Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

011Now Android app has been updated

January 12, 2017

We have updated 011Now smartphone app for Android phones to the version 3.2. The international calling app works faster now. As usual first calls are on us – try it for free.

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Get it at Google Play http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.a011Now.a011Now

Xiaomi Mi 5S Review, Raising the Bar

December 27, 2016

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The Xiaomi Mi 5S was released back in April, the (still) current year and truth be told, the smartphone market has changed dramatically since then. While the Xiaomi Mi 5S is the proud successor of the hugely successful 5 series, not to mention the incredibly popular Redmi-mid range lineup, there are some things to consider.

First, the competition in the high end market with regard to smartphones is unprecedented. Second, one should consider the demise of the former king, the Galaxy Note 7, together with the release of the iPhone 7, Google Pixel and the LG V20.

Basically, the flagship realm is a pretty crowded place nowadays and with the Xiaomi Mi 5S, this relatively small company, the underdog of sorts is trying to pick a fight with the big dogs.

What the Xiaomi Mi 5S is doing is to take after where the Xiaomi Mi 5 left off, and yes indeed, these guys did a wonderful job. The 5s really managed to improve the smartphone’s flagship status, in small incremental steps. Well, sort of. For example, the new Xiaomi Mi 5S runs on the high end Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 system on chip, which is the latest and greatest around. The internal storage capacity was upped, while the glass panels, which look cool but they’re very frail were nixed in favor of a full metal jacket-unibody design.

Everything sounds pretty awesome, don’t you think? Let’s take a closer look, right after the break.

The smartphone measures 145.6 x 70.3 x 8.3 millimeters, which is almost identical compared with the Mi 5, but it gained a little bit of weight, standing at 145 grams, i.e. 16 grams more than the previous gen.

Design wise, the Mi  5s looks similar to the 5, having curved sides all around the back panel, a glass front panel, but for the rest of the deal, the company switched to metal, which is great news. I mean, metal instead of glass.

The Mi 5 was really fragile, hence the aluminum unibody of the 5s is awesome for the brand’s aficionados.

The display on the Xiaomi Mi 5s is an IPS variety, a 5.15 inches wide screen with full HD resolution, featuring a 428 pixels per inch density. This is more than respectable, even if there’s no AMOLED around, nor the latest QHD which is all the rage nowadays though it doesn’t make any difference in real life on such a small display. However, full HD vs QHD translates into great news performance wise, so I don’t really mind the lack of quad HD nor the AMOLED screen (or the lack thereof).

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The only problem with this display is that Xiaomi failed (again) to mention if they used any type of glass protection. For example, the Mi 5 was famous for how easy its display got scratched, so I’d suggest you to buy a screen protector ASAP for your Mi 5/5s. Other than that, the display is great, with excellent viewing angles and almost perfect color reproduction, being among the best out there from all points of view (contrast, dynamics, color saturation etc).

The Xiaomi Mi 5s comes with a solid 3200 mAh battery which offers an endurance rating of 84 hours, which sounds great. In the connectivity department, this droid has it all, including LTE Cat.9, USB Type C, Wi-Fi/Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, GPS etc.

The smartphone runs on Android Marshmallow out of the box, with the company’s proprietary UI (MIUI 8) on top, due to the fact that Google services are not accessible (as in banned by the Chinese communist government) in mainland China, so Xiaomi had to refocus its ecosystem away from Google. Don’t worry, international versions of the Mi 5s are shipped with a standard ROM, i.e. Google et al are all working as they are supposed to.

Performance wise, the QsD 821 working together with 3 GB/4 GB of RAM and an Adreno 530 GPU, meaning that everything runs smooth and hassle free, including the latest games or the power-hungry apps. From the hardware point of view, the Xiaomi Mi 5s is a beast, there’s no way around it.

The camera on-board is a 12 MP variety flaunting the latest Sony IMX 378 sensor, with all the bells and whistles possible sans the OIS, unfortunately. In daylight, the camera performs exemplary, both when it comes to stills and videos, but in low lighting conditions, there are better ones out there.

Finally, the Xiaomi Mi 5s has all the characteristics of a flagship and it’s an easy smartphone to recommend, due to its features vs price ratio, where it’s basically unbeatable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, Hail to the Queen

October 24, 2016

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If you’re wondering what’s up with the title, well, I regard the newly released Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 as a queen, not a king, because Xiaomi is a girl’s name. At least in my view. But let’s not talk about Chinese girls names, shall we?

Now, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is the third Redmi Note I’ve reviewed on our website, and truth be told, this droid has some pretty big shoes to fill. Just to give you an idea, the last generation (Note 3) had become India’s hottest smartphone ever, becoming a best seller and also enjoyed a huge popularity in its home turf, China that is.

So, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 will have to prove worthy of its ancestors. Starting with the beginning, the latest Redmi Note generation is a more premium looking and feeling droid and as a consequence, it has a slightly higher price tag. But it’s also a tad higher when compared to the Redmi series mid-range status.

For example, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 boasts a premium looking and feeling full metal body design, being built from a high-grade aluminum alloy, just like its HTC and Sony competitors are doing with their premium smartphones.

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And secondly, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 runs on a pretty interesting system on chip architecture, the Helio X20 chipset which is somewhere between upper mid range and high end, in a blurry-gray territory.

As an added advantage, the High version of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 boasts 64 GB of native storage capacity which is quite impressive considering the asking price of the respective flavor, which is under 200 Euros. Are you impressed yet? If not, keep on reading, it gets even better.

Since the Note 3, Xiaomi moved up in the ranks in regard to the manufacturing process, resulting in a sturdier, higher quality body which weighs a little more, but that’s ok in my book. The chassis of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is made from a solid aluminum ingot, beautifully polished, and the front glass boasts its 2.5D feature. Overall, the smartphone looks very beautiful and it has a premium look and feel, well above its price bracket.

The display is a 5,5 inches wide IPS LCD variety of full HD 1080p resolution with a 401 pixels per inch density, just like the iPhone 7 Plus.

In the connectivity department, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 offers the regular Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and an IR blaster, but there’s no NFC on board. The battery is a beefy 4100 mAh power plant which comes with an endurance rating of 83 hours, which is quite a lot.

The droid runs on a forked Android 7.0 Nougat Core version with the company’s proprietary MIUI 8 user interface on top, which is great at text rendering and offers a bunch of enhanced video editing tools.

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 runs on a MediaTek Helio X20 architecture  which is an impressive chipset, which offers stellar single core performance, which is the most important metric by the way. The graphic processing unit is a Mali T880 MP4 variety, which is also quite competitive and considering the price tag, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is an absolute best-buy performance wise. I mean, considering its ~ $200 price tag, give or take, you’ll be blown away by what this baby has under the hood.

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In the camera department, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 comes with a 13 megapixels main snapper with an f/2.0 aperture, dual LED/Dual Tone Flash, phase detection autofocus and 1080p video recording capability. The selfie camera is a 5 megapixels f/2.0 aperture variety and the interface is a re-skin of the MIUI offering lots of effects and setting.

Truth be told, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is that kind of a smartphone that has the capability of changing one’s buying habits, as it redefines the notion of best bang for the buck. The metal body evokes high end droids, the display is excellent, the hardware platform offers quite a punch and all these great features are at your finger tips in a sub 200 euro smartphone.

The build quality is definitely on par with HTC and Sony’s flagships, there’s a finger print reader available, the SoC offers best in class performance (price wise), the GPU is similar to a QSD 650 and overall, for that kind of money you can’t buy better gear.

 

 

 

 

 

Apple iPhone 7 Plus, Rock On!

October 23, 2016

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Just a couple of days ago I made a review of the iPhone 7 and today we’ll talk about its bigger brother, the iPhone 7 Plus. To describe it in a few words, I’d say Hail to the King baby. The iPhone 7 Plus needs no introduction, really, as the bigger sibling of the regular 7 and the successor of the 6 Plus from last year.

Compared to its 2015 predecessor, the new iPhone 7 Plus is better, faster, more and the whole nine yards. The design was refined, the new A10 SoC is quicker than ever before, there’s a dual camera setup on the back panel to up the ante even more, and, wait for it, the iPhone 7 Plus is now waterproof.

Before moving along with the review, let me tell you what’s not so cool. For example, Apple dropped the 3.5 mm audio jack, but the iPhone 7 Plus ships with a Lightning to 3.5 mm adapter in its retail box.

Another thing worth mentioning is the lack of a micro SD card slot, so you’ll have to live with the native storage capacity, there’s no way around that for another year. The NFC functionality is basically limited to Apple Pay, there’s no FM radio, no infra-red port and no fast nor wireless charging.

The battery is sealed and that about sums up the “not so cool” things about the iPhone 7 Plus, except maybe for the Jet Black version which is very scratch-sensitive to put it mildly.

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Ok, now that we covered the main disadvantages of the iPhone 7 Plus, let’s see what’s new, shall we?

Starting with the retail box, the Phone 7 Plus ships with the regular accessories, such as a Lightning cable, a wall charger, Earpods and the Lightning connector plus the aforementioned 3.5 mm adapter.

If you want to try the new wireless AirPods, tough luck, you’ll have to spend $150, as they’re sold separately. On the outside, the iPhone 7 Plus is almost identical to the previous gen, having a similar footprint but being a tad lighter, standing at 188 grams vs 192 grams of the 6 Plus. What’s different is the design of the antenna bands, which now look better, but the rest is quasi-identical with the 6th gen.

However, the iPhone 7 Plus’s “refurbished” design doesn’t mean that this baby isn’t the “highest end” smartphone on the market today. Everything is at superlative in the iPhone 7 Plus, starting with the premium materials used and ending up with the stellar workmanship.

The unibody chassis is made from airplane grade aluminum, the display is a 2.5 D ion strengthened glass, obviously scratch resistant and covered by an oleophobic coating. The huge Home key under the display and the fat bezels of the iPhone 7 Plus make it relatively big for a 5.5” smartphone, but you’ll have to live with that if you want the best,right?

The 5.5 inches wide display has the same resolution and specs  as last year’s 6 Plus, i.e. an IPS LCD Retina display variety of full HD 1080p resolution/401 pixels per inch density, 3 D touch enabled obviously and 25% brighter than last year.

The display is perfectly calibrated color-wise and you can use it professionally if you’re working in a color-critical environment. Specs aside, iPhone 7 Plus’s display is arguably the best on the market today.

The non removable battery has a capacity of 2900 mAh, 5% more than in the 6 Plus and given the energy eficient A10 Fusion SoC and the optimized software, well, the iPhone 7 Plus has an endurance rating of 75 hours, which translates into 18 hours of talk time, 13 and a half hours of web browsing or almost 8 hours of video playback. Connectivity wise, the iPhone 7 Plus comes with all the features imaginable, including LTE Cat.9, VoLTE, WI-Fi, Bluetooth etc.

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The new iOS 10 is now more refined and thanks to the latest generation A10 Fusion chipset, which marks a premiere for the company as the first quad-core CPU, everything runs buttery smooth, perfect and the whole nine yards. Both the GPU and the CPU are approximately 50% faster than last year’s, making the new iPhone 7 Plus the most powerful smartphone on the market today by a long shot.

The latest iPhone 7 Plus hopped on the dual-camera train and comes with a dual camera setup on the back panel. Long story short, everything is better  than last year’s 6 Plus, including a 60% faster 12 MP sensor and 30% more efficient, the f/1.8 aperture is brighter and helps a lot with low-light pictures, there’s 4 K video-recording and the whole nine yards. Quality wise, the stills and the videos are among the best I’ve ever seen.

Bottom line, if you can afford the price tag, the iPhone 7 Plus is almost impossible to beat in any respect. As usual.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sony Xperia XZ,Going High-End

October 21, 2016

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The Sony Xperia XZ is the Japanese’s tech giant latest flagship and it comes with a refined design compared to the previous gen, some updated hardware specs and a better camera. When Sony revealed their X series of droids, it was widely thought that the X Performance will be the king, the Samurai that will fight the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S7 or the HTC 10 or whatever.

You know,because the “performance” moniker. However, it has been proved that this is not going to be the case. Enter Sony Xperia XZ, the top dog in the company’s lineup, with the Z revealing its noble ancestry.

The Sony Xperia XZ has a lot in common with the former Z5. For example, the screen real estate, which is identical, including the resolution, and that’s not necessarily something to throw rocks at. What’s more aggravating is the exact same 3 GB of RAM on board, which if compared to today’s flagships is rather on the low-key note.

The rest though is top notch, including the top-shelve Snapdragon 820 system on chip, the powerful 23 megapixels snapper featuring Sony’s best technologies, including 4 K recording obviously, or the state of the art 13 MP camera on the front panel, the USB Type C port, the finger print scanner, the stereo speakers or the IP 68 rating.

None of the cool features seem to be missing, yet the real issue with this baby is definitely the pricing.

To begin with the basics, the Xperia  XZ measures 146 x 72 x 8.1 millimeters, which is identical to the Z5, just 0.8 millimeters thicker. Standing at 161 grams, the Xperia XZ plays in the same ballpark with HTC 10, only the S7 is lighter at 151 grams. The design are is minimalist, refined and it marks an obvious evolution compared to the previous generations, provided you’re into Sony’s design school of thought, i.e. rectangles and sharp corners.

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The choice of materials used into the Xperia XZ’s built is also interesting, as there are 3 different textures you’ll be touching: Gorilla Glass on the front panel, a frame made from polycarbonate and an ALKALEIDO state of the art metal-like rear panel. This weird sounding material is a trademark name actually and it belongs to Kobe Steel, a Japanese steel manufacturer. In reality, it’s some sort of an aluminum alloy, which complements the smartphone’s premium design, offering its users a feeling of depth and an extra shine.

While the Xperia XZ comes with IP68 certification, Sony specifically states that you should never submerge your droid in water and also to avoid salt water/seawater or chlorinated water (pool water basically). Waterproofing a smartphone is actually quite difficult and it’s basically a gray area. The idea is that  you should take the IP 68 certification with a grain of salt, don’t push it, alright folks?

The display is a full HD 1080p 5.2” IPS LCD variety of 424 pixels per inch density, which is sharp enough and very high quality, though competitors already moved to QHD.

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Connectivity wise, the Xperia XZ comes in 2 flavors, single and dual SIM, both offering LTE Cat 9, Wi-Fi with 2x MIMO antennas, Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX NFC, GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, an USB Type C port and the whole nine yards.

The battery is rather good, standing at only 2900 mAh and offering 72 hours of endurance rating, which compared to the iPhone 7’s 60 hours is not bad. Only the S7 beats it, with 98 hours. Also, the battery features Sony’s proprietary Qnovo and Battery Care, an adaptive charging technology which minimizes cell damage and prolongates battery life. There’s also a quick-charging feature.

Hardware wise, the smartphone runs on a QSD 820 chipset, like all this year’s Android flagships, an octa core SoC featuring 4 custom made Kryo cores and an Adreno 530 graphic processing unit, along with a puny 3 GB of RAM.

The 23 megapixels main camera comes with a Sony IMX300 sensor, which is one of the best out there, being used only in Xperia smartphones and not supplied to other manufacturers.However, Xperia XZ’s camera is pretty far from being the best, offering decent quality but it fails spectacularly in low light conditions compared to its competitors. Video recording offers 4K, but then again, nothing spectacular.

Bottom line, the Sony Xperia XZ is a better droid than the Z5 in every respect. If you’re into Sony’s no-nonsense design and you’re on the prowl for a smartphone with a solid  battery, an excellent display, great audio quality and a minimalist approach with regard to Android skins/interface, this baby has your name on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Huawei P9 Plus Review, Nec plus Ultra

September 18, 2016

 

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The Huawei 9 Plus, though as now widely known as its regular P9 sibling is aimed at consumers looking for the best of the best. Basically, the Huawei 9 Plus is the higher-end P9, featuring a bigger AMOLED display , more memory and a beefier battery, together with the cool Press Touch gizmo (a pressure sensitive technology) for appealing to power users.

The idea behind this baby is that if you want bigger, better, faster, more, the Chinese tech giant is here to deliver it.

Together with high end tech specs, the Huawei 9 Plus is built with the same (almost maniacal) attention to detail as the regular P9, featuring a wonderful unibody design and a full metal jacket built. Under the hood, you’ll find the same in-house made Kirin 955 system on chip as in the P9, with 4 GB of RAM and a standard 64 GB of native storage capacity.

Also, the Leica camera technology is still there, as the Huawei 9 Plus features dual twelve MP sensors on the rear panel, but the auto focus and lens aperture were upgraded.

Now, moving along with the review, the Huawei 9 Plus is not significantly larger physically speaking than its sibling, having just a 0.3” of extra screen  which made the chassis to be bumped in terms of width by 4 millimeters and in height with 7 millimeters. The Huawei 9 Plus comes with an incredibly low profile, being only 7 millimeters thin, but the bigger screen real estate and the bumped up battery added some 18 grams of extra weight, which is very ok as the phone stands at 162 grams.

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As per design and build quality, the Huawei 9 Plus really shines, being a beautiful piece of hardware from any angle. Truth be told, Huawei did a masterful job with this baby, the smartphone feels and looks as premium as they get, being comparable to any modern-day flagship. That’s a great achievement for the Chinese tech giant, as they managed to make huge progresses in just a few years and, most importantly, they managed to keep the prices way down low compared to the likes of Sony, a company that already suffers from its Chinese competitors.

The bigger 5.5 inches wide display in the Huawei 9 Plus switches from the P9’s IPS LCD to AMOLED technology and that’s awesome, featuring a full HD 1080p resolution and 401 pixels per inch density, being a Samsung made variety and just as good as any Galaxy display I’ve put my hands on.

In terms of accuracy and colors, things went from good to excellent in the Huawei 9 Plus vs the regular P9. The battery is a juicy 3400 mAh power plant, sealed unfortunately, which supports rapid charging and it manages to score a 69 hours of endurance rating, which is pretty good. As per connectivity options, this smartphone comes well equipped, featuring dual-band 2.4/5.0GHz Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, LTE, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, Glonass, a 3.5 mm jack and all the bells and whistles you would expect in a modern flagship, sans an FM radio though.

The Huawei 9 Plus runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box, with Huawei’s Emotion 4.1 user interface on top, while the finger print sensor is always on, lightning fast and one of the most secure on the market, due to its Level 4 3D detection technology.

Performance wise, the droid runs on Huawei’s own Kirin 955 system on chip, which consists of 8 Cortex A72 CPUs clocked at 2.5 GHz max, running alongside a Mali T880 GPU and 4 GB of RAM. If you want to get an idea about the Huawei 9 Plus’s performance, after synthetic benchmarks it proved to be just as good as a Galaxy S7 Edge built on an Exynos SoC.

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In the multi-media department, the Huawei 9 Plus comes with a dual camera setup, 2 x 12 MP snappers, featuring Leica technology, which offers almost flagship-grade quality for stills and 1080p video recording capability.

Bottom line, if you want a decently priced premium droid, with an excellent screen, a great camera, awesome design and build quality, stellar CPU performance and an overall impressive experience, the Huawei 9 Plus is definitely worth a shot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Huawei Honor 7 Lite (5c), Deja Vu

August 16, 2016

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With the new Huawei Honor 7 Lite, it’s deja vu all over again, to quote a famous guy, because this baby reminds me of the former P9 Lite we all knew and love in its time. And yes, I did a review about it, check out the website folks.

The P9 Lite was borrowing some of its design elements from the current (at the time) flagship P9, especially the straight lines and sharp edges. The Huawei Honor 7 Lite is more on the curvy side design wise, but the rest (I mean under the hood) is basically the same.

Talking about similarities, you may think that the Huawei Honor 7 Lite looks very much alike the Honor 5c, and you’d be spot on. The only difference between them is that the latter doesn’t feature a a fingerprint scanner on the back panel, the rest is basically the same.

I already gave you enough spoilers folks, so let’s move it with the actual review, shall we?

The key features of the Huawei Honor 7 Lite are as it follows: first, I must observe the cool aluminum (aircraft grade) frame, which looks good and it’s tough as nails.

The display is a 5.2 inches wide IPS LCD variety with a pretty impressive resolution of 423 pixels per inch. The whole shebang is powered by a HiSilicon Kirin 650 system on chip, which is basically an octa core (as in 8 cores) architecture featuring four Cortex A53 processors clocked at 2 GHz running in tandem with four Cortex A53 CPUs clocked at 1.7 GHz. For video demanding applications, there’s a Mali-T830 MP2 graphic processing unit on board, along with 2 gigabytes of RAM and 16 GB of native storage capacity.

These are pretty cool hardware specs for a droid priced like the Huawei Honor 7 Lite is. To make things even better, this baby runs of Android 6.0 out of the box, with Huawei’s in house made EMUI 4.1 launcher.

In the multimedia department, things are taken care of by 2 cameras. The main one is a 13 megapixels variety, whilst the secondary snapper has 8 megapixels, both being able of recording full HD videos/1080p.

Another cool feature of the Huawei Honor 7 Lite is its hybrid dual-SIM/micro SD card slot which can boost the internal memory capacity up to 256 GB. Connectivity wise, the 7 Lite features dual antenna Cat.4 LTE, dual ban Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Hotspot, WI-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, GPS, Glonass, NFC and even a micro USB 2.0 port.

There’s also the aforementioned finger print scanner and a beefy 7000 mAh battery to keep the lights on forever. Ok, maybe not forever, but the battery packs quite a punch sort to speak, featuring a 75 hours endurance rating, which means something like 2 days of intensive use in real life.

The display is one of the strongest selling points of the Huawei Honor 7 Lite, being a 5.2” IPS LCD variety with full HD resolution, which translates into an amazing pixels per inch density and pretty good color accuracy and average contrast.

The design of this little droid really looks and feels premium, as in flagship, despite the fact that it’s not. Measuring 147.1 x 73.8 x 8.3 millimeters and weighing a respectable 156 grams, the Honor 7 Lite is not the lightest around, but it feels sturdy as the weight gives it substance. The chassis is very well put together and the smartphone offers that solidity which is specific  for metal-made devices.

The back panel is made from aircraft grade aluminum featuring a brushed finish and all around it you’ll notice a plastic rim which is aimed at improving grip and handling, according to Huawei. I don’t know about grip, as the plastic frame is pretty slippery, but it definitely improves the smartphone’s durability when dropped, as that plastic frame will prevent the aluminum back panel from scratching/deforming upon impact.

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Performance wise, the Honor 7 Lite performs admirably considering its price bracket due to its state of the art SoC which lies under the hood. The HiSilicon Kirin 650 is almost comparable to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808. Well, almost, but then again, the price is important in this equation.

 

Keep in mind that this baby will handle most mobile games with flying colors and it’s cheaper than the P9 lite, offering the same performance.

The camera has the same basic specs/performance as the P9 Lite, being quite sharp for its price bracket, with a good dynamic range and capable of recording decent 1080p videos at 30 FPS.

Bottom line, the Huawei Honor 7 Lite is a solid smartphone with a strong metal body, a nice screen and above average hardware, being the definition of a droid playing in the “best bang for the buck” category.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moto Z Force Droid, Feel the Force!

August 15, 2016

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The Moto Z Force Droid is Motorola’s latest flagship smartphone, being designed, developed and built entirely under Lenovo’s ownership. In case you did not know it, Motorola sold its mobile phones division to the Chinese tech giant a few months ago.

The Moto Z Force Droid is the sequel (bigger, better, faster, more) of last years’ Droid Turbo 2, which was a Verizon exclusive in the United States and sold to the rest of the plebes under the Moto X Force moniker.

In terms of design, the main difference between the Moto Z Force Droid and the regular Moto Z is in thickness, the rest is relatively identical, being pretty hard to tell them apart from a distance.

The Force particle stands for sheer hardware power, as the Moto Z Force Droid comes with a beefier battery, significantly larger not just a marketing gimmick, a better camera (as in a higher res) and a tougher chassis featuring a shatter proof display, which can withstand drops from up to five feet on a hard surface.

Overall, the Moto Z Force Droid is a great deal if you can afford the price, compared to the regular Z, if you can live with its fatness.

Truth be told, the Moto Z Force Droid competes head to head with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active, as they’re both water resistant/shock proof. The Moto Z Force Droid is only splash resistant actually, but I’ve seen videos with the S7 Active drowning when immersed in water, so I’d take that IP 68 Certification with a big grain of Himalayan salt, i.e. I wouldn’t try it on my own S7 Active, if you know what I mean.

Moving along with the review, the Moto Z Force Droid comes with a mega-cool 30 watt Turbo Charger and it’s compatible with Moto Mods (Check out my previous article about Mods).

In terms of design, as I already told you, this baby is quasi-identical to the Z except for its 25 percent extra thickness which makes it 16 percent heavier, due to the beefy 3500 mAh power plant.

The smartphone comes with a style-shell inside the retail box which mimics wood and looks pretty weird in this writer’s opinion. Unless you’re from Alabama, the Charcoal Ash Style Shell will make you scratch your head, or at least that was my first reaction.

The display is a 5.5 inches wide and truly beautiful AMOLED variety, with QHD resolution and excellent quality, being one of the best I’ve ever seen. In terms of connectivity, everything’s on the menu, ranging from Bluetooth latest gen, LTE latest gen, NFC, GPS, Glonass, Wi-Fi Direct and, last but not least, the Moto Dock connector.

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The 3500 mAh battery is also outstanding in regard to autonomy, as it confers this droid an impressive 88 hours endurance rating, which is quite a lot in our day and age, i.e. more than 3 days for a flagship smartphone it’s amazing.

But, to get all these goodies, you’ll have to pay the price for the premium, which is 100 bucks vs the regular Z, so keep that in mind folks.

Given the Moto Dock, you’ll be able to enhance your Droid experience via Moto Mods, which include cool stuff like the Mod Insta Share projector, which transforms your smartphone into a video-projector (duh!), a high end JBL made loudspeaker for listening your favorite tracks and various expandable battery packs.

Performance wise,this baby is flabbergasting to say the least, as it features Motorola’s Mobile Computing System that works alongside the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 system on chip, which is paired with an Adreno 530 GPU together with a plentiful 4 gigabytes of RAM for offering an out-of-this-world Android experience, regardless what task you’ll be throwing at it. Long story short, the Force is strong in the Moto Z Force Droid, as it also runs strong in the family, if you catch my drift.

The camera is a little bit on the slow side, meaning that it takes a while until it focuses and what not, but the pictures are great, with lots of resolved detail, due to its 21 megapixels sensor, phase detection auto-focus and all the bells and whistles imaginable. Also, the Moto Z Force Droid is capable of taking cool 4K videos, so you’re covered on all fronts.

Bottom line, if you want a Lenovo Made Moto flagship, sturdy and reliable, offering quite a punch in terms of processing power, an amazing display, great battery life and Moto Mods, i.e. modular accessories together with a top-notch Android experience, the Moto Z Force Droid is a match made in heaven for you.

 

 

 

 

Lenovo Vibe K5, Feel the Summer Vibe!

August 13, 2016

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The Lenovo Vibe K5 plays in the best bang for the buck category, being a relatively cheap smartphone which delivers a lot of punch where it counts.

Don’t confuse the Vibe K5 with the K5 Plus, which is another malarkey, this baby is the base variant, the cheaper and also with fewer add-ons and a more affordable price tag. When I am talking about fewer add-ons I am referring to bells and whistles, such as hardware stuff.

For example, the Lenovo Vibe K5 was downgraded in terms of screen resolution, 720p vs Full HD 1080p in the Plus, also the hardware architecture, i.e. a Qualcomm Snapdragon 415 chipset vs a QSD 616 in the Plus.

But the rest of the features are relatively the same, especially the built quality, the dimensions and the metal back-panel, which is something quite unexpected in a cheap smartphone. Yes, that’s a plus folks, together with a more than decent 13 megapixels camera, 2 gigs of RAM and a beefy 2750 mAh battery. In these regards, the two droids are virtually the same.

Now, let’s take a look at the Vibe K5’s main features, right after the break!

So, the first thing that comes to mind if you’re an avid smartphone user in an emerging market is the dual SIM support. You know, your friends are on Orange, AT&T or whatever carrier you have in your neck of the wood; what are you going to do, exchange SIM cards every time to when calling to save a few bucks? Because if money were not an issue, you would have chose another smartphone, something like a Galaxy S7 or an iPhone 6s, right?

Rest assured, because in this regard, the Vibe K5 offers full support for dual SIM, so your basis are covered totally. The display is a conservative 5 inches wide IPS LCD with HD/720p resolution and a more than decent 294 pixels per inch density.

The little droid runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 415 system on chip, as I already warned in the preamble, but that’s pretty cool, as the quad core architecture of four Cortex A53 CPUs clocked at 1.0 GHz are more than enough for day to day jobs, Facebook, YouTube videos, Whatsappa and the whole shebang. Everything runs pretty good on the Vibe K5, helped quite a bit by the 2 gigs of RAM and the decent Adreno 405 graphic processing unit.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this droid is not suited for hardcore apps and games, but if you’re a regular Android user, you’ll feel just like home, everything runs smooth if you don’t push it too hard.

Another thing that plays in K5 Vibe’s favor is the fact that it runs on an older version of Android, the 5.1.1 Lollipop, which doesn’t require so much hardware like the newer distros.

When it comes to multi-media, don’t worry, the K5 Vibe will not disappoint you, provided you’re not expecting DSLR like quality from its more than decent 13 megapixels main camera, which comes with an f/2.2 aperture lens, full HD video capabilities (1080p), a LED flash and auto-focus.

Lenovo K5 Vibe

The native storage capacity is 16 GB which is more than enough, and if not you can expand it further via micro SD cards. In the connectivity department, everything is taken care of, as the Lenovo Vibe K5 features LTE Cat.4 (that’s 150 megabytes per second, okay?), GPS with Glonass, Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and even an FM radio, which is kind of rare nowadays unfortunately. I know flagship smartphones that fail to provide an FM radio, I will never understand this trend. Or maybe it’s because of internet streaming which killed FM radio? Who knows…moving on with the review, to keep the lights on for the maximum amount of time, the Lenovo K5 Vibe packs a beefy 2750 mAh power plant which offers 13 hours of talk time and almost nine hours of web browsing, having an endurance rating of 64 hours.

Bottom line, if the review sounded familiar to you, there’s a good reason for that, as the K5 Vibe is pretty similar with the Plus, as I already told you (and I already reviewed earlier). And that’s a good thing in my opinion, i.e. a dual SIM smartphone, with a removable battery, booming stereo-speakers, a metal cover and a dirt cheap price.

 

 

 

 

 

vivo Xplay5 Elite, the Master of Affordable Flagships

July 11, 2016

Xplay5 Elite

The vivo Xplay5 Elite can be described as a dirt-cheap high-end smartphone, if there’s anything like that at all. I mean, just imagine a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+, but without the home button. Close your eyes. Do you know what you’re seeing? Well, you’ve already guessed it: a vivo Xplay5 Elite.

However, the resemblance with the S6 Edge+ disappears completely when you flip the vivo Xplay5 Elite over, but now another “borrowed” design feature comes into play: from the back, the vivo Xplay5 Elite looks strikingly similar to an iPhone 6s Plus.

Are you starting to get it yet? That old saying about imitation being the highest form of flattery is the essence of the vivo Xplay5 Elite’s design. The frontal panel design is borrowed from a Samsung flagship while the back is similar to the latest iPhone.

But what about something more juicy, that doesn’t meet the eye? Well, besides being the master of disguise, the vivo Xplay5 Elite is a strong contender in the hardware department, as it runs on a high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 system on chip, with an ample 6 gigabytes of RAM, a Sony made sixteen megapixels snapper and 128 gigabytes of internal storage capacity as standard.

Do you want to know more? Are you interested yet? Well, keep reading folks, because the vivo Xplay5 Elite is one hell of a droid!

Talking about metrics, the vivo Xplay5 Elite measures  153.5 x 76.2 x 7.6 millimeters, almost identical to the S6 Edge+ and weighs 168 grams, being a tad thicker and wider than the Korean flagship. The design of the smartphone, besides resembling the aforementioned flagships, features a cool unibody built, it’s made entirely from metal and the workmanship is truly Elite, sort to speak. This baby looks and feels as premium as it sounds, and that’s a great achievement for the company in this writer’s opinion at least.

The most awesome design feature of the Xplay5 Elite is definitely its dual edge display, with a subtle curvature which looks amazing, while the back is perfectly flat.

The Xplay5 Elite comes with an odd 5.43 inches wide display, a high-end QHD AMOLED variety, featuring a flabbergasting 541 pixels per inch density, almost identical to Samsung’s high end smartphones.

vivo-2

In the connectivity department, the Xplay5 Elite offers almost anything you could think of, ranging from dual SIM capabilities to dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac powered by two MIMO antennas, 4G/3G/2G, Bluetooth is v4.2, GPS, NFC, micro USB 2.0 and Miracast.

The battery is a beefy 3600 mAh unit and it comes with an impressive endurance rating of 85 hours, which is outstanding to say the least.

The Xplay5 Elite runs on Android Marshmallow out of the box and in terms of performance, taking into account the fact that under the hood you’ll find the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 architecture, everything runs buttery smooth.

The chipset is helped by an Adreno 530 GPU that works together with an elite 6 GB of RAM on top, making sure everything is taking care of, from the latest games to the most demanding apps in the app-store.

Oh, but the camera is a real treat. This droid comes with a Sony IMX298 sensor which is hidden behind a six element lens featuring an f/2.0 aperture/16 Megapixels with no optical image stabilization unfortunately, but phase detection auto-focus as standard and a dual tone flash.

The camera app’s user interface is simplistic but very familiar to iPhone (former) users. In terms of photo quality, the smartphone does an excellent job, with a dependable and very fast autofocus, good contrast and impressive color accuracy. The secondary/selfie camera has a resolution of 8 megapixels and it comes with fixed focus and an f/2.4 aperture lens.

As per video recording capabilities, the Xplay5 Elite produces great 4k videos but, surprising enough, mediocre 1080p clips.

vivo-xplay-5-elite

Now, as per my final words, I must confess that I was absolutely amazed by this smartphone. The design is great, even if I can call “copycat” in this department, the build quality is flagship-grade, the hardware is top notch, the feel and looks are as premium as they come, the battery is excellent, the fingerprint sensor is lightning fast,  the camera provides an excellent output in terms of quality, 4k video recording is superb and the price…well, the price in China is $200 less than what Samsung asks for the S7 Edge+.