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printed October 19, 2017
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IFA 2017

IFA is Europe's big annual gadget show, and it increasingly plays host for new phone announcements. We're expecting news from LG, Samsung, Sony, Motorola, Huawei, and more. We're in Berlin all week bringing you in-depth hands-on reports.

 

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LG Announces the V30 Flagship with FullVision Display and Floating Info Bar

Aug 31, 2017, 2:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 31, 2017, 3:08 AM

LG today fully revealed the V30, a phone it has been teasing in bits and pieces over the last few weeks. This flagship-class handset has a metal frame and glass front and rear panels. The V30 does away with the secondary display that adorned the front of the V10 and V20. In its place, LG created what it calls the Floating Bar, a semi-transparent strip that gives V30 owners access to frequently used functions, such as contacts and settings. The phone is among the first to use a plastic OLED FullVision display, though it is protected by Gorilla Glass 5. The 6-inch panel has 2,880 by 1,440 pixels, or a 2:1 (18:9) aspect ratio, and nearly non-existent side bezels. LG reduced the phone's upper and lower bezels by 20% and 50%, respectively, when compared to the V20. The phone makes use of an f/1.6 aperture camera at 16 megapixels, a first according to LG. The f/1.6 lens allows 25% more light to reach the sensor when compared to an f/1.8 lens. Further, LG is adopting what it calls a Crystal Clear Lens that's made of glass, rather than plastic. The glass permits more light to travel through it, while also allowing for better color reproduction. Like the V20 and G6, the V30 has a dual camera array with one wide-angle lens and one standard-angle lens with optical image stabilization, laser autofocus, and electronic image stabilization. The secondary lens has a 13-megapixel resolution at f/1.9 and 120-degree field of view. The phone has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor at its core with 4 GB of memory and 64 GB of storage (the V30+ jumps to 128 GB of storage). Other specs include a 3,400mAh battery with wireless charging and an IP68 rating for protection from water and dust. The Always On Display is more customizable than before and includes shortcuts to Quick Tools, the music player, and even photos. Additional software features baked into LG UX 6.0 include Face Recognition that LG says unlocks the phone instantly even when the display is off. Voice Recognition now uses a combination of the user's voice and self-generated keywords to unlock the phone without any button presses. The V30's camera gains access to Graphy, a tool for applying professional-looking styles to photos and V30 owners will be able to create GIFs or movies by pasting together photos and/or video files. Last, LG said the V30 adopts a 32-bit advanced hi-fi quad DAC from ESS Technology, which reproduces music as close to the original source as possible. It includes high-resolution audio streaming thanks to technology from MQA Ltd. On the recording front, the V30's HD Audio Recorder can use the handset's audio receiver as a microphone. LG says this lets the phone record a wider dynamic range of sound, "from a whisper to a thunderstorm," without distortion. The LG V30 will go on sale in Korea starting September 21 with other markets, including North America, to follow soon thereafter. Pricing was not immediately disclosed.


Samsung Refreshes Gear IconX Headphones with Better Battery Life

Aug 30, 2017, 11:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 30, 2017, 11:42 AM

Samsung today announced the Gear IconX 2018 wireless earbuds. These Bluetooth headphones are separate buds that come in a charging case. The new model resembles the previous generation but makes dramatic improvements to battery life. Where the originals had just 1.5 hours of playback time per charge, the IconX 2018 offers up to 4 hours of talk time and 5 hours of music streaming. The charging case can replenish the earbuds once, and supports rapid charging to deliver an hour of play time after just 10 minutes. The earbuds include personal coaching (via mobile app) that can help track and guide owners through workouts. The buds can store about 500 songs thanks to 4 GB of storage. Users control volume and other actions via capacitive buttons placed on the outside of each bud. The IconX supports Samsung's Bixby voice assistant (or Google Assistant and/or Alexa) based on user preferences. The IconX will go on sale later this year. Pricing wasn't disclosed. They come in gray, black, and pink.


LG Promises the V30 Will 'Delight Ears Everywhere' with New Hi-Fi Powers

Aug 28, 2017, 7:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today said its forthcoming V30 flagship handset will be its most advanced device yet when it comes to audio reproduction and recording. To start, the phone adopts a 32-bit advanced hi-fi quad DAC from ESS Technology. It builds on LG's original hi-fi quad DAC, which reproduces music as close to the original source as possible. The ESS Sabre ES9218P audio processor introduces digital filters and sound presets. According to LG, the digital filters improve the pre- and post-ringing of the impulse response in such a way that they can be easily customized by end users. This works hand in hand with the new pre-programmed presets (enhanced, detailed, live, and bass), allowing even inexpensive headphones to reproduce high-quality music. Moreover, the hi-fi quad DAC manages the left and right audio signals separately, dynamically adjusting balance to ensure listeners remain centered. The new DAC cuts the distortion rate down to 0.0002%, meaning it reproduces the cleanest and most accurate signal possible. Last, the V30 introduces high-resolution audio streaming thanks to technology from MQA Ltd. LG says its advanced hi-fi quad DAC and MQA tech will work together to bring the best sound to music streamed from sources such as Spotify and Google Play Music. On the recording front, the V30's HD Audio Recorder can use the handset's audio receiver as a microphone (Receiver-as-a-Mic or RAM). LG says this lets the phone record a wider dynamic range of sound, "from a whisper to a thunderstorm," without distortion. LG is expected to announce the V30 on August 31 during the IFA trade show in Berlin.


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