Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS First Ride Review





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The Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS comes to India via the CKD route and is priced at Rs. 7.46 lakh

There is a lot happening in the adventure motorcycle segment in India. Till about a month ago, there was just the Kawasaki Versys 650 as the only option when looking for an ADV having a displacement less than 800 cc. Now there’s the SWM SuperDual T and the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS as well. The Suzuki V-Strom 650 is one of the highest selling 650 cc adventure touring motorcycles across the globe and is now on sale in India. We get a taste of what the motorcycle is all about.

Suzuki V-Strom 650XT

Also Read: Suzuki V-Strom 650XT ABS Launched At ₹ 7.46 Lakh

Looks and design

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The V-Strom 650 XT uses the same design as its elder brother, the V-Strom 1000

The V-Strom 650 XT uses the same design as its elder brother, the V-Strom 1000. The front end is characterised by an oval-shaped headlamp along with the typical ‘beak’ which seems to be typical of adventure bike design. The fat fuel tank is followed by the scooped seat which end in a standard luggage mount rack at the tail. The V-Strom 650 XT, especially in the yellow, looks good, be it standing still or on the move. The instrument panel is a simple part digital, part analogue console with big markings; it’s not exactly hi-tech but makes reading on the go easier. Being an adventure bike, it does get a bash plate, but it’s hard plastic, and should come in handy protecting the underbelly from minor scrapes over rough terrain.

Engine specifications

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The Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT gets a 645 cc V-twin engine that makes 70 bhp and 62 Nm of peak torque

The engine on the V-Strom 650 XT is a 645 cc V-twin that makes 70 bhp at 8,800 rpm and 62 Nm of peak torque at 6,500 rpm. The engine is paired to a slick 6-speed gearbox. Now, Suzuki says that it has updated the engine on the 2017 V-Strom 650 (Yes, this is a year old model, coming to India only now) with new resin coated pistons and exhaust cam-shafts from the globally popular Suzuki SV650 (which is still not sold in India). Over 60 components in the engine have been updated in order to meet Euro IV emission norms and have been carried over to the India-spec model as well. The down-type exhaust system is all-new as well. The other important feature on the V-Strom 650 is the Suzuki low-RPM assist. It basically increases the idling speed of the engine when engaging the clutch or when you ride at low RPMs, making it easy not to stall the engine, whether crawling through traffic or manoeuvring broken roads and the like.

Engine performance

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The Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT has plenty of pulling power available from as low as 2,500 rpm

Riding the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS for a few hours, the first thought that crossed my mind was the refinement of the engine. It is butter-smooth and bereft of vibrations at any given RPMs. Adding to the refinement, is the tractability. 70 bhp and 62 Nm might not seem like much, but what impressed us is how the power and torque is delivered. It is very user-friendly and will not intimidate riders who are upgrading from, say 250-300 cc bikes to the V-Strom 650 XT. There is plenty of pulling power available from as low as 2,500 rpm and even when in high gears, one need not shift down while overtaking, simply opening up the throttle will do! The 6-speed gearbox too is precise and has smooth shifts. The Suzuki V-Strom might not have what you could call ‘grin-inducing’ performance but it sure does have a likeable motor. The performance at least, will appeal to a wide range of motorcycling audiences. The V-Strom 650 XT will happily cruise at triple digit speeds without stressing itself or the rider out. We took the bike for almost a 300 km spin and never did it feel lacking, at least in terms of performance.

Ride and handling

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On the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT you sit high and comfortable, getting a good view of the road

The first thing that crosses your mind when you plant yourself on the V-Strom 650 is the comfortable perch. You sit high and comfortable, getting a good view of the road and the moment you start moving, you will find that it is easier to move it around than a regular 800 cc + adventure bikes thanks to a kerb weight of 216 kg. The bike responds instantly to handling inputs and is eager when it comes to quick direction changes. Throw it into a corner and it will happily lean over and exit without any drama. There is enough grip from the Bridgestone Battlax tyres for all tarmac related activities.

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Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT offers quite a comfortable ride even in the default suspension setup

Sure, the suspension can be set up to individual preferences, but we found the V-Strom to have a comfortable ride even in the default setup that it was given to us in. Suspension is handled by 41 mm telescopic forks up front and a monoshock at the rear (which is fully adjustable for preload and rebound). Braking is handled by two 310 mm discs up front and a 260 mm disc at the rear. Dual-channel ABS and a 2-step traction control system are offered as standard. The traction control can be turned off completely as well, but the ABS cannot be switched off.

Off-road performance

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The Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT has a ground clearance of 170 mm which is sufficient to tackle broken roads or big bumps

In essence, the V-Strom 650 XT is a touring machine and not exactly an off-roader. But the motorcycle is more than happy to tackle bad roads or the occasional off-road patch you throw at it. The bike has a ground clearance of 170 mm which is sufficient to tackle broken roads or big bumps. But in case you are looking for something more hard-core, you might want to look up one of the bigger adventure motorcycles, with more off-road oriented equipment.

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Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT is more of a touring motorcycle than an off-roader

Suzuki also pegs the V-Strom 650 XT as more of a touring motorcycle than an off-roader. It does get hand guards and a plastic bashplate which felt rather flimsy to us. We don’t think it will offer decent protection against big rocks or other obstacles that you might find on a trail. At present, Suzuki is not offering a metal bashplate even as an accessory but could do so in the near future. Should you want to stand up and ride, you will feel that the handlebars are slightly set low for the rider to be comfortable.

Price and verdict

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Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT rivals Kawasaki Versys 650 and the SWM SuperDual T

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The Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS is priced at ₹ 7.46 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) and goes up against the Kawasaki Versys 650 and the SWM SuperDual T. At present, these are the only three ADV motorcycles that one could buy in the 500 cc – 800 cc segment. The V-Strom 650 XT ABS in particular, is a balanced package. For the price, it offers good performance, good quality fit and finish and most importantly, it will sit very well for those who are looking to buy a smaller displacement, more affordable adventure touring motorcycle. It gets the basic features that a motorcycle at this price point should have and will be more than happy to double up as a daily ride along with being the occasional mile-muncher.

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Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) Review


Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) is one of the latest smartphones to be a part of Samsung’s Galaxy A-series. It also happens to be the first smartphone from the Korean giant to sport a triple camera setup at the back. We would expect a phone from the Galaxy S series or Note series to be the first to get new high-end features, so it’s quite surprising to see an A-series model getting such attention. That’s not all, Samsung also launched the Galaxy A9 (2018) recently, which is the first smartphone in the world to sport a quad-camera setup at the back. While this might slightly dampen the buzz around the Galaxy A7 (2018), are its three cameras versatile enough to give it an edge over the competition in its price segment? We put it to the test to find out.

 

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) design

Samsung seems to have taken a new approach with the A-series of late. When this series was first unveiled, it comprised of devices with metal unibodies and IP certifications. The Galaxy A7 (2018) and a lot of other recent models such as the Galaxy A9 (2018) and Galaxy A8+ (2018) (Review) sport glass panels at the back. Samsung told Gadgets 360 that millennials are the target market for the A-series, and they prefer glass over other materials. As a result, the Galaxy A7 (2018) has a mid-frame that is sandwiched between glass on the front and rear. The frame is well built, but feels like plastic to the touch and does not get cold in an air-conditioned room.

The 6-inch display on the Galaxy A7 (2018) has an 18.5:9 aspect ratio. Samsung also refers to it as an Infinity Display, but it does not curve around the edges of the device like it does on the Galaxy S9 (Review) and Galaxy Note 9 (Review). The bezels on the sides are slightly thicker than we would like, but the top and bottom bezels are symmetrical. The earpiece, selfie camera, flash, and an array of sensors are placed above the screen, while the space below it is blank.

20181013 120025 Samsung Galaxy 7 (2018)Triple camera setup on the Galaxy A7 (2018)

 

You’ll find a Micro-USB port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and loudspeaker grille at the bottom of the phone, while the top only has a secondary microphone. Considering the price of this smartphone, we were expecting a USB Type-C port. The power button has an integrated fingerprint scanner and is positioned on the right, along with the volume buttons. We have seen a similar fingerprint scanner on the Samsung Galaxy J6+ (Review). This is convenient when the phone is in your right hand, but you may have to shuffle it a little in your left hand to get a proper scan.

The phone weighs 168g which is about right for a phone of this size. At the back, it has a vertically stacked triple camera module along with an LED flash. The camera module juts out slightly and has a metal rim around it to keep it safe. We observed discolouration on this metal rim after using the smartphone for a few days. As we know, glass picks up smudges quickly, and the back of the Galaxy A7 (2018) isn’t an exception. You will have to wipe it frequently to keep it smudge free.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) specifications and software

Samsung has used a 6-inch Super Amoled FHD+ panel on the Galaxy A7 (2018). It has punchy colours and good viewing angles, and is also has great visibility when outdoors. You also get options to tweak the colour output to suit your preference. We liked the display and enjoyed watching videos on it. The phone also has support for Dolby Atmos, but only when using headphones, not the loudspeaker. There is a noticeable difference when Dolby Atmos is switched on, and you do get the option to adjust the audio output.

The Galaxy A7 (2018) is powered by a Samsung Exynos 7885 octa-core processor. It has six ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.6GHz, and two ARM Cortex A72 cores clocked at 2.2GHz. The phone is available in two variants — one with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, and the other with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. We had the former for this review.

Both variants also have a non-removable 3300mAh battery, Bluetooth 5, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, GPS, Glonass, and Beidou. The Galaxy A7 (2018) misses out on NFC, and as a result, it only supports Samsung Pay Mini. It has other sensors such as an accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity sensor, and ambient light sensor. The Galaxy A7 (2018) is a dual-SIM smartphone with support for 4G and VoLTE on both SIMs.

20181013 115640 Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) ReviewSide-mounted fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy A7 (2018)

 

Samsung ships the Galaxy A7 (2018) with Android 8.0 Oreo with its custom Experience UI and our device was running the September 2018 security patch. There are a few customisations and you get quite a few apps preinstalled. Samsung’s virtual assistant Bixby is also available on this smartphone. You don’t get a dedicated button for it as we have seen on the Galaxy A9 (2018), but you can swipe right from the home screen to access it. The Settings app is slightly different than what you’d see on stock Android. That said, we did not have trouble finding certain settings, and the search function within the app is helpful. The smartphone also makes the most of its Amoled display with an Always-On mode that displays the time and pending notifications on the phone screen when it’s idle.

Some of the preinstalled apps on the Galaxy A7 (2018) include Google and Microsoft Office apps, Amazon Shopping, Prime Video, Dailyhunt, Samsung Mall, Samsung Max (a data saving app), Samsung Pay Mini, and My Galaxy. We found the My Galaxy app a little spammy as it kept sending push notifications. Popular Samsung features such as S Bike Mode, S Power Planning, and S Secure are not preinstalled on the smartphone but you can download them from the Google Play Store.

Another addition called Game Tools helps you block incoming notifications, boost performance, and disable automatic brightness adjustment when a game is launched. Game Tools also has a nifty feature that lets you use other apps in picture-in-picture mode.

Dual Messenger is similar to the Dual Apps functionality on other smartphones, and lets you run two instances of the same app on the phone. Samsung’s Smart Stay feature, which keeps the display awake when you are looking at it, as well as the palm swipe gesture to capture a screenshot, are useful. Another feature called Chat Over Video, which was introduced with the Galaxy J-series and A-series earlier this year, lets you open SMS or WhatsApp conversations in a transparent layer over a running video. You can also swipe down on the fingerprint scanner to pull down the notification shade, which is easy to do when holding the phone in your right hand.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) performance, battery life, and cameras

The Exynos processor powering the Galaxy A7 (2018) isn’t a slowcoach by any means. The octa-core SoC is powerful enough to let you navigate through the phone’s UI without any lag or stutter. We could also multitask between multiple apps without any slowdowns. The fingerprint scanner is quick to unlock the smartphone once you get a proper scan. We also used the face unlock feature which was fairly quick.

We ran a few benchmarks to gauge the performance of the Galaxy A7 (2018). In AnTuTu, the phone managed to score 119,786 points. It scored 1,525 and 4,369 in Geekbench’s single-core and multi-core tests respectively. It scored 29fps in GFXBench’s T-Rex test and 9.4fps in the Manhattan 3.1 test. These benchmarks scores are in the same range as those of the Nokia 5.1 Plus (Review) which is powered by the MediaTek Helio P60, and the Motorola One Power (Review) which sports the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor. Both these phones are priced under Rs. 15,000. We also found that the Xiaomi Mi A2 (Review) and the Poco F1 (Review), which cost slightly less than the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018), score higher in these tests.

We played PUBG on the Galaxy A7 (2018) and it recommended the medium graphics preset. We did observe occasional lag while playing, and the device did get warm to the touch after 30 minutes. The loudspeaker at the bottom is easy to muffle when holding the phone in landscape mode.

20181013 115626 Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) ReviewThe Galaxy A7 (2018) sports a Micro-USB port

 

In our HD video loop test, the Galaxy A7 (2018) managed to run for 15 hours and 40 minutes. With our regular use consisting of an active WhatsApp account, a couple of calls, an hour of navigation using Google Maps, and a few games, we got through a full day on a single charge.

Let’s address the highlight of the Galaxy A7 (2018) now, the triple camera setup. It consists of a 24-megapixel primary camera with an f/1.7 aperture, a 5-megapixel depth sensor with an f/2.2 aperture, and an 8-megapixel sensor with an ultra-wide lens and f/2.4 aperture. The camera app has Panorama, Pro, Beauty, Live Focus, Slow Motion, AR Emoji, and Hyperlapse modes. The camera is set to Auto by default and it also has a Scene Optimiser function that can detect 19 different scenarios and set the camera up accordingly.

In the viewfinder, you get shortcuts for Bixby Vision and Quick Share, which lets you send photos to apps like Facebook and Facebook Messenger right from the camera app. There are controls for the flash, filters, and camera switcher. A quick HDR toggle is missed here, and you’ll need to go into the settings to control it. You also get a button which quickly lets you switch between the primary camera and the wide-angle one. This gives you a wider field of view.

 

Regular LensWide Angle Lens

 

The primary 24-megapixel camera manages good photos in daylight. The phone is quick to set exposure and even toggle HDR automatically if the scene requires it. In favourable light, it captured good details. It also manages to preserve the details of objects at a distance.

We found the 8-megapixel wide-angle sensor to be useful when trying to shoot landscapes. Photos taken with the wide-angle camera did not have the same amount of detail as shots taken with the primary camera, and there was slight barrel distortion at the edges. We only wound up using the wide-angle camera in spots where we did not have the liberty to move back far enough to capture everything we wanted in the frame.

The phone is quick to focus on tiny objects when shooting macros, and manages to create good separation between the subject and the background. Macros taken outdoors in daylight were sharp, but those shot indoors didn’t have the same level of sharpness.

Tap to see full-sized Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) camera samples 

 

Samsung’s Scene Optimiser is useful and does make a noticeable difference to the output. However, you’ll need to switch to that mode from Auto every time you launch the camera app. We feel that Samsung could have merged Scene Optimiser into the Auto mode to make it easier to use.

In low light, we were expecting the pixel binning feature on the Galaxy A7 (2018) to help deliver good photos. The output appears good, but you will notice a loss of detail after zooming in. The smartphone uses aggressive noise reduction, which leaves a watercolour effect on the output.

Selfies are quite detailed and can be shared on social media apps. The beautification mode kicks in automatically and you will have to switch it off manually if you want natural output. Automatic HDR is also available for selfies. The phone also has a handy selfie fill light. Video recording maxes out at 1080p for the primary and the selfie cameras. When shooting with the primary camera, we found that the output was well stabilised.

Verdict
The Galaxy A7 (2018) is the first Galaxy smartphone with a triple camera setup, and the different sensors do help you to get better shots in different situations. Despite the comparatively small 3300mAh battery, this phone manages to deliver good battery life thanks to its efficient processor. The glass back gives it a premium feel. We aren’t a hundred percent convinced about the side-mounted fingerprint scanner, as it wasn’t convenient when using the phone in the left hand.

Priced at Rs. 23,990, the Galaxy A7 (2018) is a decent package for the price. If you take a lot of photos, the wide angle sensor will come in handy. However, we would like Samsung to improve low light performance, and hopefully this is something that the can be done via a software update.

If you are looking for a phone with versatile cameras then the Galaxy A7 (2018) is worth considering for the price. But if you want a more powerful processor, you could instead consider the Poco F1 and the Vivo V11 Pro (Review), which are available at roughly the same price.



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Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) Review


Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) is one of the latest smartphones to be a part of Samsung’s Galaxy A-series. It also happens to be the first smartphone from the Korean giant to sport a triple camera setup at the back. We would expect a phone from the Galaxy S series or Note series to be the first to get new high-end features, so it’s quite surprising to see an A-series model getting such attention. That’s not all, Samsung also launched the Galaxy A9 (2018) recently, which is the first smartphone in the world to sport a quad-camera setup at the back. While this might slightly dampen the buzz around the Galaxy A7 (2018), are its three cameras versatile enough to give it an edge over the competition in its price segment? We put it to the test to find out.

 

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) design

Samsung seems to have taken a new approach with the A-series of late. When this series was first unveiled, it comprised of devices with metal unibodies and IP certifications. The Galaxy A7 (2018) and a lot of other recent models such as the Galaxy A9 (2018) and Galaxy A8+ (2018) (Review) sport glass panels at the back. Samsung told Gadgets 360 that millennials are the target market for the A-series, and they prefer glass over other materials. As a result, the Galaxy A7 (2018) has a mid-frame that is sandwiched between glass on the front and rear. The frame is well built, but feels like plastic to the touch and does not get cold in an air-conditioned room.

The 6-inch display on the Galaxy A7 (2018) has an 18.5:9 aspect ratio. Samsung also refers to it as an Infinity Display, but it does not curve around the edges of the device like it does on the Galaxy S9 (Review) and Galaxy Note 9 (Review). The bezels on the sides are slightly thicker than we would like, but the top and bottom bezels are symmetrical. The earpiece, selfie camera, flash, and an array of sensors are placed above the screen, while the space below it is blank.

20181013 120025 Samsung Galaxy 7 (2018)Triple camera setup on the Galaxy A7 (2018)

 

You’ll find a Micro-USB port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and loudspeaker grille at the bottom of the phone, while the top only has a secondary microphone. Considering the price of this smartphone, we were expecting a USB Type-C port. The power button has an integrated fingerprint scanner and is positioned on the right, along with the volume buttons. We have seen a similar fingerprint scanner on the Samsung Galaxy J6+ (Review). This is convenient when the phone is in your right hand, but you may have to shuffle it a little in your left hand to get a proper scan.

The phone weighs 168g which is about right for a phone of this size. At the back, it has a vertically stacked triple camera module along with an LED flash. The camera module juts out slightly and has a metal rim around it to keep it safe. We observed discolouration on this metal rim after using the smartphone for a few days. As we know, glass picks up smudges quickly, and the back of the Galaxy A7 (2018) isn’t an exception. You will have to wipe it frequently to keep it smudge free.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) specifications and software

Samsung has used a 6-inch Super Amoled FHD+ panel on the Galaxy A7 (2018). It has punchy colours and good viewing angles, and is also has great visibility when outdoors. You also get options to tweak the colour output to suit your preference. We liked the display and enjoyed watching videos on it. The phone also has support for Dolby Atmos, but only when using headphones, not the loudspeaker. There is a noticeable difference when Dolby Atmos is switched on, and you do get the option to adjust the audio output.

The Galaxy A7 (2018) is powered by a Samsung Exynos 7885 octa-core processor. It has six ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.6GHz, and two ARM Cortex A72 cores clocked at 2.2GHz. The phone is available in two variants — one with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, and the other with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. We had the former for this review.

Both variants also have a non-removable 3300mAh battery, Bluetooth 5, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, GPS, Glonass, and Beidou. The Galaxy A7 (2018) misses out on NFC, and as a result, it only supports Samsung Pay Mini. It has other sensors such as an accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity sensor, and ambient light sensor. The Galaxy A7 (2018) is a dual-SIM smartphone with support for 4G and VoLTE on both SIMs.

20181013 115640 Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) ReviewSide-mounted fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy A7 (2018)

 

Samsung ships the Galaxy A7 (2018) with Android 8.0 Oreo with its custom Experience UI and our device was running the September 2018 security patch. There are a few customisations and you get quite a few apps preinstalled. Samsung’s virtual assistant Bixby is also available on this smartphone. You don’t get a dedicated button for it as we have seen on the Galaxy A9 (2018), but you can swipe right from the home screen to access it. The Settings app is slightly different than what you’d see on stock Android. That said, we did not have trouble finding certain settings, and the search function within the app is helpful. The smartphone also makes the most of its Amoled display with an Always-On mode that displays the time and pending notifications on the phone screen when it’s idle.

Some of the preinstalled apps on the Galaxy A7 (2018) include Google and Microsoft Office apps, Amazon Shopping, Prime Video, Dailyhunt, Samsung Mall, Samsung Max (a data saving app), Samsung Pay Mini, and My Galaxy. We found the My Galaxy app a little spammy as it kept sending push notifications. Popular Samsung features such as S Bike Mode, S Power Planning, and S Secure are not preinstalled on the smartphone but you can download them from the Google Play Store.

Another addition called Game Tools helps you block incoming notifications, boost performance, and disable automatic brightness adjustment when a game is launched. Game Tools also has a nifty feature that lets you use other apps in picture-in-picture mode.

Dual Messenger is similar to the Dual Apps functionality on other smartphones, and lets you run two instances of the same app on the phone. Samsung’s Smart Stay feature, which keeps the display awake when you are looking at it, as well as the palm swipe gesture to capture a screenshot, are useful. Another feature called Chat Over Video, which was introduced with the Galaxy J-series and A-series earlier this year, lets you open SMS or WhatsApp conversations in a transparent layer over a running video. You can also swipe down on the fingerprint scanner to pull down the notification shade, which is easy to do when holding the phone in your right hand.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) performance, battery life, and cameras

The Exynos processor powering the Galaxy A7 (2018) isn’t a slowcoach by any means. The octa-core SoC is powerful enough to let you navigate through the phone’s UI without any lag or stutter. We could also multitask between multiple apps without any slowdowns. The fingerprint scanner is quick to unlock the smartphone once you get a proper scan. We also used the face unlock feature which was fairly quick.

We ran a few benchmarks to gauge the performance of the Galaxy A7 (2018). In AnTuTu, the phone managed to score 119,786 points. It scored 1,525 and 4,369 in Geekbench’s single-core and multi-core tests respectively. It scored 29fps in GFXBench’s T-Rex test and 9.4fps in the Manhattan 3.1 test. These benchmarks scores are in the same range as those of the Nokia 5.1 Plus (Review) which is powered by the MediaTek Helio P60, and the Motorola One Power (Review) which sports the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor. Both these phones are priced under Rs. 15,000. We also found that the Xiaomi Mi A2 (Review) and the Poco F1 (Review), which cost slightly less than the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018), score higher in these tests.

We played PUBG on the Galaxy A7 (2018) and it recommended the medium graphics preset. We did observe occasional lag while playing, and the device did get warm to the touch after 30 minutes. The loudspeaker at the bottom is easy to muffle when holding the phone in landscape mode.

20181013 115626 Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) ReviewThe Galaxy A7 (2018) sports a Micro-USB port

 

In our HD video loop test, the Galaxy A7 (2018) managed to run for 15 hours and 40 minutes. With our regular use consisting of an active WhatsApp account, a couple of calls, an hour of navigation using Google Maps, and a few games, we got through a full day on a single charge.

Let’s address the highlight of the Galaxy A7 (2018) now, the triple camera setup. It consists of a 24-megapixel primary camera with an f/1.7 aperture, a 5-megapixel depth sensor with an f/2.2 aperture, and an 8-megapixel sensor with an ultra-wide lens and f/2.4 aperture. The camera app has Panorama, Pro, Beauty, Live Focus, Slow Motion, AR Emoji, and Hyperlapse modes. The camera is set to Auto by default and it also has a Scene Optimiser function that can detect 19 different scenarios and set the camera up accordingly.

In the viewfinder, you get shortcuts for Bixby Vision and Quick Share, which lets you send photos to apps like Facebook and Facebook Messenger right from the camera app. There are controls for the flash, filters, and camera switcher. A quick HDR toggle is missed here, and you’ll need to go into the settings to control it. You also get a button which quickly lets you switch between the primary camera and the wide-angle one. This gives you a wider field of view.

 

Regular LensWide Angle Lens

 

The primary 24-megapixel camera manages good photos in daylight. The phone is quick to set exposure and even toggle HDR automatically if the scene requires it. In favourable light, it captured good details. It also manages to preserve the details of objects at a distance.

We found the 8-megapixel wide-angle sensor to be useful when trying to shoot landscapes. Photos taken with the wide-angle camera did not have the same amount of detail as shots taken with the primary camera, and there was slight barrel distortion at the edges. We only wound up using the wide-angle camera in spots where we did not have the liberty to move back far enough to capture everything we wanted in the frame.

The phone is quick to focus on tiny objects when shooting macros, and manages to create good separation between the subject and the background. Macros taken outdoors in daylight were sharp, but those shot indoors didn’t have the same level of sharpness.

Tap to see full-sized Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) camera samples 

 

Samsung’s Scene Optimiser is useful and does make a noticeable difference to the output. However, you’ll need to switch to that mode from Auto every time you launch the camera app. We feel that Samsung could have merged Scene Optimiser into the Auto mode to make it easier to use.

In low light, we were expecting the pixel binning feature on the Galaxy A7 (2018) to help deliver good photos. The output appears good, but you will notice a loss of detail after zooming in. The smartphone uses aggressive noise reduction, which leaves a watercolour effect on the output.

Selfies are quite detailed and can be shared on social media apps. The beautification mode kicks in automatically and you will have to switch it off manually if you want natural output. Automatic HDR is also available for selfies. The phone also has a handy selfie fill light. Video recording maxes out at 1080p for the primary and the selfie cameras. When shooting with the primary camera, we found that the output was well stabilised.

Verdict
The Galaxy A7 (2018) is the first Galaxy smartphone with a triple camera setup, and the different sensors do help you to get better shots in different situations. Despite the comparatively small 3300mAh battery, this phone manages to deliver good battery life thanks to its efficient processor. The glass back gives it a premium feel. We aren’t a hundred percent convinced about the side-mounted fingerprint scanner, as it wasn’t convenient when using the phone in the left hand.

Priced at Rs. 23,990, the Galaxy A7 (2018) is a decent package for the price. If you take a lot of photos, the wide angle sensor will come in handy. However, we would like Samsung to improve low light performance, and hopefully this is something that the can be done via a software update.

If you are looking for a phone with versatile cameras then the Galaxy A7 (2018) is worth considering for the price. But if you want a more powerful processor, you could instead consider the Poco F1 and the Vivo V11 Pro (Review), which are available at roughly the same price.



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Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Review


The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL were unveiled a week ago in Google’s third attempt at establishing itself as a serious player in the premium smartphone segment. There really weren’t many surprises to be had on the hardware front, as all the leaks and rumours we’d seen in the months leading up to the event turned out to be spot on.

It’s no secret that Google has been struggling to get its Pixel brand into the hearts and minds of the masses last year’s foibles with the Pixel 2 (Review) and Pixel 2 XL (Review) didn’t help its cause either. Despite its struggles, the company managed to ship nearly twice as many smartphone units in 2017 as compared to the year before, according to a senior research director at IDC. While this is still a tiny drop in the ocean compared to the volumes Apple and Samsung ship every year, it’s progress nonetheless.

The Pixel 3 is an important phone for Google as we finally get to see if that $1.1 billion deal with HTC was indeed a worthwhile investment. It’s another step forward in having better control over the hardware and software integration in its products, something Apple has mastered over the years. Google is confident that its Pixel 3 is every bit as premium as Apple’s new iPhone models, and they have the steep price to go with it. But can it instil that same confidence in the end user? It’s time to put Google’s claims to the test and see if the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are really better.

 

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL design

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL iterate on last year’s design. Despite that, the most immediate change you’ll notice is the way they look and feel is an improvement over the Pixel 2 series, which now feel bland in comparison. It’s a welcome change as the design feels modern and fresh. Both phones now have a taller aspect ratios, with the 18.5:9 Pixel 3 XL being slightly more so at 18.5:9 due to the presence of a notch.

The Pixel 3 series still use an aluminium frame but rather than giving it a matte finish, Google has used a glossy coating for the side frame and the back is now glass. It’s gone a step further and added a frosted look to three-fourths of the glass back, which is achieved through an etching process. This lends continuity to the design language of the Pixel line, while adding a bit of style along the way. It also feels really good when you hold the phone. The sides now blend more seamlessly with the front and back Gorilla Glass, so you don’t feel any rough edges.

Google Pixel 3 Pixel 3 XL back 2 ndtv pixelBoth phones have glass backs and support Qi wireless charging

Both phones have the same thickness of 7.9mm but naturally, the Pixel 3 is a lot easier to grip due to the smaller display. The Pixel 3 XL is a bit of handful, especially when you try to use it with one hand. At 184g, it’s a bit heavier too, but the weight is distributed well so we got used to it pretty quickly. Unlike last year, both Pixel 3 phones are available in three colours — Just Black, Clearly White and Not Pink — off which we preferred the look of the white version over the others, though your mileage may vary. The lighter colours continue to feature a power button in a contrasting shade, which is a nice touch.

There’s a single 4G Nano-SIM tray at the bottom, which supports VoLTE and both phones also support electronic or embedded SIM (eSIM), just like earlier Pixel phones. The latter feature is dependent on support from the network operator, which essentially make them dual-SIM smartphones, if both Google and the telco decide to support this feature. Unlike the new iPhone models, Google has not yet announced any plans to bring this functionality to India just yet.

Next to the SIM tray is the USB Type-C (Gen. 1) port. The volume and power buttons are on the right side. The volume button in particular is a little stiff, which requires a bit of effort to use. This can be a little inconvenient at times, like when trying to click a picture using the volume-down button with one hand. There is no headphone socket, which means you’ll need to use the Type-C headphones or the included dongle.

Due to the front-firing speakers, the Pixel 3 has a thick bezel at the top and a sizeable chin at the bottom. However, this is still forgivable since the space is put to good use. The corners of the display have a large curve, due to which on-screen items like the time and battery percentage are pushed closer to the edge, compared to the Pixel 3 XL, which has more even spacing. It’s a mild aesthetic inconsistency and we’re probably just nit-picking at this point, but for what it’s worth, we prefer the way system information is displayed on the Pixel 3 XL.

Google Pixel 3 Pixel 3 XL notch 2 ndtv pixelThe Google Pixel 3 has a thick bezel on the top (below) but the Pixel 3 XL has that infamous notch

This brings us to the infamous notch on the bigger model, which clearly isn’t winning any awards. The general consensus is that it’s ugly and we agree that’s it’s one of the most poorly designed notches so far. The cut-out is a little too deep which makes it really stick out. You can hide it if you want by digging into the developer settings and finding the ‘Display cutout’ menu, but then you lose that extra bit of screen real eastate. Having said that, you do get used to it after a while.

This brings us to the displays, which we’re pretty sure where Google has concentrated its in order to avoid another Pixel 2 Xl-like fiasco. Both phones use similar HDR-certified, flexible OLED panels, with the Pixel 3 pushing a full-HD+ resolution (1080×2160) on a 5.5-inch screen while the Pixel 3 XL has a QHD+ resolution (1440×2960) on a 6.3-inch screen. Both phones have a dense pixel count of over 400ppi too, so text and images appear sharp and crisp. However, we did notice some differences between the two panels.

First, we’re happy to note that the Pixel 3 XL does not suffer from the dreaded ‘blue tint’ issue that plagued its predecessor. There is a slight blue hue that’s visible when viewing the phone at an angle and with a lighter background, but it’s not very prominent. The Pixel 3, on the other hand, tends to shift to a warmer hue when viewed in a similar manner. Most people aren’t really going to notice this behaviour with regular use, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

However, we did notice that our Pixel 3 unit had slightly punchier colours and crisper whites, compared to the Pixel 3 XL. The difference is more apparent when using the ‘Adaptive’ colour profile but is equally noticeable in the ‘Natural’ and ‘Boosted’ profiles as well, if you have the phones side by side. We also found the smaller phone to have slightly better sunlight legibility. On the other hand, the Pixel 3 XL handles colour gradients better than the Pixel 3, likely due to the higher resolution. The difference is visible in some of the stock wallpapers on the phones. While we have to give Google credit for upping their display game this time around, we still think the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (Review) and the Apple iPhone XS are the gold standard when it comes to smartphone OLED displays.

Google Pixel 3 Pixel 3 XL sim ndtv pixelThe Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have a single SIM slot but they do have eSIM support for a secondary mobile number

 

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL ship with the usual accessories like a fast charger, a Type-C to Type-C cable, manuals, stickers, SIM eject tool, a Type-C to 3.5mm dongle, quick switch adapter and new this year, is a Type-C headset called Pixel USB-C earbuds. This headset is basically a wired version of Google’s Pixel Buds wireless headphones which was launched last year, with a focus on real-time translation.

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL specifications and software

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL rock the Snapdragon 845 mobile platform, which, as of today, is still Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line chip that we’ve seen in plenty Android phones so far. Google has added two of its custom processors though to try and differentiate the Pixels from the competition and help take the load off the main CPU. The Pixel Visual Core chip, which debuted with the Pixel 2 series, is present again and this time, it will be doing the heavy lifting of HDR+ processing.

Google has also added a mobile version of its Titan M security chip, which is said to help strengthen the OS integrity and keep sensitive information like lock screen data more secure. Only time will tell how effective this measure actually is, but for now those paranoid about data theft can rest at ease.

Coming back to the specifications, both phones surprisingly get just 4GB of LPDDR4X RAM. It seems like the high level of optimisation Google does with its Pixel phones doesn’t require more RAM, or at least that’s what the company want us to believe. Storage is non-expandable like always and just like last time, your choices are either 64GB or 128GB. There isn’t a 256GB model, which is especially surprising considering how Apple and Samsung are now offering up to 512GB of storage in their respective flagships.

Connectivity features on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL include dual-dual Wi-Fi 802.11ac with 2X2 MIMO antennas, Bluetooth 5, NFC, USB OTG, and support for four satellite systems. The phones are also IP68 rated for dust and water resistance and there’s Qi wireless charging support too.

Google has included two cameras in the front this time but is sticking to just one rear camera. There’s no laser autofocus this time to assist the dual-pixel AF in the sensor, but instead, we get a new spectral and flicker sensor placed between the camera and the dual LED flash. The spectral (or colour temperature) sensor should allow the phones to capture more accurate colours while the flicker sensor should help avoid banding when shooting against artificial lighting, which was an issue with the previous phones.

Google Pixel 3 Pixel 3 XL buttons ndtv pixelBoth devices have the same thickness and have the power and volume buttons on the right side

 

In terms of software features, Now Playing is still present, which can automatically show on the lock screen the name of the song playing around you in the real world. Both Pixel phones also have HTC-inspired Active Edge, a feature that lets you squeeze the pressure sensitive sides to trigger Google Assistant. You can also use it to silence alarms, incoming calls, etc. It’s useful and the pressure sensitivity can be adjusted too.

You also get a bunch of sensors, including a barometer and new haptics engine. The latter is used judiciously on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, even for little things like pulling down the notification shade.

Google’s Pixel line has always been less about hardware and more about software and here, we get to see Android 9 Pie at its best. We’ve already covered some of the main highlights of Pie before, so we’ll just go over the most notable changes for the Pixel 3.

Gesture navigation is the only way to get around the OS in the new phones. Unlike the Pixel 2 where you could use gestures as an alternative to the traditional three-button system, there’s no going back in Pixel 3. It takes some getting used to, especially opening the app drawer, which requires a longer swipe-up gesture. However, after using the Pixel 3 duo for a few days as our primary devices, we got the hang of it eventually. Switching between apps is actually easier now but again, it takes a couple days to get used to the new gesture.

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL get new ‘Come Alive’ and ‘Living Universe’ range of wallpapers that look really cool and some of them even merge with the always-on display, giving you a nice transition when you lock or unlock the phone. We especially liked the ‘Groove’ wallpaper, which subtly changes colours and patterns based on ambient music. Android Pie also introduces dark mode for the Messages app and with the ‘Messages for Web’ feature, you can receive incoming messages directly within the browser on your computer, which is super convenient.

Google Pixel 3 Pixel 3 XL Anroid Pie ndtv pixelsThe new AI and machine learning features in Pie offer a very intuitive experience

 

However the big new change in Android Pie is on-device machine learning and AI integration and after using it for a few days, you start to see its benefits. For instance, if you have the habit of simply dismissing certain notifications, without opening it, the OS recognises that pattern and will eventually suggest to stop showing those notifications altogether. If you perform certain m actions within apps very often, they might show up as suggestions in the app drawer. For example, we started to get a shortcut for a WhatsApp contact we were recently chatting with and even a shortcut for a game as well as one to open a new Chrome tab. This is dynamic and keeps changing depending on your usage.

Another cool feature which we could totally get used to is the ability to interact with the content in the recent app carousel, without ever having to actually switch to the app. For example, you can hop to the browser with a quick swipe up, highlight a phone number with a long press in the webpage and the OS automatically gives you the option to place a call. This saves you multiple steps.

Digital Wellbeing is still in beta but it’s a pretty neat feature which gives you a break up of how much time you spend on different apps in a day, thereby allowing you to make lifestyle changes, as necessary. It’s easy to get addicted to certain apps – especially games – and lose track of the time you spend on it. This is where features like App Timer – which lets you set a time limit for each app – come in.

Wind Down offers options to automatically trigger Do-not-Disturb (DnD), tone down the colour of your display and make it greyscale. There’s a new ‘Flip to Shhh’ feature in the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, which automatically enables DnD when you flip the phone over and disable it when you switch it around. You get a subtle haptic feedback when you do this, to let you know its switched sound profiles. It works really well and we found it quite useful. The new Pixels are also the first phones to get Gmail’s Smart Compose feature, which should roll out to other phones too in the coming months.

Google Pixel 3 Pixel 3 XL digital well being ndtv ixeDigital Wellbeing lets you keep a track on your app usage and provides an easy-to-read graph of your daily activity 
 

Those in the US will be able to take advantage of Call Screen for incoming calls, where Google Assistant will answer the call for you, with the help of Google’s Duplex technology. According to Google, you’ll be able to see a live transcription of the call as it’s happening so you can take over at any time and speak to the caller yourself if feel it’s actually important.

Last but not least, both Pixel 3 devices come with unlimited cloud storage until 31 January 2022 for storing photos and video in their original resolution.

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL performance, cameras, and battery life

So far so good. The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have impressed us with their build, upgraded display, and the highly intuitive software, but what are they like to live with? We have been using both phones, interchangeably, as a primary device for a week, which isn’t a very long time but it’s given us a fair idea of what you can expect.

Despite the glass back and glossy sides, we didn’t find them too slippery either. The display does pick up smudges easily but the soft-touch back is largely immune to fingerprints. Call quality is very good as the earpiece on both phones get sufficiently loud.

Android Pie runs smoothly even with just 4GB of RAM and we rarely encountered any hiccups. We say rarely because there were a couple of instances where the system would behave a little odd. For instance, the Gmail app minimised itself right in the middle of reading an email a few times and on both devices, we were simply unable to train Assistant to match our voice, as it would get stuck at the loading screen. Also, both our devices were still on the September 5 security patch when our Pixel 2 XL is already running the October 5 patch. Now, in all fairness, these devices were given to us before the launch and since we still have time before the phones go on sale on November 1, there’s plenty of time to fix all this through a software update.

The fingerprint sensor is easy to reach on both models and it is quick at authenticating you. It can also be used to get to the notification shade, which is a gesture we wound up using a lot on the XL model. Weirdly, none of our review units had an option for face unlock, even in Android Pie’s Smart Lock menu. Google later confirmed that face unlock is indeed not present on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. The texture on the fingerprint sensor is a bit different too, so it’s easy to distinguish it from the soft-touch glass even if you are reaching for it blind.

Google Pixel 3 Pixel 3 XL back 2 2 ndtv pixelsThe Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL pack enough power to handle even demanding games

 

The Pixel 3 duo performed well in benchmarks too. We couldn’t install any of them through the Play Store since Google has blocked it for these devices to prevent specifications from leaking before the launch, but we were able to side-load the latest versions of all the benchmarks. Other than AnTuTu, which failed to complete, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL posted strong numbers across the chart.

The phone does get warm when playing games but we never found it getting unbearably hot. As expected, even heavy games run just fine on both phones. We got smooth framerates in games like PUBG, which looks really good especially on the larger and higher resolution display of the Pixel 3 XL. Battery drain isn’t too bad either, as after an entire match of about 30 minutes, we noticed anywhere between a 7 to 10 percent drop in battery level. The display can get really bright and vivid too when playing back HDR content. At the time of writing this review, Netflix wasn’t able to detect the HDR panels but Amazon Prime Video and YouTube had no problem. Netflix should fix that in due course.

The stereo speakers on both the phones are very impressive and get very loud. Both of them sound louder than the Galaxy Note 9 and are on par in terms of volume with the iPhone XS. The Pixel 3 XL offers slightly better audio separation and depth compared to the Pixel 3 due to the larger body. The backs of both phones vibrate a bit to give some semblance of bass but not at the crazy levels we saw in the Sony Xperia XZ3 and LG G7+ ThinQ (Review). Since the bottom speaker is also facing you, positional audio is much better represented, and in songs and movies, you can actually tell from which direction the instruments or sound effects are coming from.

Google Pixel 3 Pixel 3 XL pixel buds 2 ndtv pixelsThe Pixel USB-C earbuds look nice but don’t sound all that great

 

The bundled Pixel USB-C earbuds support Google Assistant, which means you can get spoken notifications and have your message read out to you with a long press of the volume-up button on the headset. The earbuds themselves are light and feature adjustable wingtips. They tend to rest just outside your ear canal, so there’s no form of passive noise isolation.

Sadly, audio quality is strictly average as even at full volume, the earbuds don’t sound loud enough and bass is pretty much non-existent. There’s not much detail in the mid-range either and highs aren’t very distinct.

Transferring music to your phone from your PC will require an additional cable too, as you only get a Type-C to Type-C cable in the box. Unless you happen to have a Type-C port on your computer, you’ll need another cable or adapter as Google doesn’t bundle one in the box.

The cameras on the original Pixel and Pixel 2 were easily the stars of the show and we know many people who bought them just for their cameras. The Pixel 2 already set a pretty high bar for smartphone photography and Google is hoping to raise it once again this year. The rear camera hardware in the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL aren’t very different from their predecessors. It’s still a 12.2-megapixel sensor with 1.4 micron pixel size, dual-pixel autofocus, optical stabilisation, and a f/1.8 aperture lens. However, Google is once again banking on its machine learning and AI prowess to deliver a better camera experience, with a brand new camera app and new shooting modes. On the front though, Google has added a second 8-megapixel wide-angle camera for group selfies.

All the shooting modes are now just a swipe away rather than having to get to them through a hamburger menu, which is pretty convenient. Some of the new features exclusive to the Pixel 3 include a more intuitive Google Lens, which gives you contextual suggestions in real time if you point your camera to things like URLs, phone numbers, QR codes, and addresses. This now works from within the main camera app, without having to switch to the Lens app. This is something Google first showed off at last year’s Google I/O and it’s finally being implemented in its phones. You can turn off these suggestions if you find them annoying.

Tap for full-sized Google Pixel 3 camera samples

 

Another new feature is Top Shot. Basically, it puts the Motion photo feature – which was present even on the earlier Pixels – to better use. With Motion set to Auto or On, the camera captures a short video clip before and after you hit the shutter button, so you can go back in the Photos app, scrub through the clip and pick the better candid moment. This is pretty similar to Live Photos on the iPhone

When set to Auto, the camera will only capture the video clip if it detects motion or if some elements change in the frame. Another thing worth noting is that the stills you save from the video clip are of a lower resolution compared to the original shot.

Photobooth is a very cool shooting mode, which we found worked as advertised. This only works with the front cameras, where it automatically snaps a picture as soon as it detects a smile or a funny expression. It works with multiple people in the frame too, and will start capturing photos as soon as it detects a smile from any face.

Google has renamed its AR Stickers to Playground with some new AR characters too, which it now calls Playmoji. The new ones include a Marvel’s Avengers pack, pets, and weather characters. You can now use them with the front camera too, where some of them react to your expressions. We can see people having fun with this, but keep in mind that both phones heat up quite a bit after a couple of minutes of using Playground.

Some of the new Playmoji characters are quite life-like

 

Image quality continues to be excellent in daylight, with landscapes shots having very good detail, dynamic range, and colours. The camera is quick to focus and there isn’t much lag when saving the final result too. You can now lock focus on you subject by simply tapping on it in the viewfinder and the app will track your subject as it moves around in the frame, for both stills and videos. It’s similar to what Samsung has been doing all along with its subject tracking feature in its flagship Galaxy smartphones, but we found it to be better implemented on the Pixel 3 duo.

HDR+ is on by default, which does a very good job of balancing the exposures. You can enable a manual toggle for HDR+, which lets you turn it off or switch to HDR+ Enhanced. The latter feature was present in last year’s Pixel 2, which helps capture slightly more detail by decreasing the shutter speed and ISO a bit, but it also takes a couple of seconds longer to save the final image.

You can now also enable RAW shooting, which saves a DNG file along with the JPEG, in case you wish to do some further editing. Macros are highly detailed too, with excellent sharpness around the edges of subjects and a nice shallow depth of field. The latter can be boosted if you switch to portrait mode.

Google says edge detection is improved as it’s now using a learning-based depth map instead of stereo depth maps. While we did have some edge detection issues in a few shots where it blurred regions it shouldn’t have, it was spot on for the most part and it works very well on objects and human subjects alike. You can now adjust the background blur in the photos app, re-adjust the focus point, and add different filters to the picture.

Another very interesting feature that Google is introducing is called Super Res Zoom, which uses techniques similar to speckle imaging in order to improve detail when you do a digital zoom. According to Google, this involves capturing a series of shots as you steady the camera and then interpolating data from these shots for a more detailed final image. When compared to the standard digital zoom on the Pixel 2 XL, the results are quite remarkable. The Pixel 3 is able to capture a tone of more detail and even retain the colours much better in daylight and at night at maximum digital zoom.

Google Pixel 3 Pixel 3 XL Super res zoom pixel 2XL ndtv pixelsThe difference between Super Res Zoom on the Pixel 3 XL and regular digital zoom on the Pixel 2 XL is quite remarkable

 

But what happens when you compare it with phones with optical zoom? We tested the Pixel 3 XL against the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Apple iPhone XS, first at 2x zoom and then at the maximum digital zoom of all phones. For the 2x test, we ensured we had enough light as Samsung is notorious for not using the telephoto sensor. Here, we pushed the Pixel 3 XL’s zoom slider up by a single notch, since the frame was in line with the other two phones. We noticed that the Galaxy Note 9 overexposes the figurine a bit, messing up the subtle pink colour but at the same time has the least amount of noise. The iPhone XS and the Pixel 3 XL have more accurate colours but the iPhone’s image is a little noisy where the Pixel 3 XL has none. It’s quite evident that at 2x zoom level, the Pixel 3 XL’s fancy new digital zoom keeps up and at times, surpasses the quality of two of the best phones with optical zoom.

Google Pixel 3 Pixel 3 XL Super Res zoom ndtv pixelsAt maximum Super Res Zoom on the Pixel 3 XL and 8x zoom on the Note 9 and iPhone XS, the Pixel 3 XL still manages to hold its own

 

Next, we pushed the zoom slider all the way to the max on the Pixel 3 XL and around 8x on the other two phones, in less favourable light this time. The iPhone XS and the Note 9 still manage a decent job here, but we have to hand it to Google’s software wizardry as it delivers the smoothest image while keeping all the important details sharp. No wonder the company didn’t bother with a second rear camera.

A very intriguing feature that’s coming soon to the Pixel 3 via an update is Night Sight. This promises to brighten up your night shots by at least a couple of stops. We’ll have to wait a bit before this feature is available but even without it, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL capture very good detail in low-light. Focusing speeds are just as quick and we ended up with very good detail and colours in landscapes shots and some sharp-looking macros. Low-light landscapes can get a bit noisy in the darker regions but that’s just Google’s post-processing that favours a brighter image versus suppressing noise.

The secondary 8-megapixel wide-angle front camera is great of capturing more people or more of the background in one shot. Quality of images is good, although the ones shot with the standard camera are a tad sharper since it has a wider aperture and phase detect autofocus.

On the video front, there isn’t anything really new compared to last year’s model, except for a new Auto framerate mode when shooting at 1080p. Here, you can either set the framerate to 30fps of leave it in auto, where the camera app will choose the framerate based on the scene (and ostensibly the lighting) and it can also dynamically switch between 60fps or 30fps in the middle of shooting, which is pretty cool. This means, in low-light, it will favor 30fps in order to capture more light. This is present in the latest iPhone models as well.

Tap for full-sized Google Pixel 3 XL camera samples

 

Video quality is very good, even in low light and depending on how heavy your footsteps are, the side-effect of electronic stabilisation (warping or jelly effect) can be kept to a minimum. At 4K resolution, there is a slight crop compared to 1080p, but it’s not a lot. Stabilisation works well at his resolution too.

Sadly, the Pixel 3 still lacks a 60fps mode at 4K and slow-motion at 240fps is still limited to 720p. Google didn’t have a satisfactory answer as to why this feature is missing, and it’s definitely not a hardware limitation as we’ve seen Snapdragon 845 aid capture of 4K video at 60fps on phones like the OnePlus 6.

Heavy use of the camera does take a toll on battery life, like any other phone but generally, we found the battery life of both phones to be quite satisfactory. The Pixel 3 has a 2915mAh battery, which typically lasted about 18-19 hours on average, with the regular mix of audio and video streaming, games, chat apps, etc. This isn’t too bad considering the size of the battery. In our internal battery drain test, we managed to loop a 720p video for 10 hours and 18 minutes straight, which is slightly above average.

The Pixel 3 XL on the other hand has a larger 3430mAh battery, which as expected, lasted a couple of hours longer than the Pixel 3 with similar usage. We got a lower runtime of 9 hours and 42 minutes in our tests, which is probably due to the higher resolution display. Once again, we’ve only been using these phones for about a week so perhaps over a longer period, Android Pie’s Adaptive Battery feature may yield better results as our routines get more defined.

The new Pixels support Qi wireless charging and Google has introduced its own wireless charger called Pixel Stand, which will go on sale next month for Rs. 6,900. Once docked, you’ll be able to perform additional functions like use your phone as a photo frame, interface with smart home devices, and use the upcoming Sunrise alarm feature.

Fast charging is supported with wired and wireless charging. The Pixel 3 uses USB Type-C’s Power Delivery 2 (PD2) standard for fast charging, which in our test, offered roughly 66 percent charge on the Pixel 3 and 58 percent charge on the Pixel 3 XL in an hour. We wish the phones also supported Qualcomm’s Quick Charge technology since it’s easier to find adapters for that in case you forget to carry yours. You’ll also have to take extra care of the bundled cable as the power adapter accepts a Type-C port and not the standard Type-A.


Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL in pictures

Verdict
The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are a showcase for what Google does best – deliver a very unique software experience using standard hardware. There are some custom chips thrown in this year for added security but overall, the new phones aren’t technically very different from Android phones, some of which cost nearly half as much. However, it’s the machine learning and AI features baked into Android Pie and other software tweaks unique to the new phones which help them stand out. If you’re simply after the best Android hardware then phones like the OnePlus 6, LG G7+ ThinQ, and any other number of Snapdragon 845-based phones will do the same job, at a much lower price.

The 4GB of RAM in the new models is also a bit of a concern as we’re not sure how it will hold up over time. We would like to think that Google has thought of this and has contingencies in place to prevent the RAM from being a barrier. It’s also unlikely that we’ll see a higher RAM version of the Pixel 3, so if you’re thinking of waiting for such a phone, chances are it might not happen.

Google shouldn’t have a hard time convincing buyers about how good the new Pixel 3 is since it continues the superior camera legacy and once you hold the phone, you can instantly tell it has a much better feel compared to its predecessors. The notch on the bigger phone is a bit of an eye-sore, but honestly, after using it for a few days, you’ll barely notice it.

The main challenge for Google right now is convincing buyers to shell out Rs. 71,000 for the Pixel 3 or Rs. 83,000 for the Pixel 3 XL, and these prices are only for the base models. If you want 128GB of storage, be prepared to fork out Rs. 9,000 more for each of them. While these are still lower than what Apple is charging for its top of the line iPhone models, it’s still a lot higher than Samsung’s flagship Galaxy Note 9.

It’s very clear that Google is sticking to Apple’s philosophy of only building premium smartphones, but what it needs to understand is that one of the reasons why people still pay absurd amounts for an iPhone is because of the stellar after-sales service that Apple provides. This gives you the confidence that if anything were to go wrong, you won’t be hung out to dry. Google doesn’t exactly have a stellar track record of after-sales service for its Pixel smartphones in markets like India. We hope that changes this year, but it’s still a leap of faith for all those who’ll be upgrading to the Pixel 3.

We feel the launch prices are simply too high as they are now around Rs. 10,000 more than what the Pixel 2 series launched at last year. Had the Pixel 3 stared at around Rs. 50,000 and the Pixel 3 XL around Rs. 60,000, it would have made a lot of buyers who were going to take the plunge with Samsung, reconsider their decision. Perhaps we’ll see a “temporary price drop” just before Christmas, like we did with the Pixels 2 series last year.

Overall, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are a marked improvement over last year’s models and from what we can see, they don’t really have any deal-breaking flaw other than very high price tag. They are well-built, look great, have solid performance, and continue to shoot amazing photographs, thanks to great software. If we were to pick our favourite of the two, we’d recommend getting the Pixel 3 XL over the Pixel 3. The bigger battery and the larger, higher resolution display simply makes for a better experience.





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2018 Datsun GO And GO+ Facelift Review


The success of the Datsun redi-GO was truly an eye-opener for the Nissan-owned Japanese carmaker. The company saw that car buyers are more than willing to choose a Datsun model as long they get a trendy looking car, with all the modern creature comforts. Now, it was time for Datsun to apply the same formula to the GO hatchback and GO+ MPV, which have not received an update ever since their launch in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Yes, Datsun has finally launched the facelifted 2018 GO and GO+ in India and we recently got to drive both the cars on the traffic-laden streets of Chennai as well as along the beautiful East Coast Road (ECR), and here’s our experience.

Datsun Go

2018 Datsun GO And GO+ Facelift Exterior Design and Features

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Datsun GO comes with a host of exterior updated that it also shares with the GO+

Now, both the GO and GO+ were already built of Nissan’s versatile V platform that also underpins the Micra, so under the skin, nothing has changed. What has changed though is everything above it. Datsun has given both the car a complete makeover inside-out with a bunch of cosmetic changes, along with several new features. Starting with the exterior, the cars now get a heavily updated face, which like the pre-facelift model, is identical for both the GO and GO+. There is a new, larger hexagonal grille with fat chrome surrounds, while the new sweptback headlamps come with styling black highlights. The front bumper is all new and comes with some bold muscular lines, along with some sharp scooped out sections that house the new LED daytime running lights.

Also Read: Datsun India Signs Aamir Khan As Its New Brand Ambassador

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Datsun GO+ facelift’s face is identical to the GO, featuring the same grille, headlamps and bumper

The cars have also grown in size, and the facelifted GO in particular is now longer by 3 mm, wider by 1 mm, and taller by 17 mm. Similarly, the GO+ is now wider by 1 mm and taller by 17 mm, although the overall length of the MPV remains under the 4-metre mark at 3995 mm. Both the car continue to come with the same 2450 mm wheelbase, however, now they sit a little higher with an increased ground clearance of 180 mm. This has been facilitated by a set of larger 14-inch 5-spoke diamond cut alloy wheels, which we have to say give the cars a much more imposing stance. Both of them, now also come with a pair of large and quite functional roof rails.

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Datsun GO and GO+ both get new larger 14-inch alloy wheels and roof rails

Walk towards to rear and you’ll start noticing the actual difference between the GO and the GO+. The latter, which gets an extended rear section, features a slightly flatter tailgate with the number plate and chrome slat above it, along with a well-sculpted bumper with trapezoidal inserts on either end. The GO hatchback at the same time comes with a new slightly curvier tailgate with a completely different rear bumper that also houses the number plate and comes with carbon fibre treatment for the lower section. However, both the cars come with similar wraparound taillamps, with integrated turn single lights.

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Datsun GO+ is longer than the GO and gets a different design for the rear

2018 Datsun GO And GO+ Facelift Interior Design, Features and Space

Step inside and you’ll be welcomed by a heavily redesigned cabin equipped with premium quality plastics and smart-looking upholstery. We were given the top-end models with the optional interior package featuring black faux leather upholstery with orange accents for the GO and silver accents in the GO+. Both the GO and GO+ get an identical dashboard design with the only difference being an all-black treatment for the former and a dual tone black and grey treatment for the latter. Datsun has also added some carbon fibre elements which can be seen on the dashboard, centre console and door panels.

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Compared to the Datsun GO’s all-black dashboard, the GO+ gets a dual tone treatment

The cabin layout also remains unchanged with a standard five-seater format for the GO, while the GO+ continues to feature an additional third row, which in my opinion is still only suitable for maybe 2 children or to get some extended boot space with the third row folded. The GO offers a luggage space of 265 litres, while the GO+ (with the third row folded) offers 347 litres of boot space.

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The GO offers a luggage space of 265 litres, while the GO+ (with the third row down) 347 litres

The 2018 Datsun GO and GO+ also feature loaded and the biggest addition is the brand new 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system sourced from Blaupunkt. The system features both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with Google maps navigation, voice recognition, HD video playback, and Bluetooth connectivity among others. The cars also feature a new, more informative instrument cluster with trip computer MFD (Multi-Function display), which also gets the carbon fibre treatment.

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Datsun GO and GO+ now get a new 7-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

The cabin will not just keep you entertained but also safe as now, the carmaker also offers a host of safety features like dual front airbags, ABS (antilock braking system) with EBD and brake assist, along with reverse parking sensors, all as standard. This especially is a big step from Datsun, which in the past has been widely criticised for offering cars with poor safety standards.

Also Read: 2018 Datsun GO And GO+ Come With Dual Airbags And ABS As Standard

2018 Datsun GO And GO+ Facelift Engine, Gearbox, Ride and Handling

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Both the Datsun GO and GO+ get the same 1.2-litre petrol engine as before

Powering both the Datsun GO and the GO+, is the same Nissan Micra-sourced 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine as before. The 1198 cc motor continues to offer the same output of 67 bhp and develops a peak torque of 104 Nm while being mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox as standard. The engine feels quite peppy and eager especially around the city when driving through lower revs, which means there is a good amount of low-end torque, however, once you hit an open road and try to push the car further there is a noticeable lag, especially above 2800 rpm, but the car’s eagerness returns once you cross the 4000 rpm mark which indicates that most of the power is concentrated a little higher in the rev band.

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Datsun has considerably improved the ride quality, however, both the cars come with poor NVH levels

However, by this time you start to hear all kinds of noises from the road, from the tyre, and even the engine, which shows poor NVH levels of the cars. Another thing that kept on bugging me was the gearbox, which was a bit clunky and there was this occasional doubt whether the gear has been slotted in the right position or not. Here, we wish Datsun had worked on making the gearbox smoother and the shifts a bit more precise, because driving through city traffic with such a gearbox could become irritating after a while. Having said that, the ride quality of the cars, both the GO and GO+, has improved a lot thanks to the new suspension set up, which helps the cars tackle all the undulations on the road pretty nicely.

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Starting at ₹ 3.83 lakh the Datsun GO+ is the most affordable 7-seater MPV in India

2018 Datsun GO And GO+ Facelift Verdict

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With the prices starting at ₹ 3.29 lakh for the Datsun GO and ₹ 3.83 lakh for the GO+, there is no doubt that the cars make a strong case for themselves, especially the GO+, which is still the most affordable 7-seater in India. Moreover, the cars come with a bunch of new features and creature comforts that make them a much better package compared to the pre-facelift models. Well, there are certain creases that Datsun still needs to iron out, especially if it wants the GO siblings to do some damage to its competitors’ numbers. However, the biggest problem for the Datsun, especially the GO hatchback, right now is the soon-to-be-launched Hyundai Santro, which is expected to be priced very similarly and will be at par with it in terms of features and equipment.

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New SsangYong Rexton Review: This Is The Mahindra Y400 SUV For India


It was a cloudy day, and I was thinking – please do not let it rain on the day I am finally driving the new SsangYong Rexton. This SUV that I was just about to drive will come to India as the new Mahindra Y400, the Indian auto giant’s new flagship offering. I only had a very small window of time with the car, and any rain would have totally messed that up. It did rain while I was on my way from Seoul to SsangYong’s Pyeongtaek headquarters and manufacturing facility. But as we drove in through the gates of the Mahindra subsidiary, I heaved a sigh of relief. The rain had held up! And right away I saw it. The new 2nd generation Y400 Rexton was everywhere. Yes any space I could see was filled up with brand new Rextons as the SUV maker built stock in time for the car’s market debut in South Korea. The India launch, meanwhile, is scheduled for November 19, 2018.

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The new Ssangyong Rexton’s shape, and stance, plus its proportions instantly scream fullsize SUV


The new Rexton is a very big deal for SsangYong, and indeed Mahindra. The first Rexton is the one that truly put SsangYong on the global map, and the next car simply had to be stronger, better and overall very impressive. And the new car simply has to fire – as Mahindra and SsangYong have a lot riding on its success. It is being called the G4 Rexton in Korea – alluding to the fact that SsangYong likes to see this almost as a fourth generation – given that the first gen went through 3 iterations. The car in fact sports a prominent G4 badge as its main logo on the rear door, while the front grille and wheels also have an updated SsangYong logo. (In Korea most of the range still uses the old ‘double dragon’ logo from the co’s past.) But I am still going to call this the second gen!

In India, the Rexton is better known as the new Mahindra Y400 SUV, it’s internal codename. The Y400 SUV will carry a completely new nameplate when it arrives.

 

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The Rexton sports a prominent G4 badge as its main logo on the rear door


So, as you approach the G4 Rexton, the first impression you get is that it is an attractive, contemporary design. And its got the right shape, and stance, plus its proportions instantly scream fullsize SUV. The designers have gone for a sleeker, modern and contemporary look, and yet it is masculine and butch too. There are some very obvious carryovers from the Tivoli in the car’s face and the flanks. The bulge along the rear fender that comes into the rear door, will most definitely tell you the two cars are related. What is also great about the car’s looks, is that unlike past SsangYongs which had this quirky, Korean feel to their design, this one is very international, and the car immediately gives off a better finish and build quality too. The shut lines and paint job on the Y400 instantly impress. And for me that was heartening since this new car is a departure from the old and ageing fleet that was SsangYong a few years ago.

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The car immediately gives off a better finish and build quality


The same feel is carried through on to the interior. The car with me is the higher Majesty trim, and so it is fully loaded, with everything from a large 9.2-inch touchscreen to wood veneer. The matte wood is complemented by the use of polished metal and black plastics. The instrument console also features a 7-inch information display between the two dials. The dash and seats have a more high-end feel than the previous car’s and the contouring on the seats is also well carried out. There is an enormous sense of space, and I suspect a lighter palette (yes beige would be great for India no doubt!) would do the trick to enhance that spacious feel even more.

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The instrument console features a 7-inch information display and gets Apple CarPlay


Speaking of space, the boot is cavernous, and you can collapse the 2nd row seats to create even more room. The boot has an interesting raised false floor panel – which lets you store smaller items below it – almost concealing them like a parcel tray would. Except the panel can still take up to 60 kgs of weight. Pretty neat that! The car I drove was a 5-seater, though India would likely get a 7-seater version.

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The boot has an interesting raised false floor panel

I am testing the variant with the new e-XDi220 or 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine. There is also a 2-litre petrol on offer which makes 222 bhp, but that is not in focus from the Indian context, and hence I’ve chosen to spend time with the diesel Rexton. The unit makes 183 bhp and puts out 420 Nm of peak torque. That torque kicks in as low as 1600 rpm and carries through to 2600 rpm. This affords you better driveability and allows the Mercedes-Benz sourced 7-speed auto transmission to be efficient and responsive. Even within minutes of getting behind the wheel of this car – the difference is like chalk and cheese. The first generation Rexton had managed to get reasonably refined, but still carried a lot of the clunky feel ascribed to previous generation SUVs. What’s really nice is to see is that everything that was lacking on that car seems to have been methodically addressed whilst developing the new generation.  

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The new chassis is stiffer and more supple, and it will take some convincing to believe it’s not a monocoque shell


And that first impression you get is really down to the much improved ride quality that will impress you. Disclaimer time here folks – as I admit that my experience with the Rexton was just on the little test track inside the SsangYong premises, and not a real world experience. But I can still vouch for the car’s ride and handling. The new chassis is stiffer and more supple, and it will take some convincing to believe it’s not a monocoque shell. In fact it was a bit of a gamble by the company – and a very difficult decision that was long agonized over and discussed at length. And that was whether to move the Rexton to a monocoque construction or keep it ladder on frame. The latter idea was eventually pushed through by the company’s Chairman Pawan Goenka – using the logic that a true SUV still really has to be body on frame. And so like the Toyota Fortuner, and indeed even Mahindra’s Scorpio, the new Rexton will stay body on frame, though it’s a stiff and well built chassis that will surprise you.

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The Rexton has the 4Tronic four-wheel drive system


At cruising speeds, the new Rexton will simply glide along the tarmac, and will again surprise you by its lack of pitch or roll. The fact that there is no bounce improves on-board comfort, and also means tighter cornering as well as better steering response. You definitely do not get a sense of the car’s bulk or its 4850 mm length, unlike how you would on say a Fortuner – which is shorter at 4795 mm and yet feels bulkier. The 2.2 diesel engine is good for the role, and does the job well. This despite the fact that it really is simply an upgraded version of the previous one. It has overcome the slightly wheezy quality that it used to have on that last Rexton W, and also does not run of breath at speeds over 120 kmph. The Rexton has the 4Tronic four-wheel drive system – another carryover from the Rexton W, but completely recalibrated. For the most part it allows the driving duties to be carried out by the rear wheels, and will send power to the front only when it encounters low-grip or slippery conditions. But it will spend most of its life on tarmac anyway given how most buyers don not really go off road. Having said that it has a dial that lets you switch to 4 wheel drive low, 2-wheel high and 4 wheel high, if you do find yourself in adverse conditions like snow for instance.

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The fact that there is no bounce improves on-board comfort, and also means tighter cornering as well as better steering response.


The engine is married well to the new 7-speed transmission, though given how responsive it is I’d have liked the option of paddle shifters. Of course the gearbox does have a tiptronic function and so you can use that to manually shift up or down. Unlike most tiptronics, which see you needing to use the entire gear lever, here it’s a small toggle switch on the side of the gearstick that lets you shift gears – and while it would take some getting used to, it is pretty cool!

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The Rexton is a smarter, tauter and more practical car, traits we’ll see on the Y400 as well

The new Rexton does much better than I expected. And will be a surprise compared to what you’d expect from SsangYong. It is a smarter, tauter and more practical car than the LIV-2 concept indicated it would be at the Paris Show last year. And that is why this car makes sense for Mahindra too. It will give the company a product that will not only add a larger, premium arrow to the Mahindra quiver, but more importantly showcase a more modern and globally contemporary product in terms of engineering, design and fit.

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The Rexton gets the 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine churning 183 bhp that will be carried over on the India spec model

The new second generation SsangYong Rexton will indeed be launched in India but this time it will carry the Mahindra badge and not that of SsangYong. Given the tepid response to the first gen car, and indeed the brand on it, the new Rexton is being badged as a Mahindra for India. And I reckon that is smart thinking. See – all the money that would have to be spent in branding and marketing activities, plus the extras spent on a division within dealerships – can all be put back into making the Rexton very competitively priced and positioned in the Indian market. It would really have to take on the market leader, Toyota Fortuner – and take it on seriously, for any semblance of success.

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The new 2nd generation Rexton will indeed be launched in India as the Mahindra Y400

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And at the same time it will also have to stay ahead of the Ford Endeavour, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, et al too. SsangYong does not consider the Santa Fe a direct rival, as it has benchmarked the new Rexton squarely against other body on frame models. And in the Indian context that’s just as well, since it is the Fortuner, and not the Santa Fe that leads the market anyway. But the big question is – being new is one thing, has the company done enough to make the new 2nd generation Rexton a strong adversary to those established models? My answer to that is, yes it has. So I will be happy to welcome it back home. And if prices stay at least Rs 3 – 3.5 lakh lower than the Fortuner’s, I suspect Mahindra would have a runaway success on its hands.

 

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Xiaomi Mi Band 3 Review


Xiaomi has made a name for itself in the fitness wearables space with its affordable Mi Band series. One of the things we really like about these devices is that they have so far been accurate and have offered really good value for money. The very first Mi Band made such products available to the masses at low prices. The next iteration introduced a display and added a few more useful features. Now, Xiaomi’s latest fitness wearable, the Mi Band 3, takes things even further by introducing a touchscreen. People have high expectations for this product, but can it deliver at its Rs. 1,999 price point? We put it to the test to find out.

 

Xiaomi Mi Band 3 design

Xiaomi’s design for its Mi Bands has roughly been the same all along. You have a capsule that has all the guts of the Mi Band 3 and a strap made out of thermoplastic elastomer which latches securely onto your hand. The capsule has grown in size and the Mi Band 3 has the biggest one yet in the series. It is curved at the sides and is slightly extruded from the strap when snapped in place. The OLED display is also bigger than the one on the Mi Band 2, and it is also brighter making it more legible outdoors.

There are grooves on the side of the capsule which allow the strap to hold it in place. This also helps prevent the capsule from popping out when you are running, something the original Mi Band was notorious for. Xiaomi ships a USB charging cable in the box which can be plugged into any adapter or a laptop to charge the capsule. The Mi Band 3 has a tiny dimple below its touchscreen which is a capacitive button. This button has two functions — a single tap to go back, and a long-tap to accept. Turn the capsule around and you can see the slightly raised heart rate sensor.

The quality of the strap is quite good. The clasp latches firmly and never came undone during the duration of this review. We did notice that the strap has more adjustment holes compared to the Mi Band 2, which should help users find a comfortable fit, even those with thinner hands.

Xiaomi Mi Band 3 Front Xiaomi Mi Band 3 ReviewThe Mi Band 3 has a capacitive touchscreen

Xiaomi Mi Band 3 performance and battery life

The Mi Band 3 pairs with a smartphone using the Mi Fit app and Bluetooth 4.2 LE, which keeps the power consumption down. The app is available on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, and it is very easy to pair the band with a phone. When using the Mi Band 3, one can swipe upwards to go through various bits of information. When there is more than one readout available, you will see a scroll indicator hinting that you can swipe right to left to see more.

The Mi Band 3 displays a lot more information than the model it replaces. Apart from the time and date, you can check the number of steps taken, distance covered, calories burned, battery level, a three-day weather forecast, heart-rate, and a stopwatch. You can also switch the ringer profile of the phone (Android only), use the band to find your phone, and start recording exercise sessions directly from the band.

The Mi Fit app remains unchanged, but the Mi Band 3 does get a few new settings under the Device tab. One of them is a night mode that dims the display automatically at sunset or a scheduled time. Select Heart-rate Detection lets you turn automatic detection off, pair it with sleep tracking for better accuracy, or just keep it on. When switched on it gives you the option to track your heart rate at set intervals, with the lowest being one minute.

Xiaomi Mi band 3 Software Xiaomi Mi Band 3 Review

Xiaomi Mi Fit app on Android

 

The Mi Band 3 can also handle notifications and phone calls. We had paired it with a Samsung Galaxy S9 (Review) and found that it displayed the telephone number for an incoming call instead of the caller’s name, even when the contact was in our address book. It gives you the option to mute incoming calls or reject them entirely, using the capacitive button. The band manages notifications quite well and also saves these notifications until you clear them.

Activity tracking with the Mi Band 3 is very accurate. To check the accuracy of the step counter we went for a walk and counted 1,000 steps manually. The band reported 1,004 steps, which is very good, and the minor deviation can be accepted. We went for a walk for a distance we knew was exactly 1km, and the Mi Band 3 recorded the distance to be 1.12km. This is because non-GPS trackers like the Mi Band 3 can only estimate the distance you cover, so if accurate distance tracking — and not just steps — is important, you should look at more expensive alternatives.

The deviation was even larger when we used the Mi Band 3 on a treadmill with the exercise mode enabled. After we finished 2km on the treadmill, the band displayed 1.68km. This is primarily because the band cannot gauge stride length when on a treadmill, but we did have the option to calibrate distance after finishing a run.

While in exercise mode, the band displays the time and constantly tracks your heart rate. You can also use it for outdoor runs, where it uses GPS data from your paired phone for better distance tracking.

Xiaomi Mi Band 3 Excercise mode Xiaomi Mi Band 3 ReviewExercise mode on the Xiaomi Mi Band 3

 

Sleep tracking is also supported on the Mi Band 3, and we found it to be accurate compared to the Xiaomi Mi Band 2. It also has a vibrating alarm, which we liked. It’s powerful enough to wake you up without disturbing anyone else in the room.

Xiaomi’s smart bands are known for their battery life but the Mi Band 3 has lower battery life than its two predecessors. With notifications switched off and the band only tracking steps and sleep, the battery reported 50 percent remaining after 8 days of use. With more features enabled, including heart-rate monitoring while sleeping, notifications, and the exercise mode while working out, we saw a faster dip in the battery level. To charge the Mi Band 3 you will need to remove the capsule from the band and use its proprietary charging cable with any computer or USB adapter.

Verdict
The Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is the latest in a series that has already made a name for itself in the fitness tracker space in India. It is accurate for step tracking, and the touchscreen helps in navigating through the options that this device has to offer. The battery life is lower than that of the Mi Band 2, but is still better than what most other fitness bands in the market deliver. Xiaomi’s aggressive pricing of Rs. 1,999 makes it a good value-for-money offering as well.

Pros

  • Accurate steps and sleep tracking
  • Good battery life
  • Bright display

Cons

  • Proprietary charger
  • Inconsistent distance tracking

Ratings

  • Design: 3.5
  • Tracking: 4
  • Software and ecosystem: 4
  • Battery life: 4
  • Overall: 4



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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Review


After many a leak, rumour, and speculation, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC is finally here. Like past entries in the popular military shooter franchise, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has a multiplayer mode as well as Zombies, the cooperative gameplay mode. But unlike previous games, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 doesn’t have a single-player story campaign. In its place is Blackout, which is Call of Duty’s attempt at a Fortnite and PUBG like battle royale mode. But is it any good? Read on to find out.

With Call of Duty: Black Ops’ Blackout mode basics are the same as other games of the genre — you’ll glide onto a sprawling map, jostle with upto 99 or 87 other people depending on whether you’ve chosen to play it as a squad or in pairs or solo, and you’ll be on the run to find safe zones in an ever collapsing island while scavenging whatever guns you can find.

Where Blackout differs from its peers is how thoughtful the entire experience is. Weapon placements make sense. You’ll almost always find the right items where they should be. From armouries having high-powered tools of destruction to stores sporting backpacks, there’s little amiss in the way you’ll find most of the gear you’ll need in Blackout. This smart placement of guns is great because you’ll rarely be caught without a weapon, making each encounter seem fair versus other battle royale games wherein death due to not having a gun tends to be a regular occurrence.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Blackout Tips and Tricks

 

Furthermore, with Blackout mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops, there’s a sense of diversity versus the competition thanks to the presence of zombies in the map. Yes, zombies. Certain locations will be littered with the undead and killing them grants you some great loot such as high-powered rocket launchers. They’re a welcome addition to the proceedings and provide another way to get some of Blackout’s better items.

All of this is backed up by exceptionally polished moment to moment gameplay. Be it equipping weapons, ducking behind cover, or commandeering a helicopter, Blackout feels fast and fluid when compared to the likes of PUBG. Throw in an assortment of perks — one-time abilities that, for example, allow you to move quietly or stay underwater for longer — and you’re never far from options on how to tackle Blackout’s harsh terrain.

And while Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Blackout does a lot right, it seems to exist solely to address the problems existing in current battle royale giants like Fortnite and PUBG rather than bring its own interpretation to the genre. For example, it would’ve been interesting to see the Specialist abilities from traditional multiplayer or some of the wackier elements of its cooperative Zombies mode such as perks or over the top bosses find their way into Blackout. Right now however, there’s none of that. It’s possible that developer Treyarch will roll out such options post-launch much like how Fortnite has evolved to allow for Limited Time Modes.

Moving onto Zombies, it’s as weird and wacky as it’s been in previous editions of Call of Duty. You’ll control an adventurer with its own unique skills and abilities and are paired up with three others as you deal with hordes of the undead in a host of intriguing locales. From a Roman Coliseum to a stunning facsimile of the Titanic, each map in Zombies is a varied affair.

There’s an attempt to tell a cohesive story across them but you’ll be too busy dealing with all sorts of zombified creatures including tigers, gladiators, and a hulking monster known as the Blightfather. Like past Call of Duty entries, it’s a fun romp that’s best enjoyed with friends.

Compared to Blackout and the traditional multiplayer mode, the gunplay in Zombies feels a bit rough with recoil and spread not being as precise as it is in other modes. While this is done on purpose across the game and with good reason, it doesn’t make the experience feel as consistent as it should.

And speaking of the traditional multiplayer mode, you’ll choose from one of 10 Specialists — characters you play as in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s multiplayer —much like heroes in Overwatch albeit with far less flair and personality. These include support Specialists like Clash that can heal your entire party and the flamethrower-toting Firebreak that can clear a room with ease.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Blackout Post-Launch Plans Revealed

 

Much like the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 multiplayer beta, we ended up making use of their abilities in tandem to set up wins. Be it playing as Prophet and using seeker mines (which is essentially a drone with a taser) to incapacitating foes with the likes of Battery who uses a grenade launcher to set up a fatal blast radius, you’ll discover plenty of ways to play and win. The maps such as Hacienda, Jungle, and Seaside seemed well thought out, ensuring that no side starts at with an advantage or disadvantage, while others like Payload stuck out like a sore thumb with how easy it is for the attacking team to get a foothold in match types like Control where teams take turns attacking and defending areas on a map.

Movement in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s multiplayer feels as compared to the beta. It’s not as arcade-like as Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, but it feels a bit faster compared to what was experienced there thanks to gun recoil being low and fire rates seeming just a bit faster.

Nonetheless, you still have a fighting chance if you’re caught unaware by an enemy and firing from the hip still works even from a distance. It retains its tactical feel with movement that’s a step down from past Call of Duty titles. Running on a wall and hovering in the air are absent, though sliding across the floor and around corner is possible, making you depend on Specialist abilities to get out of a sticky situation.

While Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s multiplayer, Blackout, and Zombies modes are varied affairs, there’s little in the way of cohesion between them barring basic traversal elements. They could essentially stand as three different games. Granted that was the case with past Call of Duty titles as well, but the presence of a single-player campaign made the overall package feel more robust and uniform, with a similar theme permeating through the proceedings.

With Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, the cracks between them are harder to miss, making it seem like three games in one instead of one game with three distinct modes with a few basic commonalities. Each mode having its own progression system, unlocks, and rewards rather a common pool further drives this point home. Thanks to this, there’s little incentive for most to try out a mode they’re not fans of or comfortable with as the gear and perks you’ve unlocked in, say, Zombies won’t work in Blackout and vice versa.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Day One Update Download Size Is 50GB

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Furthermore, there are other concerns. Net code didn’t exactly seem primed and ready. Despite launching early in several regions we were treated to several connection errors that plagued the experience across all modes and we found ourselves disconnected mid-game on occasion too. You can play Zombies offline or play multiplayer with bots but that’s it.

Sure, day one hiccups for hotly anticipated online games are the norm but this also makes the lack of a single-player campaign all the more glaring. There’s a somewhat half-hearted attempt at this with a feature called Specialist HQ that teaches you how to play as each Specialists, but it basically amounts to training with bots and little else. It’s punctuated with cinematics that delve into some bits of their backstory, but it’s sparse at best. Tragic when you consider the attention to detail given to each Specialist in terms of their character design, ensuring there’s a story waiting to be told. And it doesn’t help matters that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has a ridiculously steep price in markets like India — where the game used to sell at a premium over other titles anyway — and a colossal day one patch of 50GB for those who plan to buy it on disc.

Make no mistake, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is a polished effort. If you can stomach its ridiculous day one patch, lack of single-player, and its high price, you’ll be treated to one of the better multiplayer experiences in recent memory. For many though, the entry barrier may just be too high to bother.

Pros

  • Thoughtful gear placement in Blackout mode
  • Diverse Specialists
  • Zombies mode is as bizarre as ever
  • Slick gameplay

Cons

  • No single-player campaign
  • Expensive in certain markets
  • Ridiculous day one patch

Rating (out of 10): 7

Gadgets 360 played a review copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 on an Xbox One X. The game is out now for PS4, Xbox One, and PC priced at Rs. 4,699 in India ($60 in the US).


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Helicopter Eela movie Review kajol riddhi sen


खास बातें

  1. काजोल की दमदार एक्टिंग
  2. सिंगल मदर का सपना
  3. मां-बेटे के बीच इमोशनल रिश्ता

नई दिल्ली: बॉलीवुड एक्ट्रेस काजोल (Kajol) अपनी दमदार एक्टिंग के जरिये भले ही दर्शकों का दिल जीत लें, लेकिन कमजोर कहानी के चलते ‘हेलीकाप्टर ईला’ (Helicopter Eela) को उड़ने में कामयाब नहीं कर पाईं. मां-बेटे के बीच इमोशनल रिश्ते और सिंगल मदर की कामयाब सिंगर बनने के सपने पर आधारित फ़िल्म ‘हेलीकॉप्टर ईला’ क्रैश होती नजर आई. प्रदीप सरकार द्वारा निर्देशित यह फिल्म गुजराती नाटक ‘बेटा कागदो’ से प्रेरित है, जिसे मशहूर लेखक आनंद गांधी ने लिखी है. काजोल अपने पहले सीन से लेकर आखिर तक फिल्म में एक्टिंग से जान भरने का काम लिया, लेकिन कमजोर स्क्रिप्ट ने पूरा खेल बिगाड़ दिया. वहीं फिल्म मे काजोल के बेटे का रोल निभा रहे ऋद्धि सेन ने अपने किरदार को भरपूर तरीके से जिया.

अजय देवगन ने पोस्ट किया बीवी काजोल का मोबाइल नंबर, ट्विटर पर मचा हड़कंप; पढ़ें 8 रिएक्शन

कैसी है कहानी-

फिल्म की शुरुआत एक सिंगल मदर ईला रायतुरकर (काजोल) से शुरु होती है, जिसे अपने बेटे विवान (ऋद्धि सेन) की पल-पल चिंता होती है. ईला के किरदार को बांधने के लिए फिल्म एक बार फ्लैशबैक मे भी जाती है, जहां वह एक कामयाब सिंगर बनना चाहती है. हालांकि ईला कामयाबी के बिल्कुल करीब भी पहुंच जाती है, लेकिन शादी करके घर बसाने का आइडिया सपने की उड़ान में बाधा ला देता है. फिर आता है एक ऐसा ट्विस्ट जिसकी वजह से सिंगर की बजाय वह सिंगल मदर बनकर रह जाती है. फिलहाल हेलीकॉप्टर ईला (Helicopter Eela) की पूरी कहानी जानने के लिए आपको सिनेमाघर में जाकर फिल्म देखनी होगी.

कैसी है फिल्म-

हेलीकॉप्टर ईला (Helicopter Eela) फिल्म की शुरुआत काफी एक्साइटिंग तरीके से होती है, लेकिन जैसे-जैसे कहानी आगे बढ़ती है तो बोझिल जैसा महसूस होने लगता है. फिल्म का पहला हिस्सा ईला के किरदार को जस्टिफाय करने मे बीत जाता है. जबकि इंटरवेल के बाद कहानी को इतना ज्यादा खींच दिया गया कि फिल्म बोरियत के कैटेगरी मे चली गई. हालांकि काजोल ने अपने एक्टिंग के दम पर कई बार हंसाया और भावुक भी किया, लेकिन कसी स्क्रिप्ट नहीं हो पाने की वजह से फिल्म सधी उड़ान भर पाने में नाकायाब हो गई. ‘मर्दानी’ फिल्म के अलावा डायरेक्टर प्रदीप सरकार की फ्लॉप फिल्मों मे यह फिल्म भी शामिल हो सकती है.

देखें ट्रेलर-

म्यूजिक और बैकग्राउंड स्कोर-

फिल्म ‘हेलीकॉप्टर ईला’ (Helicopter Eela) के गानों को अमित त्रिवेदी और राघव सचर ने कम्पोज किया है. लगभग सभी गानों की धुन काफी अट्रैक्ट करने वाली रही. ‘यादों की अलमारी’ सॉन्ग की लाइनें फिल्म देखने के बाद भी आपके दिमाग में गूंजती रहेगी. मां-बेटे के इमोशनल सीन में बैकग्राउंड स्कोर आपको फिल्म में अपनी ओर खींचेगा. फिल्म में बैकग्राउंड स्कोर डेनियल बी जॉर्ज ने दिया है.

काजोल ने ‘NDTV युवा’ में खुद को बताया ‘हिटलर मॉम’, अजय देवगन के बारे में खोला ये राज

क्यों देखें फिल्म-

वीकेंड पर टाइम पास करने का प्लान बना रहे हैं तो ‘हेलीकॉप्टर ईला’ (Helicopter Eela) आपको बोरियत महसूस करा सकती है. या फिर काजोल (Kajol) के बहुत बड़े फैन हो तो आप इस फिल्म को सिर्फ उनकी एक्टिंग के लिए सिनेमाघर तक जा सकते हैं.

टिप्पणियां

स्टार कास्ट: काजोल, ऋद्धि सेन
डायरेक्टर: प्रदीप सरकार
रेटिंग: 1.5 स्टार

…और भी हैं बॉलीवुड से जुड़ी ढेरों ख़बरें…



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Helicopter Eela Movie Review: Kajol And Riddhi Sen’s Film Is A Massive Letdown


Helicopter Eela Movie Review: Kajol and Riddhi Sen in a film still. (Image courtesy: Instagram)

Cast: Kajol, Riddhi Sen, Tota Roy Chowdhary, Neha Dhupia

Director: Pradeep Sarkar

Rating: 1.5 Stars (out of 5)

Pradeep Sarkar’s Helicopter Eela, starring Kajol as the eponymous protagonist, is an undeniably well-intentioned family entertainer. But is that enough for it to pass muster? No. The film does appear to have a clear purpose. It is the delivery that’s choppy. It is marred by an unconvincing storyline, vapid treatment and overly hammy acting. Helicopter Eela is a massive letdown.

Co-produced by Ajay Devgn, the film aspires to be a synthesis of a musical of sorts and an emotional mother-son dramedy. But the lack of wind in its rotors prevents it from lifting off the ground and flying forth. It hovers drearily, and in predictable ways, over a mollycoddling mom who not only peeves her teenaged son no end but also puts her own life and career on hold. The film labours the point about a single parent’s relatable predicaments but fails to impart sustained momentum to the message.

The tale of a woman in her 40s who misses her chances and then, two decades on, finds herself scrambling to make up for lost time should have been a watchable, if not rousing, affair. It isn’t because of the insipid and contrived situations she is thrown into and the bizarre reasons that are thought up for the ever off-putting turns that her life takes.

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Helicopter Eela Movie Review: Kajol in a film still. (Image courtesy: Instagram)

In the role of a mother who is bent upon smothering her college-going son with more attention than the latter craves, Kajol swings between the excessively exuberant and the crazily cantankerous. The tonal missteps completely mess up Helicopter Eela, adapted from a Gujarati play written by Anand Gandhi. The lead actress is left with too high a mountain to climb. Not that Kajol isn’t up to the task. She certainly isn’t low on energy. However, a little less enthusiasm might have helped make the character more nuanced and rounded.

With all semblance of subtlety being given a wide berth, the screenplay banks upon broad strokes to portray the spirited protagonist and the effect she has on the object of her attention. This woman is somebody who has willingly abandoned her playback singing aspirations to raise her son all by herself. When the boy reaches his late teens and is constantly embarrassed by his mom’s never-ending interventions in his life and personal spaces, he decides to do something about the situation. That is the crux of Helicopter Eela.

The scenes between the mother and the son aren’t written with much imagination and despite the commendable modulation that young Riddhi Sen (the Chauranga and Parched actor in his first mainstream Bollywood role) brings to the part, the parent-child tensions do not become believable or acquire any force. The obsessive mother keeps a close eye on the boy. She frets and fumes over his dependence on his mobile phone. She never tires of reminding him to bring back the tiffin box that she packs for him every day.

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Helicopter Eela Movie Review: Riddhi Sen in a film still. (Image courtesy: Instagram)

 

Helicopter Eela opens with Kajol’s busybody character, Eela Raiturkar, readying herself to leave for her first day at college after a 22-year hiatus. Turns out that she is in the same class as her son, Vivaan. Her arrival piques the curiosity of her young classmates. Flashback to the mid-1990s, where we meet Eela’s songwriter-boyfriend Arun (Tota Roy Chowdhury) who soon becomes her husband. For a reason that can only be described as strange, one fine day the man decides to vanish, leaving Eela and Vivaan to fend for themselves.

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Helicopter Eela Movie Review: Kajol and Tota Roy Chowdhary in a film still. (Image courtesy: Instagram)

The 1990s provides an inevitable pretext for some retro Hindi film music highlighted by Ruk Ruk Ruk Arre Baba Ruk, whose dummy version is belted out with elan by Eela. The remix becomes an instant hit and gives her an oh-so-brief toehold in the showbiz pantheon. While these passages in which the likes of Annu Malik, Mahesh Bhatt, Ila Arun and Shaan get to play themselves and Alisha Chinai, the singer of the original Ruk Ruk Ruk, is cast as a successful crooner named Anita are passable, they are at best fleeting moments. They do not change the course of the film.

For a film laden with so much music, including that lively ode to fading memories, Yaadon Ki Almari (lyrics: Swanand Kirkire; music: Amit Trivedi, sung by actress Palomi Ghosh), Helicopter Eela is tone-deaf. The number sounds great both in the flashback and in the climax, but the film makes such heavy weather of depicting the heroine’s journey towards self-realisation and redemption that it does no justice to the everyday quality of the lyrics (Ik Wallet Hai Leather Ka Jismein Rehti Thhi Kangali, goes one line). The film is far too flighty and melodramatic to be able to capture the tangibility of the emotions expressed in the song.

Neha Dhupia as a drama teacher does more drama than is required, hurling shoes at students who audition for a play and fall short. At one point, the exasperated college principal (Zakir Hussain) yells: “This isn’t a playschool.” That is open to debate: the way the teachers and students conduct themselves in this college, it resembles a loony bin where the supervisors are as unhinged as the inmates.

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Helicopter Eela Movie Review: Neha Dhupia in a film still. (Image courtesy: YouTube)

The problem with Helicopter Eela is that it allows the drama to trump its comic potential. A little more wit and humour and a little less earnestness might have given the film the wings it wants. After a disappointingly predictable and patchy two hours, the climax, too, does little to help the audience forget the trudge up until this point.

To sum up, Helicopter Eela is an ungainly crash landing at the end of a wobbly ride.





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