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Oppo R7 Lite Review

Oppo R7 Lite Review

It’s been a couple of years since Oppo entered the Indian market and since then, the company has managed to capture the attention of buyers with unique smartphones, right from the swivelling camera on the Oppo N1 to India’s first Quad-HD display on the Oppo Find 7. Its most recent launch is the brand new Oppo R7 Lite, a mid-range offering priced at Rs.18,000.

This is a tough segment to compete in, as we have the recently launched OnePlus X, the Gionee Elife S7 (Review | Pictures) from earlier in the year, and the crowd favourite Motorola Moto X Play (Review) – all hovering around the same price point. The R7 Lite is the smaller sibling of the Oppo R7 Plus and our initial impressions of both the phones were on the positive side. Let’s find out if our initial thoughts hold true once we’ve put it through the grind.

Look and feel
The build and finish of the R7 Lite is quite impressive thanks to quality materials used in the construction. The body is made up of a single piece of aluminium that has undergone multiple polishing processes to give it a satin finish. The buttons feel equally premium and have good tactile feedback. Oppo has managed to keep the thickness of the phone down to 6.3mm and it is fairly light too at 143g.

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The display gets a 2.5D arc treatment which means the edges are curved a bit for a smoother feel. In the front, we have a 5-inch HD Amoled display (720×1280) that’s protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The resolution is a bit low when you consider that most offerings in this price bracket now sport full-HD displays. Despite this, the pixel density is sufficiently high so you don’t get any annoying jaggedness in text and icons. Colour reproduction and sunlight legibility are also quite good.

The volume rocker and power buttons are placed on opposite sides. The SIM and microSD card tray sits on the right while the headphone socket and Micro-USB port take their place on the top and bottom respectively. You get a notification LED hidden in the upper left corner. The capacitive buttons at the bottom are sadly not backlit.

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Around the back, we have a 13-megapixel primary shooter, a single LED flash and the speaker at the bottom. To avoid sound getting muffled when the phone is placed on a flat surface, Oppo has added a tiny nub at the bottom which raises it slightly.

The Oppo R7 Lite is very pocketable, which makes single-handed use possible most of the time. It’s incredibly slim and feels very durable despite its dainty looks. The aluminium sides can be slippery but this can be circumvented with the bundled silicon case. It’s a slim cover which is barely noticeable and doesn’t ruin the look of the phone. Also in the box are a charger, a data cable, a SIM ejector tool, manuals, and a headset. The phone is available in gold and silver but there’s no option for a black front facia.

Oppo_R7_Lite_bundle_ndtv.jpg

Specifications and software
The core specifications are very much in line with the Moto X Play. You get an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 SoC, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of onboard storage, microSD card support of up to 128GB, and 4G LTE support. You also get Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, USB OTG and GPS. There’s no NFC or FM radio. The R7 Lite uses a hybrid Dual-SIM system so you can either have two SIM cards or one SIM and a microSD card.

The Oppo R7 Lite runs Colour OS 2.1 which is a heavily modified skin for Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. Not much has changed, visually at least, since we first saw it running on the Oppo N1. There are ton of possible customisations, from transition effects to themes. The notifications shade also gets a new look, and in addition to the usual toggle switches, there’s ‘Eye protection’ to reduce blue light output.

oppo_r7_lite_cover_ui_ndtv.jpg

The stock launcher has a single-layered design so all apps are laid out across multiple screens. Thankfully, Oppo pre-groups all Google apps so the result is not a huge mess. Other apps include Weather, File Manager, Kingsoft Office Suite, and System Update.

Oppo also bundles some of its own apps. O-Cloud lets you back up your contacts and SMSes to the cloud. Security Center consolidates multiple functions such as freeing up memory, data monitoring, blocking contacts, setting privacy permissions for apps, battery saving modes and a do-not-disturb feature. The Settings app contains additional controls for gestures and motion-based shortcuts.

Overall, Colour OS is one of our preferred custom Android solutions. There isn’t a lot of bloatware and most of the pre-installed apps are actually useful.

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Performance
The Oppo R7 Lite is speedy at routine tasks. We didn’t notice any stutter or slow-downs in the animations or when switching between apps. The phone easily handled heavy games such as Dead Trigger 2. Even with rigorous use, the phone would get only slightly warm, and this was with the silicon cover on. Call quality was also good and the R7 Lite easily latched on to 4G networks whenever possible.

We got a score of 34,263 in AnTuTu and 8,735 in 3DMark Ice Storm. GFXbench also returned a satisfying 20fps. Overall, these are pretty decent numbers for this price segment.

The phone also handles media files very well, including our high-bitrate full-HD video file. Colours are rich and vibrant thanks to the Amoled panel. The sound from the rear speaker isn’t great when watching movies or listening to music but is adequate for incoming alerts. The bundled headset isn’t that good either, as the sound is quite weak and the earphones aren’t very comfortable to wear.

oppo_r7_lite_cover_camerai_ndtv.jpgSome menu options don’t change orientation, which can make apps tricky to use
The combination of the camera app and the 13-megapixel sensor makes taking photos great fun. The interface is clean and all the options are neatly hidden away under a single menu button. Focusing speed is good under favourable lighting but it slows down a bit in low light. The phone is also very quick in capturing and saving pictures with minimal shutter lag. Burst mode works well. Our one little niggle is that some of the text and sub-menus don’t change orientation when shooting in landscape mode, which is a little distracting when you’re trying to frame a shot and are forced to turn the phone around again. oppo_r7_lite_cover_sample4_ndtv.jpgShot using Ultra HD mode (Click to see full-size image)
Oppo offers a useful variety of shooting modes which can be really fun to experiment with. Slow Shutter helps you with long exposure shots – you can keep the shutter open for up to 16 seconds. Ultra HD mode lets you output either a 24-megapixel or a 50-megapixel image. Images captured in this mode are smoother than those taken in standard mode, which is handy if you wish to crop portions of them later on. Edges around objects are less harsh without losing much detail which makes it good for landscapes. We recommend shooting at the 24-megapixel setting as the file size isn’t too bloated and there isn’t any noticeable quality difference between this and the higher resolution. There’s another mode which lets you save in RAW format. oppo_r7_lite_cover_sample3_ndtv.jpgShot using Super Macro mode (Click to see full-size image)
Super Macro is yet another useful mode for close up of small objects. Expert Mode gives you manual controls for shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, focus and white balance. Unfortunately, the values of the sliders don’t rotate to landscape mode so you’ll have to use this in portrait.

Video recording maxes out at 1080p and while the quality is good, there’s isn’t any form of electronic stabilisation so even minor movements makes the video very shaky. For video, you only get Time-lapse and Slow-mo. The slow motion video resolution is restricted to 480p.

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Landscapes shots unde natural light are good, especially with Ultra HD mode. The same goes for macro shots, as the camera manages to capture good detail and colours are fairly accurate. However, there’s noticeable noise in pictures taken in low light. Indoor shots under artificial lighting are also not the best as there’s noticeable graininess. The front-facing 8-megapixel camera supports autofocus and captures decent details.

The Oppo R7 Lite manages to deliver very good battery life despite its seemingly low-capacity 2320mAh battery. We got 11 hours and 57 minutes in our video loop test, which is good. With regular use, we easily managed to go up to day and half with a bit of gaming, a few calls, and 4G usage.

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Verdict
The Oppo R7 Lite turned out to be quite a firecracker in a slim package. The aluminium build and overall finish are superb, the display produces rich and vibrant colours, overall system performance is speedy, and it has good battery life as well. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s slim and lightweight. Things which could use some improvement are the camera app and low-light performance. It wouldn’t have hurt to throw in NFC and FM radio. Finally, you have to remember that this is a hybrid Dual-SIM phone, which means a microSD card cannot be used if you insert the second SIM.

Between the Oppo R7 Lite and the Gionee Elife S7, this phone comes across as a better all-rounder. Choosing between the R7 Lite and the Motorola Moto X Play is a little more tricky, because the latter promises timely software updates, a higher resolution display and slightly better all-round performance. However, the Oppo has its slimmer metal body.

The R7 Lite’s display resolution might be inferior to that of the Moto X Play and most other phones in this price segment, but you’ll barely be able to tell the difference in the real world. In this regard, the R7 Lite makes a very good alternative to the Moto X Play.


Oppo R7 Lite in pictures

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Oppo R7 Lite

Oppo R7 Lite

R 18000 4.0

  • Review
  • Key Specs
  • News
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • Camera
  • Value for money
  • Good
  • Beautiful design, sturdy build
  • Good battery life
  • Strong overall performance
  • Feature-rich camera app
  • Bad
  • Hybrid Dual-SIM
  • Noisy low-light images
  • No NFC or FM radio

Read detailed Oppo R7 Lite review

Display

5.00-inch

Processor

1.5GHz

Front Camera

8-megapixel

Resolution

720×1280 pixels

RAM

2GB

OS

Android 5.1

Storage

16GB

Rear Camera

13-megapixel

Battery capacity

2320mAh See full Oppo R7 Lite specifications

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Micromax Canvas Selfie 2 Review

Micromax Canvas Selfie 2 Review

Indians, like many others, are obsessed with the selfie and smartphone makers are only happy to oblige. While some feel this menace should be banned, there’s no denying that the trend has given birth to niche market for gadgets and accessories to fulfil your selfie appetite. After our recent outing with the Asus Zenfone Selfie (Review | Pictures), which happened to be a pretty decent phone, we have the second generation of Micromax’s offering based on the same theme, the Canvas Selfie 2.

Unlike Asus, Micromax is targeting the cash-strapped individual for whom pouting in front of a lens is almost a religion. At Rs. 5,999, it’s one of the cheapest ‘selfie’ smartphones in the market, but is it worth it? Let’s find out.

Look and feel
The build and finish of entry-level smartphones have certainly improved over the years. The Canvas Selfie 2 actually has decent construction quality and the plastics used don’t feel overly cheap. Micromax has borrowed some design elements from its Yu series, which makes the phone comfortable to hold with a firm grip. There’s a soft-rubber finish for the sides and a rougher texture for the back panel.

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In the front we have a 5-inch, IPS display with a 480×854 resolution, which is quite low and results in slightly jagged icons and text. The selfie camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and is placed towards the centre of the top. There’s also a notification LED between the camera and earpiece.

The phone has capacitive buttons for navigation, which are thankfully backlit. The power button and volume rocker are on the right and are comfortable to reach. The Micro-USB port and headphones socket are at the bottom and top respectively. The primary camera also has a 5-megapixel sensor, which presumably keeps the cost of the phone as low as possible. There’s a single LED flash to accompany it, and a Micromax logo in the centre. The speaker is placed at the bottom.

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The 2000mAh battery is removable. There’s also room here for the two 3G SIM slots and a microSD card. In the box, you get a modular charger, in-ear headset, instruction booklet and screen guard.

The Canvas Selfie 2 is 9mm thick and is comfortably light. The phone looks pretty generic on the whole but is built well considering the price. We’re surprised that Micromax didn’t throw in an LED flash for the front camera given that this is supposed to be a selfie phone.

Specifications and software
Powering the phone is a quad-core Mediatek MT6582M SoC with speeds of up to 1.3GHz, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of on board storage (4.74GB actually usable). MicroSD card support goes up to 32GB. There’s also Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and FM radio. There’s no USB OTG support, GLONASS, or NFC. The phone does not support 4G but you get 3G on both SIM slots.

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Micromax installs Android 5.0 Lollipop on the Canvas Selfie 2 along with a host of not-very-useful apps. There’s no custom skin but you have a choice between the stock launcher and Firstouch launcher. The latter gets rid of the app drawer and lays out all your apps on multiple screens. It’s not the best layout and is a bit confusing if you’re used to the organised style that an app drawer provides. You also get the option for switching the language to Hindi.

Coming to the pre-installed apps, there’s AppBazaar, which is a custom app store; App Center, which is yet another app store with even fewer apps; Chaatz, which is Snapchat-like messaging app, M!Live, which is the company’s own app store; and Scandid, which is a deal and coupon aggregator. Other apps include SnapDeal, Quikr, SwiftKey, NewsHunt, Kindle, Hotstar, and Clean Master.

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While most of the third-party apps can be uninstalled, you can’t get rid of the three app stores, which is quite frustrating since they are redundant and are unnecessarily eating up the limited amount of on board storage space.

Performance
Despite the lowly 1GB of RAM, the Canvas Selfie 2 is not what you’d call sluggish. There’s a slight delay in loading apps and demanding games like Dead Trigger 2 doesn’t give you the best experience, but on the whole, Lollipop itself runs quite smoothly. Neither the phone nor the display heat up much even when watching a video for a couple of hours.

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The display and the capacitive buttons don’t have the best touch response. We noticed that they would intermittently fail to register our touch input. The screen has decent viewing angles but the brightness level is quite low even when maxed out, which makes using it under sunlight a bit of a struggle. However, colour reproduction is satisfactory.

The quad-core Mediatek SoC managed 20,426 points in AnTuTu and 9.5FPS in GFXbench. This is decent considering the barebones hardware Android is running on.

We didn’t have any issue with network stability, and the phone latched on to 3G networks easily. Call quality was also decent with a good volume level for the earpiece. The same goes for the mono speaker, which is sufficiently loud for alerts and media playback.

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The Canvas Selfie 2 handles full-HD videos and even managed our high bit-rate test files without any noticeable frame skipping. The bundled headset is comfortable to wear and provides decent ambient noise isolation. However, audio quality is not very good so you’re better off buying a separate pair.

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(Click to view full-size image)
Coming to the main selling point of the phone, the Canvas Selfie’s front-facing camera leaves a lot to be desired. We feel that Micromax could have done so much more to make it a true selfie machine. The 5-megapixel sensor in the front does not have auto focus or a flash to help you out in low light. The sensor does a decent job under good lighting though, and you can also have the option of smile detection for automatically taking your picture when you smile, and face beauty to cover up blemishes.

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(Click to view full-size image)
The rear camera has the same sensor but with auto-focus and few more shooting modes such as Night and Live Photo. You can also use HDR mode. The camera interface is very basic and easy to use. Auto focus is decent under good lighting but gets very slow in low light. The level of detail and vividness of colours captured for landscapes and macros is strictly average so you really shouldn’t expect too much here. Video recording maxes out at full-HD and the quality is passable.

The 2000mAh capacity battery might seem too little, but due to the low resolution display, you can easily pull off a day’s worth of usage. We managed this pretty easily during our testing. In our video loop test, the phone managed to run for 9 hours and 7 minutes before shutting down automatically.

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Verdict
The Micromax Canvas Selfie 2 is not the worst option in the sub-Rs. 6,000 price bracket. We feel that the company could have done much more for the front camera considering the phone’s whole USP is taking selfies. An auto focus sensor and a flash are the bare minimum requirements in our books for a phone to be called selfie-centric. Without these things, it’s just another entry-level smartphone.

The Canvas Selfie 2 has good build quality, supports 3G on both SIM slots, runs Android Lollipop, plays full-HD video and is easy on the wallet. However, the display is low resolution, you can’t uninstall the redundant app stores, battery life is average, and the selfie camera leaves a lot to be desired.

If you can stretch your budget a bit more, the Meizu m2 (Review | Pictures) is a good bet as it also has a 5-megapixel front-facing camera but supports 4G and many other features that the Micromax lacks.


Micromax Canvas Selfie 2 in pictures

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Micromax Canvas Selfie 2

Micromax Canvas Selfie 2

R 5900 3.0

  • Review
  • Key Specs
  • News
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • Camera
  • Value for money
  • Good
  • Good build and finish
  • Android Lollipop
  • 3G on both SIM slots
  • Decent battery life
  • Bad
  • Underwhelming selfie camera
  • Some bloatware can’t be uninstalled
  • Low-resolution display

Read detailed Micromax Canvas Selfie 2 review

Display

5.00-inch

Processor

1.3GHz

Front Camera

5-megapixel

Resolution

480×854 pixels

RAM

1GB

OS

Android 5.0

Storage

8GB

Rear Camera

5-megapixel

Battery capacity

2000mAh See full Micromax Canvas Selfie 2 specifications

  • Micromax Canvas Selfie 2 Review
  • Micromax Canvas Selfie 2, Canvas Selfie 3 Android Smartphones Launched

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Sony Xperia Z5 Dual Review

Sony Xperia Z5 Dual Review

Sony’s mobile division has been in a rut for a while. If IDC’s latest report is anything to go by, dominance by the likes of Huawei and Lenovo is only adding to the company’s woes. Rather than sticking with the standard formula of yearly refreshes, Sony decided a few years ago to try bi-annual refreshes in order to keep things exciting and hopefully drive up sales.

Our last outing with Sony’s flagship smartphone was the Xperia Z3+ (Review | Pictures) , which didn’t exactly blow our socks off. This was just three months ago, and today, we already have its successor in the form of the Xperia Z5 Dual. Our first encounter with the phone was at IFA 2015 where the company announced it along with its two siblings – the Xperia Z5 Premium and Xperia Z5 Compact.

The Xperia Z5 Dual is on sale right now at Rs. 52,990 and will compete with flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Apple iPhone 6s, to name a few. Sony is also in competition with itself here as its previous flagship is virtually identical to its new offering on paper and retails for a lot less now. Let’s see if the company has managed to fix the nagging issues we had with the old model which could nudge prospective buyers into taking the leap this time around.

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Look and feel
The Sony Xperia Z5 Dual looks practically identical to its predecessor, which is something we like. The phone is a tiny bit thicker at 7.3mm and a tad heavier too at 154g. The rounded edges are less pronounced, so the phone fits in your hand better. The metal frame is still very slippery though and the phone can easily slide from your fingers.

In the front, we have a 5.2-inch full-HD IPS display with scratch-resistant glass. Thankfully, Sony has done away with the silly screen guard on the display, which spoiled the otherwise premium look of the Xperia Z3+. There’s a front-facing 5-megapixel camera, the usual suite of sensors, and a notification LED in the upper left corner. You also get stereo speakers placed on the top and bottom, facing you.

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The phone retains its IP68 certification making it dust and water resistant. The slots for the two SIM cards and the microSD card are on the left, covered by a flap.

The power button has been redesigned with an integrated fingerprint sensor so it’s flat and sits flush with the body instead of the older circular design. The volume rocker is still inconveniently located on the lower right side, which means you have to shuffle the phone about to reach it with one hand. The camera shutter button sits just below it.

Sony has gone with a frosted glass for the back, which looks and feels really good. It also attracts fewer fingerprints and is easier to keep clean. Here we have the new 23-megapixel camera and its single LED flash, followed by some branding and the NFC logo. Sony is probably one of the few phone manufactures to still include an eyelet for a lanyard.

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The Xperia Z5 Dual is a very pretty phone. The gold variant that we received looks particularly good and will certainly turn a few heads. We didn’t get a retail unit so the headset was missing, but the charger and cable that come with it are made well and should last.

Specifications and software
The spec sheet of the Xperia Z5 Dual is virtually identical to that of its predecessor. The phone is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC, and has 3GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage (expandable up to 200GB). You also get Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1, USB OTG, GLONASS, NFC, FM radio, and a 2900mAh battery.
The phone also has dual-SIM support with LTE for both SIM slots. It’s nice to see Sony adding this functionality to its flagship models. The E6683 variant sold in India supports LTE for Band 40 and 3 but only up to Category 4 (150Mbps). The single SIM variant (E6653) supports LTE Category 6 but that hasn’t been launched here. This is a bit disappointing since most other Android flagships today support the faster LTE specification.

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USB OTG support is present but will only work if you tap ‘Detect USB device’ in the USB section of the Settings app, else your flash drive won’t show up in file managers.

The fingerprint sensor is easy to set up and works as you’d expect. Since it is on the side, you’ll most likely to use your thumb if you’re right-handed or an index/ middle finger if you’re left-handed. The placement of the button is good, however since it’s flat, it can be a little tricky to find at night. The volume rocker and camera shutter buttons on the other hand operate as usual.

The phone supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 and ships with the UCH10 charger which supports output at 5v, 9v and 12v. We tested this by charging the phone for 30 minutes when the battery was bone-dry. We repeated it with the phone switched on and off, and the battery was charged up to exactly 26 percent each time. This should be enough to get you through at least your morning commute to work.

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Sony ships the Xperia Z5 Dual with Android 5.1.1 and its custom skin layered on top. You’ll find glimpses of the stock interface but it’s mostly customised to pack in all of Sony’s enhancements. Most of them are similar to what we’ve already seen in the Xperia Z3+ but we’ll skim over the notable ones here.

Themes lets you change the icons and look of the interface, but there isn’t much choice and the good ones are usually paid or not available for India. The Display sub-menu lets you toggle Sony’s image enhancements, X-Reality, and Super Vivid mode. Enabling this simply boostscolour saturation which gives pictures and videos a very unnatural look.

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The Audio sub-menu offers a ton of customisations for listening to audio through headphones. There’s something called DSEE HX which helps up-sample low-resolution audio files. It’s useful if you have a lot of these in your music library but is otherwise best turned off as it has a negative effect on high-quality files. You’ll want to leave ClearAudio+ enabled as it boosts the low and mid-range frequencies in audio.

Sony also bundles its own suite of apps and adds plenty of functionality to existing Android apps. The album app for instance neatly organises your pictures and videos so you can sort them based on favourites, geo-tagged location, camera effects, faces, or people in your home network. There’s also Facebook, Picasa and Flickr integration. Similar functionality is also found in the file manager and music apps. Finally, Smart Connect lets you automate things based on events or which accessories you use with the phone.

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Along with the useful stuff, the phone is also burdened with unwanted bloatware that, thankfully, can be uninstalled. There are trial versions of games such as Real Football 2015, Thor, and Modern Combat 5; there’s Hungama Play for renting movies and Jive for streaming music; News from Sociallife is a news aggregator; Sony Liv lets you watch local Sony Television shows once registered; and What’s New lets you purchase themes, games, console games and music.
You also get Kindle, Clean Master, AVG Protection, File Commander, Sony Lifelog, Sketch, Live Screen Streaming, Movie Creator, OfficeSuite, TrackID and PlayStation store pre-installed.

Sony is running a few offers with the phone which can be claimed through the Xperia Lounge app. You can claim a Smart Cover for the phone, plus download content worth Rs. 4,000 from the preinstalled Hungama Play and Jive apps.

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Performance
The Xperia Z5 Dual is a true workhorse and steamrolls over anything your throw at it. The only time we noticed some lag was when using the augmented reality (AR) camera apps. Call quality is good and so is the audio from the earpiece. The raised edges on the bezel of the phone help protect the display and frosted glass on the back from scratches when placed on a flat surface. However, they also make the phone a little difficult to hold and can get uncomfortable if you’re on a long call.
The display has good brightness levels, and colours are punchy. It does wash out a bit under direct sunlight, but is otherwise very legible for the most part. For a flagship phone as per today’s standards, the resolution is a little low, but at 5.2-inches, full-HD is still enough to make pixels indistinguishable to the naked eye.

Sadly, the phone still heats up very quickly with even trivial tasks. We noticed that it started getting hot around the NFC logo on the rear, even when taking no more than two pictures. This was noticeable even in an air-conditioned room and it only got worse when we used the camera or played games outdoors. With the kind of weather we usually have to deal with in India, be prepared to carry a hot slab of metal in your pocket.

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The stereo speakers are a marked improvement from earlier Xperia Z models. Incoming notifications and calls are clearly audible and the volume level is loud enough for music or videos. The sound quality is not the best but we won’t fault Sony too much here since they had to go through some level of waterproofing. With headphones, the audio quality is simply superb. Since we didn’t get a bundled set, we tested this with a pair of Cowon EM1 earphones and were very pleased with the results. The highs and mids are very detailed and there’s a very satisfying thump in low frequencies too. You can customise this further by tinkering around with the EQ settings to suit your taste.

The phone posted some impressive scores in synthetic benchmarks. We got 50,872 points in AnTuTu and an impressive 52fps in GFXbench. 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited threw up a score of 25,020 which is higher than what the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 managed. The scores varied quite a bit depending on how hot the phone was so we had to let it cool down before getting the desired result. This strong performance is reflected in real-world apps too, and taxing games such as Dead Trigger 2 played without a hitch.

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The Xperia Z5 Dual gets a new 23-megapixel camera sensor which performs well under most lighting conditions. In daylight, landscapes and macro shots have very good detail and colours captured are quite accurate. You also get a very satisfying depth-of-field effect in close-up shots. The dedicated shutter button comes in handy for quickly launching the camera app and snapping pictures. Landscapes and close-up shots pack in good detail with accurate colours. Low-light shots are also decent but there’s a noticeable purple hue in dark areas of the picture. The phone heats up rather quickly and you’ll get warning messages every now and then that the app might close in the event the phone gets too hot. In fact, you’ll be inclined to stop shooting pictures way before the app can close as the phone gets uncomfortable to hold beyond a point.

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We noticed that the phone takes about a second or two from the time you press the shutter to when the image is actually saved. This is a rather slow when you compare the near-instantaneous post-processing of the Galaxy Note 5 or the iPhone 6. It also explains why Sony has quietly removed burst mode from the camera app. Even the ‘Timeshift Burst’ add-on is which was present by default in previous offerings, is absent. We found ‘Superior Auto’ to be the best mode to shoot in. You can choose ‘Manual’ to select the type of scene but you’ll have to drop the resolution to 8 megapixels to use it. We would have liked a professional mode which lets you control the aperture and shutter speed. Sony is reportedly planning to overhaul the camera app so hopefully, we’ll see these features added to the new layout.

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With 5x digital zoom (Click to see full-size image)
Sony is also touting its ‘Clear Image Zoom’ feature, which is supposed to deliver clear pictures even with a 5x zoom. In reality, this works to an extent but pictures are noticeably less sharp and colours get muted. The front-facing 5.1-megapixel camera does a good job at selfies under natural light but indoors, under artificial lighting, pictures get a little noisy. Video recording quality is also good and you can switch between full-HD 30fps and 60fps. The phone does a good job with 4K video recording as well, with good detail and a steady frame rate.

Coming to battery life, the Xperia Z5 Dual packs in just a tiny bit less capacity than its predecessor. The phone lasted around 10 hours and 47 minutes in our video loop test, which is more than what the Xperia Z3+ achieved. Withregular use, we easily managed to go a little more than a day before having to turn on the Stamina or Ultra Stamina modes. Sony’s battery saving modes continue to be some of the best out there, and really help to prolong battery life even when the levels are critically low.

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Verdict
Sony’s new flagship comes just a few months after its previous flagship so we didn’t expect much to change and truth be told, very little has. Sure, it is slightly better looking and the battery life has improved a bit, but you’d have to be a die-hard Sony fan to pay this much for it, especially when there are much better alternatives going for a whole lot less.

The Xperia Z5 Dual feels like a forced update from Sony given the phone is nearly spec-for-spec identical to the Xperia Z3+, which wasn’t a show-stopper begin with. In order to compensate for this, Sony is throwing in some limited time freebies to tempt buyers but we’re not sure how well that will work out.

For this money, you can get the Samsung Galaxy S6 64GB, which is a much better all-rounder. If you want to spend a bit less without compromising anything, then how about the Huawei Google Nexus 6P 64GB for Rs. 42,999? Our initial impressions of the phone are positive, and we’ll have a full review of it soon.

The Sony Xperia Z5 Dual would have made a great flagship a year ago, but with the competition being fiercer than ever, it simply feels dated. Even if you go purely by specifications, the phone is underwhelming compared to others in its price range and even lower. Plus, the overall experience doesn’t really bring anything new to the table and we still have to live with the shortcomings of previous Xperia flagships. What we need from Sony is something fresh; something to get excited about again. Until that happens, it’s back to the drawing board.

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Sony Xperia Z5 Dual

Sony Xperia Z5 Dual

R 52990 3.5

  • Review
  • Key Specs
  • News
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • Camera
  • Value for money
  • Good
  • Looks good
  • Good battery life
  • Strong all-round performance
  • Weatherproof
  • Bad
  • Heats up quickly
  • Pre-installed bloatware
  • Not competitive enough
  • Slow camera; No Burst mode

Read detailed Sony Xperia Z5 Dual review

Display

5.20-inch

Processor

octa-core

Front Camera

5-megapixel

Resolution

1080×1920 pixels

RAM

3GB

OS

Android 5.1.1

Storage

32GB

Rear Camera

23-megapixel

Battery capacity

2900mAh See full Sony Xperia Z5 Dual specifications

More Sony mobilesOriginal NDTV Gadgets

Gionee S6 Review

Gionee S6 Review

Gionee has been rapidly expanding its ‘Elife S’ series off late. It launched the Gionee S Plus in November and has now launched its fourth offering, the Gionee S6. While the two smartphones come with almost identical specifications, the S6 emphasises on a more premium build, as well as support for VoLTE.

The phone is priced at Rs. 19,999 and in terms of product positioning, the Gionee S6 will go up against the Oppo R7 Lite (Review). Let’s see how the S6 fares against the competition.

Look and feel

The Gionee S6 doesn’t exactly have an identity it can call its own. Unlike a current-gen Motorola phone – which is instantly recognisable due to its iconic design – one could easily mistake the S6 for a smartphone by Huawei or LeEco. To be fair, this is probably true of most offerings launched by Chinese companies these days. Having said that, Gionee has done a good job with the unibody aluminium build and the phone looks pretty good in rose gold. It’s comfortable to hold and the button placement in spot-on, allowing for some level of single-handed use.

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The 5.5-inch HD Amoled display on the Gionee S6 gets Gorilla Glass 3 for protection and it is quite legible under most lighting conditions. However, the colours are wildly oversaturated which can get a little jarring at times. We wished there was an option to tweak the colours for a more natural effect.

Gionee_S6_port_ndtv.jpg

There are non-backlit capacitive buttons at the bottom for navigation that are fairly responsive. The buttons on the side have good tactile feedback as well. At the bottom, we have a USB Type-C charging port (USB 2.0 speeds) which is flanked by two speaker grilles. Around the back, we have a 13-megapixel camera and the LED flash. There’s a 5-megapixel camera in the front as well as a notification LED that’s hidden away in the front facia.

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The Gionee S6 supports Dual-SIM 4G with VoLTE, which is accessible via the SIM tray on the left. This is hybrid SIM tray which means you’ll have to choose between a second SIM or a microSD card. The battery is sealed inside and is non-removable.

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The phone ships with a 10W charger, data cable, in-ear headset, screen guard, silicone case and the usual warranty information booklets. The quality of the accessories is alright, although we would have liked to see a higher-grade USB cable, as the supplised one doesn’t feel too durable. The S6 scores well in the build and aesthetics department and gets no complaints from us. It’s quite light too at 148g and slim enough to fit into your skinny jeans pocket.

Specifications and software

In terms of power, Gionee gives you an octa-core MediaTek MT6753T SoC running at 1.3GHz and 3GB of RAM. It’s not the most powerful SoC to be honest, especially for this price, as we’ve seen this in phones that cost nearly half as much. For storage, there’s 32GB of onboard storage that you can expand by 128GB; there’s Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, USB OTG, FM radio and Wi-Fi Direct. The phone supports 4G LTE on Band40 as well as VoLTE, so you will be able to use it with Reliance’s upcoming Jio platform.

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It’s business as usual in the software department. The Gionee S6 runs the Amigo 3.1 skin on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop. There’s the usual suite of apps which we’ve covered extensively in past reviews like the Gionee Marathon M5. Most of the third-party apps like the trial games and productivity apps can be uninstalled. You also get an app called Kids Home, which lets you grant your kids access to select apps. The phone also comes with AMI Note and AMI Lock apps from Gionee, but these weren’t present on our review unit.

Gionee_S6_screen_ndtv.jpg

Gionee has added some neat touches in Amigo 3.1, like the ability to quickly access your hidden photos with a simple pinch-out gesture in the gallery app. You can also safely eject OTG drives by simply tapping the button in the notification bar.

Performance

Despite the extensive skin, Android runs very smoothly without any hiccups. Multi-tasking and transition effects are lag-free as there’s about 1.6GB of free RAM available at any given point. The phone gets a bit warm during gaming or video playback but never uncomfortably hot. Voice calls are handled well too although the edge around the earpiece doesn’t offer the most comfortable feeling if you’re on a long call. VoLTE is a future-proof feature to have as it will also work on the Reliance Jio network.

Gionee_S6_earphone_ndtv.jpg

Benchmark scores are pretty good too and in some tests, the MediaTek chip sneaks past a similarly spec’d Snapdragon 615. We got a score of 37845 in AnTuTu and 20fps in GFXBench’s T Rex test. Real world games runs pretty smoothly, right from simple ones like Alto’s Adventure to more graphically demanding games like Asphalt 8.

The Gionee S6 does well with multimedia files too, playing back 1080p videos with ease. The stock video player has the option to enable DTS audio, which adds a nice boost to the sound. The effect is better heard with the bundled headset than with the speaker. The audio player gets similar enhancements along with other options to tweak the sound stage. Audio quality is good with the provided headset while the loud speaker does a decent job with alerts, but isn’t great for watching movies.

Gionee_S6_sample1_ndtv.jpgGionee_S6_sample3_ndtv.jpg (Tap for full-sized images)

The 13-megapixel rear camera captures very good detail and good colours in daylight. Landscapes and macros are sharp and well-detailed and the camera is quick to focus and capture the image. We found the HDR mode to be a bit temperamental as it refused to capture an HDR shot. Low-light shots aren’t great as there’s quite a bit of noise that creeps into the picture, but overall it’s acceptable.

Gionee_S6_sample2_ndtv.jpg 

There are a bunch of shooting modes play around with including GIF, a barcode scanner, and a professional mode. The front camera captures decent selfies indoors. Quality of recorded video is good too and is fairly stead thanks to the software stabilisation.

Battery life

The 3150mAh battery managed to last 12 hours and 3 minutes in our video loop test, which is good. During real world usage, we managed to get up to a day and a half before needing to charge the phone. Although Gionee doesn’t explicitly talk about fast charging, the 10W charger manages to charge the battery pretty quickly as we went from zero to 35 percent in roughly half an hour.

Gionee_S6_led_ndtv.jpg

Verdict

The Gionee S6 is a well-crafted smartphone and in some ways, offers better value than Oppo’s R7 Lite since it has double the onboard storage, FM radio, and supports VoLTE out-of-the-box. Given its price, we would have liked a more powerful SoC and a better display in the S6, as it would have been a good opportunity for Gionee to truly disrupt the mid-range market. But the company has played it safe and the premium you’re paying is for the design and build.

VoLTE is an important feature to have and although you won’t be able to use it right away, it will be immensely handy if you do switch to Reliance’s 4G network or stick around for others to launch their VoLTE services. Technically, most smartphones today with LTE capability (including non-TD LTE phones) could support VoLTE if the manufacture pushes out a software update to enable this.

The Gionee S6 is a good phone in its own right but feels a bit expensive for the hardware on offer. Plus, it’s also lacking some features like NFC and a fingerprint sensor, which would have been nice to have.

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.

Gionee S6

  • Good
  • Good build and aesthetics
  • Strong battery life
  • Camera good for daylight shots
  • VoLTE support
  • Bad
  • No fingerprint sensor or NFC
  • A bit expensive given the hardware
  • Low-resolution display

Read detailed Gionee S6 review

Display

5.50-inch

Processor

1.3GHz

Front Camera

5-megapixel

Resolution

720×1280 pixels

RAM

3GB

OS

Android 5.1

Storage

32GB

Rear Camera

13-megapixel

Battery capacity

3150mAh See full Gionee S6 specifications

More Gionee mobilesOriginal NDTV Gadgets

Moto X Force Review

Moto X Force Review

Smartphone screens are brittle, expensive, and downright depressing when broken. We’ve heard countless stories of how the smallest drop has shattered a screen, followed by the heartbreak of having to shell out a lot of money for repairs and then having to live with a ‘fixed’ smartphone. According to Motorola’s own statistics, 51 percent of smartphone users have shattered or cracked their display at some point.

Manufacturers have tried to do their part to make such damage less upsetting for customers, such as Samsung’s offer of a one-time screen replacement during the first year of purchase. Additionally, Apple may soon accept phones with broken screens as part of its trade-in program. While these may be some consolation to victims of a broken screen, why not dream of better?

That’s where the Rs. 49,999 Moto X Force comes in. The phone comes with what the company calls a ‘ShatterShield’ display, and Motorola assures buyers that the screen of the phone is ‘shatterproof’. It’s designed to take a pounding, including being dropped onto solid surfaces from heights and at angles that would result in gaping cracks through a typical smartphone’s screen, and shivers down the spines of the owners of said smartphones. Motorola further backs up the guarantee with a four-year warranty on the display, which covers accidental damage. And above all, this is a flagship smartphone with all the bells and whistles you’d expect to see. We review the ‘unbreakable’ Motorola Moto X Force.

(Also see: The Moto X Force Shouldn’t Exist in 2016)

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Look and feel
Motorola’s current lineup of smartphones tends to stick to a formulaic look, and the Moto X Force follows this trend. The Moto X name now has four current-generation models: the Moto X (2nd Gen), Moto X Play, Moto X Style and Moto X Force. All of them have similar aesthetics and styling. However, the Moto X Force, being the flagship, has a bit more going on than the rest.

The key differences are visible at the back, with the ‘ballistic nylon’ rear panel that we first saw on last year’s Moto Turbo (Review | Pictures). One key advantage of this is that the phone’s back panel is effectively scratch-proof, and it also looks rather good. Near the top are the camera, flash, and the Motorola logo. It’s a beautiful look that goes well with the rest of the device.

Although the edges feel a bit sharp, the Moto X Force is still easy to hold, thanks to the natural grip that the nylon back offers. However, thanks to the large screen and heavy frame, the device feels unwieldy and is hard to use with one hand.

moto_x_force_back_ndtv.jpg

The frame is entirely metal, and feels rather solid and sturdy. On the right are the power and volume keys, the bottom has the Micro-USB port and some regulatory text, while the top has the Nano-SIM and microSD tray, and 3.5mm socket. The front has two speaker grilles at the bottom, along with the flash, earpiece, and front camera at the top. There are no capacitive soft keys, with the phone relying on on-screen keys instead, similar to the current Nexus range of smartphones. There is also no fingerprint sensor, which may be a put-off for many users, considering the price of the Moto X Force.

The display of the phone is a 5.4-inch, 1440×2560-pixel Amoled screen, with a 540ppi density and 69.8 percent screen-to-body ratio at the front. It has a slightly warm tone to it, but is brilliant when it comes to colours and brightness. Black levels are truly fantastic, and the phone tends to bring out the best in high-resolution videos. As expected, it’s also incredibly sharp, and it’s hard to detect individual pixels even when looking at it up close. At this price though, we’d expect no less.

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We now come to the key feature of the Moto X Force, the ‘shatterproof’ display. The display is made with a rigid aluminium core, flexible Amoled screen, and dual touch panel layers (which is a redundancy in case one goes bad). Along with the solid metal frame, this gives the phone the protection it needs to prevent the screen from shattering when dropped or put under pressure. We tested the durability of the screen thoroughly, and despite multiple drops at different angles and from different heights, it indeed did not shatter. The Moto X Force is also water-resistant and can handle getting a bit wet. We’re happy to say that Motorola has put its money where its mouth is with this one.

However, let’s be completely clear that while the screen indeed seems ‘unbreakable’, the rest of the phone is not built for excessive abuse. The frame scuffs easily, and too many drops may even dislodge the nylon panel at the rear. We also started hearing some minor distortion from the speaker that we hadn’t heard earlier. Although the majority of the components inside the phone are solid-state and can take some abuse, that doesn’t mean that the phone in its entirety is indestructible, and reasonable care is still advised. Having said that, it’s still one of the more durable, hardy, and solid phones we’ve ever used.

moto_x_force_side_ndtv.jpg

Specifications and software
When a smartphone costs nearly Rs. 50,000, there are some obvious expectations from the specifications sheet which the Moto X Force does live up to, with top-end innards. Powering the smartphone is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC, which is currently Qualcomm’s flagship smartphone SoC. There’s also 3GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. Keep in mind that the 64GB option costs a bit more at Rs. 53,999, and that you can add expandable storage up to a theoretical 2TB, although the current highest capacity for microSD cards is 200GB.

The single-SIM smartphone also supports 4G connectivity, with support for the FDD-LTE and TDD-LTE bands currently used by operators in India. The phone has a non-removable 3760mAh battery, and comes with a massive 25W charger. Along with Qualcomm’s Fast Charge technology, this ensures that the phone can go from zero to 100 percent in less than an hour, which is incredibly useful. The only issue we had with the charger is that it doesn’t have a detachable USB cable, so you’ll need a separate cable to connect the Moto X Force to a PC. The phone also supports wireless charging, but you’ll need to buy a separate accessory for this. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC. The phone is truly fully loaded and fairly future-proof.

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The Moto X Force runs Android 5.1.1 out of the box, with Motorola’s slightly tweaked version of stock Android on top. This is a major disappointment, as users would expect a company like Motorola to launch its newest flagship phone with the latest version of Android. Although we can expect software updates, there’s no official word on when just yet. The user interface is pretty much identical to stock Lollipop, although updating the default Google Now Launcher brings a few Marshmallow-esque changes to the interface.

Update, February 21: Our Moto X Force review unit has received the over-the-air update to Android 6.0, and is now running the latest version of the operating system. Changes include Doze Mode, app standby, links and permissions, the abiltiy to use expandable storage as internal memory, Now on Tap, Do Not Disturb Mode and more.

Just like on the Nexus 5X and global7 company, the software and interface is bare bones and free of too many frills. This helps in performance and the Moto X Force is an absolute flier and a pleasure to use. The only real differences compared to stock Android are Motorola’s small additions to the software, including the Connect app which lets you use the phone with Motorola accessories and connected devices, dedicated apps for gallery and messaging, and the excellent Moto app which controls the Moto Voice, Moto Display, and Moto Actions tools.

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Once set up, you can configure the phone to react to a customised voice command, which will bring up the voice assistant. This can be used to tell the phone to do anything, from carrying out Google searches to placing calls, sending messages and opening particular apps. Voice recognition is fantastic, and the app works excellently. Additionally, you can give voice commands even from standby mode, and this makes the phone incredibly easy to use without using your hands.

You can also set up Assist, which uses the phone’s sensors to understand when you’re sleeping or driving, and optimise you phone during those activities. It can additionally be set to recognise certain actions to trigger the flashlight or camera, or to activate Moto Display when you reach for the phone. Moto Display itself is excellent, making use of the Amoled screen to only partially activate and show you your notifications without having to unlock the phone. All of these actions work perfectly to trigger their functions, and this makes the Moto X Force unbelievably intuitive and easy to use.

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Camera
The Moto X Force has a 21-megapixel primary camera with dual-tone LED flash and variable focus, and 5-megapixel front camera with single-tone LED flash and fixed focus. The rear camera can record up to 4K-resolution video at 30fps, while the front camera records up to full-HD resolution video. The rear camera is also capable of recording slow-motion video at 720p.

The camera app is a bit tricky to use, because of what we feel is an over-simplification of its functions. There is no dedicated capture button; instead, you simply tap anywhere on screen or press one of the volume keys to capture photos. Buttons in the bottom corners allow you to switch between the front and rear camera, and shoot video. There are no other controls on screen, but you can bring up some controls by swiping from left to right. This menu allows you to control HDR, flash, focus and exposure, picture ratio and video resolution, among other things. Swiping from right to left brings up the gallery, while swiping up and down control the zoom. We often accidentally triggered the shutter when we were trying to swipe or attempting to control focus and exposure, and a lack of optical image stabilisation meant that we had to compose our shots very carefully and often shoot in burst mode to get good results.

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The camera itself is great, provided you’ve taken the trouble to compose the shot properly and kept your hand stable. Even a bit of movement has a tendency to ruin pictures, so careful shooting is advised. Once you get it right, the Moto X Force will produce some excellent images that are sharp, detailed and bright, with vibrant colours. The front camera also takes good pictures, and the presence of a flash makes it possible to get great selfies even in dark spaces.

Videos are excellent no matter what mode you shoot in, and 4K and slow-motion video are both naturally entertaining to watch. Low-light pictures are decent as well, and close-ups are among the best we’ve seen. The camera is pretty much on par with that of the Nexus 6P, and is only brought down by the trickiness of the software and the need for a steady hand.

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Performance
Considering that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC is one of the best in the world, performance on the Moto X Force is fantastic. As previously stated, the bare bones interface and performance-tuned software play a large part in this, as does the 3GB of RAM. Whether it’s loading web pages, playing games or running heavily encoded videos, the Moto X Force performs flawlessly. Resource-heavy apps such as the camera, popular social media platforms, Whatsapp and Netflix work perfectly well. Overall, we felt that the Moto X Force didn’t quite perform as well as the Nexus 6P, but it certainly came close.

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Benchmark scores are incredibly high as well, with the Moto X Force registering scores of 81,822 and 36,667 in AnTuTu and Quadrant respectively. These scores are considerably higher than those of the Nexus 6P and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (Review | Pictures), and are slightly higher than the similarly-specced LeEco Le Max (Review | Pictures) managed too. GFX Bench and 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited also returned high scores of 40fps and 24,698 respectively.

The Moto X Force has a strong antenna, and is capable of holding onto both Wi-Fi and 4G networks with ease, where other phones struggled. Call quality was superb as well, as was audio performance through both headphones and the internal speakers. However, the stereo effect was slightly lacking, as the speakers are next to each other. Battery life is excellent as well, with the phone running for 14 hours, 42 minutes in our video loop test. Even in day to day use, the battery would easily last through the day despite heavy use which included 4G connectivity.

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Verdict
The Moto X Force is undeniably a force to reckon with among smartphones. This is a powerhouse of a smartphone with good looks, a superb screen, great performance and an excellent camera. Above all, it has a killer feature that’s currently exclusive to it: the Moto X Force’s display is truly shatterproof, and as a result, the phone can take a pounding like no other. If you have a habit of dropping your phone often or have had to deal with expensive mobile phone repair bills in the past, you should seriously consider the Moto X Force.

Unfortunately, these features come at a considerable price. Despite the obvious advantages of shatter-proof construction and the high-end specifications and performance, Rs. 50,000 is far too much money to pay for an Android smartphone. Additionally, the lack of dual-SIM connectivity and a fingerprint sensor may be a put-off to many, so the Moto X Force isn’t quite as perfect as it seems. However, it’s still one of the most innovative and interesting smartphones we’ve used, and one that fully lives up to its claims.

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.

Motorola Moto X Force

  • Good
  • Shatterproof screen
  • Excellent design and build
  • Good camera
  • Great screen
  • Superb software and performance
  • Great battery life
  • Bad
  • Runs Android 5.1 out of the box
  • Single-SIM capability
  • No fingerprint sensor
  • Expensive

Read detailed Motorola Moto X Force review

Display

5.40-inch

Processor

1.5GHz

Front Camera

5-megapixel

Resolution

1440×2560 pixels

RAM

3GB

OS

Android 5.1.1

Storage

32GB

Rear Camera

21-megapixel

Battery capacity

3760mAh See full Motorola Moto X Force specifications

More Motorola mobilesOriginal NDTV Gadgets