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5
Sep

Germany Says ‘No Decision Made Yet’ Regarding Taxation of Digital Service Companies Including Apple


Germany today denied a report that claimed the finance ministry had given up on plans to introduce more taxes on certain “internet giants,” like Apple, Amazon, and Google. The taxes are related to a new proposal from the European Commission, which aims to make companies with “significant digital revenues” in Europe pay a three percent tax on such services in the EU (via Reuters).

While Germany “has long been cool” on the plans, a report from Bild recently claimed that Finance Minister Olaf Scholz had “abandoned plans” to implement the taxes on digital companies. Citing confidential finance ministry documents, the report said this was because a “demonization” of these companies was seen as “not productive.”

Denying the report, the German finance ministry says there has simply been “no decision made yet” on whether or not Germany will implement the digital tax. Speaking to Reuters, a finance ministry spokesperson explained that Germany is ultimately aiming for “fair taxation of internet companies.” A final decision is expected by January 2019.

“There has been no decision made yet by the minister or the ministry on one or more instruments,” a finance ministry spokesman said when asked to comment on the Bild report.

“The debate is still ongoing, also among the finance ministers of Europe and the G7/G20 countries. The Federal Government still aims to ensure a fair taxation of internet companies,” the spokesman added.

For Apple, such a tax would affect the company’s services segment, which remains to be an important revenue driver for the company. These include services like iTunes, the App Store, Mac App Store, Apple Music, iCloud, Apple Pay, and AppleCare.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tags: Germany, tax
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5
Sep

Vivo V11 preview: In-display fingerprint sensor meets the ‘waterdrop’ notch


Vivo’s latest phone comes with an in-display fingerprint sensor and a less frustrating notch experience.

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Vivo was the first to roll out a phone with an in-display fingerprint, and the Chinese manufacturer is now bringing the feature to its mid-range V series. The V11 is now official in Thailand and India, and will be heading to other Asian markets shortly. The phone offers considerable upgrades over the V9, which made its debut just six few months ago. Key among them is the Snapdragon 660 and a 25MP front shooter.

The biggest change on the design front is a new “waterdrop” cutout at the top of the display. The narrow notch makes it a much more palatable option, and it doesn’t take away a lot of room for icons in the status bar. With the notch now housing just the front camera module, the earpiece has moved to a tiny grille located above the screen.

The V11’s raison d’être is the in-display fingerprint sensor. It works just as reliably as it did on the X21 and the NEX, but it isn’t quite as fast as regular fingerprint readers. It takes just under a second to authenticate using the in-display sensor, and Vivo also offers a facial unlock feature. Face unlock is considerably faster, but the caveat is that it isn’t as secure as the fingerprint reader.

Vivo introduced several interesting designs in 2018, with the NEX featuring a geometric pattern at the back that changed color based on light reflecting off its surface. The V11 features a speckled design underneath the glass that’s meant to evoke images of distant galaxies. The blue on black color option I’m using is called Starry Night, and the V11 also comes in a blue and purple hue called Nebula. The color shifts between various hues of blue, and the design is right up there as one of the most evocative of 2018.

There’s a 3.5mm jack as well, and the audio output is particularly great for a device in this category. That said, Vivo is one of the few manufacturers that is yet to switch to USB-C. This was the case on the X21 as well, and although the NEX charged over USB-C, it looks like Vivo isn’t willing to make the switch for its mid-range models. Thankfully, Vivo’s fast charging tech is one of the best out there, and you’ll be able to fully charge the 3400mAh battery in just under two hours.

Screen 6.41-inch Super AMOLED (2340×1080)
Chipset Snapdragon 660
RAM 6GB
Storage 128GB
Software Android 8.1 Oreo, Funtouch OS 4.5
Rear Camera 1 12MP, ƒ/1.8
Rear Camera 2 5MP
Front Camera 25MP, ƒ/2.0
Security In-display sensor, face unlock
Battery 3400mAh
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, BT5.0
Colors Starry Night, Nebula
Dimensions 157.9x75x7.9mm
Weight 156g

The 6.41-inch Super AMOLED 19.5:9 display is one of the best panels you’ll find in this segment, with vibrant colors and excellent contrast levels. With competition intensifying in this category, manufacturers are introducing phones with more robust hardware. Vivo was particularly notorious for rolling out devices with underpowered hardware in the past, and while it did a great job optimizing the software, its phones didn’t hold up to the likes of Xiaomi, Huawei, or even Samsung in terms of value for money.

That’s changing with the V11. The phone features the Snapdragon 660, a stalwart in this category. To give you a context of how just big a change this is for Vivo, the V9 — which was unveiled in March 2018 — was powered by the Snapdragon 626. As you’d imagine, the Snapdragon 660 offers a significant boost in performance, and the V11 also comes with 6GB of RAM as standard and 128GB of internal storage.

On the camera side of things, the Vivo V11 features a 12MP + 5MP configuration at the back and a 25MP camera up front. Like most other manufacturers, Vivo is betting on AI-assisted features to differentiate the cameras on the V11. The AI automatically analyzes a scene and selects the ideal shooting mode, and Google Lens integration is baked into the camera.

There’s an AI Face Beauty mode that lets you tweak several parameters when taking selfies, ranging from removing blemishes to more extreme effects that include changing the contours of your nose, jaw, mouth, and more.

On the software side of things, the V11 comes with Funtouch OS 4.5 based on Android 8.1 Oreo. The interface borrows several elements from iOS, including a Control Center that’s accessible with a swipe up from the bottom of the screen. There’s no app drawer either, but you do get navigation gestures.

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Overall, the Vivo V11 is a step in the right direction. The upgraded hardware allows it to go up against the Nokia 7 Plus, and unlike the V9, the phone doesn’t look like an iPhone clone. There’s considerable work to be done on the software side of things, but as the V11 is aimed primarily in Asian markets, it doesn’t look like we’ll see a lot of changes on this front anytime soon.

5
Sep

How to set up priority notifications for your home security system


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When your home security system needs to tell you something, chances are you’ll want to listen. Here’s how to make sure you get those critical notifications you need.

Products Used In This Guide

  • Best Buy: Nest Secure ($399)
  • Amazon: Ring Alarm ($199)

Setting priority notifications

We’re using the Nest app and the Nest Secure for demonstration purposes, but the process is the same for the Ring Alarm. too. There may be slight variations in the settings menu names, depending on your model of Android, but the overall process is the same. And to be clear — you might not need to do this at all. For obvious reason, an app of this sort should properly prioritize alarm notifications. But if you’ve messed in the settings, or something seems off, this is where to start:

Open the Applications settings from the general settings menu on your phone.

  • On newer versions of Android, you may need to look for Apps & Notifications in the list.
  • If you see a list of Recently opened apps scroll down and open the link to See all of your apps.

Find the Nest (or Ring) app in the list and tap it to open its settings.

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In the next window, tap the section labeled Notifications to enter the app’s notifications settings.
These instructions apply to all the notification categories you see listed, but we’re interested in the Alarms section. Tap it to open the Alarms notifications category settings.
Make sure the Show Notifications switch is enabled and tap the field labeled Behavior.
Select Make sound and pop on screen from the choices presented. the window will close once you’ve made a selection.
Tap the field labeled Advanced and the page will expand.

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Choose the options that will best alert you. We recommend you enable Override Do Not Disturb so that notifications will always sound and be displayed.

Whenever your Nest system (or Ring Alarm) sends a notification from the Alarm category your new setting will apply and you’ll be better able to see it and respond.

Our top equipment picks

Smart alarm systems work great with your Android phone and can provide essential information through their app no matter where you are. We think these are the best systems you can buy.

Top pick

Nest Secure

nest-secure.jpg?itok=3VEQEBmE

$399 at Best Buy

The Nest Secure system integrates into any smart home.

The Nest Secure system offers complete adoption into the Google Assistant ecosystem. Control and monitor your security solution anywhere through the Nest app while you’re away or through your Google Home while you’re at home.

The Works With Nest program and tight Google Assistant integration make the Nest Secure the best smart alarm system you can buy if you want complete control through your smart home automation system. You not only can get these critical notifications, but you can chain events to trigger other products like cameras or outdoor alarms through Assistant Actions.

Also Great

Ring Alarm

ring-alarm.png?itok=r9ribHQP

$199 at Amazon

Affordable home protection without all the smarts.

The Ring Alarm doesn’t have the smart home integration of our top pick but can still notify you through the Ring app whenever there is a problem.

The Ring Alarm is the best value when it comes to a great basic home security system and the Ring app will let you know anytime there is a problem. Amazon says Alexa integration is coming for the Ring Alarm and once it arrives you’ll be able to enjoy the same smart home functions that the Nest Secure has.

5
Sep

UK Deal: Amazon’s Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet drops to £90 for today only


Money off the kid-proof Fire HD 8 — but only until the end of the day!

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For today only, you can pick up Amazon’s Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet for just £89.99 — that’s down from its usually asking price of £129.99 and matching its previous low price on Prime Day.

Available in Blue, Pink or Yellow, the Kids Edition is a fully-featured Fire HD 8 tablet wrapped in a vibrant, child-friendly and rugged case to prevent the tablet from being damaged. In fact, Amazon is so confident in its ability to protect the device inside that they offer a 2-year ‘worry-free guarantee’ that allows you to return a damaged tablet and have it replaced for free.

It features an 8-inch HD display, quad-core processor, 12-hour battery life and 32GB of on-board storage. You’ll probably want to pick up a microSD card to add extra space for movies, games and more — with the money you save on this deal, you could pick up this £29 128GB SanDisk Ultra microSD card and still have cash to spare.

For those not needing the ruggedised Kids Edition, there’s also a promotion running on the regular Fire HD 8 tablet which is down to £79.99 from its usual £99.99 price tag.

For more UK deals coverage, be sure to keep an eye on Thrifter UK, sign up for the UK newsletter and follow the team on Twitter.

See at Amazon UK

5
Sep

3 Important Questions to Ask when Buying a Smart Thermostat


If you want to save a few bucks from your HVAC system, then it’s time you consider shifting from the regular thermostat to the new Smart Thermostat. But why should you spend on a new thermostat yet your current thermostat is just working fine?

Well, the truth of the matter is that Smart thermostats can save you 20-25% of your monthly energy bills. This is not a marketing hype anymore; it’s something that has been proven beyond doubt. But hey, not every Smart thermostat will yield these results, so you need to be very selective when shopping.

Today, we want to discuss three critical questions that should be lingering on your mind when looking for the best Smart Thermostat.

  1. What are the installation and wiring requirements?
  2. Is it really efficient?
  3. How’s the programmability?

What are the installation and wiring requirements?

Smart thermostats may not be easy to use because they are wired to work with the HVAC system. There are two installation options available.

If you don’t have any wiring skills, or you are not sure of what’s supposed to be done, I suggest you get a professional installer. I’m sure you don’t want to gamble with your HVAC wiring system. If you are planning to have a professional install it, there is no need to be very selective when shopping. This is because the installer knows how to get the job done.

However, for handymen and DIY enthusiasts, you can choose to do the installation and wiring. Here, you need to be very careful with the system you go with. The best thing to do is to look out for a system compatible with C-Wire. This is an adaptation kit that lets you bypass the modification of the wiring system. Actually, with a C-Wire connection, installation is a snap!

Is it really efficient?

After you have ascertained the installation process and wiring requirements, the next important thing is the efficiency. Remember, the reason you want to upgrade to a Smart thermostat is to cut down energy bills by improving the efficiency of your HVAC system

The Smart thermostats market is flooded with authentic products as well as imitations and cheap knockoffs that don’t meet the efficiency standards expected. Like mentioned above, Smart thermostats can save you 20 – 25% of your monthly energy costs. But this is not always the case with all Smart thermostats. Some cheap knockoffs won’t even make a difference in terms of energy bills. They may just be convenient but will not meet the primary reason of having a Smart thermostat; energy savings.

But how do you spot a genuinely efficient Smart thermostat? Every brand will hype their thermostat, so this is not information you can rely on. I recommend reading reviews of customers who have used the Smart thermostat to know if it is truly efficient. Another thing that could help is sticking to these trusted brands. Ecobee3 and Ecobee4 is among the models that have really excelled as far as efficiency is concerned.

How’s the programmability?

The other important aspect you want to focus on is the programmability of the Smart Thermostat. Just like all other Smart devices, thermostats are programmable, but it’s the degree of intelligence that matters. Some models can be programmed to perform only the essential functions whereas some can be very intelligent.

But here’s one thing you need to note; the more programmability possibilities, the higher the price tag.

There have been a lot of divergent opinions regarding the necessity of programmability in Smart Thermostat. Here’s the thing, A Smart thermostat relies on the intelligence of its system to adjust accordingly with your environment. The more accurate it programs itself, the higher the energy savings. That said, you want to invest in a highly programmable Smart Thermostat.

In fact, there are some select models like Nest Learning that go further and adapt to your way of life. It knows when you are about to come home from work and adjusts to the setting that you have always been manually adjusting.

These are the most important factors to consider when buying a Smart Thermostat. But that’s not all.

You should also consider the brand you are buying. Make sure you go for the household names; the likes of Nest, Ecobee, Honeywell, and the rest. Also, consider its compatibility with Smart hubs like Wink, SmartThings, and Vera. This is another reason for choosing the top brands; they are compatible with many Smart integrations. Lastly, consider getting a Smart thermostat that allows for remote access. Here, there are several options; Smartphone App, Web App, e.t.c.

Final words

A Smart thermostat is quite an investment and nothing can be worse than ending up with the wrong thermostat. Make sure you ascertain its installation requirements, efficiency, and programmability. If you have been worried about the high energy bills because of your HVAC, a Smart thermostat is a worthy purchase.

Basically, you get to recoup the cost of the Smart thermostat from a year’s savings! For me, I’ve managed to save $145 in my first year. Considering I bought my Ecobee3 Lite for $150, I’m $5 short from getting my investment back.

5
Sep

Save big on networking and storage gear from SanDisk, TP-Link and more


A little bit of something for everyone.

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Amazon is back today with another killer one-day sale featuring a ton of networking and storage hardware and accessories from various big brands. These sales are some of our favorites since they contain so many different products and have a little bit of something for everyone. You’ll find discounted microSD cards, flash drives, and external hard drives, along with wireless routers, mesh Wi-Fi systems, network extenders, and more here, all at prices you won’t want to miss.

These items are from popular brands, like SanDisk, ASUS, Linksys, WD, TP-Link, and more. It’s trusted hardware at a big discount, how can you go wrong? Some of our favorites from the sale include:

Storage

  • Kingston 32GB microSD card – $7.49 (Was $20)
  • SanDisk 256GB microSD card – $62.99 (Was $80)
  • SanDisk Ultra Fit 128GB Flash Drive – $21.99 (Was $31)
  • WD 4TB Elements External Hard Drive – $79.99 (Was $130)
  • Kingston 240GB NVMe SSD – $44.99 (Was $70)

Networking

  • TP-Link AC750 Wi-Fi Range Extender – $18.99 (Was $30)
  • ASUS Dual-Band Gigabit Router – $44.99 (Was $70)
  • Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 Wi-Fi Router – $108.99 (Was $160)
  • TP-Link Deco Whole Home Mesh WiFi System (3-pack) – $159.99 (Was $230)
  • Netgear Orbi Mesh WiFi System (2-pack) – $399.99 (Was $500)

There are a bunch of other great deals as well that you’ll want to check out before this sale comes to an end tonight. Stock up at these prices, because they won’t be around for long.

See at Amazon

5
Sep

Rock out with the best headphones for your Galaxy Note 9


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Samsung includes a pair of AKG earbuds with every Galaxy Note 9, but if you’re looking for headphones that offer more depth and clarity, or are interested in going wireless, there are plenty of options available. The Sony WH1000XM2 in particular stands out for its excellent sound quality and comfort.

Top pick

Sony WH1000XM2

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The WH1000XM2 is one of the best headphones you can buy today. The noise cancellation is on par with the Bose QC35 II, but what makes Sony’s option stand out is the sound quality. The WH1000XM2 also provides a 30-hour battery life from a full charge, and it’s lightweight enough that you can wear it for extended periods without any discomfort.

$298 at Amazon

Truly wireless

Jabra Elite 65t

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Jabra’s Elite 65t is a great option if you’re looking to go the truly wireless route. The sound quality is great, you get a decent amount of noise isolation, and the earbuds provide a snug fit that ensures they don’t fall out even when you’re on the move. The Elite 65t is water resistant as well, and you get a 5-hour battery life.

$129 at Amazon

Best for workouts

Jaybird X4

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Jaybird built its name by offering great workout earbuds, and the X4 reinforce that belief. The X4 is waterproof with an IPX7 rating, and offers an 8-hour battery life. The bundled Comply tips conform to the contours of your ears, providing a secure fit. You also have the option to tailor the sound profile via custom EQ settings.

$129 at Amazon

Great wired option

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

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The ATH-M50x is a stalwart in this category. The headphones come with detachable cables and a collapsible design that makes them portable, and the large earpads ensure they’re comfortable to wear throughout the day. But if there’s one thing that defines the M50x, it’s the sound quality — the soundstage is expansive for a closed-back headphone, with powerful bass and bright highs.

$149 at Amazon

Best budget pick

Ghostek soDrop 2

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For under $100, the soDrop 2 comes with a lot of features. It has AptX connectivity, and the noise isolation works surprisingly well. The headset is also lightweight at 9oz (or 225g), and its design sets it apart from other options in this category. The soDrop 2 is a solid choice if you’re looking for a sub-$100 wireless headset with decent noise reduction and great sound quality.

$69 at Amazon

That’s a quick look at some of the headphone options available for the Galaxy Note 9. I’ve excluded most of the sub-$100 picks as the bundled AKG earbuds offer a similar level of sound quality as most $50 wired earbuds, and if you’re paying over a $1,000 for a phone, you’ll want something more premium.

For most people, that will be the Sony WH1000XM2. Sony has done a masterful job with the headphones, and the noise isolation makes them a particularly great option for everyday commuting or travel. The sound quality is exquisite, you get music playback controls on the right earcup, and the 30-hour battery life is more than adequate for even the lengthiest of plane rides.

5
Sep

Security Researcher Shows How Remote macOS Exploit Hoodwinks Safari Users With Custom URL Schemes


A security researcher has demonstrated how macOS users are vulnerable to remote infection through a malicious exploit involving the “Do you want to allow…” popup that can be encountered when visiting websites in Safari.

In a lengthy breakdown, Patrick Wardle explains how the exploit utilizes document handlers, which request permission to open a link or a file in another app – like a PDF in Preview, for example – and URL handlers, which work similarly in the way they notify macOS that they can accept certain file formats.

The exploit occurs when a user visits a malicious website and a ZIP file is downloaded and automatically unzipped by Safari, whereby the custom URL scheme is initially registered on the user’s filesystem.

Once the target visits our malicious website, we trigger the download of an archive (.zip) file that contains our malicious application. If the Mac user is using Safari, the archive will be automatically unzipped, as Apple thinks it’s wise to automatically open “safe” files. This fact is paramount, as it means the malicious application (vs. just a compressed zip archive) will now be on the user’s filesystem, which will trigger the registration of any custom URL scheme handlers! Thanks Apple!

In the next stage, the malicious web page runs code that can load or “browse” to the custom URL scheme, which causes macOS to activate the URL handler and launch the malicious application.

This action is enabled through the Safari user prompt that includes options to “Allow” or “Cancel” the process, however the popup text and available options are controlled by the attacker, and are therefore easily changed to trick or deceive the user.


The standard defenses built into macOS – Gatekeeper, for example – are said to be ineffective when it comes to the attack described above, and while Apple could always revoke the malicious app’s signature, that course of action would obviously be too late for anyone who had already gone ahead and launched it.

Until then, turning off automatic unzipping of “safe” files should be enough to prevent the malicious procedure from ever occurring. Concerned users can do so by clicking the Safari menu bar, selecting Preferences…, and under the General tab, unchecking Open “safe” files after downloading.

Tags: security, malware
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5
Sep

Hands on with the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro


While Xiaomi unveiled the Redmi 6 Pro in China in June this year, the company’s latest budget smartphone was launched in India today.

The budget and mid-range smartphone market in India is very crowded and Xiaomi has reveled in this chaos with a phone at every couple of thousand rupees – at certain points, more than one. With this launch, Xiaomi has nine Redmi phones (plus different memory variants of each device) in the market in India all under 15,000 rupees or about $200, along with non-Redmi devices like the Mi A2.

While the confusion to pick a device that fits one’s needs is a tad tedious, the wide choice for customers isn’t actually a bad thing. I spent a few days with the Redmi 6 Pro before the launch, and here are my initial impressions of the device.

Design

Redmi 6 Pro

The Redmi 6 Pro looks like, well, most other Redmi smartphones. Xiaomi has settled on this design language for a while, and although it has started to get boring, apparently, most users don’t mind. There’s no differentiation in design, but the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ approach works for the company and the aluminum body with rounded edges looks just fine.

The front is where one sees an aberration. The Redmi 6 Pro is the first Xiaomi smartphone with a notch on top of the display, although the company was one of the earliest ones to offer an all-screen bezel-less display with its premium Mi MIX series. You can hide the notch if you so prefer.

There’s a tall 5.84-inch Full HD+ display with a 19:9 aspect ratio with a pixel density of 432 pixels per inch. It’s a good display for a phone in this segment, but nothing exceptional.

Specifications


Redmi 6 Pro

The Redmi 6 Pro is powered by the Snapdragon 625 processor, Xiaomi’s staple ingredient for most of the devices that it cooks for this segment. A good balance of horsepower and efficiency on a budget makes it a fine choice, really.

The phone comes in two memory variants and packs in 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage or 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage which can be expanded up to 256GB with microSD card. It comes with 2+1 slots allowing you to use two nanoSIMs as well as a dedicated memory card.

The internals make for a fine combination for an affordable smartphone and packs in enough punch for most users. In the limited time I spent with the higher spec’d device, I didn’t encounter any wobbles or lags, and even extensive multitasking or multi-tabbed browsing was a breeze.

The Redmi 6 Pro boasts of a large 4000mAh battery – clearly one of the highlights of the device. We’ll get to the battery life and charging times in our complete review. There’s microUSB instead of USB Type-C which is a relic of the past that most affordable smartphones stick with even in 2018.

The Redmi 6 Pro runs MIUI 9.6 out of the box, the company’s proprietary UI layer over Android 8.1 Oreo. It will be soon upgraded to MIUI 10, which is also based on Android Oreo. No word on Android Pie though. There’s a fingerprint sensor at the back as well as Face Unlock feature.

Display 5.84-inch Full HD+ (2280 x 1080)
19:9 aspect ratio
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
Octa-core 2.0 GHz
GPU Adreno 506
RAM 3GB/4GB
Storage 32GB/64GB
Expandable up to 256GB with microSD card
Rear Camera 12MP (Sony IMX486) + 5MP
f/2.2 aperture
1.25µm pixel size
PDAF
Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS)
Front Camera 5MP
Battery 4000mAh
Software Android 8.1 Oreo with MIUI 9.6
Dimensions and weight 149.33 x 71.68 x 8.75mm; 178g

Camera

Redmi 6 Pro

The Redmi 6 Pro sports a vertically-mounted dual camera setup at the back. The primary camera is a 12MP f/2.2 sensor combined with a 5MP secondary sensor. There’s PDAF and the usual AI shenanigans too like the AI portrait mode. The Redmi 6 Pro comes with Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) as well.

This is the same setup we saw on the Redmi Note 5 Pro which arguably offers the best camera performance in the segment.

On the front, there’s a 5MP camera. The front camera too sports AI portrait and AI beauty modes.

Pricing and Availability

Priced at 10,999 rupees ($153) for the 3GB+32GB variant and 12,999 rupees for the 4GB+64GB variant ($180), the Redmi 6 Pro will be available exclusively on Amazon.in as well as on mi.com starting September 11 at 12 noon and subsequently at Mi Homes, Xiaomi’s own retail stores.

The Redmi 6 Pro will come in four color variants – Black, Blue, Gold, and Red – and it comes with a protective case bundled in the box.

What are your initial thoughts on the Redmi 6 Pro, and would you like to pick one up? Let us know in the comments. Stay tuned for our complete review!

5
Sep

Vivo V11 Pro review: well done basics with half-baked extras


Vivo has been making waves recently by adopting futuristic technologies ahead of anyone else. It’s at the forefront of the bezel-free display movement and was the first to put an under-glass fingerprint scanner in a device.

Just six months after the launch of the iPhone X-like Vivo V9, the V11 is now here, complete with an in-display fingerprint scanner and tiny teardrop notch. This is the Vivo V11 Pro review.


A Note on the Vivo V11 Pro review: In this Vivo V11 Pro review we’ll primarily be talking about the global version known as the V11. The V11 Pro in India is the same phone, just with 64GB of storage. I used the Vivo V11 for a week during IFA 2018 on the Blau.de network and Wi-Fi. The phone received multiple updates during the review period, but for the majority was running FunTouch OS 4.5 on Android 8.1 Oreo with build number PD1814F_EX_A_1.6.7. A final update to PD1814F_EX_A_1.7.2 arrived just before publication but didn’t deliver any significant changes.

Vivo V11 Design

Vivo V11 review - starry night gradient back plate
Vivo V11 review - home screen widget top bezel

To say the Vivo V11 has shaken off the V9’s iPhone X exterior would be an understatement. The tiny teardrop notch is unique and far less intrusive than the broad notch of the V9. The in-display fingerprint scanner delivers a little bit of the future and the gradient color on the back adds a touch of flair. The Vivo V11 is a really striking-looking device.

The tiny teardrop notch is unique and far less intrusive than the broad notch of the V9.

The starry night colorway I have shifts from a blueish purple at the bottom to an inky blue-black at the top. There’s a little bit of sparkle to the color at the bottom, shifting between blue when viewed front-on to purple at an angle. It’s a relatively superficial accent, but it definitely adds a little character. The other color option is called nebula and shifts from purple at the bottom to blue at the top.

Vivo V11 review - gradient closeup purple
Vivo V11 review - gradient closeup blue

Like its predecessor, the V11’s shiny polycarbonate back panel collects fingerprints very quickly. It’s quite a light device and feels a little cheap compared to the glass sandwiches common today. Nevertheless, plastic has many benefits, like impact resistance, cellular reception, and weight, so it’s far from a bad choice.

At 156 grams, the Vivo V11 is lightweight and durable, but expect micro-abrasions to start appearing almost immediately. The gradient design covers these imperfections admirably, but if you like a scratch-free phone put a protective case on it. Vivo includes a free clear plastic case in the box for just this reason. There’s a screen protector pre-applied too, but it was so prone to picking up scratches, I (perhaps counterintuitively) ended up taking it off.

Vivo V11 Display

Vivo V11 review - home screen

The Vivo V11 display is really good, making the jump to a Super AMOLED panel. With side bezels of just 1.76mm combined with a teardrop notch and a small chin, the 19.5:9 screen occupies 91.27 percent of the V11’s footprint. At 6.41 inches, the display is really big, but the V11 never feels like a large phone. It’s FullHD+ with a 2,340 x 1,080 resolution and a pixel density of 402ppi.

At 6.41 inches, the display is really big, but the V11 never feels like a large phone.

The colors are rich, the contrast is great, the blacks are suitably deep, and the V11 gets plenty bright enough outdoors. There is an always-on display option in the lock screen settings, and you should definitely take advantage of it now that the V11 uses OLED display technology. Because this is the global version, WhatsApp is now supported alongside phone and message notifications.

The small notch at the very top of the screen is discrete and far less invasive than other notches. Unfortunately, you can’t disguise it in the settings, so you’ll have to get used to it.

Vivo V11 review - teardrop notch

Despite the notch’s small size, you still get truncated app notification icons in the status bar. You can remove some icons in the settings, like the network speed indicator, but the order is all out of whack. If network speed and cellular reception were on the other side of the notch next to the Wi-Fi signal and battery icons, there’d be more room for notification icons on the left.

The in-display fingerprint scanner occupies a small space at the bottom of the screen and it does just fine. While it works most of the time, it’s noticeably slower than some other in-display scanners and far slower than your average capacitive scanner. You also need to give it a decent press to recognize your print. Still, the fact there’s an in-display fingerprint scanner on a mid-range smartphone already is a good sign of things to come.

Vivo V11 review - under-glass fingerprint scanner

Vivo has improved its infrared face unlocking too, using 1,024 facial feature points to unlock your device, even in the dark. In my experience, the V11 unlocks faster by using your face than your fingerprint. I highly doubt it’s as secure as a fingerprint, but it rejected the faces of multiple other people every time. It even works at fairly sharp angles, which adds to the convenience on the one hand and to my security suspicions on the other.

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Vivo V11 Hardware

Vivo V11 review - gradient back in hand

The Vivo V11 specs break the V9’s mold, adding a higher-powered Snapdragon 660 AIE with eight Kryo 260 cores and an Adreno 512 GPU, along with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The Indian “Pro” version drops the storage to 64GB.

The Vivo V11 adds the higher-powered Snapdragon 660 AIE along with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack here, but for a phone as futuristic-looking as the V11, the inclusion of micro-USB for charging beggars belief. One can only assume it was a cost-cutting decision, but on a near bezel-less phone with an under-glass fingerprint scanner, it’s a retrograde choice. Another cost-cutting omission worth mentioning is the lack of an IP rating.

There’s no NFC here either, though the V11 supports USB OTG and USB 2.0 connection speeds. There are two nano-SIM card trays and a dedicated microSD card slot for expandable storage. Bluetooth 5 is supported and you can switch out your preferred audio codec to SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, or LDAC if you’re using Bluetooth headphones.

Vivo V11 review - micro-USB speaker and headphone jack

There’s a single bottom-firing speaker next to the micro-USB port and it’s the only speaker used for music or media playback. It’s loud and actually sounds pretty good, with crisp, clear highs and decent mids, though bass isn’t as strong as I would like. So far so good.

Things get a little weird with the wide sliver of an earpiece speaker above the notch though. It’s so small you probably wouldn’t even notice it until you answered a call. But it’s so loud it sounds like you’ve got speakerphone on, broadcasting your call to everyone around you. The only way to address this is to lower the volume to the point where you really have to line things up right to hear properly.

Given the V11’s very loud earpiece speaker, it seems strange not to use it as one half of a stereo audio pair for music.

Going as close to bezel-free as possible requires some compromise and this speaker is still preferable to weird alternatives like the piezoelectric speakers we’ve seen elsewhere. I’m guessing Vivo didn’t use the Screen SoundCasting technology from the Nex for cost reasons, but given the V11’s very loud earpiece speaker, it seems strange not to use it as one half of a stereo audio pair for music.

Vivo V11 Performance

The Vivo V11 generally handled itself well throughout the testing period. With the Snapdragon 660 and 6GB of RAM, response rates were what you’d expect and on a par with other devices with similar specs. Plastic isn’t as good a transmitter of heat as glass or metal, but I didn’t notice the V11 heating up, even during benchmarking or gaming. Here are some benchmark scores so you can compare apples to apples.




Vivo V11 Software

Vivo V11 review - apps

Because I have a global version of the V11, I didn’t suffer any of the compatibility issues I had with the Chinese version of the Nex. Google Play is installed out of the box along with a bunch of standard Google apps, and Gmail notifications came through just fine. There are a couple dozen pre-installed Vivo apps to contend with, but some of them can be uninstalled.

Vivo’s FunTouch OS 4.5 sits atop Android 8.1 Oreo (no dates for the Pie update yet, sorry folks) and delivers a lot of additional functionality. It’s still a blatant iOS ripoff, but if you don’t mind that it’s manageable. Unfortunately, there’s still no option to enable the app drawer.




The V11 supports iOS-like gesture navigation that’s a little different from what was introduced in the Pie beta, but it’s pretty easy to adapt. On the V11, a swipe up from the bottom left takes you back a step. Swiping up from the center takes you home and swiping up and holding brings up the app overview screen. A swipe up from the right opens the control center and swiping down from the top of the screen drags down the notifications shade. It’ll be interesting to see if any of this changes with the update to Android 9.

Unfortunately, if you switch to gesture nav you’ll no longer have a convenient way to summon Google Assistant, which is otherwise accessed by long pressing the on-screen home button. You also can’t switch between apps as quickly as with virtual buttons, so the additional screen real estate gesture nav enables comes at the cost of some lost functionality.

Vivo V11 review - command center
Vivo V11 review - notifications
Vivo V11 review - app overview

The Jovi virtual assistant is back, but there’s no dedicated hardware button like on the Nex. Jovi largely seems relegated to managing your in-game interruptions in Game Mode and handling some AI camera tricks. I can only assume Jovi still doesn’t support English and primarily only works with Chinese retailers for visual product searches, hence those not being included on the global version. Fortunately, the V11 has g and Google Lens on board, so most Westerners will likely not even notice Jovi’s limited applicability.

Because the V11 is a global unit, switching launchers is simple and doesn’t require a Chinese phone number or a Vivo account. Simply download Nova Launcher (or another launcher), tap the alert at the top of the app and select Nova as your preferred launcher. If you do this, you might want to re-enable on-screen navigation buttons, as Nova clashes with some of the V11’s swipe gestures.

There’s a convenient app safe for protecting apps and files with your fingerprint or face ID, and you can duplicate social media and messaging apps for multiple logins. There’s a bunch of gesture-based controls here too, including silencing your phone and shaking it to turn on the flashlight and so on. You can also set your own shortcut for long-pressing the volume down button while the screen is off. I opted for launching the camera but you can choose from a few options.

Vivo V11 Battery

Vivo V11 review - gradient back plate

Vivo’s FunTouch OS doesn’t list screen-on time so I can’t give you the usual battery usage stats. I can tell you the 3,400mAh battery on the Vivo V11 lasts at least a day and more like a day and a half. Even during IFA 2018 when I was on my phone far more frequently than usual, it never looked even close to running out of juice. There’s an 18W 5V/2A-9V/2A quick charging brick included in the box and Vivo’s Dual Engine Fast Charging tech fills the V11 up in less than an hour and a half.

The 3,400mAh battery on the Vivo V11 lasts at least a day and more like a day and a half.

Vivo V11 Camera

Vivo V11 review - camera

I’m of two minds about the Vivo V11 camera. It performs well enough with the basics like daytime, low light, and high-contrast shots, but only in very specific conditions. The host of AI additions here are fairly unnecessary, often serving only to butcher an otherwise decent image. If you want a basic smartphone camera for pretty good shots in most conditions, the Vivo V11 is fine. If you want all the extra bells and whistles or need a versatile camera for a variety of tricky shots, this is not the phone for you.

The V11 camera performs well enough with the basics like daytime, low light, and high-contrast shots, but only in very specific conditions.

The main camera is a 12MP f/1.8 with 1.28-micron pixels backed up by a 5MP f/2.4 camera for portrait mode bokeh shots. In the main camera settings, you can switch to 24MP, making me think Vivo is using interpolation to bump resolution without adding any extra detail. However, an app like AIDA64 lists the primary camera as 24MP, so Vivo could be downsampling a 24MP image to 12MP. I’ll update this review if I get confirmation either way. On the front, there’s a 25MP f/2.0 camera.

I was really impressed by the HDR mode on the Vivo V11. It didn’t overdo the results, nicely balancing areas of deep shadow and brightness without giving it that telltale HDR look. In fact, the camera’s HDR was its biggest standout for me.


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Daytime shots are generally good but you’ll need to stick with the primary camera. The 25MP front-facing camera just adds too much noise to make the resulting photos worthwhile. I very quickly gave up on it for selfies because the shots it took were grainy and lacked sharpness. The 12MP camera captures a decent amount of detail so you can still get some good shots, but it can’t stack up to more expensive sensors.

Low light and night-time photography was a mixed bag. Given a static subject and sufficiently steady hands, the V11 can capture some good-looking images. Add a person or moving subject to the scene and the image is noticeably worse. Just take a look at the girl’s shoe in the foreground of the image below to see what I mean. The V11 doesn’t crush blacks as much as phones like the Huawei P20, so expect a lot of noise in the dark. Blown-out highlights in things like street lights were a problem at night too, which is a shame considering how well the V11 handles dynamic range in the daytime.

Panorama stitching is very spotty, with blurry stitching points and general fuzziness across the image. In all fairness I wouldn’t recommend using it. The same goes for basically all of the “AI” camera features. The lighting effects are pretty cheesy and not terribly well done. The monochrome background effect worked well, but the color added to faces in the foreground throws things off.

Background blur in portrait mode shots still looks too fake for me, and the edge detection is just as bad here as most phones, especially around hair. If you really like portrait mode shots, you’ll probably be able to live with it, but it’s far from convincing.

AI beauty modes have never been my cup of tea, and that hasn’t changed with the V11. However, they offer a huge range of reality-bending tweaks here, from the position and size of your nose and eyes, to the length of your chin, width of your face, and your skin tone. This software was developed with the Asian market in mind, where giving yourself cartoon-like features is popular. If you’ve ever wondered what you’d look like as a pink wax alien, the V11 will get you there. Used in restraint you can get some decent effects, but as with most beauty modes the skin smoothing is just far too heavy-handed for me.

The V11 is a capable shooter if your photography needs are fairly straightforward but the majority of the gimmicky extras aren’t done well.

Vivo V11 review - camera app

Vivo V11 review - AI beauty

The AI scene recognition wasn’t quite as full on as other phones, typically doing a good job subtly tweaking the settings just enough to enhance the image. In some cases, the V11 overdid things, like the yellow leaf in the gallery, which pops so much it makes my eyes hurt. You can disable the AI scene recognition in the settings. Because it usually takes a while to kick in, you can also take one shot before and another after the AI enhancements for comparison.

Video wasn’t great on the V11. The lack of image stabilization was very noticeable unless you were resting the phone on something. There’s support for slow-motion video and time-lapse, but no 4K.

When all is said and done, the Vivo V11 camera is far from great. It is a capable shooter if your photography needs are fairly straightforward. The vast majority of the gimmicky extras ladled on are not done well enough to be impressive, only serving to clog up the camera experience. I would’ve much preferred it if Vivo had just focused on improving the consistency of the basic smartphone camera requirements and left the rest out.

There are a lot more capable smartphone cameras in this segment, so if your main concern with a phone is its camera, you might want to shop around. However, I got several updates during the Vivo V11 review period, so camera performance could well improve in time.

Vivo V11 Specs

Display 6.41-inch Super AMOLED
2,340 x 1,080
19.5:9 aspect ratio
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
GPU Adreno 512
RAM 6GB
Storage 128GB
Expandable
Cameras Rear: Dual camera
Main: 12MP, f/1.8 aperture, 1.28 micron pixels, dual-pixel autofocus
Secondary: 5MP, f/2.4 aperture

Front: 25MP, f/2.0 aperture

Audio Headphone jack
Battery 3,400mAh
Non-removable
IP rating N/A
Sensors Accelerometer
Ambient light
Proximity
E-compass
In-display fingerprint
Connectivity MicroUSB
Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0
Software FunTouch OS 4.5
Android 8.1 Oreo
Dimensions and weight 157.91 x 75.08 x 7.9mm
156g
Colors starry night (black and blue)
nebula (blue and purple)

Vivo V11 Gallery

Pricing and Final Thoughts

While the Vivo V11 has a lot going for it, a lot of it seems superficial. It’s not that there’s no substance. The phone handles the basics really well. It looks great, with a great screen, good performance, and outstanding battery life. But its camera is sub-par, and at the equivalent of $365 – $440 depending on your market, it’s competing with alternatives sporting even better specs and cameras. Exact pricing for the V11’s markets will be revealed during the official launch in India on September 6.

Vivo’s software experience won’t be for everyone, and the use of micro-USB is a head-scratcher to be sure. The lack of an IP rating, NFC, and wireless charging will also disappoint many, although the inclusion of the 3.5mm headphone jack partially makes up for it.

The mid-range market has seen plenty of high-performance phones bringing flagship specs at lower prices lately. The Vivo V11’s problem is it attempts to bring so many high-end features that its price point simply can’t deliver the quality those features demand.

I’m not saying mid-range phones don’t deserve flagship features, but if the attempt falls short, I for one would prefer the basics done well with no extra gimmicks at all. The Vivo V11 bites off more than it can chew, but if it had taken a slightly smaller bite it would’ve ended up being much more fulfilling.

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