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Features

Meet Xploree, an intelligent NLP Powered Keyboard for Android

Xploree is industry’s first mobile discovery keyboard that connects users to the most relevant product content and services.  This keyboard predicts user intent as they type, text or chat based on their current and past context, to serve the most relevant recommendations. It draws advanced algorithms of syntax and semantics with language modelling and sentimental analysis to build an intent prediction algorithm.

The smartphone has evolved from being a simple input interface to a smart personalised assistant to users. Meet Xploree, an Android keyboard that does beyond autocorrection and word predictions. Leveraging the power of  Natural Language Processing (NLP), this app studies textual interactions between the users and the mobile device to decipher an user’s intent.

This keyboard is capable of syncing with your contextual needs; thereby, bringing in smart suggestions. NLP drives the core intelligence on this app. The keyboard is centred around user initiated actions, thereby making simultaneous in-app browsing and conversing completely interruption-free.

The UI is pretty slim too. When I tried this keyboard few days ago, the clean look struck its first impression. The touch and swipe responsiveness are neat. The key pop is an interesting add as well. Xploree Keyboard App - Clean UI

Natural language processing is a field of computer science, artificial intelligence, and computational linguistics concerned with the interactions between computers and human (natural) languages. As such, NLP is related to the area of human–computer interaction. Many challenges in NLP involve: natural language understanding, enabling computers to derive meaning from human or natural language input; and others involve natural language generation. – Wikipedia

Xploree DiscoveriesFor instance, while chatting on Facebook Messenger with a friend about watching a movie, this app can intelligently give you the offers/promocode from Bookmyshow to book the ticket.

Consider this scenario, you are talking with your friend on IM (regardless of what app it is), and while you discuss about a restaurant booking, you get suggestions on various offers and cuisines which you can try around.

It isn’t just an aggregation based solution. It works on deep understanding of the conversation and match them with meaningful discoveries w.r.t product suggestions or offers. The discovery on the app does have some good catalogue to begin with. Of-course, it has to get better on time with more players coming in.

The Intent analysis algorithm takes into account various factors like the current language, text, phrase predictions, applications in use and user’s favourites to detect the users intent and create relevant stacks. This means, if you are having a negative sentiment towards a product or a supplier, that suggestion/content is not recommended to the user even though it matches. This is slick.

Most importantly in all this process, your end user experience isn’t affected at all. The behaviour is seamless without the hassle of switching the apps.

Short key suggestion is another neat feature which I like about this keyboard. you can set Simple anagrams for most used phrases. For eg: omw for ‘on my way’, wru for ‘where are you’. It doesn’t need to be short phrases, but also works with long text like addresses.

“There is so much of work happening on Semantic Analysis and NLP these days. User-Experience is driving this whole deal; and I’m glad, a company from India is leading this effort on the mobile platform”

This keyboard currently supports over 130+ languages and has an user-based of over 2.5 million. The keyboard offers faster multi-lingual chat with improved language predictions. Typing with Hinglish, Tamlish is also simple. oh btw, the keyboard supports Stickers as well. Download the App here.

With over 100 employees, KeyPoint technologies is seriously making every effort to lead in the AI and NLP space, and offer great discovery experiences to consumers on mobile devices.

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Product Reviews Smartphones

LeEco Le2 Review – The New Budget Favourite

LeEco is back into the budget smartphone game with their new smartphone Le2. When Le1s was launched early this year, it was a huge hit in India with LeEco selling over 2 lakh units. Banking on the success, Le Eco launched the Le2 pretty quick this time within a month, compared to its china release. If you are still not aware, the Le2 is the successor to the Le1s Eco and the original Le1s smartphones. The Le2 comes with a free one year subscription of Live TV content and the Hungama music streaming subscription.

LeEco Le2 Media ContentThe LeEco Le2 is currently available exclusively on Flipkart through flash Sale on a registration basis for a price of INR 11,999. Let’s see if the Le2 truly lives up as a successor to the Le1s.

Hardware, Look and Feel:

Sticking to the winning formula, the design of Le2 is very similar to its predecessors. Le2 retains the full metal uni-body construction from the Le1s. The Rose Gold version looks attractive with the metal body and there is a silver and a grey variant as well to choose from.

There are no major design changes to the front and on the rear we have two antenna bands running across with the primary camera on top and a square finger print sensor located below on the center with LeEco’s typical mirror finish.

We have the volume and power buttons to the right and a dual nano-sim slot to the left. On the bottom, we have the type-c port in the center and two grills on either side. While the right grille houses the loud speaker, the left grille is just for symmetry.

LeEco Le2 bottom GrillThe top is left rather clean with just the IR blaster towards the left. LeEco has done away with the 3.5 mm audio jack and come up with their proprietary CDLA (Continuous Digital Lossless Audio) audio output format through the type-c port.

LeEco claims that the CDLA format will offer high quality audio output compared to a traditional analog connection and will offer an immersive sound experience when listening through earphones that support CDLA. LeEco is currently giving away LeEco’s in-ear CDLA headphones worth 1990/- absolutely free for a limited period as part of the Le2 flash sale. However if you want to use your own pair of headphones, there is a type-c to 3.5mm adapter bundled with the phone.

Despite its 5.5 inch form factor, Le2 is very comfortable to hold and lighter this time weighing 153g compared to the 169g weight of the Le1s. Although the phone feels slippery with single handed usage, the bundled clear case comes to our rescue.

LeEco Le2 Back Rear Design

Under the hood, the Le2 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 652 octa-core processor clocked at 1.8 GHZ which is the successor to the Snapdragon 650 seen on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. There is Qualcomm’s Adreno 510 GPU for GFX support. There is 32GB inbuilt storage available which is non-expandable and 3GB of RAM as before. 4G LTE support is available on the dual slim slots which offer dual standby. Also, there is 4G VoLTE support for high definition calls.

The phone has been in news for the infamous creaking sound while pressing the screen hard with your thumb. LeEco acknowledged that it’s not a build or quality control issue and the emanating sound is due to a gasket placed between the protective glass and the display.

We at tech.ink believe that the build quality is comparatively stronger and durable for this segment and definitely better than phones like the Redmi note3. If you are still not sure, there are multiple online bend test videos where the Le2 emerges out as a clear winner.

Display:

Just like the Le1s, the Le2 sports a 5.5 inch Full HD (1080 x 1920 pixels) LCD screen with In-cell display. With a pixel density of 401 PPI, the display is crisp and offers good viewing angles. On the software front, there is a color mode setting available with different color schemes like LeEco, Vivid, Natural and Soft to choose from.

LeEco Le2 Front UI DesignWe liked the soft mode in particular where the Blue-light filter technology integrated into the display hardware cuts down the blue light, ensuring your eyes are not stressed during long hours of content consumption. Outdoor visibility is decent and there is nothing to nit-pick here.

Camera:

On to the camera, there is a 16 megapixel primary shooter available with f/2.0 aperture and PDAF support resulting in a focus time of 0.09 seconds. There is a dual tone LED flash for night shots. Video recording options include Slo-mo & 4K video support.

LeEco Le2 Back rear CameraCamera UI reminds us of the iOS camera interface. There are 9 preset camera filters available to choose from. Details like saturation, sharpness and contrast levels can be set as per user liking. Camera performance is decent in good outdoor lighting conditions, but strictly average in low light scenarios. Pictures shot in low light lack detail.

On the front, we have an 8 megapixel camera (1.4 µm pixel size) with f/2.2 aperture. The rear finger print sensor can be used to capture selfies. There is beauty mode built-in, but it fails to impress. Front camera supports video recording up to 1080p.

Have a look at some of the camera samples below.

Software, User Experience:

Le2 runs on LeEco’s custom version of Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, EUI OS (5.8 version).  One noticeable difference with EUI is the absence of quick settings on the notification drawer.

The Quick settings is available rather on the multi-tasking view which looks more like the iOS control center with the app switcher and shortcuts to system apps in a single interface. There is option to customize the order of quick setting toggles and app shortcuts.

Finger print sensor works accurate most of the times from any angle, unlocking phone in 0.15 seconds, but it’s not one of the fastest we have seen on smartphones.

IR blaster currently works only with LeEco’s stock remote control app and not with popular 3rd party android apps like Peel which provide detailed channel guide based on your D2H provider. In other words, Indian set-top boxes cannot be controlled with the Le2 which is a bummer.

LeEco Le2 Front Camera

There is built-in theme support in EUI. However, there are only 3 themes available by default. We do have an online theme page, but sadly there we have only 9 themes available in total.

Le Ecosystem content and membership continues from the Le1s Eco. LeEco currently offers 1 year subscription free of cost and you can choose to upgrade after the subscription period. Even though Hungama music streaming is not yet available on the Le2, we do have the Live TV up and running.

People who are into watching soap opera and news will find the Live TV interesting. It’s a great way to catch up your favorite late night serial right from bed after switching off your TV at the drawing room. Please note that there are no movie channels available if you are looking for one.

LeEco Le2 Front DesignPowered by the Adreno 510 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. The loud speaker output does crackle on increasing volume.

The Le2 features a 3000mAh lithium-ion polymer battery that supports Le Super Charge with Type-C port using Quick Charge 2.0 standard. There is a Dynamic Voltage Scaling technology which adjusts the charging voltage according to charging cycles. According to the company this should translate in to longer battery life.

During our battery test, we did notice the phone getting warm as a result of charging. Battery life is excellent and the phone easily lasts a day with 20% of battery juice still left. If you still crave for more, there is a detailed power management feature with a variety of options to improve battery life. Also, there is a phone manager app to clean junk and limit data usage.

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

The Le2 is slightly expensive at INR 11,999 compared to the previous generation Le1s LeEco. However, with a powerful processor that guarantees impressive performance and gameplay, it’s worth spending the extra buck. Barring the average camera performance, if you find the LeEco Ecosystem and content to be interesting, then the Le2 is a fair option to choose when comparing what competitors like Redmi Note3 offer at the same price point. If you are tight on budget, the Honor 5C is a great phone as well.

Do share your thoughts and questions if any. Thanks for reading.

Categories
IT News, Tech Information and Analysis

Panasonic launched ELUGA Note Earlier this Week

Earlier this week, Panasonic India unveiled its new Phablet – ELUGA NOTE at a price of Rs.13,290. The Eluga Note comes with a 13.97 cm (5.5) Full HD IPS display with bright and low power consuming LTPS (Low Temperature Polycrystalline Silicon) display.

ELUGA NOTE sports a 16 MP rear camera featuring F1.9 aperture for better low light photography & 6P Lens for ultra-fast auto focus. The Front 5MP camera features gesture based selfie features like Voice capture, smile shot & gesture based shot.

The ELUGA Note holds a battery capacity of 3000mAh ensuring longer operation for the Octa-Core processing backed by 3GB RAM and 32 GB Internal memory, expandable up to 32 GB.

The ELUGA Note operates on Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) with the Panasonic FitHome user interface, which is engineered exclusively by Panasonic providing single thumb-flick access to applications on the home screen, and single hand operations through the bottom half of the large screen.

Panasonic Eluga Note

Available in textured back with champagne gold color, the 8.1mm thin ELUGA Note gives a premium look complementing the lifestyle of the users. Moreover, it supports 4G VoLTE for faster data access and good voice quality. With India entering the era of home automation, the ELUGA Note has an inbuilt IR sensor which allows a user to give commands to IR based smart home appliances such as TVs, DVD players and ACs.

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Product Reviews Smartphones

Swipe Elite Plus Review: Camera makes this phone a Winner!

The Indian Smartphone market is one of the best places for business today. Its no more a race between the big players; we have quite a few other Indian and Chinese brands in the market who have seeded some amazing devices as well. Swipe has joined this league with its Elite range of phones. They have been quite consistent in launching various products. Today Swipe has over 1.5 Million customers. Early last month, Swipe launched the Elite Plus, a dual sim phone which is available for 6999 exclusively on Flipkart. The device is available in 2 variants. Let us look at the Swipe Elite Plus review in this article.

Swipe Elite Plus Review

Under the hood the phone is powered by a Snapdragon 615 octa core processor clocked at 1,5 GHz, 2GB RAM, 16GB of Internal Memory and a non-removable 3000mAh battery. The phone also has a dedicated expandable storage slot which supports microSD cards upto 64GB; the phone also provides an OTG support.

The phone weighs around 150 grams and is 8.9 mm thin. The phone also supports all the bands in India – LTE, GSM and even CDMA. The back-panels on the phone can be swapped. The call quality and speaker volume is pretty good too.

This device offers a 5 inch full HD display protected by a DragonTrail glass. The glass looks gorgeous and the text is crisp too. The colors aren’t over saturated and are very true to life.

The phone has a good design with chrome rims and good quality plastic around the body. 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. I personally thought, we could’ve had the Elite branding in a subtler way.

Swipe Elite Plus Branding

The rear camera is a 13MP and the front is a 8MP sensor camera. The camera is one of the strongest points of this device. By far one of the best phones for the performance regardless of the segment it falls in. The color re-production is perfect and the saturation levels are top notch too. The HDR mode also works quite okay.

In terms of improvements, the camera does have a scope of improvement while shooting landscapes. With close distant subjects and macros, the depth of field is fantastic. Do have a look at some of the pictures shot using this phone. Truly one of the best things about the phone.

On the software side, the Elite Plus runs on Android 5.1 with Freedom OS on top of it. The Freedom OS is fast and works neat. The OS has been optimized for the hardware and the 2GB RAM looks sufficient to do most of the system tasks.

The performance lags a bit when 3rd party or resource intense applications are launched. They tend to slow down the performance of the phone by a bit. Even, while viewing photos in the gallery app, the phone does take a while to render the image. I think, including a 3GB RAM, would’ve avoided it. Otherwise the Freedom OS is very light and gives variety of customizations for the users. I wish we had an option to tune the vibration strength too. Sometimes its too irritating.

Swipe Elite Plus OSThe phone does heat up a bit. Charging the phones takes a lot of time. Maybe, now that, we are used to fast charging, this looks very slow. A full charge from 0 to 100 takes about 3 hours to complete. However, at the segment this device is competing in, there shouldn’t be no complaints as such.

We have seen a lot of junk smartphones in this segment claiming to make better phones and they spoil the entire Android ecosystem. The Swipe Elite Plus is definitely a very good entry Level Android Phone. The phone delivers what it promises and it does it quite well. The camera makes it the obvious winner when compared to the rest in this segment. If you are in the market, looking for an entry level internet powered smartphone which offers a pretty good camera, then, this is a very good option for you.

‘Internet for everyone’ is the new mantra 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. One of the easiest way to reach people for this are smartphones. 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. Lets hope they take the step forward too.

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Product Reviews Smartphones

OnePlus 3 Review: Killing the Flagship Game!

OnePlus unveiled its long-awaited flagship smartphone OnePlus 3 in a VR event couple of weeks ago. The Graphite variant of the OnePlus 3 is currently available from Amazon.in for INR 27,999/- and the Soft Gold variant will be launched in the near future.  Let’s review and see if the phone stands true to the “flagship killer” moniker at the current price point.

Gone are the days where an invite was required to purchase an OnePlus phone. Kudos to the team for getting rid of invites. This feels super awesome as a buyer. Inside the box, you also get this note from Carl Pie where he talks about the company, customers and how to reach him.

OnePlus Founder Carl Pei Letter OnePlus 3

Hardware, Look and Feel:

The OnePlus 3 is a 5.5” 4G Dual-SIM device featuring an ultra slim uni-body metal design which according to the company is carved out of single slab of space-grade aluminum alloy, pretty much like what we have seen on the HTC 10. The build quality is solid and the phone looks premium. Weighing 158 grams and at 7.3 mm thickness, it ranks 3rd in 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 whole construction.

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 OnePlus 2 has been retained in the OnePlus 3 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.

OnePlus 3 Slider

A ceramic finger print sensor is available on the front similar to the HTC 10. Unlike the Xiaomi mi5, the sensor is not located on a physical home button, but on a capacitive home key. 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.

Another interesting thought with the OnePlus 3 sensor implementation is, it does not wake the screen up with incorrect inputs like the HTC 10 does. The sensor just vibrates the phone when finger print is not recognized 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.

OnePlus 3 FingerPrint Sensor

Primary camera is located on the centre of the back with a visible 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 3 runs on top of the line Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor seen in 2016 flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S7 (US), LG G5, HTC 10, Le Max2 and the Xiaomi Mi5. Out of the four Kryo cores available, two are clocked at 2.2 GHz and other two at 1.6 GHz. There is Adreno 530 GPU for handling those graphic intensive tasks.

The device comes with impressive hardware specs like 64GB storage (based on UFS 2.0 technology), 6 GB of LPDDR4 RAM, Dash Charge, Type-C port, Bluetooth 4.2. The device also supports NFC.

Currently this is the only smartphone available in India with a mammoth 6 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 is a breeze.

Display:

The OnePlus 3 sports a 5.5″ FULL HD (1080p) Optic AMOLED display protected by a 2.5D curved gorilla glass 4 from Corning. With a pixel density of 401 PPI and a maximum brightness of just over 400 nits, the display is crisp & vivid with deeper blacks and brighter whites.

Outdoor visibility is excellent with the Adaptive brightness coming to play and automatically optimizing 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.

While the 2.5D curved glass looks gorgeous with the thin bezel on the OnePlus 3, we encountered a minor niggle while watching videos on YouTube. While holding the phone in one hand and scrolling through available videos, my palm would occasionally touch the sides of the screen and play an unintended video from the list. However this should not pose any problem since this can be avoided by going for a phone case or by using two hands. Not a deal breaker but slightly annoying.

Camera:

For the primary camera, the OnePlus 3 uses Sony’s 16MP IMX298 sensor (1.12 µm pixels and f/2.0 aperture) available on the Xiaomi mi5. There is hardware OIS and an additional EIS (Electronic image stabilization) for those less shaky photos & videos. The front camera is an 8MP Sony IMX179 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. See Sample below. I believe, this would be fixed over a software update.

OnePlus 3 Focus Issues

Though the OnePlus 3 has an OIS built in, the videos aren’t as great as an iPhone even without an OIS. Maybe, the camera software needs better stabilisation algorithms. 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. Unfortunately with the finger print setup on the device, we had to go through an extra step of unlocking the device to launch the camera.

Have a look at some of the camera samples below. We will add more samples as we use the device.

Software, User Experience:

OnePlus 3 comes with the latest edition of Oxygen OS which is based on Android Marshmallow 6.1. Oxygen OS is a clean, light, bloat-free OS supporting UI customisation, gesture support etc. A lot of bugs from the OnePlus 2 have been addressed in this update. 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.

OnePlus 3 Oxygen 3 Android OS

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 530 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.

Dash Charge:

The OnePlus 3 features a 3000mAh 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 3 managed to stay cool throughout the time. While reaching 96% in under an hour, the phone managed to charge the battery to 100% in one hour and eleven minutes 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 3 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 6 GB RAM definitely makes it worth the buy. The dash charge is worth a mention. The form factor is slightly on the larger side; however, it isn’t very uncomfortable to use. The performance is top-notch, and the phone gives a very premium feel; certainly making it the Flagship Killer.

OnePlus OnePlus 3 rear side

I would certainly recommend OnePlus 3 to anyone who is looking at buying a flagship smartphone with a bigger screen. However, if you are looking at a lighter phone with a slightly smaller form factor, then the Xiaomi Mi5 is a good alternative.

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

Categories
Product Reviews Smartphones

Honor 5C Review: Software wins over Specs here!

In this article, lets review the Honor 5C, a budget entry segment smartphone from Huawei which was just launched in India today. Though, this device is priced as a budget phone, features, design and the user experience give it a feel of a good 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 5C will be available at INR 10999 in three colors – gold, silver and grey. The phone will be available on Flipkart and is available for pre-orders starting 2 PM today. The sale of Honor 5C will commence starting 30th June.

honor-5c

Hardware, Look and Feel:

The Honor 5C comes with a premium aircraft grade metal that also offers 5 layer heat sinks with copper shielding cover. It is made from brushed metal alloy wire-drawing finish that adds a very premium look and feel to this phone. 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. 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.

honor-5c-brushed-back

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 650 16nm chipset, Mali T830 GPU, faster EMMC 5.1 and 2GB RAM. The phone has a onboard 16GB ROM, expandable upto 128 GB. There is a very slight lag on the app-load when you launch 3rd party apps; its certainly not a major deal breaker. Probably, it would’ve been better with a 3GB RAM. However, 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.

brushed-metal-honor-5c

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. When compared to other phones in this segment, the accuracy is pretty neat.

The phone has a 3000 MAH battery which offers a good battery life of over a day; It gives me SOT of 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.

With Dual Antenna, 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.!

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 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.

honor-5c-display

Software, User Experience:

The Honor 5C 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 (Find out why this skin is good), 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.
Honor 5C Health App
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.

Camera:

The camera is powered with a 13MP sensor, a f2.0 aperture which does allow a lot of light and 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 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.  Here are some samples pictures I clicked. will upload few more as I use the phone. 

The Honor 5C also offers manual shooting controls (professional mode) for people who like to create photographs.

Honor 5C Pro Photo

You can shoot a 1080p video on this phone. however, it doesn’t come with an optical image stabiliser built in.  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 – This is neat.

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 good display its impressive. 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.

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. This would be my new recommendation for anyone looking at a 10K phone.

Do let us know your thoughts. Thanks for reading!

Categories
Features Software

Flyme 5 OS Review: Great Design and Simplistic Approach to Android Customisation

Today, most of the mobile phone companies make their own version of forked android for their phones. The idea is simple – Give a better user experience and features/software that the stock android doesn’t provide. This also gives them an opportunity to stand out among the competition where most of them offer similar specs and hardware almost at the same price. Out of all the versions available, my personal favourites are EMUI, Flyme, and MIUI.

Flyme OS is a firmware developed by Meizu for smartphones based on the Android operating system. The key features are its simple UI, one-handed usability and performance optimisations. The latest version of this OS is the Flyme 5.

International Meizu customers can download the Flyme 5.1.5G for m1note, m2note, MX4, MX4 PRO, MX5 and PRO5 now. Indian customers can download Flyme 5.1.5IN for MX5 and m2note. The m3note comes with Flyme 5 by default. Download here.

meizu-mx5-m2note-box

Flyme OS is very minimalistic. While many people love jazzy colours and UI transitions, I still love clean and simple UI on my phone. Thats probably, one of the reasons why I love Meizu’s phones for its flat looking icons, simplistic approach to Android and few tweaks which makes it faster than other phones.

Not only, the UI is simple, the gestures and toggles throughout the device are impressive. It does take a little bit of learning to understand Flyme, the moment you do its super simple and fast. Especially, when you want to use the phone one-handed.

With smooth animations, large and easy icons to press the UI stands out the most on the Flyme OS. We have a number of interesting gestures on the Flyme OS. To name a few – While on the locked screen, you can Double tab to wake up,  swipe up to goto the home screen straight away, while on the locked screen, you can swipe down from the top to bring on the notifications to control quick settings.

gestures-meizu-flyme

From the lock screen you can configure your favourite application when you swipe right, and swiping left starts the camera. You can also configure custom gesture settings; you can draw any letter to start an application. While on the home screen, you can swipe up to get a spotlight search option like on the iOS. Swiping up from the bottom left bezel near the single capacitive touch button brings on the multi-tasking switch and the most recent apps. You could quickly switch between them. Its pretty neat and very simple.  Swiping up from an icon closes the program, and swiping up from the background will close all currently open applications.

Flyme both looks good and works really well in a nice iOS/Android hybrid way. Similar to iOS, the stock FlymeOS launcher carries all installed applications on the home screens. Personally, I feel this to be lot cleaner than many other Android interfaces, which hide apps away in an app drawer. Today, many other companies are moving away from app-drawer approach. The keyboard is good too.

The Flyme gives you a good range of application permissions and notification controls to play with. The fingerprint sensor doesn’t just work to unlock screen but also to open private folders and applications. You also have a vault, password protection feature where you can protect private folders and applications. The File explorer is pretty neat and gives you easy categories to look up.

meizu-flyme-file-explorer

Flyme also supports Multi-screen mode, where two applications can be displayed at the same time in multi-screen mode in an adjustable ratio (only few applications are supported at this moment). Icons can be selected and moved in batch mode to different pages by long pressing Home screen and selecting Icons to move them; further, you can also shake the phone to sort all the icons on the page.

The startup speeds and App launches are pretty quick. While you uninstall an application on the phone, Flyme reminds if you want to clear the app cache simultaneously, thereby providing better and fast performance. The Scan and clear option can also be scheduled. The Immersive Mode where the color of status bar at the top will changes accordingly makes the whole interface more natural and very artistic.

Things can definitely be polished better. Maybe, because of the china first approach, the text sometimes aren’t aligned right and even the translations are too literal. The designers at Meizu have done a pretty good job in working on the icons. That gives a very fresh and a minimalistic look to this version of Android which really feels light.

Hope you liked the review. Which forked version of Android do you like? Any specific reason behind it? Do let us know your thoughts.

Categories
Applications Product Reviews

Change settings automatically on Android Phones using Llama

Llama is a location aware mobile app that uses mobile towers/masts to determine your current location and performs routine everyday tasks on your phone. This includes changing ringer/voice/music volume, toggling WIFI/Mobile Data, Start music player when Headset/Bluetooth is connected etc. Further, Llama also provides you with different sound profiles so that you can quickly switch between quiet, loud, silent and normal sound settings based on certain conditions. This comes handy for android phones which do not support profiles by default. Few companies like CyanogenMod do support profiles (for more information read the software section on our Zuk Z1 review) switching at OS level based on proximity of WIFI/Bluetooth devices etc.

You can teach Llama to perform day-to-day tasks automatically by performing the following actions –

Areas – create area names and assign important locations you visit regularly
Profiles –
create various sound profiles (loud/silent) for different needs.
Events –
create different actions (turn on WIFI/play a sound) which gets triggered based on certain scenarios (enter an area/specific time of day)

The following screenshots should help you get started:

Llama-android-app-screenshots

The use case scenarios are plenty; to name a few –

1. Put your phone in a Quiet profile when you are at work
2. Switch to a Normal profile when you are at home during a specific period of the day
3. Switch to a Silent Profile when you are visiting a temple/hospital
4. Switch to a Quiet profile for a designated period like core sleeping hours
5. Switch to a Loud Profile when you are at a noisy location like Pub/Stadium
6. Trigger an alarm when you are nearing your destination while travelling
7. Start music player when Headset/Bluetooth is connected
8. Adjust screen brightness according to your location and time
9. Trigger a Silent Profile based on calender event, say an important meeting
10. Play a sound that notifies you to unplug your phone when battery level reaches 100%

Llama is fully customizable in every way for eg: you can set your family to ring even if your phone is set to silent. You can see Llama in action during event creation using the “test action” option like below.

llama-App-Android-Screenshots

Further, you can import/export your area, events and profiles to SD card so that you can avoid re-configuring the app when you switch between phones or when you need to configure similar settings for your friends/family.

Llama is a great app which I feel is a must have for every android user since it automates profiles switching to a great extent. Best of all it does it with less battery usage since it does not use data services unlike other apps which would drain the battery faster. This app is available free to download from the Google play store. I recommend you to try this app and let us know your thoughts.

Categories
Explainer

Adoptable (Flex) Storage in Android Marshmallow

In the recent years, a lot of android smartphones started removing the support for external microSD storage and emphasised the usage of internal flash for user’s applications, data and images. The idea was simple – to have a better and fast IO when applications access data; thereby, providing a better user experience.

Recently, Google introduced adoptable storage as one of the features in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, also called Flex Storage. With Flex Storage, you can configure an external micro SD card to be used as an internal storage. This would certainly help in cases where you can buy an affordable phone with low internal storage and boost the storage by adding a microSD card. Also, with microSD cards currently available with storage of over 200GB now, it would help you carry all your entertainment content as well. Further, with more and more phones offering 4K video, this would be a great help to store videos right away without worrying about moving the content from internal to external card every-time to save space!

When you enable Flex storage, the device is formatted as a local, 128-bit AES encrypted EXT4 drive and mounted as part of the system. It’s then set as the preferred storage, and you will be prompted to move your data over.

Moving to adoptable storage is simple, but there are some things you need to be aware of. You cannot use your card from other phone right away. The microSD card will have to be formatted before use for the first time, so all existing content will be wiped. Most importantly, as the card is encrypted, you won’t be able to hot swap your card into another phone and read the data from it. It will only work in the phone you set it up on.

You wont see any significant performance drop when you use a good UHS-1 or a class 10 card. Choosing a high performance card will give you a seamless experience in moving files and media around. Also, with card being encrypted – in a case where the phone is stolen, no one would be able to read the data out of your card by connecting it via a card reader or from another phone.

Once enabled, these settings are not permanent.  One can change it back by heading to Settings>Storage & USB, select the card, head to the top right menu and then select ‘Format as portable. Remember, this will wipe the data again.

With a new range of Android Marshmallow devices expected in the market, companies now have started to bring back the support for microSD card on phones. Today, all the 2016 flagships have microSD card options. However, at this moment, the only flagship which allows adoptable storage is the HTC 10. Both Samsung and LG haven’t yet enabled this feature citing users may want to hot-swap cards and which Flex Storage currently does not allow.

Recommendations: The built-in flash storage is the fastest option you have on the phone today. Its definitely better than a high performance external microSD card. With portable microSD card, you generally may not find any lags or issues when you read or write data on daily usage scenario.

If you have a phone with good enough 32GB flash storage, we recommend you, not to use adoptable storage – rather use the MicroSD card as portable (with hot swap options) so that the microSD card is used for Media & other contents and internal memory for applications. If you have a phone with a very low internal memory say, 8GB or 16GB, then an adoptable storage option would be ideal.

For further reading, check this piece from an Android Developer (StereoMarch) on Reddit where he explains on what happens when you choose Adoptable storage.

 

Categories
IT News, Tech Information and Analysis News

Lenovo announced the VIBE K5 Plus; available at USD 149 starting March

Lenovo announced the Vibe K5 Plus at MWC 2016 today. The Lenovo VIBE K5 Plus flaunts a sleek-finish aluminum look at just 8.2mm thin and weighs about 142g. The K5 Plus brings in a 5” wide-view FHD IPS display powered by a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 616 oct-core processor, 2 GB RAM, a 16GB built-in memory (up to 32GB expandable storage support) and a 2750mAh user replaceable battery.

The Vibe K5 Plus also delivers an immersive multimedia experience with the clarity of Dolby Atmos® and dual rear speakers to deliver remarkable sound quality, allowing users to enjoy movies, games and music with full, crystal-clear stereo sound. The Lenovo K5 Plus also comes with a 13MP autofocus rear camera with LED flash, and a 5MP fixed-focus front camera for picture perfect shots.

Lenovo-vibe-k5-plus

The Vibe K5 Plus will be available in Platinum Silver, Graphite Grey and Champagne Gold shades; in select countries at USD 149 starting March this year.