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Lenovo Phab Plus Review

Lenovo Phab Plus Review

Yes, the new Lenovo Phab Plus is enormous and unweildy. No, it’s not worth buying if you do not explicitly want a huge phone – or a tablet that can also make voice calls. Now that that’s out of the way, we can look at it for what it really is rather than dismissing it as ridiculous: a hybrid device designed for people who spend a lot more time playing games and watching videos than talking on the phone.

Lenovo stresses the screen and audio quality of the Phab Plus, which is a way of saying it’s an entertainment-focused device. There really isn’t anything else like it on the market. With a metal body and a price tag close to Rs. 20,000, Lenovo is trying to create a premium niche in the voice-calling tablet market. Let’s see if the company has tapped a whole new product category, or whether the Phab Plus is just a novelty that will soon be forgotten.

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Look and feel
The very first thing to deal with when it comes to this phone is its size. With a 6.8-inch screen and very little space on the sides, it’s not as big as most small tablets. As far as phones go though, this might well be the biggest we’ve ever tested. It looks like a stretched out iPhone 6 Plus (Review | Pictures); taller and wider, but not perceptibly thicker. The comparison is especially valid because this is where the Phab Plus gets all its design inspiration from. Not only is it available in grey, silver and gold, but the curved sides, flat back, antenna lines and overall styling are also undeniably taken straight from Cupertino’s current aesthetic.

Of course, being an Android device, the front is a bit different. The proportion of screen to surrounding plastic is way higher. The narrow strip of white above the screen houses the earpiece, camera and sensor window in a straight line, while the matching one below is blank thanks to the use of on-screen buttons. A status LED is hidden within the earpiece grille, and unfortunately isn’t visible at all unless you’re looking at the phone head-on.

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One original design touch is the grille on the upper rear that houses the loudspeaker as well as the primary camera and its dual-LED flash. There are also two rather ugly stickers lower down, with regulatory information and barcodes.

The power and volume buttons are on the right but the sheer size of this device means there’s no way to get the placement right – they’re almost always out of reach. There’s a tray on the left which can hold one Micro-SIM and either a secondary Nano-SIM or a microSD card. As with many recent phones, you’ll have to sacrifice storage expansion in order to use a second SIM, or vice versa. We are not in favour of this arrangement at all, especially if it isn’t made clear in the product’s spec sheet and promotional materials, as is often the case.

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As far as grip and comfort go, you really have to treat this device like a smallish tablet. The Phab Plus weighs 229g which is a lot for a phone. Holding it up to speak is awkward and uncomfortable after barely a few minutes. We tried bending and twisting the phone, and while there was a little flex, we weren’t afraid it would easily get damaged.

Lenovo thinks a lot of people will be willing to use this as their primary mobile device, replacing an ordinary smartphone. We have our doubts about that, for the simple reason that it’s really awkward to carry around. Half of it will stick out of a shirt pocket, and we were never quite comfortable with it in our pants or jeans pockets either. We were often worried about pickpockets when out and about, since it presents such an inviting target. It’s really more suitable to being carried around in a bag.

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Specifications
The Lenovo Phab Plus has fairly mid-range specifications, and if that doesn’t seem impressive for the price it’s because you’re paying for the huge screen and build quality. The processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615, which has eight CPU cores and runs at 1.5GHz. There’s 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. MicroSD card support goes up to 64GB, though as already stated, this will be at the cost of the second SIM.

The 6.8-inch screen has a resolution of 1080×1920 which is pretty good, but not as sharp as you might expect it to be. There’s a 13-megapixel camera on the rear and a 5-megapixel one in front. The battery, which is not removable, has a capacity of 3,500mAh. Talk time is rated at 24 hours and standby time at 20 days.

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You get 4G access through both SIM slots. There’s support for the modern Wi-Fi 802.11 ac standard, but only Bluetooth 4.0 for some reason. Lenovo advertises Dolby Atmos sound enhancement and a specially designed “1.0cc sound chamber”.

Software
The Phab Plus runs Android 5.0.2 and in many ways behaves like Android on tablets in the way that apps use the screen. There isn’t any optimisation in the way the iPhone 6 Plus, for example, uses the additional space in landscape mode to display an extra column in the Messages and Settings apps. Lenovo has added shortcuts to the quick settings panel that trigger what it calls “single hand micro screen” mode, “wide touch”, and “single hand keyboard” which don’t seem to have any effect at first.

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After digging through the settings we found that the former toggles a setting labelled “screen shrink” which lets you draw a ‘C’ gesture anywhere, shrinking the display output to use only a corner of the screen. It moves when you tilt the phone, which is awkward, but you can also reposition it and choose between two levels of shrinkage. Further in the settings app, there’s a section that says you can prevent apps from running in “small window mode” – note the third different name for this feature – but what this actually does is only reject recognition of the gesture, not prevent the apps from being shrunk.

As it turns out, “wide touch” is another name for “floating shortcut”, which replicates the iOS Assistive Touch feature, a floating translucent button which is actually meant for people with limited ranges of motion but can be used to overcome the problems presented by the enormous screen. “Single hand keyboard” turned out to only affect the phone app’s keypad, not the actual system keyboard in any app that needs text input. A little documentation about these features would really have helped, especially because of the confusing names Lenovo has given them. Not even the downloadable PDF user guide on the company’s website was of any use – we had to discover all this through trial and error.

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Lenovo has skinned Android with custom icons, a tabbed panel in the Settings app, and a few preinstalled apps which are of little value. There’s one app which is sort of a video brochure for the device you’ve already bought, a Dolby Atmos app which lets you choose between equaliser presets and create two custom profiles, McAfee Mobile Security, and Lenovo’s own SYNCit and SHAREit which let you back up data and exchange files with other people.

Performance
Using the Lenovo Phab Plus was occasionally a chore, but that’s more to do with its size and bulk than its hardware capabilities. That said, we did encounter a little bit of stuttering on rare occasions. Voice calls sounded a little hollow on both ends – we’re not too critical of this since calling is clearly not the device’s primary purpose, but it’s something potential buyers should be prepared to deal with.

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Gaming was pretty smooth with no noticeable problems in Dead Trigger 2. The big screen also worked well for other tasks – you can comfortably browse desktop websites, watch movies, play with creative apps and even get work done. Typing was the most awkward part of the usage experience because of the enormous and widely spaced on-screen keyboard. On the other hand, people who have a tough time with small touchscreens might find themselves quite comfortable with the Phab Plus.

Videos played smoothly, but we were quite underwhelmed with the sound. The Phab Plus never really got loud enough for us, and sound was tinny and scratchy especially with music. The speaker’s positioning on the rear didn’t really work for movies and games, and while voices came through clearly enough, ambient sounds were quite lost. The Dolby Atmos effects could certainly be heard, but we wouldn’t necessarily say the sound was improved.

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The primary camera was decent, for the most part. Autofocus wasn’t always on point and details suffered a bit, but photos generally looked great unless we zoomed in to 100 percent. Night shots were also pretty good, though the phone was of course slower to lock focus and shutter lag increased quite a bit as well. Videos are taken at 720p by default, and though this can be bumped up to 1080p, we weren’t pleased with the quality at all. Everything was grainy and dull.

In terms of benchmarks, the Phab Plus scored 34,148 in AnTuTu and 18,197 overall in Quadrant. Graphics tests were underwhelming, with the device managing only 15fps in GFXbench and 5,413 points in 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme.

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The battery lasted 6 hours, 34 minutes in our video loop test which would ordinarily be underwhelming, but is somewhat explained away by the huge screen. Day-to-day usage with a more realistic mix of gaming, Web browsing, calling, and lying idle yielded on average a day and a half of battery life.

Verdict
The Lenovo Phab Plus sits in a class of its own at the moment. 7-inch Android tablets with voice calling all seem to be clustered at a lower price point and offer far worse specifications for less money. Lenovo is taking a chance with what seems like a niche within a niche.

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This device is awkward and oversized even by “phablet” standards. You’d really have to be on board with all its pros and cons if you’re thinking it will replace your existing smartphone. It’s much more likely to be a secondary device, but even so it’s hard to imagine the primary target audience of young people picking it up as an indulgence at Rs. 18,000 which is the lowest market price we’ve seen so far.

The Phab Plus works well as an entertainment and Web surfing gadget, but not one that you carry around with you every day. The construction quality and specifications make it worth its price, but much better mainstream smartphones are available as well.



Lenovo Phab Plus in pictures

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Lenovo Phab Plus

Lenovo Phab Plus

R 20990 3.5

  • Review
  • Key Specs
  • News
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • Camera
  • Value for money
  • Good
  • Metal body
  • Impressive camera
  • Good performance
  • Good battery life
  • Bad
  • Confusing software enhancements
  • MicroSD and second SIM share a slot
  • Awkward to hold and carry

Read detailed Lenovo Phab Plus review

Display

6.80-inch

Processor

1.5GHz

Front Camera

5-megapixel

Resolution

1080×1920 pixels

RAM

2GB

OS

Android 5.0

Storage

32GB

Rear Camera

13-megapixel

Battery capacity

3500mAh See full Lenovo Phab Plus specifications

  • Lenovo Phab Plus Review
  • Lenovo Phab Plus With 6.8-Inch Display Launched at Rs. 20,990
  • Lenovo Phab Plus With 6.8-Inch Display Available in India at Rs. 18,490
  • Lenovo Phab and Phab Plus First Impressions

 

Original Article

Micromax Canvas Tab P690 Review: Only for Entertainment

Micromax Canvas Tab P690 Review: Only for Entertainment

Low-cost Android tablets are fairly common, but with 5-inch and 5.5-inch smartphones becoming increasingly common, the case for having yet another device in your life has become somewhat less clear. Devices like this are great for reading and browsing the Web on if you have one lying around, but chances are if you have a smartphone, tablet and laptop, the tablet is the most likely to be left behind.

Micromax has a new offering, the Canvas Tab P690, which is trying to find a space in users’ lives. It has an 8-inch screen and offers cellular voice calling for those who might use such a feature. The cost is low enough to be tempting, and the company advertises loads of freebies in the form of physical accessories as well as software. Let’s see what you might have to gain by owning one of these.

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Look and feel
The Canvas Tab P690 looks rather nice at first glance. It isn’t all that slim but it does have bold, distinctive lines including chiselled edges around the rear. The front is plain black apart from the silver earpiece, and there are no markings thanks to the use of on-screen buttons that rotate with the device so you can hold it any way. The sides and back have a thin metal outer layer with a very striking brushed pattern. The panel doesn’t appear to be removable, which means the battery is sealed inside.

The earpiece on the front suggests that this tablet is to be held upright, but the logos and regulatory text on the rear are all printed as if landscape is the ideal orientation. Held this way, there’s a large Intel logo in the lower left corner and a matching Micromax logo in the lower right. Another Canvas Tab logo is printed right in the middle for good measure, and there’s a sticker with a barcode and SAR information right beneath it – though slightly crooked on our review unit.

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The Micro-USB charging and data port is on top, right next to the 3.5mm audio socket. Across from these two, you’ll find a small speaker grille. The power and volume buttons are just around the corner on the upper right. Beneath them, there are the slots for a Micro-SIM and a microSD card. Micromax could have left the microSD card exposed for easy access, but instead chose to protect it with the SIM tray. This is a nice touch, but it does mean you’ll have to eject the SIM if ever you want to swap microSD cards.

The left is entirely blank and there’s only a tiny dot on the bottom for the mic. The rear camera is in one corner, with no flash or secondary mic nearby. Grip is not too bad, though we would have preferred a more natural contour to fit in the hand. The Canvas Tab P690 is easy to use as a tablet, but as with all devices of its kind, it’s obviously not the most comfortable when held up to the ear like a phone.

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Micromax supplies a fair number of accessories in the Canvas Tab P690’s distinctive wedge-shaped box. In addition to the standard USB cable and a 2000mAh charger, there’s a USB OTG adapter, a basic headset, an adhesive screen protector and a microfiber cleaning cloth. There are also coupons for several freebies.

Micromax also bundles a flip cover which it claims is worth Rs. 1,500, but the one we got was so ugly and crudely fashioned that we’d rather forget about it. It attaches to the tablet with – yes, seriously – a strip of double-sided tape. We don’t think it will stay attached for long, and you obviously won’t be able to attach and detach it at will. It’s meant to fold up to act as a stand, much like Apple’s iPad smart cover, but does a terrible job of it. We were better served leaning the tablet against the box it came in.

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Specifications and software
The 8-inch 800×1280-pixel screen is fairly commonplace as far as low-cost Android tablets go, but it’s still far too big for any device that you’d ever want to hold up to your ear. If calling is important to you, you’re better off with a much smaller screen. As far as quality goes, this display definitely falls within budget territory. It’s decent enough for casual Web browsing and watching videos, but not really for reading text. Colours are a bit dull and the tablet definitely suffers in daylight.

Intel’s familiar Atom Z3735G processor makes another appearance here. With four cores running at up to 1.83GHz plus basic Intel HD integrated graphics, it’s enough for most common tasks. There’s 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage space, though interestingly Windows reports only 3.8GB when it’s plugged in, and barely half of that is free at the outset. You’ll need a microSD card, but capacities of only up to 32GB are supported.

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You do get USB-OTG along with Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth, and 3G data. The battery comes in at a fairly hefty 4000mAh. There’s a 5-megapixel rear camera and a secondary 2-megapixel unit in front. Video recording is limited to 720p on both.

Micromax ships the Canvas Tab with Android 4.4.4 for some reason, though it claims the device is “upgradable to Lollipop”, there’s no indication of when an update will be released and if there’ll be any support beyond that. There’s a tiled news feed to the left of the first homescreen, much like HTC’s BlinkFeed, though it doesn’t seem to be customisable at all and the content isn’t even local.

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It seems to be common for this company to load tons of unnecessary bloatware onto its Android devices and this one is no exception. We counted 20 preloaded apps, not all of which are useful. There’s WPS Office and SwiftKey, but also Saavn, Newshunt, Facebook Messenger, HelloTV, Clean Master and two Angry Birds games. There’s also Micromax’s MAd TV app which lets you claim rewards for watching ads.

Micromax offers over Rs. 3,000 worth of freebies which can be claimed through apps, including a few free Kindle books, a three-month Saavn Pro subscription, extra data on Vodafone connections, in-app currency for Angry Birds, six months of Truecaller Premium, and a few others.

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As with many Android tablets, apps seem to believe they’re running on phones and so appear awkwardly stretched out unless they’re specifically optimised. Another annoyance is that Micromax has tweaked the interface so that there’s a Screenshot button on screen along with the standard Android trio of Home, Back and Recents, pushing them off-centre.

Performance
We weren’t expecting very much considering the Micromax Canvas Tab P690’s relatively weak specifications and the first impressions we had of its screen and hardware. While not exactly bottom-of-the-barrel, it does seem as though more of this device’s budget has gone into its looks than its hardware. That said, we found it easy to navigate, and touch was pretty responsive. Apps did take quite a while to load, and interestingly, the rear of the tablet started to heat up as soon as we launched some games. Over longer sessions playing games and videos, there was noticeable heat buildup.

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Calls were awkward without a headset, but not impossible. We’d really advise using a SIM card only for 3G data and the occasional emergency phone call. This should never be your primary smartphone. The sole built-in speaker was pretty awful for music and movies but we didn’t perceive any playback problems even with heavily encoded 1080p clips.

The tablet managed scores of 31,588 in AnTuTu and 15,954 in Quadrant. Graphics scores were pretty good, with 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme delivering 7,190 points and GFXbench running at 23fps. These are definitely not the strongest scores we’ve seen overall, but they’re pretty solid taking the Canvas Tab P690’s price into consideration. Battery life came in at 5 hours, 51 minutes in our video loop test.

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The cameras, as expected, were pretty awful. There’s really no situation in which we would recommend using this tablet as a primary camera. It’s slow to lock focus and there’s massive shutter lag. The app has zero options apart from a grid overlay to help you frame shots. Photos came out looking severely compressed, with poor rendering of details and textures even in favourable lighting conditions. The less said about this tablet’s cameras, the better.

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Verdict
The Micromax Canvas Tab P690 isn’t a bad little Android tablet at all, but the company will have trouble convincing people they need such a device. Tablets can be useful and fun, but they’re definitely extraneous at this point if you already have a decent enough smartphone. Buy this tablet if you need something to kill time with while commuting, or for children to play with. 3G data access is a huge benefit and you also get voice capabilities for whatever that’s worth.

Micromax has created a good-looking product that has definite strengths and weaknesses. Use it just for entertainment and you’ll be fine.

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Micromax Canvas Tab P690

Micromax Canvas Tab P690

R 8999 3.0

  • Review
  • Key Specs
  • News
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • Camera
  • Value for money
  • Good
  • Affordable 3G tablet
  • Reasonable performance
  • Looks good
  • Bad
  • Poor battery life
  • Weak cameras
  • Very limited storage space

Read detailed Micromax Canvas Tab P690 review

Display

8.00-inch

Processor

1.3GHz

Front Camera

2-megapixel

Resolution

1280×800 pixels

RAM

1GB

OS

Android 4.4.4

Storage

8GB

Rear Camera

5-megapixel

Battery capacity

4000mAh See full Micromax Canvas Tab P690 specifications

  • Micromax Canvas Tab P690 Review: Only for Entertainment
  • Micromax Canvas Tab P690 With 3G Support, 8-Inch Display Launched at Rs. 8,999

Original Article

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.

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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.

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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.

Oppo_R7_Lite_screen_ndtv.jpg

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.

Oppo_R7_Lite_camera_ndtv.jpg

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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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

Lenovo Launches Global Wireless Roaming Service

Lenovo Launches Global Wireless Roaming Service

China's Lenovo Group Ltd will launch a global wireless service for its mobile devices to cut roaming costs for its users, it said on Sunday.

The service, called Lenovo Connect, allows users to travel to 50 countries and use their devices at local prices on mobile Internet, without installing new SIM cards, Lenovo said in a statement on Sunday.

For years, roaming or extra charges for the use of telecoms services outside a person's home country have been a source of consumers' ire as many were confronted with high phone bills after returning from holiday.

The European Union has agreed to abolish mobile roaming charges across the 28-country bloc by June 2017, requiring telecom operators to treat all Internet traffic equally.

Lenovo said it could offer the service through its mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) activities, which currently has 11 million users globally.

MVNOs are operators who rent access on bigger rivals' networks and tend to sell cheaper mobile plans, often without a long-term contract.

The Lenovo service will be available in China on its LeMeng X3 smartphone and MIIX 700 tablet from this month. Some users of Lenovo's ThinkPad laptops in Europe, Middle-East and Africa can start using the service sometime during the first quarter.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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Original NDTV Gadgets