Archive for the ‘Smartphone’ Category

OnePlus 3T Review,Dream Big

February 28, 2017

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The OnePlus 3T is the brainchild of a very small company which has a relatively minor impact on the Western markets in terms of sales figures. However, OnePlus is one of those brands which dream big and they become known all around the world for their flagship killer smartphones which are  selling for almost dirt cheap prices.

Also, OnePlus gained the title of having the fastest smartphone around quite a few times, and I am talking about Androids, because Apple plays in a different league.

The OnePlus One was the first of the bunch, the premiere flagship killer of sorts and it all started via a viral marketing promise which actually delivered.

The OnePlus 3T still is an amazing smartphone from a performance/value point of view, which still embodies the company’s spirit, i.e. value driven with high end specs.

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The only downside of this device is its availability. I don’t know about you, but in my neck of the woods, the only way to grab one of these babies is through distant 3rd parties, like Alibaba or Gear Best, meaning that I don’t have real warranty and all that. And it’s a shame, really.

The OnePlus 3T is basically the regular 3, but digitally remastered, made even better and running on the latest QSD chipset, the 821 respectively.

To begin with a cool thing, the OnePlus 3T still uses USB 2.0, yet it comes with a USB Type C connector.Also, the smartphone features DASH, the company’s variant of VOOC technology, which makes for the best in industry in terms of fast charging. The OnePlus 3T’s 3400 mAh battery will get from 0 to 60% in just 30 minutes and without overheating the precious.

The smartphone features a unibody design, metal and glass as usual, in a cool new metal black colorway. Just like its siblings, the OnePlus 3T is built using a single piece of aluminum, space grade stuff, which looks and feels great and also combines elegance with strength in a gorgeous device.

The display is 5.5 inches wide, an Optic Amoled variety of full HD 1080p resolution, which hits the sweet spot for the vast majority of users, especially in the Asian markets. I think I already mentioned that, but I will say it again risking a wave of hatred and flame: I firmly believe that there’s no need for UHD/4k/2k/etc resolution on such a small screen real estate, you really don’t need more than a ~401’ish pixels per inch density, like it’s the case with the OnePlus 3T.

Having a higher resolution will stress the battery and the GPU pointlessly. The AMOLED panel in the OnePlus 3T is built by Samsung but it’s custom made for OnePlus, hence the Optic moniker.  And yes, it’s great.

Connectivity is top notch, as the OnePlus 3T comes with dual SIM capabilities, LTE cat.6, Wi-Fi, USB Type C, Bluetooth etc, it’s all there. The 3400 mAh battery has an endurance rating of 83 hours, which is quite respectable, offering over 13 hours of video playback and about 9 hours of web browsing.

The smartphone runs on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with Oxygen 3.5.3 on top. The Oxygen launcher is very clean and you’ll benefit from a great Android experience, everything runs smooth and without hiccups.

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Performance is better than ever due to the latest QsD 821/Adreno 530 GPU hardware platform, which combined with the 1080p panel resolution makes for a true gaming powerhouse which is hard to match. The 16 megapixels camera works flawlessly and performs great, both with stills and videos (2160p/1080p), yet the video stabilization could be better.

The OnePlus 3T represents a clear evolution vs the OnePlus 3, with an increased battery,  better hardware, a new sapphire camera lens for improved durability, an awesome fingerprint reader, a new version offering 128 GB of internal storage capacity,great endurance rating/battery lifetime, excellent audio output quality and a price vs performance ratio almost impossible to beat.

 

 

 

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Xiaomi Mi Note 2, Superhero of Sorts

February 27, 2017

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The king is dead, long live the king! Err, the Note, I mean. If you’re a techie, you probably know about the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 fiasco. Long story short, the Note 7 is no more due to batteries catching fire, tech issues of sorts.

However, there’s the Xiaomi Mi Note 2, the new kid on the block who is aimed at phablet lovers looking for some solace in the absence of the Note 7.

The intro is meant to emphasize the fact that one’s bad luck is another one’s opportunity, or in each crisis there’s an opportunity. Actually, this is an old Chinese proverb, which is the definition of Xiaomi Mi Note 2, a high end Chinese made phablet.

This state of the art smartphone from a relatively unknown company will be inevitably compared to Samsung’s former Note 7, and that’s quite understandable. The thing is, what Samsung was 15 years ago for established names in the electronics industry, the likes of Sony, Panasonic, Nokia et al, is represented nowadays by Chinese companies like Xiaomi, Huawei or Lenovo.

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Basically, Samsung will have a very hard time competing with the new Asian tigers, i.e. this is history repeating, but I am digressing.

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 boasts that cool dual curved screen, just like the Note 7, and it’s a true-blue flagship by all metrics, sans the screen res which is just full HD 1080p instead of 2K/4K or whatever gimmick which stresses the hell out the smartphone’s GPU.

To begin with the drawbacks, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 doesn’t offer waterproofing and it doesn’t run on the latest Android version. Also, some may complain about the 1080p screen resolution.

However, considering the 386 pixels per inch density offered by  Xiaomi Mi Note 2’s OLED screen, which is much more than RETINA grade which was praised back in the day as the next best thing since the ten commandments, I would argue that an uber high resolution on a relatively small display is not much more than a marketing gimmick. I may be wrong, but then again, I may be right.

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The build quality is great, as the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 boasts a full metal body and a dual curved display. The design is not very original, but I must emphasize the quality of the device, which is more important in my books than looks alone.

The dual curved 5.7 inches wide display is a P-OLED variety and made by LG and even if it’s not the brightest of the bunch, the color reproduction is very accurate.

In terms of connectivity, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 comes with all the bells and whistles expected from a flagship, including USB Type C, 22 LTE bands support, quad band GSM and penta band 3G, CDMA, dual SIM, NFC, GPS, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac  and very important for some users, even an IR blaster.

The battery is a beefy 4400 mAh variety which is more than generous, boasting an impressive 92 hours of endurance rating, or 15,5 hours of video playback and almost 10 hours of web browsing.

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 runs on the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, which means that in terms of performance, everything is on the up and up. There are 2 versions of the smartphone, one featuring 4 GB of RAM/64 GB of internal storage while the other one comes with 6 GB of RAM/128 GB of native storage, both relying on an Adreno 530 GPU for video intensive apps and games.

The Chinese made phablet is a top class performer thanks to its QSD 821 SoC architectre, which is a true power house. The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 comes loaded with Android Marshmallow and the company’s proprietary MIUI 8 user interface on top. Everything runs buttery smooth, there are no complaints here.

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The primary snapper on the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is a 22.5 MP variety featuring Sony’s IMX318 sensor, boasting phase detection yet no OIS. The selfie unit has only 8 MP, but that’s ok, the pictures are pretty good. Obviously, there’s 4K video recording in good flagship tradition.

Bottom line, if you’re looking for a flagship phablet built like a tank offering a premium feel and a glass back panel, a dual curved OLED display, dependable autonomy, a top class hardware architecture and a great camera, you should consider the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 especially if you find a good deal.

 

 

 

Oppo R9s Review,One of a Kind

February 26, 2017

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Oppo is a quasi unknown entity if you’re from the US or from Europe. However, this little known company (in the West) already launched a few kick ass models, hence it became increasingly popular especially for the excellent build quality of their devices.

Enter the latest Oppo R9s, a great piece of hardware by any metrics, impeccably built, light, thin and featuring a unique 6 string antenna. However, the design itself is pretty far from original, but then again, a smartphone is hardly a fashion accessory.

Truth be told, aesthetically wise, the Oppo R9s is a copycat of the iPhone, at least the frontal panel.  But since imitation is the highest form of flattery, I have no bones to pick with Oppo in this regard.

To describe the Oppo R9s in a few words, I’d say that it makes  for one of the best smartphones for its sub genre, if I may use the word talking about the 5.5 inches premium mid-ranged droids focused on battery life and camera performance without going full high end.

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About the Oppo R9s, the camera is definitely flagship grade, at least on paper, boasting Sony’s latest sensor, featuring Dual Pixel auto-focus, a very bright lens and 4k video recording capability. The 16 megapixels camera on the Oppo R9s runs with the best in the pack, at least per 2016.

To make things even better, the selfie camera on the front has 16 megapixels too, hence it promises a beautiful experience for Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat addicts.

However, under the hood things are not that bright, as Oppo chose to power their R9S with a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 system on chip, so the flagship resemblance stops here. But they did not get cheap when it comes to memory, as they put a generous 4 GB of RAM on board together with 64 GB of internal storage capacity.

Another flagship grade input is the 5.5 inches wide AMOLED screen, which pairs beautifully with the vibrant ColorOS theme.

As per the bad news, I must mention the “generic” design, which somewhat spoils the excellent build quality of the Oppo R9s, the lack of OIS (optical image stabilization) and, most importantly, the fact that you can find faster droids which pack superior chipsets in Oppo R9s’s price range, but you’ll definitely not find the same build quality, a similar screen or such a great snapper.

There are caveats and caveats folks, it all depends on one’s personal preference. As an all rounder, the Oppo R9s is pretty hard to beat.

Speaking of good things, the Oppo R9s comes with a VOOC fast charger which provides 20 watts of power that  will top off the battery in a jiffy, but without heating up the phone, which is awesome. The chassis is built in an all metal design with a Gorilla Glass insert on the front, while on the back you’ll discover 6 grooves , 3 on top and 3 on the bottom.

To the untrained eye, these look like design elements, and they’re beautiful, but in reality they’re antenna lines.

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The AMOLED 1080p full HD display is gorgeaus with amazing contrast and great color reproduction, protected by Gorilla Glass 5, comparable to the LG V20 and better than HTC 10, which is awesome.

Connectivity is well taken care of sans NFC, the rest of the crowd is there: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, LTE and a micro USB 2.0 port. The Oppo R9s is powered by a Li-Po battery which is not user replaceable, with a capacity of 3010 mAh. Due to VOOC, it will get charged from 0 to 64% capacity in 30 minutes flat and it offers an endurance rating of 74 hours.

What’s worth mentioning is the 16 hours of video playback score, which is fantastic. The QsD 625 has 8 low power cores and no high performance ones, built on the 16nm process, while the graphics are taken care of by a medium Adreno 505 GPU. If you’re into high end gaming though, look elsewhere, this is not the droid for you.

The camera is built around a Sony IMX398 sensor and it’s quite impressive considering the price range. Bottom line, this baby really delivers in most departments, being a premium mid ranger with flagships qualities in some essential points, i.e. there’s very little to complain about.

 

Xiaomi Mi Mix, A Rare Jewel

February 25, 2017

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The Xiaomi Mi Mix smartphone took the world by storm as soon as it was released. Just take a look at it and you’ll understand the jewel particle in the title of the article. Yes indeed, the Xiaomi Mi Mix is a piece of high tech which is also beautifully crafted and designed, making for one of the best smartphones released into the wild last year.

Even if Xiaomi is not a well established brand in the Western world, with the Xiaomi Mi Mix they really proved their valor. This smartphone looks like it came from the future, or from a sci-fi movie, boasting its incredible almost bezel-less design and its edge to edge screen, drawing attention like no other smartphone before.

It’s very interesting to mention that this beauty was initially announced as a concept, an exercise in technology of sorts, but it was so well received by the public that Xiaomi decided to mass produce it and the rest is history.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix’s viral popularity surpassed even Apple’s best, the iPhone, at least in terms of positive interest, and that’s mainly due to its exquisite design. How many edgeless smartphones have you seen lately?

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While most of the competition nowadays takes place in the hardware department, Xiaomi focused on design and what a great job they did folk. However, that doesn’t mean the Xiaomi Mi Mix is just looks and nothing under the hood, it’s quite the opposite.

With a breathtaking design comes great responsibility, right? Especially for a company that used its fan-base with some of the fastest smartphones in the world and maybe the best in terms of price vs performance. Be warned though, the Xiaomi Mi Mix is both a technological powerhouse and a thing of beauty, and that comes at a price. A steep price, especially considering the branding. But I am digressing.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix comes in a a black premium looking/foldable box made from cardboard and inside you’ll find the smartphone, obviously, a USB Type C cable, a fast charger, a beautiful leather case for the precious designed exclusively for the Xiaomi Mi Mix, yet no headset.

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The smartphone is rather big and heavy, but it does not feel bulky at all, having virtually the same dimensions as the Huawei Mate 9 weighing 209 grams, yet the Xiaomi Mi Mix has a bigger display than the Huawei!

The 6 inches wide edge to edge screen takes up 85% of the front panel, with a non existing top bezel and beautiful rounded edges making the Xiaomi Mi Mix a joy to look at. The chassis is made using a state of the art ceramic material, which is the apotheosis of premium materials to be found in a flagship smartphone. There’s nothing cheap looking and feeling in the Xiaomi Mi Mix, no plastic strip bands, no nothing.

Everything is perfect and seamless, making this baby arguably the best looking smartphone I’ve ever seen. There’s no earpiece, as the Xiaomi Mi Mix uses a piezolectric ceramic driver which generates the sound through the smartphone’s chassis itself.

The 6.4 inches wide edgeless screen is custom mad by the Japanese at Sharp and boasts a resolution of 1080×2400 pixels for 362 pixels per inch density. The panel is an IPS RGB instead of an AMOLED and it guarantees a wow effect once turned on, being the definition of an attention grabber if it ever was one. Long story short, it’s brilliant.

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The 4400 mAh battery offers 97 hours of endurance rating which is spectacular, while the smartphone runs on the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 system on chip, which means that it comes with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a high end device. The Xiaomi Mi Mix comes loaded with Android Marshmallow and the MIUI 8.0 on top.

Among other cool things, the MIUI 8 allows  you to have two instances of the same app running on your smartphone, i.e. 2 Whatsapp accounts on the same phone, one for each SIM card.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix comes with 4 GB or 6 GB of RAM and an Adreno 530 GPU, delivering flagship grade performance while staying quite cool doing so. The main camera is a 16 MP variety, which offers average performance while the selfie unit is uninspiring and blurry. Definitely, the Xiaomi Mi Mix doesn not excel in the multimedia department, yet it does a decent job.

Bottom line, if you can afford it, go for it.

 

 

 

 

 

Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus Review, Budget Flagship

January 29, 2017

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The Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus can be regarded as a significant and long expected upgrade over the vanilla Mi 5 and even the Mi 5s, being a phablet rather than a smartphone, boasting its impressive 5.7 inches display and the full metal jacket chassis. But everybody knows that what’s under the hood turns the heads of geeks anywhere.

And here the good news keep on coming, because the Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus is flagship material by any metrics, running on Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 821 chipset and featuring a very promising state of the art dual camera setup for photography aficionados, which includes a monochrome sensor for low-light performance.

The front snapper is an ultrapixel camera, which is the ideal tool for selfie obsessed teens. The body of the Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus got bigger and better, also sturdier, and the hardware is now faster than ever. This baby is a significant improvement over the vanilla Mi 5, but let’s dig deeper into the specs and see what’s what, shall we?

Being a flagship breed, let’s begin with the main disadvantages or shortcomings: first, there’s no micro SD card and that’s hard to understand. Also, there’s no mentioning about any type of adequate screen protection, like Corning or whatever.

The battery is sealed and there’s no optical image stabilization nor bokeh effect.

The Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus features an unibody construction and it’s made of aluminum, with a flat and sturdy frame which circles perfectly the flat display. The back panel is built using brushed metal with a glossy finish, which is rather unusual. However, design wise,the Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus is a real looker, being manufactured with an almost obsessive attention to details and it fits nicely in hand, being also sufficiently grippy.

The display is a 5.7 incher, an IPS LCD variety of full HD resolution  with a 386 pixels per inch density which is more than enough, leaving the QSD 821 enough room to breathe in video intensive applications. I am talking about a high end chipset having to deal with a full HD resolution rather than a QHD (the mainstream for high end smartphones nowadays), which translates into less stress on the CPUs i.e. increased performance.

The display is great quality wise, it’s just prone to scratching easily so I’d suggest you to put a screen shield as soon as possible.

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The Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus is powered by a beefy 3800 mAh battery, which is quite enough even for a phablet, with the smartphone scoring absolutely great in endurance tests, offering 104 hours of endurance rating. The droid comes with all bells and whistles connectivity wise, including LTE Cat. 8, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC and even an USB Type C port.

The software is an Android Marshmallow with the MIUI 8.0 on top, which is one of the best customizations out there, being made especially for the Chinese market where Google services are banned thus Xiaomi had to refocus its ecosystem away from Alphabet’s services.

Considering that the Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus runs on the latest hardware available, i.e. the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 with 4 gigs of RAM, the performance level is  top notch, both in day to day tasks and gaming, thanks to the latest gen Adreno 530 GPU.

The smartphone is amazingly fast and it stays cool under heavy loads, delivering flagship grade performance . In the multimedia department, the Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus comes with 2 x 13 megapixels cameras on the back panel, with the monochrome sensor using a Bayer filter and Sony’s IMX258 sensor. The photo quality is excellent, with good contrast and rich detail while the Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus is capable of shooting 4K / ultra hd videos with ease at a rock solid 30 frames per second.

Let’s sum it up: the build quality is flagship grade, the grip is great due to the prominent metal frame, the display is awesome, battery life is best in class, the software is nice and clean, the hardware offers stellar performance, the camera is so so, right in the middle but the selfie snapper is one of the best out there. There aren’t many smartphone to match the Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus considering the price asked, making for a strong candidate in the droid arena.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moto G4 Plus Review, Powered Up

January 29, 2017

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The Moto G4 Plus has some pretty big shoes to fill, as the original Moto G was a hit back in the day, earning a well deserved, almost legendary status both for itself and for the company. Truth be told, the Moto G actually put the company on the map in many countries, especially emerging markets like China or India, due to the smartphone’s excellent price/features ratio.

The Moto G4 Plus was built and designed following the same principles: great build quality, lots of features, above average performance and affordability. Basically, in the best bang for the buck category, the Moto G4 Plus is a main contender, except from obscure Chinese brands. And speaking about Chinese brands, it’s worth mentioning that the Moto G4 Plus is not a true blue Motorola smartphone, as Motorola was bought by Lenovo, a Chinese state owned corporation, but that’s not very important now, is it?

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In terms of appearance, the Moto G4 Plus is definitely a Motorola smartphone, you can tell from distance even if you don’t notice at first the iconic M logo on the back. Unlike many other smartphones, the Moto G4 Plus doesn’t feature that cool full metal jacket chassis, nor a glass/metal sandwich built. Truth be told, there’s not an ounce of metal in the Moto G4 Plus, as this droid is entirely made of plastic.

However, the smartphone doesn’t look cheap at all, being built like a tank, feeling solid in the hand and also incredibly grippy. Plastic has its obvious advantages over metal, i.e. it doesn’t scratch easily, it will not bend, get bumps and all that nuisances you’d expect in an aluminum made smartphone. Not to mention a glass one, like the S7, which is as fragile as a snowflake.

Keep in mind that the Moto G4 Plus  is a budget droid, hence you’ll not have to break the piggy-bank in order to buy it, hence you should appreciate its qualities despite some shortcuts made by the company in order to keep the price on the down-low.

To begin with, the Moto G4 Plus boasts a 5.5 inches wide full HD 1080 IPS LCD display of above average quality, with great contrast and sunlight legibility.

I could actually say that this droid is among the best in its category screen quality wise, given its 401 pixels per inch density and color calibration out of the box.

The hardware is nothing to write home about, as the Moto G4 Plus runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 SoC, a relatively dated architecture, an octa-core variety relying on A 53 Cortex CPUs and an old Adreno 405 graphics processing unit.

The amount of RAM on-board differs, as you can buy the Moto G4 Plus with 2, 3 or 4 GB, depending on the price. The smartphone runs on a clean cut Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with zero bloatware. It’s worth mentioning the phone’s dual SIM capability and LTE Cat.4 connectivity, together with the dedicated micro SD card slot, up to 256 GB.

The battery is pretty good, offering an autonomy of 70 hours (endurance rating), which is not bad for a 5.5 inches wide smartphone of 1080p resolution. However, don’t expect miracles, as the Moto G4 Plus is pretty good on daily/regular use, but the dated hardware cannot keep up with the latest games. If you’re a heavy gamer, this is not the droid you’re looking for.

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Where the Moto G4 Plus really shines is in the camera department, as the 16 megapixels snapper boasts a relatively high end sensor, the Omni Visio  OV16860 PureCel Plus-S respectively, coupled with a f/2.0 lens and offering an excellent opportunity for photography aficionados to test their skills. The camera is great, both for still pics and videos (full HD), but then again, I am talking about low-mid range devices here, as per its price. Do not expect flagship quality in a ~$250 smartphone (or cheaper).

Basically, if you’re looking for high quality materials and an excellent build quality,a good display an above average battery , a pretty good camera and decent overall performance, the Moto G4 Plus is easy to recommend.

 

Google Pixel Review

January 26, 2017

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The Google Pixel is one of the most sought after Android running smartphones of 2016 and it marks the Alphabet company’s return as a serious contender among the big dogs like Apple and Samsung.

The thing is that Google’s former Nexus line of droids was something very interesting, a melange of decent prices and excellent performance, aimed at offering the best Android experience possible for the money. The best bang for the buck, you know the drill.

Well, with the Google Pixel, things were changed radically. The Google Pixel and the Pixel XL (its bigger kin) are now boasting high end specs and premium looks and feel, and as a logical consequence, the prices skyrocketed. Basically, the Google Pixel costs just as much as an iPhone 7 if not more and that’s a bold move from Alphabet.

However, considering that Google has access to all of our metadata and internet search history, our bank accounts and all that, I bet that they planned this move pretty good, it wasn’t just a “fluke”, and I refer to the fact that despite its steep price, the Pixel line was a hit in terms of sales.

With the Pixel, Google is aiming at giving Apple’s iPhone 7 a run for its money so to speak, being a true flagship smartphone and on top of that, with the affordable Nexus line discontinued, the fans of the Google brand do not have much choice after all.

Starting at $650 (in the US) or if you want the XL model add $120 on top of the $650, the Google Pixel comes with unlimited storage space for videos and photos via cloud storage, i.e.  Google Photos and that’s pretty cool.

The Pixel is built and designed around Google’s ecosystem which is pretty vast and obviously, it will offer a Google-focused experience.

The Google Pixel comes with a sturdy chassis built from metal, featuring a premium unibody design and it boasts its 5 inches wide AMOLED display of full HD 1080p resolution and a 441 pixels per inch density.

Under the hood, you’ll find Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 821 system on chip, which makes for a quad core architecture with its Kryo CPUs clocked in pairs at 2.15 GHz and 1.6 GHz respectively.

For gaming and heavy stuff, there’s a new sheriff in town, the Adreno 530 graphics processing unit together with plenty of RAM, to the tune of 4 GB.

The main camera has 12.3 megapixels and it comes with all the bells and whistles you would expect from a 2016 flagship, the likes of laser assisted auto-focus, f/2.0 phase detection, dual LED flash, 4K video recording and all that jazz. The secondary snapper is an 8 megapixels variety while the Pixel will is available in 2 flavors, 32 GB or 128 GB of native storage capacity.

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Another interesting factoid is that the Pixel is the first smartphone to be shipped running on Android 7.1 Nougat on board, which means it’s fully optimized for the respective OS and everything will work buttery smooth, as was the case with all Nexuses in the past.

In the connectivity department, the Google Pixel has it all and then some, including LTE Cat. 12, GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi 2×2 MIMO and even NFC support for Android Beam and Android Play.

There’s also a bio-metric device on board obviously, Google’s Pixel Imprint authentication system, meaning that Google will have now your fingerprints too in their humongous database and I am not kidding either.

The non removable battery has a capacity of 2770 mAh and that’s quite enough for a 5 incher with AMOLED yet nothing to write home about in terms of endurance (64 hours).

The main drawbacks of the Google Pixel are its price first and foremost, and a distant second-third etc being an arguably boring design, the lack of wireless charging and/or an IR blaster, there’s no FM radio and no full water resistance.

If you want unlimited space for your pictures and videos and maybe the best camera on the market in low-lighting conditions, plus 2 years of Google updates and 3 and a half of security patches (guaranteed), well, the Pixel is an interesting option.

 

 

Huawei Mate 9 Review, Big is Beautiful

January 24, 2017

 

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The Huawei Mate 9 follows into the steps of the P9 but with a twist. Yes, it’s flagship stuff inside out, but while the Huawei P9 was, how should I put it, more pocketable, the Huawei Mate 9 is the definition of a phablet, being aimed at users who spend most of their time pecking at their smartphones, i.e. watching movies, videos, live streams and what not.

And for that kind of heavy usage, there is no replacement for displacement. Err, screen real estate, but I think you know what I am talking about.

Arriving seven months after the P9, the Huawei Mate 9 was released actually in two flavors,the regular or “vanilla” if you like and the Porsche Design, which is a rare gem due to its prohibitive price.

The  Huawei Mate 9 Porsche Design costs twice as much as the proper version, yet it features a very interesting dual curved design. However, for all intents and purposes, we will focus on the Huawei Mate 9 today, because after all is said and done, I can’t think of a good enough reason to spend one grand (or more) on a smartphone branded Huawei. Nor a Vertu for that matter or even a gold plated iPhone, but hey, that’s just me, I don’t consider smartphones to fall into the bling/social status category. That’s what diamonds and Bugatti’s are for, gadgets are for everybody, or at least that’s my opinion and it’s the best in the world.

Kidding aside, true to its traditions, the Huawei Mate 9 boasts a 5.9 inches wide display and a huge 4000 mAh battery, everything packed tight into a full metal jacket aluminum unibody.

It’s already sounding pretty cool, doesn’t it? But wait, it gets better: this flagship phablet made in China runs on Huawei’s best/in-house made Kirin 960 system on chip, which marks a debut for ARM’s latest and greatest Cortex A73 CPUs, which are thirty percent faster than the previous generation. That’s quite a boost in terms of sheer power by any metrics, right?

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And speaking of world-premieres, the Huawei Mate 9 is powered by a Mali G71 graphics processing unit, i.e. this GPU is first seen here, featuring Vulkan support and being aimed at Virtual Reality applications.

Oh, and then let’s take a look at the camera. As we’re already accustomed with, Huawei works with Leica for providing them with high end optics for their flagships and of course, this is the case with the Huawei Mate 9.

This smartphone boasts a 20 megapixels/10 megapixels dual camera setup , with both monochrome/color sensors respectively but this time there’s optical image stabilization and 4 in 1 auto-focus, unlike the P9. Basically, the technology matured and more than that,it evolved into something beautiful.

Another first for the Mate lineup  is that the Huawei Mate 9 is capable of recording ultra High Definition videos, or 4k in the parlance of geeks.

So, we have a phablet with a premium aluminum unibody design, a 5.9 inches LCD IPS display of full HD resolution, 2.5 D glass, 96% NTSC and 373 pixels per inch density, a high end/in house made Kirin 960 SoC i.e. an octa-core CPU architecture, an octa-core GPU, an i6 co-processor and 4 GB of RAM, a Leica branded/co-engineered snapper, 64 GB of internal storage, expandable via micro SD, a finger print scanner, LTE Cat 12, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and even an infrared blaster and finally a fast charging 4000 mAh monster of a battery.

The main shortcomings are the full HD display, which is not quite flagship grade, yet it improves the performance of the smartphone dramatically, the lack of dust and water proofing which would have been nice to have, but not a deal breaker and the lack of any mention about the display’s glass protection, like it was the case with the P9. That one’s really weird.

But bottom line, if you’re seeking for a cool top shelf phablet with a great display (even if it’s not AMOLED), looking and feeling as premium as they come, with a dependable battery and an epic camera, offering class leading performance at all levels, the Huawei Mate 9 is very easy to recommend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Nubia Z11, Play Hard, Go Pro!

December 28, 2016

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The Nubia Z11 marks the company’s decisive departure from its ZTE roots, i.e. Nubia split from ZTE and started on its own about a year ago, but in this short period of time, this tiny Chinese company managed to achieve a sort of greatness of its own.

And the  Nubia Z11 is the finest example of what I’ve been telling you in the preamble. While ZTE is a relatively obscure company for the Westerners, and obviously the same can be asserted with regard to Nubia, which is definitely obscured by the clouds of Samsung, Apple, Nokia, Motorola and the like, the former is usually fighting a war on the middle Earth.

Of course, if you’ve been watching the Lord of the Rings, or God forbid, you’ve read the book, by middle Earth I mean the mid-range front. What I am trying to tell you is that ZTE is concentrating on building cheap and capable mid-range droids, while the  Nubia Z11 is the definition of a flagship by any metrics.

Boasting solid high-end specs and design, a stylish and sexy exterior and many other refinements, the  Nubia Z11 has all the features for becoming a best seller. However, the sad part of the story is that despite its obvious qualities, the  Nubia Z11 will fail to make the company great. Why?

Well, because that’s how the world works, marketing is 90% of success and branding is everything. But let’s not anticipate.

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To begin with, the  Nubia Z11 comes in a cleverly designed (on two levels) box , in the company’s signature red and black colors. What’s worth mentioning about its content is the premium pair of headphones the  Nubia Z11 comes with and the USB Type C cable, which features a cool mini USB to Type C adapter.

The smartphone is cleverly designed, with the curvy front panel boasting smart optics which simulate an edge to edge screen while the back panel is made from metal. The screen is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 whilst the ARC 2.0 design, besides looking cool it provides some level of shatter protection, featuring a buffering-layer between the chassis metal frame and the screen’s glass.

The overall design of the  Nubia Z11 is minimalist and I mean that in a good way, as this baby reminds me of old school Nokia Lumias or Sony Xperias, which I totally love, though the front looks like an iPhone ripoff.

The chassis is built using Series 6000 aluminum, which is light and sturdy, feels premium and provides excellent grip for your hand.

The display is essentially bezel-less and it looks quite impressive, measuring 5.5 inches and boasting full HD 1080p resolution, with a 403 pixels per inch density.

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Overall, the display quality is above average, wit impressive color accuracy, good contrast and excellent sunlight legibility, considering that what we’re dealing with here is not an AMOLED.

Connectivity wise, the  Nubia Z11 has it all, ranging from 4G LTE on both SIM (yes, it’s a hybrid-dual SIM), VoLTE support, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a 3.5 mm headphone jack (the sound quality is impressive due to the audiophile-grade DAC inside the smartphone), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, USB Type C and the whole nine yards.

The battery is a sealed-in 3000 mAh variety which comes with an endurance rating of 76 hours, and that’s quite enough in my view, offering at least 2 days of autonomy on a single charge even if you’re an enthusiastic smartphone aficionado.

The  Nubia Z11 runs on a custom version of Android, the Nubia UI 4.0, which is clean and subtle, works/runs well and all that jazz.

Considering that under the hood you’ll find a cool Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset and an Adreno 530 GPU with 4 GB of RAM, which all they have to take care of is a full HD display instead of a QHD, it’s needless to say that the  Nubia Z11 is a true powerhouse in terms of performance.

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The only thing that keeps it from achieving true greatness is the Nubia 4.o UI, which needs more optimization. The camera is a fairly common 16 MP variety featuring the IMX298 Exmor RS sensor, with OIS and all the bells and whistles expected from a flagship, offering a more than satisfying multimedia experience and 4 K videos, nota bene.

Bottom line, if you don’t care about the branding on your droid, the Nubia Z11 is an excellent choice, i.e. you’ll get high-end quality and features for a low-mid-range price.