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TECH BREAK: A budget phone with high end features

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By AUGUSTINE SANG
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There seems to be a common trend among smartphone manufacturers to have a notch on the screen. A notch is a small bar ‘eating into’ the display housing the front camera, earpiece, and the light and proximity sensors.

And going by the hype around it, people seem to love it.

Most devices that have taken this design, however, fall on the pricey end – the likes of the iPhone X. This has usually meant that people shopping for phones on a budget could only dream of it, until now.

Infinix, a brand synonymous with budget smartphones, recently launched its first ever notch display smartphone, the Hot S3X.

The Hot S3X borrows many features from its predecessor, the Infinix Hot S3, but comes with a massive design boost and an extra camera.

The back of the Infinix Hot S3X. PHOTO | AUGUSTINE SANG

The back of the Infinix Hot S3X. PHOTO | AUGUSTINE SANG

The 6.2-inch HD+ display has a notch, which hosts the front camera, earpiece and the sensors.

The device is powered by a Snapdragon 430 processor, a first for Infinix, with 3GB of RAM and an internal storage of 32GB, which can be expanded by up to 128GB using an SD card (memory card).

Infinix markets the Hot S3X largely as an artificial intelligence (AI) selfie smartphone, which boasts a 16MP front camera and two more cameras at the back – 13+2 MP cameras. And for the most part, they do a good job.

A photo taken using the Infinix Hot S3X. PHOTO | AUGUSTINE SANG

A photo taken using the Infinix Hot S3X. PHOTO | AUGUSTINE SANG

It has a rather generous 4000mAh battery capable of powering the device for an entire day of regular usage, and when it’s out of juice, charging it is quick thanks to the infused fast charging technology.

I found it weird for Infinix to go with an older USB Type-B connector for this device. It would have been great if it came with the more modern Type-C port, after all, it’s 2018.

A fingerprint scanner sits at the back next to the cameras. The rest of the back is covered with shock absorbent plastic material. And speaking of which, the back case is quite shinny and prone to having fingerprints.

One of the key selling points of this device is obviously the design. I was impressed by the notch above the screen, and even though the bottom chin ought to have been made a little thinner, it isn’t a deal breaker.

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A photo taken using the Infinix Hot S3X. PHOTO | AUGUSTINE SANG

A photo taken using the Infinix Hot S3X. PHOTO | AUGUSTINE SANG

As far as cameras go, a lot is in favour of the S3X. The selfie camera with its AI capabilities does a great job, particularly under low light conditions, and its colour accuracy is superb. On the other end, the front camera has a tendency of overexposing the background under well-lit conditions.

The front camera also doubles as the device unlock feature using facial recognition. It is quick at it and also works under low light conditions. The main back camera captures great images and I was impressed by its autofocus speeds.

The device, however, lacks Pro Mode, an option in the camera app that lets users take manual control of some features while taking photos. This is something photography enthusiasts would appreciate.

The extra camera, meant to enable bokeh photography, felt substandard. Shooting in portrait mode is a bit of a hit-and-miss. And for best results, it should be shot under bright conditions.

Hot S3X designers should have borrowed a leaf from the Infinix Zero 5, which has the best mid-range camera I’ve tested.

The video quality from both the front and back lenses of the Hot S3X is average and is capable of shooting at 1080p maximum resolution.

There aren’t any bells and whistles when it comes to the software running the Hot S3X. Android 8.1 Oreo laced with Infinix’s XOS Hummingbird operates smoothly and the options for customisation are endless thanks to a variety of themes.

A photo taken using the Infinix Hot S3X. PHOTO | AUGUSTINE SANG

A photo taken using the Infinix Hot S3X. PHOTO | AUGUSTINE SANG

One last concern about this device is the loudspeakers’ lacklustre performance. It’s not bad, but it isn’t good either. It’s just flat and this pains me because I have tested cheaper Infinix models with better loudspeakers.

So, with the Hot S3X, Infinix has done an impressive job with the design (with emphasis on the notch). Even though the material is plastic, you immediately appreciate its build quality. A silicon case and a screen protector is included in the box and this should help the Hot S3X maintain its beauty.

The Infinix S3X is available in grey, black and blue. The device goes for Sh17,500 on Infinix’s new e-commerce platform X-mall.



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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