The Honor 8X is all set to become the Huawei sub-brand’s latest mid-range smartphone, when it launches in India on October 16. The successor to the last year’s Honor 7X, the new Honor 8X also has dual rear cameras, but with a refreshed vertical alignment. The new phone also uses Huawei’s latest in-house SoC, the octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 710. Honor India claims that the smartphone will take on the likes of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro and Nokia 6.1 Plus, which leads us to believe the Honor 8X price in India will be between Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 20,000.
The Honor 8X will find itself in a market segment that is currently flooded with value-for-money options from manufacturers including Xiaomi, Asus, Motorola, and Nokia. However, with its premium design and software enhancements, can the Honor 8X offer a unique value proposition to customers this festive season? We got to spend some time with the Honor 8X at the a pre-launch briefing session, and here are our first impressions.
Honor 8X design and specifications
Right out of the box, the Honor 8X feels extremely solid and premium. Based solely on design, it does not look like a phone priced below Rs. 20,000. The back of the Honor 8X has a dual-tone colour scheme which the company says is an evolution of the Honor 10’s rear gradient design. On the front is a massive 6.5-inch IPS LCD with a resolution of 1080×2340 pixels, an aspect ratio of 19.5:9, and a pixel density of 397ppi. Much like other current Honor smartphones, there is a notch, but it looks relatively small in proportion to the large display. One interesting feature of the Honor 8X is that this display has a minimum brightness of just 2 nits, which should make it extremely comfortable to use in the dark.
Compared to other Honor phones such as the Honor 9N and the Honor Play, the Honor 8X has a relatively thin bottom chin. There are no capacitive or physical buttons; you get to choose between onscreen keys and EMUI’s gestures. The left of the smartphone has the SIM tray, which has two Nano-SIM slots and a dedicated microSD card slot. On the right, there’s the lock/ power button and the volume control keys. On the bottom, you’ll find a loudspeaker, a 3.5mm headphone jack, the primary microphone, and, disappointingly, a Micro-USB port. An Honor representative told Gadgets 360 that the company made the decision not to go for USB Type-C based on cost. The secondary microphone is placed on the top.
On the back, you get to see the vertically stacked dual camera setup that consists of a 20-megapixel primary sensor and a 2-megapixel depth sensor, both with f/1.8 apertures. The single selfie camera has a 16-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 aperture. As with previous models, the Honor 8X has AI enhancements for both the rear and front cameras. Users can turn off the AI features when shooting if they prefer.
We had a very short amount of time with a demo unit of the Honor 8X, and under favourable indoor light, it seemed to take sharp close-up and wide-angle images. For much more extensive tests of this phone’s cameras in many different conditions, do stay tuned for our upcoming review.
In terms of security, you get a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and software-based face recognition. The fingerprint sensor was largely accurate and quick in our initial experience. Even the Face Unlock feature was quite snappy, although it might have difficulties in low light. Honor has implemented a nifty feature that increases the brightness of the screen in the dark to help the phone get a clear shot of your face. We will reserve our final judgement for the Honor 8X in our full review, coming up soon.
At its core, the Honor 8X is powered by Huawei’s latest HiSilicon Kirin 710F, which has a dedicated NPU (Neural Processing Unit). The company claims to deliver hardware-based device-level smart AI features. The Honor 8X will be the first smartphone in the Indian market with this SoC, and Honor tells us that it offers better performance than even Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660 SoC. The phone will be available in three variants — one with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage; one with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage; and then a top-end variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
The smartphone also features a 3,750mAh battery, and supports charging at 5V/2A (10W). The bundled charger will deliver this much power. Honor India claims that although quick charging is capped at 10W, software enhancements can actually boost charging speed. We will have to test that very interesting claim in our Honor 8X review, in which we will also conduct battery loop tests and also examine this phone’s real-world battery performance.
Honor 8X software
The Honor 8X runs Huawei’s custom EMUI 8.2 on top of Android 8.1 Oreo. While there is no official timeline, Honor says an Android Pie update will come soon.
As noted in the case of the Honor Play, the company has been gradually reducing the the number of preloaded apps on its phones. We could spot only a few apps, including Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Netflix, Camera360, and a game called Lords Mobile. However, there are several of Honor’s own apps and features such as Phone Manager, HiCare, AppGallery, Health, Honor Club, Ride Mode, and Party Mode. Obviously, like all other Android smartphones, there are several Google apps including Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Google Drive, and Google Photos as well.
Based on our first impressions, the UI seemed quite smooth. The Honor 8X also features the company’s GPU Turbo feature out-of-the-box, but gaming performance can be expected to be less impressive than that of the Honor Play. Honor claims that users can run PUBG smoothly at medium settings on its latest mid-range phone, and of course we will test that too.
Stay tuned to Gadgets 360 for our extensive review of the Honor 8X, in which we will evaluate this phone’s display, design, software, performance, battery life, camera, and value for money.
Sennheiser CX 6.00BT Bluetooth earphones have been in the market for a couple of months and now that we’ve finally got our hands on a review unit, we thought we’d take them for a spin. Designed for everyday, on-the-go use, the earphones follow a design language that’s pretty similar to the Sennheiser Momentum Free.
The Sennheiser CX 6.00BT promise a comfortable fit, easy to reach controls, and, of-course, good audio quality. At Rs. 7,490, they also cost almost half of what Sennheiser charges for its premium Momentum Free earphones. Let’s see if the CX 6.00BT manage to actually deliver on the features and performance they promise.
Sennheiser CX 6.00BT design and features
The simplistic design of the Sennheiser CX 6.00BT make them easy to carry around. The chorded design means there’s no neck band, so it’s just the cable that rests around your neck. You get an in-line control module on the right and another, slightly larger module on the left which houses the battery. There’s a little adjustable node at the end of the chord, which can be used to adjust the fit of the earphones after wearing them. They’re very light so you barely feel them around your neck, but the modules are suspended from your ears so they tend to dangle about. This doesn’t make them ideal for any active use like running or gymming.
The Sennheiser CX 6.00BT feature tiny earbuds with a dual-tone paint job
The earbuds themselves are built very well and have a small profile, so they don’t stick out when you wear them. They are built from high quality plastic and feel quite solid. We like the subtle blue accents, which look good. The quality of the silicone ear tips is good too and they fit snugly in your ears. The plastic control pod houses three buttons — two for volume and a centre one for play/ pause. You can also use the controls for other things like skipping tracks and activating your phone’s virtual assistant. The earphones also feature a single microphone and a Micro-USB port for charging that’s covered by a flap.
Sennheiser doesn’t detail the size of the drivers, simply stating that it use a “proprietary speaker system”. The The Sennheiser CX 6.00BT work on Bluetooth 4.2 and the drivers have a frequency response of 17-21,000Hz. They are also available in just one colour, which is black. The rechargeable battery promises up to six hours of battery life on a single charge and the earphones also support high-resolution audio codecs like aptX and aptX Low Latency. The earphones don’t have any IP rating for sweat or water resistance, and other notable codecs like aptX HD and AAC are missing.
In the box, you get a three extra sets of ear tips in different sizes and a Micro-USB charging cable. Sennheiser’s website states that the CX 6.00BT come with a case, but the company is actually referring to the acrylic box the earphones ships in, which isn’t the same as a travel case. We would have liked at least a carry pouch for the earphones themselves for everyday use.
The headphones ship with extra ear tips, a charging cable but no carry pouch
Sennheiser CX 6.00BT sound quality and battery life
We used the Sennheiser CX 6.00BT for a few weeks on a daily basis and found the ergonomics and comfort level to be really good. We didn’t have any sort of fatigue issues even after using them for a couple of hours straight. The ear tips sit snugly in your ear for the most part, without budging. They offer a decent level of passive ambient noise isolation but not a lot. We did find ourselves having to readjust them every now and then when we ran while wearing them, as the suspended modules tend to yank them out a bit.
The ear buds don’t have any magnets in the housing to lock them together when you aren’t listening to music. The ear tips do a good job in preventing sound from leaking, so those sitting around you shouldn’t get disturbed.
Audio quality is definitely above average as the Sennheiser CX 6.00BT have excellent presence and a wide and immersive sound stage. Low frequencies are handled very well with well-defined bass that’s punchy and tight, which is on full display in tracks like Stargazing by Travis Scott. The mid-range frequencies are also treated with great care as vocals sound crisp without getting screechy and there’s plenty of details to be had in instruments.
The Sennheiser CX 6.00BT has an in-line remote for answering calls and controlling music playback
We’ve typically never had issues with most Sennheiser earphones in the above frequency ranges but the highs is one area where we’ve seen them falter many times, and sadly, it’s the same story here. While there’s good sharpness and clarity in treble, the Sennheiser CX 6.00BT does get rather piercing and sibilant at high volumes. This is a real shame since the bass and mid-range really opens up at higher volumes, but the high notes are a bit difficult to handle after a point. This is especially noticeable in tracks like Chains by Fleetwood Mac.
We tested the Sennheiser CX 6.00BT with a variety of music tracks, ranging from music streamed from Apple Music to high resolution FLAC files. We mostly used the Samsung Galaxy S9+ for our testing, but also used the earphones while paired with an Apple iPhone XS and a MacBook Air. You can connect to two devices at a time, which we found very convenient as we could answer calls and listen to music from our laptop without needing to take the earphones off. The microphone works well for voice calls too. The buttons on the in-line remote aren’t very chunky and we didn’t have any issues locating them. The button press is solid and reassuring too.
The earphones also work well with videos, with no noticeable audio-video sync issues. Battery life, however, is slightly disappointing. We typically managed to get about 5 hours of use, with the volume mostly set to 80 percent or above. There are voice prompts for checking the battery level when music isn’t playing and you get warning messages when it dips really low. When charging via a laptop, the earphones took about 1 hour and 20 minutes to charge fully. An LED on the in-line remote turns from red to blue when the earphones are fully charged.
Verdict The Sennheiser CX 6.00BT impressed us with their inconspicuous earbud design, light weight, good build quality, and decent feature set. Audio quality is good too, but the slightly shrill highs are when you bump the volume up can get fatiguing very quickly. Around this price, you can also find Sony’s WI-SP600N which feature noise cancellation and an IPX4 rating for sweat resistance or Beyerdynamic’s Byron BT in-ear headphones, if you prefer a minimalistic design.
If you’re a heavy user then the battery life would be a bit of an issue, but other than this, the CX 6.00BT delivers decent audio performance, coupled with good ergonomics.
The best thing HMD Global did this year was signing up its entire 2018 Android fleet with Google’sAndroid One programme. In our books, this gives it an immediate edge over the competition, as you’re guaranteed three years of security updates and two years of software updates. The Nokia line of phones has been pretty competitive thus far, with the likes of the Nokia 7 Plus (Review) and Nokia 6.1 Plus (Review) being some of the more notable recent launches.
HMD Global recently introduced a new budget offering called the Nokia 5.1 Plus, which slots in at the Rs. 10,999 mark. Its positioning is a bit confusing, as one would assume it would succeed the existing Nokia 5.1, but the older model is still priced higher. While the new Nokia 5.1 Plus does have somewhat better specifications than the 5.1, has HMD Global cut some corners in in order to bring the price down? It’s time to found out.
Nokia 5.1 Plus design
The first thing that grabs your attention as soon as you take the Nokia 5.1 Plus out of its box is how premium it looks. A high-gloss treatment for the entire body makes it look stunning, and easily feels as though this is a phone that would typically cost upwards of Rs. 15,000. There’s 2.5D curved glass for the back too, which is a rare find in this segment.
The glossy finish does introduce an ergonomic issue, as the Nokia 5.1 Plus is quite slippery. We had a couple of instances when the phone slid off a couch and onto the floor, but thankfully it didn’t pick up any dings or scuffs. It seems quite durable that way, even though HMD Global has confirmed to us that the 5.1 Plus does not use reinforced glass. We used this phone for a short time and the display didn’t pick up any scratches, but in the long run, it would be better to have a screen guard installed.
The Nokia 5.1 Plus sports a 2.5D glass back which gives it a premium look
On the front, we have a 5.86-inch display with a 19:9 aspect ratio but the resolution is only HD+ (720×1520). This is one area in which HMD Global has had to cut corners in order to bring you this low price. The display is not bad by any means. Colours are vivid and punchy, black levels are good, and the brightness is more than adequate for good legibility in sunlight.
All the buttons are placed on the right, and they have a good clicky feel. This phone also has a USB Type-C port, which is a rare sight in the budget segment. The dual-SIM tray is on the left, and houses two Nano SIMs. Dual 4G VoLTE is supported. The internal storage is expandable too, but you’ll have to sacrifice the second SIM slot for this.
We’re not big fans of the design of the screen notch. It’s a little too wide and the space created doesn’t seem to have been utilised optimally as there’s no notification LED here. The borders are quite thick too which includes a sizeable chin at the bottom. The camera setup on the back is nearly identical to those of other recent x.1 phones from HMD Global. There is a noticeable camera bump but we didn’t see any paint scuffing during our review period. The fingerprint sensor is placed just below it, and it works well, but we wish it was slightly larger and more prominent, as it can be hard to find at times.
The phone has a USB Type-C port (above) and 3.5mm headphone socket (below)
The Nokia 5.1 Plus ships with the usual accessories, including a headset. There’s no silicone case, unfortunately, which would have been useful given the phone’s slippery body. Overall, HMD Global has done a very good job with the 5.1 Plus. It looks far more premium than it costs and is light and easy to handle.
Nokia 5.1 Plus specifications and features
The Nokia 5.1 Plus features good internals. There’s a capable MediaTek Helio P60 octa-core SoC, which is a step up from the Helio P18 in the Nokia 5.1, and posts better benchmark numbers compared to most Snapdragon 636-based phones at around this price point. At the time of this review, there is only one variant with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. This phone also supports Category 4 LTE, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, and a wide variety of GPS systems including Beidou and Galileo. There’s FM radio and USB-OTG too, but no NFC.
You get stock Android 8.1 Oreo without any bloatware whatsoever. There’s Google’s suite of apps and a Support app from HMD Global for getting help with any of the phone’s features or booking an appointment with a service centre. There are some gestures, such as the ability to use the fingerprint sensor to pull down the notifications shade, and double-press the power button to launch the camera app.
The phone doesn’t have any bloatware, apart from a few gestures and a Support app
There’s no option to hide the notch, but this isn’t a major issue since apps that aren’t designed to fill the screen, for example games and most video players, simply don’t stretch beyond the notch. This way, content is rarely obscured. The OS is up to date too, with the September 2018 security patch, which is good. You get Android’s default face unlock feature, which is a bit of a hit or miss depending on the ambient light.
Nokia 5.1 Plus performance, cameras, and battery life
We really enjoyed using the Nokia 5.1 Plus as our primary device during the review period. It’s compact enough to fit snugly in most pant pockets and it just looks really good. The glossy finish does attract fingerprints very easily, but thankfully, they come off quickly with just a single wipe of a shirtsleeve. The slipperiness unfortunately can’t be fixed, unless you put a skin or a case on this phone.
The Nokia 5.1 runs cool with general tasks such as navigation, chatting, or using the GPS in apps like Uber. The area around the LED flash does begin to heat up quickly, however, when you fire up a game. Even simple ones such as Alto’s Odyssey got the temperature rising. However, the heat doesn’t spread beyond that area too much, so while the entire body does get warm after say, 30 minutes of PUBG, it’s still manageable.
There’s a single loudspeaker at the bottom, which gets fairly loud at full volume, but it’s positioning means it’s also easy to block with a palm when gaming or watching anything in landscape mode. The bundled headset is as basic as it gets. The ear tips didn’t stay put in our ears, and the sound was dull and hollow. There’s a microphone for calls but no button to control music playback.
The 13-megapixel primary sensor might be a step down in resolution compared to the Nokia 5.1’s camera, but it’s actually not a bad performer. There’s PDAF, an f/2.0 aperture lens and a second 5-megapixel depth sensor. Given enough light, the sensor captured good details in landscape shots. Unfortunately, it didn’t always get the exposure right, even with Auto HDR. With closeups, there was a bit of shutter lag when saving images, which at times, caused noticeable ghosting around the edges of objects.
The secondary depth camera does an average job at edge detection in portrait mode and the blur that’s applied looks very artificial. You can re-adjust it after taking shots, but in our experience there wasn’t much that could be salvaged. In low light, focusing speeds dipped and landscapes suffered the most. Macros were still decent under artificial lighting.
Tap to see full-sized Nokia 5.1 Plus camera samples
Additional camera features include masks that can be superimposed on people’s faces for fun, but there aren’t a lot to choose from. Beauty mode is adjustable, and thankfully, the beautification isn’t too jarring. There are Dual and P-I-P modes, which let you shoot with the rear and front camera simultaneously. There’s also a manual mode and a panorama mode.
Video recording tops out at 1080p and there’s stabilisation by default, which can’t be switched off. Under good light, the shimmer effect due to electronic stabilisation wasn’t too visible, but at night, the quality of video was quite poor. There’s slow-motion shooting, which captures 720p footage at 120fps. The front 8-megapixel selfie camera captured decent selfies under good light, but the HDR didn’t kick in when we needed it to. At night, the screen flash isn’t too effective.
Battery life is surprisingly good, considering the capacity of just 3060mAh. We easily managed to go a full day on a single charge. With more conservative use, we were able to last a bit longer. In our HD video loop test, we got a runtime of 14 hours and 36 minutes. There’s no fast charging, but the 10W adapter gave us a 56 percent charge in an hour, and took a little more than two hours to fully charge this phone.
Verdict It’s safe to say that the Nokia 5.1 Plus is a good option at Rs. 10,999. We understand that many phones in this segment now sport higher resolution displays, but honestly, we never found the HD+ display on this phone to be an issue. The hybrid dual-SIM slot might bother some, especially if you would like to use two SIMs and a microSD card. Low-light video performance was below average too, and light metering could have been better in daylight shots.
However, the Nokia 5.1 Plus is one of the best looking phones in this segment, even with its thick screen borders and wide notch. Other things going for it include the Android One programme, excellent battery life, compact size, and a powerful processor.
Is Nokia 5.1 Plus better than Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1, Redmi 6 Pro, and Realme 1? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
Motorola smartphones used to be known for their good build quality, near-stock Android UI, quick updates, and good prices. In the recent past, though, we have seen slower software updates, while the prices of its smartphones have been steadily rising. For example, the Moto G6 Plus was launched recently at Rs. 22,499 which is higher than what other G series smartphones have been priced at in the past. The Moto G6 (Review) and the Moto G6 Play (Review) have weaker processors than their current competition, which makes them feel like they don’t offer as much value for money as previous Moto G models.
Motorola, now under the management of Lenovo, has partnered with Google to launch the new One Power smartphone, which is a part of the Android One programme. It is priced at Rs. 15,999 which is good compared to other recently launched Motorola products. However, with popular smartphones such as the Nokia 6.1 Plus (Review), Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 (Review), and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro (Review) in the market at the exact same price, the Motorola One Power has some serious competition. Can it stand up against them all? We put it to the test to find out.
Motorola One Power design
The One Power is the first smartphone from Motorola in India to sport a notch. It has a big 6.2-inch display and a Motorola logo below it. The phone is slightly bulky, measuring close to 9mm in thickness, and weighs 205g. It makes its presence felt in the hand, and you will feel fatigue when you hold it for a while. The device has a metal backplate but the sides are made out of plastic. In comparison, the Nokia 6.1 Plus uses glass in its construction which gives it a premium look. The One Power has a dual camera setup at the back, and the camera module houses both lenses along with a dual-tone LED flash.
This phone has a fingerprint scanner at the back, and the positioning is spot on. Either of your index fingers will rest on it naturally. Motorola has also put its batwing logo on the scanner. The power and volume buttons are positioned on the right, while the left has the SIM tray. We liked that the power button is easy to reach but the volume buttons are positioned a little higher forcing us to shuffle the phone in our hand.
The headphone jack and the secondary microphone are on the top. At the bottom, there are two grilles out of which only the right one houses a speaker. The positioning is such that you can accidentally muffle it when holding the phone n landscape. There is a USB Type-C port at the bottom, and this phone supports quick charging to top the big 5000mAh battery quickly. Motorola supplies a 15W Turbo Charger along with a transparent bumper case in the box, which are good additions at this price.
Motorola One Power specifications and software
The Motorola One Power boasts of good specifications, and Motorola seems to have taken a good look at the competition while creating this smartphone. The hardware is similar to that of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Nokia 6.1 Plus. Powering the device is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, which is an octa-core chip with four cores clocked at 1.6GHz and the other four cores clocked at 1.8GHz. The One Power has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, and there are no variants. There is a microSD card slot which lets you expand storage by up to 256GB.
The 6.2-inch LTPS IPS display sports a full-HD+ resolution and a 19:9 aspect ratio. It has good viewing angles and the display is legible when outdoors. Motorola also lets you tweak the colour temperature of the display and choose between standard and vivid output. There is support for Bluetooth 5.0, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, GPS, FM Radio, and USB-OTG. Sadly, this phone misses out on dual 4G. Instead, only one SIM can latch to a 4G network while the other is restricted to 3G.
Since the One Power is a part of Google’s Android One programme, the phone gets pure stock Android with minimal apps on board. It runs Android 8.1 Oreo and also promises security updates for three years and Android updates for two years. At launch, Motorola confirmed that it is working on pushing out Android Pie for this smartphone and will release a beta soon. If you have used stock Android or prefer it over the custom UIs that other manufacturers offer, you will like the One Power.
Motorola has added Moto Actions, which are gestures that let you interact with the phone. The One Power has Moto’s double-chop gesture that triggers the flashlight, and the double-twist gesture that fires up the camera app. Moto Display is a feature that lights the display up for incoming notifications and when the phone is picked up. Dolby Audio lets you tweak the output from the loudspeaker and the headphones, and we noticed a difference in sound quality when its enabled.
We also liked the Smart SIM feature that lets you designate your two SIMs as work and personal, and assign two different profiles to them. For example, if you place a call to a contact associated with your work profile, it will use the appropriate SIM. You can also map specific contacts to a SIM making it the default outgoing number when you are calling them.
Motorola One Power performance, battery life, and cameras
The Motorola One Power is powered by a fairly powerful processor and you won’t notice any lag or stutter while using this smartphone. There is 4GB of RAM which ensures that it can multitask without having to kill apps in the background. One issue we did notice was that the smartphone was slow to unlock when using our fingerprints. The device would vibrate after scanning the fingerprint but was slow to wake the display up. It does not have a face unlock feature, which is popular on smartphones these days.
We ran a couple of benchmarks, and the One Power managed to score 114,609 points in AnTuTu, and 1300 and 4873 respectively in the single-core and multi-core tests in Geekbench 4. It scored 34fps in GFXBench T-Rex, while managing 6fps in GFXBench Car Chase. We played PUBG which recommended low settings. The game ran without any issues and the device did get hot to the touch when we played for 30 minutes in an air-conditioned room.
In our HD video loop test, the One Power went on for 16 hours and 8 minutes, making the most of its massive 5000mAh battery. If you like to binge watch movies or TV series, you will be able to do so on this smartphone. We started a day with the battery level at 69 percent, ran all our benchmark tests, took a couple of photos, had an active WhatsApp account, and played 30 minutes of PUBG, and we still had 20 percent left at the end of the day. When the battery does run out, the supplied Turbo Charger is capable of charging the smartphone up to 31 percent in 30 minutes, and 71 percent in an hour. It took us close to 2.5 hours to charge completely.
The dual camera setup at the back consists of a 16-megapixel primary sensor with PDAF and a 5-megapixel secondary depth sensor. At the front, it has a 12-megapixel selfie shooter with an f/2.0 aperture and a 1.25-micron pixel size. The camera app is by Motorola and has Photo, Video, Portrait, and Expert modes to choose from. The Expert mode lets you control white balance, exposure, ISO, shutter, and focus before clicking. There are quick toggles for HDR, flash, timer, and different aspect ratios. Google Lens is also baked into the camera app and lets you identify objects you are pointing at. The camera is set to an 18.7:9 aspect ratio by default and you’ll need to switch to 4:3 to take 16-megapixel shots. You also get a shortcut for digital zoom, helping you zoom in quicker than using two fingers to pinch or stretch on screen.
Tap to see full-sized Motorola One Power camera samples
In daylight, the One Power is fairly quick to meter scenes and set the camera up for a shot. We got some good daylight shots off the One Power with decent amount of detail. With HDR set to auto, there is no indication whether or not the phone is taking an HDR shot. When shooting macros, the One Power struggled to focus where we wanted it to, and needed multiple taps. When it did focus, it delivered a sharp image with good separation between the subject and the background, and sharp edges. The camera performance dropped in low light. Photos lacked sharpness and detail. Night mode is available but the phone does not switch it on automatically and we had to go into the settings to do it manually every single time. Photos with night mode enabled were sharper and had better details.
The portrait mode puts the secondary depth sensor to use, and gives you control over the amount of blur you want. Portrait shots we took had decent edge detection and did not look artificial. The selfie camera took good selfies and the selfie flash was useful in low-light conditions. There is a beautification toggle which smoothens the output, and auto HDR is available for the selfie camera as well. Motorola has also added depth effects for the selfie camera, giving you the option to set the level of blur. It delivered a good result but we found edge detection to be average. Video recording maxes out at 4K for the primary camera and 1080p for the selfie camera. It lacks video stabilisation which resulted in shaky output.
Verdict The Motorola One Power has made it to the Indian market at a sensible price. It is built well and runs pure stock Android, and its biggest advantage is the 5000mAh battery. Since it is a part of the Android One programme, it will get guaranteed security updates for three years, and software updates for the next two years. It also offers better value compared to the Moto G6 and G6 Plus. However, it misses out on dual 4G which is a big omission considering the price. Overall, the One Power is a well-rounded phone and is a good choice for people who prefer stock Android and want the best battery life in this segment.
However, the One Power does not have an unopposed run. The Nokia 6.1 Plus (Review) and the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 (Review) are the closest competitors with similar hardware. The Nokia offers better build quality as well as Android One, while the ZenFone Max Pro M1 offers more RAM and is most affordable of the three. For power users, there is the Xiaomi Mi A2 (Review) which is priced slightly higher at Rs 16,999, but sports powerful hardware and better cameras.
Can Motorola One Power dethrone the Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Redmi 6 Pro? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey follows last year’s Assassin’s Creed Origins that brought sprawling Egyptian environments and a revamped combat system akin to the Dark Souls titles. On the surface, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey tries to distinguish itself by letting you choose between two playable characters and some tweaks to its moment to moment gameplay as we discovered in our preview of the game. But is there more to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey than just some superficial additions? Continue reading our review to find out.
For starters, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a clean break from the series’ convoluted timeline and events. It’s set prior to the establishment of the game’s two major factions — the Templar and the Assassin Order. Rather than play as someone like Bayek of Siwa, the Frye twins, or Ezio, you’re either Alexios or Kassandra, warriors from the bloodline of the Spartan King Leonidas. There’s a sinister group called the Cult of the Kosmos that threatens the world as it was known, with a war brewing between Athens and Sparta, and of course, the story of Alexios or Kassandra trying to find and reunite their family after being torn apart by a prophecy gone wrong.
The conceit of being of a warriors bloodline allows for some interesting additions to the gameplay. Unlike Assassin’s Creed Origins, here you’re able to gain and equip new skills as you play. These include warping to an enemy location for a quick kill, using arrows that kill foes through walls, and of course, kicking soldiers off ledges with a powerful kick that’d feel right at home in 300, the movie.
Throw in combat that feels a lot more responsive and faster and that you’ll unlock new abilities at a steady pace means combat through Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s 30-odd hours doesn’t get stale. There’s a sense of flexibility too, allowing you to swap between the game’s three skill trees — hunter, warrior, and assassin at any given time to ensure you’re never underpowered for a specific mission.
Progressing through Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s many plot points and chapters is a breeze too. This is because, while each area has a well-defined level of difficulty, the skills at your disposal and their aforementioned flexibility are enough for you to tackle high powered foes, making for a game that’s less about the grind, and more about hitting crucial story arcs faster.
That is not to say there’s no side content. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has a lot of it. Even when you’re just going through minor quests — such as discovering the fate of a pirate crew or hunting down magical creatures for a cult known as the Daughters of Artemis — Assassin’s Creed Odyssey doesn’t feel like busy work. Everything adds to your understanding of the series’ lore, or grants you access to weapons or armour to help you on your way. This is telling when you consider that a bulk of the franchise’s past entries leaned heavily on extraneous content that did little to further your progress through the main story.
With Assassin’s Creed Odyssey taking place in Ancient Greece, you’ll find yourself on the high seas ever so often. Past games such as Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag had their fair share of naval sections as well, but in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey they form a larger part of the gameplay. You’ll upgrade your ship with more fire power and better armour as well as recruit all manner of non-playable characters to your crew. Doing so adds bonuses to your ship like an increase in health or attack power. The controls are just as polished on sea as they are on land which means turning around a 90-foot vessel and launching a barrage of javelins in a few seconds may not be realistic, but it sure feels great.
While all of these are not entirely new to the Assassin’s Creed franchise, the element of choice surely is. Taking a leaf out of role-playing games like Mass Effect and Fable, your choices in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey have consequences that are far-reaching to the story. From what you say to certain characters to killing off others, your actions determine how the story plays out and impacts the inevitable ending you see. This means you can never be sure what impact your decisions will have; they’re not colour coded as good or bad as they are in other games.
Instead, you’ll have to see how they play out over the course of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, not too dissimilar to The Witcher 3. It impacts how you play in meaningful ways and shapes the game world too. Without spoiling much, the narrative pay off and variety therein is welcome and does a lot to shake up how we’d approach certain sections of play. This makes Assassin’s Creed Odyssey the closest the series has been to a traditional role-playing game, which is never a bad thing.
Our only grouse is how Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s photo mode works. Throughout your journey you’ll be able to freeze the action and snap an image of what’s on screen. However on the Xbox One X, none of these images are stored locally on your device. Rather they’re uploaded to Ubisoft’s website. This makes accessing and sharing them a bigger hassle than they should be. Comparatively, the PS4 and PC versions save images from photo mode on their hard drives too. It’s a boneheaded decision for a game that has you taking a lot of photos because of how good it looks.
This minor gripe aside, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is an enjoyable romp through Ancient Greece. Its changes are both subtle and sweeping and they come together to make one of the best entries in the franchise since Assassin’s Creed 2 on the PS3 and Xbox 360. If you’re a fan of the series or just jumping in, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a great place to start.
Lots of abilities that shake up gameplay
Actions impact story in sweeping ways
Poor photo mode implementation
Rating (out of 10): 9
Gadgets 360 played a review copy of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on an Xbox One X. The game is available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC from October 5 for Rs. 3,999 ($60 in the US).
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Chinese smartphone makers seem to be following a new trend of creating sub-brands that cater to demanding younger buyers. In the past, we’ve seen Honor from Huawei and Zuk by Lenovo, and most recently, we’ve had Poco by Xiaomi. Now, Realme has been spun off from Oppo. All of them seem to have a singular focus — offering very competitive specifications.
Realme, now a separate company, has similar plans with its latest launch, the Realme 2 Pro, which it teased during the launch of the Realme 2 (Review). The Pro moniker in the name suggests that the phone has powerful hardware, and once again, the target audience seems to be students and millennials. The Realme 2 Pro ticks all the right boxes on paper, but it’s now time to see how it actually performs, and whether it can keep up with the competition.
Realme 2 Pro design
Holding it in one hand, the Realme 2 Pro feels pretty big. We struggled a bit with one-handed use but the phone itself isn’t too heavy. It’s a bit on the thicker side at 8.5mm, but the rounded polycarbonate edges offer a comfortable grip. The back of the phone has multiple layers of lamination which give it the feel of a glass panel, or as Realme calls it, a “crystal-like dewdrop effect”. The body attracts plenty of smudges and fingerprints, but it’s said to offer some resistance against heat and scratches. The latter claim might not be very true, as our review unit picked up scuffs after just a couple of days of ordinary use.
The 6.3-inch full-HD+ display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and has rounded edges and fairly slim bezels all around. However, the glass doesn’t wrap around the sides as seamlessly as we would have liked, which makes the edges a bit rough to the touch. This is made worse by the edges of the pre-applied screen protector. The ‘dewdrop’ notch design seems to be gaining popularity as it takes up the smallest footprint, and aesthetically, it looks really good. Due to the small size though, there’s just enough room for the front camera and there’s no notification LED. The earpiece is placed just above the front camera, while the sensors are placed to the right.
The Realme 2 Pro features a laminated back and a non-removable 3500mAh battery
The power and volume buttons are on opposite sides of the phone, and line up well with your fingers. The SIM tray can accommodate two Nano SIMs and there’s a dedicated slot for a microSD card too (up to 256GB). The phone is said to support dual 4G with VoLTE, but this is something we couldn’t test as our pre-release review unit had been sourced from Vietnam. Dual 4G worked when we used two Airtel SIMs, but there wasn’t any toggle for VoLTE. Realme tells us that retail units in India will indeed have full support for dual 4G with VoLTE.
At the bottom, we have a single speaker grille, a Micro-USB port, and a 3.5mm headphone socket. It’s easy to block the speaker when holding the phone in landscape mode. The fingerprint sensor is placed at the back, and is very quick at authentication. We didn’t face any mis-reads either. The dual-camera module protrudes a bit from the back, but we didn’t notice any scratches on the glass during our usage. In the box, you get a 10W charger, a Micro-USB cable, a SIM eject tool, a silicone case, and some instruction leaflets.
Realme 2 Pro specifications and software
The specifications of the Realme 2 Pro are pretty solid. All variants get the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 SoC, which is a powerful octa-core chip. Up until now, the only phones priced below Rs. 20,000 that it has been seen in have been the Xiaomi Mi A2 (Review) and the recently introduced Vivo V9 Pro. Benchmark numbers attest to its capabilities, and AnTuTu returned a good score of 1,31,968 points while in the GFXbench T-rex gaming test, we got a score of 39fps.
The phone is available in three RAM and storage configurations to suit your budget. You have a choice between 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage; 6GB of RAM with 64GB of storage; and the one we have, which has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The top-end variant of the Realme 2 Pro is the first phone in this price segment to have 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM. Other specifications include Bluetooth 5, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, USB-OTG, a gyroscope, an ambient light sensor, a proximity sensor, a compass, and an accelerometer. There’s no FM radio or NFC.
ColorOS 5.2 ships with some handy gestures and utilities like Smart Sidebar
The Realme 2 Pro runs on ColorOS 5.2, which is based on Android 8.1, and we were glad to see the recent September security patch. There’s a slight learning curve here, unless you’re coming from an Oppo phone. The latest version of ColorOS still has the annoying two-step process for dismissing a notification, but other than that, it’s quite polished. It also offers plenty of gestures and customisation options. Our unit had a lot of Vietnamese apps pre-installed, which obviously won’t be present on Indian units, but we can’t tell whether some other bloatware will come in their place.
In addition to the fingerprint sensor, the phone also supports face recognition. It’s really quick at authentication, and works only when your eyes are open so it’s more secure than some of the other implementations. The screen lights up for assistance in dark environments. You can enable face recognition for securing apps and a private space within the phone’s storage, as well as unlocking the phone itself.
Smart Sidebar is a handy utility that gives you a slide-out panel from the edge of the screen for quick access to apps like the File Manager and Camera, and actions such as taking a screenshot. You can add shortcuts to your frequently used apps. The traditional navigation keys can be swapped out for gesture input, which works well. Some gestures are quite useful, such as the three-finger swipe up for entering split-screen mode, and a swipe down for taking a screenshot.
Realme 2 Pro performance, cameras, and battery life
We used the Realme 2 Pro for several days and quite honestly, we found little to complain about. Other than a few quirks of ColorOS, apps and the UI in general run smoothly. We didn’t notice any slowdowns when multitasking, and load times even for heavy games were pretty good. The display is very legible even under direct sunlight, as colours retain good saturation. The phone doesn’t heat up too much either. The upper back of the phone got a bit warm, but this was only after prolonged gaming or camera usage. Call quality was good, and there’s call recording built into the dialler app.
The Realme 2 Pro features a tiny notch and slim bezels around the display
The Game Space app gives you the option to block notifications and free up memory automatically when you fire up a game. There’s a toggle switch for ‘Graphics acceleration,’ which according to Realme, is currently best optimised for PUBG and Arena of Valor. We didn’t notice any real difference in image quality or gameplay smoothness in PUBG, as the game ran just fine even at ‘HD’ image quality and the framerate set to ‘High’. The same goes for Asphalt 9: Legends.
The single speaker sounds tinny and isn’t very loud. You get Dirac sound enhancement for headphones but there’s nothing to amplify the volume of the speaker. All the games we tried filled up the entire screen, which means that the notch blocks some content. This this can be fixed by changing the scaling setting of each individual app in the Settings app, which prevents them from extending into the notch area.
The Realme 2 Pro packs in a 16-megapixel main rear camera with a f/1.7 aperture, which captures good detail in daylight. In landscape shots, we noticed good dynamic range and colours, with plenty of details even in smaller objects, such as leaves on trees at a distance. The wide aperture produces a pleasing bokeh effect in close-up shots, which once again is handled well. We struggled to get a clear shot when shooting fast-moving objects such as pets due to slight shutter lag, but other than this, autofocus was quick. There’s a button for 2x zoom, which essentially does a digital zoom so it’s not particularly helpful.
Tap to see full-sized Realme 2 Pro camera samples
The second 2-megapixel sensor is only used for depth calculation. Images shot in the ‘Portrait’ mode look good, with good edge detection and sharpness on our subjects, even under artificial lighting at night. You can choose from a bunch of lighting effects as well. Photos shot in low light were a bit grainy, and details took a bit of a hit, especially in landscape shots. Close-ups lacked sharpness, but overall, we still ended up with usable shots.
Video recorded at 1080p looked good. There’s electronic stabilisation, which works well, albeit with a slight shimmer effect in the video. 4K recording is supported and quality was good in daylight, but there’s no stabilisation. Video shot in low light was a bit grainy too. Other than the standard shooting mode and time-lapse, there aren’t any other options for video, such as slow-motion. The beautify mode works well if you set it manually, as the AI tends to be a bit aggressive with effects.
Realme has used a 16-megapixel front sensor, and you can also make use of bokeh effects, HDR, and a screen flash. Image quality is decent but details could have been better. The screen flash is quite effective at illuminating your face but it messes up skin tones a bit. There’s a ‘Stickers’ shooting mode that lets you add different AR stickers to selfies or to other people’s faces.
The 3500mAh battery easily lasted us through an entire day on a single charge, with ordinary usage that included a bit of gaming, streaming music, the usual social apps. We had two SIM cards in the phone. In our HD video loop test, we got a runtime of 10 hours and 22 minutes, which is slightly better than average. The Realme 2 Pro doesn’t support fast charging, but with the bundled adapter, we were able to get to roughly 64 percent in an hour, and it took about 2 hours and 20 minutes to charge completely from zero.
Verdict The Realme 2 Pro delivers well on its promise of being a powerful phone. We think that many people will see its appeal too, especially at the price of Rs. 17,990 for the version with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. This makes it very good value for money compared to the Mi A2 (Review) or even the recently launched Vivo V9 Pro, both of which sport the same Snapdragon 660 SoC. The less expensive variants which start at Rs. 13,990, are very competitive with phones such as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro (Review), Nokia 6.1 Plus (Review), Motorola One Power, the 6GB version of the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 (Review) and even the 6GB version of the Realme 1 (Review).
The Realme 2 Pro has a lot going for it, mainly its sharp and vivid display, fast face unlock, neatly designed notch, good build quality, and solid app and gaming performance. Low-light still and video performance could have been better and we wish that Realme (and Oppo) would get rid of the annoying way that notifications are handled.
Other than this, the Realme 2 Pro is a solid option under Rs. 20,000 if you’re looking for a good all-rounder.
Destiny 2: Forsaken is the third expansion for Destiny 2 following Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris and Destiny 2: Warmind. While Destiny 2 itself was a solid albeit flawed shared world shooter, its first two expansions did little to change that and were notoriously light in terms of content. Destiny 2: Forsaken is developer Bungie’s attempt at turning the game around with promise of a greater focus on narrative.
Much like Destiny 2, Destiny 2: Forsaken begins with a bang. You’re immediately dropped into a mission that has fan favourite robot Cayde-6 killed by this expansion’s main antagonist, Uldren Sov. It’s a bold move from Bungie, to get rid off one of the more entertaining characters of the game in service of its story that has you chasing after Sov in a quest for revenge. The stakes may not be as colossal as in Destiny: The Taken King or even Destiny 2’s base game, but it gives old-timers the motivation to see Destiny 2: Forsaken’s campaign to its end and newcomers to see what all the fuss is about.
Along the way you’ll encounter the Barons — six bosses who you’ll have to defeat before you can get to Sov. Squaring off against them is a varied affair. Be it vehicular combat onboard hoverbikes — or pikes as they’re known in the game — against the aptly-named Rider or the close quarters brawl against the Hangman, they’re far from the ‘go to a location, shoot everything’ approach to missions that Destiny 2’s past expansions were rife with.
In addition to this, Destiny 2: Forsaken brings two new locations — Tangled Shore and Dreaming City. The Tangled Shore is an asteroid belt where the villainy of the known universe hang out with debris to connect each locale. There’s an alien nightclub and a crashed space ship that you’ll end up investigating. These environments give the Tangled Shore a lived-in, haunting feel to it, making it one of the more memorable spaces in the Destiny series. As for the Dreaming City? It’s visually arresting — filled with mountains, towers, and a sinister pocket dimension brimming with secrets making it a bright contrast to the Tangled Shore and just as unforgettable.
As for its moment to moment gameplay, everything is as it should be. Shooting feels fun with Destiny 2: Forsaken’s hand cannons, auto rifles, and sniper rifles sporting an adequate amount of recoil while its rocket launchers are just as satisfying. It’s unchanged from the base game, which is not a bad thing.
What is bad however, is the lack of enemy variety outside of the boss fights. Sure, there’s a new faction known as the Scorn, but they’re very similar to one of the older foes in the game, the Fallen. This should come as no surprise as they were previously a part of the Fallen before being cast out, but Bungie could have done more to make them stand out and behave differently from most of the game’s existing enemies.
As for enemies, they find their way into multiplayer with a new mode called Gambit. Here two teams of six duke it out while taking down hordes of AI-controlled foes too. It’s fast and hectic fun not too dissimilar to Halo 5’s excellent Firefight mode with the major difference being the ability to direct enemies to the opposing team. While still early days for the mode, Gambit is a slick addition to Destiny 2’s multiplayer suite that had us coming back in between sessions of its campaign.
Where Destiny 2: Forsaken falters however is with its pricing. You see, to play it you not only need the base game but its two expansions too. This means you’ll be paying $60 in the US or Rs. 4,000 in India at the very least for the base game plus all expansions including Destiny 2: Forsaken if you never purchased Destiny 2 to begin with. And if you have Destiny 2 and none of its expansions, expect to pay nearly the same amount with the past expansions costing Rs.1,660 in India ($20 in the US) while Destiny 2: Forsaken sports a Rs. 2,500 price tag ($40 in the US). While its pay-to-win micro-transactions have been removed since launch, it’s still tough to recommend due to this odd decision of requiring a purchase of the last two expansions to access this one. You should not have to pay the price of a brand new game just to get access to add-on content for an existing title.
All in all, Destiny 2: Forsaken is a welcome return to form for a series that’s promised a lot and delivered little. There’s a lot here to love despite some controversial choices in its lore, though its let down by a questionably mercenary pricing strategy. Unless you’re already invested in the Destiny 2 universe, you’re best served waiting for a price drop.
Gambit mode is fun
Requires first two expansions to play
New enemy type still too familiar
Rating (out of 10): 7
Gadgets 360 played a review copy of Destiny 2: Forsaken on an Xbox One X. Destiny 2: Forsaken is Rs. 2,497 as a digital purchase on PS4, PC, and Xbox One. It requires the base game and its previous two expansions to play.
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.
Xiaomi recently launched the Redmi 6 in India, along with the Redmi 6A (Review) and the Redmi 6 Pro (Review). As its name suggests, it is the successor of the Redmi 5 (Review), which has been fairly popular for offering good hardware at affordable prices. The Redmi 6 gets a new processor, has interesting specifications on paper, and is positioned between the Redmi 6A and the Redmi 6 Pro. We have seen smartphones with good hardware but most of them are concentrated around the Rs. 10,000 mark. The Redmi 6 seems to have good hardware at a starting price in India of Rs. 7,999, but is it the best you can get for the price? We put it to the test.
Xiaomi Redmi 6 design
The Redmi series is the entry-level lineup from Xiaomi, and the company has chosen materials to keep the price down. The Redmi 6 is primarily made out of plastic and is built well. It has a 5.45-inch display with a tall and narrow 18:9 aspect ratio. Also on the front of the phone, you’ll find the selfie camera, earpiece, sensors, and a white notification LED that’s tucked in a corner. The back of the Redmi 6 is made out of plastic and is curved at the sides which makes this phone comfortable to hold. Xiaomi has positioned the power and volume buttons on the right, and they offer good feedback. We found the positioning of the power button to be spot on, but the volume buttons are positioned a little too high for our comfort.
On the left side, the phone has two trays. One has the primary SIM and a dedicated microSD card slots, while the other is for the secondary SIM. The loudspeaker is at the back of the phone, while the Micro-USB port is at the bottom along with the primary microphone. The Redmi 6 has a 3.5mm headphone jack and a secondary microphone at the top, but there is no IR emitter, commonly found on Xiaomi smartphones. At the back, the dual-camera module is positioned towards the left, along with a single-LED flash. The fingerprint scanner is well positioned, and either of your index fingers will rest on it naturally when holding this phone.
The Redmi 6 is light, weighing 146gms. It packs in a 3000mAh non-removable battery, and Xiaomi ships a 5W charger in the box to top it up. Like most other Xiaomi smartphones in this price range, the Redmi 6 does not come with headphones in the box. You can take a look at some of the best headphones under Rs. 1,000 in our roundup if you need to buy a pair on a tight budget.
Xiaomi Redmi 6 specifications, features, and software
When it comes to the internals of the Redmi 6, Xiaomi has taken a slightly different approach than usual. Most of Xiaomi’s lineup so far has been powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors, but the Redmi 6 and the Redmi 6A are powered by MediaTek processors. The Redmi 6 sports a MediaTek Helio P22. This is an octa-core processor based on a 12nm manufacturing process, and it’s clocked at 2GHz. This phone comes in two variants; one with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, and the other with 3GB RAM and 64GB of storage. You can expand storage as this phone accepts microSD cards of up to 256GB.
The Redmi 6’s screen has an HD+ resolution, which works out to 295 pixels per inch. It has decent viewing angles and you do get the option to tweak the display output. While the display is legible under direct sunlight, we would have preferred slightly better brightness.
The dual camera setup at the back consists of a 12-megapixel primary camera and a 5-megapixel depth sensor. There is dual-SIM support on the Redmi 6 with support for both 4G as well as VoLTE. A toggle in the settings app lets the second SIM access data on a 4G network when the primary one is on a call. There is support for Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, GPS, AGPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, and FM Radio. The Redmi 6 also has ambient light and proximity sensors, along with an electronic compass.
The software running on the Redmi 6 is pretty much predictable. This phone runs MIUI 9.6 on top of Android 8.1 Oreo. When we unboxed the smartphone, it was running the June security patch, but soon received the July and August updates. If you have used MIUI and like the user interface, you’ll feel at home while using this smartphone. Xiaomi has made lots of customisations that deviate from the stock Android experience, but there are a few useful features. There is support for multiple gestures and you can also use gesture navigation instead of the traditional navigation buttons. The Redmi 6 features face recognition which lets you unlock it. It isn’t the quickest, but it worked in most lighting conditions.
Spammy notifications by preinstalled apps, Dual-SIM settings on the Redmi 6
There are useful additions like Dual Apps, which lets you run two instances of supported apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook, among others. Second Space lets you keep files, messages, and other data locked down. MIUI also has an inbuilt App Lock that lets you restrict access to apps using your fingerprint. While MIUI has some interesting features, it does come with a fair amount of bloatware. Microsoft’s suite of apps come preinstalled, along with Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, PhonePe, and UC Browser. Xiaomi’s own apps including Mi Community, Mi Video, Mi Store, Mi Drop, Security, and Cleaner also find spots on the Redmi 6. Apart from the Google Play Store, there’s another store called Apps. We found some of Xiaomi’s apps to be spammy, and annoying notifications kept on popping up. While you can go ahead and uninstall most of these apps, some can only be disabled.
Xiaomi Redmi 6 performance, cameras, and battery life
The Helio P22 powering the Redmi 6 managed to surprise us with its performance. We could go through the menus and scroll through MIUI without any noticeable lag or stutter. However, like with most low-end processors, it takes some time to load heavy apps. We also saw instances when the Redmi 6 had to reload apps since they were no longer in memory.
We ran a couple of benchmarks to gauge the performance of the Redmi 6, and got some interesting results. It scored 75,723 points in AnTuTu, and 820 and 3580 in Geekbench 4’s single-core and multi-core tests respectively. It managed 584 in 3DMark Slingshot, 8051 in 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme, and 26fps in GFXBench T-Rex. The Redmi 6 is faster than its predecessor, the Redmi 5, in almost every test.
The Redmi 6 was capable of running PUBG but switched to the lowest settings by default. The game was playable but we did notice input lag.
We were also pleased with the battery performance of this smartphone. In our HD video loop test, it managed to go on for 14 hours and 34 minutes. We took the phone off its charger at 9am and managed to end our day at 10pm with 27 percent still left. During the day, we used Google Maps for navigation for an hour, spent 30 minutes playing PUBG, ran a few benchmarks, and took multiple photos and videos for our camera tests. If you have a similar usage pattern, you should be able to get through one full day of use. When you do plug this phone into the supplied 5W charger, it charges to 18 percent in 30 minutes, and 35 percent in an hour.
The camera app on the Redmi 6 is identical to what we have seen on other Xiaomi smartphones. It has Short Video, Portrait, Square, Panorama, and Manual modes apart from the usual Photo and Video modes. In Manual mode, you get control over White Balance, Focus, Shutter Speed, and ISO. The app has quick toggles for HDR and filters.
Tap to see full-sized Xiaomi Redmi 6 camera samples
Photos taken with the Redmi 6 in favourable light were good, but we saw a drop in quality in low light. In daylight, the Redmi 6 managed to get the metering right and was quick to enable HDR automatically when shooting in bright environments. The phone manages to capture decent amount of detail. When shooting macros, the phone struggled to focus on tiny objects and we couldn’t get a sharp photo of tiny flowers. The Redmi 6 uses its secondary 5-megapixel sensor to deliver good portrait shots. It manages good edge detection and it could detect the gap between a person’s arm and body, and blur it properly.
Camera performance went down a notch in low light. It failed to capture good details, and the aggressive noise reduction resulted in a watercolour effect. Selfies taken with the Redmi 6 were good when shot outdoors, but appeared dull when shot indoors. Video recording maxes out at 1080p for both the front and the rear cameras. There is stabilisation, but we observed a jelly effect in the recorded video.
Verdict The Redmi 6 is priced starting at Rs. 7,999. It has decent hardware for the price and it offers better performance than the smartphone it replaces. The base variant with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage offers better value and does not have a lot of competition to deal with. However, if you are eyeing the higher variant that is priced at Rs. 9,499, you might want to take a look at the RealMe 1 (Review) and the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 (Review) instead, because both of them offer much better performance for a slightly higher price.
Is the Xiaomi Redmi 6 the best budget smartphone in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
Xiaomi’s Redmi phones have pretty much established themselves as the de-facto choices at nearly every price point in the budget space. The Chinese brand, once considered a tiny upstart, has consistently launched smartphones that deliver tremendous value for money and make their competitors look overpriced. We’ve repeatedly wondered how far Xiaomi can push this formula, and whether any other company will be able to come in and steal its thunder.
That has happened to some extent at the upper end of the low-cost market this year, with players including Asus, Oppo (and now its spin-off Realme), and Infinix launching disruptive models that have earned praise from us. The bottom end, though, is still where Xiaomi dominates. The brand new Redmi 6 models have been launched specifically to reinforce that position, and the Redmi 6A is the very lowest priced model of them all.
Starting at just Rs. 5,999 — though this is an “introductory price” — the Redmi 6A neatly replaces the Redmi 5A (Review) and brings just enough updates and new features to fend off newer competitors. Let’s see what’s new, and whether this phone is still the best choice for people on a shoe-string budget.
Xiaomi Redmi 6A design
The first thing you’ll notice about this phone is that Xiaomi has brought a fashionable 18:9 screen to the very bottom of its price ladder. The front of this phone is simple and plain, and when it’s off, the front camera and earpiece are the only things that will indicate which way is up. The screen has very slightly rounded corners, which is a nice touch. You don’t get a bezel-free look at this price and there’s quite a bit of space to the top, bottom and sides of the screen, but the overall look is still fairly slick.
The body of the Redmi 6A is all plastic, which shouldn’t come as any surprise. This phone is available in four colours — black, blue, gold, and rose gold. Our black review unit looked good, though some smudges did become apparent on the rear over the course of multiple days. There’s a camera bump, but thankfully it isn’t too noticeable. The body’s curves and contours somewhat mask its 8.3mm thickness and make it very easy to live with. This phone weighs just 145g, which helps as well.
The power and volume buttons are on the right, and both are well within reach. On the left, there are two individual trays – one for a single Nano-SIM, and the other for another Nano-SIM and also a separate microSD card. You’ll find a 3.5mm audio socket on the top and a Micro-USB port on the bottom, plus microphone pinholes next to both. The speaker is on the lower rear which means that your ringtone and alerts could be muffled when this phone is lying on a bed or other soft surface. There’s no fingerprint reader — while we have seen phones with fingerprint readers at around this price level, Xiaomi has chosen other priorities.
Xiaomi Redmi 6A specifications and software
There usually isn’t much to get excited about in the budget market, but Xiaomi has found at least one little advantage to give its latest entry-level phone. Rather than the predictable Qualcomm 400-series, Xiaomi has switched to MediaTek’s brand new Helio A22 (MT6762) processor. This marks the debut of a new Helio A-series branding scheme for MediaTek’s entry-level offerings. The Helio A22 has four ARM Cortex-A53 cores running at up to 2GHz and is manufactured using a power-efficient 12nm process. This could give battery life a significant boost.
The Redmi 6A is available with either 16GB or 32GB of storage, and both variants have 2GB of RAM. Our review unit was the 16GB version, and we found that we had just under 10GB of usable space when setting it up. If you aren’t planning to carry a lot of music and videos around with you, this much should be fine, but you’ll need a microSD card otherwise, with cards of up to 256GB capacity supported.
The 18:9 screen measures 5.45 inches diagonally and has a resolution of 720×1440 pixels. Xiaomi has packed in a 3000mAh battery. The rear camera has a 13-megapixel sensor, f/2.2 aperture, and PDAF, while the front one has a 5-megapixel sensor. The Redmi 6A can use 4G data on either SIM. VoLTE HD is supported on only one SIM at a time, regardless of which slot it’s in. There’s also Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, and GPS. Interestingly, you get the standard ambient light and proximity sensors as well as a digital compass.
One of Xiaomi’s defining smartphone features is its custom MIUI software, which has a vocal legion of fans. The Redmi 6A runs MIUI 9.6 which is based on Android 8.1. Our unit had already received the August 2018 Android security patch. There’s no official word on any release timeframe for an update to Android 9.0 Pie. MIUI hasn’t changed much over the years, and with stock Android One gaining popularity, it’s beginning to show. We missed common features like the ability to long-press an app icon for quick shortcuts and notifications.
There’s a lot of preloaded bloat and redundant apps, for example you have UC Browser, Chrome, and Xiaomi’s own default browser. Facebook, Amazon, PhonePe, Netflix, Opera, and a few other third-party apps are preloaded, and several more are “promoted” right within the MIUI interface. The default Facemoji keyboard has a lot going on with emojis, stickers, GIFs, themes, and more. Then there are also Microsoft apps and assorted Mi utilities. The one big thing that immediately jumped out at us was the amount of advertising that’s now baked into MIUI.
We saw a few spammy alerts from the Mi Apps store using peer-pressure tactics to try to make us download specific apps. Moreover, there were full-screen interstitial ads whenever we launched the Themes app or used the Storage Cleaner function within the Settings app, and there were ads in the Security app as well. Very few of these apps can be removed. Mi Music and Mi Video are also full of promotional content. There’s even spam in the Gallery app — sporadically, after playing a video clip we had recorded, we saw a screen of suggestions for Hungama videos.
We were extremely disappointed to see how much advertising there was. Much of it only became apparent after a few days of use, so it’s possible that there’s even more, deeper beneath the surface, waiting to jump out at users. If this is the tradeoff for low-cost phones, we wouldn’t be surprised to see even hardcore Xiaomi fans gravitating towards stock Android.
That isn’t to say that MIUI is all bad. It still has loads of features including Ui customisation options, the ability to clone apps, fine-grained display colour tone adjustment, useful gestures, and the ability to lock apps. There’s face recognition, but Xiaomi warns that it might be defeated by a photo of you.
Xiaomi Redmi 6A performance, battery life, and cameras
This is an entry-level phone, and we know that it isn’t meant to be pushed too hard, but basic usage still needs to be smooth. Thankfully, we can say that the Redmi 6A — for the most part — was not frustrating to use. There was some lag when flipping through the task switcher or exiting from apps back to the home screen, but we could live with that. We also quickly learnt to avoid Xiaomi’s Mi apps because the extra steps needed to dismiss ads all the time became too annoying.
On rare occasions, it took a second or two for many apps, including the basic Messaging app, to be usable after loading. You can hide the on-screen Android navigation buttons and use gestures instead, but we found that to be extremely slow. The keyboard was also a bit of a problem, but Google’s Gboard is preloaded and ready to go as an alternative. MIUI is strained with with only 2GB of RAM, and we noted anywhere between 650MB and 1.2GB free during use.
The screen is good enough for watching videos and playing games on, and we had no major complaints in terms of vibrancy, colour reproduction, or viewing angles considering the price of this phone. The speaker on the back isn’t very clear and music doesn’t sound great, but voices in videos come through well enough.
Benchmark tests gave us pretty decent results. We got 61,053 in AnTuTu, and 765 and 2,306 respectively in Geekbench’s single-core and multi-core tests. The 20fps score in GFXBench’s T-Rex test shows that 3D games won’t run all that well, but you should be able to play casual puzzle titles without any trouble. 3DMark’s Ice Storm Extreme test gave us a score of 5,451 and the Slingshot test score was 453.
Xiaomi’s phones have always surprised us with great performance in our HD video loop battery life test. The Redmi 6A ran for 13 hours, 22 minutes, thanks to its 3000mAh battery, the efficient SoC, and MIUI’s optimisations. Our everyday usage consisted of a bit of light gaming and video streaming, and we comfortably made it through a 10-hour working day and the rest of the evening. If you don’t use your phone for much more than calls, messages and social media, you should be able to stretch to a day and a half between charges. On the downside, a full charge from zero took us nearly three hours.
Tap to see full-sized Xiaomi Redmi 6A camera samples
Camera quality is typically where low-cost phones struggle the most. The Redmi 6A is obviously not going to be ideal if you need great photos, but it should be enough for people who just want to share their lives through social media and messaging apps. Our sample shots came out looking relatively good with acceptable levels of detail and sharp focus. There are a few shots in which we could see that focus had not locked on the ideal spot, and small bright objects or parts of the frame did get blown out quite badly. Colours were generally bright and vibrant too.
At night, we definitely had to be careful about standing still and not shaking the phone, but shots were still fairly decent as long as there was a light source nearby. Areas in the shadows just came out looking completely black. One problem we found was that no matter what conditions we were shooting in, the Redmi 6A often took a full second or more to save a shot, leaving us waiting before we could take the next one.
Video recording goes up to 1080p but it is shaky and a little jerky with constant minor focus shifts. Video taken in bright sunlight looked a bit artificial and oversharpened. The front camera does a serviceable job but again, this is entry-level quality and nothing beyond that. The camera app has time-lapse and panorama modes. Nice touches include an auto HDR setting, an on-screen level overlay to help you frame shots, a tilt-shift filter, and multiple scene modes. There is a manual mode as well, and buried within the settings panel are a few options for exposure and metering control.
Verdict The Redmi 6A is a fairly good update to the Redmi 5A, which itself was barely any different compared to the Redmi 4A (Review). You now get a tall screen, better processor, and improved polish overall. However, the price has gone up — Rs. 5,999 is still very good, especially considering the recent slide in the Indian Rupee’s exchange rate, but it isn’t quite as tempting as the Redmi 5A was at Rs. 4,999. This is also just an “introductory” price, and we don’t yet know how long it will last or what it will increase to after that.
With this generation, you get 2GB of RAM across the board, rather than 3GB with the 32GB storage variant. If you can spend a little more money and want to step up the ladder, chances are you’ll find the 3GB/ 32GB Redmi 6, with its fingerprint sensor and better processor, the better choice. As for the competition, the Redmi 6A delivers a superior experience compared to the equally priced Coolpad Mega 5A (Review) and the more expensive Honor 7S (Review), and even if its price rises by Rs. 1,000, we think it will remain the better option.
MIUI has so far been very well received, and it is one of the most polished non-stock Android UIs we’ve seen. However, that goodwill can and will evaporate if Xiaomi continues pushing ads and spam like this. The company isn’t competing with the likes of Intex and Micromax anymore, but with Android One and Android Go models. We hope that Xiaomi takes note before it’s too late.
Are Redmi 6A and Redmi 6 the best budget smartphones in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
Over the last few years, we’ve reviewed a couple of network-attached storage (NAS) devices from Synology. We first got our hands on the entry-level DS215j, one of the predecessors of the modern-day DS218j, and then we tested the enterprise-focused DS716+II, which has since been succeeded by the DS718+. Synology is one of the leading manufacturers of NAS devices, providing versatile boxes that will find favour with enthusiasts as well as small- to medium-sized businesses.
We’ve used one of our previous reviews to describe at length what a NAS is and who might need one, so if you aren’t sure whether you need one, we suggest you read up before proceeding further. The model that we will be reviewing today is the Synology DiskStation DS218+, which sits in between the two models that we’ve reviewed earlier.
The DS218+ is a two-bay NAS that’s powered by an Intel Celeron J3355 dual-core processor capable of speeds up to 2.5 GHz. It has 2GB of DDR3L RAM that, Synology says, can be expanded by 4GB by utilising the second available memory slot. Like other Synology units, you can put 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch SATA drives (hard disk or SSD) into each bay. The DS218+ supports drives of up to 14TB each, giving you a maximum internal raw capacity of 28TB.
You get three USB 3.0 ports, 1 Gigabit Ethernet port, 1 eSATA port, and a copy button that can be used to quickly copy data from an external drive, as we’ve described earlier.
The Synology DS218+ looks like the DS716+II/ DS718+ at a glance, but this one has a front cover that has a tendency to come loose rather easily.t least this isn’t something you’d be mucking about with on a daily basis. Like its siblings, the DS218+ is pretty unobtrusive, measuring 165mm x 108mm x 232.2 mm and weighing 1.3kg without drives.
The fan does a decent job of keeping the enclosure cool without getting loud, though with an operating temperature range of 5°C to 40°C you will want to use it in relatively cool environments, by Indian standards. Synology says the unit is capable of reaching speeds of up to 113Mbps for encrypted reads and 112MBps while performing encrypted writes, but that depends on a variety of factors including the drives you use.
The DS218+ comes with a few enterprise-grade features such as AES-NI hardware encryption, a virtual machine manager, and a MailPlus Server license allowing you to run a hosted email solution. It supports more concurrent users in Synology’s Office, Drive, and Chat collaboration apps as compared to other consumer NAS units in the company’s lineup, though something like the DS718+ is obviously still a step-up. Synology has a strong portfolio of apps — called packages — that you can install via the Package Centre, a sort of App Store for your Synology NAS.
You can search for packages, browse through the store to see what catches your eye, and update them, similar to the Mac App Store or the app stores on your mobile device. At the time of filing this review, around 60 packages were are available from Synology itself and roughly another 70 from third parties. You can also sideload packages from third-party sources. In our previous reviews, we’ve covered some of the consumer- and enterprise-focused Synology packages as well as apps for mobile devices.
As we’ve noted earlier, we are big fans of Download Station and Video Station — and their corresponding mobile apps DS Get and DS Video — which you can use to download and manage videos from the Internet, if you are someone who still likes maintaining a local library and haven’t switched fully to streaming services. Just like the Synology DiskStation DS716+II that we reviewed a couple of years back, the DS218+ supports 4K 30fps hardware transcoding, which means you can stream those H.265 files in their full glory even if your client doesn’t support the format. Do note that the exact resolutions you can stream at will also depend on the capabilities of your client. Synology has a handy table on its website if you want to get into the finer details of the formats/ resolutions and you can also read more about transcoding in our Synology DS 716+II review.
Moments is a relatively new photo management app, which Synology believes will find favour with the average user, as opposed to the Photo Station app, which has features that are geared more towards the professional. We found this differentiation a little strange, especially since the two apps maintain their own databases and there’s no way to share photos between them. So, for example, if you have been using the Photo Station app for some time, and now want to make use of some of the new features that Moments offers — such as face recognition — you can’t do that without importing all your photos from scratch.
Getting photos into the Moments app isn’t exactly seamless either. Strangely, there’s no way to point the Moments app to a location on your Synology device that already has some photos and let it import them in the background. You need to use the Web uploader from the browser on your desktop, or drag the photos into the browser window. Alternatively, you can use the Moments app for Android or iOS to send photos from your smartphone into the Moments database, which is pretty similar to uploading your pictures to a cloud service like Google Photos. Photos are uploaded in full resolution, and all EXIF data is preserved.
Once you have your photos imported, , things work a lot better. Moments groups your photos by Faces, Subjects, and Places, and we found the face recognition to be up there with the best apps that we’ve used. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way of retraining the app in case of the (rare) false positive. The Places feature also works as advertised, offering a view of your photos grouped by location.
Photos (left), Subjects (middle), and Places in Synology’s Moments app for Android
However, the Subjects feature is a bit underwhelming, as Moments seems to have only a small preset list of ‘subjects’ including Cat, Dog, and Ocean, and there’s no way to search for objects beyond that. This is similar to how Apple has implemented object recognition on Photos for iOS and macOS, as opposed to Google’s more flexible approach that lets you search for even arbitrary things such as ‘yellow mug’. It also doesn’t deal well with some of the localised stuff. For example, we imported a bunch of wedding photos into Moments, but only one of them was found under the subject ‘Wedding’. Moments, of course, lets you search by location and the people it identifies, and you can share any of the photos with anyone on the Internet with a couple of clicks.
The basic idea behind Synology’s Moments app is to offer the basic functionality of Google Photos on a private cloud where you host and control all your own data, but the app is clearly a work in progress and lacks the polish of some of the more mature Synology offerings, such as DS Video.
The features we described above are available via Moments’ Web-based interface on your desktop, and also the Moments app for iOS and Android. Do note that your experience using the mobile app will depend largely on the Internet speed of the home/ office where the Synology NAS is plugged in, since the app needs to constantly talk to your NAS unit.
Synology’s EZ-Internet package makes it easy to make the contents of your Synology unit to be available via the Internet — which it will obviously be necessary need to be for features like remote upload to work — by opening the required ports on your router. We tried the app with four different routers during the duration of our review period, testing and EZ-Internet worked flawlessly with all of them.
Various controls offered by Synology’s Moments app for Android
Another app that aims to replicate a Google offering is Synology’s Drive, which is functionally equivalent to cloud storage solutions like Dropbox and Google’s app by the same name. While the app doesn’t offer any additional functionality that would make you want to use it over the more established public options, if you work in an organisation where it is important for data to be under your control end to end, or if you are an individual user who values the privacy that comes with hosting your own data, Drive is worth considering. Of course, you are then responsible for all your own backups and the physical security of your NAS, in case of natural disasters, theft, power surges, and disk failure, though Synology has a package that makes backing up the contents of your NAS to a cloud pretty seamless.
Our experience using Drive was pretty smooth, both while using computers on the same home network as the Synology, as well as from remote locations, with the syncing working as we expected. Synology has released native apps for macOS, Windows, and Linux as well as mobile apps for Android and iOS. While Drive does a good job of maintaining version histories of all documents you work on in any shared folder, the default conflict resolution settings didn’t work as we expected them to.
By default Drive is configured to “Keep the latest modified version” and rename discarded versions in order to preserve them, but we noticed that it just did the former (i.e. preserve the changes made by whoever saved the document last) but there was no indication that there had been a conflict. We could still go back to the version history of the document — accessible via the Web and even via Finder/ Explorer on a computer — but without any indication that there had been a conflict, we were unlikely to go digging and thus risked losing someone’s changes. Changing the conflict resolution setting to “Keep the version on the server” via the settings of the Drive software on each client made the feature work as expected, and we saw another copy of the same document pop up in the folder, similar to how Dropbox and other storage providers handle such scenarios.
Document history as maintained by Synology’s Drive (seen in Finder on macOS)
You also get features like selective sync i.e. you can pick exactly which files and folders you want to sync on each machine, one-click sharing of files/ folders with others via the Web, and even integration with Synology’s Office, a Web-based collaboration suite that lets you create and edit documents, spreadsheets, and slides. It’s available via the Web-based Drive client and is great if you collaborate only within your organisation and have everyone using Drive and Office as their primary platform. However, if you use Microsoft’s Office apps, you will need to constantly convert your files to/ from the formats that Drive uses. Throw in the fact that Drive’s mobile apps don’t support editing documents — and there are no Synology Office mobile apps — it might be a bit immature for most organisations at this stage.
Verdict The Synology DS218+ is priced in India at Rs. 32,799, though it seems to be retailing via the company’s authorised online partner Amazon India at a slight premium at the moment. This is a decent NAS option for medium-sized businesses that are looking for enterprise-grade features and don’t want to spend on something like the DS718+ (Rs. 42,399). While the 4K transcoding feature of the DS218+ will appeal to consumers, the rest of its features might be an overkill for most, and they might want to consider one of the more affordable options such as the DS218 Play (Rs. 23,699), though its transcoding capabilities are limited as compared to the DS718+. Of course, as we’ve explained before, pretty much every Synology NAS will let you stream videos to clients that don’t require any transcoding.
The ecosystem of Synology’s packages is available to all of its offerings, and that’s where the company’s biggest strength lies. While Moments and Drive may lack the maturity of some of Synology’s other applications, the company has a great track record of improving capabilities via software updates, and we are hopeful about their future.
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