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  1. Finally! The OnePlus 7 Pro is officially here in all its glory. This time around, OnePlus went out of its way to build an ultra-premium smartphone that comes fully loaded with powerful hardware like Snapdragon 855 SoC, up to 12GB OF RAM, a 90Hz refresh rate display, 48MP Triple camera setup, and more. From its awesome new bezel-less design to the cool new pop-up camera, here's everything you need to know about the new OnePlus 7 Pro. © OnePlus The new OnePlus 7 Pro sports an awesome bezel-less design with nothing but just the display on the front. It's a 6.67-inch AMOLED display with a QHD+ resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate. OnePlus managed to eliminate the notch by using a pop-up camera module. So, the selfie camera will now pop-up only when you need it. Internally, the OnePlus 7 Pro packs some really powerful internals. The phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC coupled with up to 12GB of RAM and up to 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage. It's running OnePlus' OxygenOS based on Android 9.0 Pie out of the box. The device also has an in-display fingerprint scanner for unlocking and a USB Type-C port at the bottom that supports OnePlus Warp Charge 30. The OnePlus 7 Pro also packs a 4,000 mAh battery inside, and it also sports Dual stereo speakers, an upgraded vibration motor, and more. All the tech is packed inside a beautiful body that's protected by Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front as well as the back. © OnePlus Moving on to the optics, the OnePlus 7 Pro features a 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor at the back with an f/1.6 aperture, OIS, and EIS. The main sensor is supported by an 8MP Telephoto lens with an f/2.4 aperture, along with a 16MP Ultra Wide Angle Lens with an f/2.2 aperture and 117-degree field of view. There's dual LED flash and 3x optical zoom with which you can close in to your subject. On the front, there's a 16MP selfie shooter with an f/2.0 aperture. OnePlus 7 In addition to the OnePlus 7 Pro that literally stole the show, we also got the new OnePlus 7. Unlike the OnePlus 7 Pro, the OnePlus 7 isn't a radically different from the last year's OnePlus 6T. In fact, it looks very similar to the 6T in terms of the design and it even packs the same display with a notch design. The changes have been made internally. The OnePlus 7 is powered by a Snapdragon 855 SoC just like the 7 Pro and it comes with up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB storage. In terms of the optics, you're looking at a dual camera setup just like last year. It's a 48MP + 5MP combo at the back, and there's a 16MP selfie shooter on the front. The phone will also come with 20 watts fast charge support. The OnePlus 7 will be available in two color variants i.e Red and Mirror Gray. Pricing & Availability The OnePlus 7 Pro will go on sale in India starting May 17, and you'll be able to pick one up from Amazon India or OnePlus retail stores in the country. The base variant of the OnePlus 7 Pro with 6GB RAM + 128GB storage will start at Rs. 48,999. You can also pick up the variant with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage for Rs. 52,999 or you can go all in and purchase with 12GB RAM + 256GB storage variant for Rs. 57,999. As for the OnePlus 7, the base variant is priced at Rs. 32,999. You can also pick up the 8GB + 256GB variant for Rs. 37,999. The OnePlus 7 will go on sale starting the same day. OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 © OnePlus Lastly, we also have the new Bullets Wireless 2 earphones. These new pair of earphones come with a slightly new design and a superior sound quality according to OnePlus. The company says you can listen to over 10 hours of music on a single charge and they also support the OnePlus Warp charge. The new OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 will be available starting XX and they'll cost Rs. 5,999.
  2. When you are looking to buy a new smartphone, the first thing people ask me is, “How's the camera?” That's a question I have to answer for budget and flagship smartphones. With mobile photography becoming more popular thanks to social media apps like Instagram and Snapchat, users need smartphones that can take great pictures, last long and deliver a smooth experience. Google answered that question with the Pixel 3, however, it really isn't affordable for everyone. Google announced the much more affordable Pixel 3a and 3a XL that delivers the same computational photography advantage as its flagship counterpart. It's got some key differences but overall offers a great value for money. Here's what we think about the new Pixel 3a XL and how our experience has been with the smartphone: Design & Display © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla When it comes to the design, the Pixel 3a Xl is very similar to the Pixel 3 in terms of looks but has some key differences. The body is now made of polycarbonate that feels very premium even though it isn't supposed to. The back has the same design as the Pixel 3 with single camera setup, a fingerprint sensor and a small Google logo at the bottom centre. It has the same minimalistic ethos as the Pixel 3 and overall has a very alluring vibe. Since the Pixel 3a is made out of polycarbonate, the device does not support wireless charging. It isn't necessary for the device however we do miss the convenience of charging it wirelessly on our bedside. The phone also has stereo speakers and the bottom audio speaker has now been moved from the chin to the bottom of the phone. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla At the front, the display is where the differences come to light as it does not have a notch design as the Pixel 3 XL. There are thick bezels at both top and bottom which gives it the classic Pixel look we've seen earlier on the smaller Pixel 3 and Pixel 2 devices. The display itself is a fullHD+ gOLED panel that is 6” in size. It has a resolution of 2160 x 1080 pixels and has an aspect ratio of 18:9. Overall, the experience on the display was extremely satisfying especially when we would watch videos on Youtube and Netflix. In fact, the colours very vivid and the blacker shades were represented well. The viewing angles were also on point, however, were a bit disappointed with the brightness levels. The brightness level is just over 400nits which isn't enough for outdoor settings with bright sunlight. Apart from the brightness level, the display was sharp and overall a great OLED panel. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla In terms of other design aspects, the Pixel 3a also comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack for people who still like the option of using their own wired headphones. This also means that the Pixel 3a is not water resistant which is not a big deal if you ask me. Our senses are now naturally trained to keep our smartphones away from water and we can live without any water resistance unless you want to pay a premium for it. Camera © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla Pixel smartphones are known to offer computational photography that visibly blows the competition out of the water. It uses AI and algorithms to make it easy for the average user to take some phenomenal shots. The camera on the Pixel 3a XL works the same way it does on the Pixel 3. However, it does take a bit longer to process images due to the underpowered chipset when compared to the Pixel 3. The Pixel 3a XL can take some spectacular Portrait shots that were even better than our DSLR in many instances. Pixel 3a XL also comes with Google's Night Sight feature where it takes multiple images with different exposures and contrast levels. Google's algorithm then gives the best shot with unbelievable results. Other camera features such as Top Shot, Photobooth, Playground, Super Res Zoom, Google Lens and more are built right into the app. The Pixel 3a XL has a single 12.2MP Dual-Pixel Sony IMX363 primary camera with an aperture of ƒ/1.8. The camera sensor has a field of view of 76° and 1/2.55" Sensor Size. The primary sensor has autofocus with dual pixel phase detection and optical + electronic image stabilisation. As for the selfie camera, the devices have an 8MP with an aperture of f/2.0. It has a field of view of 84° for wider selfie shots. Google also intruded a new time-lapse mode where you can set your frames to record at various intervals. This essentially will let you record a 20-minute video and condense the final video into 10 seconds. This is a handy feature for people who like to tell visual stories via video. It can be used to show more information or video content for users who love to use Instagram's story feature. We've seen this feature on other smartphones before but it's a first for Pixel devices. Camera samples from Pixel 3a XL: Software © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The Pixel 3a runs Android Pie out of the box and will receive an Android Q update later this year. In terms of software, Google is running the same build as Pixel 3 and offers a similar experience. However, the only caveat is that it is slower than the Pixel 3 due to the processor. Having said that, the Pixel 3a XL can handle every feature such as AR navigation, reliable Google Assistant performance and overall offers a smooth pure Android experience. It even comes with Active Edge that basically lets users squeeze the side of the phone to access Google Assistant. Pixel 3a and 3a XL also come with unlimited storage for images at high quality, however, it does not store images of the original quality unless you are subscribed to additional storage on Google Drive. Other useful features such as Digital Wellbeing, Night Light and constant updates make this the best Android experience you can have on an affordable smartphone. Performance The Pixel 3a and 3a XL both come with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 670 processor clocked at 2.0GHz and 1.7GHz and has been paired with 4GB of RAM. It's an underpowered chipset when compared to the Pixel 3's Snapdragon 855 processor but in order to offset this difference, Google has optimised the software for Pixel 3a. To be honest, when it came to performing basic tasks such as communication, navigation, internet browsing and emails, the phone did not falter once. In fact, we did not notice any slowdown during our testing period. Having said that, we did notice some underperformance while playing games like PUBG and when it came to processing images. The benchmark tests show the Pixel 3a has a good performance score considering the processor it's being powered by. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla There is some improvement when it comes to battery life as the Pixel 3a XL comes with a 3,700 mAh battery. The device lasted us for approximately 14 hours on a single charge and can be fast charged thanks to the supplied Power Delivery or PD charger. In just 15 minutes our review unit would go from 5% to 45% and add an additional 6 hours of battery backup. Having said that, we expect the battery life to improve over time with future updates and remains our only concern in the performance department. The Final Say We live in a country where it gets harder to recommend smartphones because of what it has on offer. The Pixel 3a XL offers the best photography you can find on a smartphone for its price. The Pixel 3A XL is priced in India for Rs 44,999 which is a bit hard to recommend when considering other options in the same price bracket. Having said that, if you look beyond the price you get a great smartphone that delivers amazing photography at a reduced cost. In fact, with the Pixel 3a, Google just proved that great imaging on smartphones is not reserved only for flagship smartphones.
  3. Last year, Apple introduced the iPhone XR, an 'affordable' iPhone that shared many of the same hardware features as the more expensive XS and XS Max. The iPhone XR turned out to be our favorite iPhone of the bunch last year, and you can read our review here. Now, Samsung has launched the new Galaxy S10e which follows the same footsteps. The Galaxy S10e is a compact phone that shares a lot of hardware advancements added in the standard Galaxy S10 and the S10 Plus. So, we decided to compare them & find out which one's a better affordable flagship. Here's how they compare: Display © YouTube Samsung's Galaxy S10e features a 5.8-inch 2280 x 1080 OLED display, whereas Apple's iPhone XR sports a 6.1-inch 1792 x 828 LCD display. Both, on paper and in the real world, the Galaxy S10e is a better-looking display. Samsung's OLED is crisp, bright, and vibrant, just like any other flagship phone's display. That's not to say that the iPhone XR's display is bad by any means. It's one of the best LCD panels around, but it can't quite match the OLED display. When it comes to the cutouts, the Galaxy S10e has a punch-hole design, which Samsung likes to call an 'Infinity-O' display. The iPhone XR, on the other hand, uses the same notch as the iPhone XS and the XS Max as it packs the same FaceID system. Both are equally intrusive when it comes to content consumption like videos, etc. but again, the Galaxy S10e display's looks more modern and just better in person. Winner: Samsung Galaxy S10e Performance © YouTube The iPhone XR is powered by Apple's A12 bionic chip, whereas the Samsung Galaxy S10e model, which we used, is powered by an Exynos 9820 SoC. Apple's iPhones typically beat Samsung's when it comes to processor performance. Even the Snapdragon 855 SoC is no match. Of course, you won't find much of a difference in everyday tasks, but the A12 Bionic is a beast. As for the RAM and storage, the Galaxy S10e is equipped with 6GB RAM, double the RAM in the iPhone XR. It sounds like a small number of paper, but Apple is traditionally known to make better use of low RAM, thanks to the deep integration between hardware and software. When it comes to the storage options, the base variant of the Galaxy S10e comes with 128GB storage & the iPhone XR's base variant comes with 64GB. BTW, you can also expand the storage via a microSD card on the Galaxy S10e, but you can't do that with the iPhone XR. Winner: iPhone XR Biometrics © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla Apple's FaceID system is the best in the business, and seriously there's no match to it. Even the Galaxy S10e has a facial recognition system, but Apple's system is more reliable and secure. But thankfully, the Galaxy S10e has a physical fingerprint scanner on the side. Yes, it's a deviation from Galaxy S10 devices that have an under-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, but that's better because the Galaxy S10e's scanner is more fast and reliable than that of the standard S10 variants. Both phones, however, have strong points when it comes to biometrics. With the Galaxy S10e you get a physical scanner, whereas the iPhone XR has the reliable FaceID. So, you can't go wrong with either of them. Winner: It's a tie. Camera © YouTube Both the iPhone XR and the Galaxy S10e have scaled back on the rear camera to, you know, cut down on cost. However, the iPhone XR uses a single-lens camera while the Galaxy S10e has a dual-lens camera. The S10e features both wide and ultra-wide lenses, while the iPhone XR sports only a single wide-angle lens, with which it can also do portraits. We found both cameras to be equally good. With iPhone XR, you're looking at a typical iPhone camera with a very familiar interface. The images look very crisp, natural and true-to-life, which is always something we all can appreciate. With the Galaxy S10e, you'll get a typical Samsung camera which captures, you know, more vibrant and saturated (sometimes over-saturated) images, which one may or may not necessarily like. Unlike the iPhone XR which has a software portrait mode that doesn't work pets, food or anything but people, the Galaxy S10e can handle it all. It doesn't have any limitations. Add an ultra-wide lens to that, you have a very capable camera in your pockets. Winner: It's a tie, again. The Final Say © MensXP/ Akshay Bhalla Both the iPhone XR and the Galaxy S10e, as you can see, have ups and downs of their own. Apple is offering FaceID, the powerful A12 Bionic chip, great software/ hardware integration, etc. while Samsung is offering a dual-lens rear camera setup, a great OLED display, and expandable storage. However, there are other things to consider like the fact that the Galaxy S10e is a more compact phone, it runs Android instead of iOS, etc. So, at the end of the day, it comes to personal preference. But if you want to an affordable device that packs all the modern day tech, then you really can't go wrong with either of them.
  4. The Galaxy S10, S10 Plus and S10e are now finally available to buy in India and we had called it one of the best flagship smartphones in our review. The smartphone has an updated design, however, there are some nifty features that make the S10 one of the most dependable flagship smartphones in 2019. It has a phenomenal camera, supports reverse wireless charging and has one of the most beautiful screens on a smartphone ever. We've been using the smartphone for a few weeks and here are some of our favourite features on the Galaxy S10 that make it stand out from the crowd. The Dynamic Display Is Awesome © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla We all know Samsung makes some of the best displays out there and even Apple uses their display tech on the flagship iPhones. The Galaxy S10 has a dynamic AMOLED display that has been voted as the best screen on a smartphone by DisplayMate. You can read all about Samsung's display here. The Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus have 6.1 and 6.4-inch AMOLED screens respectively and support HDR10+ content for users who like to consume videos. The dynamic range of the screen is exceptional and makes viewing images/content an awesome experience. Massive Storage Options © Samsung No longer will you have to worry about deleting your favourite images, videos or applications. Samsung now offers the Galaxy S10 smartphones in various storage options, one of them having 1TB of internal storage. What's cool is that the Galaxy S10 also supports storage expansion of up to 512 GB as it has microSDXC support. If you want to know more about Samsung and how the company has managed to support high storage options, you can read all about it here. Awesome Primary Cameras © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus come with a triple primary camera setup that consists of an optically stabilised 12-megapixel main sensor with a dual aperture that can switch between f/1.5 for night shots and f/2.4 for the day. The second sensor is an ultra-wide 16-megapixel f/2.2 sensor that lets you capture more field of view and lastly a stabilised 12-megapixel telephoto sensor. It comes with awesome portrait effects such as colour spin, colour point and others in the 'Live Focus' mode. The wide-angle sensor is also a dream to work with as it has a field of view of 77Ë. When it comes to video, the Galaxy S10/S10 Plus can capture 4K UD videos with the selfie camera, a perfect feature for video bloggers. It also uses the Ultra Wide sensor and software to give your steady videos similar to action cameras like GoPro. The Galaxy S10 can also record videos with Dynamic Tone Mapping for accurate colours and also supports richer colour contrast of HDR10+ in recordings. PowerShare © Samsung The Galaxy S10/S10 Plus now supports reverse wireless charging similar to what we've already seen on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. It can charge other smartphones and even the Galaxy Buds. One has to simply put any Qi-compatible device and the S10 will do the rest.
  5. Every year, Samsung starts off the year with a bang when it comes to flagship Android smartphones and the Galaxy S10 Plus is no exception. It's the ambitious attempt by Samsung to sway customers towards their products and the Galaxy S10 Plus is one of those devices. Last year, Samsung brought incremental upgrades to the Galaxy S9/S9 Plus from its predecessor which left many of their fans unimpressed. However, the Galaxy S10 Plus is a whole different story as it boasts quite a few upgrades in almost category. The Galaxy S10 Plus has a new 6.-4inch type of screen called the 'Infinity-O display', has a total of five cameras and the world's first ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. Unlike the U.S./Chinese version, the Indian unit is powered by Samsung's own Exynos 9820 chipset and is coupled with various RAM configurations. It comes in three stunning “prism” colours and starts from Rs 73,900 for the 8GB RAM/128GB internal storage variant. We've been using this variant for a few weeks and here's our review to determine whether it's worth the price tag: Design & Display Android smartphones are known to be bold and adventurous when it comes to experimentation and the end result is almost always awesome. Android smartphone companies are trying to experiment with displays to deliver an all-screen phone with various design innovations. Samsung chose to implement its 'Infinity-O' display that offers almost an edge-to-edge screen experience. The S10 Plus almost has zero bezels with the exception of a narrow chin. The dual-selfie camera hole on the display has been carved out using lasers giving it a flush look and achieving a near edge-to-edge display experience at the same time. Having said that, when you first use the Galaxy S10 Plus for watching video content, the holes are a bit distracting until you get used to it. This was true when we reviewed the Honor View 20 and it remains the same as Samsung's offering. However, if you want to hide the holes, you can always implement clever wallpapers like the ones we've mentioned here. The Galaxy S10 Plus is also not a small smartphone that can be used by one hand. It measures 6.2 x 2.91 x 0.3 and needs to be operated with two hands unless you have long fingers. The Galaxy S10 Plus also has a slight curve in the design which can result in accidental touches. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla We've been using the Prism White variant of the Galaxy S10 Plus and it is one of the most beautiful colours we've seen on a smartphone. It changes colour whenever the smartphone catches the light and gives off a very regal vibe when viewed from afar. The Galaxy S10 Plus also comes in a ceramic finish (it's more expensive) which feels more durable than the all-glass design. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla In terms of display quality, the Galaxy S10 Plus has a quad HD+ Dynamic AMOLED display which has been termed as the best display on a smartphone yet. It has a wider colour gamut and dynamic tone mapping that enhances colours and brightness. The Galaxy S10 Plus also has a brightness level of 624 nits, highest on any smartphone yet. For reference, the iPhone XS Max has a brightness level of 603 nits. The display itself is one of the best you can find on a smartphone to watch video content on Netflix or Amazon Prime. It supports HDR10+ playback which is probably the highest quality you can get in videos when it comes to dynamic range. The Galaxy S10 Plus also has stereo speakers which are powerful enough to accentuate the experience further as it is powerful, clear and loud. The speakers have rich audio and a robust sound overall. Performance Our Galaxy S10 Plus unit is powered by Samsung's Exynos 9820 chipset and is coupled with 6GB of RAM. Having said that, the Exynos 9820 chipset is not as fast as Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 chipset which you can find on a U.S. version of the smartphone. The Snapdragon 855 chipset is based on TSMC's 7nm process, whereas the Exynos 9820 is based on an 8nm LPP FinFET process. Regardless, the Exynos 9820 processor works like a beast and showed some impressive results in benchmark scores. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla We also played games like Asphalt 9 and PUBG Mobile to check it's overall gaming performance. The Galaxy S10 Plus was able to run both games in the highest settings without any drops in FPS. Having said that, we did see the Galaxy S10 Plus overheat a bit right under the camera module at the back. On Geekbench 4, which measures overall performance, the S10 Plus turned in a multi-core score of 10,146, which beats the OnePlus 6T (8,972) and Pixel 3 (7,316). © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla Even though the graphics are at par with other Android flagship devices, the Exynos version of the Galaxy S10 Plus underperformed when it comes to GPU benchmark scores. It managed to score 4265 on 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme score (OpenGL ES 3.1 test). In fact, the iPhone XS, Pixel 3 and the OnePlus 6T pulled ahead in this department. Battery Life When it comes to battery life of the Galaxy S10 Plus, the performance was slightly above average as it could not last longer than a full day of charge. Sometimes, the Galaxy S10 Plus would not even survive the full day depending on our usage. Keep in mind, we were testing an Exynos version and the battery life performance may differ for a Qualcomm version. We used the Galaxy S10 Plus for navigation, mild gaming, 4G LTE web browsing, music/video streaming and reading comic books. We had almost 4 hours 30 minutes of screen on time and the smartphone could last only a day and then some. This is with light usage which was not impressive considering the Galaxy S10 Plus has a 4,100 mAh battery. You can always switch the display to Full HD+ in order to conserve more battery life however QHD+ is so much better for watching videos which obviously sacrificed battery life. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The Galaxy S10 Plus also has reverse charging if you want to charge any of your accessories or even second wireless charging supported smartphone. It's called 'PowerShare' and it turns the back of the S10 Plus into a charging mat. The PowerShare feature works great to charge accessories like a smartwatch and the great part is that the smartphone automatically disables the feature once your battery level falls to 30 per cent. Biometrics © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla This is the first time Samsung has included an in-display fingerprint sensor on a smartphone and it works a little different from what you may have seen before. It is embedded right into the screen and is fast to set up. You simply have to hold your finger in the specific area of the screen and it unlocks quite fast. Sure, it isn't as fast as a traditional fingering sensor, however, it does work when we need it to. It comes in handy in dark environments as the facial recognition on the Galaxy S10 Plus isn't as accurate. Having said that, during the day when facial recognition works, it is quite fast and you won't end up using the fingerprint scanner anyway. In terms of accuracy, there were a few instances when fingerprints weren't being read however overall the ultra-sonic sensor was consistent and accurate when scanning thumbs. Camera © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The Galaxy S10 Plus has a triple-camera setup at the back and dual selfie camera at the front. The rear setup has an optically stabilised 12-megapixel main sensor with a dual aperture that can switch between f/1.5 for night shots and f/2.4 for the day. The second sensor is an ultra-wide 16-megapixel f/2.2 sensor that lets you capture more field of view and lastly a stabilised 12-megapixel telephoto sensor. The wide-angle camera lens works similar to what we have seen on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and other Samsung phones. You can zoom out and capture a wider field of view and somewhat get a fish-eye effect. It's a great lens to use, especially if you like to capture a lot of landscapes and environments. Having said that, the ultra-wide lens did give off some grain in low-light which is manageable by editing the images in third-party software. The portrait mode is known as “Live Focus” is also a dream to work with as it accurately blurs the background on objects and even pets. In fact, our favourite lighting option in 'Live Focus' mode is the “Colour Point” mode which basically turns the background into monochrome. The triple camera also does a great job of utilising HDR which you can see in one of our samples below. It was able to capture the blue sky and the definition of the clouds accurately. Having said that, we would have loved to see a dedicated night mode similar to what we see on the Pixel 3 and even budget Android phones like the Redmi Note 7 Pro. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The front cameras also feature dual-lens setup which basically lets you take normal or wide-angle selfies. You can even use the same portrait mode effect like “Colour Point” while using the selfie camera. It does a great job at blurring the background and is at par with other flagship smartphones. Here are a few camera samples that you can review below: View this post on Instagram Pictures shot using the #GalaxyS10Plus. I was quite satisfied with the picture quality, especially the "Colour Point" feature in the portrait mode. Wide-angle also does a decent job. #Technology #GalaxyS10 #tech #Gadgets #Smartphones #techie #samsung A post shared by Akshay Bhalla (@editorinchief) on Mar 4, 2019 at 8:45am PST The Final Say If you are looking for a powerful Android smartphone that can tick almost every box, the Galaxy S10 Plus is a great purchase you can consider. It has one of the best screens on a smartphone and takes some awesome pictures. It even supports HDR10+ content which is a plus if you like to watch movies on-the-go. Having said that, we did find the Galaxy S10 Plus lacking in the battery life department which we are sure can be fixed in a future OTA update. Overall, the Galaxy S10 Plus is very familiar to what we've seen before but at the same time makes huge leaps with various new features.
  6. It seems like Samsung is all set to take on the iPhone XR with its own affordable version of the Galaxy S10. The Galaxy S10E boasts flagship level specifications but costs less than its bigger brother. It has almost every feature as the Galaxy S10/S10+ but with a few features stripped out. The Galaxy S10E is priced at $750 which is the same price as the iPhone XR and will naturally compete with Apple's affordable version of the iPhone. Having said that, there are some noticeable differences between the two smartphones such as the processor, camera setups and display size/quality. An affordable flagship smartphone is what makes a smartphone a huge success in India. It's a formula that has been working for OnePlus and Poco Phone for now and it seems like Samsung wants a slice of the pie. The Galaxy S10E will be the more affordable variant in the entire Galaxy series of 2019 and here are some of the key areas where it will challenge the iPhone XR. Cameras © Twitter The Galaxy S10E has a slight advantage over the iPhone XR in this department as it has a dual camera setup where one of the lenses is an ultra-wide lens. The primary sensor has dual aperture f1.5/f2.4 whereas the iPhone XR has a single 12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide) sensor. The Galaxy S10E will be able to do everything the iPhone XR can with the additional ability to take wide angle pictures. In terms of picture quality, that remains to be seen when we get to take it for a spin ourselves. However, the iPhone XR is capable of taking some awesome pictures which you can have a look in our review here. The Processor © Samsung The Galaxy S10E is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 chipset in the US whereas the Indian variant will come with Samsung's own Exynos 9820 chipset. Apple has an advantage here as the iPhone XR is powered by the A12 Bionic chip which blows Qualcomm's 855 chipsets out of the water. Even though Qualcomm is catching up with Apple's A12's performance, it's still slower in performance. The story remains the same with Samsung's Exynos 9820 chipset. Apple's A12 Bionic Chipset is the first chip that uses the 7nm architecture and has three important components. It has the CPU, GPU and Apple's own Neural Engine. The Exynos 9820 uses the 8nm architecture which is not quite up to the mark when it comes to battery life and performance when compared to the A12 Bionic SoC. Display © BCCL Samsung is known for its displays and the Galaxy S10E has a 5.8-inch AMOLED; 2,280x1,080 pixels panel. The iPhone XR, on the other hand, has a 6.1-inch LCD Retina Display; 1,792x828 pixels which are not in the same league as the S10E. Even though the iPhone XR has one of the most beautiful LCD screens we've ever seen, it still cannot beat Samsung's AMOLED display with higher pixels and resolution. The S10E's display even has a higher pixel density at 522ppi. It Has Reverse Charging © Samsung Both smartphones have wireless charging support but the Galaxy S10E takes it a step further. Then new Galaxy smartphones have a new feature called PowerShare. It lets the smartphone charge other devices wirelessly. We've already seen this feature on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro; however, Samsung has brought this feature to a more affordable device.
  7. Xiaomi is set to start 2019 with a bang as the company announced the Mi 9 in China today that has some impressive specifications and design. The Mi 9 is the first flagship smartphone by the Chinese company that has a very attractive price i.e. $445 (Approx. Rs 31,660). © Twitter The smartphone is powered by Qualcomm's latest chipset i.e. Snapdragon 855 that offers better performance than its predecessor i.e. the Snapdragon 845. It's Qualcomm's first chipset that has been fabricated on TSMC's 7nm process. It features four Kryo 485 Silver high-efficiency cores operating at 1.8 GHz along with three high-performance Kryo 485 Gold operating at 2.42 GHz and another higher-performance Kryo 485 Gold core operating at 2.84 GHz The Snapdragon 855 processor is complemented by the Adreno 640 GPU and has a Game Turbo mode that will start running automatically when a game is launched. This helps the game run on higher frame rates due to better performance when the mode is active. © Xiaomi The Mi 9 also features a 6.39-inch FHD+ AMOLED screen with a water drop style notch that houses sensors and the front-facing camera. The panel itself has a layer of Gorilla Glass 6 and has an in-display fingerprint sensor. In terms of photography, the smartphone comes with a triple camera setup where the primary sensor is a 48MP f/1.75 camera complemented by a 16MP wide-angle lens and a 12MP telephoto sensor. The front facing camera has a 20MP sensor and has support High Dynamic Range. © Xiaomi The Xiaomi Mi 9 also has support for fast wireless charging up to 20W and has a 3,300 mAh battery. It runs MIUI 10 based on run Android 9.0. Mi 9 comes in violet, blue, and black colour options and also has a transparent limited edition. The limited edition version of the Mi 9 comes with 12GB of RAM and has 256GB internal storage. It's the most expensive version of the Mi 9 and will cost roughly $600. Other variants include a base model that comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It will retail for $445 whereas the 8GB + 128GB variant will cost $490 (Approx Rs 34,900).
  8. Huawei has been teasing the Y9 launch for a few weeks and after a couple of delays, it has finally made it to India. The phone is among the first ones to be launched this year and with intensifying competition, Huawei wants to stay on the cutting edge. The Huawei Y9 is the latest addition to an elaborate line-up of smartphones from the Chinese giant, also the first Y-series smartphone to launch in India. The midrange Huawei phone has been official outside of India for a few months now and shall be exclusively available via Amazon in the country. © Huawei The main highlight of the phone is its design. The brand has brought down its P20 Pro's design language, and the Y9 has an eerily similar look. Even the rear camera setup is identical in position and the glass back gives it an uber-premium look. It features a 6.5-inch IPS LCD with Full HD+ resolution along with a tiny notch on the top. The display has a resolution of 2340 × 1080 pixels and an aspect ratio of 19:5:9. Powering the device is a Huawei octa-core Kirin 710 12nm processor coupled with ARM Mali-G51 MP4 GPU for graphics. © Huawei Huawei Y9 comes in two variants, the first one has 4GB RAM and 64GB storage while the second one has 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. But only the 64GB variant is coming to India. Both options are supporting expandable storage via a microSD card. The back of the phone sports a 16-megapixel primary camera with f/2.0 aperture and a 2-megapixel secondary lens with f/2.4 aperture. The front of the smartphone also has a dual camera system consisting of a 13+2-megapixel setup. For authentication, it has a fingerprint scanner on the back and also runs Face Unlock. © Huawei Like every Huawei phone, it runs on EMUI 9 on top of Android 9.0 Pie. Backing these internals is a 4000mAh battery that supports fast charging via a micro-USB port. The starting variant with 64GB internal storage is priced at Rs 15,999. The phone goes on sale starting from 15th January in Midnight Black, Blue Swarovski, and Aurora Purple colour on Amazon exclusively.
  9. Forbes conducted an experiment where the author 3D printed his own head to test out the face-recognition technology on smartphones. The model was accurate to the minutest of details and had almost every detail captured on the model. The model was printed at Backface in Birmingham, U.K., where the author was put in dome-like studio contenting 50 cameras. The 50 cameras would then take a single shot and combine all images to make a full 3D image. © Forbes The 3D printed head was not a cheap affair as it cost £300 to make and was used to test four flagship Android smartphones and the smartphone that introduced facial recognition — the iPhone X. According to the experiment, all Android phones were unlocked using the 3D printed head. “If you're an Android customer, though, look away from your screen now. We tested four of the hottest handsets running Google's operating systems and Apple's iPhone to see how easy it'd be to break into them. We did it with a 3D-printed head. All of the Androids opened with the fake. Apple's phone, however, was impenetrable.” Forbes said. © MensXP The Android smartphones in question were the Samsung Galaxy S9, Samsung Galaxy Note 9, OnePlus 6 and LG G7 ThinQ. Forbes wanted to put facial recognition on smartphones to test to see which device was the most secure. It was found that Android phones have been less secure than Apple's Face ID in the past and this test proves the notion. In the past, some of these facial recognition systems have been fooled with a picture however Apple's Face ID uses IR depth mapping to root out this problem. © Apple Apple's Face ID even requires the user to pay attention to the screen in order to unlock the smartphone. The attention awareness technology alone may have been enough for the iPhone X to remain unlocked then the 3D printed head was put in front of it. Having said that, Apple's Face ID has been fooled in the past using a 3D printed mask that were more sophisticated than Forbes' head. Source: Forbes
  10. When it comes to smartphones, you can never find the right blend that does almost everything perfectly. Either a smartphone has a great camera and lacks in performance or it does not have adequate battery life. There are only a few smartphones out there that deliver an all-around experience and Huawei's Mate 20 Pro is amongst them. We've been using the smartphone for a few weeks and can only describe the smartphone as 'near perfect'. The Mate 20 Pro is a marvel that brings new features that makes a smartphone exciting. It looks beautiful and performs like a beast when it needs to. Let's find out why the Mate 20 Pro is the almost perfect smartphone of 2018: Design Language and Display MensXP/Akshay Bhalla When it comes to design, the Mate 20 Pro has a similar vibe like other Huawei smartphones that have launched this year; however, it does resemble the Galaxy S9+ in terms of look and feel. It as curved edges and an all screen design with a rather small notch. It's striking in terms of looks and is narrower than other smartphones we've used this year. It fits snug in your arms and can easily fit your pockets thanks to the 6.39-inch display that isn't too overbearing. The smartphone also has atlas back with “hyper-optical pattern” that makes it easier to hold and prevent fingerprint smudges. This pattern at the back makes it less slippery than other all-glass smartphones; however we still recommend you use the supplied case for better protection. MensXP/Akshay Bhalla Huawei has removed the headphone jack and instead uses the USB-C port for transmitting Digital audio. The phone also does not have any visible speakers as it channels the sound through the same USB-C port. At first, you will feel weird listening to music or making a loudspeaker call however in time you get used to the sound. The Mate 20 Pro has a 6.39-inch OLED display that has Quad HD+ resolution and an aspect ratio of 19.5:9. The display is by far one of the prettiest screens we've used. It has a resolution of 1,400 x 3,120 resolution with a very sharp 539 PPI. Naturally, anything we viewed on the smartphone looked extra lush and vivid. The contrast on this panel is perfectly marked when watching HDR content and the colour reproduction was accurate as one would expect from a high-grade OLED panel. Performance The Mate 20 Pro is also a beast when it comes to performance. It has Huawei's proprietary 7nm Kirin 980 processor. The new SoC has some drastic improvements in performance that is well reflected in the Mate 20 Pro. In terms of performance, it is one of the fast Android smartphones we've used this year and sometimes beats the OnePlus 6T as well. The chipset has been crippled with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. We experienced no lag while launching apps and multi-tasking. Gaming on the smartphone was a delight and gave us the extra as we did not experience any frame rate drops or even battery life issues. MensXP/Akshay Bhalla Speaking of battery, the Mate 30 Pro is outfitted with a 4,200 mAh battery that lasted at least 19 hours on a single charge. We used the smartphone for gaming, internet voice calls, Youtube Videos, Navigation, Social Media and hours of listening to music over Bluetooth. Huawei has also included a 40W fast charger in the box that essentially charged the phone to 70% in 37 minutes. In about an hour, the smartphone gets fully charged and is ready to go again. You can even use the smartphone to wirelessly other smartphones. A near feature we used during our travels to the U.S. We used the Mate 20 Pro to wirelessly charge our iPhone XS Max and still had enough juice left to use the phone for another 4 hours. Biometrics The Mate 20 Pro comes with two ways to unlock the device i.e. with face recognition and the in-display fingerprint sensor. The 3D IR face-scanning system works exactly as it does on the iPhone X/XS. It basically projects IR dots onto your face to recognise every single facial feature. The facial recognition feature works as advertised and works even in low-light environments. In fact, it is so fast that you don't even realise the device has already scanned your face. It doesn't even give you an opportunity to use the in-display fingerprint sensor. MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The in-display fingering sensor is embedded underneath the screen just like on the OnePlus 6T and Vivo Nex. It lights up the area where one needs to place their thumb in order to unlock the smartphone with this method. We used this unlocking method in a completely dark environment when the 3D IR face-scanning system could not recognise our face or while driving. It's a neat feature to use when you are distracted and don't want to look at your phone when unlocking. You will also end up using this feature for authentication on certain apps like PayTM. You need to be a little more precise when placing your thumb; however, it still works as fast as the OnePlus 6T. Camera MensXP/Akshay Bhalla This is the marquee feature of the Mate 20 Pro that made us fall in love with the smartphone. It has a triple camera setup that has arranged in a 4x4 matrix along with the LED flashlight. The main camera is 40 megapixels, the ultra-wide is 20-megapixels and a third eight-megapixel telephoto camera. The cameras support 0.6 to 5x optical zoom and can go up to 10X with digital zoom. In terms of camera quality, the camera is capable of taking pictures with copious amounts of detail and has impeccable colour accuracy. Low-light performance is out of this world especially when we used the dedicated night mode. The camera can also identify objects using Huawei's AI mode called HiVision. We used it to identify a Christmas tree and it worked like a charm. It does, however, identify a few things incorrectly which will probably be fixed in the next update. Having said that, the Mate 20 Pro can sometimes take over saturated pictures when it uses Master Ai to tweak pictures. You can always disable this mode if you prefer taking natural looking shots. Here are some of our camera samples that will give you a better idea: The #HuaweiMate20pro is a beast when it comes to night photography. Shot this at 4 am outside my hotel. pic.twitter.com/2CuxkMwVrU — Akshay Bhalla (@Bhallanator) November 28, 2018 Damn I'm loving the camera on the #HuaweiMate20pro pic.twitter.com/ndKIoQrmIu — Akshay Bhalla (@Bhallanator) November 28, 2018 Some more images I shot using the #huaweimate20pro pic.twitter.com/CHHR6iwGKv — Akshay Bhalla (@Bhallanator) December 2, 2018 The Final Say The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is by the only smartphone we've used this year that delivers everything it advertises. The only thing we did not like about the smartphone was it's UI and gestures. Having said that, it's subjective according to one's taste and one can even use other launchers on top to give it a more refined experience. Having said that, the Mate 20 Pro is everything you expect from a flagship smartphone; it delivers amazing photos, performs like a beast and has amazing battery life. It has a very accurate 3D face recognition system and a powerful processor. The display on the smartphone is a delight to use and consume content and it can even charge other phones wirelessly. The Mate 20 Pro is the smartphone we wanted all year and Huawei has finally delivered a device that is near perfect. It retails in India for Rs 69,990 and is certainly not cheap but it is packed with features that justify the high price. If you are an Android lover and want the ultimate phone of 2018/2019, the Mate 20 Pro should be your next purchase.
  11. While 2017 was believed to be a stellar year for smartphones, it's just stupefying how the benchmarks have been raised way higher in 2018. In 2018, great smartphones were released in plenty and again redefined what we could expect from these pocket machines. From the Huawei Mate 20 Pro's triple camera setup to the in-display fingerprint scanner in the Vivo X21, innovations saw no bounds. But with an increase in the availability of good phones, the decision process of buying a phone has become that much more complex. Because if one phone has a stunning camera, the other one has outstanding software support. So if you're out and about to get your hands on a new phone here's a list of the top 9 smartphones of 2018. 1. Apple iPhone XS and XS Max © MensXP The iPhone XS is an 'S' upgrade over the wildly popular iPhone X released last year. The XS has a 5.8-inch Super Retina AMOLED panel that pans across most of the front screen while the notch at the top houses the highly-secure Face ID sensors. The XS Plus got an even bigger screen that measures 6.5-inches but in the body size of the last-gen iPhone 8 Plus. The only external change you'd notice is the new Gold colour that was lacking in the iPhone X. Internally, both phones get an Apple A12 Bionic chip that makes the phone blazingly fast at whatever it does. The GPU also gets an upgrade which makes for an even better gaming experience. While the iPhone XS and XS Max still have a combination of a primary 12-megapixel sensor and a secondary 12-megapixel telephoto sensor like the iPhone X, there are a bunch of software improvements like Smart HDR & Depth Control to better the camera experience. Both devices are IP68 water resistant, have a 7-megapixel selfie-camera and support 3D touch. Buy from Amazon.in 2. Apple iPhone XR © BCCL While everyone had their eyes on the iPhone XS, Apple caught everyone unaware by releasing the iPhone XR in a rainbow of colours. The iPhone XR maintains the same body language as the iPhone XS, but with some difference in body materials. The phone has a 6.1-inch Liquid LCD display and the Face ID mechanism as Touch ID is officially dead on Apple's line of iPhones. To make the iPhone XR cheaper than its expensive sibling, there is only one 12-megapixel sensor at the back which is still capable of taking portraits & Smart HDR shots. Internally, the iPhone XR packs the latest A12 Bionic hexa-core chip which makes it blazingly fast too. The iPhone XR is available in colours of Black, White, Blue, Red, Coral, and Yellow. Buy from Amazon.in 3. Samsung Galaxy Note 9 © Reuters The Galaxy Note 9 happens to be one of the most versatile phones out there that is a great choice for no matter who the buyer is. The phablet has a gorgeous 6.4-inch QuadHD AMOLED panel that is undoubtedly one of the best screens in the market. In terms of camera, the phone has a dual-camera setup at the back comprising of two 12-megapixel sensors, one of which has an adjustable aperture for better photography. The S-Pen in the Note 9 now has its own battery and is connected to the phone via BLE because of which you can use it for more features like controlling music or capturing pictures from up to 30 feet away! The phone is powered by the very capable Exynos 9820 processor and coupled with 8GB of RAM for 512GB of internal storage. The Note 9 also features an all-new copper cooling system to keep the phone running without any hitches during intense gaming sessions. Buy from Amazon.in 4. Huawei Mate 20 Pro © Mashable Huawei's recently announced Mate 20 Pro is an absolute beast of a phone. The Mate 20 Pro rocks a 7nm Kirin 980 processor with 8GB of RAM that ensures top-notch performance. The 6.4-inch QuadHD display upfront that supports HDR10 offering crisp visuals. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro, unlike others on this list, has a triple-camera setup at the back comprising of a 40-megapixel wide-angle sensor, 8-megapixel telephoto lens, and an ultra-wide 16-megapixel sensor that helps you great shots with the help of AI. While the Mate 20 Pro is capable of being charged wirelessly, the Mate 20 Pro has the capability of charging other phones are accessories that support wireless charging without any external connector or dock. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is available in colours of Midnight Blue, Emerald Green, Black, Pink Gold, and Twilight and ships with EMUI on top of Android Pie. Buy from Amazon.in 5. Google Pixel 3 & 3 XL © BGR While this is just Google's third attempt at making a phone, the Google Pixel 3 & 3XL are still one of the best phones out there. While most phones offer exceptional hardware, the software has been a hard thing to nail by most. This is where probably no other phone beats the Google Pixel 3. Both phones are powered by the Snapdragon 845 with 4GB of RAM & either 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. Apart from the display and capacity, the Pixel 3 & the 3XL are very similar phones. While the Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch FullHD display with a battery capacity of 2915mAh, the Pixel 3 XL has a 6.3-inch QHD display with a battery capacity of 3430mAh. Also, the Pixel 3 XL features a huge notch upfront while the Pixel 3 doesn't adopt the trend of 2018. The Pixel 3 & 3XL, arguably, still boasts the best cameras of any smartphone. Night or day, Google's prowess in machine learning & artificial intelligence gives the Pixel camera an edge over the other phones in most situations. The Pixel 3 & 3XL are available in Just Black, Clear White, and Not Pink colours. Buy from Amazon.in 6. OnePlus 6T © Pocket Lint With the company's attitude to never settle, it prepared a victory speech even when it was an underdog. Its 7th-gen flagship has again proven to be a runaway hit, thanks to the marriage of wonderful hardware with convenient software. The OnePlus 6T packs a 6.41-inch FullHD AMOLED panel that houses an in-display fingerprint scanner. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 845 with 6GB/8GB of RAM & 128GB/256GB/512GB of internal storage. In terms of cameras, the OnePlus 6T features a dual-camera setup that is capable of taking some great portraits. Unfortunately, to make space for a bigger battery, the 6T misses out on a headphone jack. To put a band-aid on the cut OnePlus includes a 3.5mm jack to USB Type-C dongle. The OnePlus 6T is available in finished of Midnight Black (matte) & Mirror Black (glossy). You can also grab a limited edition Thunder Purple variant that looks drop-dead gorgeous. Buy from Amazon.in 7. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus © EOTO Tech The Samsung Galaxy S series has always caught eyeballs of people worldwide for their amazing designs & stellar cameras. While the S9 Plus is outshone by its elder sibling the Note 9 or the recently launched Huawei Mate 20 Pro, it is still a great choice for people who'd like to shell-less without compromising on any of the flagship shenanigans. The S9 Plus is powered by an octa-core Exynos 9810 with 6GB of RAM & 64GB of internal storage that can be expanded via a microSD card slot. The phone's outstanding design is graced by the even more gracious 6.2-inch Quad HD display. The S9+ has a dual-camera setup at the back with a very distinct feat of having the first dual variable aperture in a phone. The S9+ takes some wonderful shots thanks to its incredible cameras & functional software. The S9+ also boasts of an Iris Scanner to securely unlock your phone apart from using your fingerprints and your face. The S9+ is available in colours of Midnight Black, Lilac Purple, Sunrise Gold, and Coral Blue. Buy from Amazon.in
  12. OnePlus has been pushing boundaries every since its inception with competitive pricing and specs that rival flagship devices from every manufacturer. The company has time and time again proved that smartphones don't need to cost a bomb. Even though the price of OnePlus devices has been increasing year on year, it still offers the best experience on an Android smartphone for a budget price. Technologies on the device have been improving and the company is offering new innovations without the high price tag. Design, Display & Features OnePlus 6T follows the same ethos and builds on the already efficient OnePlus 6. It has a gorgeous screen and a smaller chin than its predecessor. The OnePlus 6T also has the reduced teardrop-shaped notch that leaves more real estate on the screen. Even though the 6T looks very similar to the OP6, it still is an impressive design for a smartphone that costs less than half the price of an iPhone. It is made out of exactly the same glass and metal material as its predecessor. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The bottom of the smartphone looks different from its predecessor as the headphone jack has now been removed. Audio is now passed through the USB-C port which is a very big disappointment for audiophiles like me. To be honest, OnePlus 6 and countless other smartphones prove that the removal of the headphone jack is completely unnecessary and we saw no point for the 6T to remove it either. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The water drop notch design is less intrusive when compared to other smartphones that implement a similar design and if you're not a fan of the notch, you can even hide from the settings. The earpiece is embedded in the rim at the top of the phone which can be troublesome to users when making phone calls. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The OnePlus 6t has a 6.41-inch AMOLED panel that has an aspect ratio of 19.6:9. The 85.6% screen to body ratio makes the smartphone fit snug as a bug in the palm and doesn't feel too massive in size. In terms of resolution, it remains the same with a full HD 2340 x 1080p resolution and pixel density of 402ppi. The colours on the screen definitely are immersive, crisp and vivid which makes the display more immersive for consuming video content and gaming. It's the only smartphone out there that offers an AMOLED panel on a budget. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla This time around, OnePlus has removed the rear fingerprint scanner and has now embedded it under the display. The scanner lights up each time you tap on the screen 2cm up from the bottom. It is the fastest in-display fingerprint scanner we've used thus far and worked each time without any misreadings. You will have to press your thumb a little harder in order for the fingerprint sensor to work. It is is not as fast the traditional fingerprint scanner but it does work effectively if you place your thumb at the right spot. Having said that, you will not use this feature as often if you've installed the 'Face Unlock' feature. The 'Face Unlock' feature works faster than anything we've used before, even though it doesn't use IR sensors. We rarely used the in-display fingerprint sensor to unlock our phone. The in-display fingerprint sensor only came handy in the night or when we would be driving. Performance The OP 6T has the same processor as the OP 6 i.e. Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 processor. It is coupled with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM and has at least 128 GB of internal storage. In terms of performance, the 6T does a similar job as its predecessor and is one of the fastest Android smartphones you can use today. It's super fast at launching and closing apps and gives high fidelity performance when it comes to gaming. We played PUBG mobile for testing purposes and experience little or no frame rate drops which is quite impressive for a mobile device in 2018. This type of performance can only be compared to the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy Note 9. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla Battery life is improved from before but isn't the best when taking smartphones like Poco F1 into consideration. On a single charge, the smartphone can last up to 22 hours with moderate use and around 13 hours with heavy usage. If you like to game on the go, we would recommend you get a power bank for an uninterrupted gaming experience. On the plus side, OnePlus 6T charges extremely quickly thanks to the supplied fast charger. The smartphone can get fully charged in 80 minutes which is on par with the previous OnePlus smartphones. Camera The OnePlus 6T has the same exact setup as the OnePlus 6, which means you can't expect much improvement in the camera, apart from a few nifty software features. It produces similar images as the OnePlus 6 and does not perform that well in low-light environments. OnePlus has introduced the new nightscape low light mode to take better pictures in low-lit environments, however, it still does not beat flagship devices like the iPhone XS, Galaxy Note or even the iPhone XR. It's good but not flagship good. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla Portrait mode works exactly as it should, however, we still found a few inaccuracies when it came to detailing. Images appeared to be a little tased out and lacked to capture details if in poor lighting environments. This is where OnePlus makes a compromise and to be honest, if you don't take many pictures from your smartphone, you can overlook this one caveat. Overall, the OnePlus camera can deliver images that are Instagram-worthy, however, it's still not capable of delivering mind-blowing images yet. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The Final Say For a smartphone that starts at Rs 37,999, you cannot get a better Android smartphone with unmatched performance. It works well for gaming purposes and delivers good battery life for daily usage. Having said that, we would have loved to see an improved camera to make it the perfect smartphone. It has a beautiful design and includes the innovative in-screen display sensor. It has a very tiny notch that gives more room for content on the screen and does not even break your bank. If you are looking for a smartphone that delivers flagship-level performance, the OnePlus 6T is simply your only choice right now.
  13. When it comes to smartphones, people tend to look at specifications with more importance than what's actually working behind the scenes —especially in India. Sure, there are smartphones out there with specifications that can rival an entry level laptop, but what if you could do more with less? That's exactly what Google has implemented with the new Pixel 3 and 3 Xl, a strategy similar to Apple. The Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL have a new edge-to-edge display and also a new camera system, that utilises artificial intelligence (AI) to improve image quality. It houses the Snapdragon 845 processor under the hood and is coupled with 4GB of RAM. The smartphone does not have 10GB or 8GB of RAM to function because it simply does not require it. Pixel 3 XL and Pixel 3 come with Android 9 Pie out of the box and has some nifty features that are exclusive to these handsets. Let's find out how the smartphone performed during our tests and will it be able to compete with other flagship devices in the market: Design & Display © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla Both Pixel 3 smartphones look similar to their predecessors apart from a bigger 6.3-inch display with QHD+ resolution. The screen looks more colourful and vivid when compared to the previous generation and has a massive notch on the XL variant. At the back, the smartphone has a glass back with some sort of matte finish that basically helps in holding the smartphone more securely. The matte finish is also a great way to avoid fingerprints at the back which I detest on other smartphones from this year. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla We got the Clearly White variant for review which looks elegant, minimalistic and alluring to the eye. Both smartphones definitely have a distinct look which can be spotted from a kilometre away. At the back, you also have the fingerprint sensor in the middle which can also be used to scroll down notification panel if you like to use the smartphone with one hand. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla You will be happy to know that this year the Pixel 3 XL has a better and more colourful OLED panel. In fact, a recent teardown of the smartphone revealed it is a Samsung OLED panel which is considered to be the best in the industry. We used it to watch an episode of 'Stranger Things' and all the darker tones were represented accurately on the screen. The colourful 80s vibe in the episodes looked plush and we faced no discolouration issues during the course of our review. The brightness, on the other hand, could have been better as we got a reading of 359 nits which is far less when compared to iPhone XS' 600 figure. The Best Smartphone Camera On The Planet © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla Whether you want to accept it or not, the primary use of a smartphone in 2018 is taking kickass pictures followed by communication. Sure, people use their smartphones to game and listen to music, however, our research shows otherwise. Google also knows this fact and managed to deliver us arguably the best smartphone camera on the planet. Google managed to achieve this with a single 12.2MP f/1.8 aperture lens and some super cool AI computation. A new feature called 'Top Shot' is probably our favourite feature, where the Pixel 3 takes a burst of images and selects the best one for you. You can even adjust the depth of field after taking a picture which has been previously seen in Samsung smartphones. At the front, Google has opted to go with a dual camera setup where one lens is wide angle. The other lens is an 8MP selfie shooter that works like you would expect it to. The wide-angle lens causes more interest here as we can now fit in more people in a selfie picture than ever before. Other features like Super Res Zoom also manages to capture details that we didn't expect from a single rear camera. Here are some sample images for you to drool on: View this post on Instagram #Pixel3 making my wife look prettier than any Bollywood actress. #madebygoogle #teampixel A post shared by Akshay Bhalla (@editorinchief) on Oct 12, 2018 at 5:07am PDT View this post on Instagram Portrait mode on the #Pixel3 works like a charm on puppies too! #puppy #technology #dogsofinstagram A post shared by Akshay Bhalla (@editorinchief) on Oct 12, 2018 at 11:28pm PDT View this post on Instagram I'm not a big fan of selfies but damn the #Pixel3 can take some awesome pictures. A post shared by Akshay Bhalla (@editorinchief) on Oct 17, 2018 at 10:51pm PDT That's a low light shot on the #Pixel3. Unbelievable. pic.twitter.com/3pqPHVL8eF — Akshay Bhalla (@Bhallanator) October 13, 2018 Low-light photography on the #Pixel3 #noedit pic.twitter.com/IZ0euJdi0d — Akshay Bhalla (@Bhallanator) October 12, 2018 Testing out the Super Res Zoom on the #Pixel3 in New York. pic.twitter.com/eGtEKWhQMh — Akshay Bhalla (@Bhallanator) October 12, 2018 Performance © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla As mentioned before, the Pixel 3 XL has a Snapdragon 845 processor and 4GB of RAM which results in a very smooth experience thanks to Google's custom stock Android experience. Having said that, the benchmark scores weren't as impressive, as the phone only managed to score 2382 in single-single-core and 8343 in multi-score Geekbench 4 test. In the 3DMark Slingshot Extreme test the Pixel 3 XL reached 4,342, which is less when compared to the iPhone XS Max (4,370). © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The biggest disappointment with the Pixel 3 XL will be its battery life. It's enough to get you through the day however if you like to game or are a heavy user, you will end up charging it more than once in a day. We used the smartphone for instant messaging, web browsing, navigation and some gaming and the battery was already at 35% by 4:00 PM. Sure, it comes with a fast charger that will juice up the battery to 60% in 30 minutes, it's still inconvenient to have a smartphone that does not have enough battery life if you're a heavy user. The Final Say The Pixel 3 XL starts at Rs. 83,000 for which you're getting the best smartphone camera on the planet and some awesome Ai features. It may not be the best-looking smartphone camera out there, but look at some of the pictures you can take with this beast and it will definitely drop jaws. Pixel 3 also offers the best software experience you can expect from an Android device. We would have loved to see a larger battery so that it could last longer, however, Google's latest offerings still classify as a flagship for us. If you love to take awesome pictures, this phone is a no-brainer.
  14. At the launch of the iPhone XS Max and XS, Apple claimed that the new smartphones can last up to 1.5 hours longer than it's predecessor. A recent test carried out by a YouTuber revealed that the iPhone XS Max can outlast most rival flagship phones when it comes to battery life. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The test was conducted by YouTuber MrWhoseTheBoss, where four phones were tested for battery life. The test included Apple's iPhone XS Max, Samsung's Galaxy Note 9, Google Pixel 3 XL and the Sony Xperia XZ3. To put things into perspective, the iPhone XS Max has a 3,174 mAh battery which was revealed from a regulatory filing. It is smaller than the smartphones it was put against, as the Galaxy Note 9 has a 4,000 mAh battery, the Pixel 3 XL has a 3,430 mAh battery and the Xperia XZ3 has a 3,300 mAh battery. © YouTube Even though the iPhone XS Max has a smaller battery life, it still managed to last longer than all of the other smartphones in question. In the test, all four phones ran a series of applications and games that would simulate everyday use on the smartphones. It was revealed that the Sony XZ3 was the first to die in a matter of three hours. Google Pixel 3 XL managed to survive for five hours and 20 minutes at which point the iPhone XS Max still had 11 per cent left. The Note 9 managed to last the longest at six hours and three minutes while the iPhone XS Max managed to last a few minutes longer. © YouTube It is worthy to point out that the Note 9 is capable of lasting longer than the iPhone XS Max only when the resolution is kept at default settings. The iPhone XS Max runs at a resolution of 2688×1242 which is higher than the Galaxy Note 9 (1080p). In order to run a fair test, the YouTuber cranked up the Galaxy Note 9's resolution to the maximum i.e. 2960×1440 to replicate similar testing conditions. If you're interested to watch the test for yourself, you can always check out the video by MrWhoseTheBoss below:
  15. Xiaomi launched a new sub-brand recently that offers smartphones with flagship level specifications. The new Poco F1 is a direct contender to the OnePlus and Samsung devices that sell smartphones with a similar specification for a higher price. The Poco F1 can be bought for Rs 20,999 (starting) and goes up to Rs 29,999. That's still considerably cheaper than its next closest competitor i.e. The OnePlus 6. So, how does the smartphone fare against the current leader in flagship smartphones? Let's find out: Design Language & Display © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The Poco F1 does not have the same metal unibody design as the OnePlus 6 but offers something entirely different. It has a plastic polycarbonate body which may not be the ideal finish for people who are looking to buy a flagship level smartphone. If users prefer a more premium finish, the Poco F1 also comes in a Kevlar Armoured Edition, which also happened to be the review unit provided to us. It has Kevlar fibre at the back, which gives the smartphone a unique look and feels that may set it apart from the competition. At the back, the Poco F1 has vertical dual camera setup with a fingerprint sensor right underneath it. At the bottom centre, one can see the subtle branding that simply mentions 'Poco by Xiaomi'. The front of the smartphone comprises a display that has a notch and minimal bezels at the bottom. The Poco F1 has a 6-inch FHD+ LCD display which is where the company has cut costs to keep the pricing of the smartphone low. The display has an aspect ratio of 18.7:9 and has a noticeable notch at the top that can be turned off from the settings. When compared to the OnePlus 6, the Poco F1 does not have an S AMOLED display which may be a bit of a disappointment for users who like to consume content and videos. On a personal note, we feel the screen is good enough for daily gaming, video consumption and basically serves the purpose if you are looking for a good value for money. Performance When it comes to technical specifications, the Poco F1 is packed with components that can be found on any flagship smartphones of 2017. It has the Snapdragon 845 processor that has been coupled with 6GB or 8 GB of RAM. We got the top variant for this review that has 256GB internal storage and 8GB RAM. The smartphone managed to work like a charm when it came to the performance of certain actions such as multi-tasking, running games like PUBG and Asphalt 9. The smartphone did manage to perform well while playing games, however, we did notice slight heating issues. The Poco F1 has liquid cooling under the hood, which we feel worked like a charm, as the overheating could have been significantly higher if not for the cooling technology. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla As far as the overall performance of the phone is concerned, the Poco F1 felt snappy and did not experience any lag or glitches. It performed as fast as the OnePlus 6 or even faster at times when it came to daily usage. We used the smartphone for playing games, navigation and browsing the web. In the benchmark tests, the Poco F1 scored an impressive 2449 in the single-core category while it scored 8881 in the multi-core test. The Face Unlock feature on the Poco F1 uses a similar setup as the iPhone X, where it uses infrared for faster and more accurate unlocking. The Face Unlock feature is capable of working in complete darkness and manages to unlock to smartphone nine out of ten times. Battery Life Xiaomi has been known for outfitting their smartphones with large batteries and the Poco F1 is no exception. It has a 4,000 mAh battery that can easily last up to 1.5 days with moderate usage. The smartphone was able to last long enough to provide us 2 hours of gaming, 3 hours of watching YouTube content and 2 hours of navigation and we still had 30 per cent left over towards the end of the day. That's more battery life than the OnePlus 6 and can last even longer when in standby mode. Camera © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The smartphone has been outfitted with a 12MP+5MP primary camera setup and a 20MP front camera, both having AI functionality. During the course of our review, we were able to take some impressive pictures with the smartphone, however, we would have loved to see more accuracy in Portrait shots. The blur on the edges was not as accurate as the OnePlus 6 which can be a bit disappointing. The Poco F1 was able to take spectacular shots in well-lit environments as it was able to capture the right details and did not over expose them. The colours were vibrant and we did not see any noticeable grain either. When it comes to selfies, we were quite impressed with its performance and it is at par with the OnePlus 6 and other smartphones in the same price range. Here are a few sample shots for your reference: View this post on Instagram Some images shot using the #pocof1 #Technology #smartphones A post shared by Akshay Bhalla / Høax (@editorinchief) on Sep 5, 2018 at 10:42pm PDT The Final Say When it comes to buying smartphones, we often look for the best deal that includes a smartphone with impressive specifications, performance and price. Up until now, the OnePlus 6 was the only option that could be included in this category, however, the Poco F1 proves that flagship devices don't have to be even moderately expensive. Starting at Rs 20,999 we can confidently say that the Poco F1 is here to disrupt a market that is currently being dominated by OnePlus. The Poco F1 may not offer a premium design like its competition, it does, however, make up for it in other categories. If you are currently looking for a flagship-level smartphone that costs less than Rs 30,000, the Poco F1 is your best bet.
  16. Google recently announced a third major update to its Android-based Wear OS for wearables. The OS update is highly welcomed as it will make it easier to access simple features and will bring more information on the screen, cutting down on the time taken to implement a task. This year, early rumours and reports also suggested Google is working on its own 'Pixel Watch'. The new wearable was supposed to be launched alongside this year's Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones. Regrettably, Google has confirmed to Tom's Guide that there will be no Pixel Watch this year. © LG "To think of a one-size-fits-all watch, I don't think we're there yet," the report quoted Miles Barr, Director of Engineering for Wear OS at Google as saying. "Our focus is on our partners for now," Barr added. The Mountain View-based company wants to focus on delivering a good software platform to its partners (manufacturers) right now. The company followed the same strategy for years with Android, before finally venturing out and creating its own line-up, the Pixel. Even before the Pixel, Google had the Nexus series that aimed at showcasing the best of Android by taking the OS directly from Google. © Gizmodo With the Wear OS, Google wants smartwatches to be available to every kind of user, this includes someone who wants a trendy design-focused watch, to someone who wants a fitness-centric smart tracker. On the other hand, Apple is trying to cater to every type of user by making the Apple Watch an all-in-one device. At IFA Berlin 2018, many Wear OS-based smartwatches were announced by Skagen, Casio, and Diesel. While Google is working on a major software upgrade, even Qualcomm is soon to launch a series of processors, specially designed for wearables. © Diesel Even though Google has a wide array of Wear OS device manufacturers, it has failed to make a dent in the smartwatch segment. A Counterpoint report for Q2 2018 states that the Apple Watch has a whopping 41 per cent market share, followed by Fitbit at 21 per cent. Diesel, that makes watches running on Wear OS, has a meagre 4 per cent share. It was expected that Google's Pixel Watch would directly go up against the Apple Watch and showcase the best of Wear OS.
  17. Samsung announced the brand new Galaxy Note 9 a few weeks ago and we got our hands on the smartphone before the official Indian launch. The Indian variant of the smartphone has a few key differences from the international variant even though the end product is almost similar. It offers blistering performance, has a giant battery and has a brand new accessory i.e. the all-new S-Pen. The Galaxy Note 9 retails in India for Rs 67,900 for the 128GB/6GB RAM variant and will be available for customers soon. Before you decide to buy Samsung's latest flagship smartphone, here's our opinion about the phone. Design Language, Display And Other Features © MensXP_Chahat Bhatia The Galaxy Note 9 is essentially a refined version of the Note 8 with a slightly larger screen and a more polished body. Samsung has now moved the fingerprint sensor right below the dual camera sensors which makes it easier for a user to access the biometric unlocking system. It has a beautiful 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display which follows a similar infinity design as its previous iteration. Samsung will make the Note 9 available in three colours in India i.e. Grey, Ocean Blue and Lavender Purple. We got the Ocean Blue variant for our review and is probably our favourite colour from the lot. I also love the new yellow S Pen which looks quite slick and the striking colour sure makes it stand out. Samsung has also included a 3.5mm jack for audiophiles like me which means I can use my wired headsets with ease. Samsung also supports the Gear Icon X if you are looking for a seamless wireless Bluetooth headphone experience. The Gear Icon X connects automatically without any hassle and removes the frustrating task of pairing your devices. Samsung also includes wired AKG earbuds in the retail box which is quite good for moderate listening. © MensXP_Chahat Bhatia Samsung also didn't forget about including a Bixby button on the left side which can be turned off if you don't have any use for it. What sucks is that you cannot map it to Alexa or Google Assistant which can be a bit annoying. The Galaxy Note 9 sports a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display which has broken all sorts of records, thanks to its quality. The screen is a dream to watch content on and is basically the best Netflix experience we've had on a smartphone. The display has a resolution of 2960x1440-pixels and has a pixel density of 516. The display shows off accurate and vibrant colours when we used it to watch 'Avengers: Infinity War' on the smartphone; albeit, a little over saturated at times. You can always change the colour reproduction according to your preference in the display settings. The All New S Pen © MensXP_Chahat Bhatia The all-new S Pen now has its own Bluetooth radio and compactor which enables it to be used as a remote control for various purposes. The S Pen can now be used to control the camera if you have it installed on a tripod or aren't near your device. You can long hold the button to launch the camera, double tap the button to switch between cameras and tap the button once to take a picture. You can do all these actions without ever having to touch the phone. © MensXP_Chahat Bhatia You can even use the S Pen for controlling music, the picture gallery, certain apps like YouTube and use it to give presentations. The capacitor on board is used to fully charge its stylus in 40 seconds and can last for about 200 clicks or 30 minutes. If your S Pen runs out of battery, the Note 9 will notify you on your screen and will continue to function as a regular S Pen sans the additional features. Performance © MensXP_Chahat Bhatia The Note 9 has Samsung's proprietary Exynos 9810 chipset under the hood and is fast enough to run easy duty games like Fornite, PUBG and others. During our tests, Geekbench gave us a multi-score of 8806 with is a massive upgrade from last year's Note 8. The single-core score was also quite impressive as the Note 9 managed to give us a score of 2190. Our review unit has 6GB of RAM which is good enough for people who like to use the phone for moderate usage. While the smartphone works like a charm without any lag in daily usage, we did notice frequent cases of over-heating while playing Fortnite. In terms of battery performance, Samsung has finally included a massive battery following the Note 7 fiasco two years ago. The company opted to play it safe ever since; however, we now finally have a Note device with a massive battery. At first, the Note 9 battery did perform well and managed to last an entire full day with moderate use. However, we did notice the battery health deplete over time. Fast charging also works as advertised as we managed to charge the phone to 70% in about 60 minutes. Camera Performance © MensXP_Chahat Bhatia If you love photography and want to capture some amazing shots from a smartphone, the Galaxy Note 9 should be on your radar. The cameras on the Galaxy Note 9 takes better photos in low light and also uses AI to improve your photos. The Galaxy Note 9 has a dual 12MP rear camera that uses variable-aperture technology to switch between a f/1.5 aperture for low-light photography and a f/2.4 aperture for normal photos. The secondary lens also supports 2x optical zoom that results in sharp telephoto pictures. Both lenses have optical image stabilisation (OIS) which helps in taking better and stable videos. In terms of picture quality, the Note 9 performed exceptionally well apart from a few noise-filled night shots taken by the telephoto lens. Apart from that, the camera performed well in all our tests including a very accurate portrait mode. Here are a few sample shots: Shots taken using the #GalaxyNote9 A post shared by Akshay Bhalla / Høax (@editorinchief) on Aug 19, 2018 at 11:40pm PDT The Final Say The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has a few incremental upgrades that may not be impressive for everyone. Sure, the new S Pen is neat and it has a bigger battery, but will it be enough for anyone to upgrade? It performs fairly well aside from a few overheating issues. As of now, I can only see people with an older Samsung Note device upgrading or if you are a hardcore Galaxy Note fan.
  18. Huawei recently launched the Nova 3, a direct competitor of the OnePlus 6 and has a similar design to the P20 Pro. It has four cameras - two at the front and two on the back. The Nova 3 retails in India for Rs 34,999 and is only available in the 6GB + 128GB configuration (expandable to 256GB). We've been using the smartphone for over two weeks and here's the final review of the smartphone: Design Language & Display © MensXP_Chahat Bhatia To be honest, we have no complaints here, as Huawei has managed to carve a striking yet distinctive look for its smartphones. The Iris purple colour can be spotted from afar and looks more presentable than any other smartphone in this price segment (except the white OnePlus 6). The Nova fits well in the hand and is lighter than other Huawei smartphones. The phone is also available in a black colourway, however, you want to invest your money in something that gives your smartphone a unique identity — and that's the Iris Purple version. Since it has a glass back, you will often find fingering smudges which can be easily prevented with the supplied cover. © MensXP_Chahat Bhatia The earpiece can be found right above the notch of the display which also hosts the dual selfie camera, an IR sensor and an LED notification light. Speaking of the display, the smartphone has a 6.3-inch IPS screen that also has an iPhone styled “notch”. The display is good enough to view content, as it is capable of displaying vivid colours and accurate sharpness. Having said that, the display has a blue hue out of the box which can be annoying for some users. But you can easily tweak that from the display settings menu. Performance © YouTube The Nova 3 is powered by Huawei's proprietary Kirin 970 SoC, that has been coupled with 6GB of RAM. The Kirin 970 chipset is supposed to be a direct equivalent of Snapdragon 845, however, we believe it's always lagging behind. Having said that, in the context of Nova 3, it performed well and packed some serious power. We did not come across any crashes, lags or bugs during the course of our review. We played a few rounds of PUBG without any problems, however, we did notice normal over-heating issues. The Nova 3 does come with Huawei's GPU turbo technology, which delivered a better gaming experience than other Android smartphones. When compared to the OnePlus 6, the smartphone did fall short in every category albeit workable. The phone was also used for daily navigation, instant messaging and general web browsing which brings us to its battery life. The Nova 3 can last a full working day which involves all the activities mentioned above. The smartphone packs a 3,750 mAh battery which also supports fast-charging. A good 20-minute charge brought the smartphone from 2% to 48% which is good enough if you want to charge your phone in a hurry. Camera Quality © BCCL This is probably the only department where the Nova 3 beats the OnePlus 6 with ease. The company has always been known to incorporate a kickass camera on their smartphones which is one of the primary reasons for customers to buy a smartphone. The Nova packs four cameras, as mentioned before, that use AI machine learning to tweak your pictures for quality and subject identification. The primary camera setup consists of a 24MP+16MP sensor that supports PDAF. The smartphone is also capable of taking some amazing portrait shots which can later be edited on an iPhone-like editing application. Both primary sensors have an aperture of f/1.8 which enables the cameras to take better pictures in low-light environments. Having said that, we found the AI enabled pictures to be a bit too saturated and sometimes aggressively tuning the image that would end up giving it an artificial look. To be honest, we didn't spend much time using the selfie camera during the course of our review because its not a priority. Since we didn't use the feature much, we can say that we liked what we saw in our preliminary tests. Here are a few sample shots for your reference: I like the camera on the Huawei #Nova3 but without the AI amplification. #technology #tech #smartphones #review A post shared by Akshay Bhalla / Høax (@editorinchief) on Aug 16, 2018 at 12:24am PDT The Final Say The Nova 3, in our opinion, is a great alternative to the OnePlus 6. It may not outperform the popular phone by OnePlus, it does, however, have a few advantages. The Nova 3 is capable of taking better pictures than the OnePlus 6 and also stands out more thanks to its unique design. The Nova 3's memory can also be expanded to 256GB which is yet another feature you cannot find on the OnePlus 6. The Nova 3 is probably the only handset in the Rs 35,000 category that can take awesome images and if that is your priority, you cannot ignore this smartphone.
  19. ASUS has been making and selling phones in India for years now, but the company has never been able to establish itself as a major player, until now. This year, starting with the ZenFone Max Pro, things have changed for good. The company is more focused than ever on just one market and is releasing phones keeping the Indian user in mind. The Zenfone Max Pro has managed to grab a considerable portion of the midrange segment. We've reviewed the device as well, and it's among the best we've seen in the segment. Now, ASUS has released the ZenFone 5Z and intends to take on the OnePlus 6. It has everything a flagship should have, Snapdragon 845, excellent display, premium design, and tonnes of storage. The ZenFone 5Z is not only cheaper than the OnePlus 6 and Nova 3 but also claims to offer more features. To maintain the price gap, has ASUS cut some corners? Let's find out. Design & Hardware: © MensXP The ZenFone 5Z continues ASUS' design language and has a glass backing that refracts light to create concentric circles. It has rounded corners and is completely built out of aluminium. On the front, it has the trending notch on the top, the bezels are very thin and the chin is pretty small as well. The overall feel of the phone is very premium. Thanks to the glass backing, it does tend to get very slippery and attracts smudges easily. The back sports the fingerprint scanner as well as the vertical dual-camera setup. The bottom has a USB-C port for charging and data transfer along with a 3.5mm headphone jack. The power button and volume rockers are on the right side while the SIM tray is on the left. For one hand use, the phone is huge. But at the same time, it is also lighter at just 155gms and feels thinner at 7.7mm. The camera module in the rear is slightly raised, but it does not make the device wobble easily. Weight distribution is even, and generally, the phone feels solidly built. © MensXP The front houses a 6.2-inch LCD FHD+ display with an aspect ratio of 18.7:9. While the competition houses an AMOLED panel, I wouldn't consider the absence a drawback since 5Z has the best LCD panel I've seen on Android phones. The panel is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and 2.5D curved on the edges. The notch is a lot wider, meaning lesser space for notifications on the sides, however, you do have the option to completely hide it. The contrast levels aren't as deep as an AMOLED panel, but it gets sufficiently bright outdoors, has great saturation, and wide viewing angles. ASUS has also added customizable colour temperature along with automatic adjustments via the ambient light sensor. © MensXP There is also an option to select wide colour gamut that has slightly more saturated colours along with a standard mode for natural viewing. The phone also comes with a Smart Screen feature that detects when the device is held upright and extends the display's time-out time. Performance: © MensXP The phone is powered by Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 845 chipset along with 6GB RAM and 64GB internal storage (base variant). The other configurations come with 8GB RAM and 128GB or 256GB of internal storage. Just like we expected, normal tasks are smooth and the phone has rarely slowed down or given any indication that it cannot handle a particular process. Games like Asphalt and PUBG not only run smoothly but churn out high frame rates. Just like a flagship should, this device gets everything done without a glitch. And while we were expecting a few lags or stutters thanks to ZenUI, we found none, but more on that later. © MensXP The storage is expandable via a microSD card, and the phone supports a hybrid SIM tray, meaning you can plug in either two SIM cards or one SIM and one microSD card. The phone is backed by a 3300mAh battery which is the same as the OnePlus 6. I got around 5.5 hours of screen-on time which is slightly lower than today's flagship benchmark. The phone can easily get you through one day of heavy usage, which includes some streaming, gaming, calls, social networking, and music. The phone supports fast charging via ASUS' BoostMaster technology and supports Quick Charge 3.0. It isn't as fast as Dash Charging and takes an hour and a half to charge fully from 5 per cent. You'll get to 60 per cent in the first minutes though. The company has bundled along an 18W charger and USB-C cable. © MensXP The phone also has multiple battery modes like Power Saver that turns off background tasks, lowers brightness, and throttles the CPU. On the flipside, there's also a Performance Mode that prioritises the task at hand and slightly overclocks the CPU. Clearly, this will drain your battery faster though. The phone has stereo speakers, and they are among the loudest we've ever heard. ASUS has also added an 'outdoor' mode that basically lowers down on background audio and amplifies the dialogue or lyrics. Software: © MensXP This is where things start getting exciting. While we've always preferred a near stock experience, ASUS has done an excellent job with ZenUI 5. Gone are the days when their skin used to be cluttered, slow, and sometimes even annoying. ZenUI 5 is super smooth, efficient, and aesthetic. It is based on Android 8.0 Oreo and the company says it incorporates a host of new 'AI' features. Honestly, ASUS has overkilled it with the use of the term AI, however, the additions are very handy in day to day usage. The phone has an AI Charging that understands your sleeping pattern and charges the phone accordingly. So, if you usually keep your phone aside at 11 AM and use it in the morning at 7 AM, it will not fast charge your phone, but shut off charging in the middle of the night and completely charge it early in the morning. This way, the battery takes the lesser stress and overall longevity is improved. If you have a very dynamic sleeping cycle like me, charging times can also be manually scheduled. © MensXP Even the App Drawer has an AI-powered auto-suggestion for apps, the phone understands the apps that you frequently use along with the pattern, like if you open Instagram and then Snapchat, the phone knows you are on a social networking spree. There is also a Game toolbar that locks the navigation bar, disables notifications and optimises performance for the best gaming experience. While we appreciate the plethora of nifty features ASUS has incorporated, the phone misses out on Gesture support. While almost every other phone today has some kind of gesture navigation, the ZenFone 5Z completely skips it. After using the iPhone X and OnePlus 6, it has almost become a bare necessity. But again, this is purely a personal preference and the conventional navigation bars on this phone are perfect. The fingerprint scanner is super-fast and is located at a very ergonomic position so you'll never have to stretch your fingers. The phone also has support for Face Unlock, but it has been very disappointing. Very rarely was I able to actually unlock the phone with it, and even if it works, it's extremely slow. 9/10 times I preferred to simply use the fingerprint scanner than wait for it to detect my face and then unlock. Camera: © MensXP The ZenFone 5Z has a dual camera setup on the rear consisting of a 12MP dual-pixel image sensor powered by Sony IMX363 and a secondary 8-megapixel camera with a wide-angle lens while the front has an 8-megapixel sensor. As far as the rear camera is concerned, the images are sharp and the colour is well-balanced in well-lit conditions. The dynamic range is average, though the HDR is a little too strong. As far as portrait shots are concerned, the OnePlus 6 wins here. The ZenFone 5Z isn't always able to make out headgear or spectacles, and the blur often looks very artificial. ASUS says the portrait output will be improvised with a software update, and we've already received one. Yet, there hasn't been any significant change. One thing I really like is the low-light performance though. The AI kicks in, increases exposure and shutter speed very well and the output is very good. The availability of a pro-mode makes this even better. The wide-angle mode is top-notch, and the best part is that pictures don't get grainy even at the corners. © MensXP One issue I noticed was, the rear camera often had trouble balancing the warmth. Taking pictures at sunset from an aeroplane, the output was just too cool while the OnePlus 6 and iPhone 7 grabbed the colours very well. I tried shifting and refocusing, but nothing worked. I purposely didn't intend to change the AWB manually and was curious whether the phone is able to fix the issue on its own. The front camera, in my opinion, is a miss. The pictures are often too grainy in low-light, the beautification is often too harsh, and the pictures lack detail. Whether you like it or not, the AI that sits inside the phone has no switch-off key. For those who aren't much into photography may not care, but it does tend to get annoying when you actually don't need its help. Samples: © MensXP © MensXP © MensXP © MensXP © MensXP © MensXP © MensXP Final Verdict: ASUS has definitely built a near perfect flagship phone, one that can and is definitely, in fact, taking on the OnePlus 6. The deal gets even more tempting when we consider the price-gap between the two. The ZenFone 5Z has expandable storage, glass design, and worthy features while the OnePlus 6 has the most stable and trusted OxygenOS, better camera, and a slightly better display. For photography aficionados out there, the answer is simple, go with the OnePlus 6. For all other casual users out there, should you buy this phone? Yes. I'd highly recommend it. ASUS has a history of spotty software updates, but in the last few months we've seen the company actively push out fixes and the company is confident it will continue to do so in the coming years. OnePlus 6 is a perfect phone right now, but when you can save Rs 4-5K, why not go with the ZenFone 5Z?
  20. Even though we've seen everything about the Galaxy Note 9 thanks to a collection of leaks in the past few weeks, Samsung announced their flagship smartphone today. The South Korean company announced the Galaxy Note 9 in New York today and here's what the smartphone is all about. Specifications And Features (c) Samsung The Galaxy Note 9 has a 6.4-inch (16.26 cm) QHD+ Super AMOLED Infinity Display with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio and has a resolution of 1440 x 2960 pixels. Currently, the smartphone runs on Android 8.1 out of the box and will be getting support for Android Pie sometime later in the year. The smartphone is powered by Snapdragon 845 SoC in the United States; however, India will be getting a variant with the Exynos 9820 processor. The processor is clocked at 1.9 GHz and is paired with 6GB or 8GB of RAM. In terms of battery, the smartphone is outfitted with a 4,000 mAh battery and is expected to last longer than its predecessor. The battery can be charged wireless and also supports quick charging. The smartphone is also outfitted with a fingerprint sensor at the back and has the additional feature of IRIS scanning. In terms of internal storage, the smartphone will come in two variants i.e. 128GB (6GB RAM) and 512 GB (8GB RAM). Internal storage can also be expanded to 1TB, thanks to the new microSD slot. Camera (c) Samsung The Galaxy Note 9 has a dual camera setup at the rear, both being 12-megapixel sensors. The primary sensor has a variable aperture of f/1.5-2.4 (1.4µm), optical image stabilisation and has dual pixel phase detection autofocus. The secondary camera has an aperture of f/2.4 and supports 2x optical zoom. The dual camera setup can also take portrait images that give a blur effect behind a subject. The camera is capable of taking videos at different speeds and frame rate, i.e. 2160p@60fps, 1080p@240fps, 720p@960fps, HDR, and also features dual-video recording. The All New S Pen (c) Samsung The Galaxy Note 9 comes with a brand new S Pen that does more than just being a stylus. The new S Pen is powered by Bluetooth and has a button for additional functionality. For example, the S Pen button can be used to play/pause music and can also be used to control the camera. The S Pen will flip the phone's camera with a double tap of the button. It can even take pictures for you without ever touching the phone. The S Pen can also be used to give presentations on Microsoft Powerpoint The S Pen will work for 30 minutes after 40 seconds of charging which is remarkable considering it has Bluetooth support. Additional Features (c) Samsung Samsung has also refined the AR Emoji feature on the smartphone that is now capable of detecting facial expressions with more accuracy. In other features, the Galaxy Note 9 also has better support Samsung DeX, which will transform the smartphone into a full-blown PC when connected via the special dock. Pricing And Other Details (c) Samsung The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 will retail for $1000 (128GB) and $1250 (8GB + 512GB). The smartphone will launch in four colours i.e. blue, brown, black, lavender and grey. The Galaxy Note 9 is expected to launch in India later this month and we will be right there with you to give you the news.
  21. The Pixel 2 launched last year and it was probably the most talked about Android flagship device then. We've been using the phone for almost a year and the smartphone hasn't let us down in any category so far. Google released Android Pie for the device today and our experience has been enhanced even more since the update. Since its release, many notable devices like the OnePlus 6 and the Galaxy S9 have been launched, that can give the Pixel 2 some tight competition. Having said that, the Pixel 2 has a few advantages over its counterparts that make it a flagship worth owning. This is not a knock on the OnePlus 6, as we already know it outperforms the Pixel 2 by a great margin. But not everything is about performance. Here's why we feel the Pixel 2 is still a great smartphone you can invest in today: 1. It Still Has The Best Camera © BCCL The Pixel 2, in our opinion, takes some of the most incredible shots with its single camera sensor. It still takes pictures today that can outmatch almost every smartphone available today. The Huawei P20 Pro comes close, but it still doesn't deliver what the Pixel 2 can do. Pixel 2 also has the gyro-based EIS with the OIS that makes video footage look smoother and stable. The sharpness of pictures from the Pixel 2 is still king and we feel that it can only beaten by the Pixel 3 later this year. Low-Light imagery on the Pixel 2 is out of this world and is capable of capturing the minutest of details that most phones cannot. Here are a few sample images below for your reference: These pictures were taken on the #Pixel2, not a DSLR. A post shared by Akshay Bhalla / Høax (@editorinchief) on Aug 7, 2018 at 1:43am PDT 2. Android's Best Experience Is On The Pixel The OnePlus 6 delivers a near perfect experience of stock Android, however, the Pixel smartphones always get updates before everyone else. On top of that, the Pixel also gets some exclusive features that are not available on other Android phones (for example Google's algorithm for Bokeh pictures). Services like Google Maps, Gmail, Docs, Keep are fine-tuned and deeply integrated with Pixel's OS. If you like and have already invested in Google's ecosystem, then services like Google Home, Chromecast and Google Wi-Fi should work without any hiccups. 3. It's A Steal Right Now © YouTube At the time of this story, the Pixel 2 retails for Rs 53,899 on Flipkart. If you've always been wanting a smartphone that can take amazing pictures and also performs like a beast, this is probably a steal for you right now. Sure, it's a little bit more expensive than the OnePlus 6, but you do get a superior camera in return. 4. It Has Unlimited Photo Storage © Google The Pixel 2 may not have expandable storage, however, it does support unlimited picture storage via the Google Photos app. On every smartphone, the maximum number of storage is utilised by all the pictures you take, which often makes you want to delete memories or take a backup. Google Photos on the Pixel smartphones automatically backs up your gallery without you ever having to deal with manual labour. This in turn also leaves you extra room for storing music, comic books, games and other apps. Not All Is Rosy Though Even though we've stated some great things about the Pixel 2 above, every smartphone comes with caveats. First of all, the Pixel 2 does not have an imaginative design like other flagship devices. It has noticeable bezels and a bulky design when compared to the Galaxy S9 or the OnePlus 6. © Google The other annoying missing feature is the lack of a headphone jack. Google opted to provide water resistance and removed the headphone jack in the process. The company replaced it with stereo speakers which are a plus point if you like to watch videos with the loudspeaker on. Having said that, if you are an audiophile, you will not enjoy the sound quality over Bluetooth which can be a major drawback. If you want to use your wired headphones, you will need to carry the supplied dongle with you everywhere and guard it with your life. If you want to know more about why Bluetooth headphones are inferior to wired earphones/headphones, you can read our explanation here
  22. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif speaks during a UK PMLN Party Workers Convention meeting with supporters in London on July 11, 2018. Photo: AFP ISLAMABAD: Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif has challenged the rejection of a petition to transfer...