Saturday coffee №63

Google has revealed the details of the new technologies used in its upcoming Google Pixel 4 smartphones. Thus, Pixel 4 will be the first device equipped with Soli radar, providing new Motion Sense capabilities ("Sense of movement"), allowing you to skip songs, snooze alarms and answer phone calls with just a wave of your hand. These features, as the developers assure us, are just the beginning, and the functionality of Motion Sense will evolve over time.

In general, the idea is so-so, a similar solution has already been implemented in the flagship LG smartphone, and there is also a similar function, for example, in BMW cars. From experience I can say that gesture control is not the most convenient and intuitive solution even in a car. Yes, when the hint pops up, you remember that you have this option available, Rapid Brand in Nigeria, but if they are not, then you simply forget about this possibility. And if gestures are at least somehow convenient in a car, since the media system is in one fixed position and is always, so to speak, at hand, then waving in front of a smartphone that constantly changes position will not be very convenient.

The company also disclosed data about its FaceID counterpart. Google says that many phones require users to lift the device all the way up, position it in a certain way, wait for it to unlock, and then swipe to go to the home screen. The Pixel 4, on the other hand, will do things more rationally: When the user is within range of the Soli, the Pixel 4 will pre-activate the face unlock sensors, assuming the user can unlock their phone. If the face unlock sensors and algorithms recognize its owner, the phone will open to them when the user picks up the phone, all in one swipe. What's more, face unlock works in almost any orientation - even if you hold your smartphone upside down. This allows it to be used for secure payments and app authentication.

Google claims that Face Unlock uses face recognition technology that is processed on the device itself, so image data never leaves the smartphone. The images used for face unlock are never saved or shared with other Google services. To protect the privacy and security of users, their personal data is stored securely in a dedicated Pixel Titan M security chip. Similarly, Soli sensor data is processed on the smartphone itself, and it is never stored or shared with other Google services.

For some reason, I'm not very sure about the advantages of face unlock over a fingerprint scanner. Although, of course, we must wait for the release of Pixel 4 and see how convenient this technology will be implemented in it.

Meizu everyone?

Meizu is facing a deep crisis and is forced to take drastic measures to cut its own costs. According to sources in China, Meizu is laying off hundreds of employees. According to unofficial information, in 2019 it is planned to reduce up to 30% of all staff, mainly from the marketing division. First of all, we are talking about employees of the company's own stores. Points of sale are closed, and all employees are fired. It is not yet known whether the company's own retail will survive this cost optimization. But not only ordinary sellers and marketers quit. Vice President Li Nan and Systems Engineer Hong Hansheng left the company. At the same time, the manufacturer has plans for future development, including the release of 5G smartphones. But if in 2016 it had 2,700 stores in China, now each of the 23 provinces has only 5-6 points of its own sales. It is quite possible that something similar will soon befall the company's product range.

In my opinion, Meizu is heading towards its decline and it will no longer be possible to save it. Despite the fact that the manufacturer had interesting products, they still did not stand out with something special, so most likely no one in the market will buy out the company in order to subsequently revive the brand.

Here, perhaps, it is worth remembering one of the latest Meizu 16S smartphones, a review of which was recently published on our website. Do you think it would be worth saving the company for the sake of such devices?

Second quarter in the smartphone market according to Strategy Analytics

The analytical agency Strategy Analytics has published its vision of the smartphone market based on the results of the second quarter of 2019. The market continues to experience a slight decline. In annual comparison, sales decreased by 3% to 341 million devices from 350.4 million devices a year earlier. However, this decline is the smallest in recent years. The agency believes that the market is gradually stabilizing due to increased demand in China. In the second half of the year, the situation is also expected to improve, although there is no growth forecast yet. Samsung remains the market leader, shipping 76.3 million units in the quarter versus 71.5 million units a year earlier. The growth was 7%. The market share at the same time increased to 22%, which was achieved due to the segment of devices of the middle price range. The price paid for the increase in sales was predictable - with the growth of sales, the margin fell. Approximately similar figures are shown by Huawei.Its market share increased from 15 percent to 17 percent, and sales increased from 54.2 million devices to 58.7 million devices, or 8%. At the same time, the main sales fell on the domestic market, while deliveries to the markets of Western countries were somewhat reduced due to political problems. In third place is Apple, which occupied 11.1% of the market. But it also became the only one in the top five who, following the results of the quarter, reduced its share. In the second quarter of 2018, the figures were at the level of 11.8% with shipments of 41.3 million devices. Now only 38 million were delivered. A drop of 12% at once. Xiaomi and Oppo have maintained their market share at the same level, although Oppo's shipments have dipped somewhat. There is only one reason - Huawei's pressure on competitors in the Chinese market is increasing, and sales in India and Western Europe for Chinese companies cannot compensate for losses in the home market.

The global data provided by Strategy Analytics can be transferred to the Russian smartphone market, leaving only OPPO out of the top five, whose devices are not as popular with us as in China and India. Our market is dominated by Samsung, which increased its position in the second quarter after the release of the successful M-series. Next in line is Huawei/Honor, which was the leader in the first quarter, but due to US sanctions and the looming threat of being left without Android, the company sank in sales. The third place is occupied by Apple, yet the iPhone is loved and bought from us, even despite the high cost of the product. The Chinese company Xiaomi closes the lead, which could increase sales, but is experiencing interruptions in the supply of the most popular models of its smartphones, and it is also very hindered by the gray market, which eats up a significant part of sales.

By the way, if we are talking about the leaders of the smartphone market, then this week we have released a full review of the new Samsung Galaxy A70 smartphone:

And also an article in which Eldar Murtazin explained why Apple bought the modem development division from Intel:

When nobody needs you

The Russian TV store Shop&Show has begun accepting orders for a new smartphone from the Taiwanese company HTC - Wildfire E, which has not been officially presented by it before. The model belongs to the entry-level devices and is offered in the store on the couch for 8,999 rubles. HTC Wildfire E has the following specs:

  • Support for communication standards: 4G/LTE; 3G/WCDMA; GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz; two slots for SIM cards
  • Dimensions: 71.4 x 147.8 x 8.9 mm
  • Weight: 160 g
  • Platform: Android 9.0 Pie
  • Processor: 1.6GHz 8-core Unisoc Cortex-A55
  • Display: 5.45-inch, IPS, resolution 1440x720 pixels
  • Dual main camera: 13 MP + 2 MP, LED light
  • Front camera: 5 MP
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM, 32 GB ROM; slot for microSD memory cards
  • Communications: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth v4.2, micro USB, GPS/A-GPS/GLONASS/Beidou, 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Battery: 3000 mAh
  • Other: fingerprint scanner, accelerometer, proximity and light sensors, electronic compass

Of course, it's a pity to look at one of the former market leaders, who now drags out such a miserable existence that he is forced to display his products in a TV store. And, of course, the presented novelty is not at all interesting either in design or in its specifications - it is an ordinary walk-through model, which has a lot of more interesting competitors in this price range.

If you remember the former market leaders, then we have published an interesting material on our website dedicated to the history of the MeeGo OS, developed by the old Finnish Nokia, read:

And also a detailed review of the Motorola Z4 smartphone:

MediaTek introduced processors for gaming smartphones

Taiwanese company MediaTek today announced the release of its new Helio G90 series chipsets, which is represented by two new processors - Helio G90 and G90T, specially designed for gaming smartphones. The Helio G90 series combines the latest graphics and CPU cores with ultra-fast memory and high-performance AI module to deliver fast and smooth operation. And for even more gaming power, the MediaTek Helio G90 series is equipped with MediaTek HyperEngine gaming technology, which tunes the user's smartphone for maximum gaming experience.

The new MediaTek Helio G90 octa-core processor series uses the Arm Cortex-A76 and Cortex-A55 processor architecture, as well as the Arm Mali-based G76 3EEMC4 graphics core, running at up to 800 MHz. The combination of CPU, GPU and APU delivers up to 1 TMAC (Tera-multiply-accumulate) performance.

Of course, it is interesting to see how successful the new processors from the Taiwanese company will be, but somehow major smartphone manufacturers are somehow in no hurry to present their new products based on these chipsets. But, probably, it is worth waiting for IFA 2019 - maybe the first smartphones based on MediaTek Helio G90 will be shown there and it will be possible to evaluate the performance of these solutions in games.

A week with Marshall Stockwell ll

The English company Marshall, founded by Jim Marshall in 1962, became famous for its amplifiers, which gained fame among guitarists. Now the company not only produces professional audio equipment, but also offers its own acoustic solutions for ordinary consumers. Today we will talk about the Marshall Stockwell ll portable speaker, which appeared on the market not so long ago.

The first generation Marshall Stockwell was made in a retro style in the form of a miniature guitar amplifier, but, apparently, this decision was not very popular with the buyers, since the new generation of the speaker was completely redrawn by the designers. The Stockwell ll has been given a square shape, the design has moved away from retro and become more in the spirit of the times, but at the same time, of course, Marshall tried to keep its signature elements. So, the speakers are covered with a metal mesh, on which the recognizable company logo flaunts, the branded “twist” controls remained in place, but became a little more, so to speak, elegant, plus a comfortable leather strap was added with which you can transport the speaker. The body of the speaker is made of silicone material, which not only looks good and feels good, but also prevents damage to the inside of the speaker in the event of an impact. Yes, the speaker is IPX4 waterproof, so don't worry if it gets caught in the rain.

The Stockwell ll has two 5 watt tweeters and a 10 watt woofer inside. With branded knobs, you can adjust the sound volume, bass and treble. By the way, the handles are made very cool and high quality, they are a pleasure to use. The sound, in my opinion, is very interesting for a small portable speaker, although here, of course, everyone should listen to the sound before buying. The model will easily pump even a large room in an apartment, and on the street its volume is enough with a margin. The manufacturer talks about omnidirectional sound, that is, it doesn’t matter which side the speaker is turned towards you, but still the sound is much better and richer when Stockwell ll is turned to face you. Connection to the speaker is carried out either the old fashioned way, by wire, or via Bluetooth, the latest new version 5.0 with aptX support and the ability to connect multiple devices.

The manufacturer does not name the battery capacity, but judging by the weight (1.38 kg) and the operating time, it is at least 10,000 mAh. More than 20 hours of continuous sound is claimed from a single battery charge, and I can only agree with this, since the column works for a very long time. It also says that a 20-minute battery charge will give you 6 hours of music playback. The Type-C connector is used for charging, and, by the way, when you connect, for example, a smartphone to it, you can charge the latter from the speaker, so that, in addition to music, you will always have such an external battery at hand. The only pity is that Marshall Stockwell ll comes with a Type-C - USB A cable, it would be more logical in this case to put a Type-C - Type-C wire.

Well, the Marshall Stockwell ll portable speaker turned out to be very stylish, it will fit into any interior and will always delight with its design. She has a good sound, although I consider this parameter to be individual, but I don’t think that in the age of streaming services she will greatly disappoint someone in this parameter. It works for a long time on a single charge, and even can charge devices. Also, Stockwell ll has a high-quality assembly, very good materials, and do not forget about moisture protection. But with a bunch of pluses, the new Marshall Stockwell ll portable speaker still has one, but a significant drawback, it costs 18,990 rubles in Russian retail. I see a more appropriate price for this device in the region of 15,000 rubles, almost 20,000 rubles for a good, but still portable speaker - this is a bit too much.

I think this column would be perfect for the article "10 gadgets of my dreams" that we published this week:

Yes, and last week we had a more detailed material on Marshall Stockwell ll, read it if you missed it: