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Smartphones may help better predict flash floods

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Data from smartphones could be harnessed to forecast weather patterns that lead to flash floods and other natural disasters, according to a study. Smartphones measure raw data, such as atmospheric pressure, temperatures and humidity, to assess atmospheric conditions, said researchers from Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Israel. To understand how the smartphone sensors work, they placed four smartphones around TAU campus under controlled conditions.

The study, published in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, analysed the data to detect phenomena such as “atmospheric tides,” which are similar to ocean tides. The researchers also analysed data from a UK-based app called WeatherSignal. “The sensors in our smartphones are constantly monitoring our environment, including gravity, the earth’s magnetic field, atmospheric pressure, light levels, humidity, temperatures, sound levels and more,” said Professor Colin Price from TAU.

“Vital atmospheric data exists today on some 3 to 4 billion smartphones worldwide. This data can improve our ability to accurately forecast the weather and other natural disasters that are taking so many lives every year,” Price said. By 2020, there will be more than six billion smartphones in the world, researchers said.

“Compare this with the paltry 10,000 official weather stations that exist today. The amount of information we could be using to predict weather patterns, especially those that offer little to no warning, is staggering,” Price said.

“In Africa, for example, there are millions of phones but only very basic meteorological infrastructures. Analysing data from 10 phones may be of little use, but analysing data on millions of phones would be a game changer. Smartphones are getting cheaper, with better quality and more availability to people around the world,” he said. The same smartphones may be used to provide real-time weather alerts through a feedback loop, Price said. The public can provide atmospheric data to the “cloud” via a smartphone application. This data would then be processed into real-time forecasts and returned to the users with a forecast or a warning to those in danger zones.

The study may lead to better monitoring and predictions of hard-to-predict flash floods. “We’re observing a global increase in intense rainfall events and downpours, and some of these cause flash floods,” Price said. “The frequency of these intense floods is increasing. We can’t prevent these storms from happening, but soon we may be able to use the public’s smartphone data to generate better forecasts and give these forecasts back to the public in real time via their phones,” he said.


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Tech-Film

Xiaomi Redmi 6A Review: Best budget smartphone?

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Xiaomi has become one of the top selling brands in India and it has achieved this feat with the help of selling good devices priced aggressively for Indian customers. Redmi 6A is Xiaomi’s latest budget offering, which comes with a number of improvements over the previous generation Redmi 5A.

Redmi 6 and Redmi 6A are also among the first Xiaomi phones to launch with the MediaTek processor in a long time. Let’s find out if the new Xiaomi Redmi 6A is worth the upgrade.

Xiaomi Redmi 6A specifications: 5.45-inch HD+ 1440 x 720 resolution display | MediaTek Helio A22 processor | 2GB RAM +16GB internal storage/3GB RAM +32GB internal storage | expandable memory via dedicated microSD card slot (up to 256GB) | 13MP primary camera | 5MP secondary camera | 3,000mAh battery | MIUI 9.6 based on Android 8.1 Oreo

Xiaomi Redmi 6A price in India: Rs 6,599 (2GB RAM +16GB internal storage), Rs 7,499 (3GB RAM + 32GB internal storage)

Redmi 6A review

Xiaomi last year launched the Redmi 5A in India, which was one of the best smartphones consumers could have purchased under the budget of Rs 7,000. Still, Redmi 6A doesn’t feature looks that set it apart from other smartphones around the same price bracket.

The device has an 18:9 aspect ratio display with thin side bezels, a single camera setup on the back, a 3.5mm audio jack up top, and a microUSB port on the bottom edge. Redmi 6A comes with dual-SIM card capabilities and a separate slot for the microSD card. Redmi 6A is pretty light thanks to its plastic build, which some might like and others might not.

Xiaomi Redmi 6A Review: What’s good?
Redmi 6A sports a polycarbonate build but does not feel like any other budget phones around this price due to its metallic matte finish. The device is very easy to handle with one hand and sturdy enough to be able to handle a few accidental drops.

Redmi 6A’s display appears to be on par with other budget handsets that I have tested. Indoors, the display is crisp and vibrant. In the dark, the brightness levels can be turned down considerably, which is ideal for reducing eye strain.

Redmi 6A is one of the first smartphones to be powered by MediaTek’s new Helio A22 processor, which doesn’t disappoint as the device runs very smoothly even while performing demanding tasks. Playing light games like Shadow Fight 2 and Subway Surfer was a breeze for the device, however, when it came to heavy games like Asphalt 8 and PUBG Mobile, there were noticeable lag and frame drops. Considering the price I consider that the phone is well worth every penny in the performance department.

In well-lit conditions, the camera performed really well, the shots were sharp, colours vibrant and the images had a good amount of detail in them. The device also comes with an HDR mode, which is not common in budget smartphones. As for the front camera, the device can take decent daylight selfies. The images came out sharp and focused, however, the colours aren’t so accurate.

The device usually required around 2 hours 45 minutes to be completely charged from 0-100 per cent during our testing period. It did heat up a bit while charging.

During our testing, Xiaomi Redmi 6A was able to last a full day on a complete charge with average usage patterns like making and receiving calls, using social media apps and checking emails.

Xiaomi Redmi 6A Review: What’s not so good

Redmi 6A’s camera struggles in low-light. I found the shots taken with the camera to have very less detail and a lot of noise, which does make this seem like an upgrade over the previous generation phone. The low-light performance of the front camera is also a big disappointment, the shots taken had no detailing and were quite grainy.

The display does work well when indoors, however, when you take the device outside it is a completely different story. Even with the brightness notched up to its maximum, the display is a bit difficult to read, and on most occasions, I found myself covering the screen to use the device.

The auto brightness feature also feels to be a letdown, as it wasn’t as accurate as expected. I mostly ended up adjusting the brightness manually to suit the lighting conditions.

MIUI takes a bit of time to get used to for new users who haven’t ever used a Xiaomi smartphone before, due to multiple customisations and the absence of an app drawer. The device also has tons of bloatware, most of which cannot be uninstalled and hinders usability. However, this can be overcome with the help of a launcher app like Nova launcher or the POCO launcher.

Xiaomi Redmi 6A Review: Verdict

Redmi 6A is a capable smartphone for the price. At the price, it delivers on performance, specifications, and is a compact and easy to use smartphone. However, the phone does have its fair share of cons like low-light camera performance, no fingerprint sensor and using the smartphone outside under direct sunlight. For under Rs 7,000 this is not a bad option, though Realme C1 will give tough competition to the phone as well.

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This New Smartphone Comes With Two Display Notches

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Sharp Aquos R2 Compact smartphone has been launched in Japan. The handset tries to keep up with the trend of display notches, and goes one step further, by incorporating two notches -one waterdrop-shaped notch is on top of the display housing the camera sensor, while a slightly wider notch sits at the bottom, housing the fingerprint scanner. The Aquos R2 Compact packs the latest Snapdragon 845 SoC, offers 5.2-inch of display, 64GB of inbuilt storage, and is waterproof and dustproof as well.

Sharp Aquos R2 Compact price, design

Sharp hasn’t revealed what the pricing of the Aquos R2 Compact is going to be. The smartphone is going to be available through SoftBank in Japan from mid-January. As mentioned, the phone comes with two notches, unlike its predecessor which had a large chin at the bottom to house the fingerprint scanner. The smartphones sports an aluminium frame, power and volume buttons are situated on the right edge, and there’s a single camera setup at the front and back of the smartphone.

Sharp Aquos R2 Compact specifications

As for specifications, the Sharp Aquos R2 Compact features a 5.2-inch full-HD+ (1080×2280 pixels) display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and 2.5D tempered glass protection. It is powered by the Snapdragon 845 SoC paired with 4GB of RAM. Internal storage is at 64GB with microSD slot support for further expansion of up to 512GB.

Optics include a 22.6-megapixel rear with sensor with high speed autofocus, f/1.9 aperture, OIS, and electronic hand shake correction as well. At the front, there is an 8-megapixel sensor with f/2.2 aperture. The smartphone packs a 2,500mAh battery, and connectivity options include 4G VoLTE, GPS, GLONASS, Bluetooth v5.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, and USB Type-C port. The Sharp Aquos R2 Compact dimensions are at 131x64x9.3mm, and the smartphone weighs 135 grams. The smartphone supports both face unlock and fingerprint scanning.

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Huawei to bring AI Cinema feature to its Mate 20 series in India

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Huawei has announced that it will bring AI-powered real-time Cinema feature to its upcoming Mate 20 series in India. The feature will leverage AI processing capabilities and offer a 21:9 movie ratio on the latest Huawei flagship series, as per the company.

With the new AI-enabled Cinema feature, Huawei Mate 20 series will offer different pre-set like AI Colour, Fresh, Vintage, Suspense and Background Blur. The feature will also identify and “isolate” colours of a subject by desaturation the rest of the elements in the frame. Huawei says that the devices will support adjustment hue, saturation and brightness while recording videos.

Huawei Mate 20 series is all set to debut in India this month. Amazon India has already listed a Huawei Mate 20 Pro ‘Notify Me’ page indicating that the latest Huawei flagship might be available exclusively on the platform. Huawei Mate 20 Pro features Leica-branded triple rear camera setup arranged in a square shape at the centre. The triple camera setup comprises of a 40MP wide angle lens with a f/1.8 aperture, a 20MP ultra wide angle lens with f/2.2 and an 8MP 3x telephoto sensor with f/2.4 aperture and OIS. It has a 24MP camera up front.

The phone sports a 6.39-inch 2K+ curved OLED display with a resolution of 3120×1440 pixels. It is powered by Huawei’s high-end Kirin 980 processor that comes with dual NPU (neural processing unit). The phone offers 6GB of RAM and 128GB internal storage which expandable up to 256GB via Huawei’s new storage format nanoSD card. Huawei Mate 20 Pro runs EMUI based Android 9.0 Pie. It has a battery backup of 4200mAh. Huawei Mate 20 Pro was originally launched in London for a price of €1,049 (around Rs 89,155) for the 6GB RAM model.

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