Reviews – Mobile Geeks http://www.mobilegeeks.com Covering the Latest Mobile Technology Sat, 16 Feb 2019 15:12:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.9 39846093 Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Review – The best 2-in-1 you can buy http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/microsoft-surface-pro-6-review-the-best-2-in-1-you-can-buy/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/microsoft-surface-pro-6-review-the-best-2-in-1-you-can-buy/#respond Mon, 14 Jan 2019 15:20:12 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?post_type=review&p=39879

If you are looking to pick up a Surface Pro and are debating going for last years to save some money, don’t. Microsoft has upped the battery life making the Pro 6 the 2 in 1 to get. It’s still not the perfect device and the competition is innovating quite aggressively this year but it’s […]

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If you are looking to pick up a Surface Pro and are debating going for last years to save some money, don’t. Microsoft has upped the battery life making the Pro 6 the 2 in 1 to get. It’s still not the perfect device and the competition is innovating quite aggressively this year but it’s still the device to beat.

Design & Hardware

Pro

  • Solid & Durable

Con

  • Makes no sense the keyboard isn’t included. You have to buy the keyboard for the device to make sense.
  • By the 6th generation it should have a bigger design refresh
  • No USB Type C
  • USB is 3.0 not 3.1 which is twice as fast at transferring data

Save for the gorgeous-looking, lovely-feeling, new black color scheme, just about nothing has changed about the Surface Pro design from the 2017 model to today’s Pro 6. The tablet measures just 0.33 inches thin and weighs a mere 1.7 pounds – again, the same as last year’s model.

The tablet has all of the same ports and wireless connectivity options as before, not to mention the exact same Type Cover. The latter is a good thing, as there is very little – if anything – that needs fixing there.

However, we have to admit that we’re seriously let down by the absence of USB-C this time around, and it’s not even about any perceived benefits of the platform. Microsoft has been gating faster data transfers and wider docking capabilities behind its Surface Connect port for years, forcing folks who want that speed and expansion to pick up one of its $199 (about £150, AU$280) Surface Dock accessories.

Not even the included USB 3.0 is up to the latest standard, USB 3.1, which is twice as fast at transferring data than the former. This is no longer acceptable, if this is meant to be your one and only computer that has the build quality to last a few years, it should at least come with the latest speed related connectivity.

Hardware of the Surface Pro 6 we reviewed

CPU: 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8250U (quad-core, 6MB cache, up to 3.4GHz boost)
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 8GB DDR3
Screen: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display (Contrast ratio: 1,500:1, 100% sRGB color, 10-point multi-touch, 3:2 aspect ratio)
Storage: 256GB SSD
Ports: 1 x USB 3.0, mini DisplayPort, microSDXC card reader (UHS-I), headphone/mic jack
Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2 x 2 MIMO), Bluetooth 4.1 (Low Energy)
Cameras: 8MP rear-facing, auto-focus camera (1080p HD); 5MP front-facing, 1080p HD camera
Weight: 1.7 pounds (771g)
Size: 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches (292 x 201 x 8.5mm; W x D x H)

Display

Surface products have historically fantastic screens, and that hasn’t changed on the Surface Pro 6. Microsoft goes above and beyond to find the best panels for its devices, and we really like the one included here. The 12.3-inch (2,736 x 1,824 pixels) screen is bright, colorful, and vivid — and still one of the best screens you can find in this product category.

The display can be cranked up to a blinding 410 nits, which is in the range usually reserved for premium brands like ThinkPad, MacBook, and XPS. Add Surface to that list. The 3:2 aspect ratio is another favorite feature of ours, leaving plenty of screen real estate for getting work done. Contrast is through the roof at 1,290:1, making darks and lights really shine in games or movies. It still doesn’t have the wide color gamut of the MacBook or some of the 4K displays out there, but 70 percent of AdobeRGB matches competition in this range.

Slimmer bezels could have really modernized the appearance of the Surface Pro 6.

Microsoft has again shipped the Surface Pro 6 with two color profiles: The defaulted Enhanced mode and the more standard sRGB mode. In general, we preferred the accuracy of sRGB mode to the artificial pop of Enhanced mode. The colors look great to the naked eye, but if you’re a photographer, we suggest calibrating the display before use.

But again, none of that is anything new. This is the exact same panel that appeared last year. We would have loved to see a bump up to the 3,000 x 2,000 resolution seen in the Surface Book 2 or Google Pixel Slate, but we’re guessing we’ll have to wait until next year to see that.

Type Cover

It is weird that the Surface Pro 6 doesn’t come with a keyboard. These covers, available in a few different materials and styles, range from $130 to $150. Despite some cut-off keys, the layout never feels cramped, every key feels snappy, and the touchpad remains one of the best tracking surfaces for a Windows 10 laptop available.

Another peripheral not included here is the Surface Pen. This is a best-in-class stylus with 4,096 levels of sensitivity — and even a built-in eraser. The $100 accessory comes in many different colors, but Microsoft hasn’t developed a new version for the release of the Surface Pro 6.

Both add-ons are fantastic, though we really wish Microsoft included these with the device. Without them, you’re stuck using Microsoft’s half-hearted tablet mode which is a disappointment when you put it up against what Apple or Google is doing with their devices.

You can, of course, hook up your own keyboard or mouse to the device, whether through Bluetooth or the USB port.

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Software

Pro
We love the Windows Ecosystem

Con
Windows 10 tablet mode still needs work

One particular change Microsoft has also made to Windows 10 with the Surface Pro 6 is that it’s now the Home edition of the operating system, rather than the Pro version. If you need the features in the Pro version, like BitLocker encryption and Remote Desktop, then you’ll need to pay to upgrade to it.

The Surface Pro 6 is great at replacing your crusty old laptop. It runs a full version of Windows 10 Home, meaning any type of specialized software you might need is at your disposal. Less can be said about the operating system’s tablet mode, which still feels under-cooked.

App selection in the Microsoft Store is painfully limited, and even navigating around the settings or app launcher doesn’t feel optimized for touch. Because of its size and performance capabilities, this isn’t as big an issue for the Surface Pro as it is for the Surface Go, which relies much more on the success of its tablet mode. We’d still like to see Microsoft make a serious attempt at revamping tablet mode a bit, especially if it expects people to buy into its vision of a true 2-in-1.

Battery Life

Battery life has also been solid. I’ve averaged around eight hours of battery life for my daily workload of browsing on Chrome with around 10 desktop apps also running. That’s not the 13.5 hours of battery life that Microsoft claims, but that’s based on local video playback and it’s not how most people will use this device. The battery life will be enough for a day of work, or to play Netflix videos and some games. Like most Surface Pro devices, you won’t be playing high-end games on this due to the built-in Intel graphics, but casual games from the Microsoft Store will run just fine.

Price

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The new Surface Pro 6 starts at $899 with a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. That’s a $100 price increase from the base model of last year’s Surface Pro, but you’re getting a better processor and more RAM for that extra cash. For most people, the base model should be enough thanks to the RAM improvement and cloud storage, but if you want the new matte black option then it’s only available on the $1,199 model with 256GB of storage.

Performance

The entry-level version that we reviewed comes with an Intel 8th-gen quad-core processor that is a meaningful upgrade over the 2017 Surface Pro, especially in the realm of multitasking. You’ve also got the option for either 8GB or 16GB of RAM.

As good a performer as the Core i5-8250U processor is, we were a bit disappointed to see Microsoft not opt for a newer Intel chip, like the latest Whiskey Lake U-series processors from Intel. The Kaby Lake-R CPU featured here is nearly a year old — and while it’s still capable — it lacks some of the new features found in Intel’s latest and greatest. Most notably, you’re not getting features like higher base clock speeds and Gigabit Wi-Fi.

The Surface Pro 6 can handle a full day of work at the office, as well as the tablet usage on the bus ride home.

Not a gaming laptop — or an iPad

The Surface Pro 6 is not a gaming machine, and it never claims to be.

As it turns out, the move to Intel’s integrated UHD 620 graphics provides a bit of a boost over 7th-gen HD 620 graphics in synthetic benchmarks, but nothing noticeable in actual gameplay.

As a tablet, it has a lot less gaming prowess than even the iPad Pro. The iPad has a huge wealth of games at its disposal, as well as some powerful graphics capabilities. The biggest letdown was in Fortnite. It’s a game you can play on your phone — and beautifully on an iPad — but not on the Surface Pro 6. It was playable at around 30 frames per second, but we had to turn down settings quite a bit.

Sound

The dual, front-facing speakers on the Surface Pro 6 are still great for a laptop. They can easily fill a room with music or provide adequate audio for watching movies.

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Lenovo Yoga 730 (15inch) Review – A great 2-in-1 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/lenovo-yoga-730-review-a-great-2-in-1/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/lenovo-yoga-730-review-a-great-2-in-1/#respond Fri, 04 Jan 2019 12:00:48 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?post_type=review&p=39631

We’re going to try something a little new and give the Yoga 730 an express review really focused on the real world things that make us love or hate a notebook. Let us know if we cover everything you want to know. The Yoga 730 might just be the perfect 2 in 1 for the […]

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We’re going to try something a little new and give the Yoga 730 an express review really focused on the real world things that make us love or hate a notebook. Let us know if we cover everything you want to know.

The Yoga 730 might just be the perfect 2 in 1 for the average joe. It has nice durable built quality, a nice display, it flips into a tablet with a pen with decent performance and battery life.

The display is beautiful, 4K with good color gamut & high contrast ratio meaning Netflix and binge never looked so good. We do with it could go a bit brighter so you’ll want to avoid that window seat with direct sunlight. That glossy display catches the glare!

When it comes to watching Netflix I do have a criticism, I thought the speaker could be louder and have more bass.

If you’re looking for a notebook to type your novella we like the trackpad it’s comfortable. The keyboard is good, we got used to it but we would have liked it if the keys were a little more firm. There is a more flex then I’d like. It’s also sold in most countries it comes with a digitizer pen and of course, it’s a touchscreen because it turns into a tablet.

The performance is perfect for anyone who needs their device to step up and handle a graphically intense program. If you’re a designer, it’ll do, but you should step up to a more professional device. You can also upgrade the SSD easily on your own if you have a Phillips T5 screwdriver. This is a feature that isn’t very common in notebooks anymore these days.

If you want to know if you can game on this, BioShock Infinity (2013) runs ok on high settings 30fps. Rose of the Tomb Raider (2016) on low gets 16fps, so not good. Civilization VI (2016) on low hits 35fps on low, so usable but on medium 16fps. This isn’t a gaming device.

For those that are sensitive to how noisy a laptop is when it’s under full load it’s 40dB (according to a sound meter on my phone), this is clearly audible. But it’s not so loud that I found it bothersome, and the whirling is at a high frequency so I found it even less disturbing. At idle or normal load it’s 30dB, which I don’t notice.

If you work with your laptop on your lap how hot it gets will be something you’ll want to pay attention to. It gets warm directly in the center.

When it comes to battery life when you’re surfing the web you should get 6 hours, playing video you’ll see 7.5hr. Charge time isn’t the quickest, 2 hours from 0 to full. This is for the 4k version, if you got the 1080p edition I’d expect to add 10-15% more time. It’ll be good for someone who needs a device to have enough battery to work on the go, but isn’t expecting more than the occasional long flight or extended coffee shop session.

When it comes to connectivity the Yoga 730 comes with two USB Type-C ports and a headphone jack on the left side and a single regular USB port on the right side. The Yoga 730 does not feature an SD card reader or an HDMI port. More demanding users will probably not be satisfied with this limited selection of ports. We like that both Type-C ports comes with Thunderbolt 3 because which allows for more flexibility in plugging in external displays and media devices.

If you’d forgotten WiFi performance isn’t equal and how it works depends on the quality of the components. We found that receiving performance is good, so downloading is strong but the sending performance isn’t as strong. This means that if you spend a lot of time sending large files, you might want to think twice, but for downloading, videos are large files this is your device.

Security features come loaded, Windows hello is alive and kicking with a fingerprint reader with touch technology. It’s integrated into the palm rest.

The Lenovo Yoga 730 starts at an affordable 1000EUR but in the US you can get it starting at $720 which we found a little surprising because the build quality just seemed so premium.

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LG V40 ThinkQ Review: A Month Later http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/lg-v40-thinkq-review-a-month-later/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/lg-v40-thinkq-review-a-month-later/#respond Sun, 25 Nov 2018 12:26:12 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?post_type=review&p=38951

I’ve been a loyal LG fangirl for many years, it’s that wide angle lens that made it my daily driver. Even though they may not have had the best selfie camera or low light performance, in my mind that wide angle made up for it. For years no one else seemed to get the joy […]

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I’ve been a loyal LG fangirl for many years, it’s that wide angle lens that made it my daily driver. Even though they may not have had the best selfie camera or low light performance, in my mind that wide angle made up for it. For years no one else seemed to get the joy of the wide angle, they wanted to creep in on the world around with there 2 times optical zoom.

The V40 ThinkQ is the first phone to come out with 5 cameras, in addition to the three on the back their are two on the front. They are 5 distinct stand alone cameras, the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) has one depth sensing camera, so we don’t think it counts.

With all of its cameras and it’s best in class specs, we think LG might have come out with a phone with very few compromises. However, At $950 unlocked, the V40 seeks to play in the smartphone big leagues. Let’s find out if it stands its ground.

Design

+
Premium look and feel
Moroccan Blue with its frosted glass finish feels so nice and it is NOT a fingerprint magnet.


All glass means you can crack the back of your phone too

The LG V40 ThinQ has a distinguishing feature with its triple-lens camera on the back, and two small cameras on the front. It feels VERY premium in hand and it weighs just 168g. It’s noticeably lighter than the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (201g) and the iPhone XS Max (208g).
It’s the weight of a sizable plastic phone, with all the benefits (and risks, in terms of potential dings and scratches) of a premium, all-glass design.

The power button returns to the right side of the phone – a switch from the LG V30 and other V series phones before it, which had the rear fingerprint sensor button pulling double duty as a power button and a form of authentication. Now the rear sensor is just a pad for unlocking the phone, and the new clicky side power button is dedicated to sleep/wake.

Hardware

  • The fingerprint scanner is on the back (as on the G7, it’s no longer the power button), The fingerprint scanner is in a very good location, and I’ve no real complaints to report as to its responsiveness or accuracy – it’s very good.
  • There’s a dedicated Google Assistant launch key on the left hand side of the phone. I’m not sure I’m likely to use it very much, but at least it’s not mapped to Bixby, so I’m calling it a pro
  • Wireless Charging
  • IP68

Cameras to the side, the 6.4-inch V40 is the largest-diagonal V-series LG phone, for those keeping records. The must-haves that no longer make headlines include the Snapdragon 845 chipset, 6gigs of RAM and 64GB/128GB of storage which 1. is expandable and 2. opens the possibility for a top-spec V40S+ (or something) version with, say, 256GB.

LG V40 ThinQ specs

Body: Aluminum frame with Gorilla Glass 5 on front and rear; MIL-STD-810G transit drop test compliant; IP68 rated for dust and water resistance.
Screen: 6.4″ QHD+ FullVision OLED; 19.5:9 aspect ratio with a notch (LG calls it ‘Second screen’), 537ppi; HDR 10 support.
Camera: Primary: 12MP, 1.4µm pixel size; f/1.5 aperture, 78-degree FOV lens, 25mm equiv. focal length, OIS, dual pixel PDAF; Ultra wide-angle: 16MP; f/1.9 aperture, 107-degree FOV lens, 16mm equiv. focal length, fixed focus. Telephoto: 12MP; f/2.4 aperture, 47-degree FOV, 50mm equiv. focal length, 2x zoom, PDAF.
Selfie cam: Primary: 8MP, f/1.9 aperture, 80-degree FOV lens; Secondary: 5MP, f/2.2 aperture, 90-degree FOV lens.
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845: octa-core CPU (4×2.8 GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4×1.7 GHz Kryo 385 Silver), Adreno 630 GPU.
Memory: 6GB of RAM; 64GB storage; microSD slot.
OS: Android 8.0 Oreo with LG UX, Android P update expected.
Battery: 3,300mAh Lithium Polymer (sealed); Quick Charge 3.0/Power Delivery fast charging; Qi fast wireless charging.
Connectivity: Single-SIM, Dual-SIM available in certain markets; LTE-A, 3-Band carrier aggregation, Cat.16/13 (1Gbps/150Mbps); USB Type-C; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; GPS; Bluetooth 5.0; FM radio.
Misc: Fingerprint reader; Hi-Fi Quad DAC; 3.5mm headphone jack; 2 mics, Boombox speaker.

We’d have liked to see some more battery inside the V40, and we wouldn’t be ourselves if we didn’t complain about the dated OS version at launch – Oreo is no Pie, to state the obvious.

Display

It has a virtually all-screen 6.4-inch OLED screen on the front with that small notch cut-out at the top, making its face look like the iPhone X and every Android clone since. The notch is easy to ignore, with enough room to fit the two front-facing cameras and a smaller earpiece speaker. There is slightly more bezel around the sides and chin than on an iPhone, but you’ll only see the difference in a side-by-side comparison.

The new-and-improved OLED display is a generational leap over last year’s panel – much to my relief. While not quite on the level of Samsung’s latest displays for brightness and viewing angles, these new LG OLEDs are pleasant to behold and offer vastly improved ambient brightness and contrast. I think there was a real worry that LG would remain years behind Samsung in the OLED game, but the V40 sees that gap substantially closed, if not entirely eliminated. The screen supports HDR, too, so you can really take advantage of that expanded color gamut in apps like YouTube and Netflix.

Camera

Primary rear camera

The best photos come from the 12MP standard camera, which captures what’s in front of you with a typical 78-degree field of view.

This lens has a fast f/1.5 aperture to pull in more light, and the size of the pixels, or photosites, on the sensor is larger than is typical at 1.4 microns, improving the light-gathering capabilities of the sensor; combined, these two features offer improved performance in low-light situations. LG’s Super Bright Camera tech is also here, offering a mode that amps up the brightness in dark environments, but cuts the normal resolution.

Super-wide rear camera

The LG V40 is ready to capture everything that’s in front of you with its super-wide rear camera that has a 107-degree FOV. It’s not as dramatic as the 120-degree FOV on the original LG V10, but that’s in order to reduce barrel distortion at the edges.

The resulting 16MP photos from this f/1.8 lens gives you better context of scenes. The wide-angle effect works, but we did notice blurry and soft edges in the corners of most photos we took. You’re not getting OIS on this super-wide camera, and it’s noticeable sometimes when you’re looking for details.

Telephoto rear camera

This is new for LG, like the competition you’re able to get twice as close to subjects without distortion when digitally zoomed in.

Matt over at trusted reviews pointed out to me that low light photos while using the telephoto lens actually use the normal camera lens and just crop the image. He found this out because the EXIF details prove it uses the f/1.5 aperture of the normal lens. Apple and Samsung do this with their telephoto lens, so it’s not unusual. Things end up being less blurry with a faster aperture at nighttime.

Where things get interesting is that in triple Shot mode (which cycles through all three cameras) forces the telephoto lens to be used, even in low light situations. Which does lead to blurrier-than-normal shots. You also don’t really have the ability to frame properly in triple shot so it is a bit of a non-feature in my mind. You need to stay really still as the handset cycles through all three lenses. It takes 4 seconds, and I’ve found even if I’m really still the photos seem a little off, either blurry or the framing sucks.

Primary front-facing camera

The LG V40 has an upgraded 8MP front-facing camera, and that’s good news for anyone who tried the LG V30 selfie camera and hated the results.

This f/1.9 lens with an 80-degree FOV is capable of taking portrait photos, and while it’s not our favorite among selfie shooters, it’s a huge step in the right direction for LG. Just be sure to turn beauty mode off. We love using it, but the result in the photos are more aggressive than what is shown on the screen. So have it turned way, way down!

The wide front-facing camera from the LG V10 – our favorite feature on the original V series phone – gets new life in the LG V40, although things have changed a bit in 2018 as a result of feedback from users. This 5MP f/2.2 lens is limited to a 90-degree FOV, which is only slightly wider than the standard selfie camera and far tighter than the 120-degree FOV on the LG V10 wide front-facing camera.

Portrait photos did an okay job for us on the LG V40. There’s a healthy amount of blur in the background, though you’ll notice the blur drop into foreground subjects, especially around the hair.

Example of a photo that looked fine in preview, but looks insane after it was taken.

Software

+
You can add an app drawer

Does not ship with Android 9.0. For nearly $1000 this is disappointing.
UI feels busy and cluttered

The LG UI has always been a little bit of love it or hate it. I’m pretty adaptable, changing phones often means that I notice differences but I also don’t mind changing my flow to the way the manufacturer thinks I should be using a phone.

It is hard to argue that LG does have a busier UI than most, pulling down on the notification bar offers a lot of information and the settings are tabs. You can add an app drawer, which I really like, I feel more organized when I can tuck away hardly used apps and I have a place to scroll for an app that I can’t find because I organized it away in some folder.

You’ll either love the V40’s software experience or you’ll hate it. I really enjoy the simple bubble theme, since it matches Google’s Material Design 2.0 quite well.

Sound

The LG V40 has just one speaker, but we found it gets plenty loud thanks to its Boombox Speaker concept. We saw this with the G7, too – inside, the entire back of the phone is dedicated to a resonance chamber. You’ll also find a 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC and DTS:X 3D Surround Sound, continuing the V series tradition of offering some of the best audio on a phone when you’re using it with headphones.

Battery Life

3300mah battery
Wireless charging

The battery in the LG V40 is 3,300mAh, which is admittedly a bit small for a screen this large. This also translates fairly directly into screen-on time. I would get between 4.5-5.5hr of screen-on time, leaning towards five on average. This isn’t exactly ideal, especially when LG markets this as the phone that can do everything. I would have loved to see a 4,000mAh battery to properly compete with Samsung’s Note 9.

Price

It is expensive, no way around it. However, not everyone cares about price, they upgrade and hardly take notice of the addition to their monthly bill.

It is hard to justify the cost when you can pick up one and a half OnePlus 6T’s. However, in hand, it feels premium, and the camera versatility is fantastic. Those who like the pen of the Note9 are paying for that feature, it depends on how much you love the zoom-wide angle combo.

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LG G7 ThinQ Review – A great phone with some compromise http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/lg-g7-thinq-review/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/lg-g7-thinq-review/#comments Wed, 30 May 2018 12:00:50 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?post_type=review&p=37499

LG has cornered the market on good-looking smartphones with a wide angle lens. This unique camera feature combined with outstanding audio & high-end specs make the LG G7 ThinQ worthy 2018 flagship contender. Design looks like an evolution of the LG V30, not the G6 Beautiful color choices Nearly 50% thinner than the LG G6 […]

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LG has cornered the market on good-looking smartphones with a wide angle lens. This unique camera feature combined with outstanding audio & high-end specs make the LG G7 ThinQ worthy 2018 flagship contender.

Design

  • looks like an evolution of the LG V30, not the G6
  • Beautiful color choices
  • Nearly 50% thinner than the LG G6
  • Looks like yet another phone with a notch
  • Colors: Moroccan Blue, Aurora Black, Raspberry Rose, Platinum Gray

Design wise the G7 has more in common with the V30 than it does the G6, the G6 had a flat boxy design which made it a tank.

It’s got a solid metal and glass design, One of the biggest design changes is the relocation of the power button from the back to the side and the addition of a quick access AI shortcut key.

Positive

  • Solid metal glass design
  • feels very light yet durable in hand

Negative

  • The glass on the front and back means there is twice as much change to crack a surface

Display

  • 6.1” LCD display with QHD+ resolution
  • Full Vision
  • Super Bright display 1000nits based on DCI-P3 Standard
  • Yet another phone with a notch
  • New Second Screen floating bar

AI is the name of the game in 2018, and the display on the G7 has gotten smarter, depending on the type of content you’re viewing, the display can be set to six different display modes: Auto, Eco, Cinema, Sports, Game and Expert. In Auto mode, your phone automatically analyzes the content – photos, videos, website, game, etc. – to optimize the display and power consumption. The user can also further refine the image by adjusting the color temperature and the individual RGB levels.

The New Second Screen displays notifications without taking up space and can be customized to your taste. The display can be fully expanded for an almost borderless look, or can be set to a more traditional style with notifications on a black background or another color to achieve a more “personal” effect.

The display is perfect for anyone who spends a lot of time outside, The brightness boost is especially useful in direct sunlight where screens can be most troublesome to read. At 1,000 nits, the G7 ThinQ’s screen is very easy to see.

Rather than use the traditional sub-pixel arrangement of red, green and blue, the G7’s MLCD+ display adds a white pixel to boost brightness without using more power. You might argue that a quarter of the pixels don’t add anything for picture quality, and you’d be right, but the resolution is higher than some competitors and most importantly it looks nice and sharp. Yes, the G7 is yet another phone with a notch, if you’re not a fan, LG’s software allows for the areas around it to be turned black, camouflaging it as a normal bezel.

Positive

  • Excellent outdoor visibility with a Super Bright 1000nit display
  • Clear and bright with accurate color representation

Negative

  • If you’re used to IPS display’s this will seem less saturated and punchy
  • Always on display turns on the whole display and not just the pixels that are engaged
  • the notch feels gimmicky

Hardware

  • Snapdragon 845
  • Options for 4/6GB of RAM depending on the market with 64/128GB of storage options
  • 3000mAh battery
  • IP68
  • Dedicated Google Assistant button

The Snapdragon 845 comes sporting a processing unit (SPU) that Qualcomm says offers “vault-like security” with the microprocessor, memory, crypto engine and random number generator all sitting on its own power island.

Performance and battery life will also improve, thanks to an octa-core Kryo 385 CPU with four 2.8GHz high-power cores and four 1.8GHz low power cores; the 845 is meant to be 30 percent more efficient than the 835 for gaming, video and AR/VR.

Qualcomm’s new super-fast X20 LTE modem is built-in, offering CAT 18 speeds of more than 1Gbps, as well as an enhanced Spectra 280 image signal processor. Qualcomm has bumped up video recording potential to Ultra-HD, and added in various AI improvements.

The LG G7 ThinQ comes with great flagship specifications which will remain competitive for a while.

Positive

Some of the highest specs you can currently get on a smartphone

Negative

LG G7 ThinQ Specifications

LG G7 ThinQ Specifications

Display

6.1-inch MLCD+/OLED panel Super Bright
QHD+ resolution (3120 x 1440, 564dpi)
18:9 aspect ratio

Processor

Snapdragon 845 with platform AI

RAM

4/6GB LPDDR4x

Storage

64/128GB UFS 2.1

MicroSD

Yes support up to 2TB

Camera

Dual 16MP super wide-angle camera (F1.9 / 107°) / 16MP OIS camera (F1.6 / 71°)

8MP wide angle (F1.9 / 80°)

IP rating

IP68/MIL-STD

Headphone jack

Yes

Battery

3,000mAh with Wireless Charging

Pay

LG Pay

Size (mm) weight (g)

153.2 x 71.9 x 7.9 / 162

Audio

Hi-Fi Quad DAC/ Boombox speaker

Connections

Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac / Bluetooth 5.0 BLE / NFC / USB Type-C 2.0 (compatible with 3.1)

Other

Super Bright Display / New Second Screen / AI CAM / Super Bright Camera / Long Range Voice Recognition / Boombox Speaker / Google Lens / AI Haptic / Hi-Fi Quad DAC / DTS:X 3D Surround Sound / IP68 Certification for Water and Dust Weight / MIL-STD 810G Compliance (14 tests) / HDR10 / Google Assistant Key / Face Recognition / Fingerprint Sensor / Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ Technology 3.0 / FM Radio

Bio recognition

Finger print/Face/Voice

Far field voice recognition

Software

Android 8.0 Oreo

Colors

Moroccan Blue, Aurora Black, Raspberry Rose, Platinum Gray

Quick Spec Comparison LG G6 vs G7 vs V30

LG G7 on the left, LG G6 on the right

LG G7 ThinQ LG G6 LG V30
Display 6.1 inches (LCD)
3.120 x 1440 pixels
5.7 inch (LCD)
2880 x 1440 pixels
6 inch (AMOLED)
2880 x 1440 pixels
Chipset Snapdragon 845 Snapdragon 821 Snapdragon 835
Memory 4 GB OF RAM
64 GB of memory
4 GB OF RAM
32 GB of memory
4 GB OF RAM
64 GB of memory
Haupkamera 16 MP (71° – f/1.6)
16 MP (107° f/1.9)
13 MP (71° – f/1.8)
13 MP (125° – f/2.4)
16 MP (71° – f/1.6)
13 MP (120° f/1.9)
Front camera 8 Megapixel (80° – f/1.9) 5 Megapixel (100° – f/2.2) 5 Megapixel (90° – f/2.2)
Battery 3,000 mAh (QI Support) 3,300 mAh 3,300 mAh (QI Support)
Price (MSRP) ~ 800 Euro 749 Euro 899 Euro

Camera

  • Dual 16MP super wide-angle camera (F1.9 / 107°) / 16MP OIS camera (F1.6 / 71°)
  • 8MP wide angle (F1.9 / 80°)
  • Ai CAM
  • The wide angle has been reduced to a 107-degree field-of-view from previous generations, to completely eliminated barrel distortion on the edges of photos
  • The LG G7 ThinQ has the infamous dual lens set up on the rear that allows for a standard and super wide-angle configurations, both lenses are now 16MP. On the front we have an improved 8MP Selfie Camera.
  • LG launching an improved Ai Cam which first debuted in the LG V30ThinQ. AI CAM now offers 19 shooting modes, compared to the initial 8 and users can still tweak their shots with one of four preset color options after the camera has identified the object or scene.
  • LG has added a few new features to the G7. Live Photo mode records a second before and after pressing the shutter release button, it’s basically live photo from the iPhone. The Stickers feature uses facial recognition to enrich your images in real time with fun 2D and 3D stickers!
  • The G7 also comes with Portrait mode, the bokeh effect can be created using either the standard or super wide-angle lens. You can not zoom in while using Portrait mode, but you can adjust the level of blur after you’ve taken the photo. The wide angle lens is used to give the depth effect.
  • LG is using pixel binning or pixel oversampling on the G7. The camera combines the information from four neighboring pixels into a single large pixel. This helps to produce and image that has less digital noise and can perform better in low-light situations.With this technology in mind, the G7 has a Super Bright Camera, which takes up to four times brighter images. This is thanks to a new image sensor and improved software processing, the AI algorithm automatically adjusts the camera settings for the best balance of brightness, clarity, resolution and color when shooting in low light.

I’m torn about the camera experience. I love the wide angle, it’s become an addiction. I’ll forgive a lot for the wide angle, I just find it so much more convenient when I’m cropping photos for Instagram. And of course not having to keep walking back to get the shot. But the photos on the G7 feel a little too processed and digital, the low light photography leave a lot to be desired. Moving from the Huawei P20 the difference was noticeable. I want to say the camera is good enough, because over the last 2 weeks, I’ve take some great photos, but it’s not there when you look at where the bar has moved for low light photography. LG has added the Super Bright Camera which turns on automatically in low light. It uses a technique called pixel binning which helps to get better results from the camera, but it means that you get 4MP photos rather than 16MP. But even with this it’s still out performed by the competition.

Standard lens HDR off

Wide angle lens HDR on

Low light

Food photos

The AI cam on the on the G7 is a completely separate shooting mode, unlike the P20 series where it works quietly in the background. If you’re in AI cam mode there’s a one-second delay before you can take another photo, with the AI CAM turned off, there are no perceptible delays when shooting in good light.

Portrait mode is another key feature, as people expect their new phone to be able to blur out the background for a nice DLSR-style effect. The G7 keeps the same field of view as when shooting with the main camera, unlike most phones which use the zoom in and have a much narrower view.

Overall, image and video quality is good, you can take phenomenal photos with the G7, but it won’t be taking the title for best camera on a smartphone.

I do have to give it to LG, they did improve the selfie camera significantly, though it wasn’t hard, the selfies on the G6 were unusable most of the time.

Selfies

 

Video Quality

If you’re taking video, having Super Bright enabled in the settings means the same method is used, so you get full HD quality rather than 4K in low light. You can also use the wide-angle camera in Super Bright mode, and the AI CAM mode too.

Getting back to video, the G7 tops out at 30fps in 4K, but you can record video in HDR. There’s also a nifty ‘Cine Video’ mode which applies some Hollywood-style filters to make your footage look more cinematic. Whichever mode you choose, stabilization is available not just at 1080p but also 4K.

Slo-mo is unimpressive for a 2018 flagship as the G7 can record 240fps at 720p. We’d have expected this to be 1080p, and the competition can record in short bursts at 960fps.

OnePlus 6 vs LG G7 Camera comparison

Here is a gallery of photos, the G7 will be first followed by the OnePlus 6, you’ll be able to see that the G7 is a little overexposed, oversharpens the photos, and  it has less dynamics and detail.

Positive

  • The wide angle is an outstanding camera features
  • Good selfies
  • Great overall camera experience

Negative

  • AI Cam slows down the camera performance
  • photos can look over processed
  • low light photography is good but does not keep up with the rest of today’s flagship smartphones

Software

  • Google Lens
  • Google Assistant has a hardware button, means you never have to say “Ok Google Again”
  • Android 8.0 Oreo
  • Facial recognition will work on up to 5 faces

The LG G7 will be one of the first smartphones to offer Google Lens ready to use. Google Lens was developed as an object recognition tool that can identify and provide more information about places of interest, plants, animals and books, as well as recognize text.

The Google Assistant button is versatile, a single press will launch the Google wizard, two presses will activate Google Lens. Users can also press and hold the button to start talking to the Google Assistant right away.

LG has launched long-range voice recognition with the G7, it’s a highly sensitive microphone that will let you talk to Google Assistant’s when you’re up to five meters away. This feature can separate the controls from the background noise, making the LG G7 a great alternative to a home IA speaker even when the TV is on or the vacuum cleaner is running.

Software wise LG has done a good job at reducing the bloatware, offering a cleaner interface, and better app design.

Positive

  • Fast and light
  • Little bloatware installed

Negative

  • Android 8.0 not 8.1 (really not a big deal, this is a very minor update)

Sound

  • Boombox speaker
  • DTS:X gives you 7.1 audio channels
  • 32 bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC

Sound is another strong feature on the G7 ThinkQ, we’ve got Quad DAC and it comes with a physical headphone jack. It’s also the first phone to have a DTS:X 3D system which turns any headphones into a virtual 7.1 sound system. Despite having a mono speaker in the bottom edge rather than stereo speakers, the G7’s sounds better than you’d expect from a phone. That’s because the ‘resonance chamber’ is 17 times larger than previous phones. The empty space inside the phone is sealed with water-resistant tape that makes the whole phone a speaker cabinet. This means the back of the phone vibrates when sounds or music is played. Bass is certainly better than any other current phone.

Positive

  • The sound is A-mazing!
  • High-end audio all around
  • Resonance chamber is very cool and works very well

Negative

—-

Battery life

  • 3000mAh battery
  • Wireless Charging
  • The Snapdragon 845 is 35% more efficient than the 835

 

When it comes to battery life, I was getting through the whole day, even with pixel launcher running which would use up a bit more battery. I also stream a few hours of music a day and of course, my Fitbit is connected as well.

In general use, we found the G7 would just about last a day with normal use including taking lots of photos. If you’re a mobile gamer, prepare to carry a USB power bank around with you as you’ll need to top up before too long.

Using Geekbench 4’s battery rundown test, the G7 managed 5 hours and 54 minutes. That’s not bad considering the capacity, but it is noticeably less time than you’ll see from the OnePlus 6 and its 3300mAh battery.

Postive

  • Does get me through the day most days

Negative

  • Very heavy users will struggle

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Meitu V6 Review – You won’t find a better Selfie phone http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/meitu-v6-review-wont-find-better-selfie-phone/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/meitu-v6-review-wont-find-better-selfie-phone/#respond Tue, 10 Apr 2018 08:13:22 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?post_type=review&p=36898

If you’re after a phone that takes the best selfies on the planet, then you’ll want to pick up a Meitu. The V6 is luxury, 18-carat gold rivets in the back, 4 cameras and a leather finish that has both men and women stopping to ask what kind of phone I’ve rested on the table. […]

The post Meitu V6 Review – You won’t find a better Selfie phone appeared first on Mobile Geeks.

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If you’re after a phone that takes the best selfies on the planet, then you’ll want to pick up a Meitu. The V6 is luxury, 18-carat gold rivets in the back, 4 cameras and a leather finish that has both men and women stopping to ask what kind of phone I’ve rested on the table.

Meitu V6 Design

The Meitu V6 is a luxury device through and through. In a world where manufacturers are moving towards smaller bezels, Meitu is not scared of making them bigger. The curves at the top and bottom have a bit of historical significance in the selfie phone world, they are an homage to the Casio Casio TR line which could command well above asking price for a year after it hit the streets.

The V6 has a hand-stitched calfskin leather in four colors Edinburgh Blue, Melbourne Green, Morocco Powder (pink), and Rotterdam Orange. it has real 18K gold rivets on its back and gold colored metal frame to match.

The top bezel of the V6 is huge thanks in part to the dual cameras. The lower bottom doesn’t miss out on the size too as it houses a circular fingerprint scanner. The Meitu V6 rounds off the design with its boomerang-shaped front-facing stereo speakers at the top and bottom.

Camera

The front and rear cameras are each 12MP and they are 4 of them, two on the front and two on the back. With an aperture of f1.8, 6P lens comes with fourth-generation dual ISPs and optical image stabilizer (OIS) technology.

The V6 packs 4 cameras in total, two on the front and two on the back. The back camera uses two 12MP Sony IMX362, the second back camera is for professional Bokeh camera, the front and back both adopts OIS technology which can finish real-time focus within 0.13 seconds.

The front camera has a  has a smart LED light and two sets of dual tone LED flash that can do a great job in very low light conditions. This Meitu V6 has a new AI technology and we love the way it works. Meitu doesn’t disappoint with the ton of filters and beauty enhancements built into the camera app. There are also live filters for video recording. Since this is a camera-centric phone, it is easy to understand why it has 128GB of storage.

Once you leave the camera app and want to edit the photos on Meitu Beauty Cam easy photo editor, Makeup+, Selfie city or Poster Lab. They come pre-installed apps, which you can of course download on either the Google or Apple app stores.

Front Facing Camera

The Meitu V6 has a great front facing camera, even with no filter the quality of the photo is amazing! Their Beaty mode is powered with AI which we’re hearing a lot these days. But it’s really important to be able to keep skin detail but get rid of imperfections. I’ve got a whole series of selfies for you to be able to see what’s possible with the camera beauty mode as well as the preloaded apps.

No filter at the end of the day, uneven makeup and everything. Trust me, I think i looked rougher in real life than this photo portrayed.

Meitu MakeUp+

Meitu MakeUp+ is an app that’s available for download on both iOS and Android, and it will make any of your photos look amazing no matter what your front facing camera looks like (within reason of course). The number of modification you can make to a photo are insane, arrange the position of your nose, it’s size angle, your hair color (which by the way so many people believed I actually colored my hair) just to name a few.

There are a ton of filters being added all the time from Asian influencers you’ve probably never heard of

Rear Camera

Depth Effect with the rear-facing camera even works when there is a hole in the object!

The Camera on the V6 has a lot of options, within the app itself you have backlight and normal, playing around with these can give you different effects for how the camera implements HDR.

Here you can see on a typical street in San Sebastian the first photo is normal and the second is backlight you can see the difference when you look at the top of the buildings and the color of the sky.  

You can even see the setting works well on the front facing camera as well.

backlight with manual beauty adjustment with a focus on dark circles

We did find that food photos took a lot of work to look good if you check the restaurant photos that have low light (which is a lot!) the photo’s lack dynamic range and brightness.

Display

The Meitu V6 has a 5.49” FHD OLED display, we’ve mentioned it before, it’s got big bezels. The colors are pretty accurate though the display is on the warm side. We like that the display is bright enough to use in full sunlight, the auto brightness works well and when you’re using the phone in the dark the lowest brightness is dark enough. We do have one complaint about the display, we do like sharing videos with friends, and the viewing angles aren’t very wide. You’ll be able to share a video comfortably with one other person, add any more and it will start to look a bit washed out.

Software

The Meitu V6 runs MEIOS 4.1, adding face ID, which can unlock safely by 106 facial features to unlock the phone. You shouldn’t actually take this to mean that this is very secure, you should just see it as a convenient way to unlock your phone. We are genuinely surprised how well it works, Samsung’s facial unlock is significantly worse!

Our Meitu V6 came preloaded with Google Services, in fact, Taiwan is currently the only location outside of China where the Meitu is sold. They’re looking at Japan and perhaps the West, reviews like these are meant to help test the waters on how a phone like this might do. Sure, the price tag is currently pretty expensive on Amazon you can buy it for $999 (but it comes without Google..ugh, and from our first test unit that didn’t come with Google Meitu hasn’t made it easy to sideload Google’s services).

MEIOS is a very Chinese OS, there is no app drawer and there are fingerprints of translation all over the app, it’s in English and Chinese (traditional/simplified). We do love little details like the one below when the power dips below 5% you get this cute reminder, accept that you’re going into low battery mode or accept it… I see.

Like many Chinese makers that we’ve reviewed, there are compromises that you have to make if you are going to pick up their phones. You get lots of great options in terms of little things like availability in notifications, dual sim (that has good options for which sim is getting data and/or taking phone calls), silent mode and others.

Like OPPO, who we have reviewed extensively, you can get used to the lack of app drawer but you have to overlook the problems with the details like the one above and the haphazard way that the settings or organized. It’s not easy to find settings in MEIOS, the structures aren’t very logical. If you’re used to a flagship phone like a Pixel or Samsung the approach to Android is very different. If you come from IOS then it will be even less so, the Android system is a hybrid and Android and iOS have been aligning a bit more and more over the last few years. However, unlike Huawei or OPPO they’re less and less like the best of both world’s it feels cheap which is the opposite of the entire handset experience (especially the phone).

The thing is, if you’re after the best selfie phone on the market you might be willing to overlook this. I know more than a few women in Taiwan who would end our friendship to steal this smartphone from me, yes Tina I’m looking at you. She doesn’t mind the small quirks, annoying but you learn to navigate them, she is currently on an ASUS ZenFone 5, and I could make the same complaints that I have about ZenUI than I have about MIEOS.

Meitu has also run into quite a few issues with privacy concerns, their Apps ask for too many permissions and if you check Cnet’s article their response to the accusations is very Chinese. Wechat needs them for it’s platform, which is a platform that is the best in the world at tracking activities and preferences.

To enter the western markets I often wonder why companies like these don’t go the route of Android One.

Performance & Battery Life

On a day to day basis, the UI performed well apps opened quickly and you could switch beteen them with no issue. Benchmark wise it’s very average, and definatly not what you expect from a phone with such a high price tag. However, we get that these things are becoming less and less important since it’s the actual performace of the phone that matters.

The Meitu V6 runs Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. It has a 3100mAh battery and comes with the usual connectivity features.

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Altered Carbon’s Concept of AI is very Compelling http://www.mobilegeeks.com/article/altered-carbon-review-ai-hotel-poe/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/article/altered-carbon-review-ai-hotel-poe/#comments Mon, 12 Feb 2018 03:23:18 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?post_type=article&p=36450

Altered Carbon is Netflix’s latest Sci-Fi series about the cost of eternal life. In this world, you can buy new or cloned bodies and can spend multiple lifetimes accruing wealth or living in poverty. With so many interesting personalities developed across a centuries-long war, it’s a little surprising that the best character is technically a […]

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Altered Carbon is Netflix’s latest Sci-Fi series about the cost of eternal life. In this world, you can buy new or cloned bodies and can spend multiple lifetimes accruing wealth or living in poverty. With so many interesting personalities developed across a centuries-long war, it’s a little surprising that the best character is technically a hotel.

Altered Carbon is classic Cyberpunk, a subgenre of Science Fiction in a futuristic setting that focus on technology that features an advancement like AI or cybernetics that’s juxtaposed by a breakdown in radical change of the social order. In a film noir, aesthetic Altered Carbon explores what it means to be human.

Will a technology that brings eternal life set humans free or is it merely deepening the divide in social inequality and wealth?

Our hero is Takeshi Kovacs, who is brought back to life after being in storage for over 250 years to solve a murder.

Eternal life is made possible by being able to transfer your consciousness to a stack, a disk implanted at the base of your skull. If your stack gets damaged you will experience ‘real death’, meaning your consciousness will be destroyed and you can’t be reanimated into a new body or sleeve. If your sleeve or the current body you inhabit dies, you’ll need the money to buy a new sleeve. The more money you’ve got, the more bells and whistles your sleeve will come with.

In a world where consciousness is king, Artificially Intelligent beings are disregarded as soulless and empty.

 

Kovac decides to stay in an AI hotel. The Raven Hotel is themed around Edgar Allan Poe, an artificial intelligence whose body is the hotel. The walls, beds and light fixtures are all extensions of Poe; if you break a glass, he feels pain. The hotel’s original creators programmed AIs with a desire to fulfill guests needs that frankly borders on sexual. During our introduction to Poe at the end of episode 1, we hear an insult slung at Poe: “Shut up you digi brain piece of sh*t, my microwave is smarter than you”.

What immediately makes Poe such a multidimensional character is his unabashed display of real human emotions.

During the gunfight that inevitably follows the insult, the hotel comes to the defense of Kovac and we see Chris Connor who plays Poe is a master of displaying desperation at wanting to please his guest and the following gratification. It’s all done through subtle facial expressions and body language. The character and the actor did not disappoint.

Within minutes of meeting Poe, you see desire followed by gratification. He even goes a little overboard taking revenge on someone Kovac wanted to keep alive.

In this world, AI’s have autonomy and even have their own union, a sorted bunch of characters that don’t love humans and are a sophisticated evolution of how humans should actually fear AI. Not the way AI is currently portrayed on TV, as soon as it gains consciousness it’s going to rise up and kill all humans.

Instead, Poe meets up with the AIs who used to run hotels but have since moved on to other endeavors. In the 50 years Poe has been absent from his contemporaries, unable to pay his AI hotel union dues, they’ve switched to an AI management group, reflecting on how their business has diversified from hotels to other services.

The other AIs embody what humanity today fears AI will become. Pricker runs an AR sexperience club (or virtual brothel). Occasionally he uses real humans to make the virtual sex recordings rather than digital recreations of humans for the recordings. “You’ve got to get out of the business of serving humans, and into the business of serving up humans”.

“They’re not like us Poe, they’re a lesser form of life.”

He is so deeply disturbed by the group’s desire to take advantage of humans, as the study of humanity is one of his greatest aspirations. Poe’s affection for humans and humanity stands in stark contrast to a more developed idea of why humans should be wary of AI, further endears his character to us.

Altered Carbon is based on a book, and The Raven hotel and the Edgar Allan Poe theme are liberties taken by Netflix. In the novel, it’s a Jimi Hendrix themed property which wouldn’t have gone with the same noir theme the rest of the storyline follows. If memories of high school English class haven’t failed me, Kovac’s character holds true to many of Poe’s literary creations. A hero punishing societies low lifes and the opulent upper class is a theme found in several of his tales.

Poe is the perfect Watson in this detective story. Despite the plot twists all the other characters in Altered Carbon are obvious and one dimensional in their character development.

Like Blade Runner 2019, it is Altered Carbon’s most artificial character that is its most human.

When faced with the question of what makes someone or something human, it’s ironic that we look to the AI hotel for answers.

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HTC U11 life review http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/htc-u11-life-review/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/htc-u11-life-review/#respond Mon, 04 Dec 2017 18:00:54 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?post_type=review&p=35868

HTC recently launched the U11+, its new flagship, and the U11 life, a mid-range phone with the look and feel of the U11. I’m a big fan of the U11 — other than the lack of headphone jack, it’s a great handset with an impressive camera that just missed the slim-bezel, ultra-widescreen trend by a […]

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HTC recently launched the U11+, its new flagship, and the U11 life, a mid-range phone with the look and feel of the U11. I’m a big fan of the U11 — other than the lack of headphone jack, it’s a great handset with an impressive camera that just missed the slim-bezel, ultra-widescreen trend by a few months, something the U11+ now remedies. But what about the U11 life? Can HTC really deliver a U11-like experience for half the price? I just spent a few weeks using an unlocked, US-spec, U11 life review unit, so let’s find out.

Design

If you’ve seen the U11, you know exactly what the U11 life looks like. At first sight, it’s hard to tell them apart. The U11 life has a smaller 5.2-inch display (vs. 5.5-inch) with similarly massive bezels, and the same gorgeous liquid blue back, but with a single LED flash (vs. dual LED) next to the camera. Look closer, and there are other small differences. The USB Type-C port isn’t centered along the bottom edge, but offset to the right — a clear nod to past HTC phones, like the iconic One M7.

Pick up the U11 life, and that great first impression falls apart. It just feels cheap, unfortunately. While many mid-range handsets are made of aluminum and glass these days, HTC chose to replace the U11’s glass back with acrylic (plexiglass) and the machined aluminum frame with molded plastic. I’m puzzled here: the acrylic back is a passable substitute (even if the blue hue doesn’t quite match the U11’s), but the plastic frame — complete with visible molding marks —  is just disappointing at this price point.

Gone too, are the U11’s machined aluminum power/lock key and volume rocker, replaced with plastic buttons that just don’t have the same pleasant tactile feedback. At least the IP67 rating and notification LED carry over to the U11 lite, along with Edge Sense, which is interesting if not somewhat gimmicky.

Display

The U11 life features a 5.2-inch 1080p Super LCD 3 IPS panel with a standard 16:9 aspect ratio. It’s a lovely screen — bright, with punchy colors, good contrast, and decent viewing angles. This display definitely stands out at this price point, but if anything, the colors are a bit too saturated by default. I’d prefer using another color profile about two thirds of the way between the existing sRGB and Vivid settings. Otherwise, I have no complaints.

Camera

On paper, the U11 life’s cameras aren’t anything special. Both feature 16MP sensors and f/2.0 lenses (with phase-detection AF in the rear). There’s no IOS here, presumably to keep costs down. I’ll admit that my expectations were low considering I’ve been spoiled by the latest crop of flagship shooters (hello there, Pixel 2), but I was surprised with the U11 life’s imaging performance.

As you can see from the camera samples, the U11 life takes nice photos. While HTC uses commodity hardware here, it more than makes up for this with excellent camera software — both in terms of experience and image processing. The HDR Auto mode is particularly well sorted (thanks no doubt to Qualcomm’s ISP), and it’s nice of HTC offer a manual (Pro) mode on a mid-range phone. Good stuff.

What’s missing, then? I’d like to see the UltraPixel mode from the U Ultra make a comeback. This setting improves low-light performance by lowering the resolution to 4MP and binning pixels. Video recording is fine, by the way. The U11 life supports up to 4k capture (1080p maximum in front) with high-resolution audio, but lacks the U11’s 3D audio feature. All in all, I think most people will be happy these shooters.

Reception and sound quality

I tested the U11 life in San Francisco, CA and Portland, OR on T-Mobile’s LTE network and didn’t experience any issues with reception, call quality, or data speeds. Unlike the U11 and its excellent 2-way BoomSound Hi-Fi speaker system, the U11 life just features a single speaker on the bottom edge. It’s fine for phone calls or the occasional YouTube video, but it’s nothing to write home about. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

Despite being a mid-range phone, the U11 life lacks a headphone jack. This is vexing to say the least, especially since HTC doesn’t include a USB Type-C to 3.5mm adapter in the box. On the plus side, the handset is bundled with HTC’s USonic USB Type-C earbuds with active noise cancellation, and like the U11, it supports aptX-HD and Airplay for high-quality wireless audio playback.

Specifications

Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 630, octa-core, 2.2GHz
RAM 3/4GB
Internal storage 32/64GB
External storage microSD
Screen type IPS
Screen size (inches) 5.2
Screen resolution 1920×1080 pixels, 424ppi
Rear camera 16-megapixel, f/2.0, phase-detection AF
Flash single LED
Front camera 16-megapixel, f/2.0
Dimensions (mm) 149.1 x 72.9 x 8.1
Weight (g) 142
Battery capacity (mAh) 2600
Removable battery No
Fingerprint sensor Yes
Operating system Android 7.1.1, Sense UI/Android 8.0, Android One
Colours Brilliant Black, Sapphire Blue, Ice White
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual band
GPS Yes, A-GPS, GLONASS
Bluetooth Yes, v5.0
NFC Yes
Infrared No
USB Type-C
Headphone jack No
FM No
SIM single SIM, nano SIM
Radios 2G/GSM/EDGE, 3G/WCDMA/HSPA, 4G/LTE Cat 12

Performance and battery life

The U11 life is powered by Qualcomm’s new mid-range Snapdragon 630 and features 3GB RAM and 32GB of built-in storage (with microSD expansion up to 256GB). Basically, this means you’ll enjoy good performance and solid battery life in all but the most demanding situations. Sure, the U11 handles games better, but for most tasks, you’d be hard-pressed to notice any difference in performance.

I didn’t have any problems with battery life despite the smallish 2600mAh cell. The U11 life easily powers through an entire day on a charge, with often juice leftover for the next day. And unlike many other mid-range phones, the U11 life features NFC, which, together with the fingerprint reader in front, enable Android Pay.

Software

There are two U11 life models available. The “default” version I’m reviewing runs Sense UI on top of Android 7.1.1 (Nougat), and the Android One version — which is not available in the US — runs pure Android 8.0 (Oreo). Like with the U11, Sense UI remains lightweight, fast, and a pleasure to use. HTC’s done a great job at keeping things as stock as possible while adding useful touches. This goes a long way in bringing that U11 experience to the U11 life.

Like the U11, the U11 life features Sense Companion and supports both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, but unlike HTC’s flagship, you have to choose which assistant is listening by default when the phone is locked (the U11 responds to both “OK Google” and “Alexa” voice triggers).

Pricing and conclusion

You can look at the U11 life in two ways. On the one hand, it provides 80-90% of the U11’s awesome DNA for about half the price ($350 unlocked or $300 on T-Mobile). That’s impressive. At the same time, the U11 life is a little too expensive and feels a little too cheap to really hit the mark in this very competitive mid-range segment.

So it really comes down to your priorities. If you’re looking for a flagship-like experience on a budget then by all means, go for it. But if you’re really price sensitive and looking for quality materials and standard mid-range features (like a headphone jack), then perhaps the U11 life isn’t the right handset for you.

I’ll tell you this: when I first touched the U11 life, I was put off by the plastic build, the lack of headphone jack, and the price. But once I actually started using this phone, all this melted away. At the end of the day, there’s no substitute for a great experience, and HTC delivers.

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Best Bluetooth Headphones under $35 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/article/best-bluetooth-headset-under-30/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/article/best-bluetooth-headset-under-30/#comments Fri, 24 Nov 2017 06:10:55 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?post_type=article&p=35808

With headphone jacks going the way of the dodo the question of the day has become what Bluetooth audio products should you have in your life. Having owned a sleek pair of $399 Dash earbuds, but when you have to replace one for $150, you’ll agree, expensive wireless headphones are dumb. I’m going to make […]

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With headphone jacks going the way of the dodo the question of the day has become what Bluetooth audio products should you have in your life. Having owned a sleek pair of $399 Dash earbuds, but when you have to replace one for $150, you’ll agree, expensive wireless headphones are dumb.

I’m going to make a few suggestions for buds that you won’t loose while running for the train. Before we dive in I’m going to list Bluetooth (BT) aptX as a pro for a few of the headsets. Most headsets have SBC which supports sampling frequencies up to 48 kHz, bit rates up to 198 kb/s for mono streams and 345 kb/s for stereo streams. For comparison, aptX HD transfers audio at up to 576 kb/s for a 24-bit 48 kHz file, which allows for higher quality audio data to be moved more quickly. If you’re someone who really notices audio quality you should probably be spending more on your headphones, however, if you’re on a budget over the ear headphones provide fuller sound and the aptX codec will give you a better shot at the best sound quality in this price point.

I haven’t used all of these, but each does come as a personal recommendation from another tech reviewer or a friend.


VAVA MOOV 28 – Solid All Around Headset

These graced my purse for a few weeks before my dog ate them, the long battery life and good sound put them at the top of my list. Since didn’t get to use them for very long, I looked around the web for some long-term reviews I noticed that BGR thinks they sound better than Apple’s AirPods.

Pro

  • Great design, they don’t look budget
  • Magnets in the earbuds let you clip them around your neck when you’re not using them
  • Good sound quality
  • 8 hours of listening is an understatement 9+ is not uncommon
  • If you have an hour daily commute + gym, you may only need to charge once a week
  • Splash-proof rating IPX5
  • Cable is well balanced and comfortable

Con

  • 2 hour charge time

TaoTronics 4.1 In-Ear – Audio lover

A runner I know vouched for these, usually clocking a minimum of 50km a week I would give these a runners seal of approval.

  • aptX codec
  • noise canceling technology
  • ceramic antenna increases the signal strength of these headphones, withstanding additional interference and eliminating excess noise
  • 1 hour charge time
  • Splash-proof rating IPX5

Con

  • 5-6 hours battery life, not the 8 it claims

Mpow Thor Bluetooth Headphones On-Ear

Over the ear headphones are a fashion statement, they’re big so usually they’ over $30 because companies have a design tax. We have yet to find a truly svelt over the ear at this price point, but the Mpow aren’t bad. If you look closely they do look budget, but if style isn’t at the top of your list then you’ll be happy with these ok looking great sounding headphones.

  • 8 hours battery life
  • loud enough to mask any background noise
  • better bass than in ear, but it’s not a full rich bass like you’d find in a more expensive headset
  • Folds For Portability

Con

  • 2-3 hours charge time
  • Comfortable, but after an hour you want to remove them to rub your ears as there is a little too much pressure
  • no noise canceling or aptX codec

Aukey Latitude EP-B40 – 2 Year Warranty

Aukey Latitude EP-B40 is a recommendation from a cute guy I struck up a conversation with at the gym. Which is why I looked them up to see if anyone else vouched for them, lucky for him, Wirecutter has named them their top budget gym pick.

Pros

  • Decent Sound Quality – BT aptX
  • Great volume, definitely loud enough even at a noisy gym
  • Silicone wings and tips keep the earbuds secure, long-distance running is no problem even with a lot of sweating
  • IPX4 waterproof and dusting rating
  • Magnets in the earbuds let you clip them around your neck when you’re not using them
  • Eight-plus-hour battery life will get you through more than a week of hour-long workouts before you have to recharge
  • The two-year warranty protects against manufacturing defects

Cons

  • The cable connecting the buds is rather long and does bounce annoyingly when you jog and is known to tug a bit as you turn your head

Right now for Black Friday the Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear Headphones are on sale for $79.99 down from $129.99, it’s not $35, but if you’re after great sound quality, this is probably as close as you’ll get.

Bose SoundTrue Ultra in-ear headphones – Apple devices Charcoal

Price: $79.50

3.7 out of 5 stars (567 customer reviews)

6 used & new available from $79.50

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Thule Subterra Luggage 70cm Review – A sporty bag that works for business http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/thule-subterra-luggage-70cm-review-sporty-bag-works-buisiness/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/thule-subterra-luggage-70cm-review-sporty-bag-works-buisiness/#respond Tue, 21 Nov 2017 10:59:41 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?post_type=review&p=35778

When I think of Thule, I think of rugged roof racks and bike carriers for the car. I was quite surprised to find out that they made luggage, but makes sense that they ventured into the personal luggage space. The Thule Subterra Luggage 70cm (75L) checked luggage is a well made and very durable piece […]

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When I think of Thule, I think of rugged roof racks and bike carriers for the car. I was quite surprised to find out that they made luggage, but makes sense that they ventured into the personal luggage space. The Thule Subterra Luggage 70cm (75L) checked luggage is a well made and very durable piece of hardware. It feels rugged and heavy duty and the two main compartments are very spacious and at the same time being lightweight. 

I was able to store enough clothes for a week and a half as well as a pillow with room to spare. The divided compartments made it easy to organize and the top pocket provided quick access. Although there is ample amount of storage, I just wished there was a few smaller pockets to store loose items and electronics, chargers and cords. There is however a small zip up pocket to store keys and a few smaller items on top, just not big enough for all my various electronics.

The exterior is a simple and elegant black and is a very durable and weather resistant 800D nylon fabric with a hard polycarbonate bottom shell. The many straps around the bag allow us to secure everything in place. The main handle straps are made from a thick weaved material and feel very sturdy. I found the straps a bit annoying to do up everytime, but they did keep everything in the bag snug and in place.

Pulling the luggage was smooth and easy, as the telescopic handle were effortless to extend and great for left and right handed users as there were release buttons on both side of the handle. I’ve had many carry ons and luggage bags and this was by far the best handle for comfort and smoothness. The handle extended to a length that made it easy to pull and made it easy to balance smaller bags on.

The wheels rolled with ease and did not stick or feel wobbly. They too are made from a tough and rugged material that feel like they will last a long long time. I took the bag over rocky gravel and the wheels had no problem and showed no signs of wear even with the jagged rocks I had to go over. It might have been nice to have the wheels have bit of shock absorbption, if they were a bit softer it could have been a little more luxurious to roll the bag, but I understand the trade off for durability.

If you’re into sports the divisions of the bag means that you can place your clothes on the bottom and all your quick access activity based items in the top. The fact that it opens up while lying flat is a nice bonus, it means you leave the bottom of the bag untouched. It also means that if you put wet items in the top the mesh layer won’t provide any protection.  We did notice that the slightly larger 75cm 90L edition did have solid dividers, depending on your size preference this might be the way to go.

Price

Thule Subterra Luggage 70cm is available on Amazon for $279 which is a fair price for a luggeage that lives up to the Thule brand.

Contribution to the Review by Dan Lui 

 

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Living on a $100 Phone: The Leagoo KIICAA Mix Review http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/living-100-phone-leagoo-kiicaa-mix-review/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/living-100-phone-leagoo-kiicaa-mix-review/#comments Sun, 12 Nov 2017 08:07:03 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?post_type=review&p=35604

As a Smartphone reviewer, I spend most of my time with the latest greatest and fastest phones out there. So with my benchmarks set so high the pain points of a truly budget device should be painfully obvious. Having said that I spent 5 days with my SIM card in the Leagoo KIIRAA Mix let’s […]

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As a Smartphone reviewer, I spend most of my time with the latest greatest and fastest phones out there. So with my benchmarks set so high the pain points of a truly budget device should be painfully obvious.

Having said that I spent 5 days with my SIM card in the Leagoo KIIRAA Mix let’s take a look at my day and when I wish that I’d had more phone.

Design

The KIICAA Mix design is inspired by the Xiaomi Mi Mix which launched last year with a similar thin bezel format. The single fingerprint scanner in on the bottom and the front-facing camera awkwardly appears on the bottom left-hand side. It’s unusual placement and you have to get used to flipping the phone over to take selfies.

Selfie Camera on the bottom left-hand side of the smartphone.

The back cover is made of a plastic that does feel very premium and the dual camera set up isn’t flush to the back.


Display

At this price, it’s really hard to find a better screen.

Setting up the Leagoo took some time, the display is a bit dull or washed out, don’t get me wrong, it’s is all screen and has narrow bezels that screams “I’m a modern handset”. It went through nearly all their wallpapers looking for something that would show off the display and minimize the fact that it lacks any kind of saturation or pop.

The display is also missing auto brightness, not such a big deal, but I did notice it was missing. Not including an ambient light sensor is where we start to see cost savings.

Once my eye’s adjusted to the FHD Panel I didn’t mind it. Sure the viewing angles suck so if I want to share video with the person beside you one of you will have a very white film fogging up your view of the display.

If I didn’t hold it up to the standards of the blacks on the AMOLED display’s Samsung uses or the obscenely crisp text of any 2K display out there. But the KIIRCAA’s Sharp panel is acceptable. In fact, I handed it to someone who recently bought a Pixel 2 stood there with both in hand and said: “I can’t believe this is $100” and his girlfriend commented: “bet you wish you didn’t drop $800 on your phone”. Shock at the price while marveling at the display is the reaction I get when I tell everyone the price.

Of course, there is a huge difference between the Google Pixel 2 and the Leagoo, mainly display, build quality, camera, battery life and software experience. You are making signification compromises when you go for a budget phone, but at 1/8th the price what do you expect?


Hardware

The fingerprint reader does feel slow, 1 out of every 5 attempts comes back as a failure. It’s also a multi-purpose button that acts as a home button, back button, and a recent apps button. It didn’t work very well and it was easier to just swipe up and access the on-screen navigation buttons.

CPU Processor MT6750T Octa-Core 1.5GHz
CPU Core Quantity Octa-Core
GPU Mali-T720 MP1 650(T)MHZ
Storage
RAM 3GB
ROM 32GB
Available Memory 30GB
Memory Card 2 Nano SIM or 1 Nano SIM + 1 TF card
Max. Expansion Supported 256GB
Display
Touch Screen Type IPS
Screen Resolution 1920*1080
Screen Size ( inches) 5.5
Screen Edge 2.5D Curved Edge
Network
Network Type 2G , 3G , 4G
Band Details GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz WCDMA: 850/900/2100MHz FDD-LTE: 800/850/900/1800/2100/2600MHz (Band 1,3,5,7,8,20)
Data Transfer GPRS , HSPA , LTE
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b,g,n
SIM Card Type 1 TF card , Nano SIM
SIM Card Quantity 2
Network Standby Dual Network Standby
GPS Yes
NFC No
Infrared Port No
Bluetooth Version Bluetooth V4.0
System
Operating System Android 7.0
Camera
Camera type 2 x Cameras
Camera Pixel 13.0MP
Front Camera Pixels 13MP
Flash No
Power
Battery Capacity 3000mAh
Battery Mode Non-removable
Other Features
features Wi-Fi , GPS , FM , Bluetooth
Sensor G-sensor , Proximity
Waterproof Level IPX0 (Not Protected)
Dust-proof Level NO
Shock-proof No
I/O Interface USB Type-c
TV Tuner No
Radio Tuner FM
Wireless Charging No
Other Features 5.5″ HD IPS + Dual Network Standby + Android7.0 + 3GB RAM + 32GB ROM + Wi-Fi + GPS + FM + 13.0MP Front camera+ 13.0MP Rear camera + 3000mAh battery + Octa-Core + Bluetooth 4.0
Dimensions & Weight
Dimensions 5.59 in x 2.99 in x 0.28 in (14.2 cm x 7.6 cm x 0.7 cm)
Weight 5.47 oz (155 g)

Camera

The KIIRCAA can take a decent photo, much better than we expected for the price point, it’s got a dual camera set up, 13MP on the rear with a 2MP secondary camera. The dual lens set up is to enable an SLR mode to blur out the background. This is where the second lens should come into play, for depth sensing, but it’s weird that we’re able to see data from it in the camera app. It’s blurring black and white images and even though the color saturation and accuracy is good, you know it’s a budget phone when you see something like we see above.

Not that we’re big on Mega Pixels, but the guys over a ChinaMobileMag noticed some discrepancies in the MP listed an what was shipped. The main camera uses a OmniVision OV8856 sensor with 8MP. The secondary camera uses a 0.3MP SP0A09 sensor.We’re more about camera performance, but it’s doesn’t help the reputation of the brand when things like this pop up.


The photo quality is acceptable, but is lacking detail, when you pull them off the phone they the lines look less sharp. You won’t be able to zoom in and crop.

Portrait mode does not do a great job of identifying the edges and in low light it’s almost impossible. Low light portrait is a challenge for the Pixel 2 and Note 8, so for this price expecting good results is unrealistic.

Portrait Mode

Low Light

Selfies

Weird front facing camera placement


Software

Running Android 7.0 this isn’t the latest version of Android and smaller Chinese manufacturers generally don’t provide updates. I’ve had the phone just over a month and have gotten an update for October, and I expect that over the next few months I might get one or two more, but an update to Android 8.0 is unlikely.

The UI can often run slow we would be curious to see how this run on stock Android, in theory, this processor should be more than enough. However, waiting 2-3 seconds for something to open or to change apps happens a few times a day.

If you’re not great at using a smartphone this lag could cause confusion and if you’re used to a more powerful processor you’ll find it annoying not knowing if the press didn’t register or if it’s simply just slow.


Performance

Sometimes you’ll have to wait a second or two for your screen to react.

Benchmarks

Geeksbench Single 600
Geekbench multicore 2598
AnTuTu 43078
PCMark Work 2.0 3145
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme 387

Sound

  • No headphone jack
  • Good call quality

We wish that a 3.5mm to USB Type C adapter. Someone who is buying a budget phone won’t want to shell out for a good pair of headphones. It would have been smarter to let them use whatever headphones they were already using rather than providing a terrible pair of type c headphones.


Battery Life

  • 3000mAh Battery is likely a 2500mAh in size
  • It does have Quick Charge but it’s 2.0 and not 3.1 so charging the 3000mAh battery takes just over 2.5 hours.

Leagoo’s custom UI doesn’t allow me to look at screen on time, but PC Mark’s battery life test only put it at about 4.5 hours. This much lower than what we would need from our handsets, by comparison, Galaxy Note 8 will get around 12 hours in this test.

If I have to take 1 hour of public transport playing candy crush and looking at Facebook and I have plans to go out at night, I know I’ll need to top up. The fact that it doesn’t have quick charge 3.0 makes this below average battery life noticeable.

External tests repeatedly showed results between 2.300 and 2.400mAh. If you take into consideration production-related deviations as well as deviations due to the methods of measurement you can expect a real capacity of around 2.500 to 2.600mAh. This is in line with our testing since we would expect longer screen on time for a 300mAh battery. It’s little things like that that make a budget phone…budget.


Price

You can’t beat the pricetag on the Leagoo KIIRCAA MIX, you can pick it up at DX.com for $100, but we’ve seen it as low as 60EUR!

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