It’s true that today, you really don’t need to spend a whole lot of money to get a feature-packed smartphone. Samsung, Xiaomi and Realme have been consistently delivering excellent value options under Rs. 15,000, and we’ve added some of their latest launches to our June refresh of this buying guide. Realme finally managed to launch its youth-centric Narzo series, which complements its other offerings. Samsung had a new launch too with the Galaxy M21. Some older models that were featured in the April edition of this guide have been replaced by equivalent or better offerings thanks to changes in pricing. If you have a budget of Rs. 15,000 for getting a new smartphone, we have done the research for you. After reviewing multiple smartphones in this segment, here are the models that are a cut above the rest, in no particular order. Best phones under 15,000 Phones under Rs. 15,000 Gadgets 360 rating (out of 10) Price in India (as recommended) Poco M2 Pro 8 Rs. 13,999 Samsung Galaxy M21 7 Rs. 13,999 Realme Narzo 10 8 Rs. 11,999 Redmi Note 9 Pro 8 Rs. 13,999 Realme 6 8 Rs. 14,999 Redmi Note 8 7 Rs. 11,999 Vivo U20 8 Rs. 11,990 Poco M2 Pro The Poco M2 Pro is targeted at the budget segment. It has a premium design and packs in a big 6.67-inch display just like the Poco X2. It had the standard 60Hz refresh rate instead of the higher 120Hz refresh rate that the Poco X2 has. Poco has used Corning Gorilla Glass 5 at the front and back, and has also opted for a P2i coating on the M2 Pro, which makes it splash-resistant to some extent. This smartphone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G SoC which we’ve also seen in competing models such as the Redmi Note 9 Pro. There are three variants of the Poco M2 Pro; 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage, 6GB of RAM with 64GB of storage, and 6GB of RAM with 128GB of storage. These three variants are priced at Rs. 13,999, Rs. 14,999 and Rs. 16,999 respectively. The Poco M2 Pro packs in a 5000mAh battery and was capable of very good battery life when we tested it. The company also provides a 33W charger that gets the phone to 95 percent in an hour. The Poco M2 Pro has a quad-camera setup with a 48-megapixel primary shooter. The phone captures good-looking photos in daylight, but its wide-angle camera captured weaker colours and details. In low light, the main and wide-angle cameras struggled with exposure and details. Night mode wasn’t too effective. Samsung Galaxy M21 We were quite surprised by how similar the new Samsung Galaxy M21 was to the Galaxy M30s. In fact, other than a higher-resolution selfie camera on the new model, both phones are virtually identical. The best past is that Samsung has priced the Galaxy M21 lower than the Galaxy M30s, which makes it a better pick. Some of the phone’s strong points include its crisp AMOLED display, low weight, very good battery life, and decent app performance. It runs Samsung’s One UI 2.0 interface on top of Android 10. It’s powered by the widely used Exynos 9611 SoC, which is not the most powerful especially when you have more powerful phones based on Qualcomm and MediaTek SoCs in the same segment. Still, for general use and a bit of light gaming, it gets the job done. The triple rear cameras are decent during the day but they struggle a bit in low light. The 20-megapixel selfie camera is a notable improvement over that of the M30s though, as pictures taken during the day had good detail and low-light shots were usable too. The Samsung Galaxy M21 received a price hike in June 2020 and it now starts at Rs. 13,999 for 4GB of RAM, 128GB storage variant. The higher-end variant is now priced at Rs. 15,999, which has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Realme Narzo 10 Realme recently launched its much-awaited Narzo series, and the Narzo 10 is a good offering for under Rs. 15,000. Realme is targeting the youth demographic here, focusing on style and gaming performance. The Narzo 10 has the MediaTek Helio G80, which handles games well, and overall app and multitasking performance is solid too. Battery life is also one of this phone’s strong suits. The main area where the Narzo 10 could have done better is its cameras. Daylight performance was good with all the rear cameras and the single front one, but low-light performance left us wanting more. The camera app could have been a bit more intuitive too, especially for some of its core features. Realme UI looks fresh and interesting, but there’s still a lot of bloatware preinstalled. There’s just one configuration, with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. At just Rs. 11,999, the Narzo 10’s little issues can be forgiven as there’s no denying the immense value you get for your money. Redmi Note 9 Pro The Redmi Note 9 Pro has been a solid recommendation from us in this price segment, ever since it launched. It features a big 6.67-inch display. We found the phone to be bulky and heavy at 209g in weight but it is well designed. It is powered by the Snapdragon 720G SoC and comes in two variants, one with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, and the other with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The base variant is available for Rs. 13,999 which is a minor bump up from its launch price of Rs. 12,999 due to the GST hike. Realme 6 The Realme 6 continues to be the only phone under Rs. 15,000 to offer a display with a 90Hz refresh rate, similar to some flagships currently in the market. We found the Realme 6 to be well designed, but the side-mounted fingerprint scanner might not appeal to everyone. The device is slightly on the heavier side, tipping the scales at 191g. The Realme 6 is powered by the Mediatek Helio G90T which is capable of delivering some serious performance, especially in games. Realme offers three variants: 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage, 6GB of RAM with 128GB of storage, and 8GB of RAM with 128GB of storage. We found the camera quality to be good in daylight, producing good amounts of detail. The wide-angle camera offers a wider field of view but the dynamic range isn’t great. Low-light camera output quality dips slightly but Night mode improves this. The Realme 6 got a price hike recently and the base variant is now priced at Rs. 14,999 and is the only one that fits within our budget, following the second price hike. You will have to spend more for the other variants. Redmi Note 8 We saw the Redmi Note 8 retailing for Rs. 10,999, after the GST price hike and that’s recently been raised once again to Rs. 11,999 for the base variant. However, it’s still a good phone with decent all-round performance. The Redmi Note 8 has a crisp full-HD+ display and is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC. The base variant has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage while the top variant has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Both are available in this price range. Xiaomi offers a quad-camera setup on the Note 8, with the primary one being a 48-megapixel shooter. It also has a wide-angle camera and a macro shooter. We found the camera performance to be good for the price. Low-light photos were noisy and blotchy, and we did have trouble with autofocus in poor lighting conditions. Vivo U20 The U series from Vivo was specially created to compete with online-exclusive offerings from Xiaomi and Realme. The Vivo U20 is powered by the capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 SoC, packs in a 5,000mAh battery, and has a triple camera setup at the back. The phone is a little bulky because of its battery. It has a Micro-USB port at the bottom, which is a little disappointing since the Type-C standard is now common in this price segment. Vivo includes an 18W charger in the box which helps reduce charging time. The performance is good for the price, and this smartphone can play games and multitask easily. We found the cameras to be below average. If you are planning on using this as your primary device for taking photos, you may want to consider the other phones in this price range. There are two variants of the Vivo U20: 4GB of RAM and 6GB of RAM. Storage remains the same at 64GB for both. The base variant is now available at Rs. 11,990 while the top variant is priced at Rs. 12,990. Which is the bestselling Vivo smartphone in India? Why has Vivo not been making premium phones? We interviewed Vivo’s director of brand strategy Nipun Marya to find out, and to talk about the company’s strategy in India going forward. We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
An effective vaccine against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is everyone’s hope for a real return to normal life. More than 100 teams of scientists around the world are working to develop and test a vaccine against the virus SARS-CoV-2 as quickly as possible. They’re employing a huge variety of strategies and technologies, including some…
An effective vaccine against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is everyone’s hope for a real return to normal life. More than 100 teams of scientists around the world are working to develop and test a vaccine against the virus SARS-CoV-2 as quickly as possible. They’re employing a huge variety of strategies and technologies, including some that have never been used in an approved vaccine before.
“It’s a very fascinating and kind of impressive effort,” said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist at the at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
“It’s absolutely crucial.”
Even in countries that have had a devastating number of deaths from COVID-19, there is nowhere close to a level of “herd immunity” within the population preventing the disease from spreading exponentially if we go back to normal levels of social interaction, she said.
How far are we from the first SARS-CoV-2 vaccine?
Typically, it takes an average of more than 10 years for a vaccine to get from pre-clinical development (including animal testing) through three phases of clinical (human) trials to market registration.
The process has been fast-tracked for COVID-19. The first human vaccine trials began in March, just two months after the virus and disease were identified. And different phases of human trials are being run in an overlapping fashion instead of one at time — for example, Phase 2 might begin just a few weeks after the start of a six-month Phase 1 trial.
Still, officials, including the World Health Organization, have reassured the public that no steps will be skipped. That’s why Russia drew fierce criticism when it announced in mid-August that it was granting regulatory approval to a vaccine developed by Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology after less than two months of human testing, with only two incomplete Phase 1 trials registered with the WHO.
Canada has a notably large number of vaccine candidates registered with the World Health Organization — at least eight.
Candidate vaccines in clinical trials
Multiple vaccines on the horizon?
Most vaccine candidates that make it to preclinical testing never make it to market (about 94 per cent fail, a 2013 study found). But in this case, with so many different vaccines under development, there may still end up being multiple vaccines for the coronavirus, possibly using different strategies, Saxinger predicts.
There are a number of potential advantages if that happens:
They’d be using different ingredients and manufacturing facilities and wouldn’t be competing for resources — allowing for more vaccine production.
Different vaccines have different pros and cons. Some vaccines require more doses to be effective than others, while ease of manufacturing, testing and distribution varies.
Some vaccines may be more suitable for some populations than others, due to factors such as age or genetics.
Stephen Barr is associate professor of microbiology and immunology who is part of a COVID-19 vaccine development team at at Western University in London, Ont. He noted that the “best” vaccine in the end may not be best for everybody. “But the second one might be, for those that don’t respond, right? So it’s always good to have these backup vaccines as well or vaccines that can be used in parallel around the world.”
Many teams are working on a COVID-19 vaccine using technologies that have been in development for decades, but have never yet been approved for wide-scale human use, such as DNA, RNA, and viral-vector vaccines. Many of those candidates are considered very promising, garnering huge amounts of funding and billions of preorders from some countries. In August, Canada announced deals to reserve millions of doses of RNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer, and also from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax.
Whole virus vaccines
These are the most traditional types of vaccine. They’ve been used for a long time, and most of us have had these kinds of vaccines.
In this case, the virus is grown in large quantities in cells, and then killed, often with a chemical, which is usually formaldehyde, but heat or radiation can also be used. Two kinds of flu vaccines are made this way, grown in either chicken eggs or mammalian cells.
Unlike live virus vaccines, it can even be given to people with weakened immune systems.
It doesn’t lead to as strong an immune response as a live virus. Several doses, including boosters at regular intervals, are usually necessary.
It requires the virus to be grown in large quantities and that can take time and may not be as easy to scale up as other kinds of vaccines.
Live, attenuated virus
In this case, viruses are also grown in cells, but instead of being killed they’re genetically “weakened” so they can’t infect cells and reproduce as effectively. Traditionally, this was done by getting the virus to grow in and adapt to an environment different than the one they normally infect. That’s the approach used for vaccines such as varicella (chicken pox) or yellow fever. The SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates of this type use a high-tech genetic engineering approach called “codon deoptimization,” where the virus is rebuilt from scratch, incorporating targeted mutations that weaken it. None of these vaccine prototypes for COVID-19 have made it to human trials.
Similar to real infection and usually provides long-lasting protection — sometimes lifelong — after one dose.
May not be suitable for people with weakened immune systems, long-term health problems, or people who’ve had organ transplants.
Live viruses need to be refrigerated, making them more difficult to transport and unusable in countries without access to refrigeration.
The virus must be grown in large quantities. That can take time and it may not be easy to scale up.
Vaccines that target part of a virus
These types of vaccines don’t contain entire viruses. They present parts of viruses, such as proteins or sugars, to your immune system to help it learn to recognize the virus and build an immune response.
In the case of SARS-CoV-2, the part of the virus that’s typically targeted is the spike or “S” protein — the projections on its outer coat that make it look like a crown under a microscope (“corona” means “crown.”) That’s the protein the virus uses to bind to human cells, allowing it to enter.
What varies among different vaccine candidates is the way they make the spike protein and get it into the body — it may be injected directly, transported by a “carrier” virus that doesn’t cause disease, or it may be manufactured by the human body itself using instructions encoded in DNA or RNA.
These are a special class of subunit vaccines, where the proteins are self-assembled into artificial particles that are intended to look like viruses to the human immune system. They bind to and enter cells like a virus, which is different from the way individual protein subunits do.
Some vaccines on the market that use VLPs include vaccines for HPV (human papilloma virus) and Hepatitis B.
Produce a stronger immune response than regular subunit vaccines.
Production is much faster than for traditional vaccines.
Ensuring stability and purification can add to production time.
Can be hard to produce in large quantities.
Non-replicating viral vector
Viral vectors are “carrier” viruses that don’t cause the disease you’re vaccinating against, such as COVID-19, but can be engineered to carry a piece of viruses such as SARS-CoV-2. Non-replicating viral vectors are viruses that have been genetically engineered so they can’t replicate and cause disease. Then they’re further modified to produce the protein for the disease you want, such as the coronavirus spike protein, and injected into the body to provoke an immune response.
The viruses used by COVID-19 vaccine candidates include adenoviruses, MVA (modified vaccinia ankara, a weakened pox virus), parainfluenza and rabies.
Generates more powerful immune response than subunit proteins.
Some don’t have to be stored at very low temperatures (according to China-based company CanSino), so they’re viable for use in resource-limited tropical areas.
People who have already been exposed to the viral vector, such as adenovirus, may be resistant.
Harder to scale up than protein or DNA because a virus still needs to be grown.
Because each virus can only infect one cell, large quantities of the virus need to be grown and injected, adding to production time.
Replicating viral vector
These are “carrier” viruses that can replicate in the body, but are either weakened or don’t cause any symptoms in humans. Like non-replicating viral vectors, they’re modified to produce a protein from the virus you want to protect against, such as the spike protein from SARS-CoV-2.
The replicating viral vectors used in COVID-19 vaccine candidates include weakened versions of influenza and measles, as well viruses that cause animal diseases such as horsepox and VSV (Vesicular stomatitis virus).
Closely mimics a real infection and induces a stronger, more widespread immune response.
Because it can replicate, much less virus needs to be injected as a vaccine to induce a good response.
That also means less needs to be grown to produce the vaccine, cutting the cost, time and labour needed compared to whole virus and non-replicating viral vector vaccines.
Requires more testing before approval than protein or nucleic acid-based vaccines, adding to development time.
Needs to be stored and transported at cool temperatures to keep the virus alive, which may make it harder to distribute in warmer parts of the developing world.
With RNA vaccines, what’s injected into the body is simply the genetic instructions to make a viral protein such as the spike protein. Cells in your body then use the instructions to make the protein inside the body for your immune cells to see and respond to.
No virus is needed to make the vaccine, cutting production time compared to conventional vaccines.
Don’t always produce a strong immune response compared to whole viruses, and may require adjuvants.
This is very similar to the RNA vaccines, except that DNA is used instead of RNA. It’s often delivered as a ring of DNA called a plasmid. That enters the cell, and the cell produces the virus protein.
Quick and relatively inexpensive to manufacture in large quantities.
Shelf stable and doesn’t require freezing in storage and transport.
Easy to switch to different gene/virus, and you can combine multiple in single vial.
Requires adjuvants for a good response.
With this type of vaccine, the protein is made outside the body. Traditionally, this was done by breaking whole viruses into pieces using detergent or a solvent such as ether. However, this can now be done with “recombinant” genetic technology, where the gene for a protein is inserted into another organism to grow the protein in large quantities.
Can be produced more quickly than live vaccines.
Doesn’t generate as strong an immune response as whole virus vaccines.A compound called an adjuvant needs to be included to boost a patient’s immune response.
Can’t be scaled up as quickly as production of RNA or DNA vaccines.
Lots of Canadian candidates
As mentioned earlier, Canada currently has at least seven vaccine candidates under development, with Canadian involvement in the development of some others. Saxinger said that maximizes the impact of the expertise we have, from work on diseases such as Ebola, SARS and MERS.
Developing and producing vaccines here at home could also give Canada more control over when Canadians can get the vaccine, and who can be prioritized, given that there will likely be huge demand for the vaccine from countries around the world.
“I don’t think we want to rely on others, hoping they will remember us,” said Volker Gerdts, director and CEO of VIDO-Intervac at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, one of the Canadian teams developing a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. The current race for a vaccine underscores why it’s important for countries like Canada to be self-sufficient, he added.
Canadian vaccine candidates
Here’s where you can preorder the better-but-cheaper Oculus Quest 2 VR headset – CNET
Facebook If you’ve worn the original Oculus Quest, you probably know that it’s among the best VR experiences money can buy; completely wireless, great visuals and even a controller-free hand-tracking mode, and you’ve been waiting with bated breath for the new Quest 2. If you’re brand-new to VR and the Quest 2 will be your…
If you’ve worn the original Oculus Quest, you probably know that it’s among the best VR experiences money can buy; completely wireless, great visuals and even a controller-free hand-tracking mode, and you’ve been waiting with bated breath for the new Quest 2. If you’re brand-new to VR and the Quest 2 will be your first VR experience, you’re in for a treat. Shaping up to be better (on paper, at least) than the Quest in almost every way — and cheaper to boot — the Quest 2 is likely going to be the new gold standard in VR. And you can preorder it right now.The new Quest’s list of enhancements and upgrades reads like a VR addict’s wish list. First and foremost, perhaps, is the improved resolution. Now with about 2K per eye, the headset has about twice the original headset’s resolution and should go a long way toward mitigating the dreaded “screen door” effect. It has a faster processor, is about 10% lighter, and even is reported to wear more comfortably thanks to a redesigned strap. Want to learn more? Read CNET’s Scott Stein’s deep dive into the new Quest 2. You won’t have to wait long to get a Quest 2. While the original Oculus spent most of 2020 sold out everywhere, the Quest 2 is landing at retail on Oct. 13 for just $299 — an impulse buy if I’ve ever seen one. That’s the 64GB version; you can also get the Quest 2 with 256GB for $399. Here is where you can preorder the Oculus Quest 2 right now so you have it in your hot little hands as quickly as possible. Right now we were able to track down exactly one deal: Get the 256GB Quest 2 bundled with the Elite Strap and Fit Pack for $430 at Costco. That’s a savings of about $60 compared to buying all three items separately. The Elite Strap is an enhanced strap with a wheel that tightens and loosens the fit; the Fit Pack includes a pair of light blockers and two interchangeable facial interfaces for wider or narrower faces.Otherwise, there are no deals to be had here yet, so pick whichever retailer you like best:This article was first published last week.
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All the iOS 14 features your iPhone just got that Android users had first – CNET
Is the new Apple iOS 14 just Android in disguise? Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters. Apple on Wednesday released iOS 14, the latest version of the operating system that offers the latest features and improvements for your iPhone. The release…
Is the new Apple iOS 14 just Android in disguise?
Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET
This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.
Apple on Wednesday released iOS 14, the latest version of the operating system that offers the latest features and improvements for your iPhone. The release follows the company’s September event, where it also announced two new Apple Watches and a revamped iPad Air. The new iOS 14 was among the slew of announcements Apple made in June at WWDC 2020, its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. While many of the iOS 14 features might seem new to iPhone users, those familiar with Android devices could be feeling deja vu. Here’s a list of all the new Apple iOS 14 features that Android already had.
Top 5 features iOS 14 stole from Android
TranslateiOS 14 has a new Translate app that’s designed for use in real-time conversation. It can translate between 11 languages, including English, Mandarin Chinese, French, German and Korean. As of March 2020, Google’s 14-year-old dedicated translate app could transcribe conversations in eight languages in real time. Apple’s Translate app in iOS 14.
Sarah Tew/ CNET
WidgetsWith the new operating system, the revamped iPhone ($699 at Amazon) and iPad ($270 at Back Market) home screens now include widgets, which let you see information like the weather at a glance. Prior to the announcement at WWDC, iPhone users could only have apps on the iPhone home screen. But widgets, which contain more information and are more functional than app icons, have been a mainstay feature on Google’s Android since its inception in 2008. App Clips in iOS 14.
Sarah Tew/ CNET
App Clips Apple’s App Clips let users preview “small parts” of apps quickly without downloading them. This can come in handy when trying to pay for takeout or parking, since App Clips is compatible with Apple Pay and Sign In with Apple. Google introduced a similar feature, Instant Apps, in 2016. Instant Apps gives apps their own URL so users don’t have to download an entire app for a single transaction, like buying concert tickets for example.
App LibraryAnother part of Apple’s redesigned home screen is an App Library that organizes your apps into groups and lists. With the new home screen in iOS 14, users can also “hide” apps from their main home screen. This is similar to Android’s app drawer, sans the grouping features.
Apple Maps cycling directionsThe updated Apple Maps app provides ways to travel in a more eco-friendly fashion in iOS 14 and WatchOS 7. The dedicated Cycling option helps users find bike paths while taking into account elevation, whether the route you take is busy or quiet, and if you’ll encounter any stairs. While Google Maps doesn’t factor in stairs, there has been the option to select “cycling” since 2010. When I tried it on my Pixel 3 ($333 at Amazon), the step-by-step directions offer a look at elevation on a trip, too. Apple’s cycling directions in Apple Maps.
Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET
Picture-in-pictureApple’s new picture-in-picture feature lets users watch a video while using other apps. The video shrinks and be able to float anywhere on the screen. It can also be swiped away and the video’s audio can still play. Android phones already have the ability to float videos over other apps, although the audio doesn’t continue to play if the video is swiped away.Apple’s Wind Down mode in iOS 14.
Wind Down modeAnother new feature is a Wind Down mode that helps users get ready for bed. The feature, which works for iPhone and Apple Watch ($399 at Apple), lets you set a desired bedtime and wake-up time, and puts your phone into Do Not Disturb mode. There are also options to add shortcuts for meditation or playing relaxing music. Google doesn’t have a dedicated app for this, but there is a way to set up a bedtime routine through the Google Home app.
iOS 14 hands-on preview: Trying out the developers’…
Discover the latest news and best reviews in smartphones and carriers from CNET’s mobile experts.