Reviews – Mobile Geeks http://www.mobilegeeks.com Covering the Latest Mobile Technology News Wed, 12 Dec 2018 08:00:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 39846093 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. […]

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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: $94.89

3.7 out of 5 stars (559 customer reviews)

9 used & new available from $94.89

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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!

The post Living on a $100 Phone: The Leagoo KIICAA Mix Review appeared first on Mobile Geeks.

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ASUS ZenFone 4 Pro Review – A class behind http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/asus-zenfone-4-pro-review-class-behind/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/asus-zenfone-4-pro-review-class-behind/#comments Wed, 01 Nov 2017 12:00:31 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?post_type=review&p=35444

Design A good looking phone that looks more midrange than high-end 2.5D Gorilla Glass surrounds this handset on the front and back Postive It really is a great looking well-built handset. Comes with clear plastic cover. Negative The spun metal ZenCircle design that appeared on previous handsets is now gone. Glossy finish is prone to […]

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Design

A good looking phone that looks more midrange than high-end

  • 2.5D Gorilla Glass surrounds this handset on the front and back

Postive

  • It really is a great looking well-built handset.
  • Comes with clear plastic cover.

Negative

  • The spun metal ZenCircle design that appeared on previous handsets is now gone.
  • Glossy finish is prone to fingerprints
  • Large bezels at the top and bottom
  • It’s very slippery, constantly almost sliding off the table or out of my hand, this means you have to use the case and it hides the sleek look and feel. There is actually a minor bump on the bottom of the phone, this must have happened one of the time I left it on the table and it slid right off
  • The bumper of the 4 Pro is great looking phone, however, lacking the edge to edge display found on most premium handsets it is competition with because of it’s very high price point. Though it is a great looking phone, it’s bezels at the top and bottom are much to large to be considered anything but midrange.

Hardware

Positive

  • MicroSD card up to 256GB
  • Very fast and reliable fingerprint sensor. ASUS claims 0.3sec to unlock in 3 weeks of use we only noted half dozen time it didn’t read properly

Negative

  • Not waterproof

ASUS ZenFone 4 Pro Specifications

Display
  • 5.5-inch AMOLED
  • 1080 x 1920 pixels, 16:9 ratio (~401 ppi density)
  • 70.3% screen-to-body ratio
  • Gorilla Glass 5
Processsor
  • Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835
  • Octa-core (4×2.45 GHz Kryo & 4×1.9 GHz Kryo)
  • Adreno 540
RAM LPDDR4x 6GB
Internal Storage UFS 2.1  64/128 GB
Rear Camera Dual 12 MP (f/1.7, 25mm, OIS, 4-axis, PDAF & laser AF) + 16 MP (50mm), 2x optical zoom, Sony IMX351 image sensor
Front Camera 8 MP, f/1.9, 22mm, 1.4µm pixel size, phase detection autofocus, 1080p. Sony IMX319 image sensor
Operating System Android Oreo 7.1 (Oreo Update confirmed), Asus ZenUI 4.0
Battery Li-Ion 3600 mAh battery – Quick Charge
Network
  • Slot 1: 2G/3G/4G Nano SIM card

    Slot 2: 2G/3G/4G Nano SIM Card, or the MicroSD card (supports up to 2TB) at a time

    Both SIM card slots support 3G WCDMA / 4G LTE network band. But only one SIM card can connect to 3G WCDMA / 4G LTE service at a time.

  • LTE Cat12: UL 100 Mbps / DL 600 Mbps World wide version

    LTE Cat12: UL 150 Mbps / DL 600 Mbps (US/CA/BR/CO/JP/IN version)

    FDD-LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 17,19, 20, 28)

    TD-LTE (Bands 38, 39, 40, 41 (2545~2655MHz))

Connectivity
  • WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth®: BT 5.0
  • NFC: Ja
  • WiFi direct
  • USB-Anschluss: USB Type-C™ 3.1
  • USB-Funktionen: Aufladung, MTP, Tethering, DisplayPort, Audio, Power Delivery, OTG
Sensors
  • Live fingerprint sensor (0.3 seconds unlock, supports 5 fingerprints)
  • Accelerator
  • E-Compass
  • Gyroscope
  • Proximity sensor
  • Ambient light sensor
  • RGB sensor, Laser sensor
Audio
  • 3.5mm headphone
  • 5-magnet speaker with TI Smart Amp for up to 40% better performance
  • Hi-Res audio 192kHz/24-bit standard that is 4 times better than CD quality
  • DTS (Digital Theater System) Headphone:X™ 7.1 virtual surround sound for headphone support
Weight 175 Gramm
Dimentions 156.9 x 75.6 x 7.6 mm
Details
  • Glasrückseite
  • Dual-SIM
  • Kein Wireless Charging
IWhat’s in the Box
  • ZenFone 4 Pro

  • ASUS ZenEar Pro earphone with microphone

  • Type-C USB cable

  • Ejector pin (SIM tray needle)

  • USB power adapter (18W)

  • Documentation (user guide, warranty card)

  • Clear soft bumper (optional)

Camera

ZenFone 4 Pro, you get the same main camera behind a brighter f/1.7 lens, but this time the second camera does 2X optical zoom. Again, the secondary camera isn’t as good in low light — a common thing for dual-lens phones — with its f/2.6 lens. But you do at least get a hardware-enabled portrait mode in the ZenFone 4 Pro.

PixelMaster camera modes:
Auto (with low light and HDR features)
Beauty
Portrait
Selfie Panorama
GIF Animation
9 various filters
Video Recording
4K UHD (3840 by 2160) video recording at 30 fps for rear camera’s shake-free videos
1080p FHD video recording at 30 / 60 fps
720p HD video recording at 30 fps
3-axis electronic image stabilization for selfie and rear cameras
Slow Motion video (1080p at 120 fps / 720p at 240 fps)
Take still photo while recording video

Postive

  • Dual Camera set up with 2X zoom fast and in good lighting produces photos
  • Good Selfie camera, wide angle for grofies (group selfies) is the same quality as the standard
  • Colour representation is good, photos are not over saturated

Negative

  • Portrait mode works very poorly in low light and can take such a long time to take the photo that you’ve moved the phone causing an artistic and abstract photo.
  • The 2X Zoom quickly loses detail when the lighting is anything less than idea
  • ZenUI Night time mode is gone, previous versions of the ZenFone were able to take photos in virtual darkness. You had to select the mode, it would never use it automatically (a prompt suggesting a mode switch would have been cool), but it could take usable photos in virtual darkness, and did make the ZenFone one of the better low light smartphones around. That feature is missing and low light in Pro and Auto aren’t very good and the photos are usually very noisy.
  • shutter speed slows down in relation to how dark it gets, the darker the subject, the longer it takes to react. Not something you expect from a Snapdragon 835 and 6GB of RAM.
  • Does not handle backlight very well

Here are some sample photos:

Standard

2X Zoom

5X Digital Zoom

low light. photo quality quickly starts to degrade

2X Zoom looks more pixelated than good lighting conditions

Standard

Here are some low light samples, it performs well, the shutter speed is often very slow, even with HRD off, we’re disappointed because the Snapdragon 835 should be powerful enough for snappy low light performance.

These were taken in Pro mode and took several shots to reduce the noise. The ZenFone 4 Pro is capable of decent low light photos, just not in Auto.

Photo take in Auto at in a bar, if you’re looking for a low light point and shoot, this isn’t the phone for you.

The dual lens set up also allow for a portrait mode, in normal lighting it is acceptable, the edges are fairly accurate. However, we should note that what you see in the preview is way worse than what the photo looks like. This makes the phone feel much less premium and much more midrange, these kinds of UX details are what is starting to separate the top tier from the midrange.

Portrait mode in low light is very slow, so slow that I decided to include a sample photo of holding the phone for 3 seconds, thinking it was done and then realizing that it wasn’t. If there isn’t enough light the software has a hard time differentiating the edges and the results are not great. All phones have this problem, but most give you an indication that the photo is still being taken.

22 hours on a plane to Valencia, I looked much worse in person. Beauty settings on 25% strength.

Software

  • Android 7.1 with an update to Oreo that has been confirmed
  • Asus has completely reworked Nougat’s settings menu, loading it with more customisation options than can easily be counted. Some, such as Splendid, or the ability to create custom audio profiles are useful, but most of the changes feel fairly pointless and detrimental to the user experience.

Postive

  • Asus has radically decreased the amount of bloatware
  • Asus-specific services, such as WebStorage, are also neatly contained in a folder, making them easy to ignore and hide from the homescreen
  • Game Genie is a great program that is married well with ZenUI and the hardware, its life cast and screen record work perfectly.
  • The scope of the Zenfone 4’s customisation is impressive.
  • ZenUI Safeguard feature is also a worthy addition, offering a quick SOS alert to be sent to preferred contacts, as well as full location reporting.
  • Asus’ Customised Settings also delivers quite a few extra tools. You can sign in with two different accounts on the likes of Facebook, for instance, or stream your mobile gaming session straight to Twitch.
  • great wallpapers and very cool live wallpapers

Negative

  • There is so much customization in ZenUI it makes it overwhelming and is hard to navigate.
  • ZenUI is greatly improved, but we would have preferred stock Android.
  • We had trouble signing into some WiFi networks as the authentication option never appeared.

Sound

The dual-speakers aren’t good enough for serious music listening, but they’re clear and loud enough for some Netflix action. The addition of hi-res audio and DTS Headphone:X support are also a bonus for audiophiles and serious movie fans who want to experience virtual surround sound.

Positive

  • Loud clear sound. You can easily share video in a noisy coffee shop.
  • 3.5mm headphone jack comes with hi-res audio and DTS Headphone:X support
  • Hi-Res audio playback, for enjoying top-quality tracks.
  • Bluetooth 5 means you can hook up to two separate speakers or headphones at the same time, handy when traveling with a partner.
  • Asus has also served up some manual audio controls in the form of the AudioWizard, which can tweak the output based on your type of headphones and more.

Negative

  • Headphones that come in the box are very average, the bass is lacking lows
  • Though the audio from the speakers is loud and clear, the low tones or bass is lacking so vocals can often sound a bit empty when listening to podcasts or vocal heavy music.

Performance

Game Genie

  • Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835
  • Octa-core (4×2.45 GHz Kryo & 4×1.9 GHz Kryo)
  • Adreno 540
  • 6GB LPDDR4 RAM

Apart from the camera lagging in low light, the ZenFone 4 Pro is a snappy beast.

  • The benchmarks are competitive with other high end handsets

  • The handset is snappy and the camera responds quickly, this is the main difference in performance between the mid tier ZenFone 4 which does experience some lag.

PCMark Work 2.0 7462
AnTuTu 176791
3DMark 3733
Geekbench single 1902
Geekbench multicore 6203
GFX Bench T Rex Offscreen
GFX Bench Offscreen

Price

The ASUS ZenFone 4 Pro is currently available on Amazon for $799 which is too expensive for a handset with an outdated design. The large bezels at the top and bottom combined with the average low light camera performance make this seem like it should have more a midrange price tag rather than a high end one. When you compare the Samsung Galaxy S8 or LG G6 which both have sleeker designs and better cameras.

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Google Pixel 2 & Pixel 2 XL review http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/google-pixel-2-pixel-2-xl-review/ http://www.mobilegeeks.com/review/google-pixel-2-pixel-2-xl-review/#respond Mon, 30 Oct 2017 14:00:41 +0000 http://www.mobilegeeks.com/?post_type=review&p=35361

The original Google Pixel phones leave a big legacy behind, and the Pixel 2 and 2 XL have a lot of hype to live up to. Their predecessors were simple, fast, and featured a great camera. The latest Pixel handsets look better, are faster, and incorporate Google’s AI. This year Google’s further refined the software […]

The post Google Pixel 2 & Pixel 2 XL review appeared first on Mobile Geeks.

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The original Google Pixel phones leave a big legacy behind, and the Pixel 2 and 2 XL have a lot of hype to live up to. Their predecessors were simple, fast, and featured a great camera. The latest Pixel handsets look better, are faster, and incorporate Google’s AI. This year Google’s further refined the software experience to showcase its vision of the Android user experience.

Above is a detailed, deep dive video on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Those of you who just want an overview of what the new Pixel phones bring to the table will find our no-frills, bullet-point style review below. It’s dense with information and designed to provide the most amount of details in the least amount of time.

Pixel 2

Design

Google’s taken the lukewarm design of the original Pixel handsets and refined it.

• The Pixel 2 XL comes in black and white, the latter looking particularly cool because the glass band in the back is still black and the power/lock key is orange
• The Pixel 2 comes in black, white, and “kinda blue”, the latter featuring a turquoise power button
• Both Pixel 2 phones feature narrower glass bands in back than the original Pixel handsets
• The Pixel 2 cameras protrude slightly but this looks better than the flush original Pixel shooters
• The Pixel 2 XL and Pixel 2 have different screen aspect ratios, front glass edges, color schemes, and are made by different manufacturers
• The Pixel 2 XL’s “G” logo is embossed; the Pixel 2’s “G” logo is silk-screened
• There’s a notification light hidden above the display on both phones, but you have to enable it in the notification settings

Google Pixel 2 XL Photo Gallery


Google Pixel 2 Photo Gallery

Positive
• Both Pixel 2 phones feature an aluminum unibody design, but it’s finished using a “hybrid coating”. Some complain that it’s too much like plastic, but it isn’t as slippery as anodized aluminum, and feels great in hand.
• Both handsets are made of aluminum and glass, like all of today’s flagships
• The Pixel 2 XL (made by LG) looks like a modern device that keeps up with the “bezel-less” trend of 2017. It features a 6-inch 2880×1440 plastic OLED display in a body that’s the same size as last year’s 5.5-inch Pixel XL.
• Both are water resistant (IP67) this year, unlike last year

Negative
• Both are well made but still look pretty boring overall
• While the Pixel 2 XL has a more modern edge-to-edge design, it somehow manages to be taller, wider, thicker, heavier, and have larger bezels than its LG V30 cousin (which uses the same display)
• The Pixel 2 looks more dated/forgettable because of its 16:9 display, it’s massive bezels, and its 2D front glass with machined aluminum bevel
• The power button on both handsets lack the grip pattern found on the original Pixel phones
• Both Pixel 2 phones look less like siblings than the original Pixel handsets
• The Pixel 2 XL (made by LG) somehow feels cheaper than the Pixel 2 (made by HTC)
• Basically, there’s an overall lack of design coherence, unlike the rest of Google’s product line
• Both feature stereo front speakers but no headphone jack (argh!)

Display

• Pixel 2 XL: 6-inch, 18:9 ratio, 2880×1440 pixels (Quad HD+), 483 nits, plastic OLED (made by LG, same as V30)
• Pixel 2: 5-inch, 16:9 ratio, 1920×1280 pixels (Full HD), AMOLED (made by Samsung)

Positive
• The Pixel 2’s display is bright and crisp, and looks great despite being only 1080p. At 440 nits, it’s also bright enough to read in direct sunlight.

Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL

Negative
• Colors on both Pixel 2 displays look somewhat dull compared to other OLED screens, but…
• Enabling the “vivid color” mode helps, so it’s clearly a display tuning issue
• This tuning issue is particularly obvious when comparing the Pixel 2 XL and LG V30 side-by-side (same screen)
• Despite the Pixel 2 XL’s wider color gamut and higher pixel density, the Pixel 2 display looks slightly better out of the box
• The Pixel 2 XL display exhibits a blue-ish tint when viewed off-center, and offers poor viewing angles for an OLED screen
• My Pixel 2 XL review unit is already experiencing slight OLED “burn-in” after just 10 days of use and is being exchanged by Google, who is aware of the problem
• While both phones have flagship-grade displays overall, they fall short of Samsung’s Galaxy S8/S8+ and Note 8 AMOLED screens

Google recently issued a statement about how it plans to address the Pixel 2 XL screen problems. While we definitely think this is one of the best handsets on the market today, we recommend you hold off buying the Pixel 2 XL until we test Google’s fix.

Camera

The best camera currently on the market — bar none

• Same cameras on Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL
• Slightly improved rear camera hardware this year compared to last year…
• 2017 Pixel 2: 12MP sensor, 1.4 micron pixels, f/1.8 lens, dual-pixel autofocus, EIS and OIS
• 2016 Pixel: 12MP sensor, 1.5 micron pixels, f/2.0 lens, laser autofocus, EIS (no OIS)
• The front camera retains the 8MP sensor, 1.4 micron pixels, f/2.4 lens

Positive
• AI algorithms and the Snapdragon 835 processor enable even better, faster HDR+ processing, dynamic range optimization, noise reduction, and motion blur compensation
• This results in mind-blowing camera performance
• The Pixel 2 cranks the image quality up to 11!
• It’s the new standard that the competition will be aiming to match over the next year
• Portrait mode uses AI algorithms to separate the foreground from the background, without requiring a dual camera system
• Portrait mode works on both the front and rear cameras, and works very well
• Portrait mode also uses the dual-pixel AF system in the rear camera for depth sensing
• The AI algorithms use machine learning/neural networks tuned by Google’s vast database of images, and can be updated over time
• More info here
• Google Lens is like Amazon Visual Search or Bixby vision but benefits from Google’s vast database of places and things. It’s VERY cool…
• Motion Photos is like Apple Live Photos: it records a 3 second 1024×768-pixel video alongside the original image
• Fused video stabilization now uses EIS and OIS together for even better results
• There’s now a face retouching feature in portrait mode and for the front camera

Negative
• Still no manual camera controls

Here are some sample photos:

As you can see in the sample photos, the Portrait Mode is quite good at identifying the edges the objects that are in the foreground.

Camera UI screenshoots

Software

• Both handsets run Android 8.0 (Oreo)
• The new launcher relocates the quick search bar to the bottom of the home screen
• The At-a-Glance feature at the top of the home screen now shows upcoming calendar events in addition to the date, time, and weather
• Notification dots appear on app icons that have notifications pending
• The always-on display shows the date, time, notification icons, and notification contents (briefly) as notifications appear
• Gorgeous new animated wallpapers, especially the “living universe” series
• Now Playing is an optional song ID feature that runs transparently in the background, even without a network connection
• Google Lens, the aforementioned image ID feature
• Fast pair detects when you turn on a compatible set of wireless headphones or earbuds near the phone and prompts you to pair it, then lets you download any matching custom app

Positive
• Overall, it’s a very polished and user-friendly experience that’s pure Android

Google Lens

Negative
• We think one of the main reasons to get a Pixel handset is pure Android, but — as we pointed out in our Essential Phone review — Google isn’t always the first to implement new features in software. So while the user experience is superb, it can feel incomplete when you’re used to certain features being built-in.

Sound

No issues with call quality, data speeds, or reception (we tested the Pixel 2 XL on 3 in Hong Kong and T-Mobile in San Francisco)

Positive
• The stereo speakers are quite good, but the Pixel 2 sounds louder and fuller at maximum volume than Pixel 2 XL
• There’s a decent sounding digital USB Type-C to 3.5mm adapter/dongle in the box; just don’t lose it!
• Now Playing, the aforementioned offline song ID feature
• It displays the name of the song currently playing on the lock screen and in the notification bar

Negative
• No headphone jack, which is user-hostile and stupid, especially when Google made fun of Apple about it just last year…
• Google (like HTC) is not really in a market position to remove a feature that most people still want
• Gigabit LTE is disabled on both phones for whatever reason (cost, packaging?)

Performance

Positive
• Snapdragon 835, 4GB RAM, 64 or 128GB of storage
• Thanks to the Snapdragon 835 and pure build of Android 8 (Oreo), these are super quick phones
• Like the HTC U11, Active Edge lets you squeeze the Pixel 2 phones to activate Google Assistant or silence incoming calls…

Negative
• No micro-SD card slot
• Unlike the HTC U11, Active Edge can only be remapped using a third-party app
• Active Edge could be more useful and open

Pixel 2
Geekbench single 1920
Geekbench Multi 6302
AnTuTu 160502
3DMark 2821
PCMark Work Battery Life 9.51
Pixel 2 XL
Geekbench single 1897
Geekbench Multi 6288
AnTuTu 159036
3DMark 3578
PCMark Work Battery Life 8.09

Battery Life

The Pixel 2 XL features a 3520mAh battery, and the Pixel 2 uses a 2700mAh battery

Positive
• We’re using the Pixel 2 XL as our daily driver, and battery life is excellent, even during busy days (we typically end the day with 20-30% battery)

Negative
• Fast charging, but no wireless charging

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