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February 12, 2021
☕ Good morning! Don't forget your Valentine this Sunday! ...Even if you've been cooped up with them for, like, a year nonstop.
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra: just look at that camera module

Somehow, a Philippines-based YouTuber Tech Buff PH has shown off the Mi 11 Ultra (model number M2102K1G), in a 10 minute-long hands-on video showing the build, design, camera, unusual sound system, and confirming a ton of specs.

  • The video was taken down pretty quickly, but you can watch a YouTube mirror of the video here, and while I don’t speak Filipino, you don’t need to either to get a look at something pretty tricked out:
  • This huge rear module has a secondary screen, bringing to mind the Meizu Pro 7 series, probably for helping to shoot selfies.
  • There are three lenses: a 50MP primary, 48MP ultra-wide, and 48MP periscope, with up to 120x zoom, which you can see written on the back, which is digital zoom.
  • Closeups show it’s a 120mm lens with 5x zoom, as compared to the 12mm lens of the ultra-wide.
  • The specs line up with a high-end 2021 release: Snapdragon 888 processor, a 6.67-inch WQHD+ OLED screen with 120Hz refresh rate, and Harman Kardon-tuned speakers. 
  • Aside from triple fast charging for the 5,000mAh battery, the claim is that the phone will offer IP68 water resistance, a first official IP rating for a Xiaomi flagship phone for water resistance.

On second(ary) thoughts:

secondary display
  • Phones these days are mostly the same. By adding a tiny little secondary display on the back here, Xiaomi gets to offer a phone with a difference.
  • But just as our review of the (China-only) Meizu 7 Pro talked about in 2017, the secondary display is kinda cool, but at the time, didn’t add much functional value.
  • I don’t see how that’s changed in 2021. 
  • The only secondary displays that have been useful recently have been on clamshell foldables.
  • Maybe this is Xiaomi’s way of making a giant camera panel on the back of the phone not seem as …giant.
  • And maybe that’s the trend we’ll see more and more — the back of the phone sporting multiple lenses and features across a bigger surface area. It was the look of the Cyberpunk 2077-OnePlus collab and the more recent Poco M3, too.

Or useful?

  • In any case, I asked my colleagues if they think the secondary display Is A Good Thing and there are some valid arguments. 
  • Dhruv Bhutani: “I don’t mind it actually. The rear cameras are objectively better than front cameras, and I wouldn’t even care if they ditched the selfie camera for a tiny display at the back. Could also be a cute notification display counter. There are a fair few use cases, durability is my only real concern.”
  • In any case, expect a $1,000 or so price tag because Xiaomi is going all out on this thing.
Roundup

📸 Google Photos gets new video editor and also, previously Pixel-exclusive photo edits lose their Pixel-only exclusivity but now jump behind the Google One paywall (Android Authority).

🤔 “Who asked for Xiaomi’s portless concept phone?(Android Authority).

💓 Fitbit Premium review: For $10 a month, it’s an early feeling product, but at least you can get 90-days free trial to sample the added extras (Android Authority).

📺 Disney says it now has 94.9 million Disney+ subscribers, adding 8 million in three months, beating its 2024 goals by three years. (CNBC).

📺 Netflix co-founder says Apple TV Plus has ‘no excuse’ to lag behind competitors (9to5Mac).

💳 Mastercard will support cryptocurrencies—but not the ones you think (Ars Technica).

🐶 Dogecoin’s creator baffled by rise to $9 billion in value, considering it was a parody of crypto and just a doge on a coin (Bloomberg).

🔙 Nvidia is bringing back old RTX 2060 and GTX 1050 Ti GPUs to deal with global chip shortage (The Verge).

🐂 It’s the year of the Ox! Google has a Doodle (CNET).

👨‍🌾Stardew Valley’s couch co-op update is now rolling out on Switch, Xbox and PlayStation(Engadget).

🏕 The high-tech 1KG tent of the future: built for four-season Himalayan ascents (New Atlas).

👨‍🚀 NASA wants to set a new, higher radiation limit for astronauts (Wired).

💍 “The future of diamonds is in recaptured CO2 pollution(Engadget).

🧀 ELI5: “Why can you eat some types of cheese with mold (blue cheese) but not others (Gouda)? (r/explainlikeimfive) — blue cheese has mold in it (r/oldpeoplefacebook)

Friday Fun 🎬
Samsung Galaxy S21 Directors view
David Imel / Android Authority

Finally, a use case for 5G! Well, sort of: Wired gets into some details about the Hollywood tech tricks getting film crews back on set, given working from home isn’t really possible, but up close shooting is hazardous.

It’s a nice little walkthrough of things like the Stagecraft LED setup where a giant screen acts as a backdrop instead of greenscreen. 

But the one that’s interesting to me here is Frame.io’s Camera to Cloud technology, which works to instantly upload captured footage at lower quality fidelity the second the director films it, which helps execs and producers immediately see what happens:

Quote: 

  • “Let’s say you’ve got an 8K RED camera on set. Using the Camera to Cloud system, that rig would be connected to a transcoding box, such as a Teradek Cube 655, which takes that 8K video and makes it into a smaller, easier-to-view/share 1080p file. That box is also connected to the internet, as is a Sound Devices deck, which is collecting audio from all the microphones on set. As soon as someone yells “Cut!” the files are being uploaded to the cloud, where anyone who has been granted access can review them.”
  • “…The files that are uploaded from the camera can be anywhere from 0.5 Mbps (think Zoom quality) to 15 Mbps (Netflix-ish), your choice.”
  • In one film, Songbird, “90 percent of the uploading to the cloud happened over LTE and 5G using off-the-shelf hot spots.”

Yay 5G! Sort of?

Have a great weekend,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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