Xiaomi Likely Introducing New Lanmi Sub-brand with New Lanmi X1 Smartphone

There are plenty of reports saying that Xiaomi will be unveiling a new sub-brand soon to take on Oppo and vivo, and a recent report from China claims that the upcoming brand will be called “Lanmi,” which translates to blue rice. More interestingly, the first device to be launched under the sub-brand is reportedly the Lanmi X1, which seems to be a rather capable mid-range smartphone.
According to GizmoChina, which is sourcing a popular Chinese tech blogger, the Lanmi X1 will be powered by the very capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chipset. Interestingly, there are said to be two main variants of the phone too. One variant of the X1 will reportedly come with a 5.5-inch 2160 x 1080 display, a dual-camera system, as well as a rear fingerprint sensor.
Alleged leak image of the Lanmi X1.
Another model of the X1, on the other hand, will feature similar specifications, but it will instead have a front-facing fingerprint sensor. Both variants of the X1 can be configured with up to 128GB of internal storage and 6GB of RAM.
If these information are accurate, it’s likely the Xiaomi Lamni series will be positioned between the high-end Mi devices and the more budget-friendly Redmi lineup. Of course, until Xiaomi itself confirm the existence of the Lamni sub-brand – and the Lamni X1 – take these unofficial details with a grain of salt.
(Source: GizmoChina)
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Sony Xperia X Receives RM600 Price Cut; Xperia XA1 & XA1 Ultra Get Extended Warranty

The Sony Xperia X has been in the Malaysian market for a good year now, so it’s not surprising to see that Sony Malaysia is giving the mid-range device a price cut. Retailing at RM600 less, the Xperia X has a much more reasonable price tag now, though it still doesn’t exactly offer the best value for money.
Originally retailing at RM2,199 – after a price cut back in September last year – the Xperia X now goes for RM1,599. While this is definitely a much more compelling price tag, it’s still a one-year-old smartphone.

However, for RM1,599, the Xperia X is a decent buy. It features a 5-inch 1080p IPS display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 chipset paired with 3GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, a 23MP rear camera with Predictive Hybrid Autofocus, a 13MP front-facing shooter, and a 2,620mAh battery.
Aside from the Xperia X, the Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra also receive a pretty interesting offer. According to Sony Malaysia, both devices will now receive an additional one-year warranty worth RM160.

The RM600 rebate for the Sony Xperia X will be available until 30 July 2017. However, it’s not mentioned if the extended warranty for the Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra is a limited-time offer. If you’d like to get your hands on any of these devices, you can do so on Sony Malaysia’s online store.
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Tencent To Offer WeChat Pay In Malaysia

Tencent Holdings Ltd is looking to expand its wildly successful WeChat Pay service to Malaysia. The company has applied for a license to offer local payment services in the country, allowing users to transact in Ringgit on the platform.
WeChat Pay is yet another electronic payment service that allows users to pay for goods and services. It essentially works like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay; requiring the user to input a credit or debit card to get started.
Tencent’s platform does far more things in its homeland of China, where the service is also used to pay bills and transfer funds between people. It’s unknown how much of this integration will be present in Malaysia, but there should at least be the option for fund transfers presence.
WeChat is one of the more popular instant messaging platforms in Malaysia, especially among the Chinese and Malay communities. The latter of which has managed to create an entirely new form of lingual shorthand known as “wicet”.
This expansion isn’t the only news coming from Tencent this week. The company has also announced a partnership with US startup Stripe to allow merchants around the world to accept payments from WeChat. Essentially taking WeChat Pay’s reach to the global scale and allowing it to directly compete with other platforms.
It’s not difficult to see why WeChat is confident about expanding its payment services. Users of the platform are already used to spending money on it, since Tencent’s WeChat profit largely comes from value added services.
[Source: Reuters]
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Facebook Begins Testing Messenger Inbox Ads

Facebook is expanding the reach of its advertisements by putting them between chat threads. It’s being rolled out for a handful of users at the moment, but the goal is to eventually launch the campaign globally.
The idea is that advertisers will be able to buy space between chats in Messenger, providing more revenue for Facebook. These ads won’t actually be appearing in the chats themselves; rather, they take up space between the threads in the Messenger home screen. That said, the preview images already look very intrusive.
These ads will not be targeted by what people write in the chat. Instead they will be based on the Facebook’s own algorithm and displayed based on screen size.
Facebook also hopes to get these ads integrated with Messenger’s payment system. Allowing people to buy things directly from the Messenger app. While the M AI assistant provides recommendations should the user mention wanting to buy something in a chat.
The down side is that there is no way of turning off these ads; and there is no blocker for Messenger. People will just have to eventually get used to seeing advertisements all over the place; although Facebook has proven that people can get used to anything.
[Source: Techcrunch]
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Microsoft Officially Ends Support For Windows Phone 8.1

Microsoft has brought an end to the Windows Phone era. The Windows Phone 8.1 is no longer supported, and will not be seeing any patches or updates as of 11 July 2017. It’s a sad thing to see the operating system reach the end of its life cycle; but it’s even more confusing as Microsoft doesn’t seem to have a clear plan going forward.
Windows Phone 8.1 was developed to replace Windows Phone 7; which was an adequate mobile operating system. WP 8.1 brought about improvements that won many fans and was helped along by a string of fantastic devices in the Nokia Lumia family. That said, it failed to find financial success in a world ruled by Android and iOS.
At the moment, Microsoft still has a mobile operating system in Windows 10 Mobile. Although one would be forgiven for failing to remember that it exists. There are precious few devices running the OS, and Microsoft tends to avoid talking about it.
Microsoft’s official statement is that it still has designs for Windows 10 Mobile, despite having completely gutted the division working on it. It’s conceivable that the company is still working on a new smartphone, as rumours of a Surface Phone appear every time a developer conference happens.
[Source: Microsoft]
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This Is Likely the 2017 Pixel XL: Almost Bezel-less Display, Squeezable Frame

The next Google Pixel devices are not expected to be unveiled until much later this year, but a recent leak may have just given us a very first look at the 2017 Pixel XL. Believed to be packing an almost bezel-less display and a more refined design, the Pixel XL’s successor is quite the looker.
This new information comes from Android Police, which has a good track record with early leaks of Nexus – and more recently, Pixel – devices. However, the site also notes that there’s a chance the early leak isn’t the finalised design of the new Pixel XL, though Android Police is still “exceptionally confident that this image represents the overall look and feel of Google’s new smartphone.”

Nonetheless, the image does show that the 2017 Pixel XL – or the Pixel 2 XL – will sport a modern design. Said to be built by LG this time around, the new Pixel XL is believed to feature a similar 6-inch 18:9 AMOLED display as the LG G6 with minimal bezels, a squeezable frame like the HTC U11 (yet HTC isn’t said to be producing the new phone), and a single rear camera; no dual-camera system here.
The 2016 Google Pixel.
If Android Police’s information is accurate, the next Google Pixel XL will be a very interesting flagship smartphone. More importantly, it will be similar in design to sleek-looking phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8+ and LG G6 too. The next Pixel devices are expected to be unveiled by Google sometime in October this year.
(Source: Android Police)
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Hot Gadgets Offers Free Smartphone For Selected AKG, JBL, and Harman Kardon Products

It is common to see smartphone manufacturers offer free headphones or audio products to customers but not the other way around. However, that is exactly what Hot Gadgets Distribution is doing right now by offering free smartphones for selected AKG, JBL, and Harman Kardon audio products.
There is one big catch though: the offer is only available at the company’s on-going roadshow in Mid Valley Megamall that will end on this coming Sunday, 16 July. Nevertheless, here is the list of products that are involved in the promo:
– AKG Y55: free BLU Grand M– Harman Kardon Soho BT: free BLU Energy Diamond– Harman Kardon Esquire Mini: free BLU Diamond M or Vivo 5 Mini– JBL Everest V300 BT: free BLU Grand M– JBL Everest V3000NXT: free BLU Vivo XL 2– JBL Everest V700NXT: free BLU Vivo 5R.
Not to forget, Hot Gadgets is also offering free Casio LRW 200H watch for customers that purchased AKG Y40, N20, or N20U at the its roadshow. Additionally, we were also informed by the company that it will be announcing more deals during the official launch of JBL Extraordinary Sound Experiences Fun Run also at its roadshow’s venue tomorrow.
The exact location of Hot Gadgets Distribution’s on-going roadshow at Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur.
Alternatively, customers are also able their hands on free BLU Grand M smartphone by pre-ordering JBL Flip 4 portable Bluetooth speaker at Thunder Match outlets. Given how Hot Gadgets is the distributor for AKG, JBL, Harman Kardon, and BLU smartphones in Malaysia, it is not surprising that the company is able to deliver all the offers above.
Meanwhile, do head on to the Facebook page of Hot Gadgets Distribution and Thunder Match if you require more information.
(Source: Hot Gadgets, Thunder Match)
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AMD Says Its CPUs Are Also Efficient For Monero Cryptocurrency Mining

AMD’s Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 processors are apparently quite efficient when it comes to digital currency mining – according to AMD. But hold your horses fellow miners: AMD isn’t talking about mining for Ethereum and Bitcoin; the red company is instead, talking about mining Moreno (XMR).
For those who aren’t aware: Moreno (XMR) a form of cryptocurrency that is based off of the CryptoNote protocol. Some of the advantages of Moreno is the fact that it comes with no ASIC design and it’s highly optimised to be used with both CPUs and GPUs. Moreno is currently valued at about US$37 (around RM158) for one XMR.

That aside, AMD has provided a graph that highlights its Ryzen CPU performance when it comes to mining for Moreno. The company’s Radeon RX 470 graphics card is capable of achieving 699H/sec. In comparison, the high-end Ryzen 7 1800X was able to obtain 549H/sec, which is not far off compared to the GPU. Do keep in mind that Ryzen CPUs feature lower TDP ratings compared to Radeon GPUs.
Separately, AMD has also mentioned that its latest Crimson 17.5.2 driver now features support for a six GPU configuration and higher. Do head on over to AMD’s official website to get the latest graphics driver.
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Oppo R11 & R11 Plus Hands On: Sleek, Solid Smartphones

Despite not having any new flagship-tier smartphone in its catalogue for quite some time now, Oppo is a pretty big player here in Malaysia. Unlike most companies, Oppo focuses quite a bit on the mid-range segment, which is a pretty unique approach. Evidently, Oppo is doing something right with its range of mid-range smartphones.
Back when we were at MWC Shanghai 2017, we managed to spend some time with the new Oppo R11 and R11 Plus. Although these two smartphones are “merely” mid-range offerings, they feel very much like flagship devices; especially in terms of refinement.

First, specifications. Aside from display size, RAM and battery capacities, the R11 and R11 Plus are identical. Both devices come with Full HD displays, Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chipsets, 64GB of expandable storage, 20MP + 16MP rear cameras – similar to the ones found on the OnePlus 5 – 20MP front-facing shooters, as well as metal builds.
As for the differences between the two devices, the R11 comes with a 5.5-inch display, while the R11 Plus packs a bigger 6-inch display. In addition to that, the R11 comes with 4GB of RAM and a 3,000mAh battery too. The R11 Plus, on the other hand, features more RAM at 6GB and a bigger 4,000mAh cell.

Now that we’ve got specifications out of the way, let’s get to the design of the R11 and R11 Plus. Of course, we have to address the elephant in the room: these two devices look a lot like the iPhone 7 Plus. In fact, their back design is very similar to the OnePlus 5 too. However, despite these similarities, there are subtle differences – take the antenna lines’ design, for one.
In terms of ergonomics, the curved backs of the R11 and R11 Plus make them pretty comfortable devices to use for long periods of time, but the latter is definitely much more pleasant to hold. See, as the R11 Plus is larger, its sides aren’t as thin as the R11, which makes for a more ergonomically-sound device. Really, the R11’s tapered sides just feel too thin to hold comfortably.

The Oppo R11 (top) and R11 Plus.
Build quality is also one of the most impressive aspects of the R11 and R11 Plus. It feels solid, well-built, and quite premium. If Oppo had put in a Snapdragon 835 chipset into these two devices – not that the Snapdragon 660 SoC powering them is inadequate by any means – the R11 and R11 Plus can easily pass off as flagship smartphones.
Speaking of chipsets, performance isn’t an issue at all with the R11 devices. They feel fast and zippy, apps open quickly, and there’s no noticeable lag or stuttering. This doesn’t come at a surprise, of course: the Snapdragon 660 chipset is a very capable SoC.

The R11 and R11 Plus’ most flaunted feature is definitely their camera performance, and based on my brief time with the two devices, they certainly deliver. The camera app is very responsive with very little to no shutter delay between shots – something many phone makers struggle with – and the 2x optical zoom enables interesting shooting options like Portrait Mode à la the iPhone 7 Plus.
Then again, it still remains to be seen just how good – or bad – the R11 and R11 Plus’ cameras are. Their low light performance, for example, has yet to be tested. After all, most smartphone cameras struggle with shooting in less ideal situations.

Without a doubt the Oppo R11 and R11 Plus are very refined mid-range smartphones, and it’ll be interesting to see much how they will be priced at once it’s available here in Malaysia. Personally, I’m hoping Oppo Malaysia will bring in the Heat Red R11: it’s a very eye-catching device.
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Uber Malaysia Signs MOU To Allow Taxi Drivers On Its Service

Uber Malaysia has announced the creation of UberTaxi, a pilot programme that will see taxi drivers join the service using their own vehicles. The ridesharing service is collaborating with GABUNGAN to implement the scheme, and is deploying some 500 drivers in the first phase.
Taxi drivers joining UberTaxi will still have to meet Uber’s driver and vehicle requirements; meaning that the taxis themselves cannot be more than five years old. The drivers will similarly be subjected to the same background check as Uber’s regular ridesharing drivers.
Fares will be based on UberX structure, including dynamic fares for periods of high demand. However, UberTaxi drivers will be allowed to stop for passengers as normal cabs as well.
GABUNGAN claims to represent 90 percent of all corporate taxi permit holders in Malaysia. Accounting for over 28,000 taxis on the road. It’s unknown how many of these vehicles will be able to meet Uber’s somewhat stricter requirements; or if the taxi companies will have to spring for new cars.

Warren Tseng, General Manager for Uber in Malaysia and Singapore said, “Uber believes this partnership will provide a tangible demonstration of how giving more people the power of choice at the touch of a button makes things better for all – driver-partners, riders, and the city. We support the Government’s intention to improve the overall public transportation landscape and will do our part to ensure a quality experience for all riders and driver-partners. Since launching three years ago, Uber has continually worked to empower give Malaysian riders, driver-partners and cities the power of choice at the touch of a button.”
Uber isn’t technically the first ridesharing company to partner with cab drivers. Rivals Grab began operations as MyTeksi back in 2012; and currently still includes many taxi drivers within its service.
Still, it’s rather unusual to see the partnership between Uber and taxi driver associations. Especially considering that cabbies have spent the better part of two years protesting against ridesharing services. At this point, it looks like a case of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”
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