Tag Archives: smartphones

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) and Galaxy A5 (2016) First Impressions

Samsung, at its Southwest Asia Forum 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, announced details of its new Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 2016 edition smartphones for the Indian market. The handsets were first unveiled last year in China, though the company had not disclosed anything about the availability of the two refreshed models outside China at that time.

The Galaxy A series was first launched in late 2014, and now the South Korean giant claims that it has contributed to increase in its worldwide 4G market share, along with the J-series. According to Samsung, its share in 4G devices increased from 25.9 percent in December 2014 to 60.6 percent in December 2015. The company however declined to share exact numbers.

We spent some time with both the new Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 2016 edition smartphones at the launch event and here are our first impressions.

At the press briefing in Kuala Lumpur, Samsung stressed that the new generation Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 are designed using glass and metal. This was evident when we first held the devices in our hands. Both the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) and the Galaxy A7 (2016) take design cues from last year’s flagship, the Galaxy S6. Both phones have metal frames that give them a durable feel, while the rear has an all-glass look. You can see the body colour through the glass.

Similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 series, the rear panels of the Galaxy A5 (2016) and Galaxy A7 (2016) are very shiny, making it hard for us to photograph them without reflections. Despite the use of glass on the rear, we were confident of using both the devices without them slipping from our hands. The phones are comfortable to hold with one hand despite both having screens larger than 5 inches. The front panels on both are mainly dominated by their screens, with the Samsung logo embossed above. The speakers are housed on the bottom and they did sound louder than average, though not really exceptional.

The physical home button, which is a design touch found on the entire range of Samsung Galaxy devices, sits below the display on both phones, with the fingerprint reader embedded into its surface. Fingerprint recognition can be considered one of the biggest additions to the 2016 Galaxy A-series. Oddly, the units showcased at the launch event had their fingerprint scanners disabled for some reason. Samsung executives promised that the feature will be available in commercial units of both the Galaxy A5 (2016) and the Galaxy A7 (2016). On either side of the physical home button are the capacitive Recents and Back buttons which light up only when touched.

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Here are the full specifications of the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) and Galaxy A7 (2016) smartphones.

For the second-generation Galaxy A series, Samsung has used its in-house Exynos processors. The first-generation Galaxy A3, Galaxy A5, and Galaxy A7 used Qualcomm-based chipsets.

(Also see: Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) vs. Samsung Galaxy A7)

The Galaxy A5 (2016) is powered by an octa-core Exynos processor clocked at 1.6GHz clubbed with 2GB of RAM and has 16GB of inbuilt storage. The Galaxy A7 (2016) also packs an octa-core Exynos SoC clocked at 1.6GHz and 16GB of storage, but is equipped with 3GB of RAM. For displays, the Galaxy A5 (2016) features a smaller 5.2-inch full-HD (1080×1920-pixel) Super Amoled display while the Galaxy A7 (2016) sports a 5.5-inch full-HD Super Amoled display. Both phones have 13-megapixel rear cameras with LED flashes and optical image stabilisation (OIS), and 5-megapixel front-facing cameras. The rear cameras on both the handsets feature f/1.9 aperture lenses. Much like the first-generation Galaxy A-series, the new Galaxy A5 (2016) and Galaxy A7 (2016) support 4G LTE. Samsung said that the units support LTE Cat. 6 connectivity which allows up to 300Mbps downloads. Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, ANT+, 3G, GPRS/ EDGE, USB 2.0 and NFC connectivity options. Both phones come with dual-SIM support and Samsung has specified that the microSD card slot is separate from the second Nano-SIM slot, so you aren’t forced to choose one or the other.

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(Also see: Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) vs. Samsung Galaxy A5)

The Galaxy A5 (2016) is backed by a 2900mAh battery while the Galaxy A7 (2016) comes with a 3300mAh battery. Compared to the previous generation, both phones have improved battery capacities. To recall, the Galaxy A5 2015 edition included a 2300mAh battery and the Galaxy A7 came with a 2600mAh battery. Samsung has also added fast charging support to both phones. Ultra Power Saving Mode, which Samsung claims is loved by users in India, has also been added in the Galaxy A5 (2016) and Galaxy A7 (2016) phones.

The software on the Galaxy A5 (2016) and Galaxy A7 (2016) phones looked much the same as on the first-generation Galaxy A series with very minor tweaks and additions. Both phones run the company’s custom UI on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop. Google and Microsoft apps, as also seen on other high-end Galaxy phones, are displayed prominently. We did not come across any major software changes in our limited time with the devices. Samsung said it has no current plans to release a Marshmallow update, when asked about possible timeframes for the new Galaxy A5 (2016) and Galaxy A7 (2016).

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In the limited time spent with the handsets, we observed that they handled multitasking and Internet browsing pretty easily without any lags. We will reserve our verdict on Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) and Galaxy A7 (2016) performance until we get a chance to put them through paces for a detailed review.

In our brief tests of the cameras, we found that images taken with the Galaxy A7 (2016) in normal indoor lighting were vibrant with accurate colours. The images taken with the Galaxy A5 (2016) under the same conditions had minor noise at the edges. Low-light shots on both phones also looked good. The cameras protrude slightly from the bodies, like the ones on other high-end Galaxy smartphones.

The front cameras on both devices also managed to capture some decent selfies. We will have to wait till we can run these phones through our full review process to decide whether the cameras on the second-generation Galaxy A5 and A7 are better than those offered by the competition.

Final Thoughts
The Galaxy A5 (2016) and Galaxy A7 (2016) smartphones have been launched in India with price tags of Rs. 29,400 and Rs. 33,400 respectively. Both phones will go on sale starting February 15 and will be available in physical retail as well online through Snapdeal. To woo customers, Samsung also announced a bundled Airtel data plan which will give users up to 30GB of data free over six months.

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At this price point, the biggest competitor to the Galaxy A5 (2016) is the OnePlus 2, which is currently retailing at Rs. 24,999. Motorola’s Moto X Style, priced at Rs. 29,999, is also available at around the same price.

The Galaxy A7 (2016), on the other hand, will have to take on Samsung’s 2015 flagship, the Galaxy S6, which is now retailing for Rs. 33,900 via the company’s official India e-store.

Disclosure: Samsung sponsored the correspondent’s travel and hotel for the event in Kuala Lumpur.

Original Article

Honor Holly 2 Plus First Impressions

Huawei, one of the top-ranked Chinese tech companies, expanded its Honor smartphone portfolio in India on Thursday by unveiling two new models – the Honor 5X and the Honor Holly 2 Plus. Both budget offerings will be available only through Flipkart and Amazon. The Honor 5X is already up for pre-order, with sales set to begin on February 1. It costs Rs. 12,999. The Honor Holly 2 Plus on the other hand will go on sale from February 15 priced at Rs. 8,499. Here are our initial impressions of the the more budget-minded smartphone of the two – the Holly 2 Plus.

(Also see: Honor Holly 2 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy On5 vs. Lenovo Vibe P1m vs. Lenovo K3 Note)

With the Honor Holly 2 Plus, the company aims to go head-to-head with smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy On5, Lenovo Vibe P1m and even the Lenovo K3 Note. While the majority of its features have been borrowed from the Honor 5X, the company has made cuts in several areas of the handset in order to reach the Rs. 8,499 price point. The Honor Holly 2 Plus sports a polycarbonate body with a removable textured back panel. The battery however, stays embedded inside the handset. Once the panel is removed, the dual Micro-SIM slots and microSD card slot can be seen. With its compact body, the smartphone is perfect for users with average hand size. All four corners of the display can be reached with one thumb, and single-handed typing is also possible. At the back, there is a primary camera along with a single LED flash. The power and volume buttons are on the right. The speaker grille is at the bottom, and this might cause sound to be muffled when holding the smartphone horizontally to watch videos.

The display is nothing pathbreaking, and is similar to what other companies are offering at the same price point. The Honor Holly 2 Plus features a 5-inch HD (720×1280-pixel) IPS display with a reasonable pixel density of around 293 ppi. For most users the HD resolution is perfectly fine, as content still looks sharp and text is readable. The screen is vibrant and reproduces colours impressively.

In our brief time with the device, the Honor Holly 2 Plus showed no signs of lag while switching between apps. However, it did hiccup a little bit when we tried multitasking with a heavy game running. The Holly 2 Plus packs a 64-bit 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6735P SoC with integrated Mali-T720 graphics and 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM. We will run the smartphone through our full test process to see how it fares in different situations, so stay tuned for our complete review. The EMUI 3.1 LITE skin on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop is straightforward and should be easy for users to get accustomed to.

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The camera specifications are slightly disappointing for a Rs. 8,499 smartphone. The Honor Holly 2 Plus has a 13-megapixel autofocus rear camera with what the company calls an Omni Vision 3rd Generation BSI sensor, f2.0 aperture and LED flash, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. We were not really happy with the photos we were able to take with the primary camera, especially those taken in artificial light and in low-light environments. In both cases the camera tended to push up the ISO level making the resulting images grainy. The camera app UI is simple and easy to use. It includes features such as Watermark, Panorama, Audio Note and HDR, along with several photo filters. Options such as Touch to Capture, Timer, Capture Smiles, GPS tagging and more are also available. The front-facing camera gave equally grainy images.

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The Honor Holly 2 Plus has 16GB of storage, out of which users will only get around 9.4GB for their apps and media. However, there is always the option to pop in a microSD card for up to 128GB more space. 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, A-GPS, and Micro-USB connectivity are also standard. This phone will be available in White, Grey and Gold. It has a 4000mAh battery rated to deliver up to 48 hours of continued usage. The company also says its Smart Power 3.0 mode can give you 30 percent more battery life, allowing the phone to run for up to 20 hours with the charge down to 10 percent. The Holly 2 Plus also features reverse charging, so you can use its battery to charge other devices through the Micro-USB port. We will confirm the battery life and all other aspects of this phone’s performance when we run it through our thorough review process. Stay tuned.

Original Article

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

Honor 5X Review

Huawei’s online-only Honor range of smartphones has been developed and positioned as complementary to the parent company’s more premium products. Naturally, it’s targeted at developing markets such as India, and the phones have managed to generate enough buzz and attention to make Honor a significant player in the budget and mid-range smartphone segments in India.

The newest product from the Honor stable is the Honor 5X. This mid-range smartphone has a little bit of everything that you might be looking for in a smartphone. With a fingerprint sensor, 4G dual-SIM connectivity and the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 SoC, the Honor 5X has a lot to offer for Rs. 12,999. There’s also Huawei’s reputation, which got a significant boost after the Chinese company was chosen to manufacture the Google Nexus 6P (Review | Pictures). Does the Honor 5X live up to or even exceed typical mid-range expectations? We find out in our review.

Look and feel
One of the Honor 5X’s key features is the fact that it has a metal body. The debate as to whether metal or plastic is better for a smartphone will continue to rage on for as long as the Earth revolves around the Sun, but for those of us who prefer having a more durable material, this is obviously a good thing.

Having said that, the device’s finish looks and feels more like plastic than metal. Honor seems to have tried too hard to make the device look metal, and gone slightly backwards in the process. Part of the reason may also be the fact that the phone doesn’t feel very heavy – oddly enough, it weighs even less than some similarly sized plastic phones do. The typical benefits that metal provides are, as a result, lost in translation.

The back is extremely busy, with the camera and single-tone LED flash at the top, fingerprint sensor right below them, and the Honor logo and regulatory text right at the bottom. The fingerprint sensor is the same colour as the body and blends in rather well, but the regulatory text stands out and diminishes the look of the back. While Honor is obviously obligated to put that text there, it could have been placed less prominently.

The sides of the Honor 5X are part of the same aluminium alloy piece as the back, but the top and bottom are plastic, and look visibly different from the metal bits. This is a rather bothersome aspect of the aesthetic, and in our opinion, makes a complete mess of what would have been an otherwise acceptable phone to look at.

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That aside, the edges are decent in terms of grip and feel. The power and volume keys are located on the right, the SIM and microSD trays are on the left, the 3.5mm socket is on the top, and the Micro-USB port and speaker are at the bottom. There are two grilles, but only the one on the right actually houses a speaker. There are fortunately separate trays for both SIMs as well as expandable storage. One SIM tray can hold a Nano-SIM while the other is designed for a Micro-SIM. Both slots are 4G-enabled, so this offers a bit of flexibility to the user.

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The front of the device has a 5.5-inch IPS-LCD screen, and there’s a 72.2 percent screen-to-body ratio. The device does not have capacitive off-screen navigation buttons, relying instead on on-screen ones. At the top are the proximity sensor, front camera, earpiece, and notification light. The phone also comes with a factory-fitted screen protector film which fortunately had been applied properly on our unit. Running all around the front and extending partly onto the sides is a smooth plastic strip. On our gold review unit, the strip was a reflective shade of gold and offered some interesting visual relief to the dull shade of the rest of the body.

The screen itself is a 1080×1920-pixel affair, with a pixel density of 401ppi. We’ve often said that full-HD should be the bare minimum acceptable resolution for 5.5-inch screens on mid-range devices, so the Honor 5X deserves credit for not skimping on that front. Apart from that, it’s a decent screen in terms of brightness, colours, and detail. Watching YouTube and Netflix videos on the Honor 5X is enjoyable.

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Specifications and software
The Honor 5X is a mid-range smartphone with typically mid-range specifications similar to what is offered by most of the competition today. However, there are a couple of interesting things to note. The 5X is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 SoC, which is essentially a slightly updated version of last year’s Snapdragon 615. Some apps do identify the SoC on the 5X as the Snapdragon 615, since the 616 is essentially a 615 ‘v2’. However, we have been assured by the Huawei that the phone does in fact sport the newer one.

Other specifications include 2GB of RAM, a relatively modest 16GB of internal storage (expandable by up to 128GB using a microSD card), a 3000mAh non-removable battery and Android 5.1.1 out of the box with EMUI 3.1 on top. We’re a bit disappointed that the Honor 5X hasn’t launched with Android Marshmallow. Also, although 2GB of RAM is adequate for most purposes, potential buyers may be tempted by similarly priced competitors which offer 3GB.

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Thanks to its single-layered user interface, Huawei’s EMUI 3.1 can be a bit bothersome to use. We went into detail about this when we reviewed the Honor 7 (Review | Pictures), and the software is largely the same on the 5X. However, the 5X isn’t quite as capable a device as the Honor 7, which does tend to show in the interface, and there are fewer customisation options.

We’re still not particularly fond of the way the interface looks either. The icons lack finesse and look rather poor, and the overall design is missing the sense of sophistication that we’re used to seeing on manufacturer UIs such as Sense UI and even stock Android. Certain apps constantly push you notifications to activate them. The SOS Emergency app refused to leave us alone until we had it set up, whether we wanted to use it or not.

Every time you install a new app, the phone prompts you to grant or deny it permission to send you notifications, and the system by default prevents non-system applications from running in the background. There is also a power-saving prompt which constantly shows you which apps are using too much power, but this can fortunately be switched off.

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One useful feature in the Honor 5X is the fingerprint sensor, which is of the 360-degree variety and will detect a fingerprint at any angle. It’s quick and accurate, and rarely ever required a second touch. The phone is capable of detecting a fingerprint when in standby, which means that you don’t need to first wake the device before unlocking it.

The sensor can of course be used to unlock the phone, but an interesting feature allows you to unlock it and jump directly to a particular app on detecting a specific fingerprint. For example, you can set your right index finger to unlock the phone, while the left index finger can be set to unlock and immediately load up Whatsapp, the camera, or anything else. Up to five fingerprints can be stored, each set to trigger its own function, which we found incredibly useful.

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Cameras
The Honor 5X has a 13-megapixel primary camera with single-tone LED flash and variable focus, and a 5-megapixel front camera with fixed focus. The rear camera can record video at up to 1080p resolution, while the front camera is capable of video recording at 720p. Both cameras have plenty of video modes and options, along with a bunch of manual controls, filters and settings that keep the camera lively.

The camera app is the same as the one we saw on the Honor 7, with the same set of controls and features in place. Modes for panorama, all-focus, HDR, slow motion video, watermark and audio note are all useful options, and additional modes for beauty, food and time-lapse might have takers as well. There is quick access to the filters, flash toggle, and camera switcher, while the timer can be accessed through the Settings menu. GPS tagging, touch-to-capture, object tracking and resolution can also be controlled through the Settings menu. It’s a decent camera app that may seem a bit confusing because of the number of controls and settings, but is something we warmed up to quickly.

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The primary camera is decent for a mid-range shooter, and is capable of delivering excellent colour and detail in good light. Outdoor shots are among the better ones we’ve seen from phones in the price range. Detailing is excellent, with sharp pictures that don’t have too much noise and grain. Low-light shots, while naturally not as good as well-lit outdoor pictures, are decent enough too. Although colour and detail tend to suffer a bit, the pictures are surprisingly clear of the typical grain that we’d see in low-light shots.

Focusing is a bit of an issue though, as the Honor 5X is often a bit too slow to lock focus. Additionally, it isn’t good at tracking moving objects and quickly adjusting the focus. The front camera is decent for selfies and video calls, butnothing more. On the whole, occasional camera users won’t be disappointed with the performance of the Honor 5X, and more active photographers will find enough to be happy.

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Performance
Although Honor’s parent company Huawei manufactures its own SoCs under the HiSilicon brand name, some Honor devices don’t use them. The Honor 5X is an example of this, and uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 SoC. As you would expect, the SoC gave us performance comparable to its predecessor, with smooth functioning through the user interface, decent performance with games and heavily encoded videos, and minimal heating issues.

When it came to benchmark figures, the Honor 5X performed well enough for a phone in its category. AnTuTu and Quadrant returned figures of 35,137 and 26,368 respectively, while GFXBench and 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme managed14fps and 5508. As stated, this translates into decent real world performance that is reliable and efficient.

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Moving on to basic functionality, the Honor 5X proved more than capable of holding on to both data and Wi-Fi networks, and was good when it came to call quality as well. The device usually managed to pick up 3G even in poorly covered areas that usually force other phones to drop to 2G, which is commendable. The battery life was a bit weak though, despite the fairly large 3000mAh battery under the hood. The phone ran for 9 hours, 26 minutes in our video loop test, which is a bit lower than we were expecting. In real-world usage, it managed to go a full day on some occasions, but usually needed charging before the day was over.

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Verdict
The Honor 5X is a sensible mid-range smartphone that checks all the right boxes. It’s built well, looks acceptable, has all the right connectivity options, and has a decent camera too. Additionally, it’s got an excellent screen and useful fingerprint sensor that does a lot more than most competitors’ offerings. The Honor 5X is also reliable and smooth in operation. The only real shortcomings are annoying software and slightly sub-par battery life, but these are easily forgivable when you consider the overall package.

While this simple, functional approach is praiseworthy, the Honor 5X doesn’t do anything particularly special to set itself apart from the competition. Devices such as the Moto G (3rd Gen) (Review), Moto G Turbo Edition (Review), and Lenovo Vibe K4 Note are likely to appeal to users more, and the Honor 5X could get lost in the crowd. Keep this one in mind if you’re looking for a no-nonsense smartphone that has pretty much everything you need.


Honor 5X in pictures

Original Article

MimoPowerTube Star Wars V2

POWER OF THE FORCE.

Our smartphones are hungry little monkeys. But they work hard for us, so we keep feeding them. And because we need them to always be at the ready, it’s best if we keep a supply of their food on us at all times. So, if we have to do that, we’re gonna make sure it’s fun for us. Good thing the MimoPowerTube Power Banks exist. They are fun and power in one. And now they leap into a galaxy far, far away with the MimoPowerTube Star Wars V2!

Ok, so the MimoPowerTube Star Wars V2 power banks don’t do anything except power your smartphones, mp3 players, etc. BUT, they are available in Star Wars designs (like Darth Vader’s Lightsaber or Yoda), which means we instantly love them. About the same size as a C1 personal comlink, each of the MimoPowerTube – Star Wars Series power banks will boost the play time of your electricity-hungry devices. MimoPowerTube Star Wars V2 – may the Force of charging be with you.

MimoPowerTube

MimoPowerTube

 

Product Specifications  

  • Recharge your smartphones or other 5V devices with these fun, Star Wars-y, backup batteries
  • MimoPowerTubes recharge via USB
  • Choose from:
    • Boba Fett
    • Darth Vader’s Lightsaber
    • R2-D2
    • Yoda
  • Tech Specs:
    • Capacity: 2600mAh
    • Cell Type: Li-ion battery
    • Input: DC 5V 500mA
    • Output: DC 5V 800mA
    • Cycle Life: 500 times
    • DC Charging Time: 3-4 hours
  • Includes: MimoPowerTube, USB charging cable with multiple tips (microUSB, miniUSB, Nokia, Apple 30 pin, Apple Lightning), and a velvet carrying pouch
  • Dimensions: approx. 0.8″ diameter x 3.5″ tall