Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

OnePlus 3T Review,Dream Big

February 28, 2017


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.


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.


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.





Xiaomi Mi Note 2, Superhero of Sorts

February 27, 2017


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


Nubia Z11, Play Hard, Go Pro!

December 28, 2016


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.


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.


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.


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


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?


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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

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.


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.


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

Xperia Z5

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.

Xperia Z5 1

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

moto g4

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.

moto g4 1

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.