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New Xiaomi Mi Store opens on Aug. 10 in Nairobi CBD, two Mi Home stores to open at Sarit Centre and Westgate soon

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Xiaomi recently opened its first Mi Home Kenya and promised to follow up with more stores across Nairobi. Apparently, the company is lining up two more Mi Home Kenya launch events at The Sarit Centre and Westgate Mall, but we don’t know when exactly these two will spring to life.

What we do know, however, is that a new Xiaomi Mi Store is set to open in Nairobi’s CBD on August 10, 2019. From what we’ve learned, this won’t be a Mi Home equivalent, rather, it’s a smaller version of the Mi Home that’s meant to serve those within the CBD and not necessarily force fans to go all the way to Karen.

Xiaomi Kenya has revealed that the new Mi Store will be located along Moi Avenue, but there are no specifics about the exact location. What we do know, though, is that up to 2000 pieces of the Mi Band 4 will be available for purchase during this event.

The Mi Band 4 was unveiled in June 2019 and is available for purchase in China at CNY 169, which is about Kshs 2,500. It’s unlikely this will be the price of the wearable when it arrives in the country, but given what transpired at The Hub in Karen, it’s possible Xiaomi will discount limited units for early adopters.

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The opening of the first Mi Home Kenya was marred with multiple postponements, so we can’t be sure about any dates that Xiaomi Kenya gives us. We’ll have to wait until next month to see if the said new Mi Store will actually materialize.

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OPPO Ranks Among Top 2020 PCT Patent Applications

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The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has announced the 2020 results of the international patent applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) System.

As of June 30, 2020, OPPO had filed for over 49,000 patent applications and has more than 19,000 granted patents globally. Among these, 43,000 were invention patents, accounting for 88% of all OPPO patent applications.

By filing one international patent application under the PCT, an international treaty with more than 150 contracting states, applicants can seek protection for an invention in many countries. Since the start of 2009, OPPO has been working on expanding its patent applications globally in various areas of technologies, having managed to move its WIPO’s international patents’ applications ranking from last year’s No. 17 to this year’s No. 5 after years of deep cultivation.

As at June 30th, OPPO has filed over 3,100 families of global patent applications, declared over 1,000 families of 5G standard patents to the ETSI, and submitted more than 3,000 5G standard-related proposals to 3GPP. The firm has also deployed its 5G standard patents in over 20 countries and regions around the world.

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In the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), computer vision, speech technology, and machine learning, the smartphone firm has over 2,100 global patent applications, while on imaging OPPO has applied for over 6,700 image patents worldwide and owns over 2,250 granted patents.

For its VOOC flash charging technology, OPPO has applied for over 2,800 patents worldwide and owns over 1,250 granted patents, as it forms a flash patent ecosystem including barrier patents, industry standards, and technology certifications is forming.


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Oppo A92 review: So good

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The Oppo A92 is the second Oppo smartphone I have used this year. The first one, the Oppo Reno3, left such a good taste in my mouth that the A92 only had one job: to not disappoint.

Not disappoint it did.

See what you get in the box here.

So, if you’re looking for the short of where this is going to be, here is a quick conclusion: if you have Kshs 30,000 and don’t know what you should go with then I can make the work easier for you. The Oppo A92 makes such a strong case for itself that it is almost a no-brainer.

I’ll tell you why.

Of course, as just with any other phone, the first thing that will either impress or infuriate you is the design. In that department, the Oppo A92 manages to blend the old with the new.

A noticeably chunkier chin flanked by slim bezels and, to make sense of the trim on the sides and the top, a punch-hole to accommodate that 16-megapixel selfie camera, dominates the front. At the back, the centre of attraction is the quad-camera array which is in the arrangement that we’re now pretty much familiar with as it’s what everyone is going with. The good news is that it’s implemented in such a way that is flush in line with the rest of the device and there is no wobble when the device is placed on a flat surface, a pet peeve of mine.

Interestingly, the one thing that has been last in my mind throughout my monthlong stay with the Oppo A92 has been worrying that I will need to take care of the back. Its no fingerprint magnet – the ugly type, that is. I have the Twilight Black colour model and whatever material is in use here is just the best.

Another thing I noticed is that the Oppo A92 is a bit heavier. Heavier than the Oppo Reno3 I was using before it. And thicker. That beefy battery has to account for something, after all.

The display, what Oppo calls a “Neo-display” is just fine. It helps that it is a Full HD panel when it comes to the kind of content you can consume. Its other aspects, like colour reproduction and viewing angles, are good enough that you won’t be stuck noticing details you shouldn’t instead of enjoying and contextualizing the crisp text you’re reading or digesting the videos you’re watching. You might have a bit of a concern when outdoors and the device’s screen struggles to keep up with all that brightness but that’s a pip blip.

There was no way I was going to use the Oppo A92 without being heavily influenced in my view of it from my usage of the Reno3 for weeks earlier. As such, I have been looking at the device like, “what am I getting for Kshs 10,000 less and, is it worth going for this instead of topping up and going for the other device?”

That viewpoint led me to a few interesting discoveries: the things, both in the hardware and in the software, that set apart the two devices and if they matter that much.

There are obvious ones like the cameras, for instance. The Reno3 is the superior device, and obviously, it has better optics but that doesn’t mean much if you go for the A92. You still get acceptable low-light shots, very good snaps in sufficient lighting (crisp and clear and, if you’re taking selfies, you’ll be wise to play around with the beauty mode slider, probably turn off the whole thing) and macro shots that will stand any test. In short, you’re not missing much.

Now, what about the competition? Well, if we’re comparing the Oppo A92 to its elderly sibling with better specifications that I believe is easily the most complete mid-range smartphone available in the local market right now then guess what? The competition may as well be toast. Seriously.

Here are some samples (resolution lowered and images compressed, as usual):

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The Oppo A92 is fast and stable, just like I’d want it, or any other phone, for that matter, to be. Its ability to take just about anything you throw at it will have you questioning why you’d pony up a lot more in the name of getting better performance on another device. It’s 2020 and what we call “mid-range smartphones” are showing us that they are really meant for any range. Where the Oppo Reno3 leads that pack, the Oppo A92 follows closely.

While part of the impressive performance can be attributed to the device’s solid hardware feature-set – I mean, there’s an octa-core Snapdragon 665 from Qualcomm in there for all that on-device machine learning that can be found in the camera app, in the battery optimization and more, 8 gigabytes of memory, which is very generous at this price point – the role of the software and its optimization to play nice with the aforementioned hardware cannot be downplayed.

Everything I observed about my software experience on the Oppo Reno3 also applies here. There are few things, like the swapping of Oppo’s messages application for Google’s (which I actually prefer for blocking all those scammers and spammers who can’t give me a break) and the omission of the Oppo Smart Assistant which I am indifferent about its presence and/or absence.

The good performance and good interplay between the hardware and software, even with all the optimizations, still has a strong bearing on the battery. At 5,000mAh and with the Smart Power Saver turned on, I still had much higher drain than I expected. The device lasted me a full day (24 hours) on a single charge but I always felt it could go an extra mile. My constantly paired smartwatch – and, when I’m on the move, the wireless earbuds that Oppo offered as part of a sales promotion with the device recently – may explain this particular pattern which is to say that your mileage may vary.

The good

  • Design
  • Stable performance
  • Good cameras
  • Good stereo speakers
  • Fast side-mounted fingerprint sensor
  • Fast face unlock – works even in very low lighting

The bad

  • Despite packing a big battery, the battery drain is a little on the higher side especially if, like yours truly, you are really pushing the device

The lowdown

If you are looking for a smartphone and not willing to stretch your budget beyond the Kshs 30,000 mark then this is it. Simple as that. It’s so good!

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Android 10 adoption faster than any previous versions of Android

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Good news, at long last.

Fragmentation? What fragmentation?

It took over a decade but it seems Android is on course to the promised land: a time when every device running Android would be powered by the latest version of the operating system.

A day after it released the second beta version of its upcoming Android 11, Google took the time to reveal some interesting information regarding the current latest version of Android, Android 10.

According to Google, “the adoption of Android 10 has been faster than any previous versions of Android.”

In a post on its Android DevelopersBblog, the Android team at Google informs us that “Android 10 was running on 100 million devices 5 months post-launch – 28% faster than Android Pie”.

The story was very different just 3 months ago, though.

The company attributes this to the various measures it had put in place to accelerate the rate of Android updates, going as far back as the release of Android Nougat 4 years ago when it rolled out Seamless System Updates (aka A/B System Updates).

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This allowed devices to download updates and install them while still in active use and enforcing the changes after a reboot at a time of the user’s choosing. It also removed the need for one to have sufficient storage – equivalent to the update file size – as the update could be “streamed” instead of needing to be downloaded and stored locally, a big deal at the time. Importantly, it made it possible for devices to boot up as usual in the event an update failed, something that required an operating system re-installation previously. All these are factors that have defined the judgement by device makers on whether or not to update devices.

Traditionally, it has taken over a year for the latest version of Android to clock the double digits in percentage as far as adoption goes. As shared above, that is not the case with Android 10 thanks to measures instituted both in Android 10 and its predecessor, Android 9 Pie.

With Android Pie in 2018, Google introduced Generic System Images (GSI), a single Android build that can be flashed and run on several devices, which made it easier and faster for developers to test-drive new versions of Android for compatibility with their apps and, in the case of developers at companies that Google partners with for the release of Android-powered devices, for the broad range of tests and modifications necessary before deployment.

In the same year, Google also introduced the developer preview programme that saw the Android testing phase expanded to include non-Google devices from Google’s partners. The advantage has been that device makers have been able to test Android builds for months before Google releases the final consumer-ready builds thus allowing them to be able to make the same available to end-users faster. The dividends have been reaped in Android. “As a result, we saw a further 1.5X increase in the adoption of Android 10.”

A year before, in 2017, Google had introduced Project Treble which, by the company’s own admission, “sped up the adoption of Android Pie by 2.5X”. Read what Project Treble is all about – and why it has been this important – here.

With Android 10 last year, Google moved to make things even easier with Project Mainline which allowed it to update Android operating system components directly through the Google Play Store for things like security fixes instead of waiting for the usual big update once or twice a year, something most of its Android partners, the devices, have been so bad at for long. “… in our most recent deployment, we directly updated 285 million devices with fixes for security vulnerabilities,” Google says of its push with Mainline.

Building on the gains made in Android 10, Google has added 9 new operating system components to the existing 12 that are updateable through Google Play. It is also building on the A/B System Updates it introduced back in 2016 by introducing a Virtual A/B System Updates mechanism to lighten the physical load on the system so that update files take less and less space.

Google has also opened up Android 11 testing to various device makers with at least 7 of them signing on to try the new version of Android on 13 of their devices.

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