Amazfit Stratos Review | NDTV Gadgets360.com


Xiaomi-backed wearables brand Huami’s Amazfit Stratos is a multi-sport GPS watch with some features of smartwatches. It’s swim-proof, can track outdoor runs, shows you notifications from your smartphone, lets you store music, and promises up to five days of battery life. All this comes at a price tag of Rs. 15,999, which is a pretty good price if it all works well. We used the Amazfit Stratos for a week to find out whether it’s worth considering as a “smart” watch for fitness enthusiasts.

Amazfit Stratos design and comfort

The Amazfit Stratos looks stunning in photos but the actual product isn’t as good-looking. It’s really bulky, with a thick circular dial and large buttons. While we appreciate the large display, it looks a bit like a flat tyre and isn’t a full circle. The Amazfit Stratos is a bit too bulky to be comfortable for everyday use. It uses a silicone strap and we found that it fit securely and didn’t cause any additional discomfort.

The display is perhaps the biggest weakness of the Amazfit Stratos. It’s an always-on display, which is great, but the positives end there. The glass on top is very reflective, and under bright light, it is hard to read what’s on screen. The backlight tended to hurt our eyes in dim rooms because it lights up the entire screen. With the Amazfit Stratos, waking up in the middle of the night to check the time on our wrist was a painful experience every single time. Even though it has some cool watch faces, the display isn’t good enough to show them off.

One big design flaw with the Amazfit Stratos is its charger. The charging cradle snaps on to the bottom of the watch, but it can fit upside down just as easily. If you accidentally get it wrong, you won’t be able to charge the watch because the pins won’t make contact. While the mechanism works just fine, this oversight could be rather annoying in the long run.

amazfit stratos reflective screen hand gadgets 360 Amazfit Stratos

 

Amazfit Stratos software and ecosystem

The Amazfit Stratos is compatible with iOS and Android, and you’ll need to download the Amazfit Watch app on your smartphone. The app allowed us to choose to sign in with an existing Xiaomi account, and we tried this first because we had created one when reviewing the Xiaomi Mi Band 2. However, it just did not work, so we had to create a new account. The pairing process was smooth and we found the app to be well-designed. It shows data in neat graphs and you can see historical data quite easily too.

Our issue with the app is that it doesn’t do much. It has a setting to change units from Imperial to Metric, but that change didn’t reflect on the watch. We had to do this from the watch’s settings. Similarly, options such as auto-upload data, 12- or 24-hour clocks, do not disturb mode, etc. can only be changed on the watch.

The Amazfit Stratos uses a proprietary operating system, which is quite common in the fitness segment. Companies such as Garmin and TomTom do the same thing. It takes some time to get used to the interface of the Amazfit Stratos, though. It has a touchscreen, and three buttons for you to navigate through the UI. Press the top one to scroll up, and the bottom button to scroll down, and if you want to select an option, you can use the middle button. The app shows a tutorial to take you through other actions, such as long-pressing the top button to go back, etc. but this is not intuitive at all.

We also noticed that the touchscreen only works if you “wake” the watch by pressing one of the buttons. If you try to use the touchscreen after it’s been idle for some time, it remains unresponsive. These are minor annoyances that add up to make the overall experience feel clunky.

amazfit stratos apple watch gadgets 360 Amazfit StratosApple Watch (left) and Amazfit Stratos

 

However, the watch does show notifications and lets you read full messages even from third-party apps. You can’t reply to any notifications as this watch is meant to be a fitness wearable with notifications, and not a proper smartwatch. While we found the notifications useful, people who need more control might not.

Amazfit Stratos performance and battery life

We can live with an average UI if the Amazfit Stratos does its job from a fitness standpoint. To test this, we ran it through some standard tests. The first is to test the step counter by walking 1,000 steps and counting them manually. Then we checked if the Amazfit Stratos recorded them accurately. The results were surprisingly good — the Stratos recorded 1,002 steps when we counted 1,000.

Our second test was to check if the GPS of the watch was accurate. We first drove a car through a route near our office in Mumbai to establish a 1-km distance as our test track. This route took us under a flyover as we wanted to see if the watch can trace the route accurately. We ran the test with the Apple Watch Series 2 on our left hand and the Amazfit Stratos on our right. The Stratos took three minutes to lock on to a signal in an open space on the main road, which was frustrating. Our Apple Watch found a GPS signal instantly (as it uses a paired iPhone’s GPS when). Most running watches take around two minutes to find a GPS signal, and three minutes is a bit too long.

Then, the Stratos recorded the 1km distance as 1.64km. The Apple Watch had no such issues and it showed the route to be exactly 1km long. When we looked at the route recorded by the Amazfit Stratos, it had marked a start point far from where we had actually begun recording the walk, but once we took a U-turn under the flyover, the Stratos corrected itself.

We tried this test a second time, just to check whether the same error was repeated. On this attempt, it took one minute to lock on to a GPS signal at the same spot, which was good to note. The Amazfit Stratos had a much better showing, but it still wasn’t entirely accurate. On the second try it recorded 1.11km on the 1km route, and its starting point was slightly off.

Overall, this kind of inconsistency is worrying, because we’d always be second-guessing whether the Stratos’ tracking is accurate.

amazfit stratos buttons gadgets 360 Amazfit Stratos

 

We also noticed that the Amazfit Stratos doesn’t have a dedicated tracking mode for strength training or gym sessions, or for other activities such as Pilates and yoga, which are found on several other fitness-oriented wearables. Given that, we used the elliptical training mode to track a 90-minute gym session, and found that the heart rate sensor on the Stratos didn’t do a great job. When we looked at our heart rate during the session, the Stratos always showed a value that was either too low or too high based on how we were feeling at that point. A look at the data later confirmed this.

The Apple Watch showed our maximum heart rate during the session as 191 beats per minute, while the Stratos’ data said this was 175bpm. It was a strenous session during which we felt like we’d fully exerted ourself, and our maximum heart rate definitely should’ve been higher. We could also see the heart rate data peaking at different times on the two watches, and felt that the Apple Watch’s data was more accurate.

Sleep tracking with the Amazfit Stratos was a bit of a mixed bag. We compared its data against what was recorded on the Apple Watch by the excellent Sleep++ app, and found that it was accurate sometimes but not at other times. One day we’d set an alarm for 5.30am and we woke up but went back to sleep. On that day, the Stratos claims that we woke up around 5.30am, whereas the Apple Watch data suggested that we woke up at 7.40am. The latter is closer to reality. When we managed to sleep uninterrupted at night, the data was fairly accurate.

We like the fact that the battery life of the Amazfit Stratos is around five days. Without using GPS, it lasted almost seven days on a single charge. The moment you start tracking workouts using GPS, the battery starts to drain more quickly. It’s worth mentioning that by default, features that could drain power – such as automatically uploading workout data – are disabled.

Finally, we really missed automatic workout tracking feature on the Amazfit Stratos. We did forgot to manually begin a workout on one occasion, and the Stratos didn’t log it for us. With companies such as Fitbit adding this feature to their products, and Apple announcing it with watchOS 5, it would be nice to see this feature come to the Amazfit Stratos as well. We were unable to go for a swim during the testing period, but we did subject it to a shower multiple times and it continued to work just fine.

amazfit stratos apple watch reflective screen hand gadgets 360 Amazfit Stratos

 

Verdict
The Amazfit Stratos looks great on paper but fails to live up to its promise in many ways. We really like the idea of a fitness-focused wearable that shows notifications and looks like a cool everyday watch, but the Stratos’ implementation of many features leaves a lot to be desired. Its bulk makes it uncomfortable to wear every day, and its decidedly masculine styling means that women aren’t likely to find it appealing.

While we think that it could work as a multi-sport watch under ideal conditions, the Amazfit Stratos’ inconsistent performance means that we hesitate to recommend it over products from established brands such as Garmin, TomTom, and even the Apple Watch, which isn’t strictly direct competition for the product. The pricing — Rs. 15,999 — is great for the features offered, but we still think the TomTom Spark would be a better choice for fitness enthusiasts on a budget. Those who can afford an Apple Watch Series 3 would be better served by it.

Pros

  • Battery life
  • Always on display
  • Notifications
  • Accurate step tracking

Cons

  • Poor display quality
  • Inaccurate GPS tracking
  • Inaccurate sleep tracking
  • Awkward touchscreen UI
  • App doesn’t do much

Ratings (out of 5)

  • Design and comfort: 2.5
  • Tracking accuracy: 2.5
  • Software and ecosystem: 3
  • Battery life: 4
  • Overall: 2.5



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Noise Aqua Mini Review | NDTV Gadgets360.com


It’s easy find a Bluetooth speaker that fits pretty much any budget these days, but finding a good one at a low cost that’s also waterproof is still a bit tricky. Indian accessory and wearables maker Noise might have just the solution for all those who are looking for such a thing.

The Noise Aqua Mini is a compact Bluetooth speaker that’s IPX7 rated, which means you can dunk it in a little bit of water without worrying about killing it. It’s also very well priced at just Rs. 1,999, making it good budget contender. It’s time to see if it sounds good too.

Noise Aqua Mini design and features

The Aqua Mini is the company’s debut waterproof speaker, and for a first attempt, it’s not too bad. The speaker is designed to be rugged, which is why it has an industrial look with exposed bolts. It’s not the prettiest, but it gets the job done. The exterior is built out of hard plastic and rubber, with metal mesh inserts at the front and back.

Noise Aqua Mini buttons ndtv noise

 

The Aqua Mini has a row of buttons on the top for power and music playback control. Despite the stiff rubber coating, the buttons themselves don’t need much effort to press. On the side, we have a thick flap that conceals a Micro-USB port, reset pin-hole, and auxiliary-in port. The right corner of the speaker has a soft rubber handle, to which you can attached a carabiner that comes in the box. With this, you can clip the speaker onto things when you’re travelling.

The speaker doesn’t feel too heavy at 220g and it’s quite sturdy too. It easily survived a couple of drops. The finish of the plastics could have been a little better, and we would have liked at least a few colour options, instead of just black. In the box, you get a 3.5mm stereo cable, a Micro-USB charging cable, and a manual.

The Aqua Mini uses Bluetooth 4.2 with the Low Energy profile, which should help in prolonging battery life. There’s a 50mm full-range driver with an impedance of 9 Ohms and a rated power output of 5W, but there’s no mention of the frequency range. There doesn’t seem to be any passive radiator either, to help with the low-end frequencies. The speaker doesn’t have a microSD card slot or USB port so you can’t use it as a standalone music player, but there is a built-in FM receiver.

Noise Aqua Mini performance and battery life

When we first took it out of the box, the speaker sounded quite flat, but it sounded better after burning it in for a few hours. Due to the relatively large driver, the Aqua Mini gets very loud when you’re listening to it indoors. Outdoors, you’ll still need to max out the volume. We didn’t hear our music distorting at high volumes, which is good.

The bass is not punchy, as expected, but the driver moves a good amount of air within the chamber so that low-end frequencies aren’t completely flat. Genres like EDM, heavy metal and hip-hop don’t fare too well as the speaker simply cannot push out good bass. Other genres like jazz, pop and even country are easier for the Aqua Mini to handle.

Noise Aqua Mini ports ndtv noise

 

Instrument separation isn’t the best in the mid-range, and the sonic signature isn’t as warm as we’d like, but it doesn’t sound tinny either. Vocals are handled quite well and are put front and center, which is noticeable in tracks such as Dreams by Fleetwood Mac. Higher frequency notes sound good too. The vibration of the driver causes the body of the speaker to vibrate too, but the rubber feet help it stay planted on most surfaces.

The controls work well, but we wished that the volume could have been controlled with a single press of the respective buttons, instead of long presses. A single LED light hidden within the front mesh changes from blue to green when you switch to FM mode. There’s also an audio cue, which is the same as the notification alert tone on iPhones.

FM radio works well only if you plug in a 3.5mm stereo cable, which acts as an antenna. The internal microphone worked well for handling phone calls. Noise doesn’t specify for how long the Aqua Mini can survive underwater but going by the definition of the IPX7 rating, it should be able to withstand depths of up to one metre. We dunked it a few times in water and even used it in the rain and it continued to work just fine.

Noise Aqua Mini hang ndtv noise

 

The internal battery is rated to last for up to 10 hours, which seems slightly conservative, as we managed to get close to 11 hours of music playback, with the volume set to 70 percent most of the time and a mix of Bluetooth streaming and FM radio playback. Charging is slow and even with a high-wattage charger, it takes close to three hours to fully charge this speaker. Sadly, there’s no way to check the battery level. If it’s very low, you hear a little sound and the LED starts flashing red.

Verdict
The Aqua Mini is a good first attempt from Noise, and at its current retail price of Rs. 1,999, it’s one of the few decent sounding IPX7-rated speakers in the market in this segment. It has powerful sound for its size, built-in FM radio, and good battery life, and is rugged to boot.

Price: Rs. 1,999

Pros

  • IPX7 rated
  • Rugged body
  • FM receiver
  • Good battery life
  • Clear vocals and highs

Cons 

  • Slow charging
  • Weak bass, suppressed mids
  • Not the prettiest design
  • Can’t check battery level

Ratings (out of 5) 

  • Design: 3.5
  • Audio quality: 3
  • Battery life: 4
  • Value for money: 4
  • Overall: 3.5



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Xiaomi Mi A2 Review | NDTV Gadgets360.com


Xiaomi has launched the Mi A2 as its second Android One phone in India. Google originally started the Android One programme to deliver the stock Android experience on entry-level handsets in developing markets. However, there were no new products in India after the initial launches from Karbonn, Micromax and Spice. Google later revived Android One in 2017 to offer users smartphones running stock Android without any manufacturer customisations. The first of these in India was the Xiaomi Mi A1 (Review) which launched last year.

More manufacturers have enrolled into the program since then, but very few devices have made it to India. Nokia, an HMD Global brand, was the first to announce that its entire Android lineup would adopt Android One and all the smartphones that it announced at MWC 2018 have now launched in India. The new Mi A2 promises better hardware while still running bone-stock Android. So should the Xiaomi Mi A2 be the first choice for an Android purist on a budget? We put it to the test.

 

Xiaomi Mi A2 design

The Mi A2 is a well-designed smartphone. It has a metal unibody that gives it a premium feel in the hand. The first change you will notice compared to the Mi A1 is that it has a big 5.99-inch display with an 18:9 aspect ratio, which makes the phone tall and narrow. The sides are curved which makes it comfortable in the hand. Our Black review unit had a matte finish which resisted fingerprints to some extent. This phone is quite slippery and we would recommend that you put the case supplied in the box to use.

The power and volume buttons are on the right and offer good feedback when pressed. We found that the power button is well placed, but the volume buttons are a little too high for our liking. Xiaomi has positioned the selfie camera, earpiece, selfie light and a notification light above the display while the space below it is blank. For those curious, this smartphone has a single-colour notification LED.

The USB Type-C port at the bottom has speaker grilles on either side but only the right one houses a loudspeaker. An IR emitter that can be used to control IR-based appliance is at the top along with the secondary microphone. There is no 3.5mm headphone jack so you get a USB Type-C dongle in the box. Xiaomi claims that it has used a high-quality amplifier to improve audio output from the speaker and headphones.

Xiaomi Mi A2 Back Panel Xiaomi Mi A2 Review

 

Xiaomi has opted for a dual camera setup at the back, which is now positioned vertically compared to the horizontal setup on the Mi A1. There’s a 12-megapixel primary camera, a 20-megapixel secondary sensor, and an LED flash. This camera module protrudes quite a bit causing the Mi A2 to rock when placed on a flat surface. The fingerprint scanner is next to the camera module, at the natural resting position of either index finger. Xiaomi has opted for a 3000mAh battery to power the Mi A2.

Xiaomi Mi A2 specifications, software, and features

The Chinese smartphone maker has chosen the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor to power the Mi A2. It has eight Kryo 260 CPU cores and an Adreno 512 GPU. The A2 has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Sadly storage isn’t expandable unlike the Mi A1, and you will need to make do with the storage you get. This is a dual-SIM smartphone and has two Nano-SIM slots. There is support for 4G and VoLTE on both SIMs.

The 5.99-inch display sports a full-HD+ resolution, has a pixel density of 403ppi, and uses Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for protection. Viewing angles are decent but the display does not get very bright. You don’t get the option to tweak the output. The Ambient Display feature wakes the phone when you get a notification.

At 3000mAh, the battery capacity is lower than what most other smartphones in this segment offer. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 (Review) for example packs in a bigger 4000mAh battery. The Mi A2 supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4+ but you only get a standard 10W charger in the box. Connectivity options on the Mi A2 include Bluetooth 5.0, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, and Beidou.

Xiaomi Mi A2 SIM Port Xiaomi Mi A2 Review

 

Xiaomi has focused on the cameras of the Mi A2. The 12-megapixel primary rear camera has 1.25-micron pixels and an f/1.75 aperture. The secondary 20-megapixel camera uses 4-in-1 pixel binning with bigger 2-micron pixels and an f/1.75 aperture. Unlike the Mi A1 which had zoom lens for 2X optical zoom with the secondary camera, the one on the Mi A2 should help in low light instead.

The Xiaomi Mi A2 runs stock Android 8.1 Oreo, and Xiaomi has added its Feedback, File Manager, and Mi Drop apps on top. While the Feedback app cannot be disabled or uninstalled, you can go ahead and uninstall the other two. The camera app has also been customised by Xiaomi and is different from the default Android app – more on that in a bit. Of course, this phone also has gets Google apps preinstalled. When we started reviewing the phone it was running the June security patch but we got a software update during the course of the review bringing us up to date with the August security patch.

If you are an Android purist, you will like the software experience on the Mi A2. It has an app drawer, and you need to swipe up to see all your installed apps. You also get Google Feed by swiping right from the homescreen and summon the Google Assistant by long-pressing the home button. We found that the phone lacks an app to let you use the IR emitter, which means that you cannot start controlling appliances right out of the box. You can download the Mi Remote app from the Play Store, but Xiaomi told Gadgets 360 that it will be rolling out an update after which the app will be preinstalled. The only gesture the Mi A2 supports is that double-clicking the power button will immediately launch the camera app.

Xiaomi Mi A2 performance and battery life

We have used the Nokia 7 Plus (Review), which has the same processor as the Xiaomi Mi A2, and was also running stock Android. The Xiaomi Mi A2 offers similar performance and we found no lag or stutter when flipping through the phone’s UI and multitasking. With 4GB of RAM, you should be able to multitask easily without the phone automatically killing apps in the background. The fingerprint scanner is quite fast and was quick to unlock the phone.

The Xiaomi Mi A2 scored 1,33,467 in AnTuTu, and 1,645 and 4,840 in Geekbench 4’s single-core and multi-core tests respectively. These scores are slightly lower on average than those of the Nokia 7 Plus, which managed 1,37,573, 1,590 and 5,780 respectively. The Mi A2 also got 24,850 in 3DMark Slingshot Unlimited and 14fps in GFXBench Manhattan 3.1.

Xiaomi Mi A2 Port Xiaomi Mi A2 Review

 

We played games such as PUBG, Clash Royale, and Asphalt 9. PUBG ran at medium settings by default and we did not have any issues with performance. We played the game for 25 minutes, surviving an entire round, and found that the phone did get warm to the touch without getting uncomfortably hot. Asphalt 9 ran at the default settings without any hiccups either.

In our HD video loop test, the smartphone ran for 8 hours and 13 minutes, which is below average. We have seen the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro (Review) and the Redmi Note 5 last for close to 16 hours thanks to their bigger batteries. With our usage comprising of active WhatsApp and Gmail accounts, an hour worth of games, some time with Instagram, and making a few calls, the battery saver mode kicked in after 7 and 30 minutes. If your usage is similar, you will need to keep the charger handy. The supplied charger takes close to 2 hours to charge the Mi A2 completely but so should invest in a Qualcomm Quick Charge certified charger to speed that up.

Xiaomi Mi A2 cameras

Xiaomi has worked on its camera app and it is different from the stock Android camera. You get Short Video, Portrait, Square, Panorama, and a Manual mode, apart from the usual Photo and Video modes. The Manual mode lets you set white balance, focus, shutter speed and ISO, and also lets you choose between the ‘regular’ and ‘low light’ lenses. Xiaomi claims that it has tweaked the Portrait mode such that it uses the 12-megapixel camera in favourable light conditions but switches to the 20-megapixel camera in low light, but we found that this did not actually happen. While one lens is in use, the other acts as a depth sensor. 

The Mi A2 is fairly quick to meter light and lock focus. Photos taken with the Mi A2 outdoors have a good amount of detail and colours are quite accurate. Zoom into an image and you can still see details without much loss. We noticed that the camera app also switched HDR on automatically when the scene required it, bringing out more details from the shadows and delivering slightly sharper results. Autofocusing is quick when taking macros and we found that the Mi A2 could focus on relatively small objects. Macros were sharp and the phone managed good separation between the subject and the background.

In low light, the Mi A2 bumps the ISO up and lowers the shutter speed to help the primary camera capture more light, instead of switching to the secondary one. Xiaomi should have taken advantage of the better sensor for low-light shots by switching automatically, but you can do this yourself in Manual mode. These photos also have decent amounts of detail but we noticed aggressive noise reduction being applied in darker areas, leading to a watercolour effect when zooming in.

Tap to see full-sized Xiaomi Mi A2 camera samples

 

Selfies are detailed and we got sharp results when shooting indoors. The selfie fill light comes in handy when shooting in low-lit conditions. HDR is available for the selfie camera and kicks in automatically when required. You can also select the level of beautification you need, and an Advanced mode which lets you tweak different beautification parameters.

Video recording on the Xiaomi Mi A2 maxes out at 4K for the primary camera and 1080p for the selfie camera. You also get the option to shoot in 1080p at 60fps rather than 30fps with the rear camera, but we found that it had difficulty locking focus at the higher frame rate. Video stabilisation is available for the rear camera, and helps you capture steady footage.


Xiaomi Mi A2 in pictures

 

Verdict
The Xiaomi Mi A1 (Review) was an obvious choice for anyone looking for stock Android on a budget. Things however have changed, with HMD Global bringing in Nokia handsets that run pure stock Android as well. Xiaomi will have to compete on pricing, and that’s exactly what it has done with this launch.

The Xiaomi Mi A2 gets the cameras right and is amongst the best camera phones at this price point. Also, the powerful Snapdragon 660 processor has so far been restricted to more expensive phones, making this phone a tempting option for someone looking for a performer on a budget.

Xiaomi has priced the Mi A2 at Rs. 16,999 which is quite aggressive for the hardware it offers. However, there are a few chinks in the Mi A2’s armour. Its battery capacity is below average, resulting in relatively poor battery life. Xiaomi has also ditched the 3.5mm headphone jack and there’s no microSD card slot, which are both things that buyers look for. If you can’t do without stock Android and want good cameras without paying too much, then the Mi A2 should check all your boxes. If you’re okay with MIUI, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro (Review) is still a good alternative at a slightly lower price. You might also want to keep an eye on the upcoming Honor Play.


Is Xiaomi Mi A2 the best Android One smartphone in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.



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Xiaomi Mi A2 Review | NDTV Gadgets360.com


Google originally started the Android One programme to deliver the stock Android experience on entry-level handsets in developing markets. However, there were no new products in India after the initial launches from Karbonn, Micromax and Spice. Google later revived Android One in 2017 to offer users smartphones running stock Android without any manufacturer customisations. The first of these in India was the Xiaomi Mi A1 (Review) which launched last year.

More manufacturers have enrolled into the program since then, but very few devices have made it to India. Nokia, an HMD Global brand, was the first to announce that its entire Android lineup would adopt Android One and all the smartphones that it announced at MWC 2018 have now launched in India. Xiaomi has now launched a successor to the Mi A1 called the Mi A2, and it promises better hardware while still running bone-stock Android. So should the Xiaomi Mi A2 be the first choice for an Android purist on a budget? We put it to the test.

 

Xiaomi Mi A2 design

The Mi A2 is a well-designed smartphone. It has a metal unibody that gives it a premium feel in the hand. The first change you will notice compared to the Mi A1 is that it has a big 5.99-inch display with an 18:9 aspect ratio, which makes the phone tall and narrow. The sides are curved which makes it comfortable in the hand. Our Black review unit had a matte finish which resisted fingerprints to some extent. This phone is quite slippery and we would recommend that you put the case supplied in the box to use.

The power and volume buttons are on the right and offer good feedback when pressed. We found that the power button is well placed, but the volume buttons are a little too high for our liking. Xiaomi has positioned the selfie camera, earpiece, selfie light and a notification light above the display while the space below it is blank. For those curious, this smartphone has a single-colour notification LED.

The USB Type-C port at the bottom has speaker grilles on either side but only the right one houses a loudspeaker. An IR emitter that can be used to control IR-based appliance is at the top along with the secondary microphone. There is no 3.5mm headphone jack so you get a USB Type-C dongle in the box. Xiaomi claims that it has used a high-quality amplifier to improve audio output from the speaker and headphones.

Xiaomi Mi A2 Back Panel Xiaomi Mi A2 Review

 

Xiaomi has opted for a dual camera setup at the back, which is now positioned vertically compared to the horizontal setup on the Mi A1. There’s a 12-megapixel primary camera, a 20-megapixel secondary sensor, and an LED flash. This camera module protrudes quite a bit causing the Mi A2 to rock when placed on a flat surface. The fingerprint scanner is next to the camera module, at the natural resting position of either index finger. Xiaomi has opted for a 3000mAh battery to power the Mi A2.

Xiaomi Mi A2 specifications, software, and features

The Chinese smartphone maker has chosen the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor to power the Mi A2. It has eight Kryo 260 CPU cores and an Adreno 512 GPU. The A2 has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Sadly storage isn’t expandable unlike the Mi A1, and you will need to make do with the storage you get. This is a dual-SIM smartphone and has two Nano-SIM slots. There is support for 4G and VoLTE on both SIMs.

The 5.99-inch display sports a full-HD+ resolution, has a pixel density of 403ppi, and uses Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for protection. Viewing angles are decent but the display does not get very bright. You don’t get the option to tweak the output. The Ambient Display feature wakes the phone when you get a notification.

At 3000mAh, the battery capacity is lower than what most other smartphones in this segment offer. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 (Review) for example packs in a bigger 4000mAh battery. The Mi A2 supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4+ but you only get a standard 10W charger in the box. Connectivity options on the Mi A2 include Bluetooth 5.0, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, and Beidou.

Xiaomi Mi A2 SIM Port Xiaomi Mi A2 Review

 

Xiaomi has focused on the cameras of the Mi A2. The 12-megapixel primary rear camera has 1.25-micron pixels and an f/1.75 aperture. The secondary 20-megapixel camera uses 4-in-1 pixel binning with bigger 2-micron pixels and an f/1.75 aperture. Unlike the Mi A1 which had zoom lens for 2X optical zoom with the secondary camera, the one on the Mi A2 should help in low light instead.

The Xiaomi Mi A2 runs stock Android 8.1 Oreo, and Xiaomi has added its Feedback, File Manager, and Mi Drop apps on top. While the Feedback app cannot be disabled or uninstalled, you can go ahead and uninstall the other two. The camera app has also been customised by Xiaomi and is different from the default Android app – more on that in a bit. Of course, this phone also has gets Google apps preinstalled. When we started reviewing the phone it was running the June security patch but we got a software update during the course of the review bringing us up to date with the August security patch.

If you are an Android purist, you will like the software experience on the Mi A2. It has an app drawer, and you need to swipe up to see all your installed apps. You also get Google Feed by swiping right from the homescreen and summon the Google Assistant by long-pressing the home button. We found that the phone lacks an app to let you use the IR emitter, which means that you cannot start controlling appliances right out of the box. You can download the Mi Remote app from the Play Store, but Xiaomi told Gadgets 360 that it will be rolling out an update after which the app will be preinstalled. The only gesture the Mi A2 supports is that double-clicking the power button will immediately launch the camera app.

Xiaomi Mi A2 performance and battery life

We have used the Nokia 7 Plus (Review), which has the same processor as the Xiaomi Mi A2, and was also running stock Android. The Xiaomi Mi A2 offers similar performance and we found no lag or stutter when flipping through the phone’s UI and multitasking. With 4GB of RAM, you should be able to multitask easily without the phone automatically killing apps in the background. The fingerprint scanner is quite fast and was quick to unlock the phone.

The Xiaomi Mi A2 scored 1,33,467 in AnTuTu, and 1,645 and 4,840 in Geekbench 4’s single-core and multi-core tests respectively. These scores are slightly lower on average than those of the Nokia 7 Plus, which managed 1,37,573, 1,590 and 5,780 respectively. The Mi A2 also got 24,850 in 3DMark Slingshot Unlimited and 14fps in GFXBench Manhattan 3.1.

Xiaomi Mi A2 Port Xiaomi Mi A2 Review

 

We played games such as PUBG, Clash Royale, and Asphalt 9. PUBG ran at medium settings by default and we did not have any issues with performance. We played the game for 25 minutes, surviving an entire round, and found that the phone did get warm to the touch without getting uncomfortably hot. Asphalt 9 ran at the default settings without any hiccups either.

In our HD video loop test, the smartphone ran for 8 hours and 13 minutes, which is below average. We have seen the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro (Review) and the Redmi Note 5 last for close to 16 hours thanks to their bigger batteries. With our usage comprising of active WhatsApp and Gmail accounts, an hour worth of games, some time with Instagram, and making a few calls, the battery saver mode kicked in after 7 and 30 minutes. If your usage is similar, you will need to keep the charger handy. The supplied charger takes close to 2 hours to charge the Mi A2 completely but so should invest in a Qualcomm Quick Charge certified charger to speed that up.

Xiaomi Mi A2 cameras

Xiaomi has worked on its camera app and it is different from the stock Android camera. You get Short Video, Portrait, Square, Panorama, and a Manual mode, apart from the usual Photo and Video modes. The Manual mode lets you set white balance, focus, shutter speed and ISO, and also lets you choose between the ‘regular’ and ‘low light’ lenses. Xiaomi claims that it has tweaked the Portrait mode such that it uses the 12-megapixel camera in favourable light conditions but switches to the 20-megapixel camera in low light, but we found that this did not actually happen. While one lens is in use, the other acts as a depth sensor. 

The Mi A2 is fairly quick to meter light and lock focus. Photos taken with the Mi A2 outdoors have a good amount of detail and colours are quite accurate. Zoom into an image and you can still see details without much loss. We noticed that the camera app also switched HDR on automatically when the scene required it, bringing out more details from the shadows and delivering slightly sharper results. Autofocusing is quick when taking macros and we found that the Mi A2 could focus on relatively small objects. Macros were sharp and the phone managed good separation between the subject and the background.

In low light, the Mi A2 bumps the ISO up and lowers the shutter speed to help the primary camera capture more light, instead of switching to the secondary one. Xiaomi should have taken advantage of the better sensor for low-light shots by switching automatically, but you can do this yourself in Manual mode. These photos also have decent amounts of detail but we noticed aggressive noise reduction being applied in darker areas, leading to a watercolour effect when zooming in.

Tap to see full-sized Xiaomi Mi A2 camera samples

 

Selfies are detailed and we got sharp results when shooting indoors. The selfie fill light comes in handy when shooting in low-lit conditions. HDR is available for the selfie camera and kicks in automatically when required. You can also select the level of beautification you need, and an Advanced mode which lets you tweak different beautification parameters.

Video recording on the Xiaomi Mi A2 maxes out at 4K for the primary camera and 1080p for the selfie camera. You also get the option to shoot in 1080p at 60fps rather than 30fps with the rear camera, but we found that it had difficulty locking focus at the higher frame rate. Video stabilisation is available for the rear camera, and helps you capture steady footage.


Xiaomi Mi A2 in pictures

 

Verdict
The Xiaomi Mi A1 (Review) was an obvious choice for anyone looking for stock Android on a budget. Things however have changed, with HMD Global bringing in Nokia handsets that run pure stock Android as well. Xiaomi will have to compete on pricing, and that’s exactly what it has done with this launch.

The Xiaomi Mi A2 gets the cameras right and is amongst the best camera phones at this price point. Also, the powerful Snapdragon 660 processor has so far been restricted to more expensive phones, making this phone a tempting option for someone looking for a performer on a budget.

Xiaomi has priced the Mi A2 at Rs. 16,999 which is quite aggressive for the hardware it offers. However, there are a few chinks in the Mi A2’s armour. Its battery capacity is below average, resulting in relatively poor battery life. Xiaomi has also ditched the 3.5mm headphone jack and there’s no microSD card slot, which are both things that buyers look for. If you can’t do without stock Android and want good cameras without paying too much, then the Mi A2 should check all your boxes. If you’re okay with MIUI, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro (Review) is still a good alternative at a slightly lower price. You might also want to keep an eye on the upcoming Honor Play.


Is Xiaomi Mi A2 the best Android One smartphone in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.



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Xiaomi Mi A2 Review | NDTV Gadgets360.com


Google originally started the Android One programme to deliver the stock Android experience on entry-level handsets in developing markets. However, there were no new products in India after the initial launches from Karbonn, Micromax and Spice. Google later revived Android One in 2017 to offer users smartphones running stock Android without any manufacturer customisations. The first of these in India was the Xiaomi Mi A1 (Review) which launched last year.

More manufacturers have enrolled into the program since then, but very few devices have made it to India. Nokia, an HMD Global brand, was the first to announce that its entire Android lineup would adopt Android One and all the smartphones that it announced at MWC 2018 have now launched in India. Xiaomi has now launched a successor to the Mi A1 called the Mi A2, and it promises better hardware while still running bone-stock Android. So should the Xiaomi Mi A2 be the first choice for an Android purist on a budget? We put it to the test.

 

Xiaomi Mi A2 design

The Mi A2 is a well-designed smartphone. It has a metal unibody that gives it a premium feel in the hand. The first change you will notice compared to the Mi A1 is that it has a big 5.99-inch display with an 18:9 aspect ratio, which makes the phone tall and narrow. The sides are curved which makes it comfortable in the hand. Our Black review unit had a matte finish which resisted fingerprints to some extent. This phone is quite slippery and we would recommend that you put the case supplied in the box to use.

The power and volume buttons are on the right and offer good feedback when pressed. We found that the power button is well placed, but the volume buttons are a little too high for our liking. Xiaomi has positioned the selfie camera, earpiece, selfie light and a notification light above the display while the space below it is blank. For those curious, this smartphone has a single-colour notification LED.

The USB Type-C port at the bottom has speaker grilles on either side but only the right one houses a loudspeaker. An IR emitter that can be used to control IR-based appliance is at the top along with the secondary microphone. There is no 3.5mm headphone jack so you get a USB Type-C dongle in the box. Xiaomi claims that it has used a high-quality amplifier to improve audio output from the speaker and headphones.

Xiaomi Mi A2 Back Panel Xiaomi Mi A2 Review

 

Xiaomi has opted for a dual camera setup at the back, which is now positioned vertically compared to the horizontal setup on the Mi A1. There’s a 12-megapixel primary camera, a 20-megapixel secondary sensor, and an LED flash. This camera module protrudes quite a bit causing the Mi A2 to rock when placed on a flat surface. The fingerprint scanner is next to the camera module, at the natural resting position of either index finger. Xiaomi has opted for a 3000mAh battery to power the Mi A2.

Xiaomi Mi A2 specifications, software, and features

The Chinese smartphone maker has chosen the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor to power the Mi A2. It has eight Kryo 260 CPU cores and an Adreno 512 GPU. The A2 has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Sadly storage isn’t expandable unlike the Mi A1, and you will need to make do with the storage you get. This is a dual-SIM smartphone and has two Nano-SIM slots. There is support for 4G and VoLTE on both SIMs.

The 5.99-inch display sports a full-HD+ resolution, has a pixel density of 403ppi, and uses Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for protection. Viewing angles are decent but the display does not get very bright. You don’t get the option to tweak the output. The Ambient Display feature wakes the phone when you get a notification.

At 3000mAh, the battery capacity is lower than what most other smartphones in this segment offer. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 (Review) for example packs in a bigger 4000mAh battery. The Mi A2 supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4+ but you only get a standard 10W charger in the box. Connectivity options on the Mi A2 include Bluetooth 5.0, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, and Beidou.

Xiaomi Mi A2 SIM Port Xiaomi Mi A2 Review

 

Xiaomi has focused on the cameras of the Mi A2. The 12-megapixel primary rear camera has 1.25-micron pixels and an f/1.75 aperture. The secondary 20-megapixel camera uses 4-in-1 pixel binning with bigger 2-micron pixels and an f/1.75 aperture. Unlike the Mi A1 which had zoom lens for 2X optical zoom with the secondary camera, the one on the Mi A2 should help in low light instead.

The Xiaomi Mi A2 runs stock Android 8.1 Oreo, and Xiaomi has added its Feedback, File Manager, and Mi Drop apps on top. While the Feedback app cannot be disabled or uninstalled, you can go ahead and uninstall the other two. The camera app has also been customised by Xiaomi and is different from the default Android app – more on that in a bit. Of course, this phone also has gets Google apps preinstalled. When we started reviewing the phone it was running the June security patch but we got a software update during the course of the review bringing us up to date with the August security patch.

If you are an Android purist, you will like the software experience on the Mi A2. It has an app drawer, and you need to swipe up to see all your installed apps. You also get Google Feed by swiping right from the homescreen and summon the Google Assistant by long-pressing the home button. We found that the phone lacks an app to let you use the IR emitter, which means that you cannot start controlling appliances right out of the box. You can download the Mi Remote app from the Play Store, but Xiaomi told Gadgets 360 that it will be rolling out an update after which the app will be preinstalled. The only gesture the Mi A2 supports is that double-clicking the power button will immediately launch the camera app.

Xiaomi Mi A2 performance and battery life

We have used the Nokia 7 Plus (Review), which has the same processor as the Xiaomi Mi A2, and was also running stock Android. The Xiaomi Mi A2 offers similar performance and we found no lag or stutter when flipping through the phone’s UI and multitasking. With 4GB of RAM, you should be able to multitask easily without the phone automatically killing apps in the background. The fingerprint scanner is quite fast and was quick to unlock the phone.

The Xiaomi Mi A2 scored 1,33,467 in AnTuTu, and 1,645 and 4,840 in Geekbench 4’s single-core and multi-core tests respectively. These scores are slightly lower on average than those of the Nokia 7 Plus, which managed 1,37,573, 1,590 and 5,780 respectively. The Mi A2 also got 24,850 in 3DMark Slingshot Unlimited and 14fps in GFXBench Manhattan 3.1.

Xiaomi Mi A2 Port Xiaomi Mi A2 Review

 

We played games such as PUBG, Clash Royale, and Asphalt 9. PUBG ran at medium settings by default and we did not have any issues with performance. We played the game for 25 minutes, surviving an entire round, and found that the phone did get warm to the touch without getting uncomfortably hot. Asphalt 9 ran at the default settings without any hiccups either.

In our HD video loop test, the smartphone ran for 8 hours and 13 minutes, which is below average. We have seen the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro (Review) and the Redmi Note 5 last for close to 16 hours thanks to their bigger batteries. With our usage comprising of active WhatsApp and Gmail accounts, an hour worth of games, some time with Instagram, and making a few calls, the battery saver mode kicked in after 7 and 30 minutes. If your usage is similar, you will need to keep the charger handy. The supplied charger takes close to 2 hours to charge the Mi A2 completely but so should invest in a Qualcomm Quick Charge certified charger to speed that up.

Xiaomi Mi A2 cameras

Xiaomi has worked on its camera app and it is different from the stock Android camera. You get Short Video, Portrait, Square, Panorama, and a Manual mode, apart from the usual Photo and Video modes. The Manual mode lets you set white balance, focus, shutter speed and ISO, and also lets you choose between the ‘regular’ and ‘low light’ lenses. Xiaomi claims that it has tweaked the Portrait mode such that it uses the 12-megapixel camera in favourable light conditions but switches to the 20-megapixel camera in low light, but we found that this did not actually happen. While one lens is in use, the other acts as a depth sensor. 

The Mi A2 is fairly quick to meter light and lock focus. Photos taken with the Mi A2 outdoors have a good amount of detail and colours are quite accurate. Zoom into an image and you can still see details without much loss. We noticed that the camera app also switched HDR on automatically when the scene required it, bringing out more details from the shadows and delivering slightly sharper results. Autofocusing is quick when taking macros and we found that the Mi A2 could focus on relatively small objects. Macros were sharp and the phone managed good separation between the subject and the background.

In low light, the Mi A2 bumps the ISO up and lowers the shutter speed to help the primary camera capture more light, instead of switching to the secondary one. Xiaomi should have taken advantage of the better sensor for low-light shots by switching automatically, but you can do this yourself in Manual mode. These photos also have decent amounts of detail but we noticed aggressive noise reduction being applied in darker areas, leading to a watercolour effect when zooming in.

Tap to see full-sized Xiaomi Mi A2 camera samples

 

Selfies are detailed and we got sharp results when shooting indoors. The selfie fill light comes in handy when shooting in low-lit conditions. HDR is available for the selfie camera and kicks in automatically when required. You can also select the level of beautification you need, and an Advanced mode which lets you tweak different beautification parameters.

Video recording on the Xiaomi Mi A2 maxes out at 4K for the primary camera and 1080p for the selfie camera. You also get the option to shoot in 1080p at 60fps rather than 30fps with the rear camera, but we found that it had difficulty locking focus at the higher frame rate. Video stabilisation is available for the rear camera, and helps you capture steady footage.


Xiaomi Mi A2 in pictures

 

Verdict
The Xiaomi Mi A1 (Review) was an obvious choice for anyone looking for stock Android on a budget. Things however have changed, with HMD Global bringing in Nokia handsets that run pure stock Android as well. Xiaomi will have to compete on pricing, and that’s exactly what it has done with this launch.

The Xiaomi Mi A2 gets the cameras right and is amongst the best camera phones at this price point. Also, the powerful Snapdragon 660 processor has so far been restricted to more expensive phones, making this phone a tempting option for someone looking for a performer on a budget.

Xiaomi has priced the Mi A2 at Rs. 16,999 which is quite aggressive for the hardware it offers. However, there are a few chinks in the Mi A2’s armour. Its battery capacity is below average, resulting in relatively poor battery life. Xiaomi has also ditched the 3.5mm headphone jack and there’s no microSD card slot, which are both things that buyers look for. If you can’t do without stock Android and want good cameras without paying too much, then the Mi A2 should check all your boxes. If you’re okay with MIUI, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro (Review) is still a good alternative at a slightly lower price. You might also want to keep an eye on the upcoming Honor Play.


Is Xiaomi Mi A2 the best Android One smartphone in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.



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Oppo Find X Review | NDTV Gadgets360.com


Over the past few years, smartphone manufacturers have started designing devices with bigger displays and thinner bezels. One result is the switch from the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio to the now-trending 18:9 aspect ratio. Apple introduced the notch on its flagship iPhone X (Review) in order to make the screen as big as possible but still accommodate an earpiece and front camera in their usual spots, and a lot of Android manufacturers have followed suit. The notch has also become a popular feature, but now Vivo and Oppo have both showcased a new way to achieve a near all-display smartphone – moving parts.

Vivo recently introduced the Nex (Review) with an all-display front and a selfie camera that pops up when required. Oppo on the other hand has housed all the cameras and sensors of the new Find X in a module that moves up and down. Is the Find X a fancy prototype or a practical smartphone that you can actually live with? We are about to find out.

Oppo Find X Game Oppo Find X Review

 

Oppo Find X Design

The Oppo Find X has the ability to make you go ‘wow’ when you first see it. The face of this phone has thin borders all around the screen. The body has curves just like the Samsung Galaxy S9 (Review) and Galaxy S9 Plus (Review). The back is also made of glass that curves at the edges which makes the phone easy to hold. Oppo sells the Find X in two colours, Bordeaux Red and Glacier Blue. Our review unit was the former option and it is stunning to look at. The use of glass on the back makes the phone a little slippery and one must exercise caution while using it. Oppo also ships a case in the retail box but we did not receive it with our review unit. The power button is on the right while the volume buttons are to the left. Apart from those, the sides are blank. There’s a USB Type-C port at the bottom, along with a speaker grill and a SIM tray.

Dominating the front of the Find X is a 6.4-inch display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. Oppo calls it a Panoramic Arc Screen, and says that this phone has a screen-to-body ratio of 93.8 percent. Since the front is all screen, Oppo has positioned the ambient light sensor on the top, along with a secondary mic.

Oppo Find X Cameras Front Oppo Find X ReviewThe module pops up to reveal all the cameras on the Find X

 

Swipe up from the lock screen and the camera module slides upwards, revealing all the cameras and face recognition sensors. You can feel faint vibrations on the metal frame as a motor pushes the module up. When it is open, you can easily see the selfie camera and earpiece, but what you can’t spot are the infrared camera, flood illuminator, dot projector, and ranging sensor. These are used for face recognition, which is the only biometric method of unlocking this smartphone, and is dubbed ‘O-Face Recognition’ by Oppo. At the back, you can see dual cameras and a single-LED flash. Since the Find X lacks a fingerprint scanner, the back is plain and only has the Oppo and Find X logos.

The Oppo Find X does not have an IP rating which might be because of the moving module. We noticed that it was easy to get dust and grime on the sliding module, and you will need to clean it very often. While we cannot comment on how reliable the mechanism will be, Oppo claims that the slider has been tested over 3,00,000 times to ensure expected functionality. Overall, the phone definitely feels very futuristic.

Oppo Find X specifications, software, and features

Let’s first talk about the display, which is what makes the Oppo Find X look so appealing. The 6.4-inch AMOLED panel sports full-HD+ resolution and has vivid output. You can tweak the colour temperature and choose between natural or boosted colours. Since it is an AMOLED panel, the black levels are quite good. Brightness is adequate and the display is viewable outdoors. An always-on mode displays the current time and alerts for missed calls and messages.

At the heart of the Oppo Find X is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor which is as cutting-edge as it gets right now. It is an octa-core processor with eight Kryo 385 cores, of which four are clocked at 1.8GHz and the other four are clocked at 2.8GHz. To ensure that the processor does not face bottlenecks, the Find X has 8GB of RAM. It also gets 256GB of internal storage which is non-expandable. The Find X is a dual-SIM device and the two Nano-SIM slots are on either side of the tray, which is easy to miss at first glance. It has support for 4G and VoLTE on both SIMs.

Oppo Find X Network Oppo Find X ReviewThe Oppo Find X has support for 4G and VoLTE on both slots

 

The Find X has a non-removable 3730mAh battery and supports for the company’s proprietary VOOC fast-charging standard. Oppo ships a VOOC charger in the box. Connectivity options on the Find X include Bluetooth 5, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, GPS, and A-GPS. This phone lacks NFC, so you won’t be able to pair to other devices quickly or make NFC payments.

For optics, Oppo has gone with dual rear cameras. Its setup consists of a 16-megapixel primary sensor and a 20-megapixel depth sensor. The selfie camera has a 25-megapixel sensor.

Software on the Find X is similar to what we have seen on other Oppo smartphones. It gets ColorOS 5.1 on top of Android Oreo 8.1. There are multiple customisations which deviate from the stock Android experience. The UI does not have an app drawer and all installed apps are available on the home screens. The submenus within the Settings app have been rearranged, but we could find most settings we were looking for by using the search functionality.

Oppo has added multiple gestures that let you interact with the phone. You get the usual screen gestures that let you launch apps by drawing alphabets when the phone is in standby. Edge gestures put the curved sides to use letting you jump to a previous app by swiping down twice on the edge, or enable multitasking by swiping in the opposite direction on either edge. While the first gesture is useful, the multitasking gesture felt gimmicky. We were also happy with the display’s palm rejection, and we could operate it even with our palms touching the edges.

On-screen navigation buttons are available and you can change the order in which they appear. You also have the option to ditch the buttons altogether in favour of gesture navigation, similar to the iPhone X. There are multiple ways of customising these gestures as per your preference. We switched to gesture navigation since it liberated space at the bottom of the screen, giving us a fullscreen experience pretty much throughout the UI. Smart Call features let you answer a call by lifting the phone to your ear or switching to speakerphone when you take the phone away from your ear. These will save a couple of taps and swipes if you are on the phone quite often.

Oppo claims that its Smart Driving feature blocks notifications and reminders, and reads out a caller’s name and messages when you are driving. It blocked notifications but did not read out anything for us when we enabled it. You also get a gesture to take screenshots, and the phone does have a lift to wake feature that brings the screen to life when you pick this phone up. Dual Apps lets you run two instances of the same app such as WhatsApp and Facebook. The Find X pulses the edges of the display when you have pending notifications, which looks really cool. Sadly, Oppo still hasn’t got notifications right. You cannot dismiss them by swiping them away, and instead, you have to click a delete button every single time, which gets annoying.

Game Space is a dedicated set of options that let you control resources while you game. There are three modes; High Performance allots the maximum resources to selected games; Low Power restricts performance to save battery life; and Balance manages performance and power consumption. The Find X automatically adds games to Game Space as they are installed. When playing these games the phone frees RAM, blocks notifications and calls, and allots the maximum data bandwidth to the game.

Swipe right from the first home screen and you will see the Smart Assistant that Oppo has built in. It isn’t a full-fledged assistant like Google Assistant but it does show the weather, upcoming events, the number of steps have taken each day, and photos from your gallery. You can still summon Google Assistant for any queries you may have.

In terms of apps, you get Google apps preinstalled but you can go ahead and uninstall them. Oppo AppStore, as the name suggests, is an alternative to the Play Store. The Find X also has Facebook, WPS Office, Music Party, and a Phone Manager app. The Music Party app lets you sync multiple phones to play the same song.

Oppo Find X performance, battery life, and cameras

The Find X has powerful hardware giving it an upper hand in terms of performance. We did not notice any lag or stutter while scrolling through the menus and multi-tasking. With 8GB of RAM, the phone keeps quite a few apps in memory saving you from frequent reloading of content.

Oppo’s face recognition technology is good and failed to work only once across a period of four days. You need to swipe up from the lock screen to trigger face unlock or you can make the phone do that by simply pressing the power button. Since this smartphone uses a dot matrix projector that projects 15000 dots, and an infrared camera, it is capable of recognising faces even in pitch darkness. We tried this a couple of times at night and the phone did not disappoint us. The recognition process is quick but the camera module has to slide open each time, which means that there’s a delay.

Oppo Find X Rear Camera Oppo Find X Review

 

We ran benchmarks to gauge the Find X’s performance. It scored 2,90,838 in AnTuTu, and 2,309 and 7,961 in Geekbench 4’s single-core and multi-core tests respectively. It scored 4,646 in 3DMark Slingshot Extreme, while clocking 50fps in GFXBench Manhattan 3.1. We noticed that the phone was a little warm to the touch after a couple of races in Asphalt 9. We also played Clash Royale, Real Car Parking 2, and Alto’s Odyssey. The big display gives you an immersive experience while gaming and watching videos, and the AMOLED display does not disappoint.

The 3730mAh battery in the Oppo Find X is capable of delivering good battery life. In our HD video loop test, the phone managed to clock 13 hours and 53 minutes. With our usage comprising of active WhatsApp and Gmail accounts, an hour using Google Maps for navigation, playing games for a while, and a few calls, we still ended the day with over 20 percent left in the tank. The VOOC charger in the box has an output of 20W and is capable of charging the phone very quickly. The phone managed to charge to 34 percent in 20 minutes, and to 90 percent in an hour. The rate of charging goes down from there, it takes close to 1 hour 40 minutes to reach 100 percent.

The cameras on the Find X are hidden, which should keep them safe from scratches in the long run. Launch the camera app and the module rises up exposing the cameras. There’s no quick shortcut like double-tapping the power button on stock Android. The mechanism has a bit of play, so you will have to be careful and hold the frame when taking photos in landscape.

The camera app has Portrait, Sticker, Pano, Slo-mo and Time-lapse modes, apart from the Photo and Video modes. An Expert mode lets you adjust the white balance, exposure, ISO, shutter speed and focus manually. The Find X has AI scene recognition which helps choose settings accordingly. Oppo claims that it can recognise close to 800 scenes, and while we could not put that claim to the test, we did find that it could recognise a moire pattern and tweak the output accordingly.

There is Google Lens integration in the camera app, which can be used for image recognition. You get a quick shortcut to apply filters before taking shots, as well as AI beautification. If you don’t like the AI beautification you can switch it off or adjust it manually.

Tap to see full-sized Oppo Find X camera samples

 

The Find X is quick to gauge scenes and choose settings. It is also quick to enable HDR or switch to night mode when required. Photos taken with the Oppo Find X have excellent detail and you can make out objects at a distance. It captures colours accurately and the HDR mode allows capturing good details in the sky. In low light, the phone sets the camera up for night mode and bumps the ISO up to capture more light.

When we started testing the Oppo Find X, the photos we took had good details but a fair amount of noise. Portrait mode was slow, and edge detection was average. Using this mode with the rear camera felt buggy and slowed the camera app down. During the course of our review, the Find X received a software update that improved low-light camera performance, and the resultant images had better details. The camera also did a better job at noise reduction. Portrait mode had better edge detection and we did not encounter the same bugs that slowed the phone down earlier.

A ‘regular’ selfie

 

Selfie with Portrait lighting

 

Selfies have good edge detection and details, and the phone automatically enables HDR when required. There are also portrait lighting options which look fairly decent, but it also takes a longer time to process the output just like with the rear camera. Video recording maxes out at 4K for the primary camera while the selfie camera can record at 1080p. When shooting with the primary camera, there is stabilisation available at 1080p but 4K videos lack stabilisation.


Oppo Find X in pictures

Verdict
The use of movable parts to allow for a bezel-less display is a brave move by Oppo. The company has also done justice to this phone by using a vibrant AMOLED panel. This phone also isn’t only about showing off, as the Snapdragon 845 is the most powerful processor in Qualcomm’s stable at this point. With 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage, it is in line with other flagships from leading brands.

Oppo has an uphill task of establishing itself in the new price segment that it has entered with the Find X. With the Pixel 2 (Review) twins and the iPhone X (Review) due for replacement very soon, the Oppo Find X has the Samsung Galaxy S9 (Review), Galaxy S9 Plus (Review), and Huawei P20 Pro (Review) as its main competition. This phone offers good enough hardware and features that make it stand out. Compared to the international prices of the Find X, the India pricing is quite aggressive at Rs 59,990. If you want to rock a device that is unique and are willing to pay the price, the Find X is a very good pick. But if you want to play it safe, you can opt for the Samsung Galaxy S9 instead.


Are Vivo Nex and Oppo Find X revolutionary phones or overpriced prototypes? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.



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Huawei Nova 3 Review | NDTV Gadgets360.com


Huawei isn’t a very big name in the Indian smartphone space. So far, the Google Nexus 6P (Review) and the Huawei P9 (Review) have been the most recognisable products from this company, but we’ve seen little else over the years. Now, that might be about to change. The company appears to be instrumental in driving the growth of Android globally and for 2018, it is focusing on expanding its presence in India.

Huawei’s sub-brand Honor has been able to make a minor dent in the Indian smartphone market, going by a recent report from Counterpoint Research, so it only makes sense for Huawei to try and get as many of its products here as possible in order to bolster its position. The year started off with the company launching its flagship offerings, the P20 Pro (Review) and P20 Lite (Review), and now for the first time, we have its Nova series in the country too. The Nova 3 and Nova 3i have launched at very competitive price points, both featuring four camera sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.

We’ll be testing the Nova 3 today, which is priced at Rs. 34,999 and takes on the OnePlus 6 (Review) head-on. The latter has proven to be a formidable offering, so we’re going to find out whether the Nova 3’s AI chops swing things in its favour.

 

Huawei Nova 3 design

This year, most new smartphones seem to be sticking to a fixed design mantra – keep the screen borders thin, throw in a taller display, and add a notch. The Nova 3 checks all these boxes, which you might or might not like. Apart from the design, the new Iris Purple colour option is sure to grab eyeballs. The upper portion of the phone’s rear is blue, and it gradually fades into purple on the lower half, which gives it a stunning look. The Twilight colour version of the P20 Pro had a similar effect, but sadly, that option didn’t make it to India. There’s a black version of the Nova 3 too, in case this is too out-there for you.

The build quality of the Huawei Nova 3 is superb and the metal frame on the sides is wide enough to offer good grip, but the glass back is incredibly slippery and picks up smudges very easily. The buttons on the right have good tactile feedback and the power button is textured so it’s easy to tell it apart from the volume rocker. There’s a hybrid dual-SIM tray on the left, which can accommodate a microSD card in place of a second SIM. Dual 4G VoLTE is also supported. At the bottom, you get a headphone socket, USB Type-C port (USB 2.0 speed) and the speaker grille.

Huawei Nova  3 back ndtv HuaweiThe Iris Purple colour looks absolutely stunning

 

The 6.3-inch IPS display produces vivid colours and the dull-HD+ (2340×1080) resolution ensures a high enough pixel density of 409ppi for smooth colour gradients in pictures and sharp text. Brightness is also good, and the Nova 3 is quite legible under sunlight. However, the display lacks Gorilla Glass or any form of scratch protection, which is not something we expected from a phone at this price. Our unit didn’t pick up any scratches during our test period, but you might want to use a screen protector to be on the safer side.

The borders around the display and the notch make this phone resemble the iPhone X a lot, and this is one of the few Android phones with a relatively slim chin at the bottom. The notch houses two cameras, an earpiece, a notification LED, and an infrared emitter. The latter fires up when using face recognition in low light.

Huawei has kept the fingerprint sensor too, which is at the back of the phone. The glass back held up well against scratches and scuffs during the one week we used this phone, but the finish on the edges of the camera bump began to show signs of scuffing. The Nova 3 ships with a quick charger, Type-C cable, headset, TPU case, and SIM eject tool. The quality of the accessories is good, so we have no complaints.

Huawei Nova  3 port ndtv HuaweiAll the ports on the Huawei Nova 3 are placed at the bottom

 

Huawei Nova 3 specifications, software, and features

The Huawei Nova 3 is well equipped to handle multitasking and relatively heavy usage too. It is built around the company’s own top-end SoC, called the Kirin 970. This octa-core chip has been used in the Huawei P20 Pro as well as the Honor 10 (Review) and Honor View 10 (Review). Compared to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, the Kirin 970 finds it tough to keep up when it comes to raw CPU and GPU power. The difference is evident in benchmarks, in which Snapdragon 845-based phones post considerably higher scores. The Nova 3 returned 200,950 points in AnTuTu and 31,354 points in 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited. Meanwhile, the Snapragon 845-based ZenFone 5Z (Review) posted 2,71861 and 64,593 points respectively in the same tests.

Huawei has launched the Nova 3 in India with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and there are no variants. Sadly, the Indian model doesn’t get NFC. FM radio is also missing, for those who care about it. There’s no wireless charging, and there’s no water-resistant treatment either. You do get a good assortment of sensors, GPS, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, and USB-OTG.

Huawei Nova 3 emui ndtv HuaweiThe Huawei Nova 3 runs on EMUI 8.2, which is based on Android 8.1 Oreo

 

If you prefer custom Android skins to stock Android, then Huawei’s EMUI is one of the better ones out there. Now at version 8.2, it’s based on Android 8.1 Oreo and our unit had the recent July 1 security patch. The interface feels slick and fluid, which is good. There are plenty of cosmetic changes that you can make with the ‘Theme’ app. Other elements such as the navigation pane, app layout, etc, can be customised. The notch can be ‘hidden’ too. You can sign up for Huawei’s cloud service, which is free and lets you back up contacts, messages, and call logs.

There are plenty of preinstalled apps, from basic side-scroller games to apps like Truecaller and Camera 360. Thankfully, you can uninstall all of them if needed. The Nova 3 also boasts of a visual search feature, powered by Amazon Assistant. You can access this through the camera app by tapping the ‘eye’ icon in the viewfinder, after which it scans whatever you point it at and shows you the same or similar items on Amazon. It opens the Amazon app if you have it installed, or if not, it just takes you to Amazon’s Web page. This also works when you touch any image with two fingers in the Gallery app or in Chrome. The accuracy rate wasn’t very high in our experience, but there are moments when it worked well.

Huawei Nova 3 amazon assistant ndtv HuaweiYou can use Amazon Assistant to search and buy products

 

The setup process for face recognition is similar to how it’s done on the iPhone X (Review). We initially found it frustratingly inconsistent, but after an OTA update, the accuracy and speed of authentication improved. The infrared sensor aids the front camera in low light. There’s a voice control feature that lets you ask the phone to place calls, but we only got to work about once in five tries. We’re not sure why anyone would bother with this when Google Assistant is present.

Huawei Nova 3 performance, cameras, and battery life

The Kirin 970 might be a little old now but it’s still capable of handling the basics well. Multitasking is smooth, apps in split screen mode work well, and 3D games are handled decently. In PUBG and Asphalt 8, gameplay had slight hints of stutter with the settings cranked up all the way, so we had to drop the quality levels for more consistent frame rates. Surprisingly, we didn’t notice this happening too much in Asphalt 9: Legends at the ‘High Quality’ preset.

Huawei claims that the new Nova 3 and 3i feature the company’s GPU Turbo technology, which is a low-level software enhancement designed to boost graphics performance in games. Our test unit didn’t have this feature when we first received it, but an OTA update (v8.2.0.105) enabled it. A Huawei India representative told Gadgets 360 that GPU Turbo is designed to improve specific aspects of certain games. For India, the first supported titles include PUBG and Mobile Legends, with more to follow soon.

Luckily, we had been playing PUBG before the update, and we had noticed intermittent jitter and texture pop-ins at the Ultra graphics preset. After the update, the frequency of these issues was considerably lower, but we didn’t really see any difference in how the game looked. 

Huawei Nova  3 cameras ndtv HuaweiThe Huawei Nova 3 offers good app performance but hearts up quickly

 

The one trait that we’ve noticed about most Kirin SoCs, right from the days of the Honor 8 (Review), is that they tend to heat up quickly. The 970 is no different. Besides playing games and shooting videos, which are the usual causes of heat, we noticed the area of the phone above the fingerprint sensor getting warm rather quickly at times, even with simple tasks such as streaming video or downloading apps from the Play Store.

Whether you have the notch hidden or not, apps generally don’t fill up the entire display, so there’s no issue with the notch obscuring content. You do have the option to force certain apps to use the entire screen space if you want to. The Nova 3 handles most common media formats well and 4K videos run just fine too. The mono speaker doesn’t get too loud and sounds a bit tinny at full volume. The bundled headset isn’t the in-ear type which means it doesn’t dampen ambient noise, and when using it outdoors, we had to max out the volume to hear audio clearly. Bass is weak, even after tweaking the Histen sound effects in the Settings app.

The 16-megapixel primary rear sensor gets PDAF and a f/1.8 aperture lens, but there’s no optical stabilisation (OIS). Just like the P20 Pro, the Nova 3 has the ability to recognise objects and scenes and will automatically enhance colours and set the exposure accordingly. This didn’t always work in our favour as the AI program had a tendency to oversaturate colours like greens, which makes scenes look unnatural at times. Thankfully, Huawei has now added an option in the gallery that lets you turn off AI enhancement if you don’t like it.

Tap for full size samples of Huawei Nova 3

 

In daylight, landscape shots have good detail and colours, and the camera app is able to detect a number of scenes and objects well. The post-processing algorithms though are too aggressive with sharpening, which often ends up distorting edges around objects. Macros turn out well too, but again, the over-sharpening can make finer details in close-ups, such as flowers, appear blurry. At night, autofocus is a bit slow, and due to the lack of OIS, you need to be extra steady, or images end up having slight motion blur.

There’s a second 24-megapixel monochrome sensor with an f/1.8 aperture lens as well, which captures detailed black-and-white shots. Focusing isn’t as quick as with the main sensor even under good light, and this sensor is also used for gauging depth for portrait shots. In portrait mode, you can change the type of lighting (just like on the iPhone X), add beautification, and tweak the depth effect. The results are decent with good edge detection. You can use Aperture mode if you want to adjust the level of bokeh.

Tap for full size samples of Huawei Nova 3

 

The Nova 3 has a 24-megapixel selfie camera along with a 2-megapixel sensor for depth data. The AI feature works for selfies too, and portrait mode is once again handled decently. One cool feature that’s exclusive to the selfie camera is the HDR Pro toggle. This prevents bright backgrounds from looking overexposed, and it works really well. The front camera also shoots 1080p video at 60fps. The cinematic portrait mode lets you shoot stills with a 21:9 aspect ratio but without AI enhancements.

The phone can shoot up to 4K resolution video at 30fps (limited to 10 minutes per clip) but you don’t get any sort of stabilisation, even at lower resolutions such as 1080p. The lack of electronic stabilisation means that videos end up shaky if you’re moving about. Huawei tells Gadgets 360 that it is working on adding this feature via a software update soon. Video quality is good during the day but is pretty average in low light. The camera also has some trouble locking focus when you move about, forcing you to tap-to-focus every now and then. You can also shoot short bursts of 480fps slow-motion video, but the quality is quite average.

The AR Lens shooting mode lets you play around with different props for your face and the background. Huawei also has its own version of Apple’s Animoji, called 3D Qmoji. You can choose from six different characters but you can’t create a Qmoji of yourself. It works well, but without a dot projector, it’s nowhere near as accurate as Apple’s implementation.


Huawei Nova 3 in pictures

 

The 3750mAh battery in the Nova 3 holds up pretty well, even with extensive gaming and use of the camera. With moderate usage, which mostly involved chat apps, music streaming and light gaming, we were able to get nearly a full day out of a single charge. Shooting at 4K and playing heavy games such as Asphalt 9 will obviously make a bigger dent in the battery, but even then, you should be able to get through an entire workday with ease.

The Nova 3 supports fast charging but it’s not fast enough. It takes roughly an hour to charge the battery halfway, and then another hour to reach 100 percent. On the other hand, competing technologies like Dash Charge and Quick Charge 3.0 offer much faster charging. To save power, Huawei lets you change the screen resolution from Full-HD+ to HD+. This can be done manually or you can set it to automatic, although with the latter, it’s hard to tell when and if the resolution is actually changing.

Verdict
It’s nice to see Huawei finally bringing more of its products to India, and the Nova 3 is definitely a very interesting option. However, in addition to competition from other brands, the Nova 3 has to contend with some sibling rivalry first. The Honor 10 (Review) and Honor View 10 (Review) offer very similar features as the Nova 3, and are also priced a little below Rs. 35,000. Of these three, the Nova 3 does feel like the best choice even though it’s more expensive, as it has a more modern design and strong battery life.

However, with phones like the OnePlus 6 (Review) and Asus ZenFone 5Z (Review) around, the Nova 3 doesn’t quite measure up, which is unfortunate. If features like NFC, video stabilisation, and good gaming performance matter, then you’d be happier with either of the other two. The Huawei Nova 3 is a beautifully crafted smartphone with a good display and a capable front camera, but falls a bit short in delivering the knockout punch that’s needed to take down the competition.


Can Huawei Nova 3 beat OnePlus 6 in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.



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Honor Play First Impressions | NDTV Gadgets360.com


The Honor Play is an upcoming smartphone from the Huawei-owned brand, and is scheduled to launch in India on August 6. So far in 2018, we have already seen Honor’s flagship Honor 10 (Review), the budget Honor 7A and Honor 7C (Review), the mid-range Honor 9N (Review), and others in the pipeline such as the Honor Note 10 which was just launched in China. The Honor Play is the first smartphone in India to come with Huawei’s GPU Turbo technology out-of-the-box; it will be rolled out to other Honor smartphones via OTA updates. Other highlights of the Honor Play  include AI camera enhancements, a metallic back, up to 6GB of RAM, and the trusty HiSilicon Kirin 970 processor.

While the price of the Honor Play in India hasn’t yet been revealed, a company spokesperson told Gadgets 360 that it will be in line with the device’s China pricing, which is CNY 1,999 (approximately Rs. 20,100) for the 4GB RAM variant and CNY 2,399 (roughly Rs. 24,100) for the 6GB RAM variant. Both have 64GB of UFS 2.1 storage, and both are coming to the Indian market. This kind of pricing could put the Honor Play in direct competition with the Xiaomi Mi A2, which is coming to India next week, potentially with a similar pricing strategy. Apart from the Mi A2, we can expect the Honor Play to compete with the likes of the Nokia 7 Plus (Review), Huawei P20 Lite (Review), and Moto X4 (Review).

Honor Play design

A departure from current premium Honor and Huawei smartphones, the Honor Play has a metallic body and not a glass rear panel. Honor suggests that it is keeping options open for its audience, giving people both a bold glass design and a subtle metallic design to choose from. We found the metallic body to be quite comfortable to hold, but it obviously lacks the shimmer of the company’s now-trademark multi-coloured glass designs. The phone will be made available in India in black and blue.

The Honor Play sports a 6.3-inch full-HD+ (1080×2340 pixels) IPS LCD display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio, and can reproduce 85 percent of the NTSC colour gamut. The design isn’t borderless, but there is still a substantial notch at the top of the screen. There is also a large chin on the bottom, with Honor branding, but decently thin sides. Courtesy the tall form factor, the Honor Play is easy to hold in one hand. The Home, Back, and Recents navigation keys are on-screen. The notch can be masked by adding black borders on either side. The notch houses the front 16-megapixel camera and the necessary sensors.

The rear of the smartphone has a vertically aligned dual rear camera setup with ‘AI Camera’ branding. Thre’s a 16-megapixel primary sensor with an f/2.2 aperture lens, and a 2-megapixel secondary camera with an f/2.4 aperture. The native camera app has a toggle for AI mode, which seemed to over-sharpen images taken in bright sunlight or with good indoor lighting. We have not yet tested the Honor Play’s low-light and macro capabilities, and you will have to wait till our review for our full judgement of this phone’s cameras.

In the limited time that we spent with the Honor Play, we found the fingerprint sensor on the back to be placed a bit too high for our comfort. But in terms of performance, we found it to be quick and accurate.

honor play fi back inline Honor PlayHonor Play

 

On the right are the usual volume controls and lock/ power button. The phone has a hybrid dual-SIM tray on the left, which can fit two Nano-SIMs or one Nano-SIM and one microSD card. The Honor Play has a USB Type-C port on the bottom, alongside a 3.5mm headphone jack, the primary microphone, and the speaker grille. Lastly, the secondary microphone can be found on the top.

Honor Play specifications

Powering the Honor Play is the same HiSilicon Kirin 970 that we have seen powering multiple Honor and Huawei smartphones over the last couple of years. This processor is due for an upgrade, which is rumoured to be happening at IFA 2018 in late August. Still, in our initial experience, performance seemed snappy and the combination of Huawei’s CPU and NPU (Neural Processing Unit) managed to handle tasks without any sort of lag. Our full review will examine this phone’s performance in benchmarks and games as well as everyday use.

The Honor Play has a 3,750mAh battery, and comes with a 9V/ 2A (18W) charging adaptor. It does not support Huawei’s SuperCharge 22.5W battery technology. Battery life will also be tested extensively in our full review, coming up soon.

Much like other Huawei and Honor smartphones in India, the Honor Play runs EMUI 8.2 atop Android 8.1 Oreo. This heavily customised Android skin has a lot of bloat including preloaded games such as Asphalt Nitro, Kingdoms, Dragon Mania, Puzzle Pets, Sonic Runners, and more. It also has a couple of other apps such as Netflix and Facebook.

Honor is highlighting its GPU Turbo technology as the marquee feature of the Honor Play, and in fact this phone was initially launched in China as a gaming-focused smartphone. The company claims 60 percent better performance and 30 percent improved battery life when playing games with GPU Turbo, and we will test this extensively as well. In our brief time gaming on the Honor Play, there appeared to be no stutter, and Asphalt Nitro played well. In the future, parent brand Huawei is looking to use GPU Turbo for UI elements of its phones, a spokesperson confirmed to us.

Stay tuned to Gadgets 360 for a full review of the Honor Play, in which we will see where this smartphone stands in terms of performance, design, display quality, software, battery life, cameras, and value for money.



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Honor Play First Impressions | NDTV Gadgets360.com


The Honor Play is an upcoming smartphone from the Huawei-owned brand, and is scheduled to launch in India on August 6. So far in 2018, we have already seen Honor’s flagship Honor 10 (Review), the budget Honor 7A and Honor 7C (Review), the mid-range Honor 9N (Review), and others in the pipeline such as the Honor Note 10 which was just launched in China. The Honor Play is the first smartphone in India to come with Huawei’s GPU Turbo technology out-of-the-box; it will be rolled out to other Honor smartphones via OTA updates. Other highlights of the Honor Play  include AI camera enhancements, a metallic back, up to 6GB of RAM, and the trusty HiSilicon Kirin 970 processor.

While the price of the Honor Play in India hasn’t yet been revealed, a company spokesperson told Gadgets 360 that it will be in line with the device’s China pricing, which is CNY 1,999 (approximately Rs. 20,100) for the 4GB RAM variant and CNY 2,399 (roughly Rs. 24,100) for the 6GB RAM variant. Both have 64GB of UFS 2.1 storage, and both are coming to the Indian market. This kind of pricing could put the Honor Play in direct competition with the Xiaomi Mi A2, which is coming to India next week, potentially with a similar pricing strategy. Apart from the Mi A2, we can expect the Honor Play to compete with the likes of the Nokia 7 Plus (Review), Huawei P20 Lite (Review), and Moto X4 (Review).

Honor Play design

A departure from current premium Honor and Huawei smartphones, the Honor Play has a metallic body and not a glass rear panel. Honor suggests that it is keeping options open for its audience, giving people both a bold glass design and a subtle metallic design to choose from. We found the metallic body to be quite comfortable to hold, but it obviously lacks the shimmer of the company’s now-trademark multi-coloured glass designs. The phone will be made available in India in black and blue.

The Honor Play sports a 6.3-inch full-HD+ (1080×2340 pixels) IPS LCD display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio, and can reproduce 85 percent of the NTSC colour gamut. The design isn’t borderless, but there is still a substantial notch at the top of the screen. There is also a large chin on the bottom, with Honor branding, but decently thin sides. Courtesy the tall form factor, the Honor Play is easy to hold in one hand. The Home, Back, and Recents navigation keys are on-screen. The notch can be masked by adding black borders on either side. The notch houses the front 16-megapixel camera and the necessary sensors.

The rear of the smartphone has a vertically aligned dual rear camera setup with ‘AI Camera’ branding. Thre’s a 16-megapixel primary sensor with an f/2.2 aperture lens, and a 2-megapixel secondary camera with an f/2.4 aperture. The native camera app has a toggle for AI mode, which seemed to over-sharpen images taken in bright sunlight or with good indoor lighting. We have not yet tested the Honor Play’s low-light and macro capabilities, and you will have to wait till our review for our full judgement of this phone’s cameras.

In the limited time that we spent with the Honor Play, we found the fingerprint sensor on the back to be placed a bit too high for our comfort. But in terms of performance, we found it to be quick and accurate.

honor play fi back inline Honor PlayHonor Play

 

On the right are the usual volume controls and lock/ power button. The phone has a hybrid dual-SIM tray on the left, which can fit two Nano-SIMs or one Nano-SIM and one microSD card. The Honor Play has a USB Type-C port on the bottom, alongside a 3.5mm headphone jack, the primary microphone, and the speaker grille. Lastly, the secondary microphone can be found on the top.

Honor Play specifications

Powering the Honor Play is the same HiSilicon Kirin 970 that we have seen powering multiple Honor and Huawei smartphones over the last couple of years. This processor is due for an upgrade, which is rumoured to be happening at IFA 2018 in late August. Still, in our initial experience, performance seemed snappy and the combination of Huawei’s CPU and NPU (Neural Processing Unit) managed to handle tasks without any sort of lag. Our full review will examine this phone’s performance in benchmarks and games as well as everyday use.

The Honor Play has a 3,750mAh battery, and comes with a 9V/ 2A (18W) charging adaptor. It does not support Huawei’s SuperCharge 22.5W battery technology. Battery life will also be tested extensively in our full review, coming up soon.

Much like other Huawei and Honor smartphones in India, the Honor Play runs EMUI 8.2 atop Android 8.1 Oreo. This heavily customised Android skin has a lot of bloat including preloaded games such as Asphalt Nitro, Kingdoms, Dragon Mania, Puzzle Pets, Sonic Runners, and more. It also has a couple of other apps such as Netflix and Facebook.

Honor is highlighting its GPU Turbo technology as the marquee feature of the Honor Play, and in fact this phone was initially launched in China as a gaming-focused smartphone. The company claims 60 percent better performance and 30 percent improved battery life when playing games with GPU Turbo, and we will test this extensively as well. In our brief time gaming on the Honor Play, there appeared to be no stutter, and Asphalt Nitro played well. In the future, parent brand Huawei is looking to use GPU Turbo for UI elements of its phones, a spokesperson confirmed to us.

Stay tuned to Gadgets 360 for a full review of the Honor Play, in which we will see where this smartphone stands in terms of performance, design, display quality, software, battery life, cameras, and value for money.



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The Best PC Games | NDTV Gadgets360.com


The PC is one of the oldest platforms for gaming and that gave us a bit of a challenge when making a list of best PC games. With a long history of games that are still playable, we had to account for way too many games to make this list. We followed our standard process to make a list of the top 25 PC games, which are listed below in alphabetical order. We looked at review aggregator websites such as Metacritic and OpenCritic to get a rough list of the top-rated PC games of all time. Then we pooled suggestions from Gadgets 360 staff members to include some of our all-time favourites, and finally narrowed it down to 25 games in what was a rather difficult process. We didn’t include games for Mac or Linux in this list but some of these games are available on those platforms too. Without further ado, here’s our list of the best PC games of all time.

Best Xbox One Games: 15 Great Xbox One Games You Need to Buy

BioShock

BioShock fused political and philosophical thought with over the top action as you set deranged drug-addled foes alight with fire from your finger tips in an erstwhile underwater paradise called Rapture. You’ll explore unbelievable, yet fully realised, vistas, uncover plot points via recorded messages or the odd cut-scene, gun down enemies with an assortment of fire-arms or use plasmids that let you electrify or incinerate your enemies, or even summon a swarm of bees to devastate your opponents.

The story still holds up and if it didn’t exist we wouldn’t have had a sequel (and the amazing Minerva’s Den DLC) or BioShock: Infinite or Gone Home (made by the folks who brought us Minerva’s Den). Nonetheless, all the historical ramifications in the world pale in comparison to facing off against a Big Daddy for the first time. Oh and unleashing a swarm of bees on unsuspecting foes never gets old. Fun fact: India never did get the game even remotely on time, thanks to a confusion on who was distributing it. Fun fact: two BioShock games were developed in India.

Download: BioShock (Rs. 999)

Civilization VI

Civilization VI is one of the best turn-based strategy games for the PC. From the birth of human civilisation to colonising Mars, this game will take you through the journey of humanity — an alternate history if you will. Its excellent strategic elements allow you to forge a path to victory via combat, religion, science, or culture. This time around it’s easier to win without military expansion and that makes Civ VI more than just mindless killing. We also love the background score that picks up appropriately as you advance through the ages and hits a crescendo as your civilisation peaks.

Download: Civilization VI (Rs. 2,499)

best pc game civilization vi Civilization VI

Civilization VI is one of the best games for the PC

 

Company of Heroes

Real-time strategy as a genre has never been as good as it was back in the late 90s and 00s. Company of Heroes is just one of the many excellent RTS games of that era and it deserves its place in this list. Not only did Company of Heroes accurately recreate World War II battles, it also allowed you to focus on the combat by making resource gathering pretty simple. Instead of allocating half of your units to resource gathering, you simply take control of a few strategic points to gather resources. This way you can focus on combat, which is very well-balanced and the story mode is incredibly well directed too.

Download: Company of Heroes (Rs. 565)

Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2

Why do all of the greatest strategy games have names that start with C? Coincidence, probably. Back when Electronic Arts actually used to make some of the world’s best games, it released an RTS that has stood the test of time — Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2 is Age of Empires on steroids. While this game primarily has two factions for you to play as, its outrageous single-player campaign is totally worth experiencing. It has some excellent cut-scenes interspersed with epic battles between Allied and Soviet forces, and the best part is that you get to play as both factions during the single-player campaign. This one has definitely earned its place in the list of best PC games.

Download: Command and Conquer: The Ultimate Collection (Rs. 999, includes all games in this franchise)

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

As far as multiplayer games go, few first-person shooter games come close to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. With equally balanced sides (terrorists and counter-terrorists) and a huge competitive scene, CS: GO is the kind of game that’s hard to get tired of. It has a lot of game modes to keep you hooked (involving bombs, hostages, etc.) and its matchmaking system ensures that new players don’t feel intimidated.

Download: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (Rs. 565)

Deus Ex

The epitome of the thinking man’s shooter, Deus Ex allows players to progress through its expertly-designed levels and fantastic, conspiracy-fuelled story through any means necessary including pacifist, stealth, and violent methods. Thanks to a focus on open-ended gameplay and role-playing mechanics there’s a lot to love about this 2000 classic. Low system requirements coupled with the presence of some graphical mods go a long way in extending the life of the game. Keep in mind that you need Windows to run this, even though a Mac version was available back at the time of its original release.

Download: Deus Ex (Rs. 319)

best pc game deus ex Deus Ex

Deus Ex is one of the best PC games ever made

 

Diablo 3

At launch Diablo 3 was ridiculed for Error 37 — a crippling fault that ensured fans of the action role-playing game couldn’t play the game. Years later, Blizzard has turned one of its biggest failings into a fantastic experience for seasoned veterans and newbies alike thanks to plenty of events. While the lack of a new expansion after the superlative Reaper of Souls is a blight on its record, little else comes in the way of recommending Diablo 3 as one of the best PC games thanks to its polished controls, stellar art direction, and addictive loop of monster slaying and loot collection that doesn’t get old even if you’re playing its campaign for the hundredth time.

Download: Diablo 3 (roughly Rs. 1,400)

Divinity: Original Sin 2

Divinity: Original Sin 2 balances freeform adventuring inspired by tabletop RPGs of yore with a tremendous cast and slick story backed up by solid writing. Don’t let the ‘2’ in the title fool you though, you don’t need to play the last game to understand this one and its open-ended nature makes it one of those games you a criminal amount of time into.

Download: Divinity: Original Sin 2

Doom

Doom fuses old school run and gun sensibilities with modern day graphics, and stellar level design. It doesn’t have a deep and thoughtful plot, but when you’re having so much fun shooting demons in the face, it doesn’t matter. Particularly on PC when its easy to maintain a butter-smooth 60fps.

Download: Doom (Rs. 1,599)

Best PS4 Games: 15 Games Every PS4 Owner Should Have

Dota 2

No list of best PC games would be complete without Dota 2. This MOBA may pale in comparison to League of Legends in terms of revenue, but its popularity, consistent support from Valve, and a teeming community make it the choice for most. It’s deep, complex, and has a host of fascinating characters that warrant your consideration. Plus, it does free-to-play right. You never feel like you have to spend money in Dota 2 to progress, rather you just might loosen your purse strings in shame, given how generous Valve has been with content for the game.

Download: Dota 2 (Free)

Fallout New Vegas

A great soundtrack, nuanced conversation system, and a world that feels more lived-in and immersive than anything else we’ve experienced in the Fallout universe, developer Obsidian’s take on the Fallout series is still the pinnacle of the franchise. Throw in a host of mods and a DRM-free release on GOG, and there’s little reason not to lose yourself in the wastelands of Nevada, California, and Arizona.

Download: Fallout New Vegas (roughly Rs. 1400)

Forza Horizon 3

The racing game genre would’ve been poor if not for Microsoft’s continued investment into the Forza franchise. Forza Horizon 3 is easily the best arcade racing game of this generation and it’s so good that it manages to edge out stiff competition from games such as Need for Speed: Most Wanted (the original one) too. Forza Horizon 3 has everything you’d expect from a great arcade racing game — outrageous stunts, insane speed bursts, a phenomenal world for you to explore, wide variety of cars and events, and some fantastic expansions such as the Hot Wheels DLC.

Download: Forza Horizon 3 (Rs. 3,390)

best pc game forza horizon 3 Forza Horizon 3

GTA V

Whichever platform Grand Theft Auto V was released on, it excelled in. The game is insanely good and Rockstar has done a great job in keeping its quality top-notch across platforms. GTA V has an iconic single-player campaign with criss-crossing stories and multiple protagonists, some great writing and storytelling, and most importantly, excellent side-quests that add to the main story. If you don’t like Michael and Franklin, you can always play the game for Trevor.

Download: GTA V (Rs. 1,385)

Mass Effect 2

Role-playing games are among our favourite genres in gaming and Mass Effect 2 is still one of the best examples of the modern science fiction RPG. It builds upon the setting and universe of the first game to weave a timeless narrative that pits all sentient life forms against evil machines called Reapers. All of the main species in the game had such amazing stories tied to them — the tough Krogan dealing with genocide, intelligent salarians who first hired and then fired the Krogan, the Rachni queen, the Quarians and the Geth, and the Turians — to name a few.

All of this is backed up by polished gameplay mechanics, allowing you to get into cover or summon black holes to ensnare your foes with ease. Even though its paragon/ renegade system of black and white decisions hasn’t aged very well, Mass Effect 2’s story and combat are still exemplary. The developers also took some risky game design decisions that led to the death of a few important characters if you weren’t careful, which is rarely seen in games anymore.

Download: Mass Effect 2

Minecraft

Minecraft is another game that has made it to our list of best games on more than one platform and it deserves its place in each such list. Minecraft is not like most games that give you a set starting and ending point. A game where you craft items to survive, this game has inspired players to spend long hours crafting beautiful monuments and even to create a working computer inside the game. Minecraft is not for everyone, but if you are into building the world of your dreams in a video game, this is the best option for you.

Download: Minecraft (Rs. 1,274)

Best Nintendo Switch Games: Top 10 Switch Games You Can Play Right Now

Overwatch

Multiplayer shooting games don’t get much better than Overwatch. This game has made it to our best Xbox games list and the one where we list the best PS4 games as well. Overwatch goes beyond simple “team 1 vs team 2” shooting mechanic by introducing some fabulous ultimate moves for characters, focusing on a diverse cast of characters where team balance depends on having players pick a healing character and one that sets up defensive turrets. Its cartoonish heroes aren’t just cardboard cutout characters as the game has a pretty deep lore which adds a lot to the overall experience.

Download: Overwatch (roughly Rs. 1,400)

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For multiplayer, Overwatch is the best PC game

 

Portal 2

Dark humour, AI running amok, and of course puzzles aplenty. Perhaps the last single-player game we’ll ever see from Valve, Portal 2 is a well-paced romp through physics-based obstacles galore. With Half-Life 3 vapourware, it’s as good a game as any for Valve to end its single-player ambitions with. And if its first-person puzzle trappings have grown on you, check out the excellent Talos Principle.

Download: Portal 2 (Rs. 349)

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls franchise has set the benchmark for open-world role-playing games, with Skyrim putting you in the boots of an adventurer that shouts evildoers off a cliff and punches dragons in the face. It comes with a wealth of quest lines and more than its share of factions, and gives you so much to do that you will not get bored, a 100 hours in and we’re still finding new things to do in the game. There’s the Skyrim Special Edition too with reworked arts and effects, volumetric god rays, dynamic depth of field and official mod support – allowing users to place their own content in the game world. It also comes with three add-ons to the base game – the Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn DLCs. It also comes with all of the bugs of the original game for good measure. From the two, we prefer the original release due to the sheer number of mods for it and that it run on lower specced machines with ease.

Download: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Rs. 2,670)

Super Meat Boy

PC games have a long history of great platformers but few reached the level that Super Meat Boy did. This game is very difficult to master and requires a controller for the best experience, but it’s the perfect example of a game that rewards those who don’t give up. In Super Meat Boy, you play as Meat Boy, who’s trying to save his girlfriend Bandage Girl from the evil Dr. Fetus. To do this, you navigate through level after level of ridiculously difficult obstacles and see your character die countless times. When your character (you can choose to play as other characters such as Commander Video from Bit.Trip as well) dies, the game immediately lets you try the level again with no “Game Over” screen in between. This keeps you hooked and makes you want to give the level another shot when the going gets tough. Super Meat Boy’s controls are excellent and it never feels like the game is cheating to ramp up the difficulty, making it one of the best PC games around.

Download: Super Meat Boy (Rs. 479)

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

If you like open-world role-playing games, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is as good as it gets. PC gamers have the unique advantage of having all three games in this series on the platform and that means the decisions you made in the first two games affect the story in the third. The Witcher 3 has enough story content for you to spend 200 hours or more in-game and none of it feels like padding, and that’s before taking into account its two expansion packs. As you take Geralt of Rivia’s tale through to its conclusion, you’ll find yourself hooked to its story and thrilled by its combat. The unique combination of melee combat and magic, along with your trusted horse buddy Roach makes the game a lot of fun to play. Unlike most other RPGs, The Witcher series is known for putting you through a bunch of morally ambiguous choices and that makes it challenging to play if you want the best possible ending.

Download: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Rs. 2,800)

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An outstanding RPG, The Witcher 3 is also one of the best PC games

 

The Orange Box

The only compilation to make it to this list, The Orange Box is probably the most well-known collection of games on PC. Featuring Valve’s Half-Life 2 (along with two DLCs), Team Fortress 2, and Portal, this collection has some insanely highly rated games on board. For those who know nothing about these games — Half-Life 2 is the greatest first-person shooter ever made. When it released in 2004, it was praised for how well it blended great storytelling with an awesome FPS experience and that’s true to this day even though Valve has pretty much abandoned making single-player games.

Team Fortress 2 is a free-to-play multiplayer FPS with a tonne of content which makes money mostly thanks to in-game hats, but it was a premium game in the beginning making it one of the earliest successes of the concept of games as a service in addition to having balanced gameplay that’s inspired the likes of Overwatch. Portal is one of the best first-person puzzle games ever made, and anyone who doesn’t play it is missing out on a great experience. If you like these games, Half-Life and Portal 2 are also worth checking out.

Download: The Orange Box (Rs. 529)

Total War: Warhammer

The Total War series is known for two things — accurate recreation of historical battles and complex strategy gameplay. Total War: Warhammer does away with the former and replaces it with battles from the Warhammer universe. This gives a nice high fantasy touch to battles while still retaining what the franchise is known for in terms of gameplay. Total War: Warhammer is one of the best entries in the series and among the best turn-based strategy games overall. It may be a bit intimidating to those who aren’t used to complex strategy, but for purists this is just great.

Download: Total War: Warhammer (Rs. 1,999)

Undertale

Undertale uses rudimentary graphics that wouldn’t be out of place in the 8-bit era of consoles, yet it manages to display emotion far better than most photorealistic AAA titles. There’s an emphasis on non-violence but you’ll frequently find yourself in combat. If you’ve played RPGs before, you’ll appreciate Undertale immensely more than someone who hasn’t, due to its remixing of genre tropes in an almost satirical fashion. Weird and brilliantly subversive, this is one title in our list of best PC games you shouldn’t miss out on.

Download: Undertale (Rs. 369)

Vallhalla

Thanks to its quirky storytelling Vallhalla or VA-11 HALL-A as it’s called is a highly engaging experience wrapped in retro aesthetics. Some may argue that its simplified gameplay being subservient to narrative does little to make it a game in the modern, mainstream sense. However, it succeeds in presenting a slice of life in a dystopian future and drives home the point that not every video game has to have you as its central character. They can just be as fun with you serving its heroes copious amounts of alcohol as a bartender.

Download: Vallhalla (Rs. 459)

XCOM Enemy Unknown

XCOM Enemy Unknown is an addictive mix of combat and base management that has you playing till the early hours of the morning. Combined with the fact that you forge your squad of heroes from ragtag novices to elite killing machines makes it all the more painful when you lose one of them in battle as they never come back. It helps that it’s exceptionally optimised to run on PCs that aren’t the latest and greatest, and eases you in to its slick turn-based strategy with aplomb.

Download: XCOM Enemy Unknown (Rs. 1,499)

Which are your favourite PC games? Let us know via the comments.


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