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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.

Latest Apple iOS Update Patches Huge Vulnerabilities

Latest Apple iOS Update Patches Huge Vulnerabilities Get it Now

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Updating your iPhone or Apple device is a pretty routine thing to do. Many do it, but there are some who prefer waiting for large updates. Updates usually include various hot fixes, tweaks and changes to the software of your device. In most patches the company fixes various “holes” in your device’s line of defence against attacks via various means. The severity of these vulnerabilities range from not so much to devastating levels. Of course, to have security bring’s a peace of mind as cyber attacks on people is still a big thing happening today. With the latest update (iOS 10.2.1) which was released today Apple patched a large batch of vulnerabilities. This includes 11 issues found around WebKit (which is used as the browser engine inside Safari), the App Store and a lot of iOS apps. There are two instances where malicious apps can take on admin privileges and take complete control over your device.

Such an attack can add files, delete files, and execute any actions on your device. The apps can do all sorts of things such as “recording conversations and forwarding them to another person” or “install other damaging malicious software’s” and “uninstall programs that you did not intend to delete”. All these things can be easily cloaked and hidden away as well. Google’s project Zero identified 9 of these vulnerabilities. A few top level hackers found them which sets the bar very high. To protect yourself from any issues you can perform a quick firmware update by going to

Settings > General > Software Update. Tap Download and Install.

You never know when the next attack will be or which innocent bystander will get hit. Protect yourself today.

Samsung Announced Why Note 7 Exploded

Samsung Announced Why their Note 7’s Exploded

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The Galaxy Note 7 was shaping up to be the best smartphone of 2016 with the best features, design, and hardware. Unfortunately due to a fatal battery issue the product got cancelled. Since then, Samsung has reportedly conducted deep searching tests to figure out why their Note 7 devices were catching fire. Samsung came out with sincere apologies, and a clearer explanation. On Sunday night of January 22 2017 mobile division president DJ Koh announced the findings.

DJ Koh opened with an apology on behalf of the division by stating:

“First of all, I deeply apologize to all of our customers, carriers, retail, and distribution partners. […] We believe that, as a first step to regain your trust, it is important to provide you with a thorough understanding of the cause behind the Galaxy Note 7 incidents and to implement a comprehensive plan to take preventative measures.”

They made efforts to reassure the public that they are taking proper measures to prevent this from happening ever again. Samsung did not dodge responsibility and accepted the blame entirely for their failure in the the procedure involving quality assurance (QA). Many corporations such as Apple are infamous for talking around various failures and blaming the public / users. Samsung is one of the rarer companies who stepped up and admitted their faults.

Samsung then went on in great detail to explain the issues behind the fiery battery problems. Samsung announced their own findings alongside three other independent investigation results from various firms. Conclusions were made and Samsung provided us a clear and comprehensive plan as to how to deal with these issues into the future.

DJ Koh admitted that Samsung “Rushed” the design, manufacturing, and delivery of the products that they did not account for an abnormal battery that resulted. They showed many images, specs and specifics in regards to this. As other independent firms reported, the batteries had “no room” to expand. This resulted in a “cramped” space. Batteries naturally expand and physically enlarge with heat and use. The unfortunate circumstance was the result of a failure to recognise this potential problem. Electrodes were bent as batteries took on unusual curved shapes due to its limited space.

The company now claims their phones will no longer over heat and cause fires again. To ensure this, Samsung implemented an 8 point check which really shows that laziness will no longer be a factor in battery safety. The 8 point battery safety check test is as described below.

infographic 8-point battery safety check

 

 

 

 

The next step for Samsung is to push out safe devices that are equally high end to compete with Apple and other manufacturers who all had a bit of a kick out of this situation. The next iterations of the Galaxy line up needs to regain the trust of the people. It also looks like Samsung is not giving up on the Galaxy Note brand as well. Of course the world will need to wait and see as to how Samsung’s next phones will follow through on their promise of safety. The Galaxy S8 is expected to arrive in Spring 2017.

Here is an infographic Samsung designed to help explain the situation further.

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Samsung Nougat Update InBound

Samsung Nougat Update InBound

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Samsung has released some new information about it’s Nougat update progress thus far. Information was officially provided by Samsung via their Samsung Newsroom site. It lists the devices expected to receive the update, the approximation of ETA, and some major features included in the Android 7.0 N update. Around the world the S7 and S7 Edge models already began receiving the Android N update beginning on January 17 2017. Canadian S7 and S7 Edge models are expected to receive their official Nougat updates in the weeks to come on approximately Feb 8 2017 (reportedly by Koodo).

In a nut shell the supported devices are listed below:

  • Galaxy S7 Edge
  • Galaxy S7
  • Galaxy S6 Edge Plus
  • Galaxy S6 Edge
  • Galaxy S6
  • Galaxy Tab A with S Pen
  • Galaxy Tab S2 (LTE Unlock)
  • Galaxy Note 5
  • Galaxy A3
  • Galaxy A8

Beta testers had a chance already to test the new major update via Samsung’s Galaxy Beta Program. This program began with Android 6 Marshmellow beta testing featured on the S6 models. Now that the various phases are done and the update packaged and released we look forward to Nougat to be available on various other Galaxy devices. Naturally, the S7 and s7 Edge will receive the updates first.

Some of the major changes are explained in detail below.

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Samsung Pass

The Samsung Pass feature is a payment system that was created and implemented by Samsung. It is taking it’s time to populate various parts of the world such as Canada but it is on the verge of becoming fully available soon. Utilizing Samsung’s secure system called Knox, Samsung Pass can be used to make quick purchases in shops, restaurants and others that support NFC and / or MST (magnetic secure transfer). It basically turns your smart phone into a big credit card with Tap. MST uses a tiny metal coil which is bent into a loop. Electricity passes through the coil forming a magnetic field which relays information to standardized magnetic credit card readers. It is an emulation of users swiping a card. Samsung Pass can also work as a “master key” for logging into websites using Samsung Internet on the device. Using your fingerprint to log into websites and making payments with full mobile banking app integrations in the works.

UI Clean Up

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Key changes are found in the UI itself. The old Samsung Touchwiz icons, color schemes and design has been overhauled completely. Colors are a lot more calm and cohesive with less circles and shapes surrounding various icons. The menu is more modern and laid out just like the Note 7 menu. This includes enhanced features such as adjustable display sizes, and the back button (on screen in menus) is clickable with bold titles. Other notable changes include improved notification headers which is cleaned up. No more titles under the icons but just clean symbols alone. The S finder and Quick connect positions have been integrated into the quick panel as well.

Nougat Notification panel handling is introduced as well which allows notification grouping and direct reply.

On the home screen we see the added Nougat ability to long press a home icon to bring up a mini menu on top for more options.

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Multi Window

Split screen adjustments and handling has been improved as well. Easier selection of options are introduced to help users in adjusting the size or function of their window size and usage. User’s can now open up more than 2 apps at the same time as we have seen in the Galaxy Note series.

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AOD (Always On Display)

Note 7 AOD functions are further implemented into the S7 and S7 Edge AOD options. This means increased clock styles, colors, options to change color and pictures and the added ability to double tap on a notification to launch the linked application.

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Improved Lock Screen

The lock screen is also cleaned up to look more like an iPhone with toned down colors for a calming effect and a clean notification system. You can now double tap on notification panels to launch them.

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Other notable changes

The Call screen has been enriched with smoother colors instead of the old green and red color scheme found on older versions. Overall the call screen can be a good standard upgrade which is both pleasing to the eye and functional. Modern upgrades are always welcome. The Calendar app also received it’s own update which simplifies its usefulness. First off the app name “S Planner” is finally officially changed to “Calendar” (no more going through apps looking for “s planner”). The color language is, again, consistent with the rest of the OS, neutral, and primary colors splashed about in a cohesive manner.

A lot of the icons have been toned down as well looking more enhanced and consistent all around. Less colors are used and more calmer colors were chosen.

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Camera Application

The Camera App finally takes on the improved version found on the belated Note 7. Users can now quickly swipe in different directions (left, right, up, down) to launch various functions. A lot of the clutter found on the camera app’s main screen (various options on top and bottom) have been removed and tucked away into its options. Overall, expect to enjoy a more cohesive, consistent experience and a cleaner UI.

Battery Smart Manager

Smart Manager makes its way from the Note 7 days to the S7 and S7 Edge. Smart Manager enables users to decide to use a HD / FHD / or the standard QHD display to help conserve battery life. You can also tap “optimize now” to automate a system clean up which can noticeably free up storage space, ram, and various other junk all at once. A use ful tool to have and a welcome feature addition. User’s can Mix and Match the various included options for each step of power saving intensity choice. For a moderate power saving profile users can pick HD, FHD or stay on QHD, then users can decide how the system should limit the CPU and what the RAM should do and so on.

 

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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.

Upcoming HTC U Ultra

The Upcoming HTC U Ultra SmartPhone

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On January 12 2017 HTC is gearing up to showcase their new HTC device through their own event. This would be in between CES and MWC. Code named “Ocean” along side a teaser with a “U” as the center piece of the adverts we are expecting the new HTC U Ultra.

High end specs are expected to be included in this expected large device.

A quick run down:

  • 6.0 Inch display
  • 1440p display with ~490 pixels per inch
  • IPS LCD 16Million color display
  • Android 7.0 (Nougat)
  • Snapdragon 835 (Newest Qualcomm SoC MSM8998) (Octa core 4×2.45 GHz Kryo & 4×1.9 GHz Kryo)
  • Adreno 540 GPU
  • microSD support + 64 GB internal storage
  • 4GB RAM
  • dUAL 24 mp + 13 mp Camera set up
  • 4,000 MAh Li-Po Battery

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Alongside other reported handsets such as the HTC U Play and the HTC X10 we are looking forward to the HTC U Ultra. There were leaked photos already floating around also called the “Ocean Note”. It may be HTC’s chance at taking some of the cake that the Note 7 left behind in 2016.

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The device shows a secondary display, a QHD 6 inch panel and a nice big body with curves. The secondary display is found on the LG V20 but it seems to have found it’s way into HTC’s development.

As per the images we can see the secondary display panel showing the clock and the date even though the main display is turned off. This is an alternative to Samsung’s Always On displays. The secondary display is also used for quick app short cuts and notifications that may appear. We are interested to see how HTC will take this further compared to the LG V20’s secondary display functionality.

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The U Ultra seems to have a very curvy body around the front and back. This is reminiscent of the fantastic Note 7’s curvaceous body. Most likely the HTC U Ultra will launch in four different colors of black, blue, white and pink.

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The most exciting part of this leak is the specs. Running the newest Qualcomm 10nm Snapdragon 835 processor alongside 4GB of RAM we expect to see this device as the first 835 enabled speedy monster. If everything works out this may be HTC’s saving grace against Samsung and LG in 2017.

The image’s, however, show a single rear camera instead of a dual camera as many rumors purported. Also, with the removal of the fingerprint sensor from the back it seems to have been included on the front home button capacitative button.

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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.

ASUS ZenFone AR

ASUS ZenFone AR

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During 2017’s CES event we have witnessed some very interesting technology. Amongst the masses a particular smartphone stood out. The ASUS ZenFone AR. Throughout several years we have seen the ZenFone line up grow and mature. However, ASUS seems to have hit a jack pot with this years offering. The ZenFone AR is the first high-end Tango enabled smart phone device. This device packs the Snadragon 821 SoC and insane 8 GB RAM.

The ZenFone AR integrates all the cameras needed for proper Tango-Powered augmented reality and also supports Google’s Daydream VR. This is a device built from scratch that supports both VR and AR. ASUS calls their camera system set up the “TriCam”. It contains a motion tracking sensor which uses a fisheye lens. The main camera censor is 23 megapixel with a 0.03 second autofocus. A depth sensing camera is also built in. The ZenFone AR can also record in 4K videos, shoot RAW, perform augmented reality, and capture highly detailed photos.

The device sports a 5.7 inch display is nice and large and the body weighs only 170g. This is 18 gram’s less tahn the iPhone 7 Plus. The display is an AMOLED WQHD 2K display. This looks crisp and colors are good. Inside we see a 3,300 mAh battery and 256 GB of bult in storage with a microSD slot included.

At the bottom we are given a USB-C charging port, 3.5mm head phone jack, and a physical home button with integrated fingerprint sensors.

The ASUS ZenFone AR is truly a high end Dual VR/AR enabled device and is an exciting entry into 2017.

 

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Galaxy S8 Rumor Update 2017

Galaxy S8 Rumor Update 2017

As many people look forward to what Samsung will do next tech news sites are gearing up for the upcoming Galaxy S8 smartphone. We have arrived in 2017 already and expect a news update from Samsung to invite users to their Galaxy UNPACKED event. An intriguing image has been floating around the net that purports to be the upcoming GALAXY S8. Samsung may be having trouble with keeping the lid on their top secret projects as DJ Koh (President of Samsung) stated that he is not happy with insiders leaking important and crucial top secret materials.

Here is the image that leaked from a Chinese site called Weibo.

 

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The image fits neatly with various rumors that has been going around. A significant cut in bezel sizes to create a 90% + screen to body ratio. Home button removed and a fingerprint sensor integrated into the glass panel of the screen instead.

Many questions are still unanswered even with this image. We have rumors of a 5.7 inch model and a 6.2 inch model of the S8 and S8 Edge. We cannot judge the real life scale of the phone from the photo itself. The legitimacy of this image is also another issue as with any un official leaks. With todays talent and technology people can create just about anything.

It may be the case that the S8 may come out simlar to what the image purports. We would not be surprised in this case.

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