of high-end tech, the input of advanced features, and some of the most innovative designs in the mobile phone industry globally. And with the brand’s partnership with the Barcelona Football Club and launch of the limited F3, the brand is strategically expanding beyond Africa into the global mobile market.

Retailing at 39,990 Ksh, the limited sets are now available at authorized outlets.