ZTE Grand X Review

Summary

Pros

  • The design is nice
  • The phone features Vanilla Android ICS
  • At this price point, Tegra 2 is strong for playing games
  • It brings great value for the amount you spent

Cons

  • Gets hot under pressure
  • Can’t handle most HD video
  • Some build quality quibbles

The price of the reviewed model is £189.99

Key Features:

  • The screen measure 4.3 inch with the resolution of 540 x 960 pixel screen & it’s a TFT model
  • The phone runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich &
  • The process is a Tegra 2 dual-core type, clocked at 1GHz
  • It supports up to 4GB internal memory;
  • Manufactured by ZTE Corporation

With the price of £189.99 only, The Grand X model is a smartphone from a China manufacturer – ZTE. It uses a dual-core processor. The screen is big and its camera is half-decent. For such a specification list, the price of the phone is £189.99 only, which brings the competitive advantage for the Grand X over other rivals. Let’s see how the ZTE Grand X competes in its market segment.

Design

There are a lot of similarities between the ZTE Grand X and the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2. The manufacturer clearly defines it as a typical smartphone in the mid-to-high end segment, not the one for impressive or different design style. At first glances, it looks pretty similar to other smartphones but you’ll find it worth your money when looking into the details.

ZTE Grand X Review Buy

ZTE Grand X Review Buy

 

The ZTE Grand X is pretty well-built compared to other smartphones which are more well-known and sold at higher prices. The plastic back cover is a bit rubberized while the front cover is made of glass. It’s easier to keeps the phone in hands thanks to an embossed texture in the rear cover. The phone does not follow the unibody style and despite not including any metal pieces, the Grand X still feels well-built among top-end smartphones.

But when you try challenging this phone slight more, you’ll find several compromises. The front appears not be as well-built as expected. In addition, the soft keys in the front are not really elegant and there’s no backlighting with these keys.

Connectivity

The ZTE Grand X supports 4GB internal memory space but you just can use half of this storage, so you may need a memory card. The microUSB socket is located in the left edge and a headphone jack measuring 3.5 mm stays on the top of the phone. But you should notice that despite these available connections, don’t expect to have dedicated results. The microSD compartment is put under the plastic rear cover. In case that you like to have the phone operated as a media player, a large microSD card is obviously necessary.

The ZTE Grand X supports some nice connectivity options. You can make use of the following features: Wi-Fi n, Bluetooth 4.0 or fast HSPA mobile internet. In addition, Wi-Fi hotspot is also supported. Although you won’t find Near-Field Communication feature (NFC) with this smartphone, this may be added in the future.

This lack may be due to the fact that ZTE wants to reduce the costs. But some features including two great cameras, noise cancellation and other pretty good specifications are nice. The smartphone uses a Tegra 2 dual-core processor, clocked at 1GHz and has 1GB storage capability. Although it can’t be compared to other high-class smartphones, for example Samsung Galaxy S3, ZTE Grand X is still a nice phone with a lot of updated features.

Display

Several similarly-prices smartphones include a dual-core processing unit, for example Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 or Sony Xperia U. But the screen of ZTE Grand X is much better.

The screen measure 4.3 inches and its resolution is 540 x 960. Actually, this resolution is often found in top-end smartphone of the previous year. Consequently, although it’s not so impressive, it’s still pretty surprising to find this specification at this price.

Especially, this screen is a TFT LCD which performs as well as an IPS screen. The viewing angles are nice and the colors are vibrant. Even the small texts are sharp thanks to the 256dpi pixel density, but you’ll have to keep your eyes very close to these texts. In addition, an auto brightness setting is supported but it may be a bit challenging to use it under strong sunlight.

You’ll find the five-point multi-touch of the capacitive touchscreen a bit uncommon, but it’s still easy to use. That’s a not a big issue as you don’t often use some many fingers on the screen, right?

 

Huawei P8 Review

Previously, the two Huawei flagship smartphones – the Ascend P6 and Ascend P7 were both very impressive, in which the P6 achieved our Editor’s Choice Award. Therefore, the Huawei P8 has been expected to be a strong model in such a competitive market with a lot powerful brand names like iPhone 6 Galaxy S6, HTC One M9 and other models. In addition, the LG G4 will be launched this month and the release of the Xperia Z4 will be very soon, too.

Although the hardware and design style are very nice, the performance and software are not that good as expected.

The PRICE OF THE HUAWEI 8

The price was 499 Euro at the time we review this model.

The Chinese manufacturers tend to base on the lower prices for smartphones and tablets to attract a lot of customers. This is similar to the way that Google did with Nexus product lines. Both the Ascend P6 and Ascend P7 were sold at the reasonable prices.

The price of the Huawei 8 is 499 Euro. In the theory, this price is significantly cheaper than its rivals which are often priced around £600. But when you look at the £500 price tag on Amazon from retailers in the United Kingdom, this price tag is higher than we have expected in regard of the European price tag.

Huawei P8 Review Buy

Huawei P8 Review Buy

 

DESIGN AND BUILD

Although the Ascend P7 was thicker than the Ascend P6, Huawei has made the P8 even thinner, measuring 6.5 mm only. We have seen many smartphones which are thin and have certain improved features, but holding these phones may be less comfortable. Fortunately, despite the super thin design, it is still pretty comfortable to hold the P8 in hands, partly thanks to the metal body together with bevelled edges. However, the design is not really sophisticated. There is not any logo embossed in the front and the back is full of legal information. 

The P8 is also very light and the metal frame of the phone is more symmetrical than it was before when Huawei decided not to make rounded bottom edge anymore. In terms of the look, the P8 looks pretty similar to the iPhone 6. Meanwhile, its frame looks like that of the Samsung S6. In addition, we also see the square shape of the Xperia Z3 in its design. The Huawei P8 seems to be the combination of the three famous models in one product.

Huawei increased the size of the P8 over that of the previous versions. Although it looks similar to the Samsung Galaxy S6 in regard of the height and width, it feels larger with the square shape.

There are four color options, including: prestige gold, titanium grey, carbon black and mystic champagne. The premium 64 GB model is available in the prestige gold and black while you can decide on the mystic champagne or grey for the standard 16 GB model.  Although the waterproof capability is not fully supported, the spill resistant feature is available because the phone is covered by a nano coat.

In addition, an E-ink cover is available in case that you want to use this smartphone as a traditional eReader. In this respect, the Huawei P8 beats the YotaPhone 2. We cannot give comments on this cover now as we have not had a chance to touch it yet.

HARDWARE AND SPECIFICATIONS

Although the P8 is bigger than the two predecessors, its IPS screen as well as the full HD 1080p resolution of 424-ppi pixel density remain the same. Both colors and viewing angles are nice in general, but sometimes when use select the low brightness, the images shot with this smartphone may be spoiled.

There are two versions: standard 16 GB or premium 64 GB, both has 3-GB RAM storage. The P8 uses a Kirin 935 octa-core processor which is clocked at 1.5 and 2 GHz. The nice thing is that a microSD card slot is available, so you can make use of this to increase the storage space. This can be considered a second SIM card, so we can call the P8 a dual-SIM model.

The performance in general is nice but there still remain some drawbacks when we have tested this model thoroughly. For example, some lags happen when you’re trying to open an email or select one app in the Play store. According to Huawei, both the GPU and CPU of the P8 are better than that of the P7, it seems to be not that exact in our testing. There are still some noticeable lags with the interface sometimes.

The battery should last one and a half days when used normally. But in reality, the 2600mAh battery of the P8 can run for one day after being fully charged, which is an embarrassing thing. Through our test, the P8 gets 3296 points with the duration of 5 hours and 30 minutes while the Samsung Galaxy S6 hits 4136 points with the duration of 6 hours and 53 minutes.

The battery still runs out after the full charge even you don’t use the phone over night or for the whole day. Hope that this drawback just happens for tested sample. We just check another model to make sure about it.

The front camera has the resolution of 8 megapixels and the one in the back has the resolution of 13 megapixels. Thanks to the inclusion of the class optical IS and a DSLR-level independent image signal processor, the P8 can shoot very nice images under the inadequate lighting situations.

Among the feature list, the cameras are the greatest features. The results are nice, and especially outstanding with the following shooting options: landscape, low light and close-ups. In addition, the iOS-style app is very nice, which can be used to take advantage of the maximum resolution setting of the main camera. The default settings for this are a resolution of 10 megapixels and the aspect ratio of 16:9. Although the full HD mode is available, the phone often shoots videos at 720p resolution. The 4K recording is not supported, so you may want to find a model of higher price for this option.

While the P8 offer some nice shooting modes such as the Light painting or Time-lapse, the Beauty mode seems to be useless because sometimes, it turns the images into something unreal. The all-focus mode is not as nice as that of other phones. Switching between some mode is pretty simple through just a swipe, but for some other more useful modes like HDR, you have to tuck it away in the menu.

SOFTWARE

Similar to the P6 and P7, the P8 also uses the Android 5.0 Lollipop running system and the Emotion Use Interface which is created by Huawei itself. There are both strengths and weaknesses with these features.

The nice thing here is that the themes can be customized and it’s possible to adjust transition animations on the homescreen. The lockscreen is pretty interesting. For any time you hold down the power key, you will see another photo in this screen. In addition, there are several setting and shortcuts when you swipe the screen up from the bottom. But unfortunately, an app menu is not supported, so all the app icons must be placed right on the home screen. This is similar to the screen of an iPhone.

You can find the Phone Manager app very useful when you know how to use it. Thanks to this app, you can know which processor-intensive apped should be turned off. In addition, it’s also usefull for managing notifications, cleaning storage space and so on.

Moreover, Wi-Fi+ and Signal+ are nice additional features of this smartphone. Especially, a nice international dialler is supported so that there is no need for texting the country code.

You may find it a bit strange with the new Knuckle Sense feature. If you wan to capture a screenshot, editing it or drawing around parts of the screen, this feature can be useful. But because it’s activated randomly and it’s difficult to turn off it (we didn’t find the configuration for this feature), sometimes it’s inconvenient. As a result, it clearly affects the overall using experiences in some way.

The BOTTOM LINE

The Huawei P8 is a well-built smartphone with a great design style in regard of the lower prices compared to other flagship competitor. The hardware is also decent, particularly in terms of the photography features. However, the performance and software are not as good as expected, which certainly affecting the entire experiences. Therefore, we find it a bit hard to recommend this model.

 

 

 

ZTE Grand X Max+ Review

The bottom line

Perhaps not so many people can recognize the ZTE brand, in fact, this Chinese manufacturer is one of the very large smartphone manufacturers. A lot of carriers and companies in the world have purchased devices from this manufacturer. And with the release of the ZTE Grand X Max+, ZTE expects to have been widely recognized among the smartphone community. This phablet measures 6 inches and costs one third less than the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

ZTE Grand X Max+ Review Buy

ZTE Grand X Max+ Review Buy

Just paying $220 to buy the Grand X Max+, but you can get a lot of value from this smartphone. The battery is powerful and the 13-megapixel camera is great. Of course, it cannot be compared to Galaxy Note 4 or the Nexus 6 or some other flagship phablets, but the values are worth your money.

Pros

  • The price is very reasonable – only $220
  • The battery is powerful
  • The camera is very nice

Cons

  • 720p display is dated on 6-inch screen
  • The processor is not fast enough to run software smoothly
  • Bulky, slippery design cause some inconvenience for holding the phone
  • This phone is a fingerprint magnet

An absolutely massive phablet

When looking at Grand X Max+ for the first time, this smartphone seems to be bulky. While its thickness is just 7.9 mm, the screen has accounted for 6 inches. That’s why you won’t find the phone ergonomic. Because it’s large and the corners are sharp due to the rectangular shape, holding it in hands may be not comfortable. Although the manufacturer has tried to make it sleek, there is not any sense of ergonomics with it. Just one nice thing is the location of the power button on the phone side, which enables you to hold down easily without your reach versus the far distance of the top.

The Grand X Max Plus uses the Android 4.4.4 KitKat operating system, which is the combination of the AOSP-esque look and easy-to-use Android interface, together with several additional treats. Thanks to the customization of the lock screen, you can easily get access to apps via quick selections. In regard of the home screen, the Grand X Max+ is similar to not only Samsung but HTC as well. While its flip flock seems to be borrowed from HTC, the wallpaper is much similar to that of Samsung.

In addition, you can select one among some available interesting transition effects when you switch from one to another page on the home screen. This is nice, but sometimes inconvenient, especially in case that the processor selects an animation and you see a drop of the frame rate drops immediately.

Although there remain some drawbacks, this operating system is still a pretty nice Android system. The vibrant colors together with the simplicity in the design style are pretty attractive points of this smartphone.

A dated, but crisp display

At the moment, while Quad-HD display with the 1440p resolution is pretty common in the smartphone market, the Grand X Max Plus does not use this kind of display. For such a 6-inch smartphone, only 720p display is supported.

Despite the vivid colors as well as sharp images, it’s the low amount of pixels that makes the photos look out of date. Although only the pixel density can’t decide the image quality, the full Quad-HD display still brings significantly different and more vivid look. The 1080p resolution should be supported for phablets of reasonable prices; however, the 720p can be acceptable, considering the low price as well as the inclusion of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and other things into this smartphone.

A weak, underwhelming processor

The Grand X Max Plus runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 1.2GHz quad-core processor, which is older and slower than the more common Snapdragon 805 2.7GHz quad-core one. Some other phablets such as the Galaxy Note 4 uses the latter. Through benchmark test, the Max Plus did not get a pretty low score versus flagship phablet models. For example, the Galaxy Note 4 scored 23,000, nearly three times higher than the 8,300 score of the Max Plus. Besides, the benchmark test on the graphics also showed a much lower score of this phone, which is just more than 4,000 versus 20,000 of the Galaxy Note 4. Due to this, the frame rate of the Max Plus drops for every actions like playing games or using the interface.

For a low-priced model, in 2015 it costs about $200 to get this processor. In 2015, it has been put into the Grand X Mas Plus, but it’s not strong enough for handling its current user interface. That’s when you move over the home screen, you’ll see the lower frame rate. This is especially clear when you apply transition animations. In case that the above drawbacks do not matter to you, the Max Plus is still a nice smartphone. The 2GB RAM and the 16 GB storage space is included, which is enough for you to handle all of the games and images.

A Great camera held back by hardware

Both the two cameras of the Grand X Max Plus are impressive beyond something that people often expect for a low-priced smartphone. The rear camera is a large one with the resolution of 13 megapixels. It also comes with a 4X digital zoom and an LED notification light. The camera on the front allows you to takes very nice selfies with the resolution of 5 megapixels. Despite the lack of optical IS, the cameras of the Max Plus is no…. Although the optical IS is not supported, this camera can still be compared with the Samsung Note 4’s 16-MP rear camera and outperforms the Nexus 6‘s 13-MP rear camera and 2-megapixel front camera.

There are a lot of available shooting features with the cameras of the Max Plus in which HDR is also supported. However, don’t expect the camera app to performs very fast as the processor is not strong enough. It does take time for taking HDR photographs and your phone may be freezed for several second for processing the image. In addition, as the display is just limited to 720p resolution, it’s not easy to review HDR photos right on the cameras due to its very large resolution. But you can zoom these photos to see the details better.

It takes some efforts to get used to shooting photos with the phone camera because of the fact that it’s not ergonomic to hold the phone. Because there is no optical IS support, you will have to keep the phone steady while taking photos. It requires some practice, but the results after all will be nice enough to be compared with that of top smartphones. For such a smartphone at that price, the camera was impressive.

Powered by Cricket Wireless

You should also notice that you can only purchase the Grand X Max Plus from Cricket Wireless, a carrier in the system of AT&T. It costs $50 per month for obtaining 50 GB of data. The 4G LTE is supported with the speed of 8 Mbps. In addition, you can also use HSPA+ (Regular “4G”) at the speed of 4Mbps. As it’s only available in Cricket Wireless, the speeds are better for suburban or rural areas versus urban areas where many people use the network at the same time. We have noticed that throughout peak hours on Cricket Wireless, the speed is only limited to 1Mbps via LTE. You should consider this thoroughly before deciding on buying the Grand X Max Plus as it’s available exclusively on Cricket.

One strong point of the Grand X Max Plus is its battery life. The 3,200mAh capacity makes this battery one of the strongest ones in the market, which is often expected such a phablet like the Max Plus. This capacity is also found in some other devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or LG G3, but the battery life is shortened because of the very large resolution amount as well as strong processors. Meanwhile, the battery life of the Max Plus can last up to two days after being charged as it has the lower resolution and less powerful processors.

In addition, the Qualcomm’s Quick Charge feature – version 1.0 is also supported, which enables the phone to charge up to thirty percent of the battery life in thirty minutes.

 

 

BlackBerry Classic Review

While other manufacturers often highlight the screen or camera of their smartphones, the most noticeable feature that Black Berry wants to focus on the Classic line is its keyboard. That’s why in one third of the specification list is to introduce the Qwerty keyboard, other than its pretty small screen.

It’s definitely an impressive keyboard. Not only those who has got used to using BlackBerry but new users can also find it pretty easy to use and very useful. Obviously, this is considered the heritage of BlackBerry.

This keyboard with chamfered ridge on each key easily outperforms the keyboard of BlackBerry Passport – which is pretty hard, fat and large. People easily find it more satisfying.

BlackBerry Classic Review Buy

BlackBerry Classic Review Buy

In addition to the new design style, the location of the navigating keys are kept pretty the same. You will find the keys for calls, menu, back button, trackback and “end call” located between the screen and the keyboard. These keys are also called ‘the tookit’.

As commonly, we have got used to using virtual keys in the display of smartphones, so it’s likely that we feel uncomfortable to hold down physical keyboards. However, once mastering the usage of a keyboard, you find it pretty convenient for ending a call. But personally, I don’t see that the trackpad is really useful. I still prefer to use the capacitive capacitive frets of the BlackBerry Passport.

But, keep in mind that the actual buttons account for more space while the display of the Blackberry is pretty small, limited to 3.5 inches only. This screen is good enough for checking emails but a bit inconvenient for other tasks, for example, browsing a website.

 

Both the two cameras in the front and back are nice enough, but not that impressive. (Actually, I don’t find the common users of this product to be those who love taking selfie photos). The battery has the 2515 mAh capacity, which enables you to use the phone throughout the day and even more. This may be due to the fact that I used less apps through this phone than with other smartphones. Its screen is too small and I just find it best for scanning emails.

The BlackBerry Classic is a well-built device. Its frame is surrounded by the stainless steel band and the phone also uses the Gorilla Glass. All of these give it the sturdy feel. The flat rear cover – except the slightly raised logo – is a non-slip structure, which contributes to the comfort in holding the phone in hands. The BlackBerry Classic weighs 178 grams, which is not so heavy.

The software

The BlackBerry Classic runs the BlackBerry 10 system together with the Qualcomm MSM 8960 processor, clocked at 1.5GHz. There are some interesting details with the phone, one of which is the nice transition effects for scrolling over the default applications. Although the performance is not as smooth as that of the BlackBerry Passport, it’s good enough.

One of the very strong points of the Classic is its mail box capability, which is especially effective for those who often receive and send emails. In addition, the Docs to Go and BlackBerry Blend are also available. But not many apps from a third party are found in this smartphone. The main reason for this limit is that the market share of BlackBerry is not big enough for motivating many software manufactures to produce the compatible apps.

The small square display is also a drawback. Especially in the case that a user wants to play games, this is pretty inconvenient. However, this drawback may not be too concerning as the BlackBerry Classic is not a typical smartphone for those who like to play games or download so many apps.

The Bottom Line

Obviously, the BlackBerry Classic is not something for first users but for those who have fallen in love with this brand name (especially users who once used the previous BlackBerry Bold 9900). This product is mainly aimed at those who work on business or government organization – that’s the strategy of BlackBerry.

For a loyal fan, this smartphone is not simply a phablet, but a more elegant one for a more civilized user.

For those who don’t find it essential to use other function besides the call making and email handling, the BlackBerry Classic is obviously a great choice. Meanwhile, other types of users may find it as a lack. For a smartphone, this seems to be a significant lack, but I have found that the targeted users almost don’t need further features. It’s clear that BlackBerry wants to build an image of solid and business-like smartphone.

 

Oppo R5 Review

The bottom line: 6/10

At the moment, no smartphone is as thin as the R5 from Oppo. With the thickness of 4.85mm, there is no doubt that this has become the thinnest smartphone in the world.

In comparison with the Apple iPhone 6, this R5 is even 30% thinner. But obviously, to have this super thin size, the phone has to sacrifice some other aspects of the design.

There is no built-in headphone jack and at the price of $549, £400-ish, the battery life of the R5 is similar to that of some other Android smartphones.  All of these make people curious about this model.

Key Features:

– The processor is Snapdragon 615 CPU;

– Its RAM’s storage capability is up to 2GB;

– The phone runs ColorOS 2.0 & Android 4.4

– Manufactured by OPPO Digital

Oppo R5 Review Buy

Oppo R5 Review Buy

 

Oppo R5 – Design

Although it’s super thin, the Oppo R5 still brings you the well-built feel. When looking at it from a distance, it seems to be weak or bendy, but the fact shows the opposite thing.

While aluminium is pretty soft, so it can be bended, like you can see the entire iPhone 6 ‘bendgate’ fiasco, the metal frame of the R5 is very strong and hard. This frame borders the edges of the phone.

The aluminium material is used for the phone back. This is also good. But it’s easier for bending the phone in half. For the purpose of testing phone, we may have to do this to ensure about the phone strength.

Anyway, the phone is very well-built. We don’t see any clear compromises in this case.

If not anyone told you that the R5 was the world thinnest smartphone, could you know this? Of course, you can easily feel its thinness, but when you hold it in hands, you may not find it as comfortable as expected for more gently contoured smartphone.

The front of the camera is covered by hard Gorilla Glass and the back is made of aluminium. Between these two parts, there is a slightly raised steel frame beyond. But one thing you should notice is that the phone has to sacrifice some other things for this super thin size. The phone is comfortable enough in hands but if you try comparing it with the Galaxy S5 from Samsung, but it does not really feel expensive.

In addition, there are more concerning lacks. Instead of including the headphone jack in the Oppo R5 anymore, now an adapter will be used in which one end is slotted into a Micro Use port and the other end is connected with a headphone jack.

This may cause some significant inconveniences in usage: it’s impossible to listen to music while the phone is being charged and the adapter must be always taken along. This reason makes some retailers consider giving certain discount for the R5.

Moreover, the phone lacks a memory card slot as well. It will be ok for installing some games and apps with the 16GB internal storage capability, but in general, it’s pretty inconvenient when the memory is not expandable and the phone doesn’t have a standard headphone jack. This phone is not really good for playing the media.

Thanks to the thin design, the phone looks impressive with it super slim and pure steel frame. But just after using it in about 5 minutes, you will easily like to back to the classic design.

Not the entire body of the Oppo R5 has the same thickness. The camera is slightly raised from the body – it just does not fit into the whole frame thickness. Because of this design, the camera may get damaged more easily, but Oppo has designed a metal ring surrounding its glass, which helps protect the camera from certain scratches.

Oppo R5 – Connectivity

Obviously. Oppo has to scarify some features for the thin design, so it won’t perfectly meet the demands of every market.

In the specification, the phone has included the 4G support, but not on band 20. Consequently, you can get the phone connected to the 4G in some networks such as Vodafone, O2 or other less popular ones such as Tesco, LycaMobile or GiffGaff. It still can work, but just on the 3G mobile internet only.

Even for famous brand names like Galaxy S5 or LG G3, there are still some lacks, and no exception for the Oppo R5. In this smartphone, an IR transmitter is not supported, so you cannot use the phone as a common remote. The Wi-Fi ac is not found with the R5 as well.

 

Xiaomi Mi Note Review

The Bottom Line

PROS

  • It’s a well-built smartphone
  • The phone is thin
  • The camera is nice
  • The battery life is great
  • The screen is vivid
  • Software is intuitive

CONS

  • Not available in US yet

The hardware of the Xiaomi Mi Note is very well-built and its fast performance would satisfy those who love phablets but unfortunately, it has not been available in the US market.

Xiaomi has once introduced an accessory shop for the US market in a press event, in which every attendee could have a chance to hold the phone in hands. What is the reason that the Xiaomi Note has not been released into the US market? Let’s find more detailed information in this review article on this recently released model.

Xiaomi Mi Note Review Buy

Xiaomi Mi Note Review Buy

 

As you can see in its name, the Xiaomi Note is obviously one of the phablets, both in terms of the design as well as the construction quality. This is a very nice-looking smartphone. The front is made of 2.5D glass, together with sophisticated curves alongside the phone sides. The back is supported by 3D glass with much more noticeable curves surround its edges. And the outmost frame is a metal one, which helps the phone fit your hands well.

Although it’s pretty large, it still feels comfortable when holding in hands, thanks to the slim bezels along the edges of the screen as well as the impressive thickness which is kept at 7mm only. Through some hand testing, the fact proves that the phone is pretty easy to be managed for most of the parts.

As the back’s built by glass, it will be easy for it to get smudgy and the fingerprints become more seeable on it. But if you select the white option, these things become less noticeable, except the case that you look into it carefully. However, it’s a bit different for the back option, so it’s something that should be put into consideration before deciding on one.

The right side is where the power as well as volume button is located at. This location enables users to use these buttons very easily, both in terms of touching and pressing the buttons. On the top, you will see the headphone jack while the single speaker and microUSB port is located at the bottom. The SIM card slot is on the right inside the phone. The capacitive menu, home app or back keys all are on the front interface of the phone. Together with them, there is a multi-colored LED notification light, earpiece and front camera are located at their common place above the screen.

The IPS LCD screen of the Mi Note measures 5.7 inches, which is pretty large. It has a 1080p resolution and 386 ppi pixel density. The colors are accurate, the brightness is good and the viewing angles are nice. And, it’s easy to view the screen outdoors. Especially, this phone brings out the great user experience for such commonly-used task as: browsing the webs, watching movies, and playing games.

You can make adjustments on the color of the screen in the configurations so that its contrast or the warmth can be changed to a proper level. Actually, the default configurations are nice enough, and for most of the time, it seems to be that you don’t need to change anything. If you want to have a higher touchscreen sensitivity, you can make use of the “glove mode” while the reading mode will be nice for making the display more visible. It’s similar to the way that the flux application is used for windows and mac, and you can even select an application to activate this feature.

The Mi Note is operated by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processing unit. It storage capability is up to 3GB and it uses a Adreno 330 graphics processing unit. Expect the storage space, the above feature seems to a little out of date compared to the improvements from last year, but the phone still can deal with processor-intensive task well.

You’ll find the performance very nice when you swipe, scroll, open, close, switch between applications and interface navigation. It is good even for playing games. Although after a moment of gaming, you may find it uncomfortable when the phone becomes warm, this does not affect the performance at all.

And keep in mind that the reviewed model is just a pre-production version. Consequently, it was not strange that some instances might be caused by the beta version of software. However, the phone still performed pretty smoothly and certainly, the final version will be thorough examined before launching into the market.

The image sensor is nice. The Mi Note support 4G LTE connecting option but what a pity that it does not support US LTE bands. There are two available storage capabilities, including: 64 GB and 16 GB and you can’t expand the storage space through microSD card. Among these two options, people seem to prefer the 64 GB version.

The volume of the speaker is pretty loud and the sound is nice. Because this speaker is located at the bottom, when you use the phone in the horizontal alignment, you will find the audio firing in the side. In this situation, you may find your palm spread over the speaker and affect the sound.

The Xiao Mi Note includes a 3,000 mAh battery. In comparison with the batteries of other smartphones of the similar sizes, this battery is just at the average level. But it has proven to be very solid in my test. The battery life could be up to one day and a half when you use the phone to send messages, browse webs, enter social networks, as well as play light games or view Youtube videos, with the screen-on duration of slightly more than five hours. For other processor-intensive such as capturing images or playing a lot of games, this duration was reduced to four hours, but the phone still can be used for the whole day.

One more thing that contributes to the impressiveness of this battery is the ability to save the power through saving profile when one or two percent of the battery is left. When the battery reach this point, the above profiles can help phone disconnect all networks to prolong the battery. The good point here is that you can set these automatic profiles whenever the phone’s gonna out of the battery.

The camera in the back has the resolution of 13 megapixels. It supports optical IS as well as a dual tone LED flash, both of which are not commonly found in smartphone these days. It’s pretty easy to use the camera user interface. The shutter button’s in the white color and there are a lot of modes and features, which are not difficult to use.

You can reach some various modes such as: manual, refocus, or panorama and some other ones when you swipe upward or to the right while there are live filters when you swipe downwards or to the left. These filters brings some fun to your image capturing. There is a digital ring on the screen, which can be manually turned on for setting the exposure. This ring is nice and very intuitive. The refocus feature is a nice feature. Although it is not a very impressive feature, it performs well, as long as you focus on a clear subject and background.

The images shot with the Mi Note are of good sharpness and nice colors for both indoor and outdoor lighting conditions. The shutter speed is quick. You can try shooting photos in the HDR mode to make your photos more interesting. This mode brings back some details while it also add more warmth and colors into the photos. The noise problems do occur when you shoot photos under inadequate lighting conditions, but it’s the optical IS and ISO kept at 3200 only which help produce better results. The sharpness and detail of those images have been significantly lowered, but in general, this camera still performs very well.

The camera in the front has the resolution of 4 megapixels. If you like taking sefie photos, this camera is very nice, which can help make you more beautify by defining your age and gender. It performs greatly and the image quality is nice, but sometimes, it cannot guess the age accurately.

The Xiao Mi Note is operated by the Android 4.4 Kitkat system, with Mi User Interface on top. As it’s common for many original equipment manufacturer and their custom running systems, this interface is not included with the app drawer. Consequently, you have no choice but use folders as the only way to get organized.

The icons are square and colorful, and so are the pre-loaded wallpapers, that actually look great on this display, without being gaudy or overbearing. In this review unit, there were a lot of Chinese applications pre-installed, and the Google Play Store isn’t available by default, but it was very quick and easy to install it and then download all the applications that I needed.

The appearance of the icons, pre-loaded wallpaper is all nice-looking on the screen. In this tested model, the manufacturer mainly pre-installed Chinese apps, and the Google Play Store is not set to be the default, but it does not take time to have it installed at all. Then, it’s also easy for downloading the needed apps through this store.

With the MIUI interface, you can find a variety of great features on setting the audio or themes. The audio quality can be enhanced through setting the Hi-Fi audio. In addition, there is a wide range of interesting themes that you can apply, in which you can change the wallpapers, icons, lock screen or some default apps. The phone also enables you to use one-handed mode. To have this mode activated, you just need to swipe from the home button outward in the left or right direction, then shrink down the display from anywhere in the range of 4.5-inches to 3.5-inches. Overall, this interface is very nice, but actually, it also take you some certain time to get used to it.

The price of the Xiaomi Mi Note in China is about $370. This smartphone has not been available in the US, but you can buy it through eBay, which increase the total cost for buying this phone up to about $500.

The above review has answered the question that’s spoken out in the beginning of this article. The Xiao Mi Note has been a strong model that can compete with many smartphones in the US market, but unfortunately, it has not been released in this market. Overall, this is a great smartphone, both in regard of the hardware and software, and especially, it brings enjoyable using experiences pretty often. The device is worth our Editor’s Choice Award.

 

 

 

 

Microsoft Lumia 535 Review

The Bottom Line: 6/10

The Microsoft Lumia 535 was released after its predecessor Nokia Lumia 530 – which was not a successful model. The screen of the Lumia 535 has been one-inch larger than that of Lumia 530. Obviously, this smartphone aims at the low-price market.

However, the most expected improvement is the deletion of the bad fixed-focus camera. Fortunately, with the Lumia 535, the new camera is nice thanks to the inclusion of both autofocus feature and the LED flash. The camera in the front panel is also better, which has the 5 MP image sensor. This camera is nice for taking selfie images.

Microsoft Lumia 535 Review Buy

Microsoft Lumia 535 Review Buy

 

At the first glance, this Lumia 535 low-priced smartphone seems to be very nice. In addition, the dual-SIM model has been sold in some places, which attracted a lot of attention from the community. You have to spend less than £70 for the SIM-free model. With this offering, this Lumia 535 can beat many other smartphones in the same size category. But the disappointment is that there are some minor mistakes that reduce the attractiveness of this model.

Pros

  • The 5-inch screen is large
  • The camera in the front is of high resolution and supports wide angle.
  • The covers can be changed

Cons

  • The screen is not responsive
  • The phone is not well built
  • The battery life is not really great

The price of the reviewed model is £100.00

Key Features:

– The screen measures 5 inches and has the dimension of 960 x 540;

– It runs the Snapdragon 200 processor;

– Both the two cameras in the front and back has the resolution of 5 megapixels

– The storage capability is up to 8GB;

– The microSD slot is supported

It’s manufactured by Microsoft

Microsoft Lumia 535 – Design & Features

There is a wide variety of color options for the Lumia 535, including: white, black, grey, orange, cyan and green. With these options, this smartphone looks more premium than it actually was at the given price. Among them, we don’t like the orange color most. Meanwhile, other options like white, grey, cyan or black please your eyes pretty well.

The colorful design has proven to be useful in distracting you from notice some issues with this model, but it cannot always do that. Sometimes, you will find that parts of these removable covers are not as good as they should, so you may notice some creaks when you pick up the phone. It’s just a tiny drawback that you may easily ignore when you can save a significant amount of money in buying this budget phone, but certainly, sometime it makes you notice.

One more noticeable drawback is that the compartment of the case with the battery may easily dislodge from the phone when you drop it down. Through a test of dropping this smartphone onto a slim carpet for several times, this compartment become continuously dislodged. If we had spilled it on the corners of that carpet, the phone would even have become more or less a certainty. Although the Gorilla Glass made the phone sturdier and free from scratches, this is just slight ease. Despite its very reasonable price, this is still concerning for such a smartphone in this aimed market.

In a brighter respective, the Lumia 535 has something to lean on. The 8GB storage capability seems to be not much needed for those who don’t perform many heavy tasks. In the case that there is a need for more space, the microSD card slot is available. The 4G connectivity is not supported at this price, but Bluetooth 4.0 is included. The phone also uses an ambient light sensor, which seems to be unfamiliar for the phones at the lower prices.

Microsoft Lumia 535 – Screen

The common screen size of budget smartphone is 4 inches or so, but the Lumia 535 is different in this aspect. Partly because of this screen, the Lumia 535 looks more premium – its 5-inch screen tends to be more similar to the competitive high-class models.

Although Microsoft applies the IPS display technology, the screen of the Lumia 535 is not something more than good enough. When viewing the screen a little off the center, you may easily find that there is a certain loss of detail. In fact, the viewing angles are pretty shallow. It’s common for IPS displays to obtain outstanding viewing angles, but it’s not all to guarantee the quality.

The colors are a bit inaccurate sometimes and you may find the white color with a bit blue-ish hue when the brightness is at lower settings. But many screens of the similarly-priced models are even far worse than that. The 960 x 540 resolution (of 220ppi density) may be pretty small for such a smartphone with the 5-inch screen. This would be reasonable if the price of the Lumia 535 was just £150, but it’s not the case here.

It’s very easy to view the screen outdoor – which is a very great for such a low-price smartphone. We just didn’t like the fact that the screen may become slightly dimmer frequently due to the setting from the ambient sensor, but it’s easy to override this.

However, it was surprising that the touch sensitivity was not really good. Sometimes, it cause typing mistakes, which is pretty annoying. This is the biggest drawback of the phone.

 

Samsung Galaxy S5 Review

Overview of Samsung Galaxy S5 Smartphone

The Galaxy S5 from Samsung uses a fingerprint sensor and it has the capability to operate under the underwater in a short time.

As a typical Android smartphone, the Galaxy product line has been a strong player in the smartphone market. For a certain time in the past, the only clear competitor for this product line is the iPhone from Apple. Until the time when some other manufacturers have released impressive models such as the great HTC One M8 or LG G Flex 2 with the unique design, Samsung has to face with the strong competition from many other smartphones in the Android ecosystem. As I have used one of the Galaxy S variants since the Vibrant, for instance, now I also want to try the M8 after I had a chance to test one Galaxy S product.

That’s why the release of the Galaxy S5 is an important step of Samsung in maintaining the sales volume as well as the mind share, compared to other Android smartphones. And Samsung has chosen the “back-to-basics” design for the Galaxy S5. One more time, this is a bit strange to me because when Samsung has released the Galaxy S series, Samsung had already done the great job with the basics.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Review Buy

Samsung Galaxy S5 Review Buy

Review of Samsung Galaxy S5

Whenever Samsung releases a new Galaxy smartphone, the change in the screen is the most noticeable thing. The screen measurement has increased up to 5.1 inches. While the above mentioned Vibrant is very short, the new Galaxy is a real “phablet”. I have thought that the screens of Samsung smartphones won’t continue increasing, but perhaps not right now. The nice thing about this large screen is the beauty of the AMOLED display which has the resolution up to 1080p. There is no doubt that one of the best things of Samsung product lines is the screen display. The vivid colors as well as the high resolution amount make the screen very sharp. And it is not as grainy as I have seen in the G Flex.

It’s a bit hard to use this screen directly under the sunlight but in comparison with other screen that I’ve had a chance to test, the screen of Galaxy 5 is still better.

Samsung has included the newest variant of TouchWiz skin into the interface of the Galaxy S5 and the highlighted feature of this interface is the palette, which is very colorful. In addition, there are more interesting effects, but the bells and whistles are not as nice as those of HTC’s Sense. I have tested the Verizon model and its processor is the Qualcomm 2.5GHz quad-core one supported by the 2GB RAM and the stronger graphics processing feature. The design of the phone is pretty stylish and the performance in downloading and streaming is also fast on the 4G network of the Verizon model. You can select one among the range of internal storage capabilities from 16GB to 32GB, but the maximum capability can be up to 128GB if a microSD card is used. The battery now has been up to 800mAh, so it allows you to watch videos during 10 or so hours.  The talk time is as twice as that. Similar to the previous versions, it’s possible to replace the battery if you want to bring spares along. This is one of the nice points of the Galaxy S5 in comparison with the closed unibody designs of the HTC M8 or Apple iPhone.

In term of the design, the typical look of Samsung smartphones, including the Galaxy S5, is plasticky, especially at its back cover. This design is nice, but not as sleek as the above mentioned unibody styles of some competitors. Despite of the plastic back, there are some additional texture which brings more expensive look for Samsung smartphones recently. You can also find shiny, ridged metal rim in the phone’s sides which looks a bit too busy for me though that’s probably nitpicking on my part.

The most noticeable aspect in the design of the Galaxy S5 is that you can use the phone under the rain or it is even still ok if you use it under the one-meter-in-depth water within 30 minutes. Therefore, using this phone will be very convenient when you come to the water park or the pool in the summer or when you may unluckily encounter toilet accidents. Whenever you do not install the back cover in the right way, there will be a warning system to inform you about this. Samsung also integrates a fingerprint sensor into the S5’s back. Currently, because there is no standard microUSB port with the Galaxy 5, the number of connection options is limited when you are in a hurry. It may cause some inconvenience as well when you have to pop the port cover off and dock with it.

The phone performs well in the daytime, the images are very sharp and the video quality is nice. In regard of these features, the Galaxy 5 can be well compared to the greatest smartphones in the current market. There is one drawback with the Galaxy S phones: it’s about the performance under the inadequate lighting conditions and no exception for the Galaxy 5. You can activate the audio feature via a small opening in the 5’s back but this can’t be compared with the excellent pair of front-facing speakers of the HTC M8.

Is the “back to basics” an effective approach of the Galaxy S5? As I discussed above, this approach was never a problem for the main products of the Galaxy line. Actually, this is what Samsung has done pretty well. However, beside the great screen displays, you won’t find any “wow factor” as it can be found with the M8. Finally, the Galaxy 5 has still remained one of the best phones in the market, not only as an Android phone, but considering the overall performance and design. Now, the topic about “whether the Galaxy 5 has been the top smartphone in the market” is more controversial than it had been before.

Final rating: 4/5 stars.

The iPad, Tablet and Smartphone hub shall bring you more reviews on phones, tablets, phablets and related accessories. Please check it out.

 

Oppo N3 Review

The bottom line

Score: 7/10

The N3 is one of the flagship models from Oppo. Its design follows the traditional style of this manufacturer. However, one of the very new features is the camera, which is located on the top of the phone and can be flipped for taking better selfies as well as panoramas compared to using the cameras of competitors.

Real enthusiasts will find it wonderful to have the best technical features with the N3, but something needs to be scarified for this – it’s the design simplicity.

Oppo N3 Review Buy

Oppo N3 Review Buy

The Oppo N3 can’t compete with the Galaxy Note 4 in cases that someone has a lot of money to buy a phone, but it is a strong competitor for some others, especially HTC Desire EYE, one of the smartphones which are very good at taking selfies. The N3 is not a revolutionary model from Oppo, but obviously, this model is worth the consideration for the early months of 2015.Bottom of Form

Pros

  • The camera is good
  • The interface has been customized a lot
  • There are many hardware extras
  • Fingerprint scanner is nice

Cons

  • The phone is large and chunky
  • Software is a bit glitchy

The price of the reviewed model is £449.00

Main specifications:

– IPS LCD screen measures 5.5 inches and has the 1080p resolution;

– The phone runs 2.3GHz Snapdragon 801 CPU; ColorOS 2.0 and the Android 4.4 operating system

– It’s manufactured by OPPO Digital

The Design of the Oppo N3

The N3 does not priotize the same things as many other competitive models from Samsung, LG or Sony. Both the look and feel are kind of large, heavy and quite thick.

Recently, it’s pretty common to see that the expensive smartphones have been designed to be more and more slender, even they have large screens – but the N3 does not follow this direction. This phone is pretty chunky due to the 9.9-mm thickness and 192g weight. It’s even chunkier than one of the similar model – the LG G3 with the thickness of 9.9mm and the weight of 149 gram.

The Oppo N3 is obviously different from other Android flagship models. Therefore, if a thin and light smartphone is what you’re looking for, perhaps the N3 is not of the options. Although the size of the N3 is pretty similar to the Galaxy Note 4, the latter is still much lighter and thinner.

We not only talk about the numbers in the specification list as it’s easy to find some inconvenience in holding and using this phone.

Although the rear is made of plastic, the phone feels very well-built. The outermost frame is bordered by a metal band. You’ll find the phone very strong thanks to the aluminium alloy exoskeleton in which the above band is just part of. This is also used in Oppo R5 and it tough and similarly strong as well.

However, there is a lack of the cohesion in the design. For instance, part of the camera area is made of fake leather and one raised plastic stiching – it seems to be that something has been imitated from Samsung. But you can’t find this anywhere else on this smartphone. Oppo may thoroughly consider this decision, but it is not all that good – we think so.

The feel is not great, too. The metal band gives the phone the well-built feel, but also due to this tough border, it is a little bit uncomfortable to hold the phone in hands. In addition, it has made the phone become larger and heavier than most other large Android competitors.

The specifications of the N3

Oppo has focused a lot on the list of the phone’s hardware features. Some of the features that were not included in the R5 have been given out in the N3: a 3.5mm headphone jack, a microSD memory card slot, and 4G that’s most supported for networks in the western countries.

If you are a real enthusiast, you will like to look at more features of the Oppo N3. In addition to the microSD slot, the N3 has a very large storage capability, up to 32GB. You can make use of this space as a second SIM slot. The supported Wi-Fi ac type brings the greater range and speed than the Wi-Fi n. This Wi-Fi n is just commonly found in top-end smartphones.

The NFC connectivity is also supported. But among the feature list of the N3, it lacks the IR blaster. The IR blaster can be found in some smartphones such as Samsung Galaxy S5 or LG G3, which enables you to use the phone to control the TV or other entertainment devices at home. What a pity that it’s not included in the Oppo N3.

The fingerprint scanner, as found with Huawei Ascend Mate 7, is located in the back panel and it performs very well. You won’t have to worry that this screen is continually on alert because it’s located on top of a visible clicky button which’s used for waking up the phone.

The maximum number of fingerprints that can be added is five, and the index finger performs the best. There is no doubt that this is one of the best fingerprint scanners found in a smartphone. It’s even more convenient than that fingerprint scanner of the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Unluckily, you cannot use the rear button as a key for waking up the phone. This is embarrassing because it’s not convenient to use the specialized power by your thumb unless the phone is held by your left hand.

The LED light is also a nice little feature, which will glow to notify the coming messages, emails and others. This LED is located under the curved rear part of the metal frame, not the top of the phone because that’s the position for the camera.

 

Posh Orion Pro X500 Review

The Bottom Line

The Orion Pro’s disappointing features completely overshadow its low price and dual-SIM setup.

The Orion Pro is pretty cheap smartphone and the nice thing is that it supports dual-SIM slots. However, the feature list is not good enough even for those who like to buy very cheap smartphones.

Pros

The price is very reasonable, only 140 $

The phone is unlocked

There is no need to sign a contract for buying the phone

Cons

The image quality is really good

The screen is of low resolution

The Android Jelly Bean system is outdated

Posh Mobile has shown us a fact about how great effort it takes to sell a good low-priced smartphone. Orion Pro is an example for this. Some of its strong points can be listed such as: it supports two SIMs, the screen measures 5 inches, the processor clocks at 1.3 GHz and the resolution is 5 MP. However, the performance is not really good. In addition, there is not any highlighted feature with the screen and the phone feels pretty inexpensive.

Posh Orion Pro X500 Review Buy

Posh Orion Pro X500 Review Buy

Currently, Posh Mobile is also a new player in the emerging smartphone market, aiming at Latin America and Americans who like to buy inexpensive devices. Beside the low prices, the products from this manufacturer also supports the compatibility all over the world. Regarding this aspect, it seems to be similar to VeryKool – also a manufacturer in the same rank.

The MSRP of the Orion Pro is $140, but it can be lower if you take time to search on Amazon or other online retailers. In comparison to other similar dual-SIM smartphones, its price is lower. But keep in mind that the overall performance is not good. Therefore, you should consider it thoroughly before buying it.

Design

With the dimensions of 5.66 x 2.87 x 0.40 inches (equivalent to 144 x 73 x 10.3 mm), this is pretty large and slightly clumsy. Especially in case that your hands are small, it’s not convenient to use this phone with just one hand. Meanwhile, as for other phablets, I can handle this phone more easily when using both of my hands. The weight of 6.4 ounces (equivalent to 181.43 grams) also contributes to the hardship in using the phone with just one hand.

The entire body of the Orion Pro is covered by polycarbonate plastic and the touch for finishing the back button feels nice. While fingerprints or dirty things are easily left on a lot of smartphones, luckily you won’t find these on the Orion Pro. The smartphone is available in four color options: blue, black, red and white. What I have reviewed is in the blue color, which is pretty nice looking and stylish.

Under the rear cover is the location of the dual-SIM compartments, microSD card compartment and the battery. However, it will require a big effort to take off this cover. You can see a tiny notch on the left corner of the phone bottom which can be pried up by a certain tool such a tiny screwdriver. To get a SIM card into the phone is also hard, which is true for both the dual SIMs. For other phones, it’s seldom hard like that.

The phone uses a IPS LED display, which measures 5 inches and its resolution is pretty low, only  980 x 540 pixels. This screen looks fuzzy. The most concerning thing with this screen is the limited sharpness of the text, so it’s not easy to read it in the average size. Therefore, you may need to set the large size for the reading convenience.

In addition to problems on the display screen, the colors don’t look realistic as well. Moreover, the response of the screen is not fast and it takes a lot of time to carry out my taps.

The three items including the capacitive menu, home as well as back buttons are located underneath the display. The Orion Pro differs from other Android smartphone in one aspect: you can only have recent applications displayed by tapping and holding the home, not the menu button.

Software features

Orion Pro is not a smartphone with the most updated Android features. It’s operated by the Jelly Bean 4.2.2 system, which is pretty outdated, compared to the newest 5.0 Lollipop Android system. Although the Android 4.4 KitKat is now available for lower-end smartphones, old versions of the operating system has been commonly found with a lot of devices. This is embarrassing.

There are not many additional features with this phone as well despite the inclusion of a customizable design. To adjust colors for the menus, you just need to pick one among six available themes, known as “Styles”. However, icons for these themes are pretty outdated. And the overall phone looks typical in the style of Android smartphones. The app drawer can be horizontally scrolled. The display lock is simple and there is swipe-down shade for informing notifications.

Common apps are found with the Orion Pro, including Gmail, Map and Calendar. In addition, you can control all of your files with the file manager feature, surfing webs through the Opera Mini browser. The sound recorder is also supported. Besides, the Posh Mobile includes the Posh Apps, through which you can get free apps from this manufacturer, but the options are limited. Don’t worry about this app, as you can find many similar features with greater experiences from the Google Play Store.

One nice point with the Orion Pro is the inclusion of the audio profiles features, which enables you to adjust the sound and volume properly for certain environments, for example, the night time or a conference. Moreover, you can easily set the specific time for this phone to power off or turn on. This feature is not commonly found in many Android phones.

Camera and video

The camera of the Orion Pro is not really good and its 5MP resolution of the main camera is disappointing. The photos easily get blurred, soft, or washed out although I tried hard to get the focus.