Nikon Coolpix P1000 Review | NDTV Gadgets360.com


Achieving a high level of optical zoom on DSLRs and full-frame cameras typically requires using a large and heavy lens, like the ones you’ve probably seen being used at sporting events or for wildlife photography. However, the zoom ranges of such lenses are still lower compared to what can be achieved with point-and-shoot cameras, due to their smaller sensors and larger crop factors.

Nikon’s compact Coolpix P900 led the charge for a while, offering an impressive 83x optical zoom. Recently, the company launched its successor, called the P1000, which boasts of a staggering 125x optical zoom. There’s also 4K video support this time. All this in a package that can easily fit in most backpacks, makes the Nikon P1000 a very interesting option for those looking for the highest possible zoom range. We’ve been using P1000 for several days, and it’s time to see if it’s worth its Rs. 75,990 asking price.

 

Nikon Coolpix P1000 design and ergonomics

The camera ships in a pretty sizeable box, and for good reason. The Coolpix P1000 is a chunky camera that’s roughly the size of an average professional DSLR. In fact, it occupies a similar volume to a Canon 5D Mark III with a 100mm macro lens. It’s also quite heavy at 1.4kg and the design of the lens and placement of some of the buttons require you to use it with two hands at all times.

The plastic body feels sturdy and has a subtle texture that allows for a good grip. The hand grip is chunky, with plenty of rubber inserts, giving you the feel of a DSLR. The camera is front-heavy due to the 17-element lens array, so it’s not the most ergonomic design. This is something that couldn’t be helped, considering the purpose it’s trying to achieve. The front of the lens has a ring around it that lets you adjust focus in manual mode, but it can also perform different functions like exposure compensation, ISO or white balance adjustment, depending on what you set it to.

Nikon Coolpix P1000 front ndtv nikonThe Nikon Coolpix P1000 has a plastic build and can be heavy to handle

 

The left side of the lens has a button for a ‘snap-back zoom’ feature and zoom lever. ‘Snap-back zoom’ is useful, as once you press it, the viewfinder zooms out a little for you to re-frame your shot, and once you release it, it snaps back to that zoom level. The zoom lever lets you make minor adjustments to the zoom level. The shutter button also has a zoom lever, and it can be programmed in an interesting way, which we’ll get in to in the next section.

The Nikon Coolpix P1000 has a pop-up flash as well as a hot shoe for attaching an external flash. The 0.39-inch OLED viewfinder has a resolution of 2.35 million dots and diopter adjustment. We like the fact that the viewfinder protrudes outwards quite a bit, so when you look through it, your nose doesn’t touch the display easily, preventing sweat and grime buildup. The controls on the top include a mode dial, command dial, power button, and customisable function (Fn) button.

All the ports are placed on the left of the camera and are covered by rubber flaps. These include a microphone input, Micro-HDMI, Micro-USB, and an accessory terminal. At the back, we have a 3.2-inch display with a 921k dot resolution. It can be fully articulated, which is good, but there’s no touch support.

Nikon Coolpix P1000 screen ndtv nikonThe rear LCD display can be fully articulated

 

There is a smattering of buttons here, all of which are big and chunky and have good feedback. This includes a button for video recording, an AF/AE lock, one for manually switching between the LCD screen and the EVF, and a multi-selector wheel with a fixed set of shortcuts.

In the box, you get a removable battery that’s rated for 250 shots per charge, a Micro-USB cable, a charging adapter, a Micro-HDMI cable, and according to Nikon’s website, a 16GB Class 10 SD card.

Nikon Coolpix P1000 specifications and features

To achieve this level of zoom while still keeping the size of the camera relatively portable, Nikon has stuck with a 1/2.3-inch sensor with a 16-megapixel resolution, which is the same one used on the Coolpix P900. The camera has a focal range of 4.3mm to 539mm and an aperture range of f/2.8 to f/8. When you account for the 5.6 crop factor, you get the equivalent of a 24mm to 3,000mm focal length.

The Coolpix P1000 only uses contrast detection autofocus and has an ISO range of 100 to 6,400. It also supports lens stabilisation for stills, and a combination of this plus electronic stabilisation for movies. Other features include support for SDXC cards, RAW (NRW format), video recording at up to 4K at 30fps, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g.

The camera also supports Nikon’s SnapBridge software, which lets you connect to Android or iOS devices wirelessly. You can have images automatically transferred to your smartphone as they are taken, which works even if the camera is off, as long as Bluetooth is on. Remote photography is also possible as the app lets you control the focus, zoom, and other parameters right from your phone. All of this works well, just as we’ve experienced on previous Nikon cameras.

The menu system is very simplistic and easy to master, even for novice users. The settings are spread across four main sections — Stills, Movie, Wireless, and Miscellaneous. One of the settings worth paying attention to is Zoom Memory, which lets you set various levels for the zoom lever on the shutter button. This way, you can jump directly from 24mm to 200mm, 800mm, and so on, making it faster to get to specific zoom levels with just a few taps.

ou can even set the zoom position when the camera starts up, from the default 24mm, up to 135mm. Electronic stabilisation isn’t supported at 4K but it is available for other resolutions. The camera can shoot 1080p video at 60fps and even 480p video at 120fps.

Nikon Coolpix P1000 performance and battery life

In our ISO test, we check to see a camera’s tolerance to noise as we go up the ISO scale. The Coolpix P1000 doesn’t have a very large range and you can manually increase or decrease it only in full stop increments. Noise reduction was kept at the standard level for this test.

Details were maintained well till about ISO 1600, but at ISO 3200, there was noticeable reduction in details in the effort to suppress noise. At the highest ISO setting, the image was hazy and details looked mushy. To be honest, we weren’t expecting outstanding performance, given the tiny sensor.

Nikon P1000 ISO test ndtv cnikonNikon P1000 ISO test

 

The main reason anyone would want to buy this camera is for its zoom capability, which is simply amazing. It can make objects that are literally kilometres away seem like they are right in front of you. The contrast detection autofocus is not bad at a range up to 1000mm, however, it starts getting slower as you approach the maximum zoom level. At 3000mm, the Coolpix P1000 really struggled to focus at times, so much so that we had to zoom out a bit in order lock focus. If you’re shooting handheld then make sure you’ve got a good grip on the camera, as the weight shifts forward as the lens extends outwards.

The Coolpix P1000 is a great tool for capturing distant objects like the moon. In fact, this camera has a Moon shooting mode that automatically enables a three second timer, offers a shortcut to jump to 1000mm zoom, and assigns the command dial to let you select filters to give the sky a different colour tone. When shooting handheld, the camera’s vibration reduction works very well in compensating for slight hand movement, even at the maximum zoom level.

Nikon Coolpix P1000 camera sample: ISO 400, f/7.1, 2,200mm (35mm, tap to see full size)

 

Nikon Coolpix P1000 camera sample: ISO 1,600, f/5.6, 1000mm (35mm, tap to see full size)

 

There’s a Bird shooting mode that disables the shutter sound so you don’t scare away any wildlife. The slow autofocus at high zoom levels really limits this camera’s potential for serious wildlife photography as we missed a couple of great shots of birds while we waited for the focus to lock. This doesn’t give you a lot of confidence when shooting fleeting moments, which is a bit disappointing.

Image quality is decent under good light but is quite mediocre in low light. In landscapes, we noticed decent detail and colours. Dynamic range was also pretty good. Macros shot at the widest focal length had good colours and sharpness but this reduced once we went up the zoom range. The image quality started degrading slightly once we went beyond 1000mm, which was noticeable at a 100 percent crop. Colours were still captured well but objects lacked good definition.

They also appeared flat, since the higher up the zoom range you go, the narrower the aperture gets. In low light, details were mushy, and edges around objects weren’t always well defined, even without pushing the ISO to 6,400. You could extract more detail and sharpness if you save your photos in the RAW format, if you have the time and willingness to play around in Adobe Lightroom.

Nikon Coolpix P1000 camera sample: ISO 180, f/4, 18.9mm (35mm), tap to see full size

 

At full zoom, focusing is tricky and images often look soft (Nikon Coolpix P1000 camera sample: ISO 1,600, f/8, 3000mm, tap to see full size)

 

Nikon Coolpix P1000 camera sample: ISO 1,600, f/4, 105mm (35mm), tap to see full size

 

Nikon Coolpix P1000 camera sample: ISO 1,100, f/3.2, 30mm (35mm), tap to see full size

 

4K videos aren’t stabilised, so footage is a little shaky if you move about. If you’re staying still and shooting footage at high zoom levels, the lens stabilisation works well. The picture is sharp and clear at zoom levels up to around 1000mm, after which it starts getting a bit soft.

Stabilisation works well at 1080p and 30fps, but the footage has a mild shimmer effect when you move about, which is a side effect of electronic stabilisation. At 3000mm, the Coolpix P1000 exhibits a lot of focus hunting, due to which we were forced to dial down the zoom a bit.

Video quality is decent in low light but gets a bit noisy and soft at high zoom levels. Continuous autofocus isn’t very quick as it takes a good number of seconds to lock focus when you change your framing or the focal length. There is a manual video mode but there’s no way to change the focus point, like you can for stills, which is a little disappointing. This means you’ll have to move your subject or the camera, to get what you want in focus.

The LCD display produces a decently sharp image but the brightness isn’t very high at the default level, so we had to max it out when shooting in daylight. The EVF produces good image quality, and the switching between the two is quick, thanks to the eye sensor. The eyepiece uses plastic instead of a soft rubber lining like most high-end cameras, which isn’t very comfortable for prolonged use.

There’s only one programmable button, which can be set to change the drive mode, metering, ISO, etc. Having a few more customisable buttons or dials would have been nice. The camera has a maximum burst rate of around 8fps but you can also shoot a small video clip at 60fps or 120fps, and extract stills from it.

Battery life is not great, but we managed to get a little more than the rated number of shots per charge on average. We managed to squeeze in a few short 1080p and 4K video clips, but overall battery life could have been a lot better. With the bundled wall charger, it takes around three hours to fully charge the battery.

Nikon Coolpix P1000 zoom out ndtv nikon

 

Verdict
The Nikon Coolpix P1000 offers the longest zoom you can hope for from a camera that can fit into a backpack, which is a big accomplishment in itself. This comes at a high price of Rs. 75,950 and honestly, at this price we also expect very good image quality, which this camera struggles with.

It does offer excellent lens stabilisation even at full zoom, a fully articulating LCD display, good grip, and decent quality 4K videos. Unfortunately, the autofocus doesn’t inspire confidence, which limits the type of photography you can achieve with this camera. Also, low-light and battery performance was a bit weak, and lets not forget that it’s a handful to carry around.

If you’re simply looking for high zoom, then the older Nikon Coolpix P900 makes a lot of sense. It still has a decently large 83x or 2000mm zoom level, and packs in similar guts as the P1000 (with the omission of 4K video and RAW support), all for a price of just Rs. 32,950.

If you’re looking at better image quality, then the Panasonic DMC-FZ2500 is a great option at around Rs. 80,000. It only has a 20x zoom, but it’s more feature-packed and the 1-inch sensor should give you better image quality. Lastly, if you want better zoom levels from a 1-inch sensor camera, then Sony’s RX10 III and RX10 IV are some of the best you can get, but their prices go beyond Rs. 1,00,000.

Price (MRP): Rs. 75,950

Pros

  • Impressive zoom range
  • Very good lens stabilisation
  • Fully articulating display
  • RAW and 4K support

Cons

  • Heavy and bulky
  • Average quality JPEGs
  • Battery life could be better
  • Autofocus can be sluggish

Ratings (out of 5)

  • Build/ design: 3.5
  • Image quality: 3
  • Video quality: 3.5
  • Performance: 3
  • Value for money: 3.5
  • Overall: 3.5



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Infinix Hot S3X Review | NDTV Gadgets360.com


Hong Kong-based Transsion Holdings’ Infinix brand has unveiled yet another smartphone in its Hot series in India, the Hot S3X. The phone, which has been launched just eight months after its predecessor the Hot S3, brings with it minor upgrades such as a larger display with a notch, dual rear cameras, and an improved selfie camera.

With a slight price hike to Rs. 9,999, can the Infinix Hot S3X be a worthy upgrade to the Infinix Hot S3, which impressed us during our review period? We find out.

Infinix Hot S3X design

A departure from the previous generation’s matte finish, the Infinix Hot S3X sports a glossy gradient back panel with a slight mirror finish. It doesn’t look as plain as before, and the curved sides provide a good grip. We got the Ice Blue colour for review, and this phone is also available in Black and Grey options, both of which also have a similar gradient design. The finish is prone to fingerprints and smudges, but Infinix has you covered with a bundled soft TPU case in the box.

The phone sports a large 6.2-inch HD+ display panel with a resolution of 720×1500 pixels and a rather odd aspect ratio of 18.75:9. The top border has been replaced by an iPhone X-like notch, but the chin remains quite large. All corners of the screen are hard to reach with one finger, and this phone is not made for one-handed usage.

There are onscreen navigation buttons in place of capacitive or physical keys, below the display. The 16-megapixel selfie camera, dual LED flash, and earpiece are placed within the notch.

infinix hot s3x gadgets 360 2 Infinix

 

The right of the handset has the volume buttons and the lock/ power button. We did not like the placement considering there is no difference in the texture of the buttons, and we ended up with several unintended presses. The tray on the left can house two Nano-SIMs and a microSD card at the same time. The Micro-USB port, external speaker grille, and a microphone are placed on the bottom, while the 3.5mm headphone jack is on top. The new dual camera setup on the rear is placed vertically. The rear-mounted fingerprint sensor’s placement makes it feel natural to use.

Infinix Hot S3X specifications and software

Infinix has gone with the same octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC on the Hot S3X, as it did with its predecessor. Now quite dated, this processor has eight Cortex-A53 CPU cores running at speeds of up to 1.4GHz, coupled with an Adreno 505 GPU. Interestingly, the Hot S3X competes directly with the company’s first Android One-based smartphone, the Infinix Note 5 (Review), which is powered by a MediaTek Helio P23 SoC that performs better at least on paper. There is only one configuration of the Hot S3X, with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. We noted that there was only about 21GB of free space on the first boot. Storage can be expanded by up to 128GB using a microSD card.

The 6.2-inch HD+ panel does not have any advertised protection. It has decent viewing angles and good visibility in sunlight. The maximum brightness could have been better, but the lowest setting is comfortable for use in the dark. Infinix has opted for the same 4,000mAh battery as that in the previous-gen Hot S3, and it also supports 10W charging.

Connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, Micro-USB with OTG, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and GPS. The Infinix Hot S3X is a dual-SIM smartphone with two Nano-SIM slots, both of which support 4G. You can use mobile data on only one SIM at a time.

infinix hot s3x gadgets 360 3 Infinix

 

The phone ships with the custom Hummingbird XOS 3.3 Lite, based on Android 8.1 Oreo. An Android 9.0 Pie update hasn’t been announced yet. While the functionality of this UI is similar to stock Android, the design is completely different. It has a default rounded square shape for all icons, and adds ugly white borders to icons that don’t adhere to this design scheme.

The Infinix Hot S3X has custom versions of basic apps such as Phone, Contacts, Camera, Weather, and Messages. There’s also the Phoenix Web browser. The phone also has Infinix’s own apps preloaded: Carlcare for after-sales support; XHide to hide pictures, videos, and voice recordings; XTheme to help you with different themes; and the XClub customer forum. A ‘Freezer’ feature helps you free up RAM and prevent specific apps from running in the background for a stipulated amount of time.

Other than that, you get the Phone Master app for cleaning up RAM, locking specific apps, managing data usage, and more. A handy Smart Charge mode helps you with reminders to avoid overcharging the battery. You can swipe down on any of the home screens to open up Google Search.

With the latest version of XOS, you can now also use gesture navigation instead of the onscreen buttons. Like most other interfaces out there, you can swipe up from the middle-bottom to go to home, swipe up from the bottom left to open the app switcher, and swipe up from the bottom right to go back. One-handed mode can be activated by simply swiping left or right across the navigation buttons, but this mode did not seem to work when using navigation gestures. You cannot hide the display notch.

Infinix Hot S3X performance, battery life, and cameras

With players including Xiaomi and Realme focusing aggressively on the sub-Rs. 10,000 and sub-Rs. 15,000 price segments, expectations are high. In our experience, the Infinix Hot S3X did not offer performance worthy of its Rs. 9,999 price tag. Overall UI performance was below average, and we noticed several stutters and instances of lag in our daily usage.

Even the fingerprint sensor was not up to the mark; it was accurate but didn’t unlock the smartphone quickly enough. We have come to take blazing fast unlocking speeds for granted even on budget phones, and the Hot S3X seemed significantly slower in comparison. The phone also vibrates every time you unlock it, which could be frustrating for some. On the other hand, the fingerprint scanner does offer added functionality such as allowing you to take photos, accept calls, browse through pictures, and dismiss alarms using gestures.

To our utter disappointment, face unlock using the selfie camera was even slower, leading us to use a lock pattern most of the time.

infinix hot s3x review gadgets 360 5 Infinix

 

The display on the Hot S3X offers good colour reproduction, and watching videos and browsing photos was a pleasant experience. Even games looked vibrant on the 6.2-inch screen.

The dated processor showed its weakness in the benchmarks we ran on the Hot S3X. It scored 58,389 in AnTuTu, and in Geekbench, it got a single-core score of 652 and a multi-core score of 2,075. GFXBench’s Car Chase test ran at a paltry 5.3fps but the T-Rex test gave us a decent 26fps, which is similar to what we observed with the Infinix Hot S3 earlier this year.

Heavy apps took their sweet time to load, and there was noticeable stutter when scrolling through Facebook and Twitter. We were left killing apps frequently in an attempt to make the experience more fluid, which speaks volumes about the phone’s RAM management.

Lighter games like Subway Surfers and Candy Crush ran smoothly on the Infinix Hot S3X. Our experience with heavier games such as Shadow Fight 3 was also largely fine, with a hint of stutter especially during the tutorial.

The Infinix Hot S3X has a 4,000mAh battery, just like the Hot S3. It managed to clock only about 11 hours and 5 minutes in our HD video loop test, compared to more than 13 hours for its predecessor, which is still good for the price point. As for day-to-day usage, even if we started our day with a 100 percent charge in the morning, we needed a quick 30-minute boost by 4-5pm to get through the evening. Our usage included checking email, browsing social media apps a few times, and scattered light gaming sessions. The phone charged from 0 to 100 percent in 2 hours and 10 minutes with the bundled 10W charger.

Camera performance is one of the highlights of the Infinix Hot S3X. It has a 13-megapixel primary camera and a 2-megapixel depth sensor at the back for portrait shots. The app, however, does not show previews of portrait shots as you are trying to frame them. This often led to shots that were out of focus, which was frustrating. Other than that, the camera app offers fairly basic controls and modes including AI Camera, Video, Beauty, Portrait, Panorama, and Night.

The XOS Camera 3.0 app offers quick toggles for elements like HDR control, delayed capture, touch capture, gridlines, level, watermark, and more. There is no professional mode so you cannot manually control the ISO, white balance, shutter speed, etc.

Daylight shots were above average with good clarity and overall colour reproduction. The rear camera handled brightness and contrast levels well. Landscape shots and photos of the sky were exposed well, without parts of the scenery getting blown out.

Tap to see full-sized Infinix Hot S3X camera samples

 

Even low light performance was decent, and the phone could take good portrait shots even at night. The Hot S3X could not manage good landscape night shots, but we aren’t complaining much at this price. Stability was also a bit of an issue and you need to stand still until the photo is saved to avoid blur.

The 16-megapixel fixed-focus front camera gave us mixed results. It takes crisp and clear selfies, but artifically whitens them too much for our liking. That said, some people might prefer this mode.

In low light, selfies are not beautified too much, but they fall short on clarity. The front-facing LED flash helps when taking selfies without a good light source nearby. Video recording maxes out at 1080p for both cameras.

Verdict
The budget segment in India is getting tougher to crack, with super value-for-money options right now. The Infinix Hot S3X is not a huge upgrade over the Hot S3, but rather a lukewarm update with some current-day features such as a display notch and dual cameras. It is lacking in terms of overall performance and the user experience, but has decent cameras, a vibrant display, and a good design.

With a price of Rs. 9,999, you are better off going for the Realme 2 (Review) or Redmi 6 Pro (Review). If you can stretch your budget slightly, you could choose the more powerful Nokia 5.1 Plus (Review) or Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 (Review).

The Infinix Note 5 (Review), the company’s first Android One smartphone, is also a good option in the sub-Rs. 10,000 segment.

 



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Nokia 7.1 Review | NDTV Gadgets360.com


Ever since it revived Nokia’s smartphone business, HMD Global has been launching new models at a rapid pace. The Nokia 7.1 is the latest mid-range offering from the company, slotting in between the Nokia 6.1 Plus and the Nokia 8.1. In India, the Nokia 7.1 is offered in a single configuration with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, priced at Rs. 19,999.

The biggest USP of this phone is its HDR-enabled 5.84-inch notched display, which is housed in a glass-and-metal chassis. The new Nokia 7.1 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor and features a dual camera setup at the back with Zeiss optics, a stock build of Android, 4GB of RAM, and a 3,060mAh battery. With the Nokia 7.1 now on sale, let’s see if the latest Nokia budget smartphone can justify its price tag.

 

Nokia 7.1 design

With a machined Series 6000 aluminium frame and a die-cast metal centre, the Nokia 7.1 feels extremely solid and substantial in the hand. It also looks gorgeous and is undoubtedly one of the more attractive phones in this price range. The glass back looks sleek, and the diamond-cut chamfers and accents around the rear camera module and power/ volume buttons add a touch of class. However, the glossy finish does attract a lot of fingerprints and makes the phone quite slippery.

The Nokia 7.1 sits well in the palm of the hand thanks to its relatively compact chassis and rounded corners. As with all smartphones these days, it is a bit too tall though, which makes one-handed use difficult.

Nokia7 Inline1 Nokia 7.1

The face of the Nokia 7.1 is devoid of any physical buttons — HMD Global has opted for on-screen keys instead — but the right side does house physical power and volume keys, which are tactile and solidly built. The left of the Nokia 7.1 is blank save for the SIM tray, which makes you choose between a second Nano-SIM and a microSD card.

There is a notch up front, which is thankfully quite small and does not get in the way of games and videos. Android Pie does not offer an obvious way to mask the notch, but keen users can find this option in the Developer section of the Settings app. Despite the notch, the screen is not borderless, and the chin in particular is pretty thick.

The dual-camera setup on the back is placed in a pill-shaped housing, with a Zeiss logo emblazoned below the primary sensor. The back panel also houses a circular fingerprint sensor, a vertical Nokia logo, and the Android One branding. There’s a single loudspeaker next to the USB Type-C port at the bottom, which lacks warmth but delivers loud and clear audio.

Nokia 7.1 specifications and display

HMD Global has a penchant for keeping things simple when it comes to variants, and the same is true for the Nokia 7.1. At the moment, the smartphone is only offered in one configuration, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. That can be expanded via a microSD card (up to 400GB). The hybrid dual-SIM tray forces you to choose between a secondary SIM and storage expansion.

Nokia7 Inline2 Nokia 7.1

 

The Nokia 7.1 has a 3,060mAh battery and supports fast charging. While this smartphone will be running Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, our review unit received a stable Android 9.0 Pie update just two days after we unboxed it. Connectivity options on the smartphone include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5, GPS/ A-GPS, GLONASS, NFC, USB Type-C, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Up front, the smartphone has a 5.84-inch full-HD+ (1080×2280 pixels) IPS panel with a 19:9 aspect ratio and HDR10 support. The bright and punchy display is one of the highlights of this smartphone. Colours are vivid, viewing angles are excellent, and brightness is more than adequate. HDR content looks sharp and vibrant, and outdoor legibility is also quite good.

Nokia 7.1 performance, software, and battery life

The Nokia 7.1 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, paired with 4GB of RAM. While that might sound underwhelming in this price segment, real-world performance is quite smooth and consistent. The phone does struggle slightly when pushed, but day-to-day tasks are handled well, and UI animations are butter-smooth. In our experience, games like Asphalt 9 ran quite smoothly, albeit at medium graphic settings.

Benchmark scores were in line with those of other Snapdragon 636-powered smartphones. The Nokia 7.1 managed scores of 116,083 in AnTuTu, 33fps in GFXBench T-Rex, 9.6fps in GFXBench Manhattan 3.1, and 1,340 and 4,926 respectively in Geekbench’s single- and multi- core tests. In our experience, calls were clear and 4G connectivity was consistently solid.

Nokia7 Inline3 Nokia 7.1

 

Being an Android One smartphone, the Nokia 7.1 runs a stock build of Android devoid of any third-party bloat and manufacturer skins/ overlays. There is no ability to run two WhatsApp instances, for example, a feature often seen in phones from Huawei, Samsung, and Realme.

The software is fluid and responsive, and features a few nifty value additions such as the ‘Ambient Display’ feature that shows notifications for missed calls and app notifications without waking the phone from sleep. You can perform a few gestures such as turning the phone over to reject a call, or picking it up to mute the ringtone.

You can also use Android Pie’s navigational gestures, which are well implemented and easy to use. The Digital Wellbeing feature is present as well, and lets you track how frequently you use different apps, how many times you unlock the phone, and how many notifications you receive on a daily basis.

Android Pie also offers a dark mode which darkens the app drawer, quick toggles panel, and certain first-party applications such as Contacts. Certain elements of the UI such as the Settings app and the notification shade are untouched, and some applications like Messages have dark modes of their own, which aren’t triggered by the systemwide toggle. We would have liked the dark mode to be more consistent and darken every aspect of the UI instead of just certain elements.

Nokia7 Inline4 Nokia 7.1Digital Wellbeing, Gestures, and the Adaptive Battery feature

 

The Nokia 7.1 supports face recognition, using its 8-megapixel fixed-focus front camera. This works well enough when there’s an adequate light but is quite erratic in low light and also under very bright sunlight. The setup process is also slower than what we have experienced with phones from Huawei and Realme. Hopefully, this can be improved with future software updates. The rear-mounted fingerprint scanner is another story altogether. It is accurate, ergonomically placed, and quite snappy. It can also be used to show the notification shade with a downward swipe, which is quite useful.

In our HD video loop battery test, the Nokia 7.1 lasted 9 hours and 30 minutes, which is a fairy average score. Real-world performance was quite solid however, with the phone powering through a 12-hour day with medium to heavy use, with around 15 percent left in the tank. Android Pie has a battery saver mode as well as a feature called Adaptive Battery that limits battery use for applications you don’t use often. The bundled fast charger charges takes around 1.5 hours to fully charge the phone. Despite having a glass back, the phone does not support wireless charging.

Nokia 7.1 cameras

On the imaging front, the Nokia 7.1 features a dual-camera setup at the back with Zeiss optics and electronic image stabilisation. There’s a f12-megapixel primary camera with an aperture of f/1.8 and a 5-megapixel secondary camera with an aperture of f/2.4. On the front, the smartphone has an 8-megapixel fixed-focus camera with an aperture of f/2.0 and a 84-degree field of view. The front sensor makes do with a screen flash and the rear cameras are accompanied by a dual-LED flash.

Images shot in adequate light were crisp and detailed with vivid colours. In our experience, portrait shots were also quite impressive with good edge detection and smooth gradients between the subject and the background.

Images shot in low light had a good amount of detail and noise was kept to a minimum. This phone does over-sharpen images at times, and colour reproduction is inconsistent. HMD Global has made big strides when it comes to low-light performance but there is still a little way to go to match the likes of the Xiaomi Mi A2 (Review), which has one of the best cameras in this segment.

Tap to see full-sized Nokia 7.1 camera samples

 

The 8-megapixel selfie shooter did a good job in well-lit situations. Noise did creep in in low light, but the level of detail was satisfactory. There’s no proper front LED flash, but the screen flash lights up the entire display. The front camera uses software algorithms to take portrait shots, and the implementation is iffy, with average edge detection.

The camera app is loaded with features such as as AR stickers, dual-sight mode to superimpose shots taken with the front and rear cameras simultaneously, and AI-assisted portrait lighting. AR stickers are implemented quite well and can be used with the front and the rear cameras. The quality of the both the front and rear cameras takes a dive in dual-sight mode, which is a shame as the feature could be fun to use. The AI-assisted portrait lighting feature is pretty half-baked at the moment, and most of the options just overexpose the background.

Video recording maxes out at 1080p for the front camera, while the rear module is capable of 4K video recording. The quality of videos is quite decent, with the electronic image stabilisation helping keep things relatively smooth.


Nokia 7.1 in pictures

 

Verdict
On paper, the Nokia 7.1 seems a bit of a tough sell at Rs 19,999. Similarly priced phones such as the Poco F1 and Honor Play are powered by flagship-grade processors. The Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 (Review) and Motorola One Power (Review) offer stock Android and a similar level of performance for Rs 10,999 and Rs 14,999 respectively. However, the Nokia 7.1 is an excellent all-rounder with a lot more going for it than just processor power.

The crisp and vivid HDR display is the main selling point of the Nokia 7.1, and is arguably one of the best in this price range. The display alone is worth the price jump from the likes of the Motorola One Power. The well-optimised software package, promise of timely updates, striking looks, great build quality, and solid cameras only add to this phone’s appeal. With the Nokia 7.1, HMD Global has taken big strides in terms of low-light camera performance as well, which has always been the Achilles’ heel of the Finnish company’s offerings.

Power users might be better served by Poco F1 (Review) and Honor Play (Review), which are powered by flagship grade processors. However, the all-plastic Poco F1 does not look or feel as premium as the Nokia 7.1 and both MIUI and EMUI are cluttered and laden with third-party bloat. For the average joe, the Nokia 7.1 would make for a solid everyday smartphone.



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Honor 8C First Impressions | NDTV Gadgets360.com


Just six months after the launch of the Honor 7C, the Chinese smartphone company is set to launch its successor, the Honor 8C. This new smartphone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor and features AI-enhanced cameras, a notched display, and Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box. The Honor 8C is expected to be launched in two variants, one with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, and the other with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. We got to spend some time with the latter variant of the Honor 8C before its official launch – scheduled for November 29 – and here are our first impressions.

The front of the Honor 8C is dominated by a 6.26-inch HD+ display. The notch is quite small and can be masked thanks to an option in the settings. The area around the notch is used to display the time, battery level, and other status icons. First-party applications are built to accommodate the notch. In our brief time with the Honor 8C, the display seemed to have adequate brightness, good viewing angles, and punchy colours. However, text and images were not very sharp thanks to the HD+ resolution which is a bit lacklustre for a screen this size.

Users can choose from on-screen buttons or EMUI’s gestures, which we found to be unreliable at times. The body of the Honor 8C is all plastic and the phone is a bit too wide and tall to be used comfortably with one hand.

The smartphone feels solid but doesn’t look as premium as some of the other models in the Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 15,000 price level. The glossy plastic back attracts a ton of fingerprints and makes the phone very slippery. Honor has tried to replicate the color gradient used on its pricier glass-backed offerings, but hasn’t succeeded fully. The black and blue gradient on the back of our review unit looked a little garish to us.

 

The left of the smartphone is blank save for the SIM tray, which has two Nano-SIM slots and a dedicated microSD card slot. The right side has the lock/ power button and the volume rocker, which are small but tactile. The single loudspeaker can be found at the bottom, along with a Micro-USB port and the primary microphone. The secondary microphone and 3.5mm headphone jack are placed on the top. The lack of a USB Type-C port in this day and age is rather disappointing.

We were pleased with the accuracy and speed of the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and face recognition was also quite snappy. Of course, a detailed assessment of these features will have to wait till the full review.

The Honor 8C is powered by the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 SoC with its integrated Adreno 506 GPU, paired with 4GB of RAM. In our limited experience, the smartphone tackled day-to-day tasks quite well but struggled a bit with intensive use. Games such as Asphalt 9 and PUBG were playable but only after reducing the graphics settings. A definitive assessment of the performance will have to wait till our full review, when we can push the smartphone further and run synthetic benchmarks.

The Honor 8C runs Honor’s EMUI 8.2 custom skin atop Android 8.1 Oreo. EMUI is is quite fast and fluid but feels cluttered and has plenty of bloatware. The phone uses Chrome and Android’s default messaging app but the Dialer, File Manager, and Gallery are Honor’s own. Facebook, Messenger, Netflix, and Camera 360 come pre-installed, along with a bunch of first-party apps from Huawei such as HiCare, Huawei Health, Themes, Honor Store, and Honor Club.

Honor8C Inline2 Honor 8C

 

On the imaging front, the Honor 8C features a 13-megapixel primary rear camera with an aperture of f/1.8, and a secondary 2-megapixel depth sensor with an aperture of f/2.4 The smartphone can intelligently detect a number of objects or scenes being shot and optimise image settings accordingly. AR stickers are also supported, and they worked quite well in our limited experience. On the front, the Honor 8C has an 8-megapixel fixed-focus camera with an aperture of f/2.0. Both the front and rear cameras feature single-LED flashes.

The Honor 8C is expected to slot in below the Honor 8X (Review), which is priced starting at Rs. 14,999. Competition in the budget smartphone market is hotting up, and the Honor 8C might have a tough time distinguishing itself from the likes of the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 (Review), Nokia 5.1 Plus (Review), and Realme 1 (Review).

Stay tuned to Gadgets 360 for our full review, in which we will evaluate the design, display, software, performance, battery life, and cameras of the Honor 8C.



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Honor 8C First Impressions | NDTV Gadgets360.com


Just six months after the launch of the Honor 7C, the Chinese smartphone company is set to launch its successor, the Honor 8C. This new smartphone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor and features AI-enhanced cameras, a notched display, and Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box. The Honor 8C is expected to be launched in two variants, one with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, and the other with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. We got to spend some time with the latter variant of the Honor 8C before its official launch – scheduled for November 29 – and here are our first impressions.

The front of the Honor 8C is dominated by a 6.26-inch HD+ display. The notch is quite small and can be masked thanks to an option in the settings. The area around the notch is used to display the time, battery level, and other status icons. First-party applications are built to accommodate the notch. In our brief time with the Honor 8C, the display seemed to have adequate brightness, good viewing angles, and punchy colours. However, text and images were not very sharp thanks to the HD+ resolution which is a bit lacklustre for a screen this size.

Users can choose from on-screen buttons or EMUI’s gestures, which we found to be unreliable at times. The body of the Honor 8C is all plastic and the phone is a bit too wide and tall to be used comfortably with one hand.

The smartphone feels solid but doesn’t look as premium as some of the other models in the Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 15,000 price level. The glossy plastic back attracts a ton of fingerprints and makes the phone very slippery. Honor has tried to replicate the color gradient used on its pricier glass-backed offerings, but hasn’t succeeded fully. The black and blue gradient on the back of our review unit looked a little garish to us.

 

The left of the smartphone is blank save for the SIM tray, which has two Nano-SIM slots and a dedicated microSD card slot. The right side has the lock/ power button and the volume rocker, which are small but tactile. The single loudspeaker can be found at the bottom, along with a Micro-USB port and the primary microphone. The secondary microphone and 3.5mm headphone jack are placed on the top. The lack of a USB Type-C port in this day and age is rather disappointing.

We were pleased with the accuracy and speed of the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and face recognition was also quite snappy. Of course, a detailed assessment of these features will have to wait till the full review.

The Honor 8C is powered by the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 SoC with its integrated Adreno 506 GPU, paired with 4GB of RAM. In our limited experience, the smartphone tackled day-to-day tasks quite well but struggled a bit with intensive use. Games such as Asphalt 9 and PUBG were playable but only after reducing the graphics settings. A definitive assessment of the performance will have to wait till our full review, when we can push the smartphone further and run synthetic benchmarks.

The Honor 8C runs Honor’s EMUI 8.2 custom skin atop Android 8.1 Oreo. EMUI is is quite fast and fluid but feels cluttered and has plenty of bloatware. The phone uses Chrome and Android’s default messaging app but the Dialer, File Manager, and Gallery are Honor’s own. Facebook, Messenger, Netflix, and Camera 360 come pre-installed, along with a bunch of first-party apps from Huawei such as HiCare, Huawei Health, Themes, Honor Store, and Honor Club.

Honor8C Inline2 Honor 8C

 

On the imaging front, the Honor 8C features a 13-megapixel primary rear camera with an aperture of f/1.8, and a secondary 2-megapixel depth sensor with an aperture of f/2.4 The smartphone can intelligently detect a number of objects or scenes being shot and optimise image settings accordingly. AR stickers are also supported, and they worked quite well in our limited experience. On the front, the Honor 8C has an 8-megapixel fixed-focus camera with an aperture of f/2.0. Both the front and rear cameras feature single-LED flashes.

The Honor 8C is expected to slot in below the Honor 8X (Review), which is priced starting at Rs. 14,999. Competition in the budget smartphone market is hotting up, and the Honor 8C might have a tough time distinguishing itself from the likes of the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 (Review), Nokia 5.1 Plus (Review), and Realme 1 (Review).

Stay tuned to Gadgets 360 for our full review, in which we will evaluate the design, display, software, performance, battery life, and cameras of the Honor 8C.



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Battlefield V Review | NDTV Gadgets360.com


The opening moments of Battlefield V show off a game at odds with itself. It begins with a montage of skirmishes on land and air that wax eloquent on the atrocities of World War 2 and its impact on humanity to the point of repulsion, marrying it with slick gameplay and production values in an attempt to keep you playing. While the Battlefield series has had a serious tone since its inception, with detours into cartoonish and dark humour with Battlefield Heroes and Battlefield Bad Company respectively, Battlefield V doubles down with dollops of stoic story-telling. So much so that it loses its impact and comes across as hollow. And that’s in just the first five minutes.

Hours later after completing Battlefield V’s single-player campaign, the initial impressions still stick. It’s structured similar to Battlefield 1 with the action spread across separate adventures with different protagonists rather than a single, traditional campaign.

Some of these have some interesting gameplay sections, such as skiing through Nazi-occupied Norway stealthily slaying enemies as you uncover a sinister plot, but by and large they feel out of place in a Battlefield game despite an exceeding level of visual fidelity. Only one of the three missions feels like you’re actually taking part in a large scale war with the others emphasising on the game’s stealth mechanics that don’t have any use outside of the single-player. It doesn’t match some of Battlefield 1’s missions such as teaming up with Lawrence of Arabia against the Ottoman war machine including an armoured train.

 

Battlefield V’s multiplayer fares a bit better with a larger focus on squad-based play. Health doesn’t regenerate beyond a certain point if you don’t have a medic on hand to pass you a health pack and ammo is scarce, making support class players more valuable than they’ve ever been. Throw in responsive controls and an assortment of modes, and you have a tight multiplayer experience.

Its in multiplayer where developer Dice seems to have brought its A game with large scale conflicts being par for the course with 26 vehicles to wreak havoc in. The usual standbys such as Team Death match and Conquest are back, but much like Operations in Battlefield 1, Grand Operations is Battlefield V at its best. It takes place in actual World War 2 settings and stitches the action across multiple maps. One team is tasked with defending a location while the other has to complete a set list of objectives. The loser is penalised with fewer resources and respawns when the action shifts to another map and it culminates in a desperate fight to the finish with the final round leaving players with a single life and limited ammo. All of this results in an entertaining tug of war to the finish that few multiplayer experiences can match.

The progressing through multiplayer leaves you with cosmetic upgrades to your gear and weapons along with mild improvements to the recoil on guns which keep things level between newcomers and expert players, unlike Star Wars Battlefront 2’s early days that rewarded those willing to spend more money than others on in-game boosts.

However, Battlefield V’s multiplayer still manages to feel incomplete. For one, the much touted battle royale mode, Firestorm, isn’t out till March next year. This is disappointing and misleading when you consider publisher EA’s statements around the game during its announcement appeared to make Firestorm available closer to release than it really is. Secondly, while the core multiplayer experience is fun, it’s filled to the brim with technical issues ranging from disconnections, menus freezing, and disappearing weapons from the selection screen which haven’t been fully resolved despite developer Dice issuing a patch for the game recently. Tragic when Battlefield V looks as good as it does with gorgeous weather effects, highly-detailed weapons, and responsive gunplay.

If you’re looking for a fun military shooter with a decent single-player campaign, you’re better off checking out past Battlefield or Call of Duty games. Battlefield V’s tone-deaf single-player, missing multiplayer mode, and bugs make it feel like an early access game instead of a full priced Rs. 4,699 title ($60 in the US).

Pros

  • Looks good
  • Responsive controls

Cons

  • Single-player is subpar
  • Bugs aplenty
  • Missing multiplayer modes

Rating (out of 10): 6

Gadgets 360 played a retail copy of Battlefield V on Xbox One X. The game is available now on PS4 and Xbox One for Rs. 4,699, and on PC for Rs. 3,499 ($60 in the US).


If you’re a fan of video games, check out Transition, Gadgets 360’s gaming podcast. You can listen to it via Apple Podcasts or RSS, or just listen to this week’s episode by hitting the play button below.



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Hitman 2 Review | NDTV Gadgets360.com


Hitman 2 for PS4, Xbox One, and Windows PC follows 2016’s Hitman reboot that saw series protagonist Agent 47 wield a wealth of tools on his way to assassinating a host of targets in exotic locales. Developer IO Interactive appears to have taken some of the criticism levied against 2016’s Hitman to heart with Hitman 2, but does it make it worth a buy? We tell you in our Hitman 2 review.

For starters, Hitman 2 isn’t episodic. Unlike the last game that was built across multiple months of content resulting in an adventure spanning the likes of Paris and Hokkaido, Hitman 2 has all of its missions available from the get go. So you no longer have to wait to jump into the seedy streets of Mumbai or soak in the sun in Vermont, all while scoping out your victims and figuring out the best method to approach them.

And while it’s done away with episodic experimentation, the always-online requirement to unlock your collectibles still exists. So if you’re not playing a mission online, you don’t unlock new weapons, items, costumes, and starting points that make each subsequent play through more enjoyable than the last.

Barring a single incident on Xbox One X, Hitman 2’s servers have been stable on Microsoft’s console and the PS4 Pro. Granted that’s an improvement over 2016’s Hitman’s horrific Paris mission debut, but it’s an annoyance all the same.

hitman 2 mumbai

Other changes are a bit more subtle. Moment to moment gameplay feels a lot less clunky. Controlling Agent 47 feels like IO Interactive has toed the fine line between a realistically agile, competent instrument of death and a superhero. At no point does movement not feel balanced and the enhanced sense of fluidity makes actions like shooting, throwing melee weapons like axes, and picking up items feel a lot more viable than they were in the last game.

In addition to refined controls, social stealth is expanded too. Not only does blending in crowds help you evade prying eyes, but you can also negate possible pursuers by blocking their line of sight, and enemy AI can now spot your reflection in mirrors, which does make proceedings a lot more tense.

All these minor improvements to the core gameplay allow exploration and exploitation of Hitman 2’s six maps an absolute treat, making improvisation as valid an option as a perfectly executed plan.

The Mumbai level, for example, has you assassinating a gangster, a wanted terrorist, and a Bollywood producer. In our initial playthrough we relied completely on disguises. First we dressed up as a manager for one of the gangster’s fronts to get close to her and engineer an accident of her falling off a bridge, while we donned the disguise of a barber to take down the terrorist as he showed up for shave, and then masqueraded as a foreign actor in a Bollywood movie to put an end to the producer.

Naturally, each target required a fair bit of planning, and it took us three hours to clear the level. The second time around for our live stream, we took a more direct approach, relying on firearms and melee weapons, allowing us to finish it in an hour. For those of you wondering, Hitman 2’s take on Mumbai is a realistic mix of its train stations, crowded alleys, and yet to be constructed buildings. To long-time residents of the city like us, it’s not a 100 percent accurate representation, but works well in the context of the game.

 

The same degree of flexibility exists across the game’s five other locations. From a Miami race course to the exotic Isle of Sgail, they’re sprawling, detailed vistas with multiple ways to kill your targets. In fact, as a whole, they make up some of the best levels we’ve played in a Hitman game to date. The fact that you can play 2016 Hitman levels in Hitman 2 is a bonus, though we wish our progress from that game would carry over, which is not the case.

This minor grouse notwithstanding, Hitman 2’s biggest issue is its story. Over the 10 hours it took us to complete its missions, there was little in way of character development or plot, making the build up from the last game seem inconsequential. Though by the time you realise that, the end credits would have rolled. Considering the depth in gameplay on offer and the series’ focus on making playgrounds of assassination instead of developing elements of Agent 47’s origins, it’s not a major concern.

All in all, Hitman 2 refines everything you know and love from 2016’s Hitman. Some minor annoyances exist, but there’s little else that comes in the way to make this worth checking out for both longtime fans and newcomers alike.

Pros

  • Controlling Agent 47 is improved
  • The new locations are fantastic
  • You can play 2016 Hitman levels in it

Cons

  • Always online DRM locks out single-player content

Rating (out of 10): 8

Gadgets 360 played a review copy of Hitman 2 on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro. The game is available now on PS4 and Xbox One for Rs. 3,000 and on Windows PC for Rs. 1,349 ($60 in the US).


If you’re a fan of video games, check out Transition, Gadgets 360’s gaming podcast. You can listen to it via Apple Podcasts or RSS, or just listen to this week’s episode by hitting the play button below.



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Fallout 76 Review | NDTV Gadgets360.com


Fallout 76 is Bethesda’s attempt at bringing the post-apocalyptic series online. Revealed prior to E3, and detailed at E3 2018, Fallout 76 was touted to be the biggest Fallout game ever. With the game now out on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, we’ve managed to spend some quality time in Fallout 76’s vast online world so you don’t have to. Here’s what you need to know.

Fallout 76 takes place before the events of classics like Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 3. You’re an inhabitant of Vault 76. Vaults are the franchise’s many underground shelters constructed in the event of a possible nuclear war. You emerge from your vault 25 years after the bombs dropped and you’re tasked with reclaiming the area of West Virginia. Along the way you’ll discover what happened to the world around you, hunt for your fellow vault dwellers, and take down hordes of enemies in a hostile, irradiated environment.

And while all of this sounds promising on paper, the reality is far from it. For one, the game has no non-playable characters (NPCs). Granted Bethesda mentioned their absence when the game was revealed, but it does little to change the fact that the world of Fallout 76 feels empty, soulless, and devoid of any life. Sure, it’s a nuclear wasteland inhabited by fierce mutated creatures, which should make NPCs in short supply anyway, but that logic should have held true for past Fallout entries as well, which were filled to the brim with memorable characters and missions. In comparison, Fallout 76’s structure falls apart with quest givers being computer terminals and robots, which ends up making each mission feel more impersonal than it should be.

 

Furthermore, the quests don’t snowball into anything of relevance or importance to the overall story. Rather, they seem to exist as a reason to give you more weapons, armour, materials, and items, instead of progressing you through a plot. It seems that for most part, the quests are designed to make you travel vast swathes of the Appalachian wilds to obtain pieces of information pertaining to characters that have already died. These are usually in the form of audio tapes or emails and while they’re well-written, they do little to make you feel like a part of the game world and its events. Instead, they have you living vicariously in a virtual world, which is, quite frankly, ridiculous.

Additionally, Fallout 76’s always-online structure means that VATS — one of Fallout’s more interesting gameplay mechanics — is meaningless. VATS allows you to slow down the action and pinpoint specific body parts of an enemy while using a gun, allowing you to pull off some hilariously gory kills. Since Fallout 76 is an online game, pausing the proceedings isn’t possible. This reduces VATS to a quick aim feature, allowing you to snap onto a foe fast, and then use manual aiming to fire. If it sounds convoluted it’s because it is, making standard shooting a better option.

Thankfully, Fallout 76’s gunplay is passable. It’s not at the level of polish we’ve come to expect from other online shared world shooters like Destiny 2 or Warframe, but it gets the job done with adequate handling and recoil. It’s not that big a step up from Fallout 4, but it does just enough to not make running and gunning not feel like a chore. Melee combat has more in common with the likes of Skyrim and Oblivion, which is to say waving a machete around feels wonky and chances are you’ll end up missing your target ever so often. This is okay when you consider that the enemy AI oscillates between being hyper-aggressive — with hordes of mutants or robots charging at you —and simply just staring you down until you hit them first.

The issues with Fallout 76 don’t end here. Playing the game on the Xbox One X, we noticed erratic frame rate drops where Fallout 76 would crawl to a near halt even with not much going on in a scene. That’s perplexing when you consider that aside from its lighting and foilage, Fallout 76 doesn’t look too dissimilar to Fallout 4 which wasn’t this poorly optimised at launch.

Hopefully, Bethesda reboots Fallout 76 like it did with The Elder Scrolls Online. Right now though, the game is hard to recommend to anyone but the most faithful of Fallout fans.

Pros

  • Well-written logs
  • Decent gunplay

Cons

  • Poor frame rate
  • Lacklustre quests
  • VATS is pointless

Rating (out of 10): 5

Gadgets 360 played a review copy of Fallout 76 on the Xbox One X. The game is available at Rs. 3,999 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC in India ($60 in the US)


If you’re a fan of video games, check out Transition, Gadgets 360’s gaming podcast. You can listen to it via Apple Podcasts or RSS, or just listen to this week’s episode by hitting the play button below.



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AirPods Long-Term Review | NDTV Gadgets360.com


It’s been a little over two years since Apple unveiled the AirPods, which marked the company’s foray into the personal wireless audio space (not counting the Beats products). The AirPods design felt totally weird at the time, as if someone had snipped the wires of Apple’s EarPods and left them to dangle from your ears, like two spoons without the handles.

The Internet of course showed no mercy and the inevitable jokes and memes came flooding in. To make matters worst, Apple’s shiny white ear hooks faced production delays and they finally went on sale in the US only in December 2016, three months after they were announced.

Fast forward to 2018 and it’s very clear that Apple is having the last laugh as the AirPods have been a huge hit, despite their relatively high price tag of $159 in the US and Rs. 12,900 in India. In a recent earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook — echoing his earlier comments — said that the AirPods have been a “runaway hit”. That’s no surprise given it’s now commonplace to see people trotting around the city with AirPods in their ears in the US, and this trend is catching up in India too.

AirPods have become an integral part of our lives here are Gadgets 360, so much so that after our smartphones, this is the next piece of tech many of us don’t leave our homes without. We’ve been using them for a long time now and we feel it’s a good time to take a closer look at what makes them so special.

AirPods design and features

The design of the AirPods might have been the butt of many jokes when they debuted, but it’s safe to say now that they are easily one of the best — if not the best — designed truly wireless earphones around. The fact that the world’s second largest smartphone manufacturer only recently announced a blatant copy of the AirPods — with another Chinese company following as well — is testament to the design’s success. This success hinges on a couple of things.

First, is the form factor. AirPods are incredibly light thanks to the all-plastic construction, but this doesn’t make them any less durable. Our AirPods have survived multiple drops over the years and surprisingly, they haven’t picked up many noticeable scratches or scuffs marks either. The capsule-like charging case they ship with is also minuscule and easily fits into your pockets without creating an unsightly bulge.

The plastic case is equally durable and has survived many drops too, though it does pick up scratches rather easily. To avoid this, you can dress up you AirPods case with a skin or a little rubber jacket to keep it shiny and scuff-free, though it’s definitely not something you need to do.

AirPods both ndtv AirPodsThe AirPods rest along the crest of your ear canal, which makes them very comfortable even for long durations

 

The case has a Lightning port at the bottom, which is used to charge the AirPods as well as the case’s own battery. Apple claims the AirPods can last for up to five hours, and with the charging case you can expect more than 24 hours of listening time, which sounds impressive for this form factor — we will get to our real world experience in a bit. The case has a magnetic flap which snaps in place with a reassuring click and the metal hinge for this feels just as solid today as it was the day we first started using the AirPods. There’s a discretely hidden button at the back of the case which is used during the initial pairing process.

Second, is the way the AirPods sit in your ears. Most wireless earphones stick to the in-ear formula, which involves a silicone ear tip that goes into your ear canal. The general advantage of this design is good bass response, lesser distractions from ambient sounds, and a snug fit. On the flip side, such earphones also cause quite a bit of fatigue after a couple of hours of continuous use.

Apple’s AirPods, on the other hand, have a design similar to its EarPods wired headphones that ship with the iPhone. This means the ear buds sit just outside you ear canal, which makes them more comfortable. But what really amazes us is how well they stay put, even with vigorous use. We’ve used them during workouts at the gym and even when running and we’ve never found them budging even the slightest. Yes, we’ve all heard about people who’ve had issues with the in-ear fit of the AirPods, but none of us at Gadgets 360 — we have nearly half-a-dozen AirPods between us — have faced that problem.

The AirPods might look very simple, but they are packed to the gills with tech, including Apple’s custom W1 chip which is the brains behind the operations and manages everything from the Bluetooth connection, battery consumption, handling gestures, and the audio processing. Each AirPod also has optical and motion sensors, which, in conjunction with the W1 chip, can do things like automatically pause/ resume audio as you take out/ put back the AirPods.

Each earphone also has a pair of beam-forming microphones that help filter out external noise when you’re on a call. This means you can use either of the earbuds — and of course, both — to answer a phone call. This is an improvement on most of the competition that restrict calling functionally to just one of the earbuds.

The earphones snap into place in the case with the help of magnets so they don’t accidentally fall out if the lid is open. There’s a single LED inside the case, which glows white when in pairing mode. When the AirPods are in the case, the LED indicates the battery status of the earphones, otherwise it shows the status of the case — green means charged, while amber means less than one full charge remains.

AirPods case ndtv AirPodsThe charging case tops up the AirPods’ battery, which is supposed to extend usage time to about 24 hours

 

The AirPods also support the AAC audio codec, which is a step up from the default SBC codec used for audio transmission over Bluetooth. They lack support for higher resolution audio codecs like aptX and aptX HD, which is usually found in other products around this price bracket.

The AirPods can only connect to one device at a time, unless you pair them with an Apple Watch and an iPhone, in which case they can dynamically switch between the two. In other words, if your AirPods are connected to your iPhone and you start playing something on the Apple Watch, the audio will automatically stream to the AirPods.

Throwing an Apple Watch into the mix also offers other conveniences like tapping your Watch’s screen to answer an incoming call, something that can also be done by double tapping the AirPods themselves, though we have to admit doing so is a rather unpleasant experience. The AirPods — and indeed other Bluetooth earphones — work great with Apple Watch LTE variant to listen to music or answer calls on the go, even when your phone is not with you.

The AirPods retail packaging is simple. The small white box contains the AirPods, a Lightning cable for charging the case, and some instruction leaflets.

AirPods performance and battery life

Pairing the AirPods with an iPhone or iPad is a simple process. Simply bring the AirPods (in the case) near your device and open the lid. Almost instantly, you’ll see an image of the AirPods pop up on your screen. Simply follow the on-screen instructions and you’re all set.

If you have multiple Apple devices — iPads, iPhones, Macs, or Apple Watches — associated with the same iCloud ID, the AirPods would be automatically added under Bluetooth devices on them as well, eliminating the need of manually pairing with each one individually. This in itself is a major win.

Once paired, the AirPods really begin to shine. Both earbuds have a touch sensitive area along the base of the neck, which can be programmed to do different functions. By default, a double tap will summon Siri but you can change this to play/ pause, previous track, next track track, or simply not do anything at all. What we really miss is physical controls for adjusting the volume. Technically, you can ask Siri to do this, but it’s not the quickest solution especially when there’s ambient noise around.

However, the really cool bit is having the ability to assign different functions for the touch gestures based on the Apple device you’re connected to. For instance, we typically use gestures for controlling music playback when connected to the iPhone, and have Siri summoned when we’re connected to the MacBook. That’s because these settings are remembered on individual devices and not on the AirPods themselves.

The music or video playback stops when you take off one of the earbuds, which is also super useful, and something we find ourselves using a lot whenever someone walks up to us to have a quick conversation. If you take off both the earbuds at the same time while connected to a MacBook though, the audio stops playing from the AirPods and switches over to the built-in speakers of the laptop.

Airpods apps ndtv AirPodsYou can set a different touch gesture for the AirPods for every Apple device you use them with

 

The AirPods work just like any other Bluetooth headphones on other devices too. We’ve been using them on and off with plenty of Android phones that we’ve tested and haven’t had any issues. Some of the touch gestures that you set on the iPhone work with Android phones too, which is great. You can skip tracks and use the play/ pause gesture, but if you’ve assigned one of them to wake up Siri, don’t expect it to bring up Google Assistant. Other features like music automatically pausing when you take one of the earphones out does not work with non-Apple devices either.

All these fancy gestures are fun but what about audio quality? We’re just going to come out and say it — the AirPods are not the best sounding pair of Bluetooth earphones at this price, but that’s fine because they are about more than pure audio quality.

The weakest part of the sound is the lack of good bass. They don’t sound completely flat but if you’re looking for that thump in your movies or EDM tracks, you’re not going to find it here. Having said that, they do deliver excellent detail in the mid-range and instrument separation is handled with great aplomb. Treble is generally crisp and detailed, although at times we’ve found it to get a little too sharp and sibilant.

Coming back to the lower frequencies, the AirPods can handle gentle bass notes well, which is often enough. Due to the lack of any sort of ambient sound isolation though, we’ve often had to bump up the volume higher than usual. The AirPods can get really loud, but at higher volumes the highs begin to sound a little shrill and can get fatiguing.

The AirPods might lack any official IP rating for sweat resistance but none of us have had any problems on that front despite using them during workouts and in the rain. The white colour of the AirPods and the case has also aged very well, with no noticeable yellowing or discolouration. You will need to clean the insides of the case — near where the top of the AirPods rest while being charged —as it somehow manages to pick up dirt very easily. If you’re not regular with this, it will likely leave a permanent mark.

The AirPods handles voice calls very well too, where we and the callers are able to hear each other quite clearly. We haven’t noticed any audio-video sync issues either when watching videos and playing games.

AirPods hand ndtv AirPodsThe AirPods might not have very good bass, but they deliver pleasing audio quality for most use cases

 

The battery life, however, is a bit of a mixed bag. With one of our units, even after a year of near regular usage, we continue to get a solid four and half to five hours of runtime on a single charge. The charging case always keeps the AirPods topped up, which means we only end up charging them around once or twice a week. We use our AirPods pretty extensively on a typical day, with a couple of hours of usage on our commute to work and then a few hours with the AirPods connected to a MacBook Air.

Note that if you use your AirPods for a lot of calls, the battery drain will be faster as the earphones are rated at five hours only for music, and at just two hours on a single charge for calling. With that said, the AirPods charge pretty quickly, as just 15 minutes will get you roughly three hours of playback, as promised by Apple.

However, with another set of AirPods — which are now 21 months old but used to give a solid four-and-a-half hours of music playback at 75 percent volume when relatively new — we only manage to squeeze out a little over one hour of music playback. This is rather disappointing, and in the absence of any way of checking the overall health of the AirPods’ battery life, it’s been hard to troubleshoot the problem. Apple does offer battery replacement for AirPods, but that shouldn’t really be necessary for a product that’s — admittedly been used a lot every single day — been out of warranty only for 9 months.

This means we’ve resorted to using only one earphone at a time so we can continuously use the AirPods. Yes, they still charge pretty quickly, but it’s annoying to run out of juice every 75 minutes, so it’s simpler to use one earphone while the other gets/ stays charged, and just alternate between the two. This is a terrible workaround if you listen to music — though the AirPods will convert stereo to mono when you do that — but it works for us as we primarily listen to podcasts, though we can’t claim to be fans of this jugaad.

While on the subject of battery life, you can check how much juice the AirPods have left by simply asking Siri, or open the lid of the AirPods case near your iPhone/ iPad and wait for the status to pop up. You can also see the AirPods battery status via the Batteries widget on iOS. On a Mac, you can find that information under the Bluetooth settings or via the Bluetooth icon in the Menu Bar.

Verdict
The AirPods might seem a little expensive at first but considering their versatility, features, and performance, they’re easily one of the best value offerings in Apple’s current product portfolio. Yes, there are plenty of AirPods alternative available at a budget, but everything else that we’ve tested is either not worth recommending or costs just as much as the AirPods — or even more.

While the AirPods are best used with an Apple device, it’s nice to see that they aren’t completely crippled when using them with devices outside of Apple’s ecosystem. Yes, the design limits the passive ambient noise isolation and the amount of bass the AirPods can offer, but we think most people will be pretty happy with the way they sound.

We’ve been hearing rumours about an AirPods successor for over a year now and when it was a no-show at Apple’s iPhone XS event, we were pretty sure they would make an appearance later in the year. Sadly, that didn’t happen at the October 30 event either. We’re also awaiting release of the wireless charging case that was supposed to debut alongside AirPower, but Apple has been completely silent on the subject.

It’s clear Apple is no rush to launch a successor to the AirPods — the product is seemingly doing very well so why fix something that’s not broken? Having said that, we do have a small list of features and changes we’d like to see in the next version of AirPods and volume control would be on the top of that list. We already have touch sensitive portions along the neck of the AirPods, so why not enable a sliding gesture for turning the volume up or down?

Second, we’d really like proper multi-device support. While it’s not a big inconvenience to switch devices, it would be nice to have two active connections at the same time so we can, say, take calls on our phone while listening to music via a laptop

Recent rumours suggest that the next AirPods could also have biometric sensors built-in for measuring heart-rate and other health related metrics — the way Samsung does with its Gear IconX truly wireless earbuds — which may bump up their price a little bit. Earlier this year, we also heard rumours about the next-gen AirPods getting water resistance and a more powerful chip for a hands-free Siri experience, but we guess we’ll have to wait for 2019 to see if that’s true or not.

Even though we know there’s a successor to the AirPods on the horizon, we have no trouble recommending the current one. If you own an iOS or another Apple device like a MacBook, you’ll really appreciate the seamless way in which AirPods work with those devices. If you’re looking for better sound isolation and bass, then the Sony WF-SP700N is currently your best bet at a similar price. If you don’t like the in-ear design, then we recommend the Bose Sound Sport Free, although they are priced at a premium compared to the AirPods.

Price: Rs. 12,900

Pros

  • Light and comfortable 
  • Pleasing audio quality
  • Useful gestures and other features
  • Compact charging case

Cons

  • Weak bass
  • No passive isolation
  • Mixed battery life in the long term

Ratings (out of 5) 

  • Design/ comfort: 4.5
  • Audio quality: 3.5
  • Battery life: 3.5
  • Value for money: 4
  • Overall: 4



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iPad Pro (2018) Review | NDTV Gadgets360.com


A little over a year after giving the world its first glimpse at the iPhone X, Apple has gone all-in with the new all-screen design philosophy. The company recently launched as many as three new iPhone models along the same lines and, as expected, revamped iPad Pro models were unveiled at a media event in Brooklyn late last month. The iPad Pro has gone down the same route by maximising screen space and getting rid of the home button.

Apple has been pushing the iPad — and the iPad Pro specifically — as a computer that can replace a laptop for many users, or be the first computer for those who’ve never used a laptop before. At the New York launch event, CEO Tim Cook said on stage that the “iPad is the most popular computer in the world”, as Apple claimed to have sold more iPad units last year than HP, the biggest laptop vendor, sold portable computers.

John Ternus, Vice President, Hardware Engineering at Apple later stressed that thanks to Apple’s new A12X Bionic chip, the new iPad Pro models are “faster than 92 percent of all the portable PCs sold in the last 12 months, including the most popular core i7 models from the top manufacturers”.

That’s a tall claim from Apple, but the company has been at the top of its game when it comes to CPUs, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the new iPad Pro models actually deliver in terms of performance. But how does the overall package hold up? More importantly, will their increased price tags hurt them, especially in India? We put the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro model through its paces to find out.

iPad Pro 2018 ndtv 10 iPad Pro

 

iPad Pro design

As we mentioned before, the big story with the new iPad Pro models is the removal of the home button. This means the bezels are a lot thinner, though the new iPad Pro models don’t quite live up to Apple’s “edge-to-edge” claim. The bezels are slimmer than before but still noticeable, which is not such a bad thing because they still leave enough room for you to hold the iPad without having to worry about accidental touch input. What’s more, the bezels mean that Apple was able to integrate the front camera and Face ID sensors without having to resort to an iPhone X-like notch.

Unlike the iPhone, Face ID on the iPad works no matter which way you’re holding the tablet, which is a necessity given people can — and do — use tablets in different orientations. This means it will work no matter which way you pick up the iPad, and even when you are using it while connected to an external keyboard. What’s even more impressive is that it’s been implemented using a single set of (improved) sensors, just like on the iPhone, without the need for sensors at different places on the tablet.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind though. Just like the new iPhone models, you can tap the iPad Pro to wake the screen, though raise-to-wake is not supported, which was a bit of a surprise. We hope a future software update brings an option to change this behaviour.

Given all the different ways that people pick up an iPad, if it so happens that your hand ends up covering the Face ID sensor, the iPad shows a “Camera covered” message on the screen with an arrow indicating the position of the camera, since it might not be clear to everyone which “camera” is being talked about. This is especially true when you are using the iPad Pro without the keyboard, since the symmetrical and button-less front makes it impossible to tell one edge of the iPad from another.

iPad Pro 2018 ndtv 2 iPad Pro

 

When you are using an iPad Pro connected to the new Smart Keyboard Folio, you can simply press the spacebar to activate Face ID and unlock the iPad. Pressing it one more time will push the lock screen away (the equivalent of swiping up on the screen). If you are out of the camera’s range when you do that, you will see a message that says “Face too far away”, indicating you should move closer.

You will also need to be mindful of your position relative to the iPad. If you are crouched too far below the iPad — like it happened with us when we were lazing on a couch with the tablet on an armrest — then you may need to prop yourself up a bit for Face ID to work.

Similarly, if you are a fan of the standing desk lifestyle, you might at times find yourself a bit too high for the Face ID sensors to work. Interestingly, in both cases we found ourselves adjusting our own posture relative to the iPad Pro, instead of moving the device itself. This is probably not a surprise given that the iPad was propped-up thanks to Smart Keyboard Folio and the experience will obviously be different if you have it in your hand.

To summarise, while Face ID worked as expected in most cases, even a few days into using this iPad, it hasn’t disappeared into the background like it does with the iPhone. At this point into our time with the iPhone X last year, we had just forgotten about Face ID and come to appreciate its seamless performance. That’s certainly not the case with the iPad Pro and — so far at least — we’re certainly mindful of its presence.

iPad Pro 2018 ndtv 6 iPad Pro

 

With the home button gone, the gesture-based UI is the only way to find your way around the iPad Pro. You have to swipe up from the bottom to go to the home screen; swipe up and hold to bring up the multitasking screen; swipe down from the upper-right corner to bring down the Control Centre; and swipe down from the upper-left corner to bring down the Notification Centre. You can quickly swipe left and right to switch between apps, similar to how you do on the iPhone X-series. iOS 12, of course, has brought these gestures to other iPad models as well and they are not limited to the new iPad Pro alone.

Just like on the iPhone, the gestures feel natural and we got used to them pretty quickly. Flipping between apps is especially fun and easy to do the iPad’s bigger screen.

When the iPad Pro first came out, one of the headline features was its support for Apple Pencil. However, it’s safe to say that usage of the Pencil never really took off in the way Apple would’ve hoped. At least part of this has been down to some of the decisions the Cupertino-based company made while designing its stylus.

There was no way to store the original Apple Pencil with the iPad, even if you bought the Smart Keyboard, which often meant that you wouldn’t have it with you when the need arose. Apple tried to address that by releasing some accessories with the second generation iPad Pro models designed to keep the Pencil with the rest of your stuff, but they had their own share of problems that are not worth repeating at this point.

iPad Pro 2018 ndtv 3 iPad Pro

 

The second-generation Apple Pencil seems to have been designed keeping in mind that it is first and foremost a companion to your iPad. It sticks magnetically to the iPad, which means you are more likely to have it with you all the time. The Pencil also no longer needs to be plugged into the iPad for pairing/ charging. You simply place it on the iPad and it’s automatically paired. What’s more, you will see a small message popping up on the screen showing the Pencil’s battery level and to indicate that it’s now being charged.

The Apple Pencil features a flat edge, which allows it to rest on the iPad. You can now double-tap on the lower third of the Pencil to trigger actions, a feature we’ll address in a bit more detail later in this review. You still need to have Bluetooth turned on for the iPad to communicate with the Pencil. The new Pencil cannot be used with older iPad models and the old Pencil won’t work with the new tablets either.

The iPad, of course, has also been redesigned and it too has flat sides. Note that the Pencil will stick to only one of the sides of the iPad Pro — the top one when you have the iPad Pro in landscape mode with the Smart Keyboard Folio attached. This side has a little area in the middle that’s used to wirelessly charge the Pencil.

You don’t need to worry about trying to align the Pencil with the area, as magnets will ensure it automatically snaps into the right place. The hold of the magnets is strong enough that the Pencil doesn’t fall out of place during day-to-day use, including when you carry the iPad around in a bag.

iPad Pro 2018 ndtv 13 iPad Pro

 

In many ways, the new iPad Pro design is a throwback to the original iPad design, but with a flat back (other than the camera bump) as well as rounded corners, the look really reminded us of the iPhone 5s. The Smart Connector has been moved from the side on previous iPad Pro models to the back, near the bottom. You won’t really notice this if you are using the iPad with the Smart Keyboard Folio attached.

The Smart Keyboard Folio now covers both the front and back of the iPad, a change from the previous Smart Keyboard, which only covered the screen when closed. This eliminates the need to buy a separate back cover for the iPad, which we believe is a welcome move, but not everyone may welcome the additional bulk. The iPad Pro has 102 magnets on the inside, most of which are used to ensure that the Keyboard Case sticks to the iPad when needed. It’s still relatively easy to snap the iPad out of the case when you want; in fact, we did that accidentally on more than one occasion when opening the case to work on the iPad, by pulling on the back cover instead of the front, but it’s just as easy to snap it back on.

You now get two viewing angles — with one of them optimised for working on a desk, and the other one for when you have the iPad Pro on your lap, according to Apple. The keyboard itself and the experience using it haven’t changed much since we last reviewed an iPad Pro. We wish the keyboard had a bit more travel to it and the keys were backlit, but we realise that may not be possible without adding significant depth and/ or weight, and increasing battery consumption. Like before, the Smart Keyboard Folio draws all the power it needs from the Smart Connector and doesn’t need to be charged.

Without the keyboard cover, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro Wi-Fi + Cellular model is nearly 60g lighter than its predecessor, and at 5.9mm, it’s 15 percent thinner as well. It’s also nearly a full inch shorter than the previous-generation model, which makes it a little bit more manageable. This is a welcome move, as the previous 12.9-inch iPad Pro was rather ungainly for use as a tablet i.e. when not propped up with the keyboard.

iPad Pro 2018 ndtv 5 iPad Pro

 

With the smaller 11-inch iPad Pro, Apple has gone the other way by increasing the size of the screen while largely retaining the outer dimensions of the previous 10.5-inch model. While we don’t have that one in for review today, we believe a lot of people will really appreciate the extra portability of that form factor, now with a slightly bigger screen.

Arguably the most interesting change in the new iPad Pro models is the decision to ditch the Lightning port in favour of a USB Type-C port. This enables some additional uses cases like connecting cameras directly to the iPad instead of requiring a Lightning to USB Camera Adapter. Still, most people won’t have Type-C cables for their camera and will need a Type-C to Type-A dongle, so the gains here are questionable. The iPad Pro does support USB 3.1 Gen. 2 capable of hitting speeds up to 10 Gbps, so you should benefit from faster data transfers. The Type-C port also enables you to drive higher-resolution external displays while also using the port for other purposes via the magic of dongles, which we will get to later.

Controversially, the iPad Pro does not have a headphone jack. In our opinion, this feels like a bigger miss on the iPad than on the iPhone, since the device is geared for Pro use. Latency can be an issue with wireless audio if you don’t have the right set of headphones, not to mention your work could come to a halt if their battery runs out. Apple says that with smaller bezels there was no space in the iPad Pro to accommodate a headphone jack, but one wonders if it would’ve been worth having slightly larger bezels on one side to accommodate the legacy port.

iPad Pro 2018 ndtv 12 iPad Pro

 

What’s more, Apple does not bundle a Type-C to 3.5mm adapter or even a Type-C to Type-A dongle in the iPad box. All you get is the iPad, an 18W charger, a Type-C to Type-C cable, and the usual literature.

iPad Pro display, performance, and battery life

As before, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro has a 264ppi 2732×2048 resolution display, though it gets the new “Liquid Retina” name we first saw on the recently launched iPhone XR. This fully laminated display with its anti-reflective coating is up there with the best LCD panels we’ve ever seen, and like earlier iPad Pro models, it supports True Tone colour adjustment, ProMotion with a refresh rate of up to 120Hz, and a wide colour gamut (DCI-P3).

Apple says the iPad Pro also has a “fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating”, but like the 10.5-inch iPad Pro we reviewed last year, we found the new tablet to be a fingerprint magnet. To be fair, fingerprints are visible only when the screen is off, and aren’t really a hindrance when you are working.

The new iPad Pro is powered by Apple’s brand new A12X Bionic chip, an enhanced version of the 7nm, 64-bit A12 SoC inside the latest iPhone models. Just like the A12, the A12X has an octa-core CPU consisting of four high-performance and four high-efficiency cores. This is backed by the M12 coprocessor and a seven-core GPU that claims to offer twice the performance of the A10X Fusion in the previous iPad Pro.

The A12X marks the iPad debut of an on-device Neural Engine, which is capable of up to 5 trillion operations per second. Apple says this enables enhanced performance in areas like AR, when stitching together photos or videos, and even while doing simple fun stuff like creating Memoji, which also make an appearance on an iPad for the first time.

iPad Pro 2018 ndtv 8 iPad Pro

 

All this power combines to offer an experience that’s up there with — and often exceeds — what you’d get while using a laptop. General Web browsing, checking email, writing documents, and even gaming are all smooth, but all that’s hardly a surprise with a brand new Apple device. Gamers and those who enjoy reading graphic novels or comic books will especially appreciate the extra screen real estate the larger iPad Pro offers.

Sure, iOS has its limitations — there’s no support for external storage, for example — and a frustrating number of third-party apps have still not been updated to let you use them side-by-side (or to use picture-on-picture video playback) on the iPad to maximise your productivity, but it’s entirely possible for many people to do most — if not all — of their work on an iPad Pro. With that said, there are plenty of edge cases — there’s no way to “download” one or more files, for example, unless the link is from a cloud service such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Many tasks that would be simple on a Windows or macOS machine will need third-party apps or complex Shortcuts to accomplish on iOS.

What this means is that most users who’ve grown up using a Mac or PC will almost always find it simpler to work on a “real” computer. On the flip side, users who don’t necessarily have the same history with computers, will likely find that the iPad Pro works just fine for most things they would want from a machine.

We’ve seen this validated by real-life use cases all around us, and we’ve been able to survive using an iPad as our only machine when hopping between meetings around town for the last couple of years, thanks largely to its built-in LTE connectivity and truly all-day battery life. Some poorly optimised in-house tools and Safari’s inability to remember HTTP authentication passwords aside, we’ve had no issues getting our work done, though, admittedly, when both the iPad and the Mac are with us, we find ourselves reaching for the latter to get the job done faster.

Talking about speed, the new iPad Pro is a complete beast in terms of benchmarks. In the single-core Geekbench performance test, the A12X is nearly as fast as the Intel Xeon W CPU in the iMac Pro we reviewed earlier this year. Granted, single-thread performance is not the iMac Pro’s strongest suit, but that’s still pretty impressive, especially when you consider that that’s faster than all Macs — and of course iPads — we compared it against (see charts below) other than the latest Intel Core i9 MacBook Pro and a top-of-the-line 27-inch “regular” iMac.

ipad pro vs ipads geekbench single iPad Pro

ipad pro vs ipads geekbench multi iPad Pro

ipad pro vs ipads antutu iPad Pro

 

In Geekbench’s multi-core test too, the new iPad Pro held its own, trailing only the aforementioned duo, and unsurprisingly, the iMac Pro. Given what we saw in benchmarks alone, Apple’s claim of the iPad Pro being faster than most Core i3, Core i5, and even many Core i7-based PCs is completely on the money.

ipad pro vs macs geekbench single iPad Pro

ipad pro vs macs geekbench multi iPad Pro

13-inch MacBook Pro (2016): 2GHz dual-core Intel Core i5/ 8GB RAM/ Intel Iris Graphics 540
15-inch MacBook Pro (2016): 2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7/ 16GB RAM/ Intel HD Graphics 530
27-inch iMac (2017): 4.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7/ 64GB RAM/ Radeon Pro 580
iMac Pro (2017): 3.2 GHz octa-core Intel Xeon W/ 32GB RAM/ Radeon Pro Vega 56
MacBook Pro (2018): 2.9GHz hexa-core Intel Core i9/ 32GB RAM/ Intel UHD Graphics 530

 

Though Apple doesn’t officially disclose the amount of RAM inside iOS devices, benchmarks showed that the iPad Pro 12.9-inch has 6GB of RAM. That’s the most RAM shipped on any iOS device, and this means you are more likely to find your document or webpage ready for you when you switch back to an app, without waiting for it to reload. Granted, iOS manages the experience rather well, to the point that this isn’t a problem unless you are using old hardware, but once you figure out what the extra RAM is enabling on your iPad Pro, you will come to appreciate it.

The iPad Pro has eight audio drivers — four woofers and four tweeters — configured in woofer-tweeters pairs near the four corners of the screen. Apple says the bass goes to all four speakers while the mid and high frequencies come from the top-most speakers, no matter which way you are holding the iPad. The resulting sound is rich and clear, capable of reaching really high volumes without getting distorted. Though the speakers lack a Dolby certification or similar, it’s safe to say this is the best sound we’ve experienced on a mobile or tablet.

The iPad Pro now also supports Bluetooth 5 and, as we mentioned earlier, there’s a USB Type-C port instead of a Lightning port. That doesn’t mean you can connect any USB device to your iPad — you are still very much bound by the limitations of iOS. Connecting an external drive will give you an error — “Cannot read the connected storage media.” When Apple introduced the Files app on iOS, we’d hoped the next logical step would be letting you read any kind of external drive within the app, but we’re obviously not there (yet).

You can, of course, connect a camera directly to the iPad or use a dongle/ dock with a card reader to import photos directly on to the iPad. We tried various third-party dongles/ docks with our iPad Pro and had mixed results. Headphone jacks on dongles worked as expected, though we noticed that in such cases there’s no way to force the iPad to output sound to the internal speakers, even if you don’t have any headphones plugged into the dongle.

While iOS did not detect Ethernet ports on the multi-port dongles we tried, a standalone Monoprice USB to Ethernet adapter worked seamlessly, and an Ethernet section just popped up in Settings. As expected, our Thunderbolt 3 Apple USB Ethernet adapter didn’t work — in fact if you plug in any Thunderbolt 3 accessory, you will see a “Thunderbolt accessories are not supported on this iPad” message on screen.

iPad Pro Ethernet iPad Pro

 

Passthrough charging — the ability to charge the iPad with a charger plugged into a USB Type-C accessory — worked fine with dongles that support it. Various card slots built into our dongles, as well as external card readers plugged into USB ports, also worked just fine, with the Photos app firing up and offering to import the pictures on those cards.

However, while trying various dongle and card reader combinations with the iPad Pro, we have lost images on not one but two memory cards — one is no longer being recognised at all (on any device) while the other’s images folder is now strangely empty — and this is when we didn’t do anything more than just view the images, not even import them. We don’t know whether to blame the cards, the various dongles that we tested, or the iPad Pro, but it sure won’t be fun telling the family that some of our precious memories might have been lost forever.

Apple says that the iPad Pro can now now drive external displays of up to 5K resolution, and while we didn’t have a 5K display around to test this claim, we did connect our iPad Pro to a full-HD display using the aforementioned dongles and an HDMI cable and everything worked as expected. When you are on the home screen, the iPad’s display is mirrored on to the external screen. Since the aspect ratio of the iPad’s screen may not exactly match the external display, you may see rather thick bars on either side of the on-screen contents.

Apps will mimic this behaviour by default, but apps can choose to instead extend the display and use the external screen as a separate space on which to show additional controls or other UI elements. Apple apps like Keynote and GarageBand do this, and though some third-party apps like djay Pro do as well, most third-party apps that we used simply mirrored on screen. That might change if the use of external displays with the iPad Pro gains popularity. Another bug we noticed is that connecting an external display to the iPad would (occasionally) make the Wi-Fi icon disappear from the status bar on both the iPad and the mirrored display.

The iPad Pro now supports reverse charging, which means you can use the tablet to charge other devices. We didn’t have an official Apple Type-C to Lightning cable, so we used a third-party cable to charge an iPhone XS Max from the iPad to measure its effectiveness. In our test, the iPhone’s battery went from 17 percent to 39 percent in 30 minutes, which is in line with what we see from chargers that do not support any kind of fast charging. In case you are wondering about the impact on the iPad Pro’s battery, it dropped from 96 percent to 90 percent.

While the Apple Pencil 2 is functionally identical to its predecessor, the design changes make it significantly better as a companion to your iPad Pro. For starters, the fact that it magnetically sticks to your iPad and charges wirelessly means it’s more likely to be with you and be ready to go at all times. There’s no Lightning connector on the Pencil so you don’t have to worry about losing the tiny cap that covered it up, and more importantly, it means never having to come across the ungainly sight of a Pencil sticking out of an iPad’s Lightning port because it ran out of juice.

iPad Pro 2018 ndtv 11 iPad Pro

 

There are a few new tricks as well. As we mentioned before, you can now double-tap the lower third of the Pencil to trigger certain actions. In the Notes app, for example, you can switch between the Pencil and Eraser by double-tapping, and this behaviour can be customised via the Settings. Third-party apps can also integrate this functionality, with the ability to customise the actions triggered when you double-tap.

What’s more, there seems to be no restriction on the types of apps that can integrate this functionality, so, YouTube, for example, could implement a video play/ pause shortcut via the Pencil, giving you a limited remote control, similar to what Samsung introduced with the Galaxy Note 9. At the launch event, Apple demoed a third-party image editor that will make use of this functionality in an upcoming release, but we haven’t come across any non-Apple apps that have implemented similar functionality just yet.

In a move straight out of the Galaxy Note series playbook, you can now tap the Pencil on the lock screen to have the Notes app launch and ready to go. This behaviour is not enabled by default but you can go to Settings to change that. You can also tell the app whether to always create a new note or resume the one you were working on last.

You cannot trigger the gesture-based UI actions with the Pencil, which leads to some awkward moments. At times, for example, we found ourselves doodling with the Pencil and wanting to quickly toggle something via the Notification Centre. Sliding down from the upper-right corner with the Pencil did nothing, so we had to use one of the fingers to trigger that action while continuing to hold the Pencil in our hand. This might be nothing more than a minor inconvenience for most people, but it might turn into an annoyance if you find yourself using the Pencil a lot.

Like we mentioned before, iOS 12 brings the new gesture-based UI to the iPad as well as some minor additions to Safari, in addition to a couple of new apps like Stocks and Voice Memos. However, there are no major new iPad-focused features, and certainly nothing as radical as what we saw with iOS 11. We are extremely disappointed to still be restricted to a 4×5 icon layout even on a 12.9-inch screen, which just leaves too much empty space between the icons on the home screen. It’s safe to say that iOS 12 has not pushed iPad software forward in any meaningful way, which is frustrating given how much better the hardware seems to get with every iteration.

Talking about hardware improvements, the new iPad Pro boasts of better cameras on the front and rear thanks to Smart HDR, and some of the other improvements that we’ve seen on the iPhone recently. We also get Portrait Mode for the first time on the iPad, and it works reasonably well. Interestingly it’s available only on the front. This isn’t a problem, since we aren’t fans of using a tablet as a camera to begin with. If you do need to use your iPad as a camera, you will get largely favourable results outdoors and when there’s plenty of light, though the low-light performance is under par.

iPad Pro 2018 ndtv 9 iPad Pro

 

All iPad models till date have delivered on their promise of all-day battery life, and this one is no different. With light use, you’ll easily be able to go an entire week before you need to recharge your iPad. If you are investing in an iPad Pro, you probably want to use it for more than occasional reading, in which case it should last you a couple of days, with a few hours of use each day. Even if you use your iPad Pro as your only machine — starting a work day at 9am and ending it at 6pm — you should have a bit of juice left in the tank to, say, watch a few videos when you are headed back home.

In our HD battery loop test, the iPad Pro lasted an impressive 14 hours and 7 minutes. Using the bundled 18W adapter and Type-C cable, we were able to charge the iPad Pro’s battery from zero to 100 percent in 3 hours and 20 minutes. Using the MacBook Pro’s 87W charger, we could top up the iPad Pro in roughly 2 hours and 40 minutes, which was a little underwhelming.

Verdict
For the last couple of years, Apple has slowly but steadily been increasing the price of many of its products, almost as if it’s looking to see how much (more) people are willing to pay for the latest and greatest hardware. We’ve seen that with many products, big and small. Last year’s iPhone X was arguably the biggest such experiment, and as we now know, it was a huge success.

So this year we’ve seen the introduction of the even more expensive iPhone XS Max, and other recently introduced hardware like the MacBook Air and Mac mini have continued this trend with entry-level configurations being priced higher than the machines they replaced. The iPad Pro models are no different, with the 11-inch and 12.9-inch models respectively $150 and $200 more expensive than their spiritual predecessors.

In India, pricing for all Apple products is in the stratosphere thanks to the US dollar’s rise against the rupee and India’s import tariffs, combined with Apple’s lack of a significant ‘Make in India’ story. Throw in Apple’s apparent unwillingness to compromise on its margins even in markets like India, and we are now back to the “bad-old days” from a few years ago when Apple products were prohibitively expensive here and people relied on grey-market imports or friends making a trip to the US to buy Apple products.

Amongst all of Apple’s major product lines, the iPad probably has the “best” India pricing — and we use that term rather loosely — if you look purely at the USD to INR conversion. The iPad Pro comes to India at a starting price of Rs. 71,900 for the 64GB 11-inch Wi-Fi only model. Prices go all the way up to Rs. 1,71,900 for the 1TB 12.9-inch Wi-Fi + cellular variant we got for review. While that might seem like a crazy amount of money, we tried to find Windows laptops that have 1TB of solid state storage, and the least expensive one we could find is priced at Rs. 1,85,000, so that iPad price tag isn’t as ridiculous as it may sound at first.

iPad Pro 2018 ndtv 4 iPad Pro

 

In terms of raw performance, the entry-level iPad Pro will almost certainly outshine any equivalent laptop you can get at around the same price. If you can live with the limitations we’ve detailed here — and we believe the answer is ‘yes’ for more people than not — what you’ll get is a powerful, extremely portable machine with a display that’s better than most laptops or 2-in-1s you’d get at the price. One look at India pricing of the Surface Book 2, for example, and the iPad Pro seems to look like a bargain, though Windows is probably a platform most legacy users would be more comfortable with.

With iOS in general — and certainly on the iPad Pro — software progress seems to lag behind hardware, and we hope iOS 13 brings more productivity-focused features to the iPad. We would also like to see Apple force the hand of third-party developers to support iPad-specific features that the OS already supports. Of course, we would never recommend buying hardware on the promise — or in this case prospect — of future software upgrades, so any decision you make on the iPad Pro should be based on the experience we’ve described as of today.

On the accessories front, if you are buying an iPad Pro, we would definitely recommend you get the Smart Keyboard Folio or a third-party equivalent as well. Be sure to factor in an additional Rs. 17,900 for the 12.9-inch model’s Smart Keyboard Folio, which we agree is a ridiculous price. The Apple Pencil 2 is priced at a more “affordable” Rs. 10,900 but despite it’s enhanced utility, we believe it’s still an optional extra that only artists would really put to use, unless you are someone who prefers taking notes the old-fashioned way. The new design certainly means it’s more likely to be used more often.

Though one can easily hotspot from a phone, we would also recommend spending a little — okay, a lot — extra and treating yourself to a cellular variant of the iPad Pro if you are looking for a truly portable mobile warrior of a machine that’ll let you work from anywhere.

With the launch of the new MacBook Air, questions have been asked about the future of the 12-inch MacBook as well as the entry-level, non-Touch Bar 13-inch MacBook Pro. The duo wasn’t updated when Apple refreshed its laptops earlier this year and given their overlaps with new MacBook Air, you can make a case for the newest Apple laptop to be a replacement for both of these computers. Indeed, with the T2 chip, Touch ID, faster SSDs, and more, the Air feels like an improvement over the basic MacBook Pro in at least some departments, and with all of that plus an extra port, it certainly has a leg-up on the MacBook.

With that in mind, it can be argued that the iPad Pro is the new one-port MacBook — a general purpose computer with all-day battery life that’ll do the job for most people — at least until those rumoured ARM-powered Macs show up and/ or that mythical iOS-laptop becomes a reality.

Price
12-inch MacBook 256GB — Rs. 1,19,900
12.9-inch iPad Pro 256GB Wi-Fi + Smart Keyboard Folio — Rs. 1,21,800 (Rs. 1,03,900 + Rs. 17,900)

Price in India of all iPad Pro (2018) variants and select accessories:

11-inch iPad Pro

  • 64GB Wi-Fi — Rs. 71,900
  • 256GB Wi-Fi — Rs. 85,900
  • 512GB Wi-Fi — Rs. 1,03,900
  • 1TB Wi-Fi — Rs. 1,39,900
  • 64GB Wi-Fi + cellular — Rs. 85,900
  • 256GB Wi-Fi + cellular — Rs. 99,900
  • 512GB Wi-Fi + cellular — Rs. 1,17,900
  • 1TB Wi-Fi + cellular — Rs. 1,53,900

Smart Keyboard Folio: Rs. 15,900
Smart Folio: Rs. 7,500

12.9-inch iPad Pro

  • 64GB Wi-Fi — Rs. 89,900
  • 256GB Wi-Fi — Rs. 1,03,900
  • 512GB Wi-Fi — Rs. 1,21,900
  • 1TB Wi-Fi — Rs. 1,57,900
  • 64GB Wi-Fi + cellular — Rs. 1,03,900
  • 256GB Wi-Fi + cellular — Rs. 1,17,900
  • 512GB Wi-Fi + cellular — Rs. 1,35,900
  • 1TB Wi-Fi + cellular — Rs. 1,71,900

Smart Keyboard Folio: Rs. 17,900
Smart Folio: Rs. 9,900

Apple Pencil 2: Rs. 10,900

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