Monday, 11 April 2016

Karbonn Quattro L52 and Titanium Mach Six with free VR headset launched

Karbonn has launched Quattro L52 and Titanium Mach Six
smartphones that come with free VR headsets. The VR
headset also come with a headband for comfortable viewing.
These smartphones come pre-loaded with engaging games
and video content and users can also create their own VR
videos using the VR app.

Karbonn Quattro L52 specifications

5-inch (1280 x 720 pixels) HD 2.5D curved glass display
1.3 GHz Quad-Core processor
2GB RAM, 16GB internal memory, expandable memory up to
32GB with microSD
Android 5.1 (Lollipop)
Dual SIM
8MP rear camera with LED Flash
5MP front-facing camera
Dimensions: 145 x 72 x 9.9mm; Weight: 143g
3.5mm audio jack, FM Radio
4G LTE/3G HSPA+, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS
2250mAh battery

Karbonn Titanium Mach Six specifications

6-inch (1280 x 720 pixels) HD Full lamination display
1.3 GHz Quad-Core processor
2GB RAM, 16GB internal memory, expandable memory up to
32GB with microSD
Android 5.1 (Lollipop)
Dual SIM
8MP rear camera with LED Flash
3.2MP front-facing camera
3.5mm audio jack, FM Radio
3G HSPA+, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS
3300mAh battery

The Karbonn Quattro L52 comes in White with Champagne
color and is priced at Rs. 8790, while the Karbonn Titanium
Mach Six comes in silver color and is priced at Rs. 7490.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Microsoft Lumia 650 Dual SIM officially launched in India for Rs. 15299

Microsoft has officially launched the Lumia 650 Dual SIM
smartphone running Windows 10 in India. It was announced
back in February and packs a 5-inch HD AMOLED ClearBlack
display, is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 212
processor, has a 8-megapixel auto focus camera with LED
flash and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. It has 4G LTE
connectivity, metal frame and is just 6.9mm thick.

Microsoft Lumia 650 Dual SIM specifications
5-inch (1280 x 720 pixels) HD AMOLED, ClearBlack display
1.3 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 212 processor
1GB RAM, 16GB internal memory, expandable memory up to
200GB with microSD
Windows 10
Dual SIM
8MP auto focus rear camera with LED flash, f/2.2 aperture,
720p video recording
5MP front-facing camera, f/2.2 aperture, 720p video
recording
Dimensions: 142x 70.9 x 6.9 mm and 122grams
3.5mm audio jack, FM Radio
4G LTE / 3G HSPA+, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1 LE,
GPS / aGPS
2000mAh removable battery

The Microsof Lumia 650 Dual SIM comes in matte black and
matte white colors and is priced at Rs. 15,299.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro with 6-inch 1080p display, Snapdragon 652, 4GB RAM announced

Samsung has officially announced the Galaxy A9 Pro (SM-
A9100), the company’s latest top-end smartphone in the
‘Galaxy A’ series in China, after it surfaced last month. It packs
a 6-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display with 2.5D curved glass,
is powered by an Octa-Core Snapdragon 652 (Previously 620)
processor and runs on Android 5.1 (Lollipop) and a 8-
megapixel front-facing camera, similar to the A9, but this a
16-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization
(OIS), 4GB of RAM and a 5000mAh battery.
It has dual SIM support with dedicated nano SIM slots and a
microSD expansion slot. It has 4G LTE connectivity, fingerprint
sensor under the home button and has metal frame and glass
back similar to the Galaxy S6 series smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro specifications
6-inch (1920×1080 pixels) Full HD Super AMOLED display
with 2.5D curved glass
Octa Core Snapdragon 652 processor with Adreno 510 GPU
4GB RAM, 32GB Internal Storage, expandable memory upto
128GB via micro SD card
Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop)
Dual SIM (nano + nano)
16MP rear camera, OIS, f/1.9 aperture, LED flash
8MP front camera, f/1.9 aperture
Fingerprint sensor
4G LTE, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth v 4.1, ANT+, NFC
5000mAh battery, Fast Charging

The Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro comes in White, Gold and Rose
Gold colors and is priced at 3499 yuan ($539 / Rs. 35765
approx.) in China. No word on the global roll out yet.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) Review

When the Samsung first announced the Galaxy Alpha after the
Galaxy S5 debacle, it seemed like the company was trying to
head in a new direction. For years, it had been criticised about
the build quality and plastic materials of its smartphones. The
Galaxy Alpha addressed many of those issues but was over-
priced and had a lot of shortcomings. Jump to March 2015
when I reviewed the Samsung Galaxy A7 right after the Galaxy
S6 and S6 edge announcement and I could see Samsung’s
plans falling into place. The A7 was a fresh new take on what
a mid-ranger should be and showcased what Samsung is
capable of achieving given the right push. Fast forward to
today and now we have the second generation i.e A7 (2016)
which builds on the same ideals as the original but promises
to refine the smartphone and provide a premium experience in
a mid-ranger smartphone like never before.

Unboxing

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) smartphone in Golden color
In-ear headset
2-pin fast charger (9V-1.67A / 5V-2A)
Micro USB cable
SIM ejector tool
Quick start guide and user manual

Design, Materials and Build Quality

The first Galaxy A7 had a really good build quality. The
smartphone got rid of the removable back panel and opted for
premium materials as well as a unibody design that really
worked wonders. The Galaxy A7 (2016) is actually a bigger
leap in terms of build quality and materials used than even the
first generation. The 2016 variant also has a unibody design
but incorporates glass on both the sides in addition to the
metal body. It has a really simple design that seems like a mix
between the Galaxy Note5 and the A7 2015 version. What you
get as a result is a really simple yet beautiful device that
handles like a dream. The glass at the back isn’t curved like
the one on the Note5 or one of the newer Galaxy S7 devices.
However, it fits in your palms really well and feels great to
hold and handle especially with the 2.5D curved glass effect
being applied on both the sides.

At first, I was worries that the glass on both the sides would
make this device really slippery but I’ve not had the phone
slipping out of my hands yet and that is saying a lot for a
phone with glass on two sides. The OnePlus X which had a
similar construction was notoriously slippery but luckily the A7
(2016) is an exception. The edges of the bezel are also
beveled on the right and left sides however are flat at the top
and bottom unlike the previous generation.

In terms of physical footprint, the newer A7 is more or less
identical to the previous generation. It is almost the same
height but is a good 2 mm narrower and a whole millimtere
thicker owing to the larger battery inside. The weight too has
gone up by around 30 grams but that is expected considering
the amount of glass used. Rest assured, the smartphone
doesn’t feel heavy as the weight distribution is done very well.

The front houses the earpiece, front facing camera as well as
the ambient light and proximity sensors above the display.
Below the display lie the customary keys – 2 capacitive keys
on either side of the physical home key which also houses the
fingerprint sensor.

The right side of the smartphone features the power key along
with the first tray that houses the primary nanoSIM and
microSD card slot. The left side has two separate buttons for
volume up and down which seems like a better
implementation than the single volume rocker of the last
generation.The feedback from these keys are quite good too.

At the top, you will find the secondary SIM card tray and the
secondary microphone (If you have the single SIM variant, you
on’t find a SIM card slot here). At the other side, things are
quite busy at the bottom since the microUSB port, primary
microphone, 3.5mm audio jack and speaker grille are located
here.

Moving over to the back, you will see just the primary camera,
LED flash and Samsung logo. The back looks really clean
since the loudspeaker has been moved from the back to the
bottom of the smartphone. That was one element in the
previous generation A7 that really detracted the elegance of
its design.

The back panel is non-removable and neither is the battery.
The smartphone comes in 4 colours – Black, White, Gold and
Pink. In our personal experience, the Gold variant does a good
job at keeping fingerprints relatively unseen at the back. The
same should apply for the White and Pink variants too with
the White version being able to hide them the best. However,
the Black variant is likely to be a fingerprint magnet and would
require your constant attention in order to remain spotless.

Display

The display remains more or less the same on paper. 5.5″
1080p SuperAMOLED is what you got with the previous
generation as well. However, there is a world of a difference
when it comes to the feel when using it thanks to the new
2.5D curved glass. The display is really smooth to use and
swipe across. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4 as well
and does a good job at keeping scratches at bay. The
brightness has been improved both at the higher and lower
end as you will find that the display can go really low and
really high in terms of brightness.The contrast ratio is great as
you would expect from a SuperAMOLED display with deep
blacks and the sunlight legibility too is one of the best we’ve
seen recently. The resolution of 1080p doesn’t feel less as the
content still looks sharp enough. For a mid-ranger, that
resolution seems justified and also considering that more
pixels require more battery and processing power to push, we
are glad Samsung stuck to 1080p.

The capacitive keys are backlit and offer haptic feedback
when pressed. We miss the option where you could turn off
the backlighting altogether or keep it on always whenever the
screen is on. We hope that Samsung would bring it back in the
future. The smartphone screen mode can be adjusted to your
liking. AMOLED Cinema is the most vivid profile while
AMOLED photo is quite standard and basic feels quite under-
saturated but is more easy on the eyes since the amount of
blue light emitted from the screen is cut down. Alternatively,
you can use the Adaptive Display option to let the smartphone
choose what mode is best according to the content on screen.
There is a smart stay feature that prevents the phone from
going to sleep as long as the front camera detects that you
are looking at the screen.

Fingerprint Sensor

One of the major exclusions on the previous A7 was a
fingerprint sensor. Considering how popular and cheap
fingerprint sensors have gotten in the past year, it would’ve
been ignorant of Samsung if they didn’t include one on the A7
(2016). Luckily they have and the fingerprint sensor is located
within the home button up front. The accuracy is really good
and the unlocking speeds are right up there as well. In fact, I
find that it is faster than my Galaxy Note5 as well but not quite
as fast as the S7 or S7 Edge. It falls behind the Nexus 6P and
5X as well but considering that this is a mid-range device, it is
surprising that it is faster than the Note5 itself. Accuracy too
seems to have been improved and the sensor seems to have
more of a tolerance to dust and moisture than previous
smartphones from Samsung.

As usual with other fingerprint sensors these days, you just
need to tap your finger and there is no need to swipe across
the sensor pad. You need to wake the phone from sleep first
however either by pressing the power key or home key and
then placing your finger on the home button. In our experience
waking it up using the home key and unlocking it is the fastest
solution as you don’t even need to lift your finger off the
button. A fraction of a second after waking the phone, the
sensor detects the fingerprint and unlocks the smartphone.

Calls and Messaging

The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) has good quality audio over
the earpiece. Calls are loud and clear both for you as well as
the party at the other end thanks to the noise cancelling
microphone. In terms of loudspeaker, the quality is good but
the volume seems low especially if you have some
background noise, it becomes difficult to hear what the other
person is saying. The dialer is large and easy to use. It has
shortcuts to place calls and send messages with either SIM
since the smartphone supports DualSIMs. The smartphone
also has video call functionality built into the stock phone app.

The keyboard that comes on the A7 (2016) is the Samsung
keyboard which like the Google Keyboard has one of the best
layouts. It is customizable, supports trace input and has an
extra numeric row at the top for faster typing. You can easily
download and use a 3rd party keyboard if the one included
isn’t your cup of tea.

Software and UI

The Galaxy A7 comes with Android Lollipop 5.1.1 with
TouchWiz UI on top. The UI layer has become less obtrusive
compared to past iterations and the specifications of the
phone are powerful enough to ensure a smooth performance.
The smartphone will most definitely receive the upgrade to
Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The only question is when. Since
most of last years flagships such as the S6 lineup and the
Note5 have already been updated or are getting update, we
believe that the A7 (2016) too will get the update in a month
or two (if no delays or obstacles appear in the update cycle).

The smartphone comes with motions and gestures that make
certain tasks easier. For example, taking a screenshot can be
done by pressing the home key and power button
simultaneously. Alternatively, users can just swipe from one
edge of the screen to the other using their palm to capture the
screen. The phone can be set to vibrate and notify you of any
missed calls or notifications when you pick the device. You
can also mute incoming calls and notifications by turning the
phone over onto its display or by placing your palm over the
display.

Since the smartphone has a large display, Samsung has
bundled a few features that will make the life of users easier
to use with one hand. You can choose the reduce the screen
size by pressing the home key thrice in quick succession. As a
result, the entire UI shrinks to a corner of the screen and you
can align it to the bottom left or right corner of the screen.
You can also shrink the size of certain individual apps without
making the entire UI smaller and finally you have a one-
handed input mode where certain aspects such as the
keyboard, dialer, lock pattern etc can be made smaller and
aligned to either the left or right side to make one-handed
usage easier.

Storage, Connectivity and Performance

The biggest improvement from past generation is probably the
least highlighted one as well. This time around, Samsung has
ditched the Hybrid DualSIM slot and actually gone for
dedicated card slots. The smartphone has a primary tray at
the right side which houses a nanoSIM as well as a microSD
card slot. There is a secondary tray at the top which can house
another nanoSIM card as well on the DualSIM model. This
means that you can put in two SIM cards and a microSD card
without having to choose between the two.

You wouldn’t really want to make a choice like that especially
if you can’t do without DualSIMs since the smartphone comes
only in a 16GB variant which will likely run out soon enough for
most people. The A7 supports microSD cards upto 128GB in
capacity. The smartphone supports 4G LTE on both the SIM
cards but only one SIM at a time can run on 4G while the other
one will stay in 2G mode.The smartphone also supports Dual-
Band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.1 but doesn’t
support 802.11 ac. Being a mid-range device in 2016, we
expected that to be a standard spec by now.

The smartphone is powered by an octa-core Exynos 7580
chipset from Samsung and comes with 3GB of RAM as well.
Performance is smooth and doesn’t lag. The 3GB of RAM is
good enough to handle multi-tasking of apps well too.

Music Player and Audio Quality
The Galaxy A7 comes with Samsung’s own music player. You
can sort your music according to tracks, artists, album, genres,
folders, composers and playlists. A wide variety of audio file
formats are supported. Users can scroll between them or jump
to an alphabet using the quick scroll option at the side or even
directly search for a song. The Now Playing screen features
the album art as well as track controls and options for shuffle
and repeat. You can favorite a song and also use on-screen
volume controls instead of the hardware ones. You can even
set the play speed to be faster or slow and also have an auto
off timer for the player to quit and stop playing music. You can
choose from one of the presets or specify your own time. The
smart volume feature allows the phone to automatically adjust
the volume so that every song appears to be at the same level
acoustically. You also have sound quality and effects such as
SoundAlive+ and Tube Amp both of which really failed to grab
our attention. They’re more of a marketing gimmick than an
actual use case.

Sound quality was really good through earphones and the
volume was more than loud enough too. There was a good
dynamic range with minimal crosstalk and had a punchy bass
whenever the need arose. The sound through the speakers
however isn’t that great as it is a bit washed out and lacks in
terms of volume as well.

The primary camera on the Galaxy A7 (2016) is a 13 Megapixel
unit with OIS,PDAF and LED flash. The sensor has a default
aspect ratio of 4:3 which means that to get the full resolution
of 13 MP, you will need to capture images in 4:3 aspect ratio.
Images in 16:9 can be captured at a maximum resolution of
9.6 MP. The 28mm FoV (Field of View) is pretty good for most
shots including landscapes but a 26mm lens would’ve been
welcome too. The f1.9 aperture does a good job at creating
bright images and good bokeh with a shallow depth of field.
The images are not as saturated as per usual Samsung
standards but have a more natural colour tone and balance.
The smartphone is quick to focus but the only downside is that
it can’t really focus onto objects that close. We would’ve liked
to go even closer to many of the objects that we tried
capturing but the smartphone wasn’t able to lock focus. The
shutter speed is quite fast too unless you are taking a HDR
photo which takes a longer time to process. You can click on
any photo below to get the full resolution samples.

The phone manages to capture pretty good detail for a 13
Megapixel sensor but what is impressive is the dynamic range.
You can still capture a lot of detail from the shadows and
have perfectly exposed highlights by metering on the
highlights. In case you still want more detail and dynamic
range, you have to resort to the HDR mode. The photos on the
left are taken in HDR mode while the photos on the right are
captured in auto (normal) mode.

The front camera is pretty good too offering good detail and
bright images thanks to the 5 Megapixel f1.9 lens. There is a
beautify option with different settings as well if you want to
smoothen your skin etc.

Panorama mode works well and does a good job at stitching.
It is better to take images in portrait and then pan to get
maximum detail from a scene. Note that the viewfinder has a
bit of delay when in panorama mode so you’ll have to move
slow in order to compensate for that. Video recording
resolution peaks at 1080p at 30 fps. The detailing is pretty
decent but nothing to boast about. 4K video would’ve been a
nice addition but the processor would have difficulty handling
it.

You can launch the camera app by either using the shortcut on
the lockscreen or using the app shortcut once you unlock the
device. Alternatively, you can use the home button as a trigger
to launch the camera app as well. Double tapping the home
key quick launches the camera app and you can begin
capturing. The camera app is quite similar on the ones found
on high-end Samsung devices like the S6 series, Note5 or S7
series albeit with lesser options to play with. You still get a pro
mode but the only controls you get are ISO, White Balance
and Exposure compensation. There is no support for RAW
photos and neither can you set the focus or shutter speed
manually. We feel that a manual focus could’ve helped us
achieve closer macro shots than we could manage with AF.
One weird thing is that the HDR mode is still present as a
separate mode within the camera app rather than a quick
toggle in auto mode. This is fine for some but for those who
are used to the quick toggle, they may find it annoying. But the
worst part about HDR is probably the resolution. Users can’t
take HDR photos in full 13 Megapixel resolution. Instead, they
have to opt for 4:3 images at 13 MP or 16:9 images at 6 MP
or 2.4 MP.

Battery Life

The Galaxy A7 (2016) comes with a non-removable 3300 mAH
battery which is a big jump from the 2600 mAH battery of the
previous generation which was also non-removable. The
increase in battery capacity while keeping the screen size and
resolution the same has led to a better battery life. The A7
(2016) got a one charge rating of 15 hours 04 minutes in our
battery tests which is a good 4 hours more than the previous
generation.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)is a beautifully constructed
device especially for the price. You need to see and handle
one in person to really appreciate the design and quality as the
photos and videos don’t really do it justice. It is a powerful
smartphone too overall but at the price of Rs 35,000, the
smartphone is definitely costly. There are several options from
Chinese OEMs that will get you flagship grade specifications
(more powerful processor, higher resolution display etc) at a
cheaper price but none of them offer the build quality and
finish that the A7 offers. The A7 (2016) also has very few
flaws that could really set you off from buying the phone. The
main deterrent is probably the price. If you are someone who
values a phone’s design and aesthetics as much as whatever
is inside it, then this phone is definitely worth the premium
and you’ll find yourself staring at the beauty of the smartphone
from time to time once you buy it.

Pros
Beautiful Design and Brilliant Build Quality
Great Screen
Fast and Accurate Fingerprint Sensor
DualSIM 4G LTE Capability with Dedicated microSD Card
Slot
Good Battery Life
Good Camera Quality

Cons
A Bit Expensive
Camera has difficulty taking close-up shots
Feeble Loudspeaker

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Vernee Apollo with 5.5-inch Quad HD force touch display, Helio X20, 6GB RAM announced

Vernee, a Chinese company yesterday showcased its flagship Apollo smartphone at the MediaTek event in China. It has a 5.5-inch Quad HD display with force touch function, is powered by a Deca-Core MediaTek Helio X20 processor, runs on Android 6.0 (Marshmallow), has 6GB of RAM, a 21-megapixel rear camera with Sony IMX230 sensor and a 8-megapixel front-facing camera. It has 4G LTE connectivity and a fingerprint sensor on the back.

It has a metal body and USB Type-C port, but no details about the battery capacity yet. Vernee has also introduced a budget smartphone called Thor with MediaTek MT6753 SoC and fingerprint sensor, but complete specifications are not available yet.

Vernee Apollo specifications

5.5-inch (2560 x 1440 pixels) Quad HD force touch displayDeca-Core MediaTek Helio X20 processor with Mali-T880 MP4 GPU6GB RAM, 128GB internal storageAndroid 6.0 (Marshmallow)21MP rear camera with dual-tone LED flash, Sony IMX230 sensor8MP front-facing cameraFingerprint sensor4G LTE, WiFi 802.11 ac (2.4GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, USB Type-C

The Vernee Apollo come in silver color and will release sometime in April 2016. Price of the smartphone will be announced next month.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Intex Cloud Breeze with 5-inch display, 1GB RAM launched for Rs. 3999

Intex has launched Cloud Breeze , it’s latest budget 3G
smartphone with 1GB of RAM. It has a 5-inch FWVGA display
with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection, is powered by a 1.2
GHz dual-core processor and runs on Android 4.4 (KitKat). It
has a 5-megapixel rear camera with LED flash and a 2-
megapixel front-facing camera. It has dual SIM support and
packs a 2300mAh battery.

It has support for 21 regional languages and features other
pre-loaded apps such as Follo, Opera Mini, Clean Master,
NewsHunt, Amazon, Chaatz and more.

Intex Cloud Breeze specifications
5-inch (854 ×480 pixels) FWVGA display with Corning Gorilla
Glass 3 protection
1.2 GHz dual-core MediaTek MT6572W processor
1GB RAM, 8GB of internal memory, expandable memory up
to 32GB with micro SD
Android 4.4 (KitKat)
Dual SIM
Dimensions: 145.5 x 72.8 x 9.9mm; Weight: 153.5grams
5MP rear camera with LED flash
2MP front-facing camera
3.5mm audio jack, FM Radio
3G, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS
2300mAh battery
The Intex Cloud Breeze comes in Grey color and is priced at
Rs. 3,999.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Ringing Bells Freedom 251 India’s cheapest smartphone launched for Rs. 251

Ringing Bells has launched the Freedom 251, as it had
promised . This becomes the cheapest smartphone in India.
The company launched India’s cheapest 4G smartphone,
Smart 101 at Rs. 2,999 recently. It has a 4-inch qHD display, is
powered by 1.3GHz quad-core processor, has 1GB of RAM,
comes with 3G connectivity and runs on Android 5.1 (Lollipop)
. It has a 3.2-megapixel rear camera and a VGA front-facing
camera.

The company already said that ‘Freedom 251’ launch is in line
with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for “empowering
India to the last person, transforming India’s growth story”.
The phone comes pre-loaded with several apps for Women
Safety, Swachh Bharat, Framers, Fishermen and more.

Ringing Bells Freedom 251
4-inch (960 x 540 pixels) qHD IPS display
1.3GHz quad-core processor
1GB RAM, 8GB internal memory, expandable memory up to
32GB with microSD
Android 5.1 (Lollipop)
3.2MP rear camera
0.3MP front-facing camera
3G,WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth, GPS
1450mAh battery.

The Ringing Bells Freedom 251 comes in white color and is
priced at just Rs. 251. It comes with 1-year warranty and the
company says that it has over 650 service centers across
India. It will be available for order through freedom251.com
starting from 6AM on February 18th. The official launch event
will take place in Delhi later today.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Microsoft Lumia 650 and Lumia 650 Dual SIM

Microsoft just announced Lumia 650 and Lumia 650 Dual SIM
smartphones running Windows 10. These smartphones have a
5-inch HD AMOLED ClearBlack display, powered by a 1.3GHz
quad-core Snapdragon 212 processor, have a 8-megapixel
auto focus camera with LED flash and a 5-megapixel front-
facing camera. These have 4G LTE connectivity, have a metal
frame and are just 6.9mm thick.

Microsoft Lumia 650 and
Lumia 650 Dual SIM specifications
5-inch (1280 x 720 pixels) HD AMOLED, ClearBlack display
1.3 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 212 processor
1GB RAM, 16GB internal memory, expandable memory up to
200GB with microSD
Windows 10
Dual SIM (Only in Lumia 650 Dual SIM)
8MP auto focus rear camera with LED flash, f/2.2 aperture,
720p video recording
5MP front-facing camera, f/2.2 aperture, 720p video
recording
Dimensions: 142x 70.9 x 6.9 mm and 122grams
3.5mm audio jack, FM Radio
4G LTE / 3G HSPA+, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1 LE,
GPS / aGPS
2000mAh removable battery

The Microsoft Lumia 650 and Lumia 650 Dual SIM come in
matte black and matte white colors, and will be available in
beginning February 18th, starting
from a suggested retail price Rs. 13556.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Ulefone Power Review

Battery life in smartphones has been one of the most ignored
aspects in recent years. Sure, there has been several
improvements in battery technology with faster charging,
wireless charging etc. but the battery life has taken a drastic
hit due to the phones becoming more power-hungry. With
more and more powerful processors and bigger screens,
phones require larger batteries to power them. Sure,
optimization will help but only to a certain extent and Ulefone
is a brand that seems to understand that. The Ulefone Power
as its name implies is a smartphone with a massive internal
battery. It packs a 6050 mAH battery into an affordable mid-
ranger handset. It even offers DualSIM 4G LTE as well as a
fingerprint sensor. Let’s dive into the review to see whether
the phone does manage to impress us with its battery life and
other features.

Design, Materials and Build Quality
The first thing that strikes you when you hold the Ulefone
Power in your hand is the weight of the smartphone. It is quite
heavy at 190 grams but that also gives it a premium feeling.
The reason for this weight is the huge 6050 mAH battery under
the hood. For the same reason, the thickness of the handset
too is a bit more than most smartphones at 9.5mm but we
have to give credit to Ulefone for still keeping it under 10mm.
The overall footprint is around the same size of the Galaxy
Note5 but slightly larger. That is because of the large bezels
and as a result, the smartphone is on the larger side for a 5.5-
inch smartphone. But it still is smaller than an iPhone 6
Plus/6s Plus in terms of footprint and that is a big thing for a
mid-ranger phablet.

The build quality is solid thanks to the use of metal and glass.
Our unit has a wooden back which feels good to hold but
does feel out-of-place. It doesn’t blend in well with the rest of
the phone compared to phones such as the OnePlus One or
OnePlus 2. It feels like an aftermarket mod rather than an
official variant. We would rather have the regular dark blue or
white variants.

The front is dominated by the 5.5″ display above which you
have the earpiece, front facing camera as well as proximity
and ambient light sensors. Below the display, you have 3
capacitive buttons which are backlit.

At the right side, you have the volume rocker button, power
key and the camera shutter button while the left side houses
the Hybrid SIM slot. The phone can take either 2 microSIMs or
a microSIM and a microSD card.

At the top, you have the 3.5mm audio jack and IR blaster. You
will find the microUSB port, primary microphone and antenna
cutouts at the bottom.

At the back, you have primary camera, dual-LED flash and the
fingerprint sensor. You also have the loudspeaker grill at the
bottom. The back panel is removable but the 6050 mAH
battery is sealed and is non-user replaceable.

Display
The 5.5″ 1080p display has 2.5D Gorilla Glass 3 for protection.
The Gorilla Glass 3 does a good job at protecting the screen
from scratches and the 2.5D curved glass feels good to use.
The company includes a pre-fitted screen protector on the
smartphone out of the box which is a good touch but would’ve
preferred if they hadn’t pre-installed it. The display has black
borders on all four corners that gives you the illusion that it is
borderless however in reality, the bezels are quite big and you
come to know once you switch on the display.

The viewing angles are quite good and so are the colours. The
display is a bit reflective but the brightness is good enough to
compensate for it and as a result the sunlight legibility is quite
good too. The phone also supports adaptive brightness but
lacks options to adjust the colour tone or saturation. The
phone can be unlocked using the power button or also double
tap if you have the option enabled. The three capacitive keys
below the display have backlighting is very dim and unless
you’re in a dark environment, you don’t really see the
difference. There is a tiny notification LED next to the ambient
light and proximity sensors that can glow in red, blue or green
and the user can customize the colour settings as well.

Fingerprint Sensor

The fingerprint sensor is located at the back just below the
camera module. The placement of the sensor is ideal as it is
located at the position where your index fingers normally rest
when holding the phone. The fingerprint sensor doesn’t require
you to wake the phone up in order to unlock it and you can
wake the phone up and unlock it directly by just placing a
registered finger on the sensor. You can also press the power
button or double tap to wake and then authenticate your
fingerprint. Additionally, users have to enter a PIN which can
be used to unlock the phone if the fingerprint doesn’t get
detected normally. The fingerprint sensor is quite quick to
detect and is also quite accurate but isn’t the best in the
industry. Still, it is more than we could hope for at this price
point.

While the hardware part of the fingerprint sensor is nothing out
of the ordinary, the various software tweaks available are
certainly attention grabbing. The phone allows you to choose
the finger you want to register and then asks you to place your
finger on the pad then lift and repeat when it vibrates. Your
fingerprint can be used not just to unlock your phone but also
to launch applications and each finger can be assigned a
particular application. So, by just placing your finger on the
sensor, the phone will automatically unlock the phone and
open the application. You can even take it a step further and
use your fingerprint to take a photo after launching the camera
application.

Users can also specify which camera to be launched by
default. So for example, your left index finger could be used to
unlock the phone and launch the main camera while the right
index finger can be used to unlock the phone and launch the
front facing camera. You can even set your thumb to unlock
the phone and turn on the torch. The fingerprint sensor can be
used as a camera shutter button even if you don’t have an
auto launch option enabled. Any of the registered fingerprints
will trigger the autofocus and then take the picture
immediately after focusing.

Software and UI
The phone comes with Android 5.1 out of the box and has
January 2016 security patch version at the time of writing this
review. Ulefone say that the phone will get the update to
Android 6.0 Marshmallow but haven’t specified when exactly
the update will be coming. The entire UI is quite similar to a
stock Android experience but Ulefone has bundled several
features along with it. There is no app drawer and you will
have to install a 3rd party launcher if you want one. Several
gestures are supported including double tap to wake, slide up
to unlock, slide down to camera etc. There are even gestures
that can be customized to start apps that you desire.

There is an option called “Smart somatosensory” which
basically is a motion based method of navigating UI and
between apps. You can use your hands in front of the display
and the phone will track the movement using the front camera
and perform corresponding actions. You can use it in the
gallery, camera app, launcher as well as music player and even
to unlock the phone. However, in our experience, this was
more or a hit or miss kind of situation. The phone didn’t
always recognize our hand movements and when it did, it
mostly did so only in one direction. You can also enable
automatic calling when you are viewing a message or a
contact. The phone also supports scheduled power on and
power off.

Calls and Messaging
The call quality is pretty good on the Ulefone Power. The
earpiece is loud and clear and your audio also gets relayed
well to the party at the other end. The speaker is decently loud
but there is distortion at higher volumes. The dial-pad is large
and easy to use thanks to the 5.5″ screen and there are
shortcuts to quickly choose which sim you want to use to
make the call as well.

The default keyboard on the device is Google Keyboard and
we are fine with that. The layout is easy to use and makes use
of the large screen estate. The only downside is the lack of
built-in emojis but if you want, you can use a 3rd party
keyboard from the Play Store anytime.
Storage, Connectivity and Performance
The smartphone comes with 16GB of internal storage out of
which around 11.67GB of free space is available to the user
out of the box. The memory can further be expanded using
microSD cards up to 128GB in capacity. Once inserted, you
can set the microSD as the default write disk if you want and
also move compatible apps to the SD card. Additionally, the
phone also supports USB OTG so you can connect your HDD
or USB drive when needed.
The phone supports 4G LTE however can only be on 4G on
one sim at a time while the other switches to 2G. FDD-LTE
Band 3 is supported; however, the official listing doesn’t
specify support for TDD-LTE Band 40. The phone takes 2
microSIMs or a microSIM and a microSD card slot. While a
dedicated memory card slot would’ve been ideal, having an
option to choose between a SIM or microSD itself is a good
thing to have.

The device supports Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0. It
is powered by an octa-core Mediatek MT6753 64-bit processor
with Mali T720 GPU and 3GB of RAM. The performance is
quite smooth without any lag or stutters. While it isn’t
something we recommend for intensive gaming, it can still
playback HD movies and the occasional game or two without
breaking a sweat. The good thing to note is that the
smartphone does well to keep heat under control always.

Music Player and Audio Quality
The music player on the Power is quite basic but good enough
for most regular users. It gives you different ways to sort your
music. The now playing screen offers the default track controls
as well as a built-in equalizer. The now playing screen also
shows you the album art of the song being played. The
equalizer has several presents that you can choose from or
else, you can make your own custom EQ. There is also a
sound enhancement tool within the main settings to tweak the
audio output a little bit further.
There is a built-in FM radio app that requires a pair of
headphones or earphones to operate. Once, you have it
connected, you can listen to the radio using the connected
earpiece or the built-in speakers. Users can seek or scan and
add their favourite channels to their list. It also supports
recording.

The audio quality through earphones or headphones is decent
but nothing great. The main issue is that it lacks “Power”.
There isn’t enough juice in the phone to get the bass notes
right and the songs mostly lack depth. The volume too is a bit
on the lower end but it is fine unless you are going to a really
noisy environment. The speaker too suffers from pretty much
the same issues. It isn’t too loud and when you put it to the
maximum, the quality reduces due to crackling.

Camera

The Ulefone Power has a 13 Megapixel primary camera with
Sony IMX214 sensor, f1.8 aperture and dual LED flash. The
image quality is pretty good with good details and colours.
The low light performance too is pretty decent thanks to the
f/1.8 aperture. Noise does exist but it isn’t too bad. The Dual
LED flash is powerful but not ideal especially if you want to
capture people as the skin tone doesn’t show very naturally.
Dynamic range is on the lower side but luckily the HDR mode
fixes that to an extent.

The front facing camera is quite good in terms of details
however the field of view is quite narrow and as a result, it
becomes difficult to take photos with many people in the
frame. For singles or even couple selfies intended for social
media purposes, this should be sufficient. The phone can
record videos at a maximum resolution of 1080 but the quality
is quite poor due to high-compression and the files are saved
in the ancient .3gp format as well. We hope they make some
changes to improve the video quality in a future firmware
update.

Battery Life

Having a large battery capacity doesn’t mean that a phone
would have great battery life. A lot depends on the processor,
the screen size and resolution as well as optimisation. Luckily,
in the case of the Ulefone, everything falls into place.

Conclusion
The Ulefone Power is quite a unique phone in several ways. It
offers a really great battery life, very different fingerprint
scanning experience, a good display and 4G LTE capabilities.
It has its drawbacks mainly in terms of speaker output and
bulkiness but the latter is something that is expected with
most phones having this kind of battery capacity. If you want a
well performing phones with a lot of features, fingerprint
scanner and a great battery life, then this is something that
will really be worth the asking price of US$ 209.99 (Around Rs.
14,300). The only issue here is the availability. Ulefone hasn’t
yet officially launched in India but judging by the recent surge
of Chinese brands in India, we are guessing that they too
would enter very soon.

Pros
Solid Build Quality
Fast Fingerprint Sensor
Hybrid SIM Slot with 4G LTE Capability
Stellar Battery Life
Good Display

Cons
Poor Audio Quality
Narrow FoV (Field of View) on Front Camera
Bad Video Quality

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Gionee S6 Description

Gionee has launched its latest S6 smartphone in India. It was
announced back in November last year and packs a 5.5-inch
HD Super AMOLED display with a screen-to-body ratio of
77.8%, is powered by an Octa-Core MediaTek MT6753
processor and runs on Android 5.1 (Lollipop) with Amigo 3.1
UI. It has a 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash and a 5-
megapixel front-facing camera.

It has full metal unibody design and is just 6.9mm thick. It
also has hybrid dual SIM, 4G LTE connectivity with VoLTE and
support for LTE bands for India. Is has reversible USB Type-C
port and a 3150mAh battery.

Gionee S6 specifications
5.5-inch (1280 x 720 pixels) Super AMOLED Display with
Gorilla Glass 3 protection
1.3GHz Octa-Core Mediatek MT6753 Processor with Mali
T-720 GPU
3GB RAM, 32GB Internal memory, expandable memory up to
128GB with microSD
Android 5.1 (Lollipop) with Amigo 3.1 UI
Hybrid Dual SIM Slot (micro SIM + nano SIM / microSD)
13MP Camera with LED Flash, 1080p video recording
5MP front Facing Camera
3.5mm audio jack, FM Radio
Dimensions: 151.9×74.6×6.9mm; Weight: 148g
4G LTE / 3G HSPA+, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS,
USB Type-C
3150mAh built-in battery

The Gionee S6 comes in Golden, Silver and Rose Gold colors
and is priced at Rs. 19,999 in India.