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Project Scorpio vs Xbox One S: What’s the difference?

This summer, on the eve of the E3 videogames show in June, Microsoft will officially unveil Project Scorpio – its new Xbox console set to be the “most powerful” games machine yet.

It’s probably not going to be called that, more likely Xbox Scorpio or something similar, but it will undoubtedly put the cat amongst the pigeons in this generation of console gaming.

For a start, we already know a lot of the internal specifications, which put it very much as a premium machine over the existing Xbox One S. We look at just how different the two are to give you an idea of which you might want to adopt come this Christmas.

  • Xbox Project Scorpio: Release date, price, specs and everything you need to know
  • PS4 Pro vs Project Scorpio: What’s the difference?

Project Scorpio vs Xbox One S: Graphics

One of the major differences between the two machines comes with graphical hardware and the ability to render full 4K visuals.

The Xbox One S is capable of up to 1080p graphics running at 60fps (as on games such as Forza Horizon 3). Not all games achieve those heady heights, but its 12 GCN compute units, running at 914MHz can reach it. The console also upscales all video output to 4K for compatible TVs, but games do not run in Ultra HD natively.

Project Scorpio, on the other hand, will be capable of full 4K visuals running at 60fps, thanks to new graphics processing that consists of 40 customised compute units running at 1.172GHz. That’s much more powerful and faster than the currently available machine.

The new console will also be compatible with games featuring HDR (High Dynamic Range). The Xbox One S already has that functionality.

Project Scorpio vs Xbox One S: CPU and memory

Like with the graphics, Project Scorpio will be much more powerful than the Xbox One S in central processing. It will run on eight custom x86 cores, clocked at speeds of 2.3GHz. The Xbox One S also has eight cores, which run at 1.75GHz.

The Scorpio also bosses things in RAM. There will be 12GB of GDDR5 RAM with bandwidth of up to 326GB/s. The Xbox One S has 8GB of DDR3 RAM and 32MB of ESRAM, with bandwidth of 68GB/s and 219GB/s respectively.

The upshot of this is that developers get far more memory and speeds of processing to play with on Project Scorpio.

Project Scorpio vs Xbox One S: Games

The great news for Xbox One S owners is that, at present, Microsoft is committed to making the same games for Xbox One S and Project Scorpio (and the original Xbox One come to that). You buy an Xbox game and it’ll work on all three consoles, albeit with different grades of performance.

Scorpio versions, therefore, will be far better graphically than their Xbox One S counterparts – with greater resolution, draw distances and the like. However, the gameplay will technically remain the same. As will the price considering the game is the same bought copy.

It’s a similar deal with the PS4 Pro. All PlayStation 4 games work on Pro and the standard PS4, they just look better on the Pro – for the most part.

By doing this, Microsoft also ensures that the Scorpio launches with an enormous back catalogue of Xbox One games available from the off. There is a rumour it won’t support Xbox One Backwards Compatibility for Xbox 360 games, but that’s still just a rumour for now.

Project Scorpio vs Xbox One S: Home entertainment

The Xbox One S was the first games console to offer 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray playback, with HDR picture tech to boot. It’s still the only one currently on the market too.

Project Scorpio will follow suit when released later this year.

All other major streaming apps and services are expected to be on board too.

Project Scorpio vs Xbox One S: Price and release date

Here’s the million dollar question – almost literally: how much will Project Scorpio cost?

We don’t know right now. It might be revealed during the Xbox Media Briefing ahead of E3 2017 on 11 June. One thing’s for sure, the best console ever, as it is tagged, will not be cheap.

The current Xbox One S can be bought for around £200 with a game (the 500GB version anyway). A version with a 1TB hard drive can be snagged for around £250.

Popular thought is that the 1TB HDD-sporting Project Scorpio will weigh in at around twice that, up to the £500 mark. After all, it’s essentially a gaming PC in console form.

Obviously, the Xbox One S is already readily available. But the Scorpio isn’t too long from launch. We have already been told that it will hit stores this holiday season, so around November we expect. Pre-orders could even be available from around E3 time.

Project Scorpio vs Xbox One S: Conclusion

There is little doubt that Project Scorpio – or whatever it ends up being called – is a more powerful, more graphically competent games console than the Xbox One S. But you will be expected to pay a premium price for such a premium machine, that’s for sure.

If you are content with Full HD gaming and want something to play games on right now, the Xbox One S is an excellent games machine and 4K Blu-ray player for just £200. Hardcore gamers might want to hold on though, at least until more is known in June.


How Gorillaz brought a global listening party to your phone

Gorillaz are having a house party at 500 locations around the globe. The animated band — brainchild of musician Damon Albarn (Blur) and artist Jamie Hewlett (Tank Girl) — is hosting the unusual audio soirée for its upcoming album launch for Humanz. Just streaming the new music to its recently launched app isn’t Gorillaz’s style, so instead it’s created a sort of musical scavenger hunt that’s part Pokemon Go, part concert.

The technical team that helped bring Hewlett and Albarn’s vision to life is known more for working with the likes of Nike and Google than cartoon rockers. While located around the globe, it was B-Reel’s London office and executive creative director Davor Krvavac’s team that took on the slightly insane but definitely impressive app and its worldwide dance-party ambitions. “It was a sort of a sense of awe really, because all of us here, we really respect what Jamie, Sheila and Damon Albarn have been doing over all these years in so many different manifestations,” Krvavac said.

Gorillaz are more than just a band. Each album mixes music, art and technology into interactive sites, games, movies, DVDs, live chats with cartoon characters, an upcoming show at an amusement park and concerts that fuse the live band with their animated avatars. The lead up to Humanz is no different and if anything has raised the bar. The band has released a 3D music video, Twitter-moment “books” for each member of the band and of course the mixed-reality Gorillaz app.

“It was a very different sort of creative process than we might follow as an agency with one of our branded clients,” Krvavac told Engadget. “It’s all about building trust, because the Gorillaz and the creative products of the Gorillaz, that’s the crown jewels.”

The two teams worked closely together on the app, which, like the upcoming album, places the Spirit House at the center of the story. The band handled the story and art, and B-Reel handled the tech. “Of course they’re super switched on and well aware of all the kind of developments that have happened in the six years since the last album. You know AR, VR all of that stuff,” Krvavac said.

The result is an app that launches right into mixed reality with a vision of the real world overlaid with objects from each band member appearing as you spin around. It’s a reminder that you’re leaving your world and entering the band’s domain. The dilapidated Spirit House has been overtaken by Murdoc Niccals, 2-D, Russel Hobbs, and Noodle, and users can explore the band members’ rooms either with or without a VR headset.

“It’s all about discovery. It’s all about immersing yourself into the story,” Krvavac said. “Really early on we were talking about when you buy the bonus pack that comes with your vinyl or CD and you go over sleeve notes and all the little things to discover. Well it’s kind of like that. It’s a mixed-reality kind of extension of their world that sort of spills over into our world, and I think the listening part is the ultimate sort of reward. Everything in the house essentially builds up to the actual location of the house and discovering it for yourself.”

The global listening party is live for the next three days. During that time, the app will guide fans with directions and distances toward the nearest geolocation of the Spirit House. It’s bit like Pokemon Go, but instead of finding a tiny monster, you’re rewarded with a stream of the entire album. With 500 locations all over the globe, most major metropolitan areas will be covered.

Of course, the developers and band added a challenge to finding the final digital jukebox. The directions lead you in the general location of the nearest Spirit House, but you’ll still have to do a bit of sleuthing to discover the exact spot. Fortunately, Gorillaz’s Facebook page has been dropping the longitudes and latitudes of various Spirit Houses to help you along.

It’s an ambitious endeavor for something that’ll shut down on Sunday night. But the tech is there, and in the future it could be used for something else. “What I can tell you for sure is that the stream will cease with the actual launch of the album, but there are some ideas and thoughts about what happens with the house after that. So, you know, watch this space, essentially,” Krvavac said.

With all that’s been invested into the prelaunch of the album, it’ll be interesting to see what Gorillaz finally comes up with summer when it launches for real. “They’ve always had to push the technology so hard and kind of invent new things in order to manifest themselves as a band,” Krvavac said.

That’s what we’re hoping for.


ARM-powered Windows 10 laptops will arrive this holiday

Remember Windows RT, the stripped back version of Windows 8 meant for ARM-based hardware? It was a complete failure for Microsoft, recreating the desktop environment but little else for the Surface and Lumia 2520. Undeterred, Microsoft is working with Qualcomm to get Windows 10 running on Snapdragon processors. Announced last December, we should see the fruits of that partnership in new hardware later this year. Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf revealed during an investor call: “Our Snapdragon 835 is expanding into mobile PC designs running Windows 10, which are scheduled to launch in the fourth calendar quarter this year.”

Unlike Windows RT, ARM-based hardware running Windows 10 should support proper desktop-class apps. That’s because Microsoft is building an emulator directly into the OS capable of handling Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Word, and other desktop staples. That’s a big promise, but one that could change the complexion of the Windows 10 market if successful. For one, it’ll be the same experience that Windows customers are used to — no strange amalgamation of apps and environments like the Surface 2. For another, ARM-based hardware should offer longer battery life, providing better options for people who need stamina more than power.

It’s also possible that ARM-powered laptops will be cheaper than their Intel-based contemporaries. That’s not guaranteed, but if it does happen Microsoft will be better positioned to tackle Chromebooks and iPads in the classroom. According to The Verge, the first wave of ARM-based devices will come from other manufacturers, rather than Microsoft’s Surface division. Lenovo is reportedly working on a device, and there’s a good chance we’ll see a few more at Microsoft’s Build conference in Seattle.

Source: The Verge, IDG


Merch booths are coming to a video game near you

Take a look through Etsy or the countless daily T-shirt sites and nerd-focused stores online and you’ll find a common theme: merchandise featuring characters and other bits from your favorite video games. Soon, you won’t have to go outside the title you’re playing to grab a piece of tie-in swag, however. That’s because online shopping company Shopify has designed a developer tool that hooks into games made with the incredibly popular Unity toolset, and sets up a virtual shop in-game where you can buy branded t-shirts and other tchotchkes. What’s more, unlike the aforementioned storefronts, it’ll be officially licensed merch.

As VentureBeat reports, it’s already in place, albeit in a limited situation. The extremely relaxed snowboarding game Alto’s Adventure has added the Unity Buy implementation into a recent update. For example, now you can buy officially-licensed, stuffed llamas for $50, or a llama T-shirt for $25, without ever hitting the home button on your mobile device. And maybe that’s where this is a perfect fit. No, not shilling overpriced camelids, but the mobile platform in general.

The custom storefronts can blend right into a given mobile title’s UI so it doesn’t feel like a harsh departure from the rest of the game, and tight integration with things like Apple Pay means purchases can be pretty frictionless. Given how ubiquitous Unity-made games are on mobile, this sort of thing could spread pretty quickly. Especially when Shopify says that setting up shop takes “low development effort.”

What’s more, a game developer could lock more exclusive items in the shop behind a progress wall. Meaning, unless you hit a certain high-score threshold, a certain prize might be inaccessible.

“Imagine I see someone wearing a shirt that I know they unlocked in a game, it’s like some sort of credibility,” Shopify’s Brandon Chu tells TechCrunch. Chu then takes it a step further and blows the whole concept wide open: developers can let others sell items through their games too.

“And if you are a game [developer] and you don’t actually have products to sell, you can actually plug in and build a sales channel that’s public, so that other merchants can actually sell through your game as well.”

That means if a game is particularly popular (say Candy Crush or Clash of Clans for example) a developer can sell other people’s goods in their game and take a cut of the profits.

There are a few downsides. For one, it means that games could become a cluttered mess of storefronts that might not even make sense for the title they appear in; we’ve seen how terrible/aggressive developers can be with in-app purchases after all.

Also, it’s another way for kids to rack up thousands of dollars in purchases that their parents won’t discover until their credit card’s next billing statement arrives. So, yeah, maybe there needs to be at least one speed hump — and a hefty does of discipline/good judgment from developers — along the way to purchase.

Via: VentureBeat

Source: Shopify


The best laser printer

By Ben Keough and Liam McCabe

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

After nearly 250 hours of research and testing over the past few years, we’ve found that the best choice for an affordable laser printer right now is the Brother HL-L2340DW. Among the dozens of laser printers we’ve looked at, the L2340DW is one of the most economical and least frustrating models you can buy.

Who should get this

If you print less than once a week on average, or mostly print text-first documents—like school assignments, invoices, shipping labels, tax forms, real estate applications, personal records, permission slips, tickets—a mono laser printer is probably all you need. Assuming, that is, you really need a printer at all.

Compared with inkjet printers, laser printers cost more to buy, but less to own over time because the toner is so cheap. Lasers won’t cause as much stress as inkjets, either, because they never clog, and their large toner cartridges can print at least twice as many pages as a typical ink cartridge before they need to be replaced. Laser printers also tend to be faster than inkjets, and they usually produce sharper-looking text as well.

So who shouldn’t get a laser printer? If you don’t have a lot of money to spend but need to print in color, an inkjet printer is the only way to go. Inkjets are also the only (relatively) affordable way to print glossy, high-quality photos at home. And a decent inkjet that can scan, copy, and print in color costs much less than a color laser machine with the same features. We recommend some decent inkjet machines here.

How we picked and tested


Two of our finalists, the Samsung Xpress SL-M2835DW (left) and Brother HL-L2360DW (right). Photo: Liam McCabe

Based on the best-seller lists at major retailers, most people want a printer that’s affordable, with a low cost per page and minimal maintenance—a simple machine that can handle basic jobs. Most of those printers are monochrome laser printers, so we focused on those when considering candidates for our main pick.

To start, we scouted for all the current monochrome (black and white) laser printers we could find for under $200. Then we whittled these down to printer-only models (we considered copy/scan models separately), and those with automatic duplex printing, Wi-Fi, and support for mobile printing. We also favored models with cheaper toner costs. To weed out any clunkers that had good specs but poor real-world performance, we read through dozens of customer reviews and editorial reviews.

Plenty of people want a copier and scanner in addition to a printer, so we also sought out a great monochrome multifunction printer.

We set up each printer on both a Windows PC and a Mac, following the manufacturer’s instructions and trying to use Wi-Fi where possible. We considered setup a success once we could print a page from a Web browser and then shut the printer off, turn it back on, and get it to print again. We also tested other connectivity standards, which you can read about in our full guide.

For print-quality testing, we used reference documents that were predominantly text-based, with some elements like columns, tables, or charts.

We also checked out each printer’s quality options, including toner-density sliders and any available print-resolution settings, to see what you can expect with toner-saving options and whether we could eke out better-looking text.

We stress-tested all the paper-feeding parts of each printer, including the main paper trays and document feeders if the printer had one. We (slightly) overstuffed them with paper to see if they’d jam, and we also fed them single sheets to see if they could pick up each. For more on our testing procedures, see our full guide.

Our pick

The Brother HL-L2340DW (pictured) and HL-L2360DW fit onto (or under) most desks. Photo: Kimber Streams

The Brother HL-L2340DW monochrome laser printer is the laser printer that we think will work the best for most people. Toner is a bargain, and it was easier to add to a simple home network than other models like it. All the crucial features you can expect from a decent document printer are here: Wi-Fi, auto duplexing, and support for important mobile printing standards. Text is crisp, and print speed is as fast as you’d ever need in a home office.

Though the L2340DW’s default print quality is worse than that of its closest competitor, the Samsung M2835DW, it’s fine for most home use. If you boost the print-quality setting, the difference mostly vanishes anyway. Even with that downside, we think the L2340DW is the better affordable laser printer overall because it’s easier to set up and troubleshoot, and user reviews suggest that it’s more reliable over a couple of years, too. You probably (probably) won’t ever feel like beating the L2340DW to a pulp Office Space style.

The best thing about the L2340DW is the dirt-cheap cost of ownership. It uses only about 1.7¢ worth of toner per page. Even counting the wear on the drum, the cost works out to about 2.3¢—less than most other residential printers out there. Compared with a similarly low-cost inkjet printer, you’ll save something like $20 per year on document printing even if you print just 500 pages per year. The more you print, the more the math favors the Brother.


The HL-L2360DW is the fraternal-twin Brother (hey-o!) to the HL-L2340DW, and is worth grabbing if it’s cheaper, or if you need an Ethernet port. The L2360DW can print a few extra pages per minute, but both printers are wicked fast for home-use standards, and you probably won’t notice the difference. From what we’ve seen so far, the L2360DW tends to cost a few dollars more than the L2340DW, and isn’t available at as many stores. But again, the differences hardly matter—follow your wallet.

A practical multifunction monochrome printer


The Samsung M2875DW laser printer/scanner/copier is tall, but it has the same footprint as print-only mono laser machines. Photo: Ben Keough

If you want an affordable printer that can also copy and scan, the Samsung Xpress M2875DW mono laser is our favorite option. The cost of operation is low, and this printer is easier to install than most of its competitors. It also has a 50-page auto document feeder, whereas many of its competitors have only a flatbed scanner. The ADF makes copying and scanning multipage documents much easier. The M2875DW also has reliable Wi-Fi connectivity, auto duplex printing, convenient mobile apps, and support for both AirPrint and Google Cloud Print. We think it’s best for home users, but it could work for a small office with modest needs.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.


Twitch opens the door for more streamers to make money

You don’t need to be a member of Twitch’s exclusive group of Partnered streamers to start making money broadcasting on the service anymore. “Twitch will invite creators to join the program who fit the criteria, based on time spent streaming, viewership and followers,” the company said in a statement. That starts with opening its “Cheering with Bits” functionality up to more people.

As you’ll remember, Cheering is how you can tip a Partnered (revenue shared, basically) streamer $0.014 at a time with currency called “Bits.” And if you’d rather not fork over cash for those, as a viewer you can sit through ads to earn them. Twitch says that so far, “over a billion” bits have been used since launch, and that opening this up for its Affiliate-desginated streamers will benefit “tens of thousands” of folks.

In case you were wondering, that means more people will have access to the some $1.4 million people have spent on Bits thus far. Twitch says that this is just the first tool for Affiliate streamers to monetize their channels, and that more will begin rolling out over the net few months.

“Affiliates will eventually have access to revenue programs such as subscriptions, game commerce and advertising,” Amazon’s billion dollar baby said. As for the elite Partnered streamers, when the Affiliate program rolls out, the career-broadcasters will get a verified chat badge for their profiles.

Clearly Twitch is trying to avoid a situation similar to YouTube’s struggling “middle-class” of users that vlog or create their assess off but aren’t making anything near Pewdiepie money. Plus, this is Twitch investing in itself while simultaneously helping its community. The benefits of more people having access to earning Bits are twofold: it’ll draw more streamers to the platform if they can start making money, and Twitch will get a cut of the profits for each additional Bit sold/earned.


Lilium’s electric personal jet manages a vertical takeoff

The Lilium jet may look like somebody’s wacky concept of a futuristic aircraft that will never be able to fly, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It has recently completed a series of flight tests in Munich, Germany, proving that the first all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) jet is capable of taking to the skies. The company even released a video of Lilium’s maiden flight, which you can watch after the break.

While the company plans to conduct manned flights in the future, the first series of tests remotely controlled a two-seater prototype from the ground. Its ultimate goal, however, is to release a five-seater version that can fit whole families and groups of friends. What gives the Lilium potential to become a great personal jet (or flying car, if you prefer to call it that) is that it doesn’t need a runway. It can take off and land like a helicopter from your (large) backyard, even if it’s within the city.

The vehicle also promises a range of 186 miles and speeds up to 186 mph, enough to take you from Manhattan to the JFK airport within five minutes. The German startup isn’t quite ready to take pre-orders for the Lilium yet, since its five-seater variant will have to go through years and years of testing. Still, its successful test flights and backing from the European Space Agency give us hope that a production version will eventually make its way to market.

Source: Wired, TechCrunch


Microsoft has a plan to beat Chromebooks at their own game

Microsoft is holding an education-focused event on May 2nd, and speculation has indicated that we might see Windows 10 Cloud for the first time. The software is pegged as a low-resource platform that could compete with Google’s Chrome OS, which has been making big inroads in EDU markets recently. The latest indication of Microsoft’s plan to take Chromebooks on comes from Windows Central, which published a leaked spec sheet showing Windows 10 Cloud minimum specs and performance requirements as compared to Chromebooks.

Assuming this chart is accurate, it gives us a good idea of what sort of hardware we’ll be seeing from Windows 10 Cloud devices. The relatively modest specs include 4GB of RAM, a quad-core Celeron (or better) processor and either 32GB or 64GB of storage — that all sounds a lot like you’ll find in a Chromebook. Microsoft is looking to achieve “all-day” battery life for “most students” and super-short boot and wake from sleep times, as well.

What we’ve seen from Windows 10 Cloud suggests that machines running this new software will only work with Universal Windows Platform apps you get from the Microsoft Store — traditional Windows software will be out. But for a lot of students, that plus the many web-based apps and services out there will be enough to get a lot of work done. In any event, it looks like we’ll know more in less than two weeks, and we’ll be at Microsoft’s event to cover all the news.

Source: WIndows Central


Apple Now Selling Refurbished 13-Inch MacBook Pro With Touch Bar

Apple has added the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, originally released in October 2016, to its refurbished store for the first time.

The base model with a 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 256GB flash storage, 8GB of RAM, and Intel Iris Graphics 550 is available for $1,529 in the United States, reflecting savings of $270 off Apple’s regular price of $1,799. Available colors include both Silver and Space Gray.

The base model is also available with an upgraded 16GB of RAM for $1,699, or $300 off Apple’s regular price of $1,999.

The higher-end model with a 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 256GB flash storage, 8GB of RAM, and Intel Iris Graphics 550 is available for $1,699 in the United States, reflecting savings of $300 off Apple’s regular price of $1,999. Available colors include both Silver and Space Gray.

The higher-end model is also available with an upgraded 16GB of RAM for $1,869, or $330 off Apple’s regular price of $2,199.

Other built-to-order configurations are available for between $1,949 and $2,459 in the United States, including models with up to a 3.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor, 1TB flash storage, and 16GB of RAM.

Apple has also made refurbished 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models available in Canada for between $290 and $350 off.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and 13-inch model with standard function keys were added to Apple’s refurbished store in March.

Apple says refurbished MacBook Pro models are thoroughly inspected, tested, cleaned, and repackaged, including the manuals and cables included in the box. The notebooks are each given a new serial number and undergo a final quality assurance inspection prior to being added to Apple’s refurbished store.

A refurbished MacBook Pro comes with Apple’s standard 1-year warranty effective on the date the notebook is delivered. The warranty can be extended to three years from the original purchase date with the AppleCare Protection Plan, which costs $279 for the 13-inch MacBook Pro in the United States.

Related: Guide to Buying Refurbished Apple Products

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Tags: refurbished, Apple retail
Buyer’s Guide: MacBook Pro (Neutral)
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Xiaomi Mi 6 first impressions: The $360 flagship

Out in Beijing, we got a look at the latest version of Xiaomi’s flagship line. After 7 years, the company has come a long way and with their newest device Xiaomi hopes to bring the best features into one complete package. While many of the features might seem pretty familiar, they haven’t come together quite like this. We take a look here at the Xiaomi Mi 6.

It’s pretty easy to notice the design first with the Mi 6, as it comes in a myriad of different colors and a few of them are quite special. Aside from the typical black and white editions of the phone, an eye-catching blue and gold version is the main color for this new flagship. It is like a reverse Iron Man color, and I really like it. That’s not the one that I’m going to be reviewing, however.

Read: Xiaomi Mi 6 specs, features, price and availability

First, we look at the other highly exclusive edition of the Mi 6, a highly reflective silver color that is made of a stainless-steel skeleton like the rest of them but sports the silver sheen all over.

What you’re looking at is only one of maybe a dozen that made it out of the manufacturing process. During the presentation, it was made abundantly clear that making this version of the phone requires so many dangerous steps around the steel that out of tens of thousands of attempts, only about 10 or 20 are successful. So, obviously, this is not a version that is up for review. It certainly looks really great, however.

Instead, the most premium version of the Mi 6 is the one that you’ll be seeing in the final review. True to form in their design department, Xiaomi has brought back the ceramic material and lined it with 18k gold to give it a really high-end finish. The result is a heavier phone with a material that shines really well in the light and also comes with a premium 6GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage.

The screen of the Mi 6 is a 1080p panel with the conventional 16:9 aspect ratio, which keeps it from being completely current in terms of specs. However, it does show highly saturated colors to do the MIUI justice. To help users who might stare a little too deeply into the bright display, Xiaomi have added in an ‘Eye Care’ mode that filters some of the blue light. In an effort to provide the same benefits without compromising the display colors, the Eye Care mode won’t have the same aggressive yellow tint as other smartphones.

Beneath the display is the capacitive array, including a home button that is a little reminiscent of the HTC 10 – and it comes with the fingerprint reader built-in. The glass curves four ways in the corners, making it wrap around the front of the device. Meanwhile, for the backing, the glass curves upward to make the phone easier to handle. The entire body is splash resistant, though it definitely should not be submerged into water.

So that covers the design, let’s go deeper under the surface. Xiaomi has positioned itself as the first manufacturer to bring the Snapdragon 835 to China, giving the Mi 6 a very powerful device. 6GB is standard and there are different capacities for the onboard storage – as we mentioned already, the most expensive ceramic has that high capacity.

The battery is one of the bigger deals with this phone, as it sports 3350mAh. While we will be doing our full testing on the battery life, it is important to note off the bat the ratio between the unit and the smaller 5.15-inch display. This ratio is one of the largest in pretty much any smartphone, so the longevity should go for a while.

Xiaomi’s moves with the camera are very notable, as well – in the era of the dual camera, they have decided to join the fray with their own version of the zoom camera experience. Much like the iPhone 7 Plus, the Mi 6 comes with a default wide angle lens that sports 4-axis stabilization and a telephoto secondary shooter that adds a 2x optical zoom. The result is a camera with more choice than ever before for Xiaomi devices, and with the ceramic device I was able to get quite a few samples.

My first experience with the cameras yielded some mixed results – the one main downside being the lack of zoom capabilities for video. I was told that this is not a hardware limitation and that an update to the MIUI in the future could rectify this – however, they stopped short of guaranteeing such a change. That said, the picture taking experience benefits from the 2x zoom quite well, allowing for users to get closer to the subject without moving one’s feet. And with both lenses sporting 12 MP f/1.8 specs, the pictures have an adequate depth of field that gives each photo an appealing look.

For a little more depth of field, especially when photographing people, Xiaomi has included their own Portrait Mode that finds subjects and adds a healthy amount of bokeh to the background. This is a little different from the Huawei P10 bokeh effect and definitely more like the iPhone 7 mode, meaning that there is not much control over the effect. That said, these first tests on subjects yielded very good looking results, as long as the subject is within a certain distance – any farther, and subjects might not be cut out from the background quite as well.

With little to say about the software, all of these hardware changes are the crux of the Xiaomi Mi 6 experience. MIUI is constantly being updated under the suggestions of Xiaomi’s forum goers, so there are sure to be some significant software changes eventually. For now, I find the Mi 6 to be a conglomeration of some of the best features we’ve seen in the past year all put together into one package.

So, how much does that package cost? It’s surprisingly affordable. For a Snapdragon 835, 6GB of RAM, and a dual camera, users can get the phone for the RMB equivalent of $360. If you wanted to spring for the Ceramic edition, the premium would only bring it up to a total equivalent of $435. In the west, this is a price that is rather unheard of for what could be considered a flagship device.

My first impressions put the Mi 6 in a pretty positive spot, as Xiaomi attempts to make their flagship the place to find the best specs and features in one place. We will continue our testing over the next week or so before we give you our full review.

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