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Xiaomi 200W HyperCharge tech has one critical drawback

Late last month, Xiaomi once again took the lead in the smartphone market when it comes to insanely fast charging speeds. Its new HyperCharge technology was able to charge a 4,000 mAh phone to full in just 8 minutes by pushing out 200W of power. Of course, the company will tout the safety mechanisms that will prevent the phone from blowing up but it was almost silent on one other side effect of that technology. Fortunately, Xiaomi does come clean and admit that, at least for now, it will cut your phone’s battery life by 20% in just two years.

Despite being essential components of our smartphones, batteries have always been the most unreliable component due to their volatile compositions. In addition to the technically dangerous chemicals that make it possible for them to actually work, batteries can degrade considerably over time, depending on how you use or charge them. The latter is especially important in this case because batteries can degrade faster when they receive higher wattage.

Xiaomi explained on Weibo that its 200W HyperCharge tech could result in the battery ending up with only above 80% of its original capacity after 800 charging cycles. That many full charging and discharging cycles can add up to around two years. That 4,000 mAh battery, then, would only have about 3,200 mAh capacity after more or less normal two years of use.

The company does explain that it is still within Chinese regulators’ standards which dictate that batteries shouldn’t go below 60% capacity after 400 cycles. In that context, Xiaomi’s figures do look impressive but no one expects their phones’ batteries to be reduced by half in just a year. Given how people these days are holding on to their phones for far longer, that is a rather big sacrifice to make.

Xiaomi isn’t the only one making such sacrifices, of course, and that is the expected side effect of all these fast-charging technologies. The 200W HyperCharge does, however, take the biggest chunk of battery life and, unfortunately, these are the compromises we continue to make with the state of battery technology we currently have today.

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Xiaomi HyperCharge shows off 200W wired and 120W wireless charging

Battery technology, especially for smartphones, hasn’t evolved that much in the past years. That’s why smartphone makers have, instead, tried to upgrade the part that they can have more direct control. Charging technology, in contrast to batteries, has grown by leaps and bounds and we’re now looking at charging output at looks almost too dangerous to be true. But that’s exactly what Xiaomi is showing off with its newest HyperCharge technology that can fill up your phone in just 8 or 15 minutes.

Xiaomi, along with the likes of OPPO, Vivo, and even OnePlus, has been pushing the boundaries of smartphone charging where bigger companies like Samsung fear to tread. Xiaomi was one of if not the first to demonstrate 100W wired charging which it did eventually make available to consumers as 120W charging with the Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra. Now it’s trying to break the Internet again with two charging claims that may get too hot for comfort.

Xiaomi HyperCharge, at least based on this video, supports both mind-blowing fast charging on both wired and wireless. Of course, wired will always be faster than wireless but it’s almost unbelievable that a phone could be charged to 100% in a matter of minutes using wireless charging technology.

With 200W wired charging, the phone in the demonstration goes from 0 to full in a matter of 8 minutes. For 100W wireless charging, the time almost doubles as expected. It does take 15 minutes for the same phone to charge to 100% using wireless technology.

Of course, Xiaomi does note that the phone shown in this video is a modified Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro with a 4,000 mAh battery. It will probably take some time before the technology actually becomes available to consumers but, given the risks involved, Xiaomi should take all the time it needs to perfect it.

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US court blocks all DoD restrictions VS Xiaomi

Today Xiaomi announced that they’d received word from the United States Department of Defense that they’re no longer considered a CCMC. A CCMC is a Communist Chinese Military Company. Along with the removal of this designation comes restrictions on business dealings inside the United States and with U.S. persons’ ability to purchase or hold securities of the company. Those restrictions have been lifted.

Over the past few years, the United States government has had some rather public dealings with China-based companies like Huawei, ZTE, and Xiaomi. In January of 2021, Xiaomi was blacklisted by the U.S. Department of Defense. This blacklisting was authorized by Section 1237 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999 (Public Law 105-261), naming Xiaomi as a Communist Chinese military company.

It was just before the end of Donald Trump’s term as U.S. President that the United States government enacted this order that would have blocked U.S. entities from investing in Xiaomi. In March of 2021, this restriction was blocked for the first time. In mid-May, court documents suggested Xiaomi would be removed from the blacklist altogether.

As of this week, Xiaomi announced that on May 25, 2021, at 4:09 PM (Eastern Standard Time), the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia “issued a final order vacating the U.S. Department of Defense’s designation of the Company as a CCMC.” Because of this vacating of said order, the court “formally lifted all restrictions on U.S. persons’ ability to purchase or hold securities of the Company.”

It’s entirely possible this means Xiaomi will be slightly more able to bring more products to the United States for sale to the average citizen, but it will not affect the way Xiaomi remains subject to patent laws in the USA. If no patent laws existed, we’d likely already see massive amounts of Xiaomi smartphones available for sale in the United States – but for now, they’re mostly doing business with U.S. consumers with devices like power banks, projectors, lamps, and power sockets. They also have home security cameras and LEGO-like robot building kits (which are pretty neat!)

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Xiaomi patent shows a modular phone camera system

Smartphone cameras are once again growing to an almost ridiculous pace once again and they are also growing in size. While there is indeed a huge market for smartphones with excellent cameras, not everyone might be so interested in those, especially if they’re paying for expensive branding in the process. Consumers don’t really have much of a choice in what cameras they get because of how phones are made but Xiaomi is once again looking into modular phones to potentially offer more options, presuming these actually become reality.

The modular phone idea is hardly new and a few companies have attempted to make those ideas into reality. The closest we got was the failed LG G5’s attempt at some modular parts but the Fairphone is also pushing modularity for the sake of sustainability. It seems that Xiaomi also has other modular ideas, ones that revolve around smartphone cameras instead.

According to the patent spotted by LetsGoDigital, Xiaomi thought of a system where only specific parts of a phone can be removed. While the base components of the phone, including the battery, screen, and logic boards, remain intact, the camera modules and bottom ports can be swapped out. It might be a bit difficult to visualize what Xiaomi means but, fortunately, LetsGoDigital shares some renders of what that modular phone might look like.

Based on Xiaomi’s own patent filing, the modular phone can switch between a module with a square camera bump and one with cameras in a single column. The renders, however also envision a module with a second screen on the back, perfect for using the cameras for selfies.

The patent also shows the bottom part of the phone sliding out though it doesn’t show what can be done with it. That edge of the phone could also be a bit problematic because of how the speakers and charging ports are there. Of course, these are just patents and may not even become real products, especially given how modular phones haven’t sold well despite being popular ideas.

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After Xiaomi, Motorola begins exploring over-the-air charging tech

Earlier this year, Xiaomi showed off a concept video for charging a phone over the air in a room. Now, Motorola has also announced that exploring long-distance wireless charging solutions for its future generations of devices.

The phone maker is partnering with GuRu wireless, a company that’s working on over-the-air charging solutions for multiple devices. The US-based firm claims to have a proprietary charging tech that uses millimeter-wave (mmWave) integrated circuits. Plus, its RF Lensing solutions can charge devices even at a 30 feet (9.14 meter) distance through a single transmitter.

GuRu said that first-gen chargers with this tech will be able to charge your phone between 5W to 10W. That’s not too fast, but if my phone’s charging while I’m lying on my bed and doomscrolling, why not?

At the moment, Motorola hasn’t detailed out its plan to include such charging tech in its devices. But we can expect these two companies to show off a concept at upcoming trade shows.

[Read: This dude drove an EV from the Netherlands to New Zealand — here are his 3 top road trip tips]

Apart from GuRu, other companies such as Ossia and Energous have also been trying different methods to achieve a charging future without wires.

It might be a while before we see any of these solutions in our smartphones as there are many moving parts to achieve consumer-grade long-distance charging.

The charger has to deliver enough power and it also has to track the device as you move across the room, and that could bring challenges with many obstacles in the environment. And you might not be able to get over-the-air charging through another company’s charger at the beginning. Plus, there are regulatory hurdles to safely transferring power over the air.

So don’t get excited just yet.

Did you know we have a newsletter all about consumer tech? It’s called Plugged In –
and you can subscribe to it right here.

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Xiaomi will be removed from a US blacklist according to court documents

A new report has surfaced that Xiaomi Corp. and the US government have come to an agreement that will remove the Chinese company from a blacklist it was placed on by President Trump. By being on that blacklist, Xiaomi was banned from any American investment and was unable to procure any hardware designed in the US. Earlier this year, the Chinese smartphone maker sued the US government after the US Department of Defense issued an order designating the firm as a Communist Chinese Military Company.

That designation would’ve led to Xiaomi being delisted from US exchanges and deleted from global benchmark indexes. According to a court filing in the US this week, the Department of Defense has reportedly agreed that a final order vacating the designation would be appropriate. Neither the Pentagon nor Xiaomi has offered any comment on the move.

The court filing stated that both parties in the matter have agreed on a path forward that resolved the litigation without the need for a contested briefing. The court filing also noted that the parties are negotiating over specific terms and will file separate joint proposals before May 20. The news was enough to push shares of Xiaomi stock up 6.7 percent in Hong Kong trading.

While Xiaomi is mostly known for smartphones, it makes a range of products, including robotic vacuum cleaners, wearable devices, and electrified bikes. President Trump had led a charge to place the company on a blacklist due to fears that its ties with the Chinese government could lead to a potential for hacking and data theft in the US.

Xiaomi had filed a suit in US courts, and that suit resulted in a temporary halt on the ban in the US. The judge had noted that Xiaomi was likely to win a full reversal of the ban as the litigation unfolded, and an injunction was issued to prevent what the judge called “irreparable harm” to the company.

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Huawei Harmony OS might be adopted by Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo

In response to the US’ sanctions and export bans, Huawei has been waging a campaign to rid itself of its dependence on Google’s mobile operating system, or at least its proprietary parts. Although it sounds like an epic endeavor to replace Android, Huawei’s Harmony OS definitely has big ambitions to be present in almost all smart markets. Going just beyond its own smartphones, however, there are now rumors that Huawei wants to spread its new platform to other phones as well, including those from its competitors and compatriots in China.

This sounds almost like a no-go if the initial impressions of Harmony OS 2.0 Beta are anything to go by. While Huawei defends that it isn’t really the final vision, the version that developers were given access to looked a lot like Android underneath a thin custom skin. That does make the transition a bit easier for both developers and smartphone makers but it pales in comparison to the grand and brand new experience that Huawei is promising.

Another limitation, at least as far as phones go, is that Harmony OS is supposedly developed to work primarily on Huawei’s own HiSilicon Kirin processors. Android itself has parts that are developed specifically for certain chipsets, like Qualcomm and MediaTek, among others, which is part of what makes it possible to run it on the majority of the world’s phones.

There is now a report that Harmony OS will undergo development to make it run on Qualcomm’s and MediaTek’s platforms, which means it will be able to run on phones beyond Huawei’s flagships. Even more interesting, however, is the rumor that Chinese smartphone makers are actually interested in using it for their phones. That’s not exactly outside the realm of possibility because Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo already run versions of Android without Google in China.

It will really all boil down to what Harmony OS on phones will turn out to be. If it’s simply a skin on top of Android, the change for smartphone makers won’t be that big and might not even make sense at all. If, on the other hand, it will be a truly new mobile OS from the ground up, Google stands to lose whatever small mind share it has in China through Android, even if it doesn’t officially have a presence there through Google Play Store.

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OnePlus Watch vs Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite: A close comparison

OnePlus Watch is a bit of a latecomer to the party but it did eventually arrive. The smartwatch is entering a very competitive space where users demand good hardware with the assurance of a seamless software experience. Of course, accuracy of all the fancy health and fitness tracking is a must, if a smartwatch has to resonate with the users.

The Android smartwatch market is filled with numerous options, and the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite (sandwiched between Mi Band 6 and Mi Watch) wants to undercut the competition with its feature and price ratio. On the other hand, OnePlus is venturing for the first time into the smartwatch ecosystem. So, which one of these two smartwatches is the one to go for?

Design and built quality

The OnePlus Watch has a bigger (46mm) dial than you would settle for at first, but putting it on the wrist doesn’t feel too awkward. However, it is not highly recommended for small handed people. The weight balance of the watch is good, and surprisingly has a close resemblance to Galaxy Watch Active line. The body is constructed from polished stainless steel – it feels good to touch and look at. There is a crisp 1.39-inch OLED display (454×454 pixels at 326 ppi) on the watch tailored for the outdoor ambient environment.

Talking of the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite, at first glance, you could mistake it for the Apple Watch. It looks aesthetically very good on your wrist and the built quality is also nice for the price point. The watch has a 41mm case made out of plastic material, which does not look that bad.

The 1.4-inch TFT LCD (320×320 pixels at 323 ppi) display seems slightly dated compared to the AMOLED screen on most smartwatches today. The thick bezel on the edges of the display is another thing that won’t resonate with more style-conscious buyers, although the watch faces and software are tweaked to make it less obvious. It is paired to a TPU strap (in cool color options) which does feel a bit cheap but is quite soft for the wearer’s comfort.

Functionality and features

It has to be kept in mind that OnePlus is only compatible with Android devices for now; iOS compatibility is promised in the future. The watch runs on a very basic Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) that’s very responsive to its credit. Though there are not as many built-in apps as one would wish, still it does the basics right. There are just 50 watch faces to choose from with limited customizability – for widget functionality in particular. The lack of voice assistant, music streaming services, and podcast service compatibility is also something to take note of.

Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite comes with the freedom of a lot more watch faces (more than 120 at least). There are better options on this one when it comes to choosing digital or analog faces. The smartwatch comes with Amazon Alexa support, responsive music control navigation and prompt notifications support for text messages and calls. Unlike OnePlus Watch, the Mi Watch Lite misses out on deep REM sleep analyzer, SpO2 and stress monitoring.

Fitness and health tracking

The OnePlus wearable starts to show cracks when it comes to fitness tracking and health monitoring. It at times overestimates the sleep duration and is not well suited for minute-by-minute accuracy of heart rate tracking, especially on extensive runs. Step tracking is also not that great as compared to the more accurate options like Fitbit or Garmin. So, it is wise advice to overlook the OnePlus Watch if you are dedicatedly into fitness activities and want a very accurate data representation.

Xiaomi has a lot of experience from its lineup of fitness trackers and smartwatches, which benefits the Mi Watch Lite when compared to the OnePlus Watch. It has more reliable sleep tracking, a better step counter, and accurate heart-rate monitoring. The GPS reliability is also something you can bank on with the Xiaomi smartwatch.

Battery life

One big plus with the OnePlus Watch is its battery life which is claimed to be around 14 days. In real-world usage you should be able to extract around 10-12 days on average with intense activity tracking. The charging is also impressive; it fast charges to full in just 20 minutes flat for a week’s worth of usage.

Mi Watch Lite on the other hand has a smaller battery pack which Xiaomi claims to have around 9 days backup. That however could fluctuate a bit if you are into rigorous fitness regime or into activities that’ll use the GPS more than usual. In worst case scenario, you will get around 5-6 days of battery life, so no complaints there.

Price and availability

OnePlus Watch is a pretty fresh entrant in the pool – sales just went live on April 14. True to their promise of the best hardware, software experience which competes against the best – The onePlus Watch has a modest price tag of $159.

Talk of Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite and you will be surprised even further with a price of just $70 (for around $100 in the US at some retailers). Obviously, it doesn’t compete with the Apple Watch or the likes of the Galaxy Watch series, still, it is somewhere in the sweet spot for buyers who want to have a smartwatch at comparable price tag of a mid-tier fitness tracker.

Verdict

It is understandable that Mi Watch Lite comes with some hardware compromises which you’ll have to overlook. If you can live peacefully with them, a smartwatch priced this low is the one you should go for instead of buying the OnePlus Watch that for now is a novice in some aspects.

The comparison between these two wearables boils down to one thing – which one of these two would you give you less of a headache in terms of user experience? Mi Watch Lite is the best bet here since Xiaomi has proved its value for money proposition in the past. Plus they have a fair share of experience in the smartwatch arena as well.

Rather than investing the money in the OnePlus Watch, for now, you’re better off going for a more reliable alternative or even a good fitness tracker. Even though OnePlus will come with software updates to fix the occasional bugs in performance and fitness tracking, only put your money on it for now if you own OnePlus smartphone.

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Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is DxOMark’s new king

Xiaomi had a rather big day to day, announcing a handful of new devices, not all of them smartphones. The Mi 11 Ultra, of course, is the highlight of its night and it’s not really that surprising given all the specs and features it carries inside its unsurprisingly expensive package. As expected, the camera system, which is housed in what may be the largest bump we’ve laid eyes on a phone, is one of the core pillars of the Mi 11 Ultra and it may have paid off if DxOMark’s early evaluation is anything to go by.

Almost everything about the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra’s cameras, at least the ones on the back, are big. It has the 1/1.12-inch Samsung GN2 for its main camera, one of if not the largest in the smartphone market, and two 48MP Sony IMX586 sensors, one for the periscope style 5x optical zoom and the other for the 128-degree ultra-wide-angle camera. And thanks to the 1.1-inch touch screen beside the cameras, they make for great selfie shooters as well.

DxOMark hasn’t published its full analysis just yet but it already revealed the Mi 11 Ultra’s scores. Just by looking at the figures, you can already tell it gets the highest marks in most of the key aspects of the benchmark, like Exposure, Color, and Autofocus. Curiously, the phone doesn’t score as high when it comes to Night and Bokeh tests but it isn’t far from the leading contender.

That leading contender has, of course, traditionally been Huawei’s latest smartphones. But with an overall score of 143, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra leaves the Huawei Mate 40 Pro+ eating its dust. Then again, unlike most Xiaomi phones, this one is also priced like an expensive high-end flagship.

Of course, not everyone subscribes to DxOMark’s testing methods and results and some will anxiously await other reviews. Needless to say, if the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is anywhere close to what DxOMark has seen, Huawei definitely has reason to be worried.

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Xiaomi Mi Smart Projector 2 pairs Android TV with super-simple setup

Xiaomi’s Mi 11 Ultra flagship Android phone isn’t the only Google-powered product the company has today, with a new Mi Smart Projector 2 Pro combining reasonably portable projection with the Google Assistant. The nondescript gray and white box looks more like an oversized smart speaker than a traditional projector, and indeed that’s because it’s one of those too.

The projector runs at Full HD resolution, with HDR10 support. It’ll crank up to 1,300 ANSI lumens in brightness, Xiaomi says, and supports 60- to 120-inch screen sizes. Usefully, there’s also omni-directional keystone correction for automatic adjustment when you’re projecting off-angle.

That should work to make a perfectly rectangular projection even if the projector is up to 40-degrees off-angle, Xiaomi says. A time-of-flight (ToF) sensor is onboard too, used for automatic focus. That can lock in within 2 seconds, the company claims.

Inside, the Mi Smart Projector 2 Pro is running Android TV, with Google Assistant support, meaning you’ll be able to use it as another smart speaker. There’s also Chromecast functionality, making it easier to cast content from a smartphone or other device directly.

On the audio side, there’s 10W speakers with support for DTS-HD and Dolby Audio, each having dual tweeters and dual full-range woofers. Bluetooth connectivity turns the Mi Smart Projector 2 Pro into a standalone speaker, too.

As for wired connectivity, on the back of the projector you’ll find an array of ports. That includes two HDMI inputs – one supporting HDMI ARC – and two USB 2.0 Type-A ports, plus both a 3.5mm audio output and an S/PDIF digital optical output. Finally, there’s an ethernet jack, if you’re not using WiFi to get the projector online.

It’s not Xiaomi’s first projector model, mind. The Mi Smart Compact Projector – which is currently on sale in the US for around $500 – also topped out at Full HD 1080p resolution with HDR10 support, though at 500 lumens lacked the maximum brightness of this new model. It also acted as a smart speaker, however with Android TV preloaded, and supported auto-focusing. However it lacks the omni-directional keystone correction.

The Mi Smart Projector 2 Pro will be sold at 999 euro ($1,160), Xiaomi says. No word on US-specific availability at this stage, though the company claims it will be offering the projector globally.

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