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Indian Developer Bags Rs 75 Lakh Bounty For Finding Critical Apple Login Vulnerability

Apple has paid a $100,000 (~Rs 75 lakh) bounty to a 27-year-old Indian researcher Bhavuk Jain for cracking a critical and zero-day vulnerability that he found within the ‘Sign in with Apple’ ability that is found on some websites and several third-party applications. The critical flaw, according to Jain, could have allowed hackers to break into an Apple user’s account details who log into third-party apps like Dropbox, Spotify, Airbnb, Facebook-owned Giphy and more.

Launched in 2019, the “Sign in with Apple” feature allowed users to simply and quickly sign into third-party apps by sharing their Apple email IDs. Interestingly, when logging in, Apple used to authenticate a JWT (JSON Web Token) which used to contain the user’s Apple ID email addresses as well. However, If the user decided to hide the Email ID, Apple generated its own user-specific Apple relay Email ID. That’s where the bug existed.

According to Jain, he could request a JSON Web Token for any legitimate Apple account and the sign-in would be verified valid each time. This, Jain said, is a critical flaw that could allow a hacker to take over any account as he only needed to know the email addresses associated with an Apple ID to get a validated token and obtain access.

“The Sign in with Apple works similarly to OAuth 2.0. I found I could request JWTs (JSON Web Tokens) for any Email ID from Apple and when the signature of these tokens was verified using Apple’s public key, they showed as valid,” Jain said. “This means an attacker could forge a JWT by linking any Email ID to it and gaining access to the victim’s account,” he added.

According to Jain, this critical vulnerability may have had a long-lasting impact on hundreds and thousands Apple users as it could have allowed a full account takeover.

“This bug could have resulted in a full account takeover of user accounts on that third party application irrespective of a victim having a valid Apple ID or not,” Jain said. It is worth noting that Apple has made ‘Sign in With Apple’ mandatory for a lot of developers since it is mandatory for applications that support other social logins.

While Apple is yet to release an official statement on the development, but Jain asserted that Apple carried out an investigation and patched this critical bug. The Cupertino-based tech giant also ensured there was no misuse or account compromise due to this vulnerability, following Jain’s report.



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Realme TV to Go on Sale in India Tomorrow: Know Price and Other Details Here

Realme Smart TV (Pic Source: Flipkart)

Realme Smart TV (Pic Source: Flipkart)

It is the first TV in its price segment to be powered by a high-performance MediaTek 64-bit quad-core processor, Realme said.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: June 1, 2020, 5:27 PM IST

Chinese brand Realme on Monday announced its Smart TV will go on sale for the first time on June 2 on realme.com and Flipkart. The Smart TV will be available in two sizes – 32-inch model priced at Rs 12,999 and 43-inch variant priced at Rs 21,999. The sale will start at 12 noon, the company said in a statement.

Flipkart customers can avail six-month free trial of Youtube Premium and standard EMI option while buying on realme.com and Flipkart. The Smart TV comes with a one-year warranty, along with an additional one-year warranty on its panel.

The company said it aims to provide fast door-step installation service within 48 hours of over 85 per cent purchases with over 780-plus service centres. The Realme Smart TV runs on Android 9.0 and comes with Google Assistant to control the TV with one’s voice to customize the experience.

The pre-installed apps are Netflix, Prime Video and YouTube. It is the first TV in its price segment to be powered by a high-performance MediaTek 64-bit quad-core processor.

The RAM of the Realme Smart TV is clocked at 2133MHz, which is faster than normal 1600MHz RAM used in other TVs. The TV also comes with Dolby Audio certificated 24W Quad Stereo speakers, comprising two sets of speakers that are located at the bottom.




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Xiaomi To Launch Rebranded RedmiBook 13 in India on June 11: All The Details Here

Xiaomi RedmiBook 13

Xiaomi RedmiBook 13

Xiaomi’s upcoming laptop in India may be a rebranded RedmiBook 13 that was originally launched in December 2019.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: June 1, 2020, 5:00 PM IST

Xiaomi is all set to debut its first laptop in India this month. In fact, if reports are to be believed, then the Xiaomi RedmiBook 13 will be unveiled in India on June 11. The laptop is said to be a rebranded version of the already-launched RedmiBook 13 and will be sold under the MI brand in the country. According to tipster Ishan Agarwal, the RedmiBook 13 will be powered by an Intel Core i7 processor and will feature very narrow bezels around the display. Moreover, Xiaomi could also offer other processor options as well.

The report further notes that Xiaomi will launch the RedmiBook 13 in the Indian market that was launched in December 2019 and not the Ryzen 4000 series processor version. Apart from an Intel Core i7 processor, the Indian variant of the RedmiBook 13 will also feature a sleek design with a 13-inch display, ample storage and long battery life with support for 1C charging. It is worth noting that the Xiaomi recently said that the laptops in the Indian market will not be as affordable as its smartphones.

RedmiBook 13 Specifications and Price

The RedmiBook 13 model was originally launched in China in December 2019, with the price set at RMB 4,199 (~ Rs 44,500) for the Intel Core i5 processor version. For the lone Intel Core i7 version, the RedmiBook 13 has a price tag of RMB 5,199 (~ Rs 55,000). As far as the specifications are concerned, the RedmiBook 13 sports a 13-inch full-HD (1920X1080 pixels) display and thin bezels. The laptop is packed with a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 and i7 options with 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD storage. It also features a 2GB NVIDIA GeForce MX250 graphics card as well.

Coming to the other details, the RedmiBook 13 has a 40Whr cell with a 65W power adaptor and 1C charging support, as mentioned earlier. The RedmiBook 13 has a claimed battery life of 11 hours and can charge 50 percent in just 35 minutes. For connectivity, the laptop sports a 2x USB 3.1 port, 1x HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack, dual-band Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0. There are two 2W speakers with DTS Audio Processing, pre-installed Windows 10 Home Edition, and will have a brushed metal body available in silver colour.




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Google Wants to Help You Maintain Social Distancing With AR App, Sodar

Screenshot of the new Sodar App by Google.

Screenshot of the new Sodar App by Google.

Sodar can be accessed on Chrome browsers on Android smartphones and users can head to goo.gle/sodar to launch it.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: June 1, 2020, 4:59 PM IST

There’s no denying that the Coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we think and how we go about our daily lives these days. Needless to say, the new changes we have adopted will stay with us for the near future and one of them being strictly following the social-distancing guidelines to keep ourselves safe from contracting Covid-19. Now, Google has launched a new tool called ‘Sodar’ that used Augmented Reality to help you visualise a six-feet social distancing guideline. The new AR tool has been developed under Experiments With Google but is not available to download from Google Play Store, presently.

Talking about how Sodar works, the AR tool uses WebXR to create a visual boundary by using the user’s smartphone camera and help maintain this social-distancing guideline. According to Google, “the experiment uses WebXR to visualise 2-metre social distancing guidelines in your environment.”

The app superimposes the 2-metre or a 6.5 feet virtual ring on the viewfinder and moves with the user in the form of a circle. It should be noted that Sodar is made using the same kind of AR technology that is found similar to smartphone games like Pokemon Go. Furthermore, the screen will visually alert the user if they breach the circle. Since Sodar is web-based, you do not need a special app to run it on your device.

Sodar can be accessed on Chrome browsers on Android smartphones and users can head to goo.gle/sodar to launch it. Notably, the feature is not available on iOS devices. Since governments around the world have developed their own contract-tracing app to find the Covid-19 hotspots in their country, it remains to be seen whether Google’s latest initiative really pays off to reinforce the idea of social-distancing guidelines.




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Samsung is Making More Memory Chips as Covid-19 Pandemic Increases Demand

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

Samsung said the additional capacity will also help meet the demand for 5G smartphones and other devices, despite recent delays in deployments of 5G networks.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: June 1, 2020, 4:48 PM IST

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said on Monday it has begun construction of a new domestic production line for NAND flash memory chips, betting on demand for personal computers and servers as the coronavirus prompts more people to work from home. The world’s largest memory chip maker is targeting the second half of next year to mass-produce the chips, used for storage, on the added line in its plant in Pyeongtaek city, which is within a two-hour drive from the capital Seoul.

Samsung said the additional capacity will also help meet the demand for 5G smartphones and other devices, despite recent delays in deployments of 5G networks in Europe and other countries due to the health crisis. While the company did not disclose the investment amount, analysts said the range of investment would be between 7 trillion won ($5.70 billion) and 8 trillion won.

Samsung is also expanding its second Xian plant in China with an additional line, slated for production in the first half of next year. South Korea’s chip exports for May rose 7.1% from a year earlier, as working from home trends and online classes boosted demand for servers and PCs, and Chinese PC makers recovered production, driving up chip prices, according to a trade ministry statement on Monday.

“Data server customers will likely continue to invest in beef up their infrastructure to demand drawn from customers’ increased online activities,” said Eo Kyu-jin, an analyst at DB Financial Investment.




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Dell Launches Business-Focused Latitude 9510 Notebook With Built-in AI; Price Starts At Rs 1,49,000

Dell Latitude 9510 Notebook.

Dell Latitude 9510 Notebook.

The Latitude 9510 Notebook comes with built-in Artificial Intelligence, powered by the Dell Optimiser Software.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: June 1, 2020, 4:47 PM IST

Dell Technologies on Monday unveiled a new premium commercial PC called Latitude 9510 with built-in artificial intelligence (AI) in India at a starting price of Rs 1,49,000. The Latitude 9510 aims to deliver the longest battery life for any 15-inch business PC with a target of up to 34 hours, 5G-ready design, powerful audio features, and intelligent solutions that increase productivity, the company said in a statement.

“With the introduction of the 9000 series, our customers will be able to optimize their time on the work that matters the most. The Latitude 9510 stands out today as the most intelligent 15-inch business PC featuring built-in AI and the most secure commercial PC,” Vivekanand Manjeri, Brand Director, Client Solutions Group, Dell Technologies, India said in a statement.

The device offers the power and performance teams need to be productive anywhere as the first Project Athena-verified commercial PC with 10th Gen Intel vPro processors. It sports a machined-aluminium finish with diamond-cut edges for professionals looking.

The PC features, the Intel Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+) and 5G-ready mobile broadband capabilities for more productive. The Latitude 9510 comes with built-in Artificial Intelligence, powered by the Dell Optimiser Software.

The Dell Optimiser software works behind the scenes to improve overall application performance, enable faster log-in and secure lockouts, eliminate echoes and reduce background noise on conference calls. The Latitude 9510 is available in two variants, 2-in-1 convertible as well as a clamshell laptop.




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Acer Swift 3 Notebook Launched in India: Check Price, Specs, Features And More

Acer Swift 3 Notebook

Acer Swift 3 Notebook

The Acer Swift 3 Notebook is equipped with Windows 10, Microsoft Office 2019, DTS Audio and micro-speaker distortion prevention for the optimum sound experience

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: June 1, 2020, 4:13 PM IST

Acer India on Monday announced the latest addition to its thin and light notebook series with Acer Swift 3 at a starting price of Rs 59,999. The notebook comes with the latest AMD Ryzen 4000 series mobile processor with Radeon graphics. It also includes a max of 1TB SSD and up to 16GB RAM.

“The fact that Swift 3 weighs only 1.2 kg making it super portable, ideal for slipping in a bag and working on the go,” Chandrahas Panigrahi, CMO and Consumer Business Head, Acer India said in a statement. Acer Swift 3 houses a narrow-bezel display, offering 82.73 per cent screen-to-body ratio with a 14-inch Full HD IPS display and 15.95 mm thin chassis.

It features Dual-band WIFI-6 which aims to improve the average network throughput by up to 3 times and reduces latency up to 75 per cent compared to WiFi-5. The device is equipped with Windows 10, Microsoft Office 2019, DTS Audio and micro-speaker distortion prevention for the optimum sound experience.

The laptop supports Windows Hello through fingerprint readers for fast and secure logins. It has Wake on Voice (WoV) feature which enables users to activate Windows 10 with just their voice, even when the screen is off.




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Anonymous, Their Biggest Hacks and Fear Factor: Should Donald Trump Be Worried Now?

Anonymous is back – that appears to be the verdict on social media platforms. On May 29, Anonymous posted a video message on their Facebook page, issuing a warning to the Minneapolis Police Department for the deliberate killing of George Floyd in USA. Along with that, on its social media platforms, Anonymous sounded the alarm on many public figures, stating that it will disclose proof of severe wrongdoing against these people. The collective has since allegedly taken down the Minneapolis Police Department website, and released documents that appear to prove, among other things, the killing of Princess Diana by the English royal family, and allegations of rape of a 13-year-old by now US president, Donald Trump.

Many new users of the internet, however, may not be well versed with the lore and internet culture stardom that surrounded Anonymous during its formative years, and the subsequent time around its biggest activities on the internet. On this note, we take a look at who Anonymous is, what their biggest achievements have been so far, how their activity dwindled in the recent years, and what their recent message can signify.

Who is Anonymous?

One of, if not the most famous collective of online hackers and hacktivists in the world, Anonymous is a decentralised organisation spread across the world. It is not a formal organisation or company, and is known to not follow a set structure of power or hierarchy. In fact, Anonymous’ members are believed to be spread across the world, and have typically come together under the banner to carry out operations that typically send across a political message.

Anarchy has been a consistent theme of Anonymous’ operations, but its anti-establishment moves have typically received considerable support from the common people, and at times, large chunks of the global media. Prior to making a move, Anonymous has been known to post a video message as a warning against the organisation they target. Their motto, “We are Anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive, we do not forget. Expect us”, became a popular signage of socio-political resistance. Anonymous has typically taken anti-surveillance and anti-censorship stances, even though many have often questioned the real world impact of Anonymous’ activities. Anonymous also popularised the Guy Fawkes mask, a style adopted from V for Vendetta, as part of their identity in both the virtual and the real worlds.

Biggest hacks and achievements

Anonymous’ notable actions began with Project Chanology in 2008, where for a period of about three months, they targeted the Church of Scientology as a retaliation against its corporate entity-like behaviour. In the following years, Anonymous switched to companies targeting copyright preservation, interpreting them as those who restrict free speech. One of the companies they targeted at this time was Aiplex, an Indian software firm that used to host DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks against Torrent sites to prevent piracy of movies.

These actions soon grew to a wider scale, to a point where it was labelled ‘Operation Payback’ by Anonymous. The collective’s targets included various movie and art studios and production houses of America, as well as copyright protection groups. The operation grew through 2009 and 2010, with Anonymous taking down various entities such as the United States Copyright Office, Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft and many others across the world. The objective behind these operations were to open up the internet and restrict stifling of content consumption via copyrights, which in Anonymous’ views were largely arbitrary.

Anonymous also contributed to the cause of Julian Assange, where it became vocal supporters of WikiLeaks. In response to those who attempted to take WikiLeaks down, Anonymous launched cyber operations against many corporate entities, of which PayPal was the biggest affected. Anonymous’ DDoS attacks against PayPal are said to have cost the company over $5 million. Anonymous’ direct attack on those who did not support WikiLeaks caused plenty of noise, revealing private emails and other documents conspiring against Assange.

Anonymous also took on Sony for denying hackers to find flaws in its PlayStation 3 console, compromising over 100 million Sony accounts and taking down PlayStation Network for over a month. The collective has been an active voice against homophobia, racism and child pornography, taking down and exposing various figures in these acts. It has also notably acted against the Ku Klux Klan, revealing details of various KKK members. On an isolated basis, Anonymous has been a sharp actor against numerous national governments, from time to time.

Arrests and downtime

Over the past few years, isolated activities led to arrests of various Anonymous members around the world. These included individuals such as Jake ‘Topiary’ Davis, Hector ‘Sabu’ Monsegur, Barrett Brown and others. Many of Anonymous’ arrests have been linked to their decentralised organisational structure and a lack of unified thought process. Anonymous members have often been known for having diverse, and sometimes sharply different socio-political views, which have reportedly been the reason behind internal indecisions.

Because of the way they operate, Anonymous has been difficult to track down by journalists and law enforcement agencies. In recent times, a number of these reasons coming together is what is believed to have caused a decline in the fear and enigma typically associated with Anonymous. Many also started questioning the efficacy of a collective like Anonymous, and started raising questions in terms of how much power their hacks truly wielded now.

Regeneration?

With protests over the police killing of George Floyd leading to the breakout of riots, Anonymous’ comeback video suggests that certain key members of the group may still be active. The hacking and divulging style shown by Anonymous have so far been uniform with their previous acts, which have led many to believe that serious repercussions will come from the documents that Anonymous is exposing online. Now, only time will tell if Anonymous’ second coming has the impact that many around the world are hoping it does.



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Twitter Has Been Donald Trump’s Voice For Many Years: Why do #BlackLivesMatter to Twitter Now?

In the eyes of many, US President Donald Trump’s tweets have been indicative of a much larger problem. Something that Twitter chose to ignore over the years. This isn’t the first time Trump has used Twitter to write something inflammatory or share an opinion that can diplomatically be labeled as controversial. And more often than not, it went ignored, at least in the sense that Twitter didn’t bother to do anything about it. So much so, that it surprised no one now. Which is exactly why everyone is taking notice when Twitter decided to fact-check Trump on some of his tweets (the mail-in ballots one stands out) and actually put a public interest notice on a tweet which Twitter said, “violated the Twitter rules about glorifying violence”. Trump’s tweet came after the absolutely shocking video of 46-year-old Minnesota resident George Floyd’s death led to angry reactions in many American cities.

Floyd was being taken in for questioning for allegedly buying food items using fake currency, according to The Washington Post. During the subsequent questioning, video footage recorded by onlookers shows one of the officers pinning down Floyd on the ground, with his knee on his neck. In one of the videos, Floyd can be seen pleading with the officer, repeatedly saying he cannot breathe. The knee remained on the neck for 8 minutes and 28 seconds, according to media reports. The nation reacted angrily. The world reacted angrily. Rightly so.

In the tweet that Twitter took semi-hid behind a public notice, Trump wrote the line, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” There’s a historical significance attached to that phrase. In December 1967, violence had broken out during the Republican National Convention in Miami. The then Miami Police Chief Walter Headley had reportedly said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. He introduced a “get tough” policing policy that involved the use of shotguns, dogs, and aggressive “stop and frisk” tactics in black neighborhoods in an attempt to reduce the crime rate. The New York Times quoted him at the time, saying, “We don’t mind being accused of police brutality.”

Before you paint Twitter as the savior of all things humanity, the good fighting the evil and what not, let us drive down the memory lane to see how Twitter has chosen to deploy a completely different policy to such tweets by “world leaders”. In early 2018, Twitter had taken pains to explain that “Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate. It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions.” It had also cited global, public conversation. And followed through on it steadfastly, till now. Trump, in the meantime, has pretty much gone to war with anyone who has disagreed with him, using Twitter as his megaphone. He has mocked people, he has shared what can be lightly put as his version of facts, he has attacked individuals and establishments and pretty much gauged public opinion with his tweets. The thing is, you cannot probably hold that against Trump, or any world leader—Twitter gave him that platform and he used it. Twitter has so-called community and content policies for the rest of us but decided that world leaders are above the law. Good then. What is the point of crying over spilt milk? The milk that you spilled in the first place. And go into a crazy PR frenzy to be seen doing course correction?

Twitter had the right to, and Twitter had the obligation to enforce the terms of service against any user violating them. It did not.

Is this the first time #BlackLivesMatter really mattered to Twitter? It seems to be. The global social media network has #BlackLivesMatter on its profile now, and the otherwise blue Twitter bird logo is now black.

In April 2018, a disturbing video of a police officer punching a black student of the Harvard University made rounds on social media. In April as well, a black man with a history of mental illness had a run-in with law enforcement in Salt Lake City and was killed in the subsequent shooting. In May, an unarmed black man was shot in California by the police. In July, a 17-year old black student was shot by the police in East Pittsburgh. These are just some examples. #BlackLivesMatter isn’t new. Neither is the law enforcement bias against black people. Twitter didn’t make much noise about this shocking reality till now.

According to advocacy group Mapping Police Violence, even they make up only 13 percent of the US population, Black Americans are two-and-a-half times as likely as white Americans to be killed by the police. The states of California, Texas and Florida, incidentally the three largest states in the US, have recorded the highest number of killings of black Americans by law enforcement. The data is scary. It has been this way for quite a while now. But till now, Twitter didn’t really bother. Did it?

It seems Twitter finally grew a pair when they clarified why it put up a public interest notice on Trump’s tweet. “This Tweet violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today,” the social network said, and gave us a helpful link that lists its content policies. We know already, Jack.

Did any of you read that so-called public interest notice that was plastered over Trump’s tweet which Twitter claims has historical context? It reads, “This Tweet violated Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.” There you go. Click on “view” next to it and read exactly what President Trump wrote.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been more forthcoming about the tough spot that social networks find themselves in at this juncture. “I know many people are upset that we’ve left the President’s posts up, but our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies,” he says, while making it clear that personally, he has a visceral negative reaction to this kind of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric. He further clarifies, “Although the post had a troubling historical reference, we decided to leave it up because the National Guard references meant we read it as a warning about state action, and we think people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force. Our policy around incitement of violence allows discussion around state use of force, although I think today’s situation raises important questions about what potential limits of that discussion should be.” Zuckerberg may have to think hard and fast. The thing with Facebook is, we know where we stand. No cosmetic PR stunts, at least so far.

Perhaps what Twitter forgot all these years is the fact that any individual leveraging Twitter as a platform to get their messaging across, is using something that isn’t owned by the government. And that must come with its own policies and guidelines. They haven’t really stopped or gone easy on other users who may have violated the policies. “Hey @Twitter, shut down all White Supremacists’ pages immediately. You are a private platform. You say that #BlackLivesMatter, prove it. The dollars you get from allowing racism to thrive on your platform are not more valuable than the lives that will be saved by taking action?” says Brian Sims. He is a civil rights attorney as well and has 89.6k followers on Twitter.

The uncomfortable truth is that when social media companies try to do PR stunts to get some goodwill, it becomes very easy to see-through the antics almost instantly. All these cosmetic crackdowns on content policy violations aren’t really fooling anyone. You are not getting any plaudits for this. Unless it is a start on clamping down the platform of outrage that you provided in the first place. Or is it just too late for everything?



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Apple iPhone SE Review: It is Small, Fast, Charming And Does Not Empty Your Bank Account

This is truly the affordable iPhone you were waiting for. This does not compromise at all in terms of the specs and the experience. It is a thoroughbred iPhone, albeit in a compact form factor. Which also makes this a very rare combination of compact and powerful. How many Android phone options do you get which offer a similarly handy footprint and yet pack in the most powerful specifications there are at this time? The answer lies in a word that starts with “Z” and ends with “ero”. The second generation of the Apple iPhone SE is a melding of the past with the present, representative of the future.

The Apple iPhone SE prices start at Rs 42,500 and that is before you take advantage of an HDFC Bank cashback offer which brings the effective price down to Rs 38,900. For an iPhone that runs largely the same specs as an iPhone 11, that is a steal deal.

Apple iPhone SE

Design is familiar, and yet very likeable

There is no running away from the fact that the second-generation Apple iPhone SE is basically the same body as an Apple iPhone 8 from 2017. It may have been a good-looking phone then, but it’s a beautiful phone now. And that came after the iPhone 7, the iPhone 6S and the iPhone 6. There could perhaps have been the argument that Apple should have gone with the iPhone 8 Plus body instead, but that 5.5-inch size would have not appealed to anyone who wanted a compact phone and would have pegged it too close to the 6.1-inch iPhone 11 in the size stakes. Apple says that the 4.7-inch screen size has been its most popular, and continues to be its most popular screen size, over the years. There must be some merit in the argument that not everyone wants a bulky phone.

You could be on the other side of the fence and say that the design looks a bit out of place now, and you would have a point there. The thick bezel above the screen stands out now, and the space below the screen for the Touch ID fingerprint sensor integrated within the Home button does add to it vertically. But Apple will counter that with pristine build quality. It feels fantastic to hold, much thinner than what our hands have become used to, no rough edges, no flex and everything is just right in place. It weighs just 148 grams, which is featherweight category in these times. You can have this in three colours at this time—Black, White and the gorgeous (PRODUCT)RED.

It is IP67 water resistant which means it isn’t averse to getting a bit wet, and the glass on the back enables wireless charging as well in case that catches your fancy. Incidentally, it also supports fast charging, but Apple doesn’t bundle that charger this time around.

All said and done, this is a proper iPhone. The build. The design. The attention to detail. The experience. Need I also remind you that there are no good compact Android phones right now.

Home button: a blast from the past

The Home button had stopped being a physical button quite a while ago. Good to see Apple has carried that forward with that reassuring haptic feedback every time you press on it. Touch ID on the iPhone SE is fast, very fast.

The magic number on the canvas is 4.7

It also isn’t the same 4.7-inch display carried forward. Apart from all the under-the-hood improvements, you will surely notice the True Tone Display feature, which that matches everything you see on the screen with the ambient lighting around you. The result, as we have experienced with the MacBook, the iPhones and the iPad Pro is that there is much less strain on the eyes than otherwise. This screen is LCD, and not an OLED. In the real world, people really don’t care. As long as it works, they are happy. And this most definitely works. It is bright, shuns reflections quite well and colours look good too. Yes, you’ll probably feel it’s a bit more restrained if you are using a higher resolution display all this while, but the thing is, most iPhone SE buyers will likely be the ones who have held on to their older iPhones till now—and for them, this is familiar yet an upgrade.

That being said, if you do intend to switch from a larger phone to this, you will feel the keyboard is a bit more compressed than what you are used to. It is a learning curve, make no doubt about it.

Apple iPhone SE

It is Futureproof, including for iOS updates: Leaving Android far behind

Power isn’t in short supply either. And that is putting it diplomatically. The iPhone SE runs the same A13 Bionic chip as the iPhone 11 series, which means it isn’t playing catch up. There is no faster smartphone processor right now, all chipmakers considered, and that gives the iPhone SE a solid foundation to build on. It also means that iOS updates will be available for this phone for many years to come. That is immediately better than most Android phones, including the expensive flagships, which see the end of the update goodness after about 2 years. If you are lucky, that is.

We have come such a long way since the iPhone 8’s time, that the A13 Bionic chip is 1.4x faster than the A11 which powered that phone back in the day. And it is 2.4x faster than the original iPhone SE. The party piece of the A13 Bionic is the 8-core Neural Engine that does 5 trillion operations per second.

Battery life is a day, and comfortably so. A lot of that is limited by the physics of size, which means it doesn’t get a battery pack as large as an iPhone 11. But since there are less display pixels to light up, the tradeoff has worked well.

But you do miss out on some things: 5G and more

The iPhone SE doesn’t make the shift to USB C, nor does it show any love for the headphone jack. This does not have 5G as well, and Apple for some reason doesn’t bundle a faster charger in the box even though the iPhone SE is fast charging capable.

Camera relies on software: More than ever before

The 2020 iteration of the Apple iPhone SE gets a 12-megapixel camera at the back. Yes, it is a single-camera system. It does get a new image signal processor, the enhancements of the Neural Engine of the A13 Bionic and new algorithms working behind the scenes after you tap the shutter button in the camera app to take a photo. The biggest beneficiary has to be the Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting. It is all software based, but the iPhone SE can take some really good portrait photos. The neural engine is trained to focus on people, and you get depth control as well. If you are wondering that this is already more versatile than the photography capabilities of the iPhone XR, which also has a single camera system, you would be absolutely right. It is not just the new hardware, but also updated algorithms and image processing that makes all the difference.

Apple iPhone SE-3

The full gamut of Portrait Lighting modes are available as well—Natural Light, Studio Light, Contour Light, Stage Light, Stage Light Mono and High-Key Light Mono are all available on the iPhone SE. Then there is Smart HDR as well and the ability to shoot 4K videos at 60fps. For the price that you pay for this iPhone SE, the photography performance is absolutely fantastic—great dynamic range, sharp, vivid colours that are well distinguished and overall photography that is quite close to the iPhone 11. It will struggle a bit in low light, because there isn’t a second sensor to provide more data, and there isn’t a night mode either. It’s a bit perplexing that, considering Google has managed better low light photos all thanks to AI and software, on single camera systems for a while now.

At the front sits a 7-megapixel FaceTime camera, and to be honest, we would have loved an upgrade here.

WHAT ABOUT THE ANDROID ALTERNATIVES?

Purely in terms of price, there will be the persistent debate about how the iPhone SE matches up to the Android counterparts. The thing is, the fact that you are considering the Apple iPhone SE second-generation means you want top-notch performance. That discounts a lot of the pretend flagship killer Android phones, and we get into the business end of that debate with the OnePlus 7T with prices starting Rs 34,999 and the new OnePlus 8 with prices starting at Rs 44,999 though availability is limited at this time. But they only get factored into the equation if you aren’t adamant about a compact screen size. In which case, why wouldn’t you also consider the iPhone 11? It is all too complicated, isn’t it? That is the power of choice.

The Last Word: Smaller size does not mean a compromise

The thing is, the 2020 iPhone SE would be a definite upgrade for anyone still rocking an iPhone older than let us say the iPhone XR—the performance boost will hit you in the face in the most pleasant manner. The camera matches the much more expensive iPhone 11 for the most part, which is a huge bonus for the new iPhone SE. There are three storage options to choose from, and I would seriously recommend paying a little more for the 128GB option over the 64GB one, just to add to the longevity aspect of your purchase. You want an iPhone. You got an iPhone. And this wouldn’t leave you penniless either.



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