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Asus ZenFone Zoom Review

Innovation tends to reach a saturation point after a while, which bogs down pretty much ever facet of technology. What do you do when those eureka moments start drying up and you find yourself looking for something new to wow your audience with? Putting a fresh spin on old technology seems like one way to go about it. Smartphone cameras with optical zoom have been around ever since Nokia launched the N90, way back when. This didn’t exactly catch on since no one likes carrying a bulky camera in their pockets, which is what these phones essentially were.

Samsung has toyed with this idea a bit, with its last attempt being the Galaxy K Zoom over two years ago. The 10X optical zoom was the highlight of this phone but it was still more of a digital camera than a smartphone.

Asus has never known to shy away from experimenting with hybrid devices and its latest incarnation is the ZenFone Zoom. This is its attempt at a smartphone with optical zoom and thankfully, it hasn’t compromised (too much) on it being a smartphone. Can the ZenFone Zoom breathe new life into this non-starter of a segment? Let’s find out.

Look and feel
The ZenFone Zoom is priced at a premium and it’s certainly dressed for the part. The unibody aluminium frame looks good and also gives the phone a good grip. The rounded sides make it very comfortable to hold too. There are chamfered edges and chrome accents thoughtfully distributed around the edges and the camera section on the back, all lending to the phone’s good looks.

The 5.5-inch full-HD IPS display is surrounded by very thick bezels, which dampens its cool quotient a bit. The capacitive navigation buttons are not backlit but thankfully, the notification LED was not left out.

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There’s a standard Micro-USB 2.0 port at the bottom along with a lanyard loop to its left. On the right side, we have the two-step camera shutter button and a dedicated button for video recording. Pressing either one for a few seconds will fire up the camera app. The volume and power buttons are placed further up and have good tactile feedback.

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The back cover is removable and gets a real leather treatment, although it’s easy to mistake it for faux leather. There’s a massive disc in the middle where the camera assembly is – this is where Asus has managed to fit in the zoom lens in a sideways fashion, as we’d explained in our earlier report. This means there’s no protruding lens like Samsung’s offerings and it makes the ZenFone Zoom a bit less conspicuous when you’re trying to capture some candid moments.

Asus has provided for a single Micro-SIM and expandable storage via a microSD card. The battery is non-removable. The ZenFone Zoom comes in a fairly compact box with a lanyard, data cable, charger, and in-ear headset. The quality of components is very good, just as you’d expect at this price level.

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Overall, the phone stands out from the crowd due to its camera-esque back side. But other than that, it could pass of as just another ZenFone. The build quality and finish of the phone are very good and we have to hand it to Asus for managing to squeeze an optical zoom lens into a body that’s just 11.9mm at its thickest point.

Specifications and software

Asus is probably the only major smartphone maker that’s so consistent with using Intel SoCs. The ZenFone Zoom is powered by a quad-core Intel Atom Z3590 and comes with 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM and 128GB of onboard storage. We appreciate the generous amount of storage, and just in case it isn’t enough, you can expand it by another 128GB with a microSD card. Other specs include Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, USB OTG, FM radio, GPS and GLONASS.

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The phone ships with a pretty dated version of Android Lollipop, considering now that Marshmallow is out in the wild. There’s ZenUI 2.0 running on top of Android 5.0 and like we’ve seen in past offerings from Asus, you get a tonne of tweaks and Asus apps pre-installed.

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Productivity apps include Splendid, for adjusting the colour temperature and toggling the blue light filter; AudioWizard, which lets you fine tune sound profiles for movie, music, gaming, or voice calls; Auto-start manager, which gives you control over which apps run on boot; Mobile Manager, to get rid of junk files and free up system resources; Power Saver for setting your power profile depending on your usage type; and Do it Later, a task manager that can sync with Google Tasks. There are some pre-installed third party apps as well, which can be uninstalled if not needed.

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The default Android apps are also overhauled, like the Gallery app can show you photos and videos from cloud services as well. PhotoCollage and MiniMovie are Asus apps integrated into the gallery which let you customise and package your photos and videos for sharing. You can also customise the interface with themes, animations and icon packs.

As functional as the interface is, ZenUI is starting to show its age as it now feels a bit cluttered. It still functions very smoothly but with after using lighter skins from other manufacturers, ZenUI can be overwhelming, especially for a beginner.

Performance
In terms of performance, the ZenFone Zoom is like any other high-end Android phone. Apps run without a hitch and so do demanding games such as Asphalt 8. The phone tends to run a bit warm when gaming, and this also makes a dent in the battery life. 4G works well on Band 40, as we didn’t face any issue during our time using it. We did get a software update which added a new feature called Quick Find, which can be accessed by swiping downwards from the home screen. It isn’t a universal search tool since you can’t access files from your phone, but more of a quick way to search the Web and launch frequently used apps.

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The Zoom fares decently in benchmarks too, although it’s still far behind other phones with today’s top-tier hardware. We got scores of 63,352 in AnTuTu and 21,170 in 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited. Despite the heavy skin and pre-loaded apps, you still have about 2.2GB free RAM on average.

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Even though the phone can’t record videos in 4K, it can play them with ease. The default video player is pretty barebones but the music player is slightly more functional. You can sort songs by folders, change the theme of the player, and tweak the audio with Asus’s AudioWizard enhancement. The bundled headset is of good quality and provides decent ambient noise isolation.

Camera
We now come to the highlight of the phone, and that’s the camera. At its heart is a 13-megapixel sensor with a 10-element lens made by Hoya. The lens arrangement is done in such a way that you get 3X optical zoom without the need for the lens to extend outwards. Add to this laser autofocus and Optical Image Stabilisation and you have a solid recipe for some good pictures.

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Landscapes and macros look detailed on the phone’s screen in daylight. Colours are punchy, although they tend to get a bit oversaturated with the optimisation set to Auto. Even at 3X zoom, the lens stays steady for blur-free shots. At maximum optical zoom level, objects in focus lose a bit of sharpness but this is only noticeable when you zoom in all the way.

Indoor shots under artificial lighting are good too with little to no noise. Low-light shots aren’t the best as the level of detail dips. The focusing speed is still pretty quick although there’s a delay when zooming in as the picture in the viewfinder takes a second to catch up to the zoom level. The front 5-megapixel camera is decent for selfies under good lighting.

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Asus’s camera app is well designed, with a tonne of shooting modes and a quick toggle switch for manual mode placed just above the software shutter button. The physical buttons work just as well too. Video recording maxes out at 1080p and the quality is pretty good with a steady framerate. There’s an option for slow-motion video as well. Sadly, 4K video recording is not available. The dual-LED flash is also decently powerful but only for short distances. A xenon flash would have complemented the phone nicely.

Optical zoom is indispensable at times, but after a point, you wish you had more room to play with as 3X starts to feel a bit restrictive. Anything more would have compromised the size of the phone and perhaps this is the technological limit for optical zoom without a protruding lens.

Battery life
The 3000mAh battery lasted for 6 hours and 58 minutes in our video loop test, which is below average. Upon regular use with mixed usage of 4G and lots of shooting, we found that the ZenFone Zoom lasted us about 18-20 hours before needing a recharge. Thankfully, the phone supports fast charging and will get you up to 40 percent capacity in half an hour.

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Verdict
The Asus ZenFone Zoom comes at a premium for the sole reason that it’s the only smartphone in the market at the moment with optical zoom. At Rs. 37,999, it competes with Samsung’s Galaxy S6 range and the new Nexus 6P, both of which have excellent cameras. In terms of innovation, the ZenFone Zoom clearly has an edge over the others, but if you look purely at image quality, it doesn’t quite surpass them. The relatively low-resolution display, the older version of Android, weak battery life, and lack of 4K recording are also factors that work against the ZenFone Zoom.

The phone might be a weak contender at its high launch price but it won’t seem so bad when it drops to more reasonable levels. Asus has done a commendable job with the design and build of this phone. Optical zoom on smartphones requires many compromises and that’s one of the reasons that it never really caught on.

It’s a very innovative idea, no doubt, but we feel that having a larger sensor capable of producing better image quality is a better substitute, as you can simply crop and enlarge the image with little loss in quality. The ZenFone Zoom is not Asus’s current flagship; it seems to be more of a one-off attempt to inject something fresh into the company’s lineup before the next generation arrives.


Asus ZenFone Zoom in picturesOriginal Article

Nexus 6P Review

Nexus 6P Review

Google’s Nexus range of devices has become iconic, with a devoted following. In a departure from precedent, this year’s Nexus range has two smartphones: the Nexus 5X (Review | Pictures) and the Nexus 6P. The current Nexus device has always been used to show off the newest version of Android, and now Android Marshmallow comes pre-loaded on both new models.

While the polycarbonate Nexus 5X has been designed to appeal to the majority of buyers thanks to its convenient size and lower price, the Huawei-built Nexus 6P is an all-metal powerhouse of a smartphone. Priced at Rs. 39,999 for the 32GB variant and Rs. 42,999 for the 64GB variant, the Nexus 6P is Google’s idea of premium. This is a device meant to satisfy the needs of the Android elite; the no-holds-barred smartphone that represents Android in the purest sense. Does the Nexus 6P live up to those expectations? We find out in our review.

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Look and feel
The 6P is the flagship product of the Nexus range, and Google has stated that the ‘P’ stands for ‘Premium’. One look at the device had us in complete agreement; the Nexus 6P, with its metal frame and body looks nothing short of fantastic. While the majority of the back and side surfaces have a dull finish, the edges have a highly reflective finish that makes the Nexus 6P glisten beautifully from all angles.

The front of the device is 71.4 percent screen, which is centred perfectly. The top and bottom have the dual stereo speakers, while the front camera and LED notification light are in the top left corner. Unlike a lot of other Android phones, Nexus smartphones are free of branding on the front. Since the Galaxy Nexus, they have all used on-screen buttons rather than soft keys, and the Nexus 6P is no exception.

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The back of the phone has the iconic ‘Nexus’ branding, along with a Huawei logo in much smaller text right below. The fingerprint sensor sits one-third of the way down, centred so it’s easy to reach with either hand. The upper back has a noticeable bump, with a black “visor” band on which the camera and flash are located. The laser autofocus window for the rear camera is located here as well. It all looks great, and doesn’t stick out from the rest of the device.

The top, bottom and sides of the Nexus 6P are similar to those of most unibody Android devices, with the power and volume keys on the right, the Type-C USB port on the bottom, the 3.5mm socket on the top, and the SIM tray on the left. The positioning of the power and volume keys isn’t very convenient, and they are a little hard to reach. It required an adjustment in our grip of the phone to reach for either of these. However, once the fingerprint sensor was set up, we didn’t need to reach for the power button so often.

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With a massive screen and a weight of 178g, the Nexus 6P is among the heaviest we’ve tested this year. One of the biggest complaints with last year’s Nexus 6 was that it was simply too big and expensive. This year, the Nexus 5X exists for exactly that reason: to offer buyers a more convenient and more affordable option. Having said that, the Nexus 6P isn’t the easiest phone to hold or slip into your pocket, although the curved back and sloped edges do help a little bit in this department. However, the size does have its advantages, the biggest of which is the high-resolution screen.

At 5.7 inches across and with a resolution of 1440×2560 pixels, the Nexus 6P’s screen has a density of 518 pixels-per-inch. Naturally, this makes for some of the most detailed and sharp visuals we’ve seen on a smartphone. The screen is bright, vibrant and comfortable on the eyes even at different viewing angles and under harsh sunlight. The size and quality of the screen makes the Nexus 6P excellent for watching movies and videos. This is a visually stunning device that lives up to the ‘Premium’ name that Google has given it.

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Specifications
As the flagship Nexus device, the Nexus 6P has a specifications sheet that can put most other smartphones to shame. It’s powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 SoC, with its primary four cores clocked at 2GHz and the secondary four cores at 1.55GHz, and an integrated Adreno 430 GPU. There’s also 3GB of RAM and 32 or 64GB of internal storage (non-expandable). The phone supports a single SIM with 4G compatibility (Indian bands supported), Bluetooth 4.2 and NFC. It also has a non-removable 3450mAh battery.

Like the Nexus 5X, the 6P uses a USB Type-C connector for charging and data transfer. Unlike the Nexus 5X though, the 6P box contents as listed online include a USB Type-A to Type-C cable, which can be used with practically any PC or standard USB charger (although our review unit’s box did not have this cable inside). Google does encourage the use of its cloud services for backing up files and data, and Type-C USB-OTG drives are becoming available as well. It will just take some time for the new standard to become widespread.

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Though wireless charging isn’t an option, the Nexus 6P does support fast charging, and the phone went from fully drained to 100 percent in under two hours which is a little reassuring.

As is the case with the Nexus 5X, the 6P’s Type-C port is firm and it takes a bit more effort to disengage the plug than the Type-B Micro plugs that we’re used to. Also similar to the Nexus 5X is the 3A/5V stock charger that ships with the phone. It isn’t quite as bulky as the 5X’s unit, and the cable plugs in conveniently at the back rather than on one side.

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Software
The Google Nexus 6P and 5X ship with the latest version of Android, Marshmallow 6.0. Although the visual feel of the system has not changed much between Android Lollipop and Android Marshmallow, there are a few improvements such as the vertically scrolling list for the app drawer and ‘Now on Tap’, which throws up contextual results for anything you’re doing on any screen with a long press of the home button. Although it’s still in development and doesn’t work perfectly all the time, this is one of our favourite new features in Marshmallow.

Other great additions to Android 6.0 include the ability to search through contacts, apps and media through the home screen. Your four most frequently used apps are pinned to the top of the app drawer by default. Additionally, the phone can be set to always listen for the ‘OK Google’ voice command for voice control, and this worked well for us. Android 6.0 also brings an overhaul of the apps permission system.

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The Nexus 6P has Google’s new Ambient Display feature, which will show you the clock and any notifications in a monochrome low-power mode on lifting the phone. While this didn’t work too well in practice on the Nexus 5X, it’s a lot better on the 6P. It usually popped up as expected on lifting the phone, although it took a bit too long for the screen to actually come on.

A couple of features, including displaying the battery percentage and rearranging the quick settings bar, can only be done through a Settings menu option called System UI Tuner, which needs to be enabled deliberately. The stock file explorer which can be accessed through the settings menu isn’t quite as useful as a lot of third-party apps.

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The user interface is incredibly spartan and clean, and has been carefully cleared of all unnecessary icons and apps. Some of these changes include the Google Settings app finally being removed from the app drawer and being shifted to its own tab in the Settings app, as well as the removal of the Gallery app. Pictures and videos are now to be viewed using the Photos app.

The interface felt a bit too bare and skeletal to us at times, but it’s important to remember that there is usually a free app for any function that you might feel is missing in the stock UI. In this sense, the barebones UI is ideal for power users who can set the phone up the way they want and keep resource-hogging functions out if they don’t need them. The lack of bells and whistles did of course show in the general snappiness of the system, and Android 6.0 on the Nexus 6P is an absolute pleasure to use.

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The new version of Android also has something called Doze mode. This will keep your phone in a state of low power consumption by preventing apps from running background tasks and pulling updates when the phone isn’t actively being used. The lock screen will allow quick access to the camera or voice commands, and you can also quickly start up the camera at any time by double-pressing the power button.

One of the biggest improvements to Android 6.0 is native support for fingerprint authentication, which Google has used for its new Nexus Imprint feature. Setting up fingerprints is simple and quick. Recognition is usually immediate and error-free, and you can store up to five fingerprints at a time. These can be used to unlock the phone and authorise purchases from the Google Play Store. Nexus Imprint is also compatible with Android Pay, and can be used to lock and unlock apps if they have been updated to support the feature. It isn’t quite as feature-filled (or gimmicky, depending on how you look at it) as the fingerprint sensor app on the Coolpad Note 3 (Review | Pictures), but it certainly does its job well.

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Camera
Google’s Camera app sticks to the minimalist theme that the rest of the user interface and operating system follow. There isn’t much to do within the camera app itself apart from taking pictures or videos, and the only modes and settings are panorama, photo sphere, lens blur, HDR, and a countdown timer in pictures. In video mode, you can opt for 120fps or 240fps slow-mo when using the rear camera. In ordinary shooting, video can be recorded at up to 2160p (4K) resolution with the rear camera and 1080p with the front camera.

Capturing video is a two-step process, requiring you to swipe into video mode before hitting the record button. There are also quick toggles for the countdown timer, HDR mode, flash, the camera switcher and the Photos app to see pictures and video you’ve already captured. The settings menu is simple, giving you options to change the resolution and quality of pictures and video, enable location tagging and the viewfinder grid, and change a few settings for Burst mode. Basic editing options and filters can be added to pictures after shooting from within the Photos app, so the lack of these in the camera app is forgivable. However, if you’re looking for manual settings, post-video editing and a bit more control over your pictures, you may want to download third-party camera and gallery apps.

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After numerous complaints about the average quality of the cameras on previous Nexus devices, Google has finally got its act together with the Nexus 5X and 6P. Both phones use the same 12.3-megapixel camera, with 1.55um pixels and an f/2.0 aperture at the rear. The front camera of the 6P is bumped up a bit over the 5X, with an 8-megapixel sensor.

Pictures are incredibly detailed, with natural and vibrant colour reproduction, and minimal noise. Thanks to the laser autofocus, close-up shots are equally detailed and sharp, while long distance shots revert to traditional contrast detection methods to focus accurately, since laser autofocus is less effective over longer distances. Low-light shots were excellent as well, capturing shadows and light changes with stunning finesse. Pictures and video taken with the front camera were decent in normal light. The lack of a flash in front is the only possible downside.

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Videos shot on the Nexus 6P are among the best we’ve seen from smartphones. Bumping the video resolution up to 4K has both advantages and disadvantages; the videos are brilliantly sharp and have fluid motion, but file sizes are often too large and the phone heats up a bit while recording 4K video. Dropping to 1080p is an acceptable solution to this as video is still decent, but it’s definitely nice to have the 4K option.

Of particular note is the ability to shoot video at up to 240fps with the rear camera of the Nexus 6P. This is one department where the Nexus 6P’s camera trumps that of the 5X, which can only record video at up to 120fps. Slow-motion videos are incredibly dramatic and are a lot of fun to watch, although shooting in this mode makes them more prone to noise and loss in detail.

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Performance
The Nexus 6P is powered by Qualcomm’s current flagship SoC, the Snapdragon 810, along with 3GB of RAM. Known to have heating issues on some smartphones, the Snapdragon 810 SoC has since been updated to v2.1, which should fix this. During our time with the Nexus 6P, we had no performance problems and did not feel any serious overheating. In fact, this has been among the smoothest, most fluid devices we’ve ever used, when it comes to performance.

Whether it’s simply swiping about on the interface, loading up Web pages, running applications, or playing graphics-intensive games such as Dead Trigger 2, the Nexus 6P is smooth as butter. Everything loads quickly with no noticeable waiting times, let alone lag and stutter. The Nexus 6P is an efficient workhorse with all of its power dedicated to giving the user unmatched levels of performance.

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Benchmark numbers are also high, and in line with the kind of scores we’ve been seeing on Snapdragon 810 devices. AnTuTu and Quadrant returned scores of 54,778 and 27,422 respectively, while GFXbench gave us 36fps. 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme maxed out, and the Unlimited test returned a score of 21,404. While the Samsung Galaxy S6 range and the Galaxy Note 5 have all produced higher scores, it’s important to note that the Nexus 6P runs the latest version of Android, along with a highly efficient user interface. This leads to what we feel is an equally good (if not better) subjective level of performance.

Gaming did result in slight heating at the back of the device, but this was not significant and was certainly less than what we’re used to with many other devices. The device held on to Wi-Fi and LTE networks as well, and voice calls were loud and clear. We did however feel that the vibration was a bit weak and occasionally could not be felt in our pockets.

In our battery test, the Nexus 6P ran for 12 hours, 4 minutes, which is quite high for a smartphone with a 5.7-inch, 1440p screen. In ordinary use, the phone lasted us well over a full day. The Nexus 6P is truly an all-encompassing smartphone that has everything covered and has seriously boosted the reputation of the Nexus name and brand.

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Verdict
The Nexus range of smartphones from Google has usually been excellent, and the devices have consistently been rated highly by experts around the world. However, all previous iterations of the Nexus flagship have had some shortcomings that have held them back from being true competitors to flagships from Samsung, Sony and others. If not the battery life, it was average camera performance. This is where the Google Nexus 6P triumphs. It is, in fact, free of all significant shortcomings that could impact your ability to properly use this phone.

The Nexus 6P has fantastic design and build quality, a detailed and vibrant display, efficiency-driven software, performance that shames practically everything else we’ve used, good battery life, and a camera that can take on the best in the industry. If we had to find any flaws, they are that the Nexus 6P does not have expandable storage, dispenses with wireless charging, and may be considered a bit expensive.

However, when you consider that you’re getting an Android experience that cannot presently be matched by any other device, the Rs. 40,000 price tag seems more reasonable. We’re just going to go ahead and say this: the Google Nexus 6P is undoubtedly one of the best Android smartphones you can buy now.


Huawei Google Nexus 6P in pictures

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Huawei Google Nexus 6P

Huawei Google Nexus 6P

  • Review
  • Key Specs
  • News
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • Camera
  • Value for money
  • Good
  • Great design and build
  • Fantastic display
  • Excellent camera
  • Blazing performance and software
  • Good battery life
  • Bad
  • No expandable storage
  • Expensive
  • No wireless charging

Read detailed Huawei Google Nexus 6P review

Display

5.70-inch

Processor

2GHz

Front Camera

8-megapixel

Resolution

1440×2560 pixels

RAM

3GB

OS

Android 6.0

Storage

32GB

Rear Camera

12.3-megapixel

Battery capacity

3450mAh See full Huawei Google Nexus 6P specifications

Pictures: photo studio leeds

More Huawei mobilesOriginal NDTV Gadgets

Kanye West Announces Video Game; No Man’s Sky Creator Tweets His Support

Kanye West Announces Video Game; No Man's Sky Creator Tweets His Support

Kim Kardashian and Katy Perry already have video games based on them, and it seems that Kanye West is doesn't want to be left behind. West's game is called Only One and it's based on his song by the same name.

At the launch of his new album, The Life of Pablo, he unveiled a trailer for the video game that is based on his mother Donda West. She passed away in 2007 and the game is about her travelling through the gates of heaven.

(Also see: Kim Kardashian Game Maker Glu to Develop Katy Perry Game)

""I worked on a video game and I wanted to show y'all. The idea of the game is my mom travelling through the gates of heaven," West said during a livestream on Tidal. He further went onto explain how tough it was to pitch his game and sell a game company on the idea.

"Like, no, you don't understand! Like, I'll go and meet with everybody in San Fran, and they'll diss the f**k out of me," And I'll be like, 'I want to make a game,' and they'll be like, 'f**k you.' That was hard to do, bro. Man, this s**t was hard to do, man."

Right now Only One has no release date or platforms. However it does have the support of No Man's Sky creator Sean Murray.

"Cool to see Kanye's game announced. Been secretly excited since they let me play at E3. It's super interesting and lovely," tweeted Murray, much to the confusion of his followers. He later had to clarify that he was not joking.

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Original NDTV Gadgets

Honor 7 Review: The Metallic Powerhouse

Honor 7 Review: The Metallic Powerhouse

Although Honor is a Huawei-owned brand, its devices usually lack any mention of this, instead pitching the smartphones independently. The Honor brand allows the company to compete in the crowded budget market, and offer high-quality, well-specified devices at affordable prices without affecting the 'premium' brand image that Huawei has built for itself in China and the world over.

That is exactly what the new Honor 7 brings to the table. It's packed to the brim with features, and has top-spec hardware. With a specifications sheet that could put most flagship devices to shame, the Honor 7 hopes to win over a lot of high-value buyers with its Rs. 22,999 price tag. We go into the details in our review.

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Look and feel
With a 5.2-inch full-HD IPS-LCD screen, the Honor 7 sits in the flagship smartphone sweet spot for displays. It's bright, detailed and suitably large, without breaching the 5.5-inch mark that is arguably considered to be the point where a phone becomes a phablet. The front is 72.4 percent screen, with on-screen soft keys, narrow borders and the front camera and flash on either side of the earpiece. The lack of branding makes the front stark and Spartan, a look we rather like.

The power and volume keys are on the right, while the USB port and speakers are at the bottom. The top of the Honor 7 has the 3.5mm socket and an IR blaster. The left of the device has the SIM and microSD tray, and the 'Smart' key. The version of the Honor 7 sold in India is a single-SIM device, however the tray is the same as the one used in the dual-SIM version which has a hybrid SIM slot. There are therefore markings and a distinct slot for a second SIM card, but be assured that a second SIM will not work, and only a correctly inserted microSD card will be recognised.

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The Smart key is a rather unique addition to the device, and one that we hope more manufacturers start incorporating. This is a physical button that can be customised to trigger specific functions. The key can be set up to trigger up to three different functions with a single press, a double press, or a long press. There are four quick functions to choose from: ultra snapshot, voice recording, flashlight, or screenshot, or you can launch a specific app. It's an absolutely fantastic feature that makes the device much more intuitive and user-friendly.

The back of the Honor 7 is entirely metal and has a dull matte finish that looks great and is excellent for grip as well. Above the Honor logo at the top-centre are the primary camera, flash, and fingerprint sensor. The latter doesn't look like a sensor at all, with a metallic colour that blends in with the device. It's extremely effective at its job, and you can save up to five fingerprints which can be used to unlock the phone or access the file safe and app lock. It's also 360-degree capable, which means it will read a saved fingerprint no matter what angle your finger is placed on the sensor at.

The sensor can also be used for swipe functions, either pulling down the notification drawer/shortcut menu and clearing notifications, or bringing up the recent apps list. It can be used to unlock the device directly from sleep mode, without you having to first wake the device. It will take a little while to get used to its positioning at the back. The best way to go is to save prints of both of your index fingers, since these are the easiest to use the sensor with.

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Specifications and software
Huawei is one of the few smartphone manufacturers that develops its own SoCs for its devices instead of using readymade ones from specialised developers such as Qualcomm or MediaTek. The octa-core Hisilicon Kirin 935 SoC finds its way into the Honor 7, with the primary four cores operating at 2.2GHz and the secondary four cores at 1.5GHz. The GPU is the ARM Mali-T624, which is admittedly an old unit and not one that we would normally see in a high-end device like this.

The rest of the specification list is comfortably flagship and high end, with 4G connectivity (Indian bands supported), 16GB of internal storage (expandable by up to 128GB with a microSD card), 3GB of RAM, Bluetooth 4.1, and a 3100mAh battery. About 9GB of the internal storage is user accessible, so you will likely need to utilise the microSD slot.

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The Honor 7 runs on Android 5.0.2 with Huawei's Emotion UI 3.1 on top. The UI is single-layered, much like Xiaomi's MIUI and Gionee's Amigo UI, and therefore lacks an app drawer. We've made no secret of our dislike for single-layered UIs, as this stacks all app icons in an untidy manner, clutters all the homescreens, and makes the use of widgets a tricky affair. Fortunately, this is the only real flaw to the interface.

The rest of the system is highly customisable, with options for practically every function including the navigation bar, smart key, motion control, and one-handed operation. It's also comfortably smooth and easy to use, thanks to the excellent hardware under the hood. There are a handful of pre-installed apps, but none are too bothersome, and the majority can be uninstalled. The software feels truly high-end and flagship, and goes with the rest of the Honor 7.

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Camera
The Honor 7 has a 20-megapixel primary camera with dual-tone flash, and an 8-megapixel front camera with single-tone flash. Both cameras are capable of recording full-HD video, and the app has plenty of modes and filters that you can use.

The camera app is usually excellent, and has been designed to look good and be easy to use. The filter menu is quickly accessible, as are the mode selector and settings. There are plenty of software-based camera features to play with, giving the user a high amount of control over the kind of pictures taken. Apart from the typical panorama and HDR modes, there are also modes for slow-motion video, all-focus, audio note, time lapse, and best photo.

Within the settings you can trigger the timer, smile capture and object tracking, as well as adjust basic manual settings such as ISO and white balance. An ultra-snapshot mode allows you to quickly take shots even when the phone is locked by double-tapping the volume down key or assigning the function to the smart key, although this doesn't always work well. The only notable flaw is the inability to quickly record video. You first have to switch to video mode and then tap the record button to start, which makes a two-step process out of a function that many phones can pull off in a single step.

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The camera itself is quite up to the mark, taking good shots in all conditions. The rear camera is capable of serious detail and good colour reproduction, be it with close-ups or more open pictures. The high resolution lets you zoom in deep without a loss of detail, and shots are vibrant and realistic. Close-up shots achieve a similar level of detail, as well as accurately replicating lighting conditions and shadows.

The front camera is absolutely brilliant for a smartphone, and thanks to the flash, is capable of taking some excellent selfies. The camera is in fact capable of taking better pictures and video than even the primary cameras of a lot of cheaper smartphones, and selfie lovers will have a lot to gain from the Honor 7. The software allows the front camera to also shoot in panorama, audio note and watermark modes, which might appeal to some people.

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(Click to see full-size images)

Performance
The Honor 7 utilises the company's own Hisilicon Kirin 935 SoC, coupled with 3GB of RAM. Until the development of the Kirin 940 and 950 is completed, this is the company's flagship SoC, and is also utilised by the Huawei P8Max and Mate S, apart from the Honor 7. The SoC is a vast improvement over the previous Kirin 930, and ensures that the Honor 7 performs well in all functions.

The device performed admirably in all our benchmark tests, with scores of 50,207 in AnTuTu and a solid 7,380 in 3D Mark Ice Storm Extreme. It ran our test videos well too, showing no lag or stutter even with the heavily encoded and high-resolution files. All the apps and games we ran performed flawlessly as well.

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The Honor 7's aluminium alloy cover and L-Type architecture were designed to improve heat dissipation and keep the device cool through intense tasks, and this works effectively. Angry Birds 2 and Dead Trigger 2, which are both known to generate serious heat with test devices, failed to significantly heat the Honor 7 up beyond just a slight bit of warmth on the back.

Finally, battery life was a little below par, but certainly acceptable enough and adequate for a day's use under moderate conditions. The Honor 7 ran for 8 hours, 44 minutes in our video loop test, which is relatively low for a device with a 3100mAh battery. However, this may be forgivable for some users, considering the performance and the price.

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Verdict
Huawei has used its Honor range to successfully market quality products at competitive prices for a while now, and the online-exclusive strategy has resulted in some success. The Honor 7 is a beautiful device that embodies everything that a flagship smartphone should be. It has the right specifications, great features that will force you to question the value of competing devices, and a truly premium look and feel.

Furthermore, everything simply works well, whether it is the camera, fingerprint sensor, overall performance or the heat dissipating design. All of this is complemented by thoughtful touches such as the smart key, front flash, and heavy customisability in the settings menu. The Honor 7 is an excellent smartphone, and represents serious value at the price. We highly recommend this phone for anyone with a budget of up to Rs. 25,000.


Honor 7 in pictures

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Huawei Honor 7

Huawei Honor 7

R 22999 4.0

  • Review
  • Key Specs
  • News
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • Camera
  • Value for money
  • Good
  • Good design and display
  • Excellent cameras
  • Decent performance, great features
  • Excellent value for money
  • Bad
  • Average battery life
  • Single-layered UI

Read detailed Huawei Honor 7 review

Display

5.20-inch

Processor

2.2GHz

Front Camera

8-megapixel

Resolution

1080×1920 pixels

RAM

3GB

OS

Android 5.0

Storage

16GB

Rear Camera

20-megapixel

Battery capacity

3100mAh See full Huawei Honor 7 specifications

  • Honor 7 Now Receiving Android 6.0 Marshmallow Update in India

  • Huawei Honor 7: The Metallic Powerhouse

  • Honor 7 First Impressions

  • Honor 7 With 5.2-Inch Display, Fingerprint Sensor Launched at Rs. 22,999

More Huawei mobilesOriginal NDTV Gadgets

Penta T-Pad WS707C review

Penta T-Pad WS707C

The Indian tablet market seems to be growing at a rapid pace. As per a recent report by Cyber Media Research, there were about 3.11 million tablets sold in India in the year 2012 and the research company is quite bullish about expectations for this year.

The category that is seeing the maximum number of launches in the recent past is the Android Jelly Bean tablets under Rs. 10,000. Pantel Technologies, which manufactures tablets under the Penta T-Pad branding, have also launched their T-Pad WS707C in the Indian market for Rs. 7,999. So will this tablet stand out from the clutter? We find out in this review.

Build and Design
The Penta T-Pad WS707C sports a 7-inch (1024×600 pixels) capacitive touch screen display. The screen with a broad black bezel takes up most of the front. There is only an earpiece on the right bezel (while holding the tablet in landscape mode), while the front camera is on the top left corner. On the top panel are the volume rocker keys and the power/ standby button.

The left panel has the power port, microphone, HDMI port, 3.5mm audio jack, SIM slot, microSD card slot and a reset slot. The back panel is silver in colour with a diamond shaped pattern. This is unlike the recently launched Penta T-Pad WS708C, which has a plain silver back panel. The addition of the pattern tones down the silver colour a bit and makes it look less jazzy. Nevertheless, the dual colour tone and especially the silver colour make the tablet look tacky.

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The back panel houses a 2-megapixel camera on the top right and speaker grill on top left while the BSNL and Penta branding sits right in the middle of the tablet.

Much like the other tablets in this category, such as those from Lava, Videocon or Acer, this tablet too is made primarily of plastic and feels cheap. On the up side, the build quality looks durable.

At 340 grams, the Penta T-Pad WS707C feels a bit heavy especially when held for longer durations. The tablet measures 10.5mm in thickness.

Display
The tablet sports a 7-inch screen, which comes with a resolution of 1024×600 pixels. The display quality of the text, images and videos is just about average.

The under sun visibility is bad. The screen is very reflective and is also a finger print magnet. The viewing angles are also poor.

According to the company, the Penta T-pad WS707C’s display also supports 3D. There are two 3D videos and 24 3D images pre-loaded on the tablet. The experience of watching these videos and images with the 3D glasses that come bundled with Penta T-Pad is average.

The touch response of the tablet is not very good.

Software/ Interface
Once you switch on the Penta T-Pad WS707C, you are greeted with a jarring musical sound. It runs on Android 4.1.1 (Jelly Bean), which is pretty much the stock version of the operating system with no skin from the company’s side.

Like most Android tablets, the bottom strip houses the back, home and recent app button on the left and displays time, signal strength and battery indicator on the right. While on the top right, there is an icon with the alphabet ‘P'(perhaps for connoting Penta T-Pad), which acts as a menu button.

Penta T-Pad WS707C

There are quite a few pre-installed apps on the tablet including, Facebook, Skype (for video calling), NexGtv, Documents To Go, Free Note, FX, FX TextEdit, Movie Studio, Play Music, UAhoy, WeChat and WhatsApp.

FX is an app that helps users edit Documents, images, audio and video files. While the Fx Text Edit app helps is just editing text files.

During our use, we didn’t notice much lag while navigating through menus.

Camera
The device features a 2-megapixel rear camera. The tablet comes with a custom camera app and the images clicked indoors with this camera are quite grainy. However, the quality improves slightly when the images are clicked in broad daylight.

Performance/ Battery Life
The Penta T-Pad WS707C is powered by a 1GHz Cortex A9 processor with 1 GB DDR3 RAM and a Mali 400 GPU. The tablet is able to do a decent bit of multi-tasking.

With the help of the pre-installed apps you can play all popular video and audio formats like MP3, MP4, AVI, MKV and 3GP. Furthermore, the tablet can also play 1080p full HD video files with ease.

The experience of playing games such as Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Temple Run and Subway Surfers was decent. Though there are a bit of lags while trying to play games such as Dead Trigger and Shadow Gun.

The sound quality through the earplugs or the speaker is average and nothing really to rave about. The tablet does a reasonably well job of making voice calls.

Penta T-Pad WS707C

However, this tablet is not 3G compliant and one can only make calls and browse data on the EDGE network. Unlike most budget Jelly Bean Android tablets that we have tested recently, Penta T-Pad WS707C does support Bluetooth connectivity.

The tablet comes with a custom Android browser and Chrome. They offer a pleasant browsing experience.

Penta T-Pad WS707C comes with a 3,000mAh battery and you can squeeze out only 3 to 3.5 hours of video playback time through it. We wish the battery of the tablet lasted slightly more.

Verdict
Given the price bracket, Penta T-Pad WS707C is an interesting option to consider. The device comes with voice calling capabilities and runs on Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). On the performance front though the device performs decent enough, but the battery is a bit of a disappointment. However, the biggest turn off for this tablet is the display and design.

If you don’t mind giving voice calling a skip, then you might like to consider Lava Etab Xtron (Read review), which comes with a more appealing design and a better display at a slightly lesser cost. Another option you can look at is the Acer Iconia B1-A71 (Read review), which also isn’t a great in terms of its looks, but scores well on the performance front.

Pros

  • Runs Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
  • Decent performance

Cons

  • Looks cheap
  • Battery drains out quite soon

Ratings (Out of 5)

Design: 2.5
Display: 3
Performance: 3.5
Software: 4
Battery Life: 2.5
Camera: 2.5
Ecosystem: 3.5
Value for Money: 3
Overall: 2.5

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