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HTC U11 Life review: A great deal, except for the camera

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The HTC U11 ($649.00 at Amazon.com) Life is caught right in the middle of being a great deal and not quite worth your time. For a fraction of the price of the full-size and fully-powered U11, the smaller U11 Life has the same supple look in a beautiful blue body and the same squeezable sides as the U11 and Google Pixel 2 ($649.99 at Best Buy). Squeeze once to open an app and long-squeeze to open a second. It’s a little gimmicky and easy to forget it’s there, but if you start relying on it to open your favorite app, it can be a fast way to get to what you need.

Before we proceed, let me say that this review represents only the US version of the phone. The global version (at least the UK version) has a different operating system, RAM, storage and LTE bands. It also comes in black and white colors, in addition to blue.

This version of the U11 Life has some pretty good midrange specs, like a 16-megapixel front-facing camera, water resistance and a totally decent processor. There are some hardware and performance tradeoffs, sure, but that’s pretty much always the case with a midprice phone.

The U11 Life is likeable. It’s a nice phone to grab up and looks flashier than a lot of intermediate phones out there. But it’s not without its flaws, especially when it comes to the camera. Colors are bright and true-to-life, and photos looked sharp on the comparatively tiny screen. But when I viewed them on my laptop, they were so soft — either blurred or lacking detail on the edges and centers — that I figured the camera lens was smudged. It wasn’t. Photos will be just fine for sharing in a small format, like a text message or on Instagram or Facebook, but I wouldn’t plan on printing them in a photo book, calendar or gift mug.

Hold the U11 Life next to the Motorola Moto G5 Plus ($209.99 at Amazon.com) and the Life’s camera weakness becomes clearer. While the G5 Plus doesn’t hit color balance as faithfully, its 12-megapixel camera is more detailed; I compared 10 identical shots. The U11 Life does take notably sharper selfies from the front-facing camera, though, that make the G5 Plus’ look like mush.

When you match up the camera quality and price, the U11 Life doesn’t seem like such a slam dunk compared to the Moto G5 Plus. Pricing first, the U11 Life costs $349 from HTC.com, which converts to £263 and AU$456. T-Mobile will also sell the phone, but hasn’t yet announced its price yet. The Moto G5 Plus, meanwhile, costs $229 to $300 (32GB or 64GB), £249 and converts to AU$300 and AU$390 in Australia.



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LG G7 ThinQ Is Now Available In the US for $750

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LG waited longer than normal to announce its big 2018 flagship phone, but it finally took the wraps off the LG G7 ThinQ a few weeks ago. Today, the phone is available for purchase on most US carriers. While LG has had trouble competing with the likes of Samsung, it’s still targeting the same premium space. Although, it’s got an iPhone-style screen notch now. That’s what consumers want, right?

The LG G7 ThinQ is the epitome of all things 2018 in smartphone design. It has a glass back, dual cameras, and a display notch that isn’t done particularly well. The missing bit of screen provides a place for the camera, earpiece, and some other sensors. It does seem a little excessively large for how compact these components are, though. In addition, the G7 has a “chin” at the bottom with a larger bezel than the top and bottom. This asymmetric look isn’t as striking as the iPhone X it imitates. The 6.1-inch 1440p display is also an OLED, which lacks the vibrancy of modern OLED panels.

Inside, this phone has all the current flagship hardware you’d expect with a Snapdragon 845, 64GB of storage, and 4GB of RAM. Unlike many other current smartphones, the company has opted to keep the headphone jack for the G7 ThinQ. LG also touts the G7’s unique speaker design that uses the entire chassis as a resonator to boost sound output.

You may be wondering about the name — specifically the “ThinQ” bit. Well, that’s LG’s expanded brand for all its AI technologies. What that means for the G7 is that there’s an AI mode in the camera that looks for objects it can identify and offers possible filters. It’s not very accurate or useful, but LG didn’t even develop any AI software or hardware for this phone. It just licensed a machine vision library from a third-party.

The LG G7 ThinQ is available from all major carriers in the US except AT&T. Apparently, AT&T chose to sell the LG V35 instead of the G7. This marks the third variant of the V30 that LG has sold since it debuted last year. At other carriers, the G7 ThinQ will run you $750, give or take a few dollars. Carriers offer payment plans to split the cost over two years. It will launch on Google’s Project Fi soon, as well. If you don’t want to go through carriers, the phone is also available from Amazon.

 

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Google Doodle honors ‘Prince of Mathematicians’ Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss

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Maths is the latest to receive the Google Doodle homage.

Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss, otherwise known as “The Prince of Mathematicians”, made instrumental contributions to number theory, algebra, geophysics, mechanics and statistics.

Gauss was born on April 30 in 1777 in Brunswick, a city in the north of Germany, near Wolfsburg. Despite poor working-class parents and an illiterate mother, Gauss was a child prodigy, believed to have been able to add up every number from 1 to 100 at 8-years-old.

One of his first major equations was working out his date of birth, which his mother hadn’t recorded. He used the only information she had: that it was a Wednesday, eight days before an Easter holiday.

At university when he was 19, Gauss discovered a heptadecagon, or a 17-sided polygon. He requested that a regular heptadecagon be inscribed on his tombstone, but it was too difficult for the stonemason, who said it would just look like a circle.

513px-regular-polygon-17-annotated-svg
 A heptadecagon.

 


László Németh/Wikipedia

And remember your prime numbers? That year Gauss was involved with proving the prime number theorem, helping understand how prime numbers are distributed among the integers, or whole numbers.

Again the same year, a productive one for Gauss, he discovered the quadratic reciprocity law, which allows mathematicians to determine the solvability of any quadratic equation in modular arithmetic.

At 24, Gauss’ work on number theory, which he completed when he was 21, was published as a textbook. Not only did it involve his original work, but it reconciled that of other mathematicians. It would be considered his magnum opus and had an extraordinary impact on the field.

Oh, and add to those achievements a discovery in astronomy — in the same year, 1801, Gauss calculated the orbit of an asteroid called Ceres.

After a much-accomplished life, Gauss died aged 77 on Feb. 23, 1855.

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