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Product Reviews Smartphones

OnePlus 5T Review: The Best got even Better!

OnePlus unveiled the second flagship smartphone for 2017, OnePlus 5T few weeks ago. I have been using this phone for over 3 weeks now and the experience has been super awesome. Let us demystify what makes this phone a worthy phone to recommend anyone. Keeping it simple, it isn’t just the hardware.

Hardware, Look and Feel:

The build quality is solid and the phone looks premium. Weighing 162 grams and at 7.3 mm thickness, its one of the thinnest flagships available currently in the market. Make no mistake in underestimating the build quality of the phone. Its strong and durable in every aspect, be it the keys, glass, finger print scanner or the entire construction in whole.

The Dual-SIM tray & power keys are located on the right, while the alert slider & volume rocker are placed on the left. Top stays flat and the bottom houses the speaker grill, type-c port and the 3.5 mm audio jack. The Alert Slider from the earlier OnePlus phones retains on this as well. This helps in toggling between silent, priority and all notifications with the reach of a button and is unique to the OnePlus phones.

The finger print sensor is now available on the rear side of the phone. The Sensor is blazingly fast unlocking the device in 0.2 seconds from sleep and accurate most of the times. It’s a true 360 degree sensor in a way that it works perfect when pressing from any direction.

OnePlus 5T Camera

The face unlock is the fastest way to get into your phone. Trust me, Its crazy fast. I like the way, how it takes you right into the homescreen. Although unlike FaceID, this is more a convenience feature than an advanced security one.

The OnePlus 5T sensor does not wake the screen up with incorrect inputs. The sensor just vibrates the phone when finger print is not recognised and wakes up only when there is a match. This is a good use case since there will be multiple instances you ending up touching the sensor by mistake while holding the phone.

Primary camera is located on the top left of the back with a slight protrusion which according to us is not the best in design and may not be for everyone’s liking. With a phone case, this protrusion should not be too annoying. OnePlus has released a variety of cases for this device which are available on Amazon.in

The OnePlus 5T runs on top of the line Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor running at 2.35GHz, a slightly bigger 3,400mAh battery, and the 16MP front-facing camera.

The device comes with impressive hardware specs like 64/128GB storage (based on UFS 2.0 technology), 6/8 GB of LPDDR4 RAM, Dash Charge, Type-C port, Bluetooth 5. The device also supports NFC.

“Currently this is the one among the very few smartphones available in India with a mammoth 8 GB of RAM. While this may sound an overkill by today’s standards, we appreciate this move from OnePlus since this makes the phone future proof. Also this combination of RAM and processing power makes the phone a very smooth device. UI is snappy, and even 4K video editing works very slick.”

Display:

The OnePlus 5T sports a 18:9 resolution Optic AMOLED display protected by a 2.5D curved gorilla glass 5 from Corning. Offers a resolution of 1080 x 2160 pixels. With a pixel density of 401 PPI, the display is crisp & vivid with deeper blacks and brighter whites.

Outdoor visibility is excellent with the Adaptive brightness coming to play and automatically optimising the screen brightness level based on available light conditions. There is a night mode when enabled filters out harmful blue light emission from the screen and reduces eye strain in the dark. Additional display features include a color balancing slider to choose between warmer and cooler color temperatures according to the user preference.

Software, User Experience:

OnePlus 5T comes with the latest edition of Oxygen OS which is based on Android Nougat. The Oreo update is scheduled to arrive soon. Oxygen OS is a clean, light, bloat-free OS supporting UI customisation, gesture support etc.

A lot of bugs from the earlier editions has been addressed on this and the OS feels super smooth next to Pixel. There is option to enable software navigation buttons and they can even be customized for performing different actions based on user preference. For users who don’t prefer the white theme, there is a dark theme that can be customized with an accent colour.

Screen-Off Gesture support include features like double tap to wake screen, drawing a circle to launch camera, drawing a V for flashlight, two finger swipe downwards to play/pause music, </> for previous/next track navigation and all of them worked flawlessly during our testing. Unfortunately, these are the only options which have been available since OnePlus One. We wished if there were more options or custom gestures.

With Oxygen OS, the same phone can be used by multiple users. New users can be added to the system and each user will have their dedicated space comprising of apps, wallpapers, layout etc. Also, features guest mode which is a nifty feature when enabled hides all photos, call history, messages etc.

Powered by the Adreno 540 GPU, gaming performance is excellent and there are no frame drops while playing graphics intensive games. Call quality is good and the Built-in speaker is loud and clear.

Camera:

For the primary camera, the OnePlus 5G uses Dual: 16 MP (f/1.7, 27mm, 1/2.8″, 1.12 µm, gyro EIS) + 20 MP (f/1.7, 27mm, 1/2.8″, 1 µm). The front camera is an 16MP shooter with 1.4 µm pixels and f/2.0 aperture.

Camera interface is simple and includes features like Auto HDR, a robust manual mode, Panorama and support for RAW images. Thanks to PDAF, the primary camera is quick to focus and shoots good pictures in both outdoor and artificial lighting conditions with very little noise. Occasionally, there are some focus stacking issues when the subject you click is busy.

The OnePlus 5T has an EIS built-in which makes the videos more stable. The camera software has improved over the years with better stabilisation algorithms now. Video recording features include support for time lapse, slow motion (720p at 120fps) and 4K video (30fps). Recorded audio from video footage could have been louder.

Coming to the front camera, it can shoot up to 1080P video at 30fps. We personally liked the Smile Capture feature for selfies which triggers a 3 sec timer shot when you smile. The circle gesture for launching camera from sleep mode worked flawlessly every time.

Have a look at some of the camera samples below. I will add more samples in future.

Dash Charge:

The OnePlus 5T features a 3400mAh non-removable battery with an impressive proprietary quick charge technology which the company calls Dash Charge. While keeping the phone cooler, Dash Charge replenishes more than 60% of the battery within half-an-hour. This is made possible by leveraging a large electric current (5V 4A) for stable, consistent charging speeds and shifting the power management system from phone to the Dash Charge adapter.

While this setup helps in maintaining lower temperatures during charging, it brings another great advantage. There won’t be any CPU throttling issues and hence the charging speed won’t get affected by intensive phone usage in parallel like streaming video or playing heavy games.

During our battery charge test, the OnePlus 5T managed to stay cool throughout the time. While reaching 96% in under an hour, the phone managed to charge the battery to 100% in little over an hour which is incredible.

The only downside we see with the dash charge technology is the limitation of relying on the dash charge adapter for faster charging. In other words, when using a 3rd party Type-C fast charging adapter, the OnePlus 5T will charge in regular charging speeds and won’t get charged quickly.

Power management options include a battery saver feature that can be trigged automatically when battery reaches a percentage level. However the battery saver settings cannot be customized.

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

Great Display, Impeccable Finger Print Sensor, A very good Front & Rear Camera along with the 8 GB RAM definitely makes it worth the buy. The dash charge is worth a mention. The form factor is compact and comfortable to use. The performance is top-notch, and the phone gives a very premium feel; certainly making it the Flagship.

Do let us know your thoughts and questions if any. Thanks for reading.

Categories
General Product Reviews Smartphones

Honor 7X Camera Review – Dual lens Magic, has scope to get better!

Honor 7X is the company’s latest mid-ranger from Huawei Honor which was announced few days ago in India. With dual lenses and the all new body, the Honor 7X aims to do a lot more than the competition. Let us look through the Honor 7X Camera Review, its Features and how you can snap great pictures with this device.

If you have already bought one or thinking about buying one, this would be useful. While the camera is the one of the interesting feature on this phone, the EMUI, and a fast fingerprint scanner are worth appreciating as well.

The contrasts are good. However the focus suffers at times in low light. The edge detection can get better for sure. The colours are neat. Here are some of the samples below.

Like mentioned earlier, The Honor 7X has a dual lens setup; one 16 MP sensor and other 2MP sensor, where one of them gets the depth only. When you click a picture, the depth sensor gauges the picture in terms of the light thats hitting the sensor through the glass and different objects in the frame. Using all these information available, the system then adds bokeh to the portraits.

Using both the lenses simultaneously helps in producing a superior image with good depth than a conventional one-sensor setup.

Camera UI and Modes:

When you launch the camera button on the device, you see a very simple UI which still looks very iOS‘ish. However, Swiping towards the right, brings in various modes to choose from. The quality of the output is good. The closeups are impressive. The portrait mode works decent as well.

While on the camera screen, when you swipe towards the left, you get these different menu options. These let you set the resolution of the photographs to either standard format or the wide-screen one. There is GPS Tag, if you like to tag your pictures to the location. Pretty useful option, if you are a traveller and want to make a summary of your route & sort at the end of your trip. There are few more straight forward options.

Most of the settings on the Honor 7X Camera are visible when you are on Pro Mode. To activate the pro mode, you will need to swipe up above the shutter button. Once you are in Pro mode, you will be able to adjust the focus points, shutter speed, Exposure Values, White Balance Settings and even the focus modes. Notably, it was weird not to find the option to tune the aperture settings.

Tap to Focus:

The Dual lens systems enables you to take pictures with an adjustable depth of field to create background blurs, what we call Bokeh. On the camera screen, once you select the Aperture icon here, you will have an option to click a picture with aperture settings and option for tap to focus; which results in specific part of the image being focused. You can also click a picture and then adjust the depth later.

When you go to the gallery, you can see these images with a small lens symbol. You can then tap open the picture and adjust the settings. There is a slider which appears. This helps you to change the width of the aperture. Wider (least the number) the aperture, greater the background blur. This way, you could tune the image to your preference – as shown below in this image.

The software Emulates as open as f 0.95. That makes the picture focus sharp at that point and everything else has this creamy blurred effect to it. Since it’s a software made, its easy to identify as the edges get very smooth.

Auto Focus could’ve been even better. Although, the above mentioned software focusing options does come to rescue at times.

The Video mode gives you some options for manual controls as well. The video quality is decent and the colours looks good too. The Honor 7X only records upto a 1080p and doesn’t support the 4K resolution output. Further, Lack of Optical image stabilisation also means, you may face some issues in low-light conditions; or if you want great quality, I recommend using a tripod.

 

Categories
General Product Reviews Smartphones

Honor 7X vs Xiaomi Mi A1: What’s your take?

In this series of What’s your take, we are going to pit two devices against each other, explain their strongest and not so good features and let you decide which one would you go for.

Today, we take a look at the all new device from the team at Huawei, the Honor 7X and the Android One star, the Mi A1 from Xiaomi. Both these devices are almost priced similar; offer dual cameras for great pictures and are worthy competitors in this mid-range segment phones.

Both the devices are spec packed and come with 4GB RAM variants; also supports micro SD card with their hybrid slots. In terms of the processing power, both the Snapdragon 625 and the Kirin 659 performs very similar.

In terms of design, the Honor 7X scores a little more than the Mi A1. Mainly because of the 18:9 full view screen; and the blue colour body. The bezels on the Mi A1 is slightly an older design when compared to that of the Honor 7X. The screen looks more vibrant and clear on the Honor 7X when compared to the A1. It also sports a much higher resolution of 2160 x 1080 when compared to 1920 x 1080 on the A1.

The Mi A1 sports a twin 12.0-megapixel cameras with a a telephoto lens and performs better than the Honor 7X which has a 16 megapixel and 2.0-megapixel combo. The selfies on the Honor 7X is better with the 8MP front-facing camera as compared to the 5.0-megapixel one on the Mi A1. The portrait mode on the A1 is more narrower and looks more natural than the Honor 7X. The optical zoom gives Mi A1 an edge as well.

The Mi A1 comes with Type-C port and will support quick charge in the upcoming Oreo update. The Honor 7X offers a micro USB port, mainly because of their research that, most of the users ask for microUSB as of now. The 7X has a bigger battery when compared to that of the A1.

While the Mi A1 is powered by the stock android giving a fluid experience, the Honor 7X offers the latest version of the EMUI. As much as the tech savvy people would like the stock android feel, the EMUI has some neat features up their sleeve. The gestures on the EMUI for finger print sensors are slick. The IR Blaster on the A1 is a good value add as well.

Summing up, its a tie. While the Honor 7X leads in design, hardware, display and battery, the Mi A1 does quite well in camera and software. I think, as a customer you should be able to choose what matters you the most.

If you love to flaunt your phone, and watch a lot of media content then you would be better with the Honor 7X. If you are more of a tech savvy person and prefer stock software, you would be better with Mi A1. What’s your take?

Categories
Product Reviews Smartphones

Honor 7X Review: Good Camera and a Pretty Awesome Display!

In this article, let us review the Honor 7X, a mid range smartphone from Huawei which just got launched few days ago in India. Although this device is priced like a budget phone, the features, design and the user experience give it a feel of a premium mid-range smartphone.

Honor is Huawei’s Smartphone e-brand for digital natives. Honor has been expanding aggressively in global markets, and has successfully launched in 74 global markets, entering the bestselling charts in most of the European countries honor launched.

The Honor 7X will be available starting at INR 12999. The phone is available online exclusively on amazon.in.

Hardware and Performance

The Honor 7X comes with a premium grade metal that also offers great level of heat sinks. We have the proximity sensor, earpiece, front-facing camera and the LED indicator above the display, while Honor logo shines in the chin. The Honor 7X has on-screen buttons for navigation.

On the rear, we have two very subtle dark grey antenna bands near the ends of the smartphone. The first antenna band near the top has the two dual cameras and the LED flash placed on top of it while the fingerprint scanner is placed a little lower to that.

The smartphone sports the hybrid SIM card slot on the left side while the volume rocker and the power/lock buttons are present on the right. Both the buttons and the fingerprint scanner are placed in a position where our fingers fell naturally, and we did not find ourselves straying away from the buttons at any point. With the top of the smartphone pretty plain, the base is where most of the work has been done. It carries the speaker grille, the micro USB port and a 3.5 mm audio jack. Further. with a vibrant 18:9 display the screen looks very impressive as well.

The Honor 7X runs on Huawei’s in-house octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 659 processor and is paired with 4GB RAM. You have an option to expand the storage using the micro SD card slot as well. The performance passes most of the tests and is impar with the competition like Xiaomi Mi A1. Check out our comparison here.

Camera

The Honor 7X has a dual lens setup; one 16 MP sensor and other 2MP sensor, where one of them gets the depth only. When you click a picture, the depth sensor gauges the picture in terms of the light thats hitting the sensor through the glass and different objects in the frame. Using all these information available, the system then adds bokeh to the portraits.

Software, User Experience

The phone offers EMUI v5, with an intuitive interface with several gesture tricks. The phone is going to get the latest version of the Oreo software early next year. With EMUI, one can customise home screen as per their own requirement.The EMUI user interface lets you accomplish several tasks even without unlocking your device, this makes usage of device hassle free. If you swipe up from the bottom of the display while the device is locked. A menu pops up, which lets you use the device as a voice recorder, calculator, firing the camera or let you use the rear LED as a torch.

EMUI provides seamless functioning with gestures and motions for controlling the device. The various options that EMUI gives are flip to mute, shake to rearrange and tilt to move icons, pick up to reduce volume, widgets, keyboard, dialler or navigation bar. EMUI lets one control the notification behaviour of the apps. You can allow any app to send you the notification or block it permanently. Dual apps and profile support is another feature. The EMUI also offers you options to change the display colour temperature and brightness.

Summing up

The Honor 7X is an impressive device. The pricing is pretty good and well positioned with the rest of the competition in this segment. I personally love how the honor phones offer a good user experience with its EMUI; and of course the accurate finger print scanner which doubles with great gesture controls. I believe, software updates with Honor aren’t going to be an issue either. This phone offers a good design and camera, beautiful display and most importantly, finger print scanner which is accurate and does a lot more things than just unlocking your phone.

Do let us know your thoughts. Thanks for reading!

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Accessories Internet of Things (IoT) Product Reviews

Mi Wifi Router 3C Review: Smarter and Faster with better Control

Mi has officially announced their Mi 3C WiFi router in India, today. If you’re looking for a router that’s simple, sleek, lightweight, good range, and with good control and flexibility, look no further, we found your perfect match. This Router is equipped with 4 outer antennas with 2.4 GHz single frequency, that makes it accessible from long distances, suited for larger homes. Also ensures a more stable connection with fast and optimised signal, with the highest rate of 300 MBps.

The Mi 3C router is designed for people who don’t really enjoy navigating through the admin console on the browser for setting up the router. Well, to be honest, it is not such a huge deal setting up a router, but who doesn’t love a simple app with a good interface especially when compared to a really outdated version of the same on the browser; The WiFi router can be set up with an app (Android or iOS). You’re good to go in a few steps; Just make sure you create an account with Mi. We can talk later about the app, but for now, here are some screen grabs to give you an idea of how this works.

The app reports both upload and download speeds coming into the router, making it easy to monitor the speed and usage more carefully. If you’re obsessive about testing your home WiFi speed at various points of the day, (really?) this can be done remotely too! So I ran some speed tests on the device to see how it fares on my WiFi, with the WiFi boost option etc. The WiFi boost option basically checks the WiFi quality, signal strength, Bandwidth allocation and network speed and makes decisions for optimisation. However, on my network, every time it said no optimisation was required.

I personally like how I can limit and set priorities for bandwidth usage of every connected device. If I’m streaming music and gaming at the same time, I would allocate more bandwidth for the gaming device compared to music streaming, and such. This is rather helpful if you are constantly maxing out on your connection. So, the next time your roommate’s friend is coming over and using up all your bandwidth, you know what to do!

You can also create guest networks for friends to use if you don’t want to share your password with them, and if you want to restrict access to shared files (if any). In case you’d like to share the password, the sharing options have also been made simple, like copying to a clipboard etc., and sharing over Messaging apps like ‘WeChat’. 

I agree, if you are more of an advanced user who likes playing around with the connection settings on the console, installing custom firmware or setting up various access points with the same network, you may not want to use the app but seriously, who would not like a no-nonsense setup and usage? The console on the browser can also be used if you’re concerned about the flexibility of options. In my observation, one of the primary drawbacks of this device is the presence of only three Ethernet ports. However, my connection speeds with the cable and over WiFi was pretty much the same. So unless you need connecting to multiple machines via LAN cables, this shouldn’t be an issue.

The Mi Wifi Router 3C priced at INR 1199, is a steal deal and definitely is a competition to the market leaders like D-link in this segment. To wrap up the review, for convenience, a great performance right out of the box. I would prefer this pocket-friendly, lightweight and consumer experience focussed router to the more expensive counterparts with the Guest Access/App Setup/Home control features.

As the first step to a whole wider range of other IoT/home automation devices and home connectivity, this is a really welcome beginning!

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Product Reviews Smartphones

Honor 6X Camera Review: The Affordable Dual Lens Magic

Honor 6X is the company’s mid-ranger this year. With dual lenses and all glass design, the Honor 6X aims to do a lot more than the competition. This is the third phone from the company this year, after Huawei P9 and Honor 8 to come with a dual lens setup this year. LG G5 started it all this year. While on the G5, the secondary module is a wide-angle lens, Huawei’s approach is slightly different. Let us look through the Honor 6X Camera Review, its Features and how you can snap great pictures with this device.

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If you have already bought one or thinking about buying one, this would be useful. While the camera is the most interesting feature on this phone, the oct-core chipset, The EMUI, and a fast fingerprint scanner are worth appreciating as well. Read our full review here.

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How does the Twin lens System on the Honor 6X Camera work?

Like mentioned earlier, The Honor 6X has a dual lens setup. It uses the extra sensor to try to add depth to photos. It is possible to alter the aperture, from f/0.95 to f/6.5, to add software “bokeh” effects to snaps. Bokeh is where the background blurs and the subject stays in sharp focus. Pictures are well defined and bright. Colours are reasonably accurate. It takes good landscape shots and captures strong tones with portraits.

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Camera UI and Modes:

When you launch the camera button on the Honor 6X, you see a very simple UI which still looks very iOS‘ish. However, Swiping towards the right, brings in various modes to choose from. The quality of the output is neat. Especially the details. The contrasts and tones are worth falling in love with.

While on the camera screen, when you swipe towards the left, you get these different menu options. These let you set the resolution of the photographs to either standard format or the wide-screen one. There is GPS Tag, if you like to tag your pictures to the location. Pretty useful option, if you are a traveler and want to make a summary of your route & sort at the end of your trip. There are few more straight forward options.

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The colour reproduction is neat too. The contrasts are good; neither too much nor too subtle.

You also have live filters in the camera. Once you click the icon, you will be able to see all the filters in action. You can then choose according to your taste.

Most of the settings on the Honor 6X Camera are visible when you are in Pro Mode. To activate the pro mode, you will need to swipe up above the shutter button. Once you are in Pro mode, you will be able to adjust the focus points, shutter speed, Exposure Values, White Balance Settings and even the focus modes. Notably, it was weird not to find the option to tune the aperture settings. As a photographer, I really missed this.

Once you are in Pro mode, you can again swipe left and now you can find more options show up. The first notable feature is the option to store photos in RAW (DNG format). In a RAW mode, the pictures are captured as-is with all the information intact available for you to post process the image later. This is very nifty if you love playing with your images in Lightroom or Photoshop. You have an option to change the camera grid if you prefer to get some aid while composing the pictures. There is an optional level scale too!

Tap to Focus:

The Dual lens systems enable you to take pictures with an adjustable depth of field to create background blurs, what we call Bokeh. On the camera screen, once you select the Aperture icon here, you will have an option to click a picture with aperture settings and option for tap to focus; which results in specific part of the image being focused. You can also click a picture and then adjust the depth later.

Tap to Focus on Huawei P9 Leica

When you go to the gallery, you can see these images with a small lens symbol. You can then tap open the picture and adjust the settings. There is a slider which appears next to the icon. This helps you to change the width of the aperture. Wider (least the number) the aperture, greater the background blur. This way, you could tune the image to your preference – as shown below in this image.

Defocusing-on-Huawei-P9

The software Emulates as open as f 0.95. That makes the picture focus sharply at that point and everything else has this creamy blurred effect to it. Since it’s a software made, it is easy to identify as the edges get very smooth.

Auto Focus could’ve been even better. Although, the above-mentioned software focusing options does come to rescue at times.

The Video mode gives you some options for manual controls as well. The video quality is decent and the colours look good too. Further, Lack of Optical image stabilization also means, you may face some issues in low-light conditions; or if you want great quality, I recommend using a tripod.

I hope the latest version of the software, EMUI 5.0 with Nougat, would bring in even better camera software optimizations as well.

HDR is pretty good as well. It brings down the shadows and increases the colour saturation. The dynamic range of the images are pretty good. The two cameras working in conjunction definitely helps the device click great pictures. The pictures look even better when you have a high dynamic range in the scene.

The option for RAW file processing might really impress people who love tweaking their images. Something I really miss on this phone is a hardware camera button. That would’ve been a nifty addition.

Categories
Product Reviews Smartphones

Zenfone 3s Max Review: Whopping 5000 mAh battery a Highlight!

Asus unveiled an upgraded device, the Zenfone 3s Max today for India. This device is priced at 14999 and will be available starting today. The Zenfone 3S max is a Dual sim device with options for Micro SD card slot. The USP of this device is its whopping 5000 mAh battery. The phone does have some weight but it doesn’t feel bulky at all. In this article, let’s review the Asus ZenFone 3S Max and see how it performs.

The Zenfone 3S Max is an all-metal phone with a 5.5/5.2 inch HD display (depends on the variant you choose) topped with a 2.5D contoured glass. Under the hood, the phone is powered by MediaTek 64-bit MT6750 octa-core SoC coupled with at 1.5GHz. It has 32GB on board storage with 3GB of RAM. In addition to an expandable memory of up to 64GB.

While using the phone, I could feel a lack of optimisation in the RAM department. The app loads are very slow and there is a occasional frame drops when you play high graphic intense game. However, at the range this device is considered, it makes the best use of the hardware and gives you the value for money!

The display is a 5.2 screen which supports a HD ready (720p) display. The screen is protected by Corning Glass 4. The viewing angles of the phone is pretty good. The text are decently sharp and images are a tad high saturated. The contrast is pretty neat too; means the black and whites look good. I really wished if this had a 1080p display.

On the rear side, the phone adds a matte feel back panel to the phone which gives it a good grip and also adds to a style.

The Zenfone 3S Max like the earlier edition, has a 13MP Primary camera sensor on the rear which is assisted by dual LED flash and a PDAF auto focus. The front camera has a 5MP sensor. The camera app comes with a lot of filters and features. There are various modes, such as: Auto mode, Manual mode, HDR mode, Beautification, Super Resolution, QR Code scanner, Low light mode, Night Capture mode, Depth of Field mode, Selfie Mode (Rear camera), GIF Animation, Panorama, Miniature, Time Rewind, Smart Remove, Slow Motion and Time Lapse. Also, the camera does record full HD videos.

Here are some of the pictures we shot. The camera performs pretty well in bright outdoor; the colours are quite impressive too. However, in a moderate lighting conditions, the pictures aren’t exposed right. Although, the laser auto focus helps in quick focus, I noticed that the pictures weren’t very sharp when shot in low light conditions.

One of the strongest feature of this phone is its battery. With 5000 mAh, its too good at its segment. The lithium-polymer battery offers a good 2-3 days of usage and has a standby time of 38 days, which is pretty impressive. The Power Saver mode helps users manage and extend the battery life even more. With five battery modes and two smart switches that users can configure to make their own battery optimisation settings and help the battery last even longer. However, the phone takes a long time to charge and thats definitely a pain. The wall charger is a 5.2V at 1Amp charger. It takes a good 5-6 hours to charge from 0 to 100. Wish, Asus had included a fast charger in it. The battery on the ZenFone can also work as a power bank and share the power with other devices with the OTG cable that comes along with the box.

Zenfone 3S Max runs on ZenUI 3.0 OS which offers a multi-window mode for better multitasking, revamped settings menu, and a lot more features. This Zenfone brings in all the goodness of the Android Nougat with ZenUI skin.The phone also wakes up on double-tap and there are options to clear the cache memory right from the multi-tasking window. There are few more tweaks which are made in the OS level that helps in better memory management and app loads; however, ZenUI still has a long way to go. There is still a lot of scope of improvement in the area of RAM management and optimisation.

Given the price, the device is worth the buck if you are too concerned on the battery life. The battery and reverse charging are definitely a neat addition. However, if you are looking at a good all around package, you may also wanna consider either the Redmi Note 4 or the Honor 6X.

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Product Reviews Smartphones

Honor 6X Review: Dual Camera Rockstar, Swagger way!

In this article, let us review the Honor 6X, a mid range smartphone from Huawei which just got launched today in India. Although this device is priced like a budget phone, the features, design and the user experience give it a feel of a premium mid-range smartphone.

Honor is Huawei’s Smartphone e-brand for digital natives. Honor has been expanding aggressively in global markets, and has successfully launched in 74 global markets, entering the bestselling charts in most of the European countries honor launched.

The Honor 6X will be available at INR 12999 in three colours – gold, silver and grey. The phone will be available online exclusively on amazon.in. The sale of Honor 6X will commence later this week.

Hardware, Look and Feel:

The Honor 6X comes with a premium aircraft grade metal that also offers great level of heat sinks. The top and bottom of the phone are made up of plastic, but still the phone doesn’t look cheap at all.

The phone is neither heavy, nor very light. Its a good weight in the hands; and doesn’t slip-off easily. Although this phone looks a little big, it is very comfortable to hold them.The curved edges is quite ergonomic and the rear flows very well to the 2.5D glass in the front. There is a LED notification on the top of the phone as well.

The power button and volume rockers are placed on the right side which feels vey neat and also offers a good amount of tactile feedback. The buttons also have a textured feel to it making it more comfortable to use. The left side is for the SIM and SD card slots. Its surprising why Honor dropped the 2 separate slots and included the Hybrid SIM slot this time.

The phone is powered with an octacore 64bit Kirin 655 16nm SOC processor clocked at 2.1GHz, Mali-T830MP2, faster EMMC 5.1 and 3/4GB RAM (depends on the variant you choose from). The phone has a onboard 32GB ROM for the 3GB variant and 64GB for the 4GB variant. The phone has support for expandable storage upto 128 GB.

The Emotion UI makes the OS much user friendly and optimises the OS with a good RAM management. The OS also provides some good tweaks that help in better performance when compared to other phones in  this segment.

The rear of the phone sports the camera and the finger print sensor. The finger print sensor is an impressive feature on this phone (or in any Huawei phone in that matter). The finger print reading is fast (the company says 0.3 seconds to unlock) and also, has worked well all the times for me. When compared to other phones in this segment, the accuracy is pretty neat.

The phone has a 3340 mAh battery which offers a good battery life of over a day; It gives me SOT of 7 hours which is pretty impressive. With Emotion UI, there are tons of more customisations which you can do, to make your phone even better in terms of battery saving. Thanks to the patents Huawei has on the same.

The call drops are fairly less. The sound quality on the phone isn’t great when you play music on loud speaker; it gets slightly better with a headset. However, The call quality is very impressive and the volume is good too.!

Camera:

The Dual camera is at a rise now and Huawei has been pioneering there. The dual camera setup is also one of the highlight of this phone.

The rear cameras are powered with a 12-megapixel and 2-megapixel PDAF cameras. The front-facing camera has 8-megapixel. The aperture allows good amount of light; the device also has a single LED flash to use in low-light conditions. In outdoors, the camera performs very well and is quick. The quality of pictures is pretty neat and the details are sharp with colours being good as well.

Thankfully, the software doesn’t over-sharp the images and hence, images feel realistic. Here are some samples pictures I clicked.

Emotion UI also offers a great camera software which gives you options for smart selfies, food mode etc.

Shot with a Good Food Mode

The Honor 6X also offers manual shooting controls (professional mode) for people who like to create photographs. This stands out when compared to the competition like Redmi Note 4.

The follow-focus on the videos is a pretty good addition. The front camera performance is decent and does take some good pictures; and if you’re a selfie lover, there are tons of more options to play around.

Display

The Display is very impressive and sharp. I find it to be one of the real good features of the phone. Its a 5.5 inch, IPS Panel display powering a full HD resolution of 1080 * 1920 offering a 480 dpi. The quality and the details are neat. Images aren’t over-saturated or too warm/cold. the colours are vibrant and the brightness on the screen is impressive as well. Reading text on the phone is pretty good. I like the fact, it isn’t too sharp giving a realistic clear text.

Software, User Experience:

The Honor 6X runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box with the customised version. These days, Every company have their own android skins for their phones. Out of all, my personal favourites have been the Flyme OS, MIUI and Emotion UI. They are not just basic customisations, but give users few features which are actually worth trying.

This phone offer Emotion UI 4.1, the first Honor phone to feature Marshmallow. There are few software features which makes the phone pretty good. My personal favourite is the notifications window. They show a lot more detail on a timeline about the app notifications and your system. Shake to re-align icons is cool as well. Themes would also fancy some people. I love the Health App; that little notification on the lock screen is super cool. This version of EMUI also brings in some performance improvements.

The emotion UI provides you way more options to further make use of the finger print sensor, than to just unlock your phone. Gestures help you do that. For e.g.: Swiping up on the finger print scanner shows the recently used apps. Swiping down brings in the notifications page to quickly read through and toggle settings. A tap can be configured to take you to back screen or even click a picture while you take a selfie. You can even take a call, or use it like a home button with customisations available.

The Wi-fi Bridge is not just a hotspot but a repeater as well. It helps you share your Wi-Fi connection to other devices.

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

With a metal body, premium design and a good display, the Honor 6X is impressive. The pricing is pretty good and well positioned with the rest of the competition. The Honor 6X offers better user experience than the likes of Coolpad and Vivo. The only competition would be the Redmi Note 4.

I personally love how the honor phones offer a good user experience with its Emotion UI; and of course the accurate finger print scanner which doubles with great gesture controls. I believe, software updates with Honor aren’t going to be an issue either. The Honor 6X will also receive the EMUI 5.0 update Android 7.0 Nougat in Q2 2017.

Summing up, This phone offers a good design, beautiful display and most importantly, finger print scanner which is accurate and does a lot more things than just unlocking your phone. If you love playing around with cameras, you will enjoy this phone.

Do let us know your thoughts. Thanks for reading!

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Product Reviews Smartphones

Redmi Note 4 Review: The Best mid ranger got even Better

The Redmi Note 3 has been the best selling phone for Xiaomi in India ever since they started almost 3 years ago. The company announced the latest edition from this series, the Redmi Note 4 today at an event in Delhi. This is also the global debut of the Snapdragon variant. This phone is going to be available in 3 variants, 32/2GB RAM (9999 INR), 32/3GB RAM (10999 INR) and 64/4GB (12999) models.

I have been using this phone for little over a month now and I’ve liked the experience with this device. They have definitely upped the game in the budget segment. Lets see if the Redmi Note 4 is a worthy successor of a product which was already a top selling smartphone.

Hardware, Look and Feel:

First thing that you’ll notice when you hold the phone, is how comfortable it feels in your hand; and yet solid, well-built in terms of design and quality.

The Redmi Note 4 design and the construction feels very refined.

Following the design from the Mi Max, the curved edges feel very comfortable extending it to the 2.5D glass. The speakers are now moved towards the bottom of the phone. There are antenna lines due to the metal being used. The buttons feel very good. The redmi Note 4 sticks to the ground rule of budget smartphones on design and yet gives a feel of being very premium. The matte black variant is gorgeous.

The company has pulled over a good design without compromising on regular Redmi features like the IR Blaster or even the Back-lit capacitive keys. I am a little wary about the Hybrid Sim slots but then most of the people love it; so lets give that a pass. The Redmi Note 4 supports external micro SD card upto 128 GB.

Under the hood, the Redmi Note 4 runs on a Snapdragon 625 chipset; and a 3GB or a 4GB RAM depends on the variant you choose. The IPS screen offers a 1080p resolution with a sharp display and a good viewing angles with reasonably accurate colours. Not just with benchmarks, the Redmi Note 4 performed pretty well with some gaming tests too. The Snapdragon 625 does help in optimising battery usage.

The redmi Note 4 has a 4100mAh battery and it did perform well with a good SOT of 8 hours.  I use a dual sim setup. The primary Airtel one for calls and the secondary Jio majorly for JioTV and JioMusic.

The audio from the internal speakers was loud and sounded quite good via the 3.5mm jack headset. The call quality was top notch; didn’t see any connection or network issues. The Jio volte worked pretty sweet as well.

Camera:

The camera performs very well. I was trying few other products in the same segment and the Redmi Note 4 camera was much better than the rest of them. The 5MP front camera is quite decent if not the best when it comes to selfies. However, the 13MP rear camera is excellent. It offers a f2.0 aperture, CMOS PDAF Auto Focus system.

The contrast is punchy and the colours are very natural too. The sharpness at times can go haywire but then, the details are neat. The HDR images are impressive too. Here are some of the pictures shot with this device.

The DOF is natural as well. I really liked the details in the below image. If isn’t too obvious, do check the ant inside the flower.

The low-light performance is quite mediocre; it can be improved for sure, but then in a day light, they work quite well. I did try to shoot some silhouettes just to check on how the camera adapts to the conditions. It was definitely impressive.

If you’re looking for some handy tips on Smartphone Photography, read this article.

Make no mistake by comparing the camera with the likes of OnePlus 3T or Google Pixel, just for the heck of doing it. This camera works very well among the segment its placed. Is it a vast improvement from the Redmi Note 3? Well, not really. However, its quite evident that the company has worked on the camera department especially on the software and how the camera processes the images.

Software, User Experience:

The software on the Redmi Note 4 runs very smoothly, its powered by MIUI v8 running Android Marshmallow. Check out our most favourite MIUI v8 features here. Few of the features that make users stick to MI phones is ease of use UI offered by MIUI,  its plethora of UI customisations, theme support with 1000s of free themes available, privacy features, in-built utilities (FTP server, RAM Cleaner, Mi Mover, Data Saver, Virus Scanner, Battery Saver, Call Recorder) etc.

The software also offers support for Child Mode and Lite which is indeed a great addition. The Dual Apps and Second space are nifty too.

With lots of features built-in (one-handed mode, double tap to wake, flip to silence, mute when lifted, do not disturb, block-list) the necessity to install 3rd party apps is drastically reduced. I also like the quick ball as well. Very nifty when you use large screen phones like this one.

MIUI is the most important component to Mi Phones that makes it stand out from its competition regardless of the budget segments. Sometimes this makes you wonder if Mi is a software company or a hardware one!

Unlike most phones where IR blaster works just with the stock apps, the IR blaster in Mi phones work seamlessly with 3rd party software like peel which provides lot of options like support for Indian set-top boxes and channel guides. The MIUI v8 on the Redmi Note 4 works smooth and is quite consistent.

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

At these prices, this device is definitely worth the money. Especially, when you are in the market for a good mid ranger.

If you already have a Redmi Note 3, this new edition “may not” be a worthy upgrade. Vastly because the changes aren’t very evident; there are some battery and performance improvements. However, the design and camera is the winner. So if these matters to you, then go ahead with it. Or maybe, if you’re bowled over at the matte black variant like I do!

Summing up, its a no brainer to recommend this phone to anyone who is looking at buying a great quality product at a budget today. Do let us know your thoughts and feedback. Thanks for reading!

Categories
Product Reviews Smartphones

Honor 8 Review: A Super Gorgeous Flagship!

Honor announced its flagship, the Huawei 8 this week in India. The phone will be available for 29999 INR on Flipkart. The Honor 8 is one of the best looking phones the company has ever made. Let us look at a detailed review in this article.

Hardware, Look and Feel:

The Honor 8 has a double-sided glass design’ with a first from Honor – a Sapphire blue colour. The edges are smooth and straight design makes the device easy and comfortable to hold.

The phone is very light and feels great to carry along. The back is quite ergonomic and the rear flows very well to the front.Might feel slightly slippery because of the all glass body. A protective case will still be a good idea.

The power button and volume rockers are placed on the right side which feels vey neat and also offers a good amount of tactile feedback. The power button also have a textured feel to it making it more comfortable to use. The left side is for the SIM and SD card slots.

The Emotion UI makes the OS much user friendly and optimises the OS with a good RAM management. The OS also provides some good tweaks that help in better performance when compared to other phones in this segment. The Gaming performance on this phone is impressive as well. It also allows the users to take partial or full screenshots with the tap of their knuckle and similar other features through its enhanced knuckle feature.

The rear of the phone sports the dual camera and the finger print sensor.

The finger print sensor is an impressive feature on this phone (or in any Huawei phone in that matter). The finger print reading is fast (the company says 0.5 seconds to unlock) and also, has worked well all the times for me. When compared to other phones, the accuracy is pretty neat. It also doubles up as a button here.

The phone is powered with an octacore Kirin 955 chipset (This octacore processor comes with 4 x Cortex A72 cores clocked at 2.5GHz and 4 x Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.8GHz), Mali T880 GPU, faster EMMC 5.1 and 4GB RAM. The Honor 8 has a Depth Image Signal Processor onboard. The phone has a onboard 32GB ROM, expandable upto 128 GB. The phone doesn’t support adoptable storage though.

The Kirin 955 chipset also helps with silicon-chip level protection. There is a dedicated security module within the silicon chip that ensures user security, handling key information like fingerprints, keypad, and voice.

The phone has a 3000 MAH battery which offers a decent battery life of around a day. The charging speed isn’t one of the best either. Considering the phone to be a flagship, the battery life could’ve been better for sure. However, With Emotion UI, there are tons of more customisations which you can apply, to make your phone even better in terms of battery saving. Thanks to the patents Huawei has on the same.

The call quality is very impressive and the volume is good too. The Wi-Fi+ 2.0 automatically connect to the strongest available Wi-Fi network. The phone ranks the Wi-Fi hotspots, and prioritises the best connection.

The combination of beautiful design, powerful hardware, and a great camera gives this phone an edge when compared to the rest of the competition.

Display

The Display is very impressive and sharp. I find it to be one of the real good features of the phone. Its a 5.2″ FHD display with 96% colour saturation and high contrast. The quality and the details are neat. Images aren’t over-saturated or too warm/cold. the colours are vibrant and the brightness on the screen is impressive as well.

The LCD ensures blacks are nice and deep. It’s quite good even in a broad day light. Reading text on the phone is pretty good. I like the fact, it isn’t too sharp giving a realistic clear text.

If you want to nit pick, the display brightness could still look slightly low when compared to other flagships who offer Quad HD displays and much brighter nits. Huawei has managed to offer a better battery life with a full HD display here.

Software, User Experience:

The Honor 8 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box with the customised version. These days, Every company have their own android skins for their phones. Out of all, my personal favourites have been the Flyme OSMIUI and Emotion UI. They are not just basic customisations, but give users few features that are worth trying.

This phone offer Emotion UI 4.1, featuring Marshmallow.  There are few software features which makes the phone pretty good. My personal favourite is the notifications window. They show a lot more detail on a timeline about the app notifications and your system.

Shake to re-align icons is cool as well. Themes would also fancy some people for sure. I also like the screenshot gesture, where you just have to knock the screen.

step counter emui healthI love the Health App; that little notification on the lock screen is super cool. This version of EMUI also brings in some performance improvements.

The emotion UI provides you way more options to further make use of the finger print sensor, than to just unlock your phone. Gestures help you do that. For e.g.: Swiping up on the finger print scanner shows the recently used apps. Swiping down brings in the notifications page to quickly read through and toggle settings. A tap can be configured to take you to back screen or even click a picture while you take a selfie. You can even take a call, or use it like a home button with customisations available. Read some of our favourite features of EMUI here.

Camera:

There has been great number of dual camera phones available in Indian market this year. This is the second phone from Huawei after the P9 to come with a dual lens this year. While on the LG G5, the secondary module acts as a wide-angle lens, Huawei’s approach is different here. Check out the other implementations here.

The Honor 8 has a 12MP RGB main sensor and accompanied by a 12MP monochrome chip on board. The Honor 8’s merging algorithm, intelligently combines the colours taken by the RGB sensor with the detail of the monochrome sensor. There isn’t an exclusive Monochrome mode like the one on the Huawei P9. However, you can use filters/advanced settings to get the effect.

According to Huawei, the image information from both sensors makes the Honor 8 camera 100% more light-sensitive than other smartphone cameras. Further, using the colour and monochrome camera simultaneously helps in producing a superior image with deeper blacks, vivid colours, and natural looking depth of field.

The Dual Lens on the Honor 8 also helps in simulating shallow depth-of-field.

The camera is powered with a 12MP sensor, a f2.2 aperture, 22mm Leica optics, which does allow a lot of light and a dual tone LED flash to use in low-light conditions. The device doesn’t have an optical stabiliser though.

In outdoors, the camera performs very well and is quick. The quality of pictures is fantastic and the details are sharp with colours being good as well. The bokeh (background blur) is natural unlike the other phones in this segment. Thankfully, the software doesn’t over-sharp the images and hence, images feel realistic. Emotion UI also offers a great camera software which gives DNG Raw capture and other modes.

The Honor 8 also offers manual shooting controls (professional mode) for people who like to create photographs. Here are some of the pictures I clicked with this camera over the past 2 weeks.

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

In the past two weeks, I have been using the Honor 8 as my primary phone, and I am very impressed with it. To begin with, the phone feels great on hands, software is optimised, the images aren’t too saturated; the colours and details feel real etc. The phone is gorgeous and feels super premium with the glass body.

Well, at this price, although it looks quite expensive, we need to consider that, the camera optics on this phone is superior than the rest of the competition in this segment. The design feels very unique. While the camera is the most interesting feature on this phone, the oct-core chipset, The EMUI, and a fast fingerprint scanner are worth appreciating as well. The phone is perfectly sized, feels premium and the software is top-notch as well.