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Featured IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Product Reviews Smartphones

Honor 5X Review: A good mid-ranger with a Gorgeous Display

In this article, let’s review the Honor 5X, a budget mid range smartphone from Honor. Though, this device is priced as a budget phone, features, design and the user experience give it a feel of a good high end 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. This is also the first Honor phone which is available for the US market at just 199 USD. The Honor 5X was announced early this week in India at a price of 12999 and is available in three colors – gold, silver and grey. The phone will be sold on both Amazon and Flipkart and is available for pre-orders. The sale of Honor 5X will commence starting 1st February midnight.

Alright, Lets look at how this phone performs in these 4 key areas –

Hardware, Look and Feel:

The phone is made from brushed metal alloy that adds to the premium look and feel of this phone; and not many companies offer a metal body in this range as of now. The top and bottom of the phone are made up of plastic. The phone comes with a premium aircraft grade metal that also offers 5 layer heat sinks with copper shielding cover. The phone is neither heavy, nor very thin. Its a good weight in the hands; and doesn’t slip-off easily. The curved back is quite ergonomic and the rear flows very well to 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.

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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 0.5 seconds to unlock) and also, has worked well all the times for me, 10/10. Kudos to the team. When compared with other phones in this segment, the accuracy is pretty neat.

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.  Here are some of the options, you can set.

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The phone is powered with a Snapdragon 616 processor, an Adreno 405 GPU and a 2GB RAM; thats a bummer. There are 3GB variants available in China. not sure, why they weren’t made available here in India and the US. The phone has a onboard 16GB ROM, expandable upto 128 GB. The performance is slightly sluggish with some screen refreshes when you toggle between the running apps. There is a bit of delay on the load when you launch apps; not a major deal breaker. Probably, it would’ve been better with a better processor and the 3GB RAM; however, must appreciate the Emotion UI for making the OS much user friendly and providing some good sneaks that help in better performance when compared to other phones which are running on a 615/616 processor.

The left side is for the SIM and SD card slots. This phone has 2 seperate slots for a nano SIM & Micro SIM and a Micro SD card. Unlike few other phones which offer Hybrid SIM models, you do not need to sacrifice on a SIM to add up a Micro SD card.

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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. 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.

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The phone has a 3000 MAH battery which offers a good battery life of over a day; It gives me SOT of 6.5 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 Headphone Jack on the top and Micro-USB port and speaker grill towards the bottom. 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.!

Software, User Experience:

The Honor 5X is running Android 5.1 out of the box with the customised version, the Emotion UI 3.1. The company has announced that, this phone will get the Marshmallow update with the Emotion UI 4. 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. Lets talk about that some other time!

This phone offer Emotion UI 3.1. 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. If something is lacking on the EMUI, its the performance. It definitely needs some improvement.

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Camera

The camera is powered with a 13MP sensor, a f2.0 aperture which does allow a lot of light and a Dual 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 colors being good as well. Thankfully, the software doesn’t over-sharp the images and hence, images feel realistic. Emotion UI also offers a great camera software which gives you options for smart selfies, food mode etc.

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Here are some samples pictures I clicked. will upload few more as I use the phone. 

The phone doesn’t come with an optical image stabiliser built in. You can shoot a 1080p video on this phone. The video processing on the phone can be better, but is certainly good enough for a mid range smartphone.

The slo-mo and time-lapse features are also there. Here is a sample time-lapse video, I shot early this morning. Not the best, and certainly not the worse either. One point worth mentioning is that, when I used this camera for a longer time to shoot this time-lapse video, it didn’t warm the phone – Thats a very neat behaviour.

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.

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

With a brushed metal, premium design and a gorgeous display its impressive. Talking about value for money, At USD 199 USD, its definitely worth considering the phone in the US. With devices like LeEco Le1S, CoolPad Note 3 and Mi Redmi Note 3 in India, I would’ve preferred, if Honor had priced the phone a little more aggressive. Today in the market, There are few other devices in this range which offers better specs; however, its not just about the specs at times. Its more on the user experience. 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.

I would’ve loved had Honor brought in the 3GB variant model in India and the U.S. Not sure, if they have plans to bring it in as a limited edition phone at some point this year.

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.

Do let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!

Honor5x

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Featured IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Product Reviews Smartphones

OnePlus 2 – A Great Android Phone; Definitely not a Flagship Killer!

Hello people; I am back with a review after a long time. I have the all new OnePlus 2 with me in this article. Well, to be honest, It’s too late to review this phone. I’m sure, you would’ve come across quite a few takes. If you would still like to read a detailed review, I recommend you read this well written article on TechPP

This piece would primarily focus on my thoughts of  the “Yay” and “Nay”s of the OnePlus 2. There are few things I love about this phone. The hardware is beautiful. It feels fantastic in hand; the weight is nice and well balanced. The elements used definitely feels good. I personally love the alert slider button which changes the notification options. This is a very nifty example of a software driven hardware implementation. Here are some of the pictures of the device itself.

Camera Picture Samples: As you see in the pictures below, most of them were shot in the Auto Mode. However, you can still see the exposure settings being calculated so well. The details are very neat and so are the colour saturation. The DOF (Depth of Field) feels very neat and simple; most importantly, realistic.

Should I upgrade? – This totally depends on what device are you using? If you are already on a OnePlus One, I do not see a reason for you to upgrade, unless you need a finger print protection to your phone or a Dual SIM. If you are in the market looking to buy an Android phone under 25000 INR, this is the best phone you can buy today*. *conditions apply, if you manage to get an invite!

Hey Team @ OnePlus, here are my thoughts and feedback on the OnePlus 2 –

Yay’s:

    1. The VR Launch was by far the best creative launches, I have ever attended or seen. Kudos to the team to for have planned such a great event and its brilliant execution.
    2. I like the weight of the device; it isn’t light, but feels so comfortable and yet nice feel of a premium phone in hand.
    3. I love the alert slider button; that’s one of the best little features I love about the OnePlus 2. Great thought and attention to detail. Taking about buttons, the feel is very good and the buttons definitely feel premium.
    4. The sandstone texture is an instant connect with OnePlus; most of them can just close their eyes and will be able to guess your brand with just a feel.
    5. The Touch ID is super responsive and fast.
    6. I like the fact, you sticked with the 1080p screen and not the QHD; works good on an everyday phone, plus saves up on battery!
    7. The camera is too good; the DOF is very pleasing on eyes and it doesn’t look too fake.

Nay’s:

  • The OnePlus One had a great packaging; the OnePlus 2 looks too plain jane.
  • I think, we should talk more about experience than specs; To be honest, Android is still not really rich to leverage great hardware. I cannot see a visible difference between a 3GB RAM and a 4GB RAM device. Unless you wanna show the strengths with Benchmark scores.
  • I am not able to understand the idea behind giving a removable back, just for the SIMs? I mean, you had a great way of putting things together in the OnePlus One. The flap feels too thin much like how Samsung did it years ago. With the flap’s locking mechanism in-place, I am not sure, how many iterations will it live it up.
  • I’m surprised, how every mobile company has mastered the art of Depth of Field. There should be more research and focus on providing better low light capabilities; and if possible more realistic Slo-Mos. I think, there is still a long way to improve on these two areas. I still love my Slo-Mos on my iPhone.
  • The camera app needs refinement; It isn’t easy to toggle between different camera modes. Also, you could give the user an option to have a transparent shutter button which would show a 16:9 on the screen than just 4:3. I am not sure, if there was a mode to do that; bcos, the UI was very sluggish to even look for it.
  • The Touch ID – This touchscreen has a design of a button; most of the times, you end up pressing than touch. Not sure, again why the design was made to standout if it had to be just a touch; it could’ve been a plain simple glass slab, than a button design.
  • The USB Type C is good; certainly feels special, but I still cannot understand why we need it at this moment. Because, other than using it both the sides, I don’t see any other major advantage listed or supported.
  • Fast Charging is a key, especially when we use our phones so much these days.
  • NFC is not something I really miss; but then, it wouldn’t have hurt if the OP2 had it. Honestly, I don’t see any major implementation of Android Pay in the market as of now, wonder when that would change.
  • The phone does heat up a bit; though its quite common in smartphone these days, it would be great to implement a special juice on Oxygen which would tweak the hardware when a heavy intense game or app is loaded.
  • I would’ve loved to see a 128GB model as well. I save a lot of photographs and music on my device. With loading over 80% of the data on the phone, the device starts to feel sluggish in performance. I use a iPhone 128GB model, it almost adapted so well to my needs; with still quite a space left and is super responsive.
  • With using 4G LTE on one of the SIMs, I see that the battery doesn’t last as much as it used to on the OnePlus One. Not sure why.
  • The Oxygen OS needs a lot of refinements as well.
  • Hype; by hype, I mean the Invites. I am sure, there would’ve been a realistic forecast about the expectations people would have of this device. If you didn’t, you should seriously consider hiring someone who is good at forecasting and numbers. Making people run around for invites might sound cool, but then, as a premium buyer, I would love something which is there for my perusal and not hunt for the same. There isn’t an attitude here; but as a genuine buyer, who respects and values your brand, I deserve to get some respect in return.
  • Please do something to the Android Ecosystem. I’m sure, you guys have an authority to bring in a change; drive some interesting things with partnering other companies. There are very few apps which are aesthetically great and good to use on Android. However, many out there are just crappy and lack quality with too many ads and pop-ups. The percentage of Great apps (free or paid) on an iPhone is way too large when compared to Android.

Summing up, did it impress me like the OnePlus One? I so wish, if it had. OnePlus 2 is undoubtedly the best smartphone one can buy under 25000 INR. Is it a flagship killer? Probably, No. There are few more areas which needs attention and I am sure/hope the company is working on the same. Of-course, they know the business better than what I do!

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IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Smartphones

Redmi Note 4G Review: Best Entry Level LTE Android Smartphone

I had a chance to review the Redmi Note 4G last week, which feels like the best entry level 4G Enabled Android SmartPhone in the market today. This phone is priced at INR 9999 (around 160 USD) in India and is available for sale on Flipkart and at Airtel Outlets.

Initial Impressions: The phone has a great build; however, it does feel slightly heavy though. The Redmi Note 4G has a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, supports microSD cards up to 64GB, and of course, you can use 4G networks. Redmi Note 4G runs on Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box. The back-panel of the phone can be removed; and that’s where you find the dual sim and the micro sd slots. The Note 4G supports 4G FDD-LTE (1800/2100MHz) & TDD-LTE (2600MHz) as well as 3G WCDMA (850/900/1900/2100MHz).

The display is only a 720p screen. However, its not much of a concern. It’s bright, the color reproduction looks neat and viewing angles are excellent too. Unlike the OnePlus One, the Redmi Note feels big and slightly heavy for its 5.5-inches size.

The phone is pretty neat in the camera department. It has an impressive 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera for selfies and video calls. The camera app is simple to use and its pretty fast at focusing & clicking. I will upload some samples in a couple of days. 

The software is what makes the phone more compelling a choice than others in this segment. The MIUI is very customisable and offers loads of themes if you would like different looks on your phone. I have already spoken about the MIUI software in my earlier reviews of Redmi 1S and MI3; this should give you some details on simple the UI feels.

Summing up the hardware feels good, the software is neat, the camera and display is fantastic in this range. If you’re looking for a phablet with good battery life and future-proof 4G support, then this device is definitely one of the great options you have. I can even say, this is one of the best entry level 4G powered Smartphones in India available today; If you are looking at an alternative, then Nokia Lumia 638 can be a good option too.

Experience at the Airtel Store: As a part of the feedback, I did go to their Indira Nagar outlet to try out the Redmi Note 4G.

Xiaomi has always been selling devices directly to customers thereby avoiding the additional costs in distributers/re-sellers and advertising. This time, they worked out a strategy to partner with Airtel who have also been aggressively advertising their 4G capabilities in the city (Bangalore).

Buying it at Airtel Store is going to be an easy solution for customers who aren’t e-commerce friendly, or believe in Flash sales. It also gives an opportunity for users to experience the device. This is an important deal breaker for many customers who always believe in seeing before buying it.

Further, there is no reason for them to wait for the shipment to arrive and have doubts whether they get a legitimate one. Buying the Redmi Note 4G at the Airtel Store means, you can just step in, feel the phone, experience the difference in between handsets running 3G and 4G; buy a phone and walk out with it. Airtel also offers a SIM adapter if you are already using a nano/micro SIM.

When I went into the store, the executives were very courteous and explained the device, like they would do to a layman. They were not just talking mere specs, but also the experiences. They also pitched in their 4G plans and features. They had a booth, where they had placed two Redmi Note phones (3G and 4G) and ran a speed-test, played a full HD video on YouTube etc to showcase the 4G speeds. No doubt, the speeds are top-notch. You get a consistent speed of around 35 Mbps.

Summing up, the Airtel experience was neat as well. Airtel is very keen to push 4G adoptions in India, and not every one can afford or be interested in buying an iPhone; they need some budget players and Redmi Note 4G is definitely one of them.

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IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Microsoft Smartphones

Nokia Lumia 638 4G Review: Entry level LTE Smart Phone

‘Internet for everyone’ has become a mantra these days in every industry. The IoT devices are targeting the very same purpose and has already offered some ‘connected’ solutions which eases people’s life. Well, more than one billion people in India are yet to be connected to the web. The affordable range of smartphones are just in a look out, to see if more and more people can get connected. However, to a large extent the network service provider also plays a big role here.

Microsoft has launched Lumia 638, a low-cost 4G smartphone at a price tag of INR 8,299 (around 132 USD). The smartphone will be available exclusively on the company’s store on Amazon.in. After the Nokia Lumia 930 (the best Windows Phone ever made), this would be the next windows phone I am writing on. Though I realise, these belong to different segments, let’s see how the experience goes. Well, without much ado, lets get to the review –

Hardware, Screen, Look and Feel:

The build quality feels surprisingly good and quite comfortable to hold. You can find the power-button and the volume rockers towards the right-side of the phone; a 3.5mm Audio Jack on the top, and a micro USB charging port in the bottom. The phone has also soft-key buttons for back, home and search. The device is 9.2 mm thick and weighs about 135 grams.

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The Lumia 638 4G is placed reasonably well against the competition, based on its hardware capabilities. A 1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 powers the phone, which has a 4.5-inch ClearBlack screen with 854 x 480 resolution. There’s 8 GB of internal storage with the option to add up to 128 GB more through a microSD card. The 5 megapixel front camera can capture 720p video and the 1830 mAh battery is rated for 9 hours of Wi-Fi browsing. GPS, Bluetooth 4.0 and multiple sensors loaded. The connectivity options include 4G LTE, 3G HSPA+ 42Mbps (Dual Carrier) and WiFi 802.11 b/g/n. The Lumia 638 is also powered with a 1830 mAh battery.

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Lumia 638 makes use of a ClearBlack LCD display measuring 4.5 inches that will eliminate reflections as it employs a sequence of polarising layers. This display carries a FWVGA screen resolution of 854×480 pixels that translates to a pixel density of 221 pixels per inch. With an average pixel count, this screen is capable of handling the basic tasks at ease.

Software, User Experience:

The Lumia 638 4G is powered with the software running the latest Windows Phone 8.1 OS with Lumia Denim update. Also, the smartphone arrives preloaded with Microsoft Enterprise feature pack, Microsoft Office, OneDrive, HERE Maps and Drive+. Software is a big part for Microsoft in this phone, as it tries to keep people using its mobile software. I personally love the experience of Skype; MixRadio is a boon. Its a big relief for some of us here in India, where Pandora, Spotify or even Google Music doesn’t work officially. The Nokia Here Apps and Drive works great; especially with offline capabilities.

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The new Word Flow keyboard works pretty slick; just glide your finger as you compose your messages for a neat keyboard experience. The experience of OneDrive is neat as well. You can store and access all of your photos, videos and files from anywhere. Syncing between devices is simple too, whether you’re on your smartphone, Xbox, tablet or computer. The first 15GB of storage comes free. Accessing or editing documents on the go is simple too, with Microsoft Office coming built into the Lumia 638 4G.

There are a good bunch of camera apps built in the phone as well: Bing vision, Lumia Camera, Lumia Cinemagraph, Lumia Panorama, Lumia Refocus and Lumia Selfie.

Camera:

The 5 Mega Pixel camera lets you capture moments  through pictures and video clips (720p). The camera has features like Autofocus, 28mm focal length, 4X digital zoom and a f/2.4 aperture with support for panorama shooting mode. Sadly, there is no LED Flash and a front camera; notably, when there are tons of entry level and mid-range phones obsessed with a selfie enabled smartphones. However, Microsoft has an app ‘Lumia Selfie’ which just helps you take some pretty good selfies using the rear camera.

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The Lumia Camera offers some additional controls to the pictures as well. You can control the exposure, shutter speed, focus and the white balancing settings.

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Here are some of the pictures clicked with this phone. (I will update shortly with more examples)

Summary:

Summing up, this device is very well placed against its competition. The camera is very neat, the specs are decent and the phone doesn’t feel cheap at all. The 4G LTE is the huge deal for this device when compared with other phones in this segment. As the market expands, there are many other players bringing in their entry level 4G phone segment, to name a few the Redmi Note 4G, Lenevo K3 etc. However, this windows phone takes an advantage with optimal utilisation of the hardware in-place and offer a very smooth and a consistent user experience. If you are in the market, looking for an entry level internet powered smartphone, this is a very good option for you. If you prefer a more open platform like Android and apps, then the Redmi Note 4G can be a good alternative as well.

Hope this helps. Do let me know your thoughts.

Update: Offer for Airtel Customers – The new Lumia 638 comes bundled with an exclusive offer on Airtel 4G. Microsoft says Lumia 638 consumers on Airtel Post-paid in Bengaluru get access up to 5 GB of free data on 4G for 2 months post activation of their Airtel SIM on the new Lumia 638. The offer will be available until 31st March 2015.

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IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Smartphones

iPhone 6 Review: Is it really worth an Upgrade?

The all new Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus featuring stunning 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch Retina HD displays, are going to release tomorrow in India. The sale starts at 12:00 Tonight. The Economic Times reports, Apple is shipping 50,000-55,000 units of its new iPhones to India in the first phase to ensure there is adequate supplies for Thursday midnight’s launch.

According to reports, there has been over 25,000 units pre-ordered which has stepped up Apple’s retail distribution in India this year. Most of the multi-brand chain stores and E-commerce portals like Amazon and Flipkart have opened up for pre-orders and that has certainly helped the numbers grow up.This is also the first time that Apple will have midnight sales of its new launch, a global practice and retailers are pulling out all stops to ensure it goes off smoothly and everyone who pre-booked an iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus gets their hand on it on day one itself.

The iPhone 6 Plus has been in news ever since the release in the US; mostly for not-so-good reasons. To begin with the Bend-gate, reports of iPhone 6 Plus getting bent. There were too many trolls on the same; however, apple confirmed that, there were only 9 units reported with this behaviour out of the billion sales made. As always, Apple announced iPhone 6 and 6 Plus as one of the best iPhone ever made. Well, from the looks, it may not be the best looking iPhones. Let’s see what’s in store.

Hardware, Look and Feel:

The new iPhones feature a precision unibody enclosure of anodized aluminum that conforms seamlessly with the shaped glass of the display, resulting in a completely smooth and continuous surface. The antenna inlays look very clumsy; however, this phone feels very good than its looks. You definitely need to hold one to realize how ergonomic and good it feels.

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are engineered to be the thinnest ever, delivering a bigger display in a design that is still comfortable to hold and easy to use. Despite being big, it fits really well in your palm.  Both models include the Apple-designed A8 chip with second generation 64-bit desktop-class architecture for fast performance and power efficiency.

Both models include the M8 motion coprocessor that gathers motion data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, compass and the new barometer, which senses air pressure to provide relative elevation. The M8 motion coprocessor can continuously measure your motion data, even when the device is asleep, saving battery life for fitness apps that use the sensors all day.

The performance on the iPhone 6 is smooth and this dual core can give other Quad-Core Android Phones run for money. The App launch speed, Gaming performance, Consistent graphics, Spotlight search work slick.

iPhone 6 features a stunning 4.7-inch Retina® HD display with 1334 x 750 resolution, providing 38 percent more viewing area than iPhone 5s, while iPhone 6 Plus features an even bigger 5.5-inch Retina HD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, providing 88 percent more viewing area and nearly three times the pixels than iPhone 5s. The Retina HD displays offer advanced technologies including higher contrast for deeper blacks and dual-domain pixels for more accurate colors at wider viewing angles.

The Audio performance on the iPhone has gone better. The volume is a little higher than the older versions. However, with Apple owning Beats Audio now, I expected something even more remarkable.

Camera

From the looks of it, the awkward protruding Lens on the rear can be a turn off to few people. Also, None of the earlier generation iPhones had lens protrude, it was always a flat back panel. However, the performance of the camera, makes you forget this.

The iSight camera gets even better with a new sensor featuring Focus Pixels for faster autofocus, making it easier to quickly capture any moment. High-definition video on iPhone improves with faster frame rates up to 60fps for 1080p video and 240fps for slo-mo, as well as continuous autofocus, cinematic video stabilization and time-lapse video. The audio capture is impressive as well.

iPhone 6 Plus users will also benefit from optical image stabilization technology that compensates for hand shake in low light and works with iOS 8 to reduce subject motion. The FaceTime HD front camera now captures over 80 percent more light with a new sensor, larger f/2.2 aperture and advanced new features including burst mode and HDR video.

The slo-Mo is one of my most favourite. It makes you instantly fall in love with it. Check out this video I shot on the iPhone:

A slow-motion clip shot on an iPhone at a beach in Goa.

Posted by iclickd on Friday, 9 October 2015

Pictures are really crisp, colors are wonderful and most importantly, iPhone cameras are very snappy and quick on shutter. The low-light performance of the phone isn’t too great. However, if I am buying a phone, just for the camera features I would buy the Nokia Lumia with Pureview instead.

Software Platform:

If you are wondering, how well the Apple’s Software scales to this big screen sizes, the answer is wonderfully well. The new iPhones come with iOS 8 featuring a simpler, faster and more intuitive user experience with new Messages and Photos features, predictive typing for Apple’s QuickType keyboard and Family Sharing. Read more about the iOS 8 Features here. Your messages and alerts live along your daily agenda when you pull down for notifications.

The iOS 8 also introduces ‘Apple Pay’, an easier way to simply and securely make payments with just the touch of a finger. I personally love the concept and most importantly the attention to detail in implementation. Apple has not just introduced the technology, but an ecosystem. Read this article to understand on how Apple Pay can transform the Mobile Payment business. With Apple Pay, Users can pay securely and conveniently in stores by simply holding the phone near the contactless reader while keeping a finger on Touch ID. This hasn’t been implemented as of now; it would arrive as a free update to the iOS 8 in the US. There is still no official report on its availability outside US.

With iOS 8, motion data from M8 motion coprocessor appears in the Health app so you can see how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed, or how far you’ve walked or run. Developers can use CoreMotion APIs that take advantage of M8 and HealthKit to create apps that help you take better care of your health and fitness.

The iPhone’s single button has more functions than ever and it works pretty well. Pressing once and holding unlocks the phone with your fingerprint Touch ID, The double press brings up the task switcher for multitasking between apps or to close any running apps, A long press wakes up Siri, and a gentle double tap brings in reachability to help ease one hand access. (shown below).

Recommendations

Those who love raw performance and higher level of customizations will never appreciate iPhones. In this version, the build could’ve been better. Siri may not be as good as others. I personally like Google Now better. Cortana does a very very neat job as well. The custom keyboard is still not that great. The Auto-correct is way behind than the Androids. The home screen is still a bunch of icons and if you like this user-experience, you would be fine. However, if you moving from an Android or a Windows Phone, this may be a little strange to begin with. However, the responsiveness of the iPhone is very consistent unlike the other flagships devices.

The Health ID is a great thought and implementation as well. The day to day experience on the iPhone gets wonderful. Thanks to the bunch of relevant applications on the AppStore. Third party apps work better on an iPhone than their own devices. For eg: I still love using Google Maps on an iPhone than an Android; so does the Microsoft OneNote as well.

Summing up, iPhone 6 is crafted really well. If you are reading this review till here, you must’ve already made a decision on whether you want to be in the Apple Ecosystem. Coming to the important question with which we began this article, Is it worth an upgrade? The answer is a partial Yes. The reason being partial is, it makes sense to move to iPhone 6 from a iPhone 4 or a iPhone 4S or even iPhone 5. If you are an iPhone 5S user, it doesn’t make so much of difference to you, until features like Apple Pay and its security chip means a lot to you.

If you are deciding between a iPhone 6 and an iPhone 6 Plus, I would vote for a 6 Plus for the sheer presence of the optical stabilizer in the camera department.  Again, iPhone 6 feels good as a phone, whereas, 6 Plus feels more a Phablet. Both these devices are excellent when it comes to user experience, camera and most importantly the battery life.

If you are looking at buying a new phone and are confused between a iPhone, Android or a Windows Phone, then the choice becomes even clearer. If I were in a market looking at buying a phone, I would look out for an Ecosystem. I mean, a platform of devices which can work along with your Phone. For eg: An iPhone, Apple TV, Apple Watch and a Mac. or even a Android Phone, Nexus Player or Chromecast, Android Wear etc. So if you own any one of them, picking others are going to be easy. At-least that’s how I would recommend.

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IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Product Reviews Smartphones

Moto 360 Android Wear: smartwatch Review and Pictures

Moto 360 is a neatly designed smartwatch from Motorola, powered by Android Wear. This was one of the jaw dropping gadgets announced early this year. This was always on my wish-list and I finally picked it when Flipkart made the watch available last week. In this review, let’s look at two main areas which makes and breaks the deal of this watch. Well, the battery lasts all day for me. I would’ve loved, if it ran for 2 days at least; but again, that’s not too big a concern. I am happy with it.
Thanks to the choice of premium materials used, The moto 360 definitely comfortable and looks very classy. Its circular watch face is one of the most impressive features; it almost reminds of those stylish designer wristwatches with analog tickers. You can glance at your wrist to see updates or just speak to get the information you need. The sensors in-place also helps you keep track of your steps and know your heart rate.

Its been over a week with the Moto 360 and my experience has been pretty good.

Hardware, Look and Feel

The Moto 360 runs a Texas Instruments OMAP 3 Processor with a  4 GB of internal storage, 512 MB of RAM and 320mAh of battery.  It also comes with a bunch of sensors on it – Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Pedometer,  Compass, Heart rate sensor and a Dual microphone.

The Moto 360 is an IP67 certified water resistant watch. (The IP number is composed of two numbers, the first referring to the protection against solid objects and the second against liquids. The higher the number, the better the protection). The Moto 360 can only stand and Protect against the effect of immersion between 15cm and 1m; and not against long periods of immersion under pressure. You will also find the heart-rate monitor sensor in the center. (image below).

The Moto 360 comes in two different color variants; black and Gray. The gray one comes with a stainless steel metal watch face and a Gray strap; whereas the black one comes with a black painted stainless steel watch face with a one-sided black colored strap. The horween leather gives a velvet texture to the strap. The stainless steel buckle is simple and impressive as well. This gives a very neat feel to the watch and stays firm in your hand unlike button holds or magnetic straps.

In the position of the traditional watch dialer, you have the home button surrounded by a brass material. This gives a very premium look and feel to the watch when you use it.

The screen is made up of a Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The IPS display screen is sharp and works pretty slick in day-light as well. You must’ve already read or seen different reviews about the fact of moto 360 not having a full circle display. Well, there is a little notch/band in the bottom of the screen which holds the ambient light sensors, display drivers and the digitizer. Motorola could’ve avoided this band, but that would’ve resulted in a bigger bezel edge. Watch this video on ‘The Verge’, where the motorola engineers explain the design.

The Black strap version isn’t available on Flipkart as of now; but will eventually show up. Motorola had also announced that, the metal straps are going to be available by end of this year.

The accessory is yet another highlight. The wireless charging cradle looks impressive and doubles as a night watch clock. The charging surface just wirelessly charges the Moto 360 when you keen the watch on the cradle; which means, no clamping adapters or cables getting tagged up to the watch. The rubber foot on the charging cradle holds well on glass surfaces and tables. You can also charge the watch with any other wireless chargers as well.

Software Platform, Integration:

Any phone running Android 4.3 or newer and supports Bluetooth LE is compatible with Moto 360. To begin using the watch, you will have to install the Android wear app on your phone and pair your watch on Bluetooth. The watch would sync for all the notification and app interactions. However, some integral elements like Pedometer, Clock and heart sensor need not have a paired Android Phone to work.

The Android Wear app, allows you to control some basic settings of your watch. You can choose between the watch and phone for the primary screen for notifications. I personally love the option to silence the connected phone, especially when I am wearing the watch. Works great at work and while driving. Android Wear does take time to sync your applications to watch; hence, you have an option to re-sync the applications manually.

You can also prevent some applications from pushing the notifications to the watch. for eg: If you get mentioned too often on twitter, you can basically turn off the notifications on the watch. Motorola also offers an app Motorola Connect, which help you customize the watch faces, edit your wellness profile etc.

You can basically tap on the screen to look through different cards coming in from your Google Now experience; and also notifications from your applications. You can continuously swipe through the right for more information and actions; and can also swipe left to close the notification. For example: On a whatsapp message notification, you can tap to open, swipe right to look through the entire conversation and message, further swipe right to reply to the message by speaking in-to the phone. The Google Text to speech is very impressive and pretty much works spot on. You can further swipe left to dismiss this notification.

 

You can also wake up the watch by just twisting your wrist; pretty much similar to how you would use your wrist watch to see the time. You can long Press on the watch screen to change different watch faces; and also gently tap to start the Google Search App.

Dragging the screen from top will also mute the notifications coming on your watch. You can also see the battery status and the date here.  You get a vibration alert on notifications. Please note, the Moto 360 does not have a speaker module built in it.

While on the home-screen, you can say, “Ok Google”, to basically search, take a note, set a reminder or even Navigate to a nearest cafe etc.

In the settings menu, you will find an option to adjust the brightness of the display and also have an option to change to an ambient screen. Ambient screen allows you to see the watch face and the notifications in a dim state all through. Having it on would certainly drain the battery much earlier than usual. When you turn off the Ambient mode, the watch screen completely turns off thereby which saving battery on the watch and switches on only when you move your wrist or tap on the screen or press the home button.

There is no app-launcher built in this watch (Android Wear) as of now. You will need to goto Google (gentle tap on the watch), and then scroll down to select the start option to invoke any app. You will find all the predefined apps and you can also load more by installing wear apps on your phone from the play store.

Other simple tips involve, using the home button to wake up or put the phone to sleep or long press to quickly reach the settings option.  You can also dim the display of the watch by just placing your palm over it.

If someone calls you on your connected Android Phone, you receive a notification (with their picture from your directory) which allows you to either dismiss the call or answer. However, to speak, you will need to use the phone or any other bluetooth enabled headset.

Pros and Cons:

Though it looks like Android Wear technology is made for square or rectangle devices, the circular Moto 360 doesn’t look strange or cutout on most of the information. When compared with other Android Wear, the Moto 360 runs an older processor. The Snapdragon definitely out beats the OMAP 3 in terms of the speed, but the simple design philosophy of android doesn’t show a vast difference. The Moto 360 is definitely a well designed and beautifully constructed smartwatch. The wireless charging cradle makes it look so elegant as well. The pedometer and the Heart rate monitor apps work slick as well.

Although it looks like a heavy metal watch, it feels very light.

At first, it looked like an extended screen for the phone and additional overhead to charge this unit along with my regular smartphones. However, its been a week and I use the watch to skim through the notifications during meetings, take voice actions, notes etc. I do not seem to miss any notification and most importantly, works pretty awesome with Google micro Maps while driving. With increase in screen size of smartphones these days, mounting a big phone on dashboard/windshield for maps is quite cumbersome.

At 17,999 INR (250 USD in the US), I would definitely recommend this, if you are looking at buying a smart watch. This is not an ultimate watch. It is still a first generation device and there are few notable limitations; However, this ecosystem is certainly going to evolve and I’m sure, it would make your life easy.

Summing up, Simplicity is the one word which you can easily associate with Moto 360 or Android Wear in general. This would definitely change the way how you interact with you phone in days to come. The Moto 360 is a very impressive unit and it’s definitely one of the best looking Android Wear devices available till date.

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IT News, Tech Information and Analysis News Smartphones

Jolla Phone releases in India exclusively on Snapdeal.com

The Jolla Smartphone running Sailfish OS was released today in India and is going to be exclusively available in India for INR 16499 on Snapdeal.com. Jolla is a Finnish smartphone running its independent operating system, Sailfish OS. Based on Meego, an open source operating system formerly developed by Nokia among others, the Jolla smartphone offers a distinct user experience, unlike any of the competition. Other than its button-less design and gesture-based UI, Sailfish also lets you run Android apps on it.

The Jolla Smartphone:

The phone is 131mm tall and 9.9 mm thick. It also has a solid feature set, including a powerful dual core processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB of mass memory (expandable with microSD), ample 4.5″ qHD display, 5 point multi-touch with Gorilla 2 Glass. 8 MP AF camera with LED Flash and a 2MP front facing camera. The phone also has a support for User-replaceable battery, and that’s impressive.  I personally, love this.

User Experience:

The Sailfish user interface has been designed with the most recent consumer needs in mind. With the most modern mobile UI Sailfish provides effortless multitasking. Users are able to multitask instantly between truly running applications. Even more, users will be able to interact with the running applications directly on the home view: ending a call, pausing a song – without needing to enter the application. This multitasking feature brings usability and speed-of-use to a totally new level, unseen in the mobile industry.

Sailfish OS works with your natural movements to give you the best in-hand phone experience. Via swipes and shortcuts using just one hand, you can easily interact with all your running apps and services at the same time. And you do not have to look far for the ‘home’ button, as it’s always under your thumb.

An integral part of Jolla’s Sailfish OS is the integration Android compatible application runtime that Jolla has developed in co-operation with Myriad AG, a leading provider of software and services to the mobile and TV industry.

The Jolla smartphone supports Android applications as well as intuitive Sailfish OS apps, which makes Jolla an easy choice for smartphone consumers.

The UI also features many new innovations, such as the Pulley Menu enabling fast and effortless interaction, at-a-glance peeks at status information, and effortless personalization of the device to match the user’s style and mood.  The start-up wizard guides you to select the applications a user actually wants. That way, you will also only get updates for what you actually use.

Recently, Jolla announced an agreement to license positioning services and map technology from HERE, a Nokia business, to be used in Sailfish OS. This will provide users with up-to-date map data and rich location information, such as restaurants and hotels, from over 190 countries around the world. Enabling fast and accurate retrieval of positioning information anywhere in the world, these services are essential for any mobile maps experience. A global map and location content offering also brings Jolla one step closer to achieving a fully equipped mobile operating system. The mapping asset is an integral part of Jolla’s complete user experience.

Sailfish OS integrates HERE’s mapping and positioning technology alongside thousands of Android applications provided by Yandex.Store, an appstore for Android. Currently featuring over 85,000 apps in 17 categories, Yandex.Store offers the best and most popular apps – from social networking and communication apps like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Skype, Viber and WeChat to games like Angry Birds. Yandex.Store will provide in-app purchase opportunities and is available on smartphones and tablets in 37 languages.

The Other Half:

The phone also gives you option to choose different back-panel covers; as Jolla calls it, The Other Half covers. It is manufactured from ultra-durable and scratch resistant polycarbonate, it’s more than just a fresh coat of paint. Each color option packs a unique ambience with custom sounds, wallpapers and more. Your Jolla automatically detects The Other Half and instantly adapts the look and feel of your phone with wireless NFC technology.

Developer Support:

Jolla strongly believes and understands that the community is the heart of the idea generation, technology development and distribution and is committed to supporting community involvement and participation within Sailfish.

The Sailfish OS and UI are highly adaptable and will support smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, automotive and other device classes. Sailfish is a real opportunity for developers to participate in and build solutions with existing open source projects such as Qt, Mer Core, and the Linux kernel. The new OS will be built through community involvement and participation. The Sailfish SDK consists of Mer Core’s tools, Qt Creator, Jolla UI components, Sailfish UI framework and Sailfish handset application interfaces. The SDK encourages Sailfish friends to extend the tools to support development for their company’s style. The SDK is available and developed at www.sailfishos.org.

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IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Smartphones

Intex Aqua Style Review: KitKat Powered Entry Level Smartphone

The Indian Smartphone market is one of the best places for business today. Its no more big players in the race; we have quite a few other Indian and Chinese brands in the market who have seeded some amazing devices. Intex has joined this league with its Aqua Style range phones.
Intex Technologies has established itself as a trusted name in the industry today. The company’s flagship brand ‘INTEX’ covers 4 business segments which are mobile handsets, consumer durables, IT accessories and retail. The Brand exhibits an exhaustive portfolio of more than 15 product categories ranging from mobile handsets, multimedia speakers, LED TVs, washing machines to name a few.

I have been using this device for a couple of weeks now and here are some excerpts from my experience.

Hardware, Battery and Design

The new Intex Aqua Style comes with a 4-inch form factor and is powered by 1.3 GHz Quad-core processor and a 1GB RAM. The build quality feels surprisingly good and quite comfortable to hold. You can find the power-button towards the right-side of the phone and the volume rockers in the left. The phone is 9.3mm thick and about 110 grams with battery.

box-slim

The handset has an IPS display offering a 800×480 pixel resolution with 16M display colors. It also supports Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi.

display

Intex Aqua Style is a dual SIM Phone with support for 3G as well. It also offers a 4GB ROM (usable of 1.75 GB) with an option for expandable storage micro SD card of 32GB. The intex Aqual Style offers a 1400 mAh battery which might favour the entry level segment phone users. It’s pretty hard to get a day, when you start using the phone quite extensively. However, on standby it performs quite well.

dual-sim

If you do not like the flashing black back-panel, You also get a matte finish cover free included in the box.

covers

On the hardware and display department, this phone scores a good 7 out of 10. Could’ve been better, but this isn’t bad either.

Software, User Experience:

This was the most surprising element for me. The entry level phone is offering Google’s latest Android OS, KitKat. Intex Aqua Style is definitely faster when compared to the competition in this segment who still run on Jellybean. Kitkat is a lighter and much better; which works pretty slick as it has a better resource utilization options. Its also much faster when compared to the older generations of Android OS. The handset comes offering the official Google-based Android v4.4.2 KitKat OS. The UX is quite smooth too. I would’ve wished if the icons and texts were placed better on the screen. It sometimes feels as if the icons are stuck to the edges of the display. The interface is not buggy; but it isn’t very remarkable and refreshing too. The phone comes with few pre-loaded applications and games.

With just 1GB of RAM, where the OS would take almost 50% of the computing power, I would not recommend this phone, if you like more CPU intensive apps and games. However, for occasional emails, basic games and social media apps, this phone is decent enough.

The rest of the OS experience is as same as any device running KitKat and I do not want to talk a lot about the OS features here. On the User Experience front, I would score this a decent 6 out of 10. It does the basic tasks right.

buttons

Camera:

The Intex Aqua Style comes with 5 MP rear camera that allows you to take pictures in different modes including Panorama, HDR and continous shot. It also has a 2MP front camera for video chats and selfies. Auto Focus is quite buggy though. Color reproduction is good but sharpness could’ve been better.

Here are some samples. In the camera department, I would again score it a decent 6 out of 10. This phone captures pictures, but definitely not a quick snapper and sometimes focus could be a bummer!

sample1 sample2 sample3

Value for Money:

We have seen a lot of junk smartphones in this segment claiming to make better phones and they spoil the entire Android ecosystem. However, With the introduction of Android One devices, we should see some change in this trend.

The Intex Aqua Style is definitely not the best Entry Level Android Phone; and not the worst ones either. The phone delivers what it promises and it does it quite well. If you are looking at a backup phone, this could be a nice option. This is one of the very few phones which runs on Android Kitkat and that could be the only USP of this phone. I would recommend you to try this phone before you decide on buying the same. However, if you are planning to buy it online, I would either vouch for a RedMi 1S or even a Nokia Lumia 530 as an alternative in this segment.

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Featured IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Microsoft Smartphones

Nokia Lumia 930 Review: The Best Windows Phone available

Windows Phone is going to be 4 years old now; and it could never take a stand and showcase a device running a platform which can compete with the best Android or an iOS device. This has definitely affected their market share; and of-course, impacted the Brand Nokia. The Nokia Lumia 1020 had a fantastic camera and the Lumia 910 introduced a good design. However, there was something really missing. I was even dreaming of running Android on the Nokia Lumia 1020. The Nokia Lumia 930 seems to be a fantastic phone that stands up in competition with other flag-ships in the league. With a high hardware specifications, great still camera and a brilliant design, this is definitely worth looking at.

Hardware, Battery and Design

The Lumia 930 has a 2.2 Quadcore processor with a 2GB RAM under the hood. This really helps to make Windows Phone really fast. With a snapdragon 800 series, loading apps and switching between them is pretty smooth. The front of the phone is a one-glass surface; the metal frame is stunning and the polycarbonate rear shell adds a soft touch and feel to the device. The polycarbonate material (variants) is available in Neon Green, Orange, Black and White colours.

KM9A0071

The buttons on the right hand side are easy to reach and its good to see a shutter button on the phone. Having a button always gives you a good control; and of course, the quick access to clicking pictures even when the phone is locked.

KM9A0097

The metal chassis and the slightly rounded corner edges gives a nice premium feel to the phone.

KM9A9908

I would’ve just wished an easy way to take the sim tray out. The phone is quite chunky; but Yes. I love my phones to take some space. I do not really like those thin fabric phones which you often use it with a fear of breaking them. The base model of this phone also comes with a 32GB of disk storage and that’s impressive.

battery-usage-248x300The Lumia 930 has a 2420 mAh battery. Windows Phones are always light on the battery; most of the phones stay a good day long. But with a quad-core CPU and a full HD screen on board, the Lumia 930 is a more power hungry device. That doesn’t mean its going to last just for 4 hours. It would pretty much take you through your day with just one full charge. If you are having any battery issues, charge your phone in cycles (100 to 0 and then 0 to 100). Do that for few days and your battery will slowly start to bed and give you much better battery performance. Also, try to use the charger which came along with your phone. That would help.

I now charge my phone once in two days with a normal usage (Here is a sample of my battery utilisation; check the screenshot towards your right). The phone also has a wireless charging built in; and thats fantastic.

Basically, this is one of the best constructed phones in the market today; In this department, I rate this phone a good 9 out of 10.

Display and Screen:

The Lumia 930 has a brilliant screen. It’s a 5 inch, full HD 1080 x 1920 AMOLED Screen. The pixel density is 441 ppi. It’s the brightest screen, which Nokia has ever produced. It’s sharp and renders the images smoothly. It produces some vibrant colours as well.

The Nokia Clear Black technology is a boon. I haven’t come across a phone that handles blacks and contrasts so well. This really helps text reading to be so crisp. The AMOLED screen helps with great colour reproduction and images look fantastic and colourful. Some may find it a little over-saturated; however, the Lumia 930 offers a great viewing angles as well. The key benefit of the OLED technology is when the portion of the screen is black, the LEDs are basically turned off giving you rich viewing experience and of course saves your battery as well.

I have always been a fan of display screens on the Nokia devices. This definitely makes it the best looking Windows Phone ever made. On the Display, I rate this phone a good 8 out of 10.

KM9A0089

Camera and Pictures:

The camera is the best feature of this phone. It produces some fantastic sharp images. The sensor and the technology is a winner when you compare it with any of the other players in this range. The Lumia 930 has a 20 MP Pureview Camera built in, with optical image stabilizer and 4 directional microphones, which supports a 5.1 Dolby surround sound. It’s the first device in the market to do that.

The gradients and colors are pretty good as well. Shooting in low light doesn’t result in too much noise. You can of course, record a 1080p video as well. The sensor on the Lumia 930 is same as the one on the 1520. It may not be in the same league as the 41MP Lumia 1020, but it does take some great pictures. The camera is quick and gives you some manual controls to customise the shutter speeds and focus.

If you are looking at a handy phone, which takes best pictures, you should read no further. This is the best phone you can buy (The only other option would be the Lumia 1020, if you like the design and the rear bulkiness). In this department, I would rate it a 10 out of 10.

Here are some of the sample pictures and videos clicked with the Lumia 930.

Software, User Experience:

The Nokia Lumia 930 is powered with the Windows Phone 8.1. The OS has become even more personal and now allows customization on the start screen and the tiles. You can now change the background of these tiles and also resize them.

You have a new action center built in which gives you all the notifications and also access to toggle some settings. Its not as great as the Android notifications; but yes, these are something to do with the software and can get better on time. There is a battery saver app, Data Sense and Storage Sense to help you see what is exactly going on under the hood.

The Microsoft applications works the best. The built in IE browser is neat. Most of the websites load faster without missing any elements. I personally love how my office emails works with this platform. The Outlook integration is fantastic and even the LDAP search of directories work a charm. The Office, SharePoint and Lync applications work really smooth and gives a great user experience. I like the Bing Health and Fitness App as well.

shape-keyboard-168x300Windows Phone also introduces Word Flow with shape writing; similar to the Swipe keyboards on Android which works really slick. The prediction of words are top-notch and its really fast. This holds the Guiness Record for the speed typing on a keyboard. Looks like this record is broken now.

Nokia MixRadio is another fantastic app which I love. Its a big relief for some of us here in India, where Pandora, Spotify or even Google Music doesn’t work officially. The Nokia Here Apps and Drive works great; especially with offline capabilities.

With the Nokia Cyan upgrade, you can now get an interesting camera experience with options like living images in the Gallery that is something like a motion image or GIFs. The Creative Studio also gives some great options for editing pictures or post process them. The Story teller is cool as well. It basically weaves a video of all the media, which you have. For example, Think of it as a good summary video made from your pictures and videos which you took at a recent vacation. Pretty cool indeed.

One of the top features would be Cortana as well. It surprisingly works great with contextual reminders, responds to questions and helps you with most of the commonly used tasks. I am still a fan of Google Now and its cards, maps integration and most importantly the support for English (Indian diction). Let’s be kind, this would definitely grow over time and get better. Cortana currently works only in the US> If you are outside US and want to enable the same on your phone, follow these steps to activate the same.

Sadly, these are the most cool features of this platform. The OS needs to evolve; and the apps need to take a huge leap. If you are a user, who accesses emails on phone, with some occasional Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, this phone would work great. Things have to really evolve w.r.t games and other 3rd party applications. In this department, I would rate it a 6 out of 10.

 

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

There are very few phones which you fall instantly in love with. Lumia 930 is definitely one of them. Its undoubtedly, one of the best designed windows phone ever made with a beautiful display and a fantastic camera.

There were few reports of this phone getting over-heated. I faced this issue as well. However, on regular charges and discharge, this issue seems to have disappeared.  The inclusion of wireless charging is a fantastic option. If you have used a Windows Phone before, you will find the OS more familiar. On one hands its great, because it provides a consistent User Experience; but on the other hand, nothing has changed in 4 years in the platform and it isn’t as intuitive as the competition. By competition, I mean the Android. The transition it took from Cupcake to KitKat is phenomenal. iOS has been the same for years as well; that’s a different story, lets talk about it sometime later.

When you edit or post proces the image from the phone, you work on the JPG version and not the RAW DNG file. There could’ve been some better options to edit the higher resolution pictures in the phone itself.

OneNote and office integration with OneDrive is a great productivity feature. You can pretty much start writing a document at office with your laptop and  continue to edit the same on the go with your phone. OneNote can also help you to take some quick notes (Text and Voice) and reminder items. The design and build quality are top notch. However, it still needs refinements on the software side. As mentioned earlier, the built in apps and office are fantastic, but rest need a huge leap of improvements. Microsoft really needs to rectify this quickly. There is still a lot more work which needs to be done, if the Lumia range of phones want to give some serious run to other flag-ship phones.

If you are in the market looking to buy a Windows Phone or any smartphone which provides you with great camera options,  this is the best one for you.!

Update: Nokia Lumia 930 is priced at Rs. 38,649 in India and will go on sale starting October 15th.

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IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Smartphones

OnePlus One Review: A Flagship Killer Smartphone for Sure

In this article, we review the OnePlus One, which is often referred as a 2014 flagship killer. This device is priced as a budget phone, but has the specs, features, design and user experience of a high end smartphone. That makes it worth the hype.

OnePlus is a technology startup committed to bringing the best possible technology to users around the world. Created around the mantra Never Settle, OnePlus works towards creating beautifully designed devices with premium build quality. To know more on the Success Story and the Strategy of this company, read this interview. OnePlus One is the first smartphone from this start-up.

This write-up concentrates on 6 key impact areas.

Price and Availability:

This device is priced at 299 USD for a 16GB version and a 349 USD for a 64 GB one. This 50 USD difference between the models is totally justified, considering that, players like Apple have a whooping 200 USD difference between the 16 and 64 GB versions of iPhone. This device is not available in India at this moment; and if you manage to get an invite, you can use various services which are available to shop and ship the goods from the US.

On the price, the phone gets a 10 out of 10. The only problem I see here, is the accessibility to buy the phone, let’s talk about that in a while. Alright, Lets have a closer look.

Hardware, Look and Feel:

First thing, the phone is very handy; though it has a 5.5 inch screen, it does feel comfortable working on it. Thanks to the excellent placement of the volume rocker and the power buttons. This makes it even more accessible with one hand.  The sandstone black also gives you a great finish, and most importantly, it doesn’t slip off your hands easily. It has a 5.5 inch full HD display; with a pixel density of 401 powered by a snapdragon processor clocked at 2.5 Ghz, 3 GB of RAM and a 64GB of internal storage. This is not expandable, because it does not have an external SD card. Considering that even Google doesn’t recommended external storage for applications on Android, having a good internal storage is a boon.

It also has a 5MP front facing camera for a 1080p video and a 13MP camera on the back which gives you options to shoot videos at 4K resolution. At the bottom, we have two speakers, they are not stereo; but does give great sound. Three microphones for some great sound recording. A dual LED flash for extra brightness.

On the top you would see a proximity and an ambience light sensor along with an LED notifier next to the camera. You will also notice the flush earpiece, which the OnePlus team spoke about in their keynote on how dust resistant it is; because, it doesn’t stick out or stick in like other phones.

There is a nice metal bezel which surrounds the glass and it gives you a feel of a floating glass and a robust design. Towards the bottom, there are these soft key controls; but you can also choose to turn them off and enable the on-screen menu controls if you like.

I would’ve really wished if the IR blaster was a part of the hardware too. This would’ve helped me install remotes to control my TV and other devices at home.

In the specs department, the phone gets a 9 out of 10. If you are very keen about the Antutu Benchmark scores, you can have a look here on how this device outperforms some of the flagship devices.

Software, User Experience:

This phone is powered by Cynogen, running CM11S running Android 4.4.4. There were some of the bugs in this OTA update which just came in few days ago; However, a quick update was released yesterday, which even fixed this. On one of the threads in the official forum, the company had confirmed that, within 60 days of the public release of Google Android L, the One Plus One will recieve its update.

oneplus-gestureThe phone gives you some nice Gesture or rather Touch Controls while the phone is locked. For example, You can double tap it to wake up the phone; and tap again in the notification area to lock. You can also draw a circle to start the default camera app; draw a V for the flash and you have some music controls as well, by drawing a pause symbol and angular brackets for changing tracks.

appdrawerIf you take a look at the home-screen, it pretty much feels like your stock android. However, with CM, you get a ton more options to customize your phone. For example, you can move your app-drawer icon, and when you click the menu options here, you have variety of scroll effect options.  If you like to move your app-drawer icon, you can do that as well. See this example (on the left), where I have moved the app drawer icon to further right for easy one hand operations.

You can sort the applications based on the launch count or the most used apps and install time. Of-course, you also get options here to customize your wallpapers, widgets etc. If you prefer an onscreen menu controls, you can customise the same to Enable On-screen Nav bar. It does take away some space. If you like more area for your apps and reading purposes; press and hold the power button, you have an option called Expanded desktop which fills up the screen.

You further get hundreds of themes which are CM ready and are available to download. Some of them are free; and these themes give you options to modify icons, text, wallpapers, notifications, alarms as well.

themes

If you look at the app drawer, you get some of the Google Apps loaded on the phone, and of-course you can always download them from the Playstore. The torch app is handy, you also have a notification control when the light is on. I personally love this app which comes pre-loaded with the phone, called Screencast. This basically records the screen on what you are working right now. This is pretty slick if you want to include your app demo videos, how-to videos or even record a video to file a bug while you are testing an application. It also records the audio and the video. See a sample video here.

The gallery app is very impressive. It is divided by moments, which is sorted on the day. You have albums basically structured by the folders; and the media option to look through all your photos and videos. You can also add additional photo source. Be it your Facebook Albums, Google+, Flickr or even your pictures stored on Dropbox. This is a indeed a cool addition. You also get a file manager to quickly scan through the contents on your device.

The quick notifications and settings panel is very slick too. Give you options to customise, add more tiles and even reach out to your quick favourite settings. I also love the “quiet hours” option here. Its similar to the Do not disturb feature, where you setup a schedule so that the ring-tones, notification alerts don’t disturb you while sleep! You also have options to adjust different profiles for various places you go. You can also add additional profiles. If you observe in the bottom of the screen here, you do have an option to create custom triggers; It can be your office wifi network, a bluetooth or even an NFC Tag.

UX

runningappsWhen you tap and hold onto the menu button, it brings the list of running apps; you can basically swipe it to close the app; or even clear all at one touch.

In the User Experience department, I would definitely rate the phone a 10 on 10.

Camera.

The front camera gives you options to shoot great pictures and also HD videos. The rear 13MP lens is fantastic. The colour reproduction is brilliant and the contrast is also tad sharp. However, there is no built-in optical stabilisation; this can sometime result in shaky pictures in low-light scenarios. The phone also gives you some smart scene modes for easy access. At the same time, gives you some advanced camera controls as well. You do not need to be a pro to use it; you just need to get some basics like the Focus mode, the shutter speed and the Exposure controls.

In the camera department, the phone gets a 8 out of 10.

Here are some sample pictures and videos clicked using a OnePlus One.

Sample 4K video. (for best results, change the video resolution and watch it on a 4K monitor or a retina Display screen.)

Sample 1080p video

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

Great Hardware, Premium feel, beautiful and clean stock like experience with advanced options for customisations, 64 GB of space, great battery life and the price of 349 USD are the positives of the device.

If you are in India, and based out of Bangalore, Airtel 4G (LTE) does work on this phone; the band is supported. That’s a huge Pro considering we have very very few devices which supports the bands in India. This would eventually change; but as of now, this is an awesome sweet deal.

Talking about cons, the only thing which I can probably raise a question is on the model of sales. You need to have an invite to buy a phone as of now. Once you claim your invite, you have to buy the phone in the next 24 hours.  Each person who buys the phone, further gets an option to invite 3 people. Again, not everyone who has bought this phone has an option to invite. They are distributing the invites in the chronological order and considering the number of sales, one may have to wait for a while before seeing the invites reflect in their account to share. I don’t see a huge problem in this model now; but yes, I did have a challenge when I didn’t own this device. Also, when you look at various Facebook groups and OnePlus Forums, the number of people showing their desperation for an invite is really high. If you do not mind spending a little more cash, you can buy this phone from oppomart or from eBay; however, I haven’t seen any official note from the company on this.

Support can be a huge concern at this moment. If you plan to import the device from the US and use it in other countries, you will have to ship the phone to the US, If there is any hardware issue on the phone. That can be a challenge. I have been hearing some rumours of an official release of the phone in a month for India; but again, no official reports as of now. Once they release, the support model can be simple. Again, not sure, if they would consider the devices bought outside India for warranty and service.

Similar to Xiaomi, OnePlus has a strategy of marketing through existing buyers and social media, rather than investing huge bucks on media advertisements or finding retailers. That helps them offer a great phone at a reasonable price. Nevertheless, its a fantastic phone. If you get a chance to buy it, there is no reason why you should be thinking twice before ordering the same.

Summing up, this device scores a great 9 out of 10. Whether you are in a budget or not, this is one great device which I would recommend anyone who is looking at buying a smartphone. A fantastic piece of design. Hopefully this review would’ve helped you in making a decision about this phone. Do let me know your thoughts and questions if any.