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A look at new power banks from OmniCharge and Fuse Chicken – TechCrunch

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When you’ve been doing this job long enough, you start to develop strange interests (though some might compellingly argue that strange interests are a prerequisite). Lately for me it’s been power banks. Quite possibly the least sexy product in all of consumer electronics outside of the ever-ubiquitous dongle.

I don’t know what to tell you. Blame the fact that I’m traveling every other week for this job. There are also all of the liveblogs from years’ past that got cut off in the last few minutes as my poor ancient MacBook put itself to sleep during those last precious battery percentages. Low batteries give me anxiety. I’m the guy who’s the first to notice when your phone’s screenshot is below 10 percent.

So the power bank has become constant accessory in my life, both home and on the road. Until last year, I used to carry a massive one that was just north of 20,000mAh. The peace of mind to back pain ration seemed sensible enough, but I learned the hard way that, not only do Chinese airports have a limit on battery size, they chuck yours in the trash without a second thought if you go over. It’s a quick way to lose $150.

The good news, however, is that between USB-C, wireless charging and the magic of crowdfunding, it seems we might be living through the golden age of the power bank. I know, right? What a time to be alive.

Point is, there are a lot of choices out there. Anker and Amazon’s house brand RAVPower both offer some good options on a budget. There’s also mainstay Mophie for those who don’t mind paying a bit of a premium for design.

Fuse Chicken was actually a brand that was new to me when they hit me up to try out their latest product. It’s a name I definitely would have remembered — because, honestly, it’s pretty terrible. Memorable, but terrible. Maybe that’s why the company went with such a mundane name for what’s a really interesting charger.

My dad ones told me that he gave my sister and I boring first names because we had such an unusual surname. I have no idea if this is true, but it’s an interesting story and could well apply here.

The Universal is a good example of making the most of out a form factor. It manages to jam a lot of features in without creating a Frankenstein’s Monster worthy of the name Fuse Chicken. On its face, the product looks like a black and white version of Amazon’s default power bricks. It serves that purpose, of course, coupled with a trio of swappable international wall adapters (bonus points for travelers).

But the brick also sports a 6,700mAh battery inside, so you can continue charging gadgets while unplugged. That’s ideal for a phone — you can keep a laptop alive for a bit as well, but you’re going to burn through that pretty quickly. There’s also a wireless charging pad up top, so you can power up another phone or, say, a new set of AirPods at the same time. The side of the device features a small display showing off how much juice is left.

It’s great having a bank that’s also a plug, though like Apple’s brick, it’s much too massive to plug into many vertical outlets. I learned this lesson the hard way on a recent coast to coast flight. Thankfully, though, it’s compatible with Apple’s extension cable.

OmniCharge, meanwhile, is a company I’ve been following since their earliest Kickstarter days. Matter of fact, the aforementioned power bank that’s currently sitting in a Chinese garbage dump is one of their products. R.I.P. noble battery pack.

The Omni Mobile 12,800 mAh is a much more basic product that the company’s earliest offerings. There’s no display for power information here — instead you have to rely on four lights to let you know how much juice is left.

As with most of the company’s products, I do quite like the design language. It’s subtle and unobtrusive and fits nicely inside a backpack. It’s definitely too big for carrying around in a pocket, however. Thanks the wonders of USB it will charge a laptop, as well, though once again, you’re going to run through that 12,800 mAh pretty quickly, if you do.

The Fuse Chicken and OmniCharge run $85 and $99, respectively. They’ve both served me well as travel companions these last few weeks. Here’s to long flights and avoiding life’s landfill.

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Pixel 6 can’t fly some DJI drones because of an incompatible app

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It’s not really that unusual for some mobile apps to stop working on newer phones, especially if the app hasn’t been updated in years. It’s a completely different situation, however, if the app in question comes from a large and popular brand that does support the latest smartphones. That’s the rather puzzling and infuriating situation that new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro owners have suddenly found themselves in after discovering that they can no longer fly their DJI drones. The company’s response, however, added insult to injury.

On the one hand, it might not exactly be too surprising for DJI owners and fans who have been keeping a close eye on the company’s products. Officially speaking, not even the Pixel 5 is listed in the company’s supported mobile devices, after all. On the other hand, the phone works just fine with the DJI Fly app, so Pixel 6 owners can’t be blamed for expecting the same situation with Google’s latest flagship.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case, and owners of some DJI models are forced to decide between their new phone and their favorite drone. Several such owners are reporting that DJI’s Fly app only shows a black screen instead of the usual video feed, making the app practically useless. In fact, some are reporting that DJI’s other apps also crashed immediately on Pixel 6 phones.

DroneDJ reports that a DJI representative suggested using another phone just to be able to use the DJI Fly app. Unsurprisingly, that was met with harsh criticism and backlash since not everyone has the capacity to keep another phone just to fly a drone. DJI could always argue that it never promised the Pixel 6 to be compatible with the app, but few buyers are able to check those technical specifications first, especially if they’re not located in a discoverable place.

There’s also the mystery of why the app wouldn’t work on the Pixel 6 in the first place, especially if it has no problem working on other Android phones. It’s especially puzzling considering this is Google’s flagship, not an old phone from some lesser-known company. As one person put it, there would have been an even bigger uproar if it was discovered that DJI’s app didn’t support the iPhone 13.

DJI did acknowledge the issue and had at least promised to pay attention to it and resolve it ASAP. That said, it also adds that “if it bothers you a lot,” affected users should borrow or use a compatible phone, echoing the earlier recommendation. It’s definitely a disappointing and almost insulting response, and it doesn’t exactly inspire much hope if last year’s Pixel 5 hasn’t exactly been added to the official list yet in the first place.

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Galaxy Note production has reportedly ended

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As if Galaxy Note fans needed more reason to be glum this year, more news just dropped over the weekend that probably puts what might be the final name in the fan favorite’s coffin. There have been numerous reports of the Galaxy Note line’s demise, especially since it didn’t make an appearance this year. With the Galaxy S22 Ultra expected to pretty much stand in its place, this report about Samsung ceasing the production of Galaxy Note phones is both expected yet also disheartening for Galaxy Note believers.

Of course, nothing’s official yet, since it pretty much comes from the usual anonymous industry source. According to ETnews, Samsung is halting the production of the Galaxy Note series this year, which has all the elements of a prophecy of doom for the much-loved series. That said, there’s still a window of opportunity for Samsung to change course, at least after 2022.

The report says that the primary reason for Samsung stopping Galaxy Note production is to give way to the Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip. The production capacity that would have been reserved for the Galaxy Note would instead be allocated for making these foldable phones. It might make sense given how there is no Galaxy Note this year, but that also means that it won’t be producing any new Galaxy Note 20 units next year either.

Complicating matters for Galaxy Note fans is Samsung’s 2022 production goals that were leaked recently. According to the unofficial information, Samsung plans on producing 13 million units of combined Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Z Flip phones, more than it has for the Galaxy Note line in the past two years. Those plans apparently don’t have space for a Galaxy Note again, suggesting that it will be a no-show next year as well.

Given the ongoing constraints in components, it is understandable that Samsung will consolidate its resources on one or the other smartphone line. For better or for worse, the company is betting on foldables next year, specifically the Galaxy Z Flip 4, as it tries to push the still niche devices into mainstream consciousness. There’s also the expectation that the Galaxy S22 Ultra will practically take the place of the Galaxy Note in everything except the name anyway.

Of course, many Galaxy Note users are displeased with these reports, especially with suggestions that the Galaxy Z Fold is being groomed to replace their favorite stylus-toting phablet. Admittedly, the foldable phone still has ways to go to become a Galaxy Note substitute, especially if the Galaxy Z Fold 4 still won’t have a mechanism for storing the S Pen. In the meantime, however, the Galaxy S22 Ultra could give Galaxy Note fans their fix, checking all the boxes and putting the final nail in the Galaxy Note’s coffin.

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Samsung Galaxy S22: Rumors, leaks and everything we know

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The highly anticipated Samsung Galaxy S22 series is not long away from its release with speculations brewing for early 2022 launch, and rumors of the flagship doing rounds in plenty. The premium phone will come in three variants: the successors to Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus and Galaxy S21 Ultra respectively.

This line-up will try and retain the charm of the canceled Note series for this year at least. The Galaxy S22 Ultra will be the best device in the line-up, and current rumors and leaks assure the Samsung flagship for 2022 will edge out the competitors by a long way.

Design and display

The design of the Galaxy S22 and the Galaxy S22 Plus will be more or less the same as the predecessor, whereas the Galaxy S22 Ultra will have a boxier Galaxy Note influence courtesy of the squared corners and the S Pen slot. This fact is clear from the leaked renders by reliable leakster Steve Hemmerstoffer (a.k.a. OnLeaks) in partnership with Digit.

Another thing that’s very clear is the refreshing gamut of color options; the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus will come in white, rose gold, green and black colors. The Galaxy S22 Ultra will feature white, black, and dark red colorways.

The camera module on the rear of the Galaxy S22 Ultra will have a P-shaped camera housing split in half. Another backplate picture also suggests the existence of this radical design change. This has gained more substance as the recent real-life leaked images of the S22 Ultra prototype align with whatever is said earlier.

Trusted tipster Ice Universe and Mauri QHD recently tweeted about the screen size of the upcoming flagship. According to them, the Galaxy S22 will adorn a 6.06-inch Full-HD+ flat AMOLED display which will be a bit smaller than the one on Galaxy S21.

The Plus variant will have a 6.55-inch display and Galaxy S22 Ultra might get a slightly bigger 6.81-inch Full HD+ display. The latter is also speculated by Mauri QHD to have an adaptive refresh rate between 1Hz – 120Hz thanks to the LTPO technology. Ice Universe claims the phone will have a brightness level of 1500 nits or even 2,000 nits.

Specification and features

The processing power of the Galaxy S22 lineup will be a hot topic until its release. It will expectedly be powered by the 4nm Snapdragon 898 chipset, which will take graphics and AI to a whole new level. So will it bump up the camera performance and overall user experience with massive processing power. However, according to a leak, many global carriers are requesting Exynos variant of the phone over Snapdragon for a good reason.

The Exynos 2200 with the AMD RDNA 2 architecture-based GPU powering the Galaxy S22 variants will present a good fight. Capabilities comparable to gaming consoles and the Wild Life results leaked by Ice Universe suggest a graphics benchmark of 8,134 and average FPS of 50.3. In fact, the South Korean electronics giant is believed to be testing the AMD graphics-based chip that’ll change the landscape of gaming on mobile devices.

According to Max Weinbach, Samsung could offer both the SoC options for each device in the lineup irrespective of the region, as it did in the past. Either of these SoCs will be mated to 8GB LPDRR5X RAM and 256GB UFS 3.1 storage on the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus. The Galaxy S22 Ultra on the other hand will come with 12GB and 16GB LPDRR5X RAM and 256GB and 512GB UFS 3.1 onboard storage.

Camera prowess

While we had an early rumor of an Olympus partnership, the rumor has been washed away now. As per Ice Universe, the Galaxy S22 Ultra will see some changes in the camera sensors. The main camera lens will be a 108MP (f/1.8) HM3 sensor with an 85-degree field-of-view and laser autofocus.

The ultra-wide (with optical image stabilization) will be the same and the 10MP telephoto lens will have a larger pixel size for improved low-light photography. For the S22 Ultra, the company is working on a super detailed photo mode to match iPhone 13 Pro Max and Pixel 6 Pro.

Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus will have a 50MP primary sensor (probably ISOCELL GN2) with the RGBW unit for better color reproduction. Another rumor points to a 3X telephoto zoom level at 10MP resolution. The Galaxy S22 variant is also tipped to record 8K video at 60 fps, which will be better than the Galaxy S21 Ultra from the last year.

Battery and charging

The batteries on the vanilla Galaxy S22 and the Galaxy S22 Plus might see a downgrade with 3,700mAh and 4,600mAh respectively. Compare that to the equivalent predecessor variants which have 4,000mAh and 4,800mAh capacity batteries. The S22 Ultra will have the same 5,000mAh juicing up its guts though.

A recent listing spotted by SamMobile points to a 4,370mAh battery for the Plus variant and 4,855mAh for the Galaxy S22 Ultra. In either case, buyers seeking a higher battery capacity will have to live without such a change, if the final released Galaxy S22 line-up arrives with the speculated battery capacities.

Rumors in the past by Ice Universe have hinted at the reincarnation of the 65W fast charging for the Galaxy S22. That’s contradicted by a recently leaked listing on China’s tech regulator portal suggesting the 25W charging tech for the phone. If that’s the case, eager buyers will be a bit disappointed, especially seeing other OEMs offering crazy fast charging speeds.

Release date and price

The Samsung Galaxy S22 series is likely to launch in February 2022 but we have to factor in the global chip shortage. In that case, a delay of a few weeks or even months won’t be surprising. A recent rumor by Jon Prosser hints at a February 8, 2022 release for the line-up. The reliable tipster also claims the flagship will be up for pre-order the very same day with the sale going live on February 18.

Last year, the Galaxy S21 lineup saw a drop of a couple of hundred dollars on all the variants. While we don’t expect a further drop in price for the new Galaxy S22, similar pricing (in the best-case scenario) as that of the predecessor is on the cards. That said, a recent rumor could shatter the dreams, it tips a price increase to $849 for the vanilla Galaxy S22 and the Plus variant it suggests a $1,049 tag. The Premium flagship Galaxy S22 Ultra will cost a hefty $1,299 according to the leaked information.

Wrap-up

Usually, leaks by reliable tipsters turn out to be close to the official release specs, we have seen this in the past. So, we can have a fair idea about the upcoming Galaxy S22 series from all that’s around in the tech cloud already. An under-display selfie camera (which won’t have many changes) could be on the cards, while S Pen support for the Galaxy S22 Ultra could be a surprise everyone will relish.

We would wish for a fast-charging device, at least 45W charging support would be great together with better battery management courtesy of the new-age chipsets. So, a lesser battery capacity won’t hurt that much, and we are sure Samsung has got that covered.

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