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Sony’s Current Flagship the Xperia XZ

“Sony Xperia XZ” Sony’s Current Flagship Model

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The Sony Xperia XZ is a premium smartphone which offers many specifications one should expect from a “flagship model”. If you are a newcomer to the realm of Sony this may be a good purchase, but if you already own a Sony device, it may not be compelling enough to buy.

Quick Take-Away Specifications:

  • Display: 5.2 Inch Full HD Triluminos IPS LCD
  • Processor: Quad-Core, 64-bit Snapdragon 820
  • Graphics: Qualcomm Adreno 530
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32 GB (single SIM), 64 GB (dual SIM model) +microSD support up to 256 GB
  • Dimensions: 146 x 72 x 8.1 mm
  • Weight: 161g
  • IP rating: IP65/IP68
  • Main Camera: 23 MP with triple image sensing, predictive hybrid autofocus, 5-axis stabilization
  • Front Camera: 13 MP
  • Battery: 2,900 mAh, Quick Charge 3.0, Qnovo Adaptive Charging, USB Type-C
  • Fingerprint sensor: Yes, (outside of U.S.)
  • Connectivity: A-GNSS (GPS+GLONASS), Wi-Fi Miracast, Bluetooth 4.2

Pros

  • Refined Design
  • Strong improvements on camera
  • Waterproofing
  • Speedy performance
  • Hi-Res Audio Support
  • Vibrant Display
  • MicroSD Slot
  • 3.5mm Headphone Jack
  • Comfortable in hand
  • Great Camera Features

Cons

  • Fingerprint scanner not available for US models
  • No Nougat yet
  • Display is running FHD
  • Design may be feeling aged for some
  • Speakers are underwhelming
  • Expensive

The Sony Xperia XZ is the fourth flagship within the last two years. After the death of the Xperia Z line up Sony is beefing up its X series. Their latest and strongest offering is the Xperia XZ.

Some Features

  • Fingerprint sensor is fast (only available on some markets)
  • Water Resistance is back (IP68 Rating)
  • Users can enjoy PS4 games on the Xperia XZ display

The XZ is a combination of all of Sony’s developed tech. Water resistant designs make a return this time around along with speedy finger print scanner (but not for all markets). Users can also play PS4 games on your device.

Sony had a lot of fun with adverts showing their tablets and devices being water resistant in the shower and various other scenes. This has returned with the XZ. Users will not have to worry about a bit of water splashing on your beloved device.

The XZ holds a higher water resistance standard than the S7 Edge and the iPhone 7 Plus with the IP68 rating. As with any water resistance, it is always warned to never keep phone’s submerged for long periods of time (usually 30 minutes in about 1 meter depths of water). The device uses a 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB-C port which are both opened. Despite the open design the phone is water resistant to a higher degree.

The finger print reader was included on the model for some markets only. In the U.S. this feature is not available. The Fingerprint scanner is located on the Power Button which is found on the right hand side of the phone. This is a perfect position as your thumb is usually resting there. The sensor is also extremely fast working instantaneously as soon as you hit your power button.

PS4 Remote Play is also included into the package. User’s can play PS4 games on the Xperia XZ over the same Wi-Fi network the PS4 is on. This is only useful under a handful of circumstances such as; when someone is using the TV or when you need to keep it on the down low.

This brings us to the…

Display

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The Sony Xperia XZ has a 5.2 inch display integrated. It is also worth noting that we do not see a QHD display here, rather a FHD (full HD display). The display is still bright enough and looks great, nonetheless. FHD should help with battery life as it does not have as many pixels to operate compared to the S7 Edge (from Samsung) running a Quad HD display. The XZ may not be the best choice, however, for VR as it only contains 424 ppi (Pixels per Inch). Usually in VR situations users would want the highest ppi density available for a more enjoyable visual experience. (Compare 424 ppi to the Galaxy S7 Edge’s 534 ppi).

Moving on to the…

Design

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  • New high quality materials used on the back of the phone
  • Feels comfortable
  • Looks good

The design language has not change much over the course of the years with Sony phones. This is not necessarily a bad thing at all. It does mean that Sony is very consistent with their design and customers can identify a Sony phone from all other devices a lot easier compared to comparing the iPhone 7 with the iPhone 6S.

The build quality is premium. Sony calls the materials used “ALKALEIDO”. In practice, you won’t really see anything drastically different compared to other metal phones. However, the feeling of the device is different. It also looks a lot better than the glass window panel found on the Xperia Z series. The device, unfortunately, is still prone to finger prints.

The phone is easiest to hold in your hand compared to all other Sony devices put out into the markets. The boxy design remains but Sony has cut the corners a bit to give it a bit more of a rounded edge (not much though). We believe all of this helps to contribute to an overall more comfortable usage experience.

The top and bottom edges of the device are flat. This is unique compared to many flag ship phones out there with curved sides. This enables the XZ to stand up literally on its own.

The 3.5mm head phone jack is found at the top of the phone and a USB – C slot at the bottom of the device. MicroSD support is available with the tray found on the left hand side. This doubles as a SIM tray.

On the right hand side we find the power button (doubling as the speedy fingerprint sensor array / * Only found in some markets) with the volume button rockers a bit below that. Then we find the camera key. The camera key is uniquely useful when trying to take pictures. A lot of smartphone manufacturers have long since compromised by key mapping the shutter button to other buttons such as the volume or other available buttons on the phone. However, the placement of the camera button on the Xperia XZ is what makes it quite nice to have.

Multimedia

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  • Speakers are weaker than expected
  • 32 GB of storage + 256 GB microSD support
  • Powerful processor for gaming
  • Android 6 with Android 7 (Nougat) coming up
  • UI is clean

Sony is one of many manufacturers who are opting for a more Google-esque look. We all know what Google’s stock Android UI looks like. Some love it, some hate it. We love the diversity of Android UI’s and creativity founded upon an open sourced spirit. With that aside we have noticed the awkward duplicated apps of (Sony Messages, Phone, Contacts). We wish they can remove Google apps that make a lot of their own Sony Designed apps repetitive.

Sony also included Playstation, Xperia Lounge and Movie Creator. You can download PS4 Remote Play from the Google Play Store. Bloatware includes an AVG app, Kobo app, and Amazon app.

Out of the box the XZ runs on Android 6.0 (Marshmellow) but we know that Android 7.0 Nougat is coming soon to many users.

Multimedia Continued…

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The Full HD display is bright and it is big enough (somewhere between small and too big). User’s will be able to enjoy the fast processing speeds provided by the Snapdragon 820 processor when working with multimedia apps. The Adreno 530 GPU on board also provides huge boosts in graphical performance in games and other media.

The speakers on the phone, however, feel a little underwhelming. The highest volume feels weak when directly compared to other high end mobiles. Sony included their own Music app which has an interesting integration with Spotify or Google Play Music. On the bright side the XZ supports Hi-Res audio files such as FLAC, ALAC, DSD, and LPCM. The audio system can also upscale a compressed music file to present a more vibrant sound. You can hear this difference with a good set of head sets.

32GB is not enough. The size of the apps on Android are ever increasing and the extra storage space that apps take (Kakaotalk, Spotify… etc) become enormous (upwards to a few GB’s due to images, videos saved, cached files, offline music). But Sony does include a 256 GB microSD support slot.

Performance and Specs

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The Xperia XZ uses the Snapdragon 820 processor alongside 3 GB’s of RAM. The performance is reliable. The 820 processor is one of the best on the market as of this moment still (Until the 835 comes out). You are hardpressed to find lag, performance issues with any games you play, or apps you run. Everyday tasks are also reliable and quick. The phones were also difficult to heat up to high levels. They do get warm but nothing that causes concern.

 

Battery Life and Camera

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  • Non- Removable 2900 mAh battery
  • Great camera but not the best of the best
  • 23 MP Rear sensor
  • 5-axis Stabilization is software based

If you take a look at all the camera modules installed in all the smartphones around the world you would find that the majority is manufactured by Sony themselves. Unfortunately, Sony does not seem to have their own camera modules perfect compared to other flagship devices released thus far. Albeit there has been a lot of improvements made to their camera systems embedded into the XZ and all other X series and Z series Sony phones but there are still a ways to go for them. There is a new sensor in the Xpera XZ along with a 23 MP resolution the new sensor enables a software based 5 axis stabilization system. There is also a new auto focus sensor, RGBC-IR focus system to capture better white balance in varying lighting conditions.

Unlike Sony’s flagship cameras such as the A7 mark II or the A5000 APS-C camera the Xperia XZ smartphone does not have any moving parts for its 5-axis stabilization system. It is all purely software based. The stabilization activates when the user records up close or takes macro shots. All other shooting situations uses its 3-axis stabilization instead. From tests we found that images and recordings were extremely stable and we were hard pressed to see any warping or distortion in our footage.

The Front facing selfie camera is a 13 MP sensor. A lot of details and colors are captured easily with this system and the front facing camera also enables zooming and cropping shots.

The app behind the camera is very simple. You have Superior Auto, Manual, Video Recording, AR Effect, Sweep Panorama and the usual Time Shift (or Hyperlapse) video recording / photography options. It is a straight forward app with lots of functions you can have fun playing around with. The only issue we found was that the HDR mode was found only deep within the apps settings and was usable only during Manual Mode.

The dedicated camera key we mentioned earlier comes with its pros. With one click of the button we can instantly launch the camera and take quick snaps of the life that goes on around us. The image quality was found to be pretty good. For a smartphone the images are very sharp and detailed and colors are a little more truer to life. To track movement of objects Sony implemented a predictive hybrid auto focus system which is also found in many other smart phones. As long as objects move across your sensor at reasonable speed the image should be quite sharp.

In low light situations we still see a fair amount of details. Images have somewhat lower amounts of noise but we found that the camera overexposes its shots. The camera is sometimes very slow at taking a picture when there is not enough light.

Conclusion

We like this phone. It is a great step for Sony and provides some of the best that Sony has to offer till now. If you already own a Sony product we aren’t quite sure if it is enough of an upgrade for you. Perhaps wait a bit to see what else Sony has planned in a year or two. However, if you are someone who is in need of a smartphone soon (and not currently living in the U.S.) we do recommend the Sony Xperia XZ. It has good camera capabilities, vibrant and bright display, strong performance with up to date internal hardware, and a cleaned up UI to enjoy. Android 7.0 should be in the works and soon released as well for the rest of the market.

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Unlock Your Sony Xperia XZ Today!

 

Unlocking Phones with Iris Scanner

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Unlocking With The Eyes: 3 Phones That Use An Iris Scanner

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is undoubtedly the first phone that features an iris scanner, i.e. it

uses your eyes to unlock your phone. They’re rumored to be more secure than the biometric

finger scanners which hackers are now known to fool using high-resolution images. But iris

scans are one of the most accurate forms of biometric scans available today. Is this the

technology of the future, or a security nightmare – given the fact that fake irises can be used for

identity theft? Time will tell, but for now, here are 3 phones that use the iris scanner technology

to unlock phones:

– The Microsoft 950 XL

Besides the front facing and the rear facing cameras, the Lumia 950 XL has an infrared camera

and another camera that’s designed to take pictures of your eyes. It works with different light

conditions and captures your biometric information. This information then is validated with the

information stored on your phone. The entire process takes around 2 seconds or even less. If it

fails to recognize, use the PIN you’ve already created.

– The 2018 iPhone

This is just a rumor, but one floated by CNET, so there must be some credibility to it. There were

rumors that Taiwan-based Xintec may provide iris-scanners for this purpose. Are they going to

use the technology? We’ll have to wait until 2018 for news on that. They do have a patent on

device control mechanism using face-detection and recognition, though. Whenever’s the release

date, we’ll be there to help you unlock your AT&T iPhone!

– Fujitsu NX F-046

The iris scanning technology isn’t the only unique feature of this phone. The phone boasts of a

5.2-inch display with 2K resolution powered by octacore Snapdragon 810 CPU.

Whatever phone you buy, there’s no reason to stay tied to your carrier. Call us to unlock your

phone. We unlock AT&T iPhones, Samsung Galaxy, and other brands.

The New Qualcomm Snapdragon 835

Introducing the New Qualcomm Snapdragon 835

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Qualcomm in conjuction with Samsung announced the creation of their newest silicon called the MSM8998 Snapdragon 835. It replaces the Snapdragon 821 and will offer significant improvements to speed, performance, and efficiency. Based on an advanced 10nm FinFET process (thanks to Samsung) we can expect to see a boost in performance and efficiency. Since last years 16nm SoC we can see a 35% reduction in processor size which in turn uses approximately 25% less power compared to previous designs. Qualcomm advertises this feature to provide exceptional battery life on your devices.

Qualcomm’s interest in the AR / VR market is clearly shown in the SD 835 as well. The processor is now optimized to take advantage of all the rigorous requirements that VR and AR applications demand which ranges from highly advanced camera systems to extremely fast Gigabit Class download speeds.

The Snapdragon 835 is the new processor that will be found in most 2017 flagship devices going forward. We expect Samsung to include this in their upcoming Snapdragon 835. The new chip is much smaller than a penny and contains 3 billion transistors. Due to the chip being 1000 times thinner than a strand of hair we expect devices to have bigger batteries, notable efficiency improvements and longer battery life.

Features

The Snapdragon 835 contains an octa-core (finally!) set up compared to last years Snapdragon 820/821. They are calling each core the Kryo 280. Clock speeds reach up to 2.45GHz. An octa – core cpu is actually a QUAD core cpu on top of another Quad core set up. Utilizing the big.LITTLE architecture enables the processor to utilize the faster 2.45GHz quad core when needed then to take it easy with the more efficient 1.8 GHz quad core’s also available.

The SoC also includes a newer Adreno 540 GPU on board which is said to be 24%  faster in graphics rendering with half the power consumption compared to the Snapdragon 801 while still giving a 20% performance boost over the relatively new Snapdragon 820.

Cristiano Amon, executive vice president of Qualcomm stated: “Our new flagship Snapdragon processor is designed to meet the demanding requirements of mobile virtual reality and ubiquitous connectivity while supporting a variety of thin and light mobile designs”.

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Battery Life

Qualcomm gave us a list of battery life figures as well. It is as following:

  • 1+ day talk time
  • 2+ hours VR gaming
  • 3+ hours continuous 4K video capture
  • 5+ days music
  • 7+ hours 4K video streaming
  • 11+ hours 4K video playback

Battery life is a huge topic in any conversations regarding smartphones. They are mobile and we expect them to stay mobile without being tethered to a wall or charger for as long as possible. Qualcomm’s statement of better battery life may be exaggerated as many manufacturers tend to do but we have high hopes for this processor. We can tell, on paper, that the Snapdragon 835 has the ability to be the most efficient processor to date.

The 10nm FinFET Process has a part to play in this. Utilizing Qualcomm’s Symphony System Manager the processor directs tasks to various parts of the chip in an efficient manner (Cpu, Gpu, DSP, Isp etc.)

On top of this we see the introduction of Quick Charge 4.0 coming into play. Qualcomm claims that users can charge for 5 minutes for 5 hours of use. This is a huge improvement from the 30 minutes of charging = 5 hours of use days (QC 2.0) and QC 4.0 is still faster than last years QC (Quick Charge) 3.0 by 20%.

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Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

A huge talking point for Qualcomm is in the realm of AR and VR. They decked out their chip with various features to meet the specifications demanded by applications found in this market. We are talking about live entertainment, 3D Video recordings, communication in AR/VR and of course gaming. Thanks to a faster GPU, CPU and support for 4K UHD Qualcomm aims to deliver a jitter free display.

The processor is claimed to be able to render 60 times more color compared to previous generations and also generate true-to-life sounds using an integrated 3D positional audio. Qualcomm states that the Snapdragon 835 also totes superior signal to noise ratio and support for DSD format which should provide high fidelity in the audio section. Qualcomm states the chip is capable of 15ms of MTP latency (motion to photon latency) which is a 20 percent reduction from the past on top of 6 degrees of freedom for precise and intuitive motion tracking. The chip can support Daydream as well.

Qualcomm states that this is made possible by isolating each section of the chip via a heterogeneous computing approach. The audio, video, and motion functions are designed to deliver their best on their own which should all come together to provide a fantastic experience.

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Image Processing

The chip is what also controls how your camera captures the world around you. The SD 835 improves on image quality compared to previous generations. Qualcomm included improvements to zoom and stabilization’s for images and videos utilizing optimized algorithms to toggle between the Qualcomm Spectra 180 ISP, Hexagon 682 DSP, and Adreno 540 GPU to create a smooth zoom experience. They implemented a new generation of video stabilization that they call the EIS 3.0. This is engineered to provide 4K video stabilization through advanced yaw and roll. They claim that this should also reduce rolling shutter issues.

Of course, improvements have been made to auto-focusing, and they’ve included support for a new feature called the Dual Photodiode (2PD). Qualcomm Clear Sight is found in the chip again which enables improved sharpness and noise reduction.

Connectivity and Network Performance

Qualcomm improved on last years connectivity functions as well. Including the new Snapdragon X16 Gigabit LTE modem and support for 802.11ad multi-gigabit alongside the 2×2 11ac MU-MIMO Wi-Fi users can experience 10x faster than first-generation 4G LTE devices. This means that a 4K movie which is approximately around 100 GB in average size could be downloaded in about 13 – 15 minutes. Anything smaller (such as a Blu-ray movie) would be completed within a fraction of that time. It is good to know that we have chipsets that support such massive speeds, but it is ultimately up to your network provider to provide said speeds. These speeds are not yet available everywhere and only in certain regions of the world.

 

 

 

Long Term Review: Apple iPhone SE

Long Term Review: Apple iPhone SE

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We are revisting an Apple product that we feel was one of the better devices amongst smartphones released. The iPhone SE. This fantastic device falls somewhere between High end and Mid range in terms of specs but the majority of it (from the build to the hardware) is very high end. This phone uses body of the iPhone 5S device but contains the more powerful iPhone 6S hardware. Because it uses the iPhone 5S’ body we find it to be the perfect phone if you want a smaller device but that still uses powerful specs. This phone is for smartphone users who want a smaller foot print.

Features:

  • 4 Inch IPS Retina Screen
  • iOS 10 (latest)
  • A9 Dual-Core processor
  • 2 GB RAM
  • Touch ID fingerprint sensor
  • 1624 mAh battery
  • 16 or 64 GB storage
  • 12 MP rear camera
  • 1.2 MP FaceTime Front facing camera
  • Live photos
  • Relatively cheap ranging from 200 – 400$

The iPhone SE is not the newest device out there today (2017 January) but it still deserves a lot of credit. Today Apple totes their newest iPhone 7 and 7 Plus smartphone devices. Despite the fancy new devices pumping out each year we found that the iPhone SE is the unsung hero. The iPhone SE has a three year old design (due to it using the iPhone 5S’ body) but sales for these devices did not slack due to its powerful hardware. It supports Apple pay and is as fast as last years iPhone 6S.

Design, Screen and Audio

Many people do not fail to mention that they would like to have a smaller device. Even in our own office we have some who would love to ditch the trend for larger screens and go for a high end but small screen, small body device. Enter the iPhone SE. A fantastic choice for anyone who wants just that. The iPhone SE comes in standard colors of white and black but this time it includes the iPhone 6S’ Rose Gold colour model. The cut edges of the body show matte rather than a shiny chrome. The iPhone 5S’ design is very iconic and used for so many adverts and graphic designs. It is the design that everyone is familiar with. The brushed aluminium back is cool to the touch, the buttons are premium, and the device is small enough to be used one-handed.

After so many cycles of giant screened smart phones people would have a bit of a hard time getting used to the small screen again. The keyboard is smaller, the options and buttons are a lot smaller and require more squinting and close ups with your eyes.

Some aspects about the design is a bit out dated and may not be the best over time. This includes the sharp edges of this boxy device. Over time it can feel a bit too edgy compared to the rounded, curved edges found on today’s flagship models. Since this was a few years ago as well the screen technology and trend for bezeless displays were not in force at the time. This means the iPhone SE has rather large bezel’s for a small screen. The screen resolution is a 1136 x 640 with a sharp 326 ppi (pixels per inch). This screen, however, does feel out dated compared to AMOLED displays. Despite these little issues the display is bright and sharp.

There is a headphone jack, 2 speaker grills at the bottom and the lightning port. As usual the sound quality is decent. The audio of the head set is great as well. Good call quality, loud ear speaker and good noise cancelling on calls.

Camera

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The Camera on the iPhone SE is fantastic. Especially because the SE costs a lot less than the iPhone 6S.

The front camera, however, seems to drop the ball. It uses a 1.2 MP sensor compared to the 5 MP found on the iPhone 6S. Megapixel’s are not everything but when it comes to details and quality they can matter at such a difference between the SE and the 6S.

The iPhone SE does have the Retina Flash feature. This lights up your display 3 times its brightness a few times to light up your face for a selfie.

Performance

The iPhone SE uses a dual core A9 processor with 2 GB of RAM included. On benchmarks it doesn’t sweat at all beating many of its competition. It uses the identical processor found in the 6S so it can blast through hardcore gaming without any issues.

The device has a small screen which enables higher framerates as it taxes the cpu / gpu a lot less. The device doesn’t get too hot and you wont find any stuttering. We give props to the optimization process that Apple demands all apps strictly adhere to.

The A9 processor also includes an M9 co-processor which kicks in as a lower powered processor for lower end applications and jobs. This saves a lot of power. The SE does last a long time in terms of battery life.

The iPhone SE lacks the 3D Touch feature which enables additional options when pressing with varying pressures on the phone screen.

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Should I buy the iPhone SE?

For those in need of a smaller phone that is usable with one hand but also not wanting to compromise on specs this is the phone to buy. We recommend getting the 64 GB model instead of the 16 GB as iPhone’s cannot use microSD to expand memory and 16 GB is just not enough at all. The performance is solid, build quality is great and camera works great (except the front facing selfie camera). We highly recommend this device if you are considering it.

iPhone 7 Plus Long Term Review: Is it still worth it?

iPhone 7 Plus Long Term Review: Is it still worth it?

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When the iPhone 7 Plus first released many reviewers and fans were not impressed. Apple seemed to have lost their “magic” touch that accompanied all their previous releases. Alongside the exclusion of the 3.5mm headphone jack and a design that screams iPhone 6S  it seemed to have let down a host of people. Today we take a look at the iPhone 7 Plus once more after some months have passed by. We want to focus on collective data found on the battery life, performance, camera, and what it was like to not have the 3.5 headphone jack.

Yes, the iPhone 7 does look like the iPhone 6s or 6s plus without a doubt. So many times have we ourselves still been confounded when asked which is which. Only the experienced and the tech enthusiast would be able to tell once they examine both devices closely. Regardless of this issue the iphone 7 Plus is still a nicely crafted device. We prefer the matte black colour as the jet black attracted way too much finger prints and mysterious scratches that amassed over time. Is the iPhone 7 Plus a good upgrade? Or is Apple stalling for time for the upcoming iPhone 8? What should iPhone 6 Plus (2014) owners do?

Let’s get this out of the way: Headphone Jack

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This is Apples biggest move in that they really enraged millions of people around the world. It, however, can be a huge step towards a new generation of jack-less devices. We do not see it as an innovation. We have seen schematics and arguments of better technological advancements because of this move. One argument asserts that because audio streaming is moved to the lightning port headphone makers can create their own DAC / sound chips integrated into their headsets and control how the headphones read the signal waves coming from the device. We just found it inconvenient of having to carry around an extra little line just to plug your expensive 3.5mm headphones into and also lose the ability to charge while using the device (sitting at the office). Of course you can alleviate the issue with another adaptor but if I am paying over 1000$ for this device I would appreciate not needing to pay more for basic features.

CU Verdict: Inconvenient Decision that can affect many. Looking forward to what Apple has planned to further this move.

Brand New Home Button:

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We love the new home button designed by Apple. This is something I wish other manufacturers can learn from. Gone are the old days of physical home buttons and here we are living the days of technological advancement’s. At first we were afraid as to what removing a physical button meant as we were used to Android devices with capacitive home buttons (which we did not fully like in any phones released thus far. However, this was a completely different story and a good game changer. The home button works as a special haptic feedback device on its own. It actually feels like a physical button when it is not. When you click into it you get a very nice feedback which is followed by another feedback when you let go. The cool thing is that you can click and hold onto the home button and the second feedback does not come until you let go. A pleasantly engineered feedback engine combined with a nice glass body made it a joy to simply click the home button. We believe Apple uses their 3D Touch which they have been working on for a while to make this possible.

CU Verdict: Fantastic, we loved the new Home Button and this raises the bar for what a quality home button should look like.

Camera:

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The Camera is the iPhone 7 Plus’s strong suit. Compared to the iPhone 6S Plus we can see large improvements overall. The colours are a lot more realistic, and photos are a lot more detailed and sharper in low light circumstances. People who are into photography would be quite pleased with the iPhone 7 Plus’ performance. Apple did a good job as usual on the camera front. We enjoyed the unique depth of field mode which makes the back ground shallow compared to your subject. All of this is done in the software but we really liked how it came out. iPhone’s cannot replace DSLR camera’s for Pro work just yet but it is slowly getting there.

The iPhone 7 Plus includes a secondary camera which functions as the “telephoto” module. This module is capable of taking high quality photos with a narrower field of view (2x zoom). Many users can take meaningful photos using this module when you need that extra reach without losing quality or detail.

CU Verdict: The Camera may be worth buying this new device for.

Battery Life:

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There is not much to say here, the battery life is actually almost the same as the older iPhone 6s Plus. In a way that could be good as the iPhone 7 has some newer features. Some reported worse battery life while others reported slightly better usage times. Overall, not much is talked about here as it is neither an improvement nor a downgrade compared to the older iPhone 6s Plus.

CU Verdict: No Impact.

Performance and Display:

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Looking at real world usages we found that the iPhone 7 Plus does have a slight Edge against the iPhone 6S Plus. Of course, all phones today are blazing fast already and we have pretty much hit quite a plateau in terms of real world performances amongst the high end devices. Even though the iPhone 7 Plus features the newer Apple A10 processor which is advertised to have significant boosts in power and speed we could not see too much of this. Apple iOS apps are already incredibly optimized and we have had zero performance issues with the iPhone 6S Plus. However, we have seen a bit of speed improvements overall when we paid attention. It isn’t too much but it is there. We attribute this to the additional RAM (3 GB) integrated into the iPhone 7 Plus. The Display is still a fantastic thing to look at. Apple manages to nail this on all their devices year after year. This year Apple included greater colour accuracy by tweaking and improving the Gamut colour schemes in the display. We heard that Apple purchased a huge batch of OLED displays from Samsung for an amount of about 2 Billion$ last year. We are saddened to not see this in the iPhone 7 Plus but we guess it will come out for the iPhone 8 instead.

CU Verdict: Not much Impact, Display is still great.

Water Resistance:

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Apple finally introduces an official water resistance rating into their build manufacturing process. We appreciate this change and it is always welcome. It may not be the higher standards found in the S7 Edge or the LG V20 but it should suffice. No one here at the office actually dared to try and dunk our iPhone 7 Plus’ into a bowl of water yet so we could not test this feature. However, in case of accidents we believe we are well covered (just as long as it isn’t into a 50 m deep end pool). This feature would be most useful for people who need to use the iphone in wet environments. However, I would still most likely use a water proof case.

CU Verdict: It is a welcome feature that would be more appreciated by certain people out in the field our outdoors.

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Final Verdict:

Keeping everything in mind the iPhone 7 Plus is still a great device to use. We believe it is actually a good upgrade from the older iPhone 6S Plus. These days manufacturers are not introducing ground breaking features but they are good enough. Some are just nice to have (such as the newer home button). The greatest things about the iPhone 7 Plus includes the camera, new home button, improved 3D Touch, and water resistance. Some of the more mediocre facts include the battery life, lack of 3.5mm headphone jack, same design found in the iPhone 6S, and the fact that the device still does not use an OLED display. We view the iPhone 7 Plus as a great interim upgrade until you upgrade to the iPhone 8. However, for the cost and features altogether we would not have a hard time saying, save your money, and wait for the next best thing.

HTC U Ultra – Revealed

HTC U Ultra – Revealed

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HTC’s first flagship for 2017 has been revealed. With official specs and design now out we see that some rumors were right and many others were wrong. We aren’t surprised but we certainly can say that the U Ultra looks very sleek and glossy. We are not understating the fact that the device is glossy because of it’s full glass back actually is really glossy. Regardless, it is quite a device considering the fact that HTC tends to release full metal flagship devices. Is the HTC Ultra U a hit? Or is it a Miss?

Pros:

  • Up to date with modern design (think iPhone, Samsung)
  • Pretty good camera
  • HTC Sense UI is good
  • High end specs included

Cons:

  • Glossy design is a real lover for finger prints
  • Design may be a turn off for some as it is pretty cliche by now
  • Camera is not the best still
  • Small battery capacity for a large screen

Take away specs:

  • GSM/HSPA/LTE
  • Dimensions is as follows:
  • 162.4 x 79.8 x 8 mm (6.39 x 3.14 x 0.31 in)
  • 170 g weight (6.00 oz)
  • Super LCD 5 capacitive touch screen
  • 5.7 inch 1440p (513 ppi)
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 5
  •  64 GB standard storage with micro SD support
  • LIMITED EDITION: Sapphire Crystal Glass model with 128 GB instead of Corning Gorilla Glass 5
  • Secondary Display with 1040 x 160 / 2.05 in.
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 (Adreno 530 GPU)
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 12 MP f/1.8 26mm camera with OIS and 16 MP front facing camera
  • No 3.5mm Headphone Jack
  • 3000 mAh battery

Early Review

HTC’s flag ship device is not yet released to the public. Rather it was unveiled at a more intimate revealing set up by HTC themselves. When we first saw the device we could not help but only say “cool”. Nothing about the device was mind blowing. We do acknowledge that HTC is taking a new direction with build materials (with an aluminum glass body as opposed to full metallic designs) which looks more like a Samsung device than anything else. Even it’s camera and flash (along with the laser detection module) is placed exactly how the S7 Edge does. All these points aside, we must admit that HTC did indeed build a good device. Good materials and good specs should still be on any manufacturer’s agenda after all. We will see Two variants of the HTC U Ultra released. The standard Corning Gorilla Glass 5 model and a limited edition Sapphire Crystal Glass (with a 128 GB internal storage as opposed to the standard 64 GB).

HTC included a secondary screen above the main display just like the LG V20 did in 2016. This display can be kept on regardless of the state the main QHD display may be in showing information, notification, and toggle enabled applications and settings. So far, the HTC U Ultra could be a high end mix of the LG V20 and some high end Samsung device. Then again it is rare for a manufacturer to release a phone that can really set itself apart from the crowd these days. The usefulness of the secondary display can appeal to some and be a gimmick that drains battery to others.

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Overall we believe the specification’s of the HTC U Ultra can be a bit underwhelming for a 2017 flagship device. With only 3000 mAh capacity for its battery and an already aging Snapdragon 821 processor (from late 2016) we do not see anything new here. The enlarged 5.7 inch display which is a QHD display will certainly hog a lot of the juice. The Snapdragon 821 is also not known for being power efficient either. We question HTC’s decision in including only a 3000 mAh. For comparison, the S7 Edge has a smaller body and foot print but includes a 3600 mAh battery pack.  Capture2

In the HTC 10, HTC was known for including a 24 – bit DAC which amplified and enhanced the user’s audio experience. Unfortunately, the HTC Ultra U flagship device seems to be missing the 3.5mm jack which certainly means, no DAC. Instead HTC includes USB C powered audio headsets which utilizes a unique system called the HTC U Sonic. The ear buds analyzes your inner ear with sonar pulses which is said to configure and optimize the sound and quality based on the shape of your ears. It seems that removing the 3.5mm jack is still an ongoing trend.

HTC overlays the flagship with its HTC SENSE product. It is the cleanest 3rd party manufacturer design skinned on top of the base android OS. We still like it so props to HTC for keeping up with consistency on that front.

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There seems to be a growing trend to develop and introduce an in-house AI bred from within each company. HTC is no different as they introduced their own AI/Assistant feature. They call it “Sense Companion”. Sounds cool for sure and we hope that it can prove to be a useful companion. AI features are expected to perform in a very different way compared to Siri and Google Assistant which are on tap vocalized assistants. The definition of AI is to learn and adapt to the user and its surroundings (based on given sensors). Here, HTC is stating that the SENSE COMPANION will be able to learn various habits and remind you of all sorts of things ranging from schedules, recommendations of places to eat, to weather and road conditions and various others. HTC also stated that the assistant should be able to let you know if you should charge the phone a little longer to make it through the day based off of your schedule.

The HTC U Ultra is available for pre-order on htc.com for 749$ unlocked. The various colors include; Sapphire Blue, Ice White, and Brilliant Black. In some regions in the world a Cosmetic Pink will be made available.

Huawei Mate 9

Huawei Mate 9 A Beastly Smartphone

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Quick Take Away’s:

PROS:

  • Fantastic Battery life that keeps going
  • Feature-rich hardware
  • Powerful Performance
  • Porsche Design Mate 9 with advanced display
  • Small body for a large phone
  • Dual cameras for awesome photos
  • EMUI 5 is a good polished UI on top of Android

CONS:

  • Some bugs in UI
  • Full HD for the regular non Porsche Mate 9
  • Porsche Mate 9 Design is expensive
  • Low-light performance has room for improvement
  • Camera is not as effortless as the S7/S7E/Pixel

 

Many companies have come forth to present their best from the crop for 2016. Huawei has come far as well with their Mate line up. This year we see the Huawei Mate 9 (regular and Porsche design). This is a big screen Android device which could be a good alternative for people who are in the market for such specifications.

The bottom line for the Mate devices is basically; metal unibody designs, large displays, and fantastic battery life. Today we see upgraded and improved internal hardware and software. We see the fruits of their partnership with LEICA with the P9 dual camera set up. In terms of software the EMUI 5 (Emotion UI) interface is much improved and very much polished.

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Design

The Mate 9 is a large device thanks to its 5.9 inch display but because of its compact, curved aluminium build it does not feel large as it looks. The bezels are narrow and this slim design is pleasing to the eye and to your hands. We found the Mate 9 to be easier to handle compared to the iPhone 7 Plus and the Google Nexus 6P. The benefits to a large display is clearly aimed for major media users and gamer’s.

We see the power and volume keys on the left side along with the dual-SIM tray. The Mate 9 uses USB-C as its interface and it has dual speakers. The 3.5mm head phone jack is found on top. The body has a brushed aluminium along with chamfer’s to the edges providing further grip. The Mate 9 is certainly ergonomically friendly.

The LEICA dual-camera is found on the back which is set up in a vertical layout. A circle underneath the camera serves as the finger print sensor. The fingerprint sensor is blazing fast as typical Huawei design. The camera is flush with the body when used with the included case.

The Mate 9 is a good looking device, however, the Porsche Design Mate 9 is the true winner here. There is a dual curved display found on the Porsche design like you would find on the S7 EDGE. The Fingerprint sensor is moved to the front, the display is smaller, and the body is a pitch-black anodised metal that glimmers in the light.

The curved display is a design language and not a functional element.

We feel that the Mate 9 is not revolutionary but an important and strong step in their evolution in their design strategy.

Display

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The Mate 9 uses a 5.9 inch 2.5D FHD IPS display (373 ppi) while the Porsche Design brother uses a QHD 5.5 inch AMOLED dispaly with 534 ppi.

Right off the bat we can see a huge difference between these two models on the same line up. Huawei utilizes a high contrast ratio (1600:1+) which helps protect their IPS FHD displays from being non- AMOLED. It is easy to judge the regular Mate 9 for having FHD.

Both devices have a “cooler” color language. However, the Porsche Design Mate 9 has more accurate colors due to the AMOLED display.

Features such as the “blue light filter” (used during night time to reduce eye strain) is included into the device and Huawei calls it”Eye Comfort”. The Porsche Design Mate 9 maxes out in terms of brightness at 383 nits. The FHD resolution Mate 9 can go up to 600 nits which shows it is better in sunlight.

Regardless of resolution and screen type, we found that both Huawei Mate 9 displays are fantastic to look at and have no issues.

Performance

The Mate 9 sports the Kirin 960 chipset. Kirin has come a long ways throughout the years and the company is now fully capable of competing against Snapdragon, Samsung’s Exynos and other SoC manufacturers. The Kirin 960 is fast and efficient. It is made up of ARM’s latest Cortex-A73 chipset and the “octa core” chipset uses a 2.4GHz performance core (four cores) and four lower speed Cortex-A53 cores running at 1.8GHz. The Mate 9 also is the first ever to utilize the new 8-core Mali-G71 MP8 GPU. This is fantastic new’s as it beat new upcoming smartphone flagships arriving in 2017.

The Mate 9 is equipped with 4GB of RAM and either a 64GB storage or a 6GB RAM + 256 GB storage in the Porsche Design model. The Regular Mate 9 comes with expandable storage via microSD while the Porsche Design does not.

A powerful processing SoC coupled with large amounts of RAM and super fast UFS 2.1 storage speeds means that performance is top notch. There was about 2.4 to 2.6GB of free RAM with no apps running in the back ground. The number reduces down to 1.5 GB RAM free when you have about 20 Apps up and running. This is impressive compared to other flag ships out there. The Mate 9 comes closer to PC- levels of optimisation’s and resource utilization. Huawei programmed a new machine learning algorithm into the Mate 9 software. This learn’s user habits and prioritises most frequently used applications to make sure the right amount of resources are made available when necessary.

Battery Life

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Huawei devices normally have the best battery life found anywhere. The 4,000 MAh battery is equipped with Huawei’s SuperCharge which charges the device in 90 minutes. Screen on time ranges from 4 to 8 hours easily with 6 weeks of use. The device lasts all day easily  and can keep going for days. The Mate 9 is proof that flag ship devices with strong internals can have lasting battery lives.

The PD (Porsche Design) Mate 9 also includes a Dark Mode within it’s settings which would allow users to save that extra power by switching it’s UI completely black. It is known that AMOLED displays utilize a lot less energy when displaying black images or colors. Darker colors = More power for AMOLED displays.

Standard power saving modes are available if you some how find yourself running low on juice but need that extra help. If you are in a very tight bind with power and you see no power outlet in sight Huawei included the Ultra Power Saving mode as well which reduces the phone’s functionality but will drastically improve battery life even further until you can find a power outlet or get home. On top of these two setting’s we found a “Low-Res” mode for additional power savings which would be quite useful for long drawn out days.

Regardless of which power saving mode you may choose, we found that the battery life of the mate 9 was fantastic. “Battery Anxiety” was not experienced with this device as we did with many other high end devices out there. Even with a mixed usage of LTE and Wi-Fi we are left with more than 50% of battery life at the end of the day. Our usage was estimated at about 35% battery life per charge! Which puts us at about 4 to 8 hours of screen on time. However, it is easy to use your battery life if you use it exclusively on LTE. LTE is a power hungry connectivity function so it is to be expected. Another important factor, that affects all mobile devices, is spotty reception. If the device starts hunting for better signal then battery life efficiency takes a nose dive. Even so, the Mate 9 held its own but continuing to be pretty battery efficient. Screen on time did drop a few hours but that is completely normal.

If battery life is an important factor for you then the Mate 9 is a strong contender.

Camera

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Huawei continues on in it’s partnership with camera maker Leica. The new and improved camera found on the Mate 9 is a dual-lens, dual sensor system. There is an RGB sensor and a monochrome sensor integrated for enhanced details.

The RGB sensor is a 12 MP, f/2.2 lens with OIS. The second camera is a 20 MP black and white sensor using an aperture of f/2.2 as well. Huawei claims that this dual set up enables users to capture clear low-light shots while capturing enough detail to use a hybrid zoom feature. The camera has a “wide aperture” mode which enables bokeh and a shallow depth of field. The Kirin 960 SoC also includes a dual ISP designed to manage both camera sensors.

Overall image quality has been good. Images taken in daylight are normally great but with a bit more muted colors but more realistic. Auto-HDR activated during low light shots which boosts dynamic range and creates images with detail in both light and dark areas.

Conclusion

The Huawei Mate 9 is a big phone with big features. The only issues we had is that Huawei decided to put a 1080p display on its main Mate 9 line up while keeping the 1440p AMOLED display on the more expensive Porsche Design Mate 9 models. The camera is quite good and approaches High End camera models but still has a bit of issues with movement in low light compared to Samsung devices. The good thing about this device is its battery life and performance with its Kirin 960 processor. The battery life is phenomenal featuring a 4,000 MAh battery and a pretty optimized EMUI 5 OS on top of Android. We find this device to be an interesting contender against the already well established high end models released.

The price may be a bit steep, however, compared to already pricey premium devices available. The design, hardware, performance, and battery life makes it a pretty good buy if you do come to purchase this. We do recommend the Huawei Mate 9 if your budget is there and you like it’s design. But for a truly high quality premium feel we recommend either Google or Samsung in these cases.

Huawei Honor 6X Review!

Huawei Honor 6X Review!

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Today we look at Mid Range contenders in the Smartphone battle field. A smartphone that pops out amongst the range of devices is the Honor 6X by Huawei.

With a low cost price tag this smartphone introduces good quality dual camera’s, speedy fingerprint sensors, and dual SIM capabilities.

Some drawbacks which are common amongst mid tier devices range from a bit of a washed out display, and weak speakers. However, for 250$ the Honor 6X is a fantastically competitive phone amongst its brethren.

 

INTRODUCTION

The Honor brand represents mid range devices which still manages to represent a large number of high-quality and affordable smartphones. With each new release Huawei improves upon the last. The Honor 6X happens to be the latest and greatest mid – tier phone from Huawei. The 6X sports a refined design and quite a few internal improvements.

DESIGN

The 6X keeps the composite metal design in play just like its predecessor, this means that although the phone may not be a full metal uni body construction it has various metal elements. Plastic windows are stripped on the top and bottom to assist with network antennae performance and since the metal wraps to the front of the device a plastic frame is seen on the bezels.

Sure the build quality is not exactly the S7 Edge or the HTC 10 but for the cost we are looking at a more curvy design which is not bad at all. It should feel quite comfortable for many in-hand.

The buttons don’t look tactile and they certainly are not the most high quality as they do not offer a satisfying click which is a common feature found on most high end devices today. We still see the power button and volume rockers on the side along with a head phone jack at the top of the phone. The Honor 6X uses a microUSB port at the bottom of the device.

The dual SIM card / micro SD slot tray is found on the right side of the device. The fast fingerprint sensor is found on the back below the dual camera sensor.

DISPLAY

The Honor 6X uses a 5.5 inch LCD display with 1080p resolution. We think it is a pretty good display for the money as sharpness is not an issue with acceptable brightness levels. The only issue is that the LCD display tends to have a washed out look compared to saturated colors found on most AMOLED displays. Large displays are a popular choice amongst many tech users as users can view a lot more on screen when playing games, using media and much more.

PERFORMANCE

The 6X is a mid-range device with a mid-range processor. The Honor 6X uses a Kirin 655 SoC with 3GB of Ram. We can see the effects of market growth in smartphone competition as we see increases in RAM specs and performance specs. Overall, everything should be fluid and clean for common usage as a daily driver. Graphically intense games should cause little problems for you. We are confident to say that the price to performance ratio is excellent.

HARDWARE

The bottom mounted speaker unit is quiet for most expectations. It is not as loud and strong as many other devices out there.

A missing feature is NFC which means no Tapping features are available.

A PRO that we mentioned is the fast fingerprint scanner. This is found beneath the rear cameras just like the Pixel phones by Google. The sensor is fast and rivals that of high end handsets. At this stage of the year we should expect fingerprint senor units to be mastered by manufacturers, however.

On top of basic unlocking functions the fingerprint sensor can be used for various other functions such as photo capture, phone call functions, alarm stopping, and browsing via swiping left or right.

BATTERY

The Honor 6X comes with a 3,340 mAh battery and Huawei claims that their device can last for up to 2 days with moderate usage or 1.5 days with heavy usage. The consistent real world experience we saw was about 1.5 days with consistent use. This involves a bunch of gaming, and lots of Youtube.

Not many high end phones can live up to manufacturer claims such as Huawei’s, but we are pleased to report that the Honor 6X can live up to the claim.

CAMERA

The Honor 6X is the first mid – tier phone to feature a dual camera setup. The 6X comes with a 12MP primary camera and a secondary 2MP unit. The 2 MP camera is used to capture depth information.

The Wide Aperture mode allows users to dial down all the way to f/0.95 which creates very pleasing bokeh effects.

For the price range the camera is not bad at all. It is f Honor-6X-1ast to focus and capture and color reproductions are pretty good and are quite detailed.

CONCLUSION

We like the Honor 6X, for a 250$ device we get fantastic hardware, and performance. The Huawei Honor 6X is a worthy contender in amongst the mid tier device battles and some points can even go up against the high end market such as its finger print sensors.

Learn How to Unlock your Huawei 6X here

 

Samsung Galaxy S7 EDGE New Years Review and How to Improve your Experience!

Samsung Galaxy S7 EDGE New Years Review and How to Improve your Experience!

samsung-galaxy-s7-edge-out-about-26

 

Samsung’s greatest flagship model still stands even after the fall of the Note 7 as the 2016 Galaxy S7 Edge smartphone.

The device has award winning features and designs that rival the likes of Apple. Samsung included a fantastic low light camera and design materials that work together perfectly that makes it good.

 

PROS:

  • Fantastic AMOLED screen
  • Feels good in the hands
  • Superb Camera function
  • Fast and smooth performance
  • Good Battery
  • MicroSD slot for expandable memory

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Non- Removable Battery

 

The S7 Edge received some of the Note 7’s features as the Note 7 died in 2016 due to cancellations. The Alway’s On Display features made its way to the S7 Edge and with the upcoming Nougat update in January 2017 the S7 Edge will be up to speed even further as a refreshed flag ship before the launch of the S8 within the series.

Compared to last years winning S6 design the S7 Edge takes over with smart changes and updates. Some of which include the microSD support which was sorely lacking in the S6 / Note 5 line up. The S7 edge still does not have removable battery but that would be quite hard to implement with its IP68 water resistance rating.

The S7 Edge is packed with power. The Exynos 8890 SoC is a fantastic in house designed Samsung chip. The optimizations Samsung made are tightly knit and all of this brings the whole user experience together into a smooth buttery ride. Compared to the Snapdragon variant in the U.S. the Exynos performs with lower temperatures, faster processing power, better battery life, and sustained performance in UI and media. This may come from the fact that the Exynos is an Octa core processor (Dual Quad Core) compared to Snapdragon’s (Dual – Dual Core SoC) 820.

The beautiful AMOLED display is larger as well. Samsung followed a new trend of larger screens but smaller bodies compared to their previous generations. This amounts to a slim, sexy design with a large display wrapping around the body of the device. The rear of the phone is now curved as well which helps it to sit nicely in your hands. The AMOLED screen’s made by Samsung are a league of it’s own. Everyone would know about it by now for its deep blacks and color production.

Want to know how to improve your S7 Edge experience?

Here at Cellunlocker.net we have all the tools and services ready for you to improve your S7 Edge experience on the go. When travelling or even when swapping to a different carrier, chances are that you need to Unlock your phone.

With Cellunlocker.net you can now simply order online, receive a code, and punch it in to permanently, safely, and officially unlock your Galaxy S7 Edge!

The Unlock is permanent and Easy to utilize. Once completed, you have peace of mind to move to any carrier you wish later on.

For more information visit here!

Happy Unlocking!

 

ATT Unlock iPhone Instructions

Unlock AT&T Phone

How To Unlock Your ATT iPhone Permanently

An AT&T locked iPhone is programmed to work only with AT&T, which offers the phone at

subsidized rates. But that needn’t stop you from switching carriers. Thanks to the CTIA’s

recently updated Consumer Code for Wireless Service guideline, users are now allowed to

change service providers if they meet certain conditions. Ideally, this should be an easy process;

you have to request for an AT&T unlock phone code and receive them almost immediately.

However, the process isn’t as straightforward as it seems to be. If you are looking to unlock your

phone, here’s how to do it:

– The AT&T website has an online form that allows users to submit their request. Once the

request is processed, you’ll receive an email with the code and instructions. Due to the sheer

volume of requests your appeal may be delayed. Some customers, for example, those

who’ve upgraded to a new phone, but want the old phone unlocked, will have to wait for a

minimum of two weeks before the request is processed.

– To unlock your phone immediately, we suggest that you send us your contact details along

with information about the make and model of the phone, and the IMEI number. We’ll send

the ATT unlock iPhone code in a few hours, along with detailed instructions.

– Switch on the phone with the new SIM card you would like to replace and enter the unlock

code when prompted. Your phone is now permanently unlocked! The phone stays unlocked

even after a firmware update.

– Before you pay us for the AT&T unlock code, please ensure that the phone is compatible

with the new network carrier. Some phones are not compatible with certain carriers. The only

way to know this is to contact the carrier directly, or check with us – we’re open 24×7. Call

us at any time between 10 am and 6pm. Alternatively, you may ping us, or send us an email

at any time of the day – we’ll respond as soon as possible.

– If you have a phone other than AT&T, remember to check if the carrier supports unlocking.

– To know the IMEI number dial *#06#.

– You have to also make sure that the phone you’re trying to use wasn’t reported stolen, lost,

or is barred.

Are you looking for ATT unlock iPhone codes? Contact us – we are the fastest and the most

affordable unlocking service providers in the US. Our extensive database includes unlocking

codes from phones around the world.