Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LG V20 Review, El Leader Maximo

December 4, 2016

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If smartphones would have their own super heroes, the LG V20 would be one of them definitely. Actually, after the not so great sales of the G5, which was an outstanding smartphone by any metrics, the Korean tech giant decided to go all in with the LG V20.

And the end result was nothing short of spectacular.The LG V20 has all the characteristics for achieving greatness. Two cameras, 2 screens, 2 apps on the home screen, 4 DACs, the list is as long as my arm.

Actually, the LG V20 can be described as a glimpse into the future, looking and feeling (and doing) like the next year’s flagships should do. This baby is a multi media monster, continuing LG’s experiment with dual cameras, a wide/normal lens combo, the same feature adopted by Apple with their latest iPhone 7.

Also, the LG V20 is the perfect tool to record ultra high definition videos, being a pocket music studio sort to speak, as its high quality microphones are able to record even a rock concert at impeccable quality sound wise. The audio playback is again in a league of its own, considering the fact that the LG V20 can (and will provided you’re into that racket)deal with drive studio quality high-end headphones using its audiophile grade DACs (four of them).

I bet there will be a day sometime in the future when we’ll look back at the LG V20 in awe and recognize it was a true pioneer of its times. And speaking of pioneering, this baby is the first smartphone to be shipped running on Android’s latest and greatest OS, the Nougat variety. Isn’t this something to contemplate?

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The LG V20 is what the German cars of the 80s and 90s used to be: over-engineered to perfection, including the physical durability (the LG V20 comes with a high quality aluminum chassis which is as durable as they get, being built to comply with military standards).

However, the back cover is removable, hence the battery is user replaceable, a rare feature in this day especially when it comes to flagships. Overall, I must tell you that the LG V20 is that kind of a smartphone which has all the characteristics to make LG great again.

The audio features of the LG V20 are nothing short of out of this world, but even the camera is one step ahead its competitors. Check this out: the LG V20 uses Qualcomm’s state of the art image stabilization gimmick which augments its optical system. And don’t forget what I’ve already told you: this droid launched with Android 7 Nougat before Google’s own Pixels were even announced, not to mention available.

The smartphone measures 159.7×78.1×7.6 millimeters and it weighs 174 grams, which means it’s lighter than its V10 brethren and thinner by a millimeter, yet it’s still complying with the MIL-STD-810G rating.

The chassis is built using a material which is very popular in airplanes,  AL-6013 aluminum that is, an alloy which is very light, strong and offers corrosion resistance. The top and bottom are made using another military grade material, which is incredibly resistant to drops/shocks and things of that nature and I am talking here about the siloxane polycarbonate.

As per the display, there are actually two of them. The main one is a 5.7 inches wide IPS LCD variety with QHD resolution and 513 pixels per inch density, while the second display is a single line, 2.1” in diagonal with a resolution of 160×1040 pixels, always on that is.

The main screen is excellent, sharp and bright, with perfect sunlight legibility. Connectivity is stellar, as LG V20 has it all: LTE Cat. 12, it supports even AWS 3, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX, USB Type C, the classic 3.5 mm headphone jack (kudos!), NFC, Miracast with Mirror Link etc.

The battery is a 3200 mAh variety, removable, remember that, and it offers 63 hours of endurance rating, being the only weakness of the V20 in my opionion.

The show is powered by a QSD 820, the weapon of choice for 2016 flagships, paired with 4 gigabytes of RAM and an Adreno 530 GPU. The phone runs smooth and fluid and needless to say, this is a high end droid running on high end software, so everything performs like it was expected.

Bottom line, the LG V20 is the best of LG, boasting a great build quality, an excellent screen, shock-proofing, a removable battery and an out of this universe multimedia department. If you want to give it a spin, be my guest, you’ll never regret it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, Best Bang for the Buck!

September 19, 2016

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The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is that kind of a device which sets the benchmark in the best bang for the buck category. Basically, to describe it in just a few words, this droids comes with lots of features and incredible performance way above the price asked.

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is the proud successor of last year’s Redmi Note 3. The latter was powered by a Mediatek Helio X10 system on chip and, just a few months after its initial launching, a special edition was revealed, featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon architecture. Well, this baby broke all the records in terms of sales figures in India, which is arguably the largest emerging market in the world, China aside (the home-turf for the company).

This is the device we’re reviewing today, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Snapdragon edition, which even if it was launched a few months ago, it should be on your radar if you’re looking for dirt-cheap performance sans a celebrity tag on your smartphone. I mean, this is not an iPhone nor a Galaxy S X, but if you’re looking for true performance and buckets of features without having to put a second mortgage on your home, keep reading.

Besides the improved chipset, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 features a new camera sensor, with a 16 MP resolution. Despite the fact that it’s limited to full HD recording, 1080p, that’s not a drawback in my view, because 4k videos are immense and there are relatively few TVs and laptops to offer that native resolution. And watching 4k videos on a smartphone display is kind of pushing it, right?

Another difference or upgrade, however you want to call it is that the Snapdragon version of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 has a second SIM card-tray which can also be used as an expansion port, i.e. it supports micro SD cards.

Now, let’s takea closer look at Xiaomi Redmi Note 3’s key features and specs, shall we?

To begin with, this droid features a beautiful aluminum unibody design and it has the exact same dimensions of the original Mediatek-powered Redmi Note 3, i.e. 150 x 75 x 8.7 millimeters and it weighs 164 grams. The finish and fit are quite good as the smartphones feels durable and well built. For a mid ranged device, a metal clad unibody design is always cool to have, especially given the asking price of the Redmi Note 3, no complaints in this department.

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The front panels is covered in a sheath of black glass, protecting the 5.5 inches wide display, a LCD IPS Full HD/1080p variety, with 401 pixels per inch density. Thing is, we don’t have any kind of intel about what type of glass was used, if it’s scratch resistant or any other information whatsoever.

One of the coolest things about this baby is the beefy 4000 mAh power plant, which is not removable by user but I doubt it will be an issue with this smartphone. Given the humongous capacity of the battery, the Redmi Note 3 boasts an impressive 93 hours of endurance rating, which should please the pickiest user.

As the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 chipset, connectivity is top notch, including LTE, tri band GSM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the whole nine yards.

The user interface is provided by Xiaomi’s Global MIUI 8 beta, on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop, but unlike other custom made UIs, this one really improves overall performance. And speaking about performance, the QSD 650 system on chip really get the job done with flying colors, being a hexa core architecture which consists of 4x 1.4 GHz Cortex A 53 CPUs and 2x 1.8 GHz Cortex A 72 ones, together with an Adreno 510 GPU for handling the demanding graphic applications.

There are 2 models to choose from: a 16 GB of native storage which comes with 2 GB of ram and a 32 GB variety with 3 GB of RAM. I would advise you to go for the latter.

The camera in the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 was upgraded and now it comes with a 16 MP sensor, phase detection, an f/2.0 aperture lens and a 2 tone dual LED flash. The performance and the quality are very good considering the price tag and the interface is very simple.

Bottom line, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 offers great value for day to day users looking for a very capable yet relatively cheap mid-ranged droid, offering good specs, top notch build quality, a decent display, excellent battery life and above average performance at a competitive price tag.

 

 

 

vivo Xplay5 Elite, the Master of Affordable Flagships

July 11, 2016

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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.

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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.

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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+.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sony Xperia E5, King of Affordability

July 10, 2016

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The latest release in Sony’s lineup is also the company cheapest smartphone in 2016, the Xperia E5 respectively. However, the Xperia E5’s very affordable price tag is not apparent from its looks, as it actually resembles the current flagship, the Z5 design wise.

Basically, the Xperia E5 was created for winning  the hearts and minds of Android lovers, playing in the best bang for the buck category and promising to be a best seller, as it has all the attributes of one.

Sony was very busy lately focusing on its X series of smartphones, reinventing itself and what not; but the Xperia E5 can be described using that old expression, “if it ain’t broke, you don’t have to fix it”. And this baby is the ideal all rounder package, an incremental step forward vs the previous gen, offering a great build quality and pretty decent specs considering the Xperia E5’s price bracket.

Don’t expect fancy metal-chassis in this little droid, you won’t find this high-end feature at this price; ok, maybe there are 2-3 relatively obscure companies in mainland China who can pull this off, but the Sony Xperia E5 is made from plastic one hundred percent, there’s no way around it.

However, talking about design and build quality, even if this smartphone has a plasticky look and feeling, you won’t be disappointed by the workmanship, not by a long shot.

The Xperia E5 measures 144 x 69 x 8.2 millimeters and weighs 147 grams, feeling just right in your hand, being very easy to handle and very grippy. Design wise, Sony didn’t try to reinvent the wheel sort to speak, hence the E5 follows the same lines of the former flagship Xperia Z5, being old-school in this department.

Off course, there’s no unibody design at work here, but curiously, the back cover is non removable, hence the battery is also sealed.

The  Xperia Z5 is equipped with a conservative 5 inches wide display, as Sony chose to keep it simple. The matrix is an IPS LCD variety, offering 720p resolution which is more than enough for daily use. The pixel density is also a decent 294ppi, but on the downside of the news, albeit expected given the price tag, the  Xperia Z5 lacks Sony’s proprietary Bravia engine. However, the display is pretty good, with decent contrast and quite bright.

In the connectivity department, the  Xperia Z5 is available in both single and dual SIM versions and it features LTE Cat.4, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, Wi-FI dual band, Miracast and DLNA.

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The battery powering this little droid is a 2700 mAh variety, which is adequate for a five incher, but it’s not user replaceable unfortunately, as the back panel of the smartphone is glued to the chassis. Despite the relatively juicy battery and the low res screen, the  Xperia Z5 comes with an endurance rating of just 47 hours, due to the dated Mediatek chipset which features the old 28 nm build, being relatively power hungry compared to modern SoCs built on 14 nm, which are way more efficient in terms of power consumption.

However, the  Xperia Z5 offers almost eight hours of browsing time or almost 7 hours of video playback and if you’re using the Stamina power mode, you’ll be able to enhance the battery life in an emergency.

In terms of hardware, the  Xperia Z5 is built using the dated MediaTek MT6753  system on chip; that translates into a quad-core architecture with Cortex A-53 processors clocked at 1.3 GHz working together with a Mali T720MP2 graphic processing unit and 1.5 gigabytes of RAM.

Bottom line, even if the Xperia Z5 doesn’t have the latest and greatest technologies on board, the Mediatek chipset works really smooth in daily use, being snappy and without lag, except for when using power hungry apps.

In the multimedia department, Sony were generous providing the Xperia Z5 with a 13 megapixels shooter featuring an f/2.0 aperture. The camera is pretty impressive given the price tag and comes with advanced options such as object tracking and continuous auto-focus, together with 3x digital zoom. The image quality is very good considering the price-bracket of the Xperia Z5, with lots of detail and sharp. Also, the smartphone comes with full HD 1080p video recording capability on both cameras (the secondary 5 MP included).

As per my final words, if you need an entry level droid, i.e. affordability is the name of your game, the Xperia Z5 is a great option: it’s well built, rich in features and it comes from a brand which doesn’t bother usually with building cheap smartphones. But this time, they nailed it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moto G4 Review By Lenovo

July 8, 2016

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The Moto G line of Android running smartphones became  the definition of excellent quality at a very affordable price-tag, playing in the best bang for the buck category for years in a row.

However, the latest Moto G4 is developed by Lenovo, after Motorola sold its mobile phone division to the Chinese tech giant. Lenovo dropped the “Motorola” moniker and went full throttle for the Moto sub brand, which now plays along with the in house made Vibe brand.

While the Moto G4 still bears the legendary name of its American ancestors, it’s actually the first smartphone designed and built by Lenovo only, not by the mother company Motorola.

Now, let’s take a look at the latest Moto G4. My first impression is that Lenovo made this smartphone no different from its predecessors, i.e. it still has a design and build quality way above its price, offering an unadulterated Android experience at a very affordable price tag.

Hence, the Moto G4 is everything I expected for in the G lineup: an excellent workmanship, a replaceable back cover if you want to customize it and a nice touch inside, i.e. an internal nano-coating which is  water repellent, thus preventing the smartphone from taking damage if it gets wet. Keep in mind that Moto G4 is not water resistant like its predecessor, the G3, just splash proof I guess; however, the water repellent gizmo is as cool as it gets (think condensation).

Let’s begin with the design. The Moto G4 weighs 155 grams and it measures 153 x 76.6 x 9.8 millimeters, being identical in this regard with the G3, which had a smaller screen (5 inches). The G4 boasts a 5.5 inches wide display, an IPS LCD variety and it’s relatively wide for a droid, but thin enough to be handled seamlessly.

The battery is also bigger than in the previous gen, 3000 mAh vs 2470 in the G3 while the design is the same as it ever was, bearing the iconic Motorola signature. The smartphone feels very solid in your hand, no problems in this department and even if it’s made of plastic, you’ll not be disappointed. The back cover is rock solid and very grippy while the front features a very clever design, i.e. the side frame sticks out above the display (which is protected by Gorilla Glass 3) meaning it will never touch a flat surface and if dropped, the frame will absorb the impact.

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About the display, the 5.5 incher comes with full HD 108op resolution, being a step forward from the previous 720p found in the older models. The pixel density is 401 pixels per inch, which is great, while the quality of the screen is impressive to say the least, especially in its price bracket.

The Moto G4 offers dual SIM capabilities for selected markets or single SIM for others and ample connectivity options, such as LTE Cat.4, Bluetooth 4.2 LE, Dual Band Wi-Fi and a micro USB 2.0 port .

The battery is a beefy 3000 mAh unit featuring an endurance rating of 73 hours and it’s non removable. However, you’ll not be recharging the G4 too often, and even if that will be the case, the device supports Turbo Power, which means quick charge in Lenovo’s parlance.

In the hardware department, the Moto G4 is built around a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 architecture and it comes with 2 GB of RAM. The 617 is not the latest chipset on the market, nor the dated Adreno 405 graphic processing unit, but the smartphone is very fast with almost zero lag, being buttery smooth in day to day use.

The camera features a 13 megapixels sensor with an f/2.0 lens aperture, a dual tone flash and 1080p video recording capabilities (very similar to the one in the G3), offering an outstanding image quality considering the Moto G4’s price bracket.

The secondary 5 megapixels snapper located on the front panel also takes excellent pics, rich in detail and very sharp and it also offers a HDR mode.

As per my final words, Lenovo did a pretty decent job with the new Moto G4, which is one of the best mid-ranged droids out there, offering plenty of features for a more than reasonable price.

 

 

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active, Stellar Performance

July 8, 2016

Galaxy S7 Active

 

 

The new Samsung Galaxy S7 Active is the hardcore version of the current flagship, the “regular” S7 and it’s a smartphone designed and built for staying alive no matter what you throw at it. Yes, you got that right, the Galaxy S7 Active is as tough as nails and it was released exclusively to AT&T just a few weeks ago.

Compared to the standard S7 flagship, the Galaxy S7 Active features a bigger battery (4000 mAh vs 3000 mAh) and an additional physical button which takes you to the Activity Zone application when pushed. It’s worth mentioning that this app is designed exclusively for the Galaxy S7 Active, you’ll not find it anywhere else.

However, what makes the Galaxy S7 Active unique is the fact that it was built to meet and exceed the MIL-STD-810 standard (MIL stands for military), meaning that this baby will survive very harsh environments. Basically, the Galaxy S7 Active is resistant to dust, water, salt, rain, strong vibrations, thermal shocks, solar radiation and even immersions in water up to 5 feet deep for 30 minutes.

The rest of the smartphone is basically identical with its S7 kin, meaning the Galaxy S7 Active features a 5.5 inches wide AMOLED QHD display with a resolution of 1440×2560 pixels, protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4. On top of that, the display is shatter proof and it will survive falls onto a flat/hard surface from up to five feet high.

In terms of hardware specs, the Galaxy S7 Active is powered by a high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset (the quad-core variety, i.e. 2xKyro CPUs clocked at 2.15 GHz working in tandem with another 2xKyro CPUs clocked at 1.6 GHz), together with an Adreno 530 graphic processing unit, 4 gigabytes of RAM and 32 gigabytes of internal storage capacity.

Needless to say, the Galaxy S7 Active is an Android running smartphone, featuring Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow out of the box, with Samsung’s proprietary TouchWiz User Interface on top.

Galaxy S7 Active 1

Another strong point of Samsung’s flagship smartphones, historically speaking, is the camera. In our case, the Galaxy S7 Active comes with a 12 megapixels snapper featuring an f.1/7 aperture, phase detection, 1.4 microns pixel-size, specially designed diodes at each pixel, optical image stabilization, LED flash and obviously, 4K video recording capabilities.

The secondary camera is a 5 megapixels variety located on the front panel, capable of QHD video recording and featuring the same f.1/7 aperture.

Being a modern device, the Galaxy S7 Active comes with a fingerprint sensor and the latest and greatest connectivity options, such as  LTE Cat.9, GPS/GLONASS/Beidou, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, an infrared port together with other goodies such as a barometer, a heart rate sensor and a Spo2 sensor which is rather expected, as the smartphone is built for users with an active life-style, hence its name.

To make things perfect, Samsung threw an FM radio into the mix, along with wireless charging and a juicy-beefy-whatchamacallit 4100 power plant, to keep the lights on day in and day out.

As you can see from the specs, the  Galaxy S7 Active is a beast of a smartphone, winning the hearts and minds of Android lovers everywhere. The only disadvantage of owning a  Galaxy S7 Active is the fact that it’s relatively thicker compared to other flagships, but you can’t have the cake and eat it too, I mean these awesome features come with a price, in our case thickness and a lot of AT&T bloatware.

As per the price, you’ll have to cough an extra one hundred bucks for the  Galaxy S7 Active vs the regular S7, meaning that this baby is priced identically with the S7 Edge, at least in the United States.  But if you think about it, it’s definitely worth it, as the  Galaxy S7 Active just took the best features of the S7 flagship and put them inside a tough/beefy body, making it the perfect choice for smartphone users demanding the ultimate from their devices, more than looks that is. If you’re into hiking or you work in constructions, the durability and added grip of the  Galaxy S7 Active will definitely give you that edge, i.e. the peace of mind, meaning that you’ll not have to worry about your smartphone regardless of what you’re doing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vivo V3Max, Aurea Mediocritas

June 12, 2016

Vivo V3Max

There are two main types of smartphones in the world: those who sell in really big numbers, the work horses or “aurea mediocritas” i.e. mid-ranged devices and flagships who get all the glory. The Vivo V3Max falls in the former category, being the follow-up of the 2015 X series and a brave successor truth be told, a mid-ranged droid at an affordable price, produced by a quasi-obscure Chinese company.

The respective company has a history of  taking the best stuff from their direct competitors and assembling  it into their own product, with a twist. The same story goes for the Vivo V3Max, a smartphone that comes very well equipped, even if it doesn’t run the latest Android version and it’s available in just one color, gold that is, and having a limited availability, in certain geographical locations. Other than that, the Vivo V3Max comes with a reasonably capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 system on chip, an Adreno 405 graphical processing unit, a 5.5 inches wide IPS display with a respectable 401 pixels per inch density, a solid build and a unique premium feel (it’s made from anodized aluminum, metal and similar high end stuff).

And the best thing about the Vivo V3Max is that it will not require you a second mortgage on your house, being more thab decently priced and falling into the “best bang for the buck” category.

Now, let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Measuring 153.9 x 77.1 x 7.6 millimeters and weighing 168 grams, the Vivo V3Max offers a really manageable size and weight for a 5.5 incher, but it will not win awards in terms of thinness or stuff like that (like the previous gen), being comparable with a Galaxy Note 5 i.e. nothing to write home about.

However, the VivoV3 Max is a real looker and it doesn’t go over the eight millimeters threshold, being pocketable enough for my taste. In regard to  built quality and design, the Vivo V3Max follows the company’s history of inspiring its devices from Apple’s iPhone and since copying is the highest form of flattery, the Vivo V3Max really comes with an iPhone vibe in terms of feel and looks. This smartphone features a metallic unibody design, with a back panel made using anodized aluminum while the front panel is protected by a curved 2.5 D specially treated/tempered glass. The back panel of the Vivo V3Max also harbors a fingerprint sensor and it’s quite slippery, so consider yourselves warned.

In the screen department, the Vivo V3Max doesn’t shine but the 5.5 inches wide IPS display is pretty good, featuring a respectable 401 pixels per inch density, nice colors and excellent contrast and sharpness. Also, Vivo V3Max’s display is impressively bright for an IPS variety, being comparable in this regard to more expensive smartphones, such as the Xiaomi Mi 5 or Moto X Play.

The Vivo V3Max is powered by a 3000 mAh battery which comes with a decent 70 hours of endurance rating. The smartphone is capable of ten and a half hours of web browsing, almost 29 hours of talk time or 10 hours of video playback.

In terms of connectivity, the Vivo V3Max offers dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n with DLNA, Bluetooth v4.1, 2G/3G/4G, GPS with GLONASS and A-GPS, a micro USB port together with an FM radio on-board, i.e. more than enough for the average Joe Droid.

The user interface is what you’d expect from Android 5.1 flavored with the company’s proprietary Funtouch OS on top:  a slick interface with lots of features and apps, making for a pretty cool droid skin.

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Performance wise, the Vivo V3Max is powered by an octa-core (Cortex A-72 CPUs plus Cortex A-53 CPUs) system on chip, courtesy of Qualcomm, a Snapdragon 652 variety which works in tandem with an Adreno 405 GPU for offering excellent performances and a great Android experience (the phone has a generous 4 GB of RAM!), taking into account the fact that the Vivo V3Max doesn’t run the latest Android version, but an older one which is lighter on the resources/hardware. Even if the hardware is not exactly a super-hero in terms of speed, the overall experience is very pleasant, everything runs smooth and fluid, with no hick-ups.

The camera on the Vivo V3Max has a resolution of 13 megapixels and features a f/2.0 lens, but OIS and other high-end features are missing in action, as expected; however the image quality is excellent, given the price tag of the device. The video capabilities of the Vivo V3Max are not impressive, as the smartphone is capable of recording full HD videos with slo-mo/high speed effects but the quality is mediocre.

Bottom line, the Vivo V3Max can be described as a competent droid, playing in the best bang for the buck racket, offering premium feel in terms of design/built quality and average performance for a very low price.

 

 

 

 

Motorola Moto X Force, X Marks the Hot Spot!

May 17, 2016

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The brand new Motorola Moto X Force is not your regular smartphone. You know, that kind of smartphone that requires finesse, delicacy, attention, or else it would break up in one thousand pieces.

No sir, the Motorola Moto X Force is a force of nature, that kind of smartphone that will outlive his owner, or will get back at home by its own if lost in the woods.

Basically, if you’re born again hard and you’re looking for a state of the art droid, featuring all the bells and whistles of a modern day flagship smartphone, together with water and shock proofing, look no further than the Motorola Moto X Force.

This baby has it all: it’s bulletproof, it comes with a highly advanced hardware platform, it runs on the latest Android OS, the Marshmellow variety (it requires an update), it has a cool camera, a big AMOLED display 5.4 inches wide with QHD resolution (full HD is so last year!), a Snapdragon 810 system on chip, 3 GB of RAM…

Are you sold yet?

On top of that, I must remind you that while there are a bunch of waterproof smartphones out there in the jungle, the Motorola Moto X Force also comes with a shatter proof display.

How about that? And wait, there’s more: I forgot to tell you about the water repellent nano coating, which makes this baby a true survivor, even if you let it outside during a tropical rain storm or what not.

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But let’s begin with the basics.

Being pretty far from “petite”, the Motorola Moto X Force is 149.8 x 78 x 9.2mm and it weigh a respectable 170 grams. But remember, you don’t need to handle with care, ok?

Heavy is good, heavy is reliable, and if it doesn’t work, you can always hit him with it, right?

Ok, I’m just kidding a little bit, however, the Motorola Moto X Force can be used as a self defense weapon, and after that you can dial 911, it will still work. Did you get it?

Now, this bloke is far from slim and sexy, being a man’s smartphone, built to last, and it offers a solid and robust feel in your hand, but with a nice touch of premium, due to the high quality materials incorporated into its built.

The standard Motorola Moto X Force comes with a back panel manufactured from, take a load of this: ballistic nylon. This is an extremely grippy material, offering an industrial feel and look and boosting confidence just like a tactical knife or something of that sort, i.e. it looks and feels reliable, extra strong, durable etc.

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Basically, it feels indestructible, let’s not mince words here. And it probably is.

Ballistic nylon will not break, nor scratch, it’s great at absorbing shocks, but it gets dirty relatively easy, that’s its only drawback.

The front of the Motorola Moto X Force is covered in shatter proof glass which comes with 4 (FOUR) years warranty, and it will be replaced free of charge if it breaks .

The internal components of the Motorola Moto X Force are protected by a nano coating which is water repellent.

The display features 1440p/QHD resolution and has a rather unusual 5.4 inches in diagonal, featuring an AMOLED matrix and an awesome 540 pixels per inch density.

Needless to say, this is as good as it gets.

The battery is a humongous 3750 mAh power plant, offering an amazing 78 hours endurance rating, and being capable of over 9 hours of web browsing and 15 hours of video playback.
Connectivity is taken care of by Cat. 6 LTE, quad band support for 2 G networks, penta band in 3G, together with a host of 4G frequencies. There’s also Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and a micro USB 2.0 port, the whole bunch.

The system on chip is represented by a powerful Snapdragon 810 v2.1, which makes everything to run smooth and without lag/hick-ups, offering a great Android experience.

As you can imagine, the Motorola Moto X Force features an octa-core setup (8 CPUs), 3 gigabytes of RAM and an Adreno 430 GPU.

Clearly, given the hardware platform, the Motorola Moto X Force offers a true flagship experience, being capable of handling any task, including newly released games, everything will run without the slightest problem.

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The camera is also top-notch, featuring a 21MP Sony IMX230 sensor with laser focus and phase detection; 4K video recording is also available, offering excellent quality, both for pics and videos.

Bottom line, I must confess that I’m totally in love with the Motorola Moto X Force, and it will definitely be my next smartphone in a few months. The performance is awesome, just like the battery life, the camera is among the best on the market today, the display is great, and, on top of that, this baby is virtually indestructible.