Moto X Play Review

Let’s take a look at our deep review for the Motorola’s Moto X Play – a newly launched device with a budget-friendly price tag.

Recently, what we’ve seen Motorola in the market is a manufacture produces quality-built devices at a very attractive price. They often launch products with customizable design, good performance and offer them at affordable cost. And the Moto X Play is one of these handsets.

This device is featured with a full HD screen display, a 21 MP rear cam, powerful processor and bloatware-free Android Lollipop OS. The body of this device is splash-proof, which shall well protect all internal parts from harsh effects outside. Moreover, users can also customize the phone’s look to get their own personal handset.

And the most attractive thing about this Moto X Play surely is its budget-friendly price tag. Users in UK can get this phone directly from Motorola at £280 (around $435) for 16 GB version. The Moto X Play has been launched since August this year, in 55 countries. However, US is not among of these countries, instead, the Motorola focuses on pushing the Moto X Pure Edition – known as the Moto X Style for global edition – for the US market.

In Australian market, the Moto X Play just works exclusively on Vodafone network and its only comes in black color. With a contract on, users have to pay AUD 5 monthly over 2 years on a AUD 40 plan. Motoral is also considering offering the product on retail store later at a cost of AUD 569, however, this consideration has not yet been confirmed.

In the new products’ lineup of Motorola, the place of Moto X Play is in the middle as the Moto G is at the bottom and the top is for the Moto X Pure/ Style.

 

Motorola Moto X Play Review Buy

Motorola Moto X Play Review Buy

Design

The Moto X Play has a dimension of 148 x 75 x 10 mm, 169 g at weight. The device comes with water-resistant body and customizable design.

The Moto X Play looks like a rougher version of its higher-end sibling – the Moto X Style. While the materials for the Style’s panel are leather or wood, the back skin of the Play is rubberised plastic. Plusing the water-resistant feature, it seems like this device is built for a tougher and more playful life than just inside a pocket life, which suits the name “Play”.

The tougher look doesn’t mean the device is not good looking. The Play review model I have in my hands is black and grey – which are just plain colors and thus, bring the professional look for the devices rather than fun. But in fact, the Moto X Play is greatly customizable, what users need to do is to use the Motorola’s online tool named Moto Maker. Via this tool, users can customize their own phones with 14 diffent colors provided for back cover and 7 color options for metal accents, laser engraving for the back is also available for free.

Although the X Play is not fully submersible under water, it’s still water-resistant and this feature is totally welcomed in Moto X series. By this feature, the device is protected from spilled drinks, accidental fall in water or rain showers. My review model has been knocked by water several times but currently it still perform perfectly. Thus, at the end of the day, the phone brings their users peace of mind.

With 148mm in length and 75mm in width, the device is not considered compact but it’s still not so massive or uncomfortable to hold on hands. In fact, this handset can neatly sit in your jean pocket and shall not drag down your jeans with just 169 gr in weight.

Volume buttons, power buttons, headphone jack and micro-USB port are arranged around the phone’s edges while slots for microSD card and SIM card are located underneath the cover on the back. Heart rate monitor or fingerprint scanner are not what you can find on the Moto X Play. If you want those features, pay some more money and go for the Galaxy S6.

There are 2 options for internal storage of the Moto X Play: 16 GB and 32 GB. If you often download big and intensive applications, the 16 GB internal memory shall be quickly filled up, and external storage is what you have to rely on to store your data.

 

Motorola Moto X Play Back Review Buy

Motorola Moto X Play Back Review Buy

Display

The screen display being equipped in the Moto X Play is at 5.5-inch-size with full HD resolution at 1920 x 1080 pixel and 400 ppi pixel density. Although these numbers cannot be compared to those in the LG G4  or the  Galaxy S6, it’s still good enough to have crispy looking text/ icons or high-resolution photos. The display is not 4K resolution but with such a price, the full-HD resolution is totally good enough for the expectation. The Moto X Style – which has 5.7-inch-size display shall be suitable for users looking for some extra pixels.

Back to the X Play’s display, it’s bright and comfortable to read outdoor. Colors are vivid and true to life.

 

Software and processor

The operating system being shipped with the Moto X Play is Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, users shall have pure Android experience with the device as Motorola does not apply their Moto skin over the original Android skin. Thus, what users have is Vanilla Android, which is very simple to use and navigate around.

The processor is a 1.7GHz octa-core one, which helps the phone easily and quickly handle every daily essential tasks. With the help from the relatively strong processor, camera, applications load quickly, videos streams well and games (such as Angry Birds 2 or the more intensive Grand Theft Auto) work smoothly without any issue.

Certainly, the performance of the Moto X Play is no slouch. The phone got 2143 score on Geekbench test, which is more than the Moto G (1600 score). However, it’s far more lower than the top-end devices such as the Galaxy S6 (4608). In 3Dmark Ice Storm Unlimited test for graphics, the X Play still got higher score than the Moto G: 8070 compares to 4473 but still lower than its higher-end sibling – the Moto X Style which gots 19725 scores.

There are some tweaks being thrown in the Moto X Play such as: Migrate – a useful tool to transfer data from your previous phone to your current Motorola one; Moto Voice – a voice control tool which shall help you wake up the phone (by saying a predetermined phrase), open apps, search or send message without touching the handsets. The Moto Voice can be found in previous Moto X models and like the predecessor, this feature works smoothly as it can easily recognize users’ commands.

 

Camera

As mentioned before, the rear camera of the Moto X Play is the 21 MP one, this pixel index is huge in comparision with what you can find in the similar-priced products. This is also a great step up from previous Moto X models as it’s normally 13 MP cam. And it’s not just the number itself as the Play’s camera can actually take great quality photos.

The front-cam is a 5 MP – which is popularly seen in other Moto X models. Similarly, this cam is also capable of shooting great shots.

The original camera application is basic and simple, settings are hiden in a wheel, which requires users to swipe in to view on the screen. Switching from photo taking mode to videos capturing mode is also very easy and quick, thus, users shall not miss any moment they want to capture. There are some nice features you can find such as: HDR mode, burst mode, slow-motion mode or panorama mode.

 

Battery

The Moto X Play is powered with a 3630 mAh battery, which is non-removable. Motorola did claim that the device can last for around 2 days with this generous battery. However, for me, it’s just a boast.

As my real using experience, the phone just can last more than half a day if it was used harshly for entertainment such as video streaming, music playing or gaming at maximum brightness. After all these intense using, in the evening, there will be no juice left. But if you are just a normal user with normal and basic daily tasks, the phone will easily last for whole day.

One trick for extension of battery life is to lower the brightness level and turn off wireless connection as well as GPS if not necessary. Similar to other smart devices, an overnight full charge is recommended as always, especially when the battery of the Moto X Play is embbed then it will be impossible to swap our for another fully-powered battery as a replacement.

 

Conclusion

There are many factors which make the Motorola’s Moto X Play a great choice for many users: the vivid and solid display, the great quality camera, the powerful processor, the water-resistant feature and the attractive customizable designs. With such things, the Moto X Play is not only a nice choice among its price range, it’s also a brilliant choice among all. Everything you are expecting for a high-end smartphones is here, plus your own signature look that you can create for your own personal handset.

If you are willing to pay extra cash for some more luxurious thing, the Moto X Style is there for you with leather or wooden material back cover. But if you are the one who do not want to spend such much cash for just these luxurious materials, and you are always looking for an budget-friendly phone with high performance, surely you should look for a Moto X Play for the best value.

There are not many (or we can even say very little) phones that can offer such great value to customers as the X Play does. We may think about the HTC One M8s with similar full HD screen display, similar power and similar slick metal cover; however, this device offers far higher cost (around USD 545 for SIM-free) and it even has not been available for sale in Australian and US markets. Another choice we may think about is the Huawei Honor 6, which also has nice screen, well-performed camera and similar price; however, the harshly customized software being shipped in this phone shall bother many customers.

In short, at the price range being offered, the Moto X Play is undoubtedly a worth-considering, or even, a must go-to for whom that looking for a new handset.

Oppo R7 Review

The newly launched Oppo R7 has caught quite a lot of attention from tech-users. Let’s take a deep look at this handsets with our review below.

Pros: luxurious package with slim metal design.

Cons: battery life is not as good as expected.

Bottom life: great and appealing looking phone with 4G technology at mid-range price.

 

Following the success of the Oppo R5, Oppo R7 has been launched with the similar slim and beautiful metal design as its predecessor. Of course, there should be some differences, the R7 is a little bit thicker and larger with more polished look. While there were some issues about the performance in the R5, the R7 performs smoothly without any lag, especially the rapidly start camera app  – the biggest matter in Oppo R5.

The Oppo R7 is available for USD 400 on Chinese online retail store. For Australian market, the price is around AUD 449 online or via Dick Smith exclusive. This price tag is considered pretty high for device that has mid-range specifications like this phone.

 

Design and build

The AMOLED screen display featured on the Oppo R7 is in 5-inch size and has HD resolution at 1920 x 1080 pixel. The phone has dimension of 5.6 inches x 2.8 inches x 0.2 inch and weight at 5.2 ounces. There are 2 colors available: gold and silver.

We can say appealling design is the focus of the Oppo R7, and in fact, Oppo did take effort to make their R7 distinct from the new Galaxy range of Samsung. By this, the metal trim running around the edges make the difference. This band is just wide enough for micro-USB ports and audio jack. In contrast, such difference shall make the phone edges not smooth and thus, shall not bring the comfortable feeling for users when holding the phone in hands. Obviously, your palm shall not be pleasant as the metal edge keep digging into.

The Oppo R7’s back cover is the main thing that brings the luxious look and feel to the phone as is made from metal material – aluminum-magnesium alloy. The 13 MP rear cam is placed on the top left of the phone.

Similar to other siblings, the Oppo R7 is also featured with menu keys that is physical touch-sensitive. The volume rockers are located on the right side while the power button is place on the opposite. As the frame is just 6.3mm thick, users may worry that these buttons are too tiny, but don’t need to worry about that, they are enough for their functions. For me personally, the keys’ clickiness in this phone is quite my favorite, however, the arrangement of power button bothers me a bit as I’ll sometimes hit this button when taking landscape photos or picking up the device.

The slots for dual-SIM 4G are placed right above volume rockers. The slot for microSD SIM also can host the microSD card which can support up to 128 GB external memory.

 

Oppo R7 Review Buy

Oppo R7 Review Buy

Hardware

As mentioned before, the specs of Oppo R7 are just in middle range, thus, it’s not surprise as they cannot be as impressive as those of the high-end devices. The Oppo R7 is powered with a Snapdragon 615 1.5GHz octa-core processor of Qualcomm. As my experience with many similar phones, this processor helps the phone perform smoothly without issues. Intensive games or highly demand apps can be run fine.

The Oppo R7 offers 16 GB internal storage and users can expand their space for up to 128 GB external memorty. RAM is 3GB and the cameras being equipped are 13 MP and 8 MP – rear and front-facing cams respectively. Battery life is a little disappointment for me as it’s non-removable and is just powered at 2320 mAh. But one good thing is fast-charging technology is supported and it is claimed to reach 75% battery life (from totally drained 0%) in just 30 mins. Actual experiment’s result comes out quite close as the phone hit 72% after the same period of time.

There are 3 versions available for 4G network support: international version for LTE networks (like Three or EE), the exclusive Optus version in Australia (however the Oppo website’s unlocked version can work on other carrier like Telstra) and the US version that can works on AT&T and T-Mobile networks.

 

Software and apps

The operating system being shipped with the phone is the Android Lollipop 5.1.1 for Australian version, while the international ones runs the Android KitKat – the older OS version. But whichever OS version the phone runs, the Android-based Color OS of Oppo still overlay the original one and thus, not much Android stock can be seen on the R7.

The launcher of Oppo is customized with some interesting Oppo’s signature features. Among those is gesture control. This feature shall allow users to quickly access phone application. For instance, by drawing O letter, camera shall be activated, music can be turned on by swiping downwards 2 fingers on the off screen. On an on screen, camera can be activated by multiple fingers pinching close and screenshot can be taken by sliding up and down 3 fingers.

The themes on Oppo R7 can also be customized as users can choose various visual effects when switching, opening or closing apps. Users can also be provided with backup service – the O-Cloud sync to backup their data like contacts, messages. However, this backup feature is only compatible with Oppo devices.

For users who want to manage their apps groups by groups, they will be somehow disappointed as there will be no availability of app drawer. All applications shall be put right on the homescreen of the Oppo phones with Color OS, similar to iPhones with iOS. Another similar things with iOS is the arrangement of control buttons (such as changing data/ Wifi settings, changing phone modes…): they are located on pull-down menu.

For many smartphones with large screen, icons may look awkward when appearing too large as user interface is not fully optimized for large display. However, this is not the issue in the screen display of Oppo R7 as the icons appear just fit enough with the screen.

 

Camera and video

As mentioned above, the R7 is equipped with auto-focus 13 MP rear cam and 8 MP front-cam with the support of LED flash. The rear cam can record video up to full-HD quality with 30 fps.

Layout of camera app on the R7 is quite simple: big shutter button on the bottom. Users can also add filter to their shots just by tapping the top-left button while the phone is hold in landscape position. The button on the top-left corner let users access to various features and filters such as: panorama modes, HDR modes or Ultra HD feature (which allows you to create a super-fine resolution photos by merging many shots into one).

One more interesting feature is the GIF animation creator, which allows user to capture movable images without sound, motions of the captured GIF can also be reversed for more fun.

If you feel not enough with the default modes, you can go to Oppo’s camera shop to download more modules for more choices of photo editing. For example, the Expert mode shall let you adjust the shutter, the focus of the shoot and ISO, exposure index of the photos.

Similar to other siblings which have powerful and well-performed camera features, the Oppo R7 gets things handled pretty well. Photos taken are vibrant, colors are vivid and true to life, captured objects appear with fine details. In low-light conditions, the shots are not super fine but it’s totally understandable as optical stabilization is not supported.

The front-facing camera also works quite well, however, the focus only works well for center faces. Thus, when taking selfies, anyone who is off-center shall look a bit blurry.

 

Performance

For normal and basic daily tasks, the R7 totally can handle them well without any issue. The 3GB RAM offers you enough oomph for performing multi tasks at a time. When switching between apps, you shall not have to reload them – which often happens in device with less RAM. The R7 is also responsive and work smoothly without lag – the issue I’ve met on the Oppo R5.

In comparision with other phones with similar Snapdragon 615 processor (such as the Alcatel One Touch Idol3, the Xiaomi Mi 4i), the R7 get similar results on the test.

 

Battery life

When it comes to power lasting competition, the R7 falls behind with its 2320 mAH battery. Surely what you have to carry around is the charger as it cannot last until the end of the day (especially for heavy users). But what’s make you less worry is the quick charger, which shall boost the battery power up to 75% just in half an hour.

As the result of our video test, the R7 lasts for 9 hours 5 minutes, which is not a very good result. Meanwhile, the Xiaomi Mi 4i can last up to 13 hours in the same test (however, this one has 3000 mAh battery).

Oppo R7 Charger Review Buy

Oppo R7 Charger Review Buy

 

Call quality and data speed

The quality of the call is good as I encountered no issue making calls. Voice from both 2 sides is loud and clear, no distortion or buzzing is detected. However, voice from speakers seems quite loud for the size of the device, and it’s also hard to hear in crowded place.

As in 4G network of SingTel, the phone reached 99.44 Mbps and 35.89 Mbps in download and upload speed respectively. Of course, this result shall vary depending on network quality, time and region.

 

Conclusion

The Oppo R7 is a complete package of a beautiful design and mid-range spec with reasonable price. It also comes a little bit cheaper than the Huawei Ascend P7 – the similar handset. Overall, this is undoubtedly a good choice to consider for users who are looking for a phone with 4G support.

HTC Desire 626 Review

The newly launched HTC Desire 626 has received great attention from users. Let’s take a look at our deep review about this good looking smartphone.

Pros: attractive and appealling outlook, budget-friendly price, good call quality.

Cons: inconsistency in quality of photos and videos, cumbersome performance, inresponsive automatic brightness.

Bottom line: at its price range, this HTC Desire 626 can be considered the most attractive looking device you can find. However, if you are looking for a faster and stronger performance handset, consider another choice.

The latest launched low-budget device of HTC – the HTC Desire 626 seems like an entry-level smartphone rather than a mid-range one. This 5-inch device is just equipped with a 8 MP rear cam and a decent processor. The attractiveness of this phone among budget-friendly & decent performing Android handsets is the appealling design which comes in 6 different colors (including the color choices of the Desire 626S).

The strategy of HTC to distribute globally the Desire 626 as a value purchase is a good one. It can be obviously seen that HTC is using the entry and middle level handsets to boost their sales and profit, especially the budget users.

 

Price and availabilty

As this one is globally distributed, users have to check with the network provider or retail stores for the detailed price. Generally, the price is around USD 200 in the US market – no contract bond. There are many carriers provide the HTC Desire 626 in the US such as: Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile… with offered payment varies from USD 0 – USD 8 monthly for 24 months or USD 6 monthly for 30 months.

 

Design and build

The screen display of the Desire 626 is in 5-inch size with HD resolution at 1280 x 720, pixel density at 294 ppi. The phone has dimension at 5.8 inches x 2.8 inches x 0.32 inch and weighs 5 ounces.

Users can firmly believe in HTC when it comes to the device’s design, whatever the price is. Even the Desire 626 may not look the most eye-catching, there’s still intangible value that makes the device a cohesive, seamless and appealing handset. This feeling is similar to the case of Motorola Moto G .

Colors play an important role in the attractive look of the phone as there are 6 color choices available (for example: black & red, blue on blue…). The review model in my hands is in white, black and blue color combo. However, in Australian market, there is just 1 color option offered: blue on blue model.

Another good thing is the unibody design as there are just few gaps in it. As the back is curved around, it may feel like the front is a little bigger than the phone’s back.

The phone arrangement is as follow: volume rocker on the right and it’s above the power/ lock button, slots for microSIM card and micro-SD card are on left, the bottom edge hosts the port for micro-USB, the headphone jack is on the top, on the phone’s front located the speaker grilles above and below the screen and lastly the back is the house for the 8MP cam with LED flash. Impressively, the micro-SD card can be up to 2TB.

 

HTC Desire 626 Review Buy

HTC Desire 626 Review Buy

Software and apps

The Android 5.1 Lollipop is the operating system being shipped with the Desire 626. As the Android 6.0 Marshmallow is coming very soon, the device can be updated but it shall take some time.

Similar to other HTC siblings, HTC’s Sense comes with the phone and in the Desire 626, it’s the HTC Sense 7.0. There are several specialized applications, especially in camera segment: the familiar Zoe Highlights, the HTC Print Studio (which allows users to creat photo books, e-cards…) and another app that helps users applying different visual themes.

 

Camera quality

As mentioned before, cameras being featured with the Desire 626 are 13 MP and 5 MP – rear and front cams respectively. The rear cam can capture video up to 720 HD quality.

Camera app in this device is quite easy to use. Users can control flash or swicth between different shooting modes just right on the phone screen. For instance, switching to Selfie mode or Panorama mode just requires a press on the button and to reveal more camera settings (such as macro mode or selfie-beauty mode), users just need to press the ellipses button on the screen.

The Zoe – which is familiar on every HTC phones – helps users creat highlight videos about their captured clips and photos.

As usual, image quality is better when taken outdoor under full sunlight rather than indoor with low lighting condition as photos are brighter with finer details. Thus, users shall satisfy with their landscape or out door shoots.

As expected, the indoor pictures cannot be as crisp as in higher-end cameras. Photos taken with low-light conditions or night shots are flat, invivid, somehow blurry with noises.

In contrast, the 5 MP front-cam works pretty well as pictures come out with true to life colors and in focus (of course, under abundant lighting). However, beauty mode for selfies shall require ducking into settings if you want to beautify your selfies.

When it come to video capturing, issue appears as I did notice noise and stuttering situation. Even under abundant lighting, motions are sometimes blur especially when capturing jumping jack objects.

For many users, they often forgive such cons in cameras of budget-friendly devices. But for me, I can see many low-budget phones with well performing cameras, and thus, this issue is quite hard to defend.

 

Performance and battery:

The processor being equipped in the Desire 626 is the Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 201 at 1.1 GHz clock speed. This is quite not an advantage as there many middle or even entry-level devices out there that are using the faster 2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor.

One easily seen noticeable slowdown is the game streaming: when playing Riptide GP2 – my baseline game in comparing phones’ performance, the Desire 626 is more stuterring and less responsive. Another factor can be mentioned here is longer bootup: it takes around 50 seconds while in other similar phones, this action just takes around 30 seconds.

However on the other side, it just takes a little time for shot-to-shot: around 2 seconds between each shot including time for auto-focus.

 

Battery life

The Desire 626 is shipped with a 2000mAh battery. As our test of video streaming, this device last for just around 7.5 hours, which is not a good result (even we can say the result falls on the bottom) as the second shortest lasting phone – the Huawei P8 Lite – can last for up to 8 hours 3 mins. This might be the reason for the dim screen as this is the way to reserve juice for battery.

Generally, this device can hardly last for a whole day, even with normal users.

 

Call quality and data speed

As the Desire 626 is distributed globally, the phone can work well both on CDMA and GSM network with different network version available, LTE is also supported. As I’ve tested in AT&T network in San Francisco, data speeds are within the average range as I usually get.

However, as this device just got mid-range specs, Wifi network is just supported at 2.4GHz speed, not the fastest 5 GHz as in other higher-end devices. Actually, this one doesn’t matter to me, just a note for you to be aware of.

Regarding the call quality, as mentioned earlier, the Desire 626 brings great quality when making calls, both through speakerphone and earpiece. Voices from both sides are loud, clear and impressively rich. It just feels like my calling partner is just nearby next to me eventhough he’s in New York – 3000 miles away. In relatively quite space such as in a office or in car, calls can be easily and comfortably made through speakerphone.

 

Conclusion

What I love in this HTC Desire 626 are its appealling design, the buget-friendly price, the excellent call quality it brings. However, what bothers me more is the phone’s poor performance in comparision with other devices in the same category. Some issues can be listed here are: the dim screen as if the phone is running out of battery shortly so that users have to stick their face to the display, the lagginess streaming and the short battery life.

Overall, the price tag and attractive look cannot help the Desire 626 stand out of the crowd. If you are willing to pay for just  a little extra cost for pricier phone, the extra value you get shall surely be much more than what you can get from the Desire 626. Some outstanding examples are the 16GB Motorola Moto G with stronger processor, better camera with customizable design or the Alcatel One Touch Idol 3 with much better 13 MP cam and far more fancier specifications.

In short, if HTC want to become a strong competitor in this mid-range & lower range segment, they shall have to work more to cut down the price of Desire 626 or to improve this device’ performance.

Motorola Moto X Pure Review

Let’s take a look at our deep review for the Moto X Pure of Motorola.

Pros: customizable design, expandable storage, quick charging and loud speakers.

Cons: weirdly massive size, average battery, not really attractive price.

Bottom life: if you are looking for a massive-sized phone and want to express yourself through the device’s outlook, the Motorola’s Moto X Pure is the choice for you.

Honestly, the Moto X Pure Edition – which is globally known as the Style Edition is in my favorite list as this one has an affordable price. And one more important reason is that this device is unlocked and can be able to work on all popular US networks such as: Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile or AT&T. Similarly, the international Edition – the Moto X Style can also work on all networks wherenver region it’s sold.

Moreover, following the Motorola Moto X in 2014, the 5.7-inch-size Moto X Pure also offers customizable designs. By offering this service, users can have several alternatives for their own phones such as: trim colors, back cover material, which shall make the device very personal and unique. This is surely a competitive advantage of the Moto X Pure Edition among the ocean of similar looking smartphones.

Motorola Moto X Pure Back Review Buy

Motorola Moto X Pure Back Review Buy

However, what bothers me is the massive size of the handset, which makes me feel cumbersome most of the time as my hands are comparatively small. Another so-so features can be listed here are: battery life, camera quality.

Generally, besides the customizable designs, Motorola does not introduce anything new in the Moto X Pure. Especially, when place next to the large-screend handsets like the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, the OnePlus 2 and ZTE Axon Pro, the Moto X Pure does not really stand out at all.

 

Availability

In US market, the price of the Moto X Pure starts from $400. Price shall varies depending on designs and internal memory capacity.

In UK market, the price shall be £399 and £434 for 32 GB and 64 GB versions respectively.

For Australian market, the Moto X Pure shall only availbale in Vodafone network with a contract. Thus, there shall be AUD80 and AUD 100 plans for users with AUD 3 repayment monthly.

 

Design and build

The Moto X Pure comes with a huge screen: 5.7 inch in size with 2K resolution (2560 x 1440). Correspondingly, the dimension is pretty massive as it is a phablet, which is at: 6.1 inches x 3 inches x 0.4 inch at 6.3 ounces in weight.

In comparision with the Moto X in 2014, the Moto X Pure’s display 0.5 inch larger. though it’s still not as large as the Google Nexus 6. But at the end of the day, the overall size of the Moto X Pure can be considered massive and it shall not easily fit users’ pockets and be controlled by 1 hand (even with big hands users).

Not talking about the massive size, the Moto X Pure is quite an attractive and well-built device. The curvy back and the smoothly curved glass panel of the screen shall conform users’ palms. The metal M logo of Motorola is now smaller and placed in the elegant metal strip on the back.

However, please be aware that the Moto X Pure is just water repellent – which just can stand few water drops on the surface, unlike the Moto G (the cheaper device also released this year) – which is submersible underwater.

One more good thing is that users shall have better experience with music and movies audio with the dual front speakers being featured in this device as they both output the music and movies audio (phone call audio shall be ouput on speaker only through bottom grille).

As mentioned above, the most interesting thing on the Moto X Pure is its customizable look. Users are offered with many options in base color (black/ white), accent colors, back cover’s color and also back cover’s materials (such as bamboo, leather, wood or plastic).

For some users, such offer may trivial to them. But for me personally, having my own customized looking handset (without the phone case) make it truly mine among the ocean of similar-looking smartphones.

Talking about the big display, in maximum brightness setting, it’ll be easily and comfortable to view under direct sunlight outdoor. While the minimum brightness setting is very useful for you in the dark to usefully avoid eye-strain.

The viewing angle of the screen is also wide and the touching-responsiveness is also very good. The screen offers me comfortable experience as games, text, YouTube videos and HD movies are all displayed crisp and smooth. There are also 2 color modes for users to choose between under Display setting: vibrant and normal. Colors shall be vivid and bright under normal color mode, while colors shall be richer and more saturated under vibrant mode.

 

Motorola Moto X Pure Review Buy

Motorola Moto X Pure Review Buy

Software and features

The operating system being shipped with the Moto X Pure is the Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. The device is also enriched with the Minimal Motorola software with various useful gesture controls. Comparing to the Nexus line and the Moto X Play Edition, the Moto X Pure is not the “purest” Android handset, unlie its name. However, it really close to the untouched Android experience so you do not need to be disappointed.

Firstly, as this device is unlocked and not sticked to any exclusive carrier, there will be no carrier bloatware available on the device. What users will get is the usual Google apps set such as: YouTube, Gmail or Google Chrome…

Secondly, you are still provided with many useful features via Moto apps without the overlaid user interface from the manufacture (like the TouchWiz in Samsung devices or the Sense in HTC devices). These useful features (Moto Assist, Voice, Display and Actions) can be accessed via just one single Moto application. For example, when you have a scheduled meeting noted in Google Calendare, the Moto Assist can adjust your setting and switch the device into vibration mode and all missed calls will be replied with a pre-composed message. Some more helpful gesture controls can be listed here are: launching camera by twisting the wrist while holding the phone or turning on/ off the flashlight by chopping hand in the air.

The Motorola Voice – the voice input feature which is similar to Google Now, works pretty well with both 3rd party and built-in applications. With this Voice, users can navigate with Maps, set alarm, post updates on Twitter/ Facebook or search for a title with one song is playing…

Lastly mentioning are the Moto Connect and Migrate. With Moto Migrate, users can input all apps, files and contacts from their previous devices into the Moto X Pure while with the Moto Connect, users can easily manage other Motorola’s gadgets they have (such as the wireless headphones or the Moto 360 smartwatch).

However, there are still some factors that bother me. For instance, in order to update Facebook status by Moto Voice, users need to update the latest version of Moto app. Moreover, while Moto Voice can help you dictate your posts on Facebook, it cannot do it on Twitter. With Twitter, the Moto Voice just can help you activate Twitter window to type your message you need to post. The chopping gesture (to turn on/off flashlight) also does not smoothly work.

Overall, as mentioned before, there’s not any substantial new software being offered in the Moto X Pure, there are just some small tweakes. Thus, frankly speaking, this new device offers you the same tricks as last year’s edition.

 

Camera and video

The rear camera on this device is the 21 MP one and the front cam is 5 MP. Video can be recorded up to 4K quality and 1080p quality with rear and front cam respectively.

There are not many editing features in the original camera app. However, HDR shooting mode, geo tagging, digital zoom, touch-focus module are all available in both cameras. Moreover, both rear and front cams have their own flash and night-shooting mode is also shipped in both cams. There are 2 aspect ratio for taken photos: the wide 16:9 or the squarish 4:3.

Slow-motion videos can be captured in both cameras with quality up to 720p. What more interesting is that photos can be captured during video recording. Audio is well picked up and there is no lag when the camera is moving.

Regarding the rear cam particularly, this camera can capture panoramic pictures, scan QR/ bar codes for a search via Google. As mentioned above, it can record ultra-HD video quality: 4K – which is at 3840 x 2160 pixel.

Picture quality is pretty good with decent look. Under outdoor light or good-condition indoor light, the photo colors are true to life and objects are crisp with well-defined details. However, when trying a close-up shot, the result does not satisfy me as the focus jus lock on and a clear photo was snapped. Under low-light conditions, digital noise and graininess are noticeable even exposure is somewhat improved.

As the front cam is wide-angle, there will be more space and content captured into the picture frame. In contrast, the picture corners shall be elongated.

Generally, the camera just does not greatly impress me as it just get things done well for everday shots, which are just good enough for online posting or printing out in small size.

 

Performance

The Moto X Pure is featured with 1.8 Ghz 6-core Snapdragon 808 of Qualcomm, which is lower in clock speed comparing to the predecessor (2.5 Ghz). However, the Snapdragon 808 still performs smoothly and swiftly. RAM is now 3GB and 3 options of internal storage are available: 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB, with expandable storage up to 128 GB by MicroSD card (this is not available in 2 previous versions).

As my real experience, I have encountered no lagg or sturring problems while opering daily tasks. Intensive games are also smoothly and quickly rendered with solid gaming experience.

Regarding the network that the device can work on, it’s wonderful that the Moto X Pure can works well both on GSM and CDMA technology.

As for call quality, it’s great with appropriate volume range, voice from both sides are loud and clear without any distortion or buzzing.

The battery in this device is non-removable which is powered at 3000mAh. You may expect this can help the device last long. But the result may not as good as you expect. Due to the result of our test, the device just can last for nearly 9 hours of continuous video streaming, while the predecessor – the Moto X with small screen and 2,300 mAh batter could last for more than 10 hours.

But good news for the Moto X Pure battery is the Turbo Power charger, which helps users quickly juice up the battery (around 1.25 hours to charge the phone from 0% to 100%).

 

Conclusion

There are pretty many good things being offered by the Moto X Pure such as: pure Android experience, attractive price, large expandable storage, customizable design and the capacity to work in all network technologies. Therefore, this device shall be a worth-considering choice for many users.

However, if money is not your issue, there will be many viable options for you in massive size handsets, which are more powerful, long-lasting and stylish.

OnePlus 2 Review

Let’s take a look at our detailed review for the OnePlus 2 – a newly launched smartphone with elite performance and very attractive price.

Pros: high-end performance, affordable price, nice design. Good quality rear cam.

Cons: wireless and fast charging is not available, unhelpful USB Type-C port. Software bugs that bother the phone users.

Bottom line: the phone packs the attractive design with strong performance at a very budget-friendly price. However, it’s not really easy to acquire as it only available via invite system of OnePlus.

The newly launched OnePlus 2 is now being surrounded by a lot of compliment as it’s the complete package of good camera, powerful processor, eye-catching design at a very attractive price tag. Thus, it’s no surprise that phone users are now paying great attention on this smartphone.

However, there are still some features not available on this product such as: wireless charging, fast charging and NFC, which are skipped to cut down the cost.

Overall, the design of the OnePlus 2 impressed me a lot as it has greatly improved in comparision with the predecessor OnePlus One. Since the out-look construction is more expensive, the OnePlus 2 costs more than the original OnePlus 1: USD 330 and USD 390 for 16GB and 64GB version respectively. Still, such price tags are way cheaper than most of the high-end handsets currently available on the market. (for example: the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 64 GB version shall have full  retail price at around USD 800)

But getting this product is not really easy as users shall need an invitation (which is available on social media such as Google +, Twitter and Facebook or OnePlus forum’s contest) to make a purchase as the OnePlus 2 is not distributed via retail stores or carriers. This is surely quite a burden for interested buyers.

 

Design and build

The phone comes with a dimension of 5.9 x 2.9 x 0.4 inches, 6.2 ounces in weight and a full-HD 5.5-inch screen display at 1920 x 1080 resolution with Corning Gorilla Glass 4. There are also 4 cover designs being offered. Thus, while the size of the screen display remains the same, the OnePlus 2 is a little bit smaller than the original OnePlus 1. The frame of OnePlus 2 is made of metal, which shall bring premium feeling to users instead of plastic rim. The rear covers also come in 5 different designs for users to choose. For me, I chosed the black sandstone version and the sandpaper feeling makes me worry-free about slipping. If you want smoother covers, options for you are: bamboo, black apricot, rosewood and Kevlar and they are all available at USD 27.

Back to the original OnePlus 1, the raised screen is among the key design elements. This element stays still in the OnePlus 2 and actually I think this element is better on the OnePlus 2 due to the metal frame. Such raised screen also brings a distintive flair to the OnePlus 2, which cannot be found on other phones.

The fingerprint sensor is located below the screen and this shall be used for waking up the devices. What makes it interesting is this sensor is not a button, it’s actually a shallow depression. By placing the finger over, the phone shall be turned on even when the screen is not on.

Unlike other handsets, the SIM card slot of the OnePlus 2 is neatly hiden behind rear cover instead of being placed along the phone’s edge. However, these slots are only for nano-SIM, which means users shall have to purchase a new nano SIM card or trim down the normal SIM card.

In order to reserve the left place for Alert Slider, the volume keys are now moved next to power button on the right. There are 3 settings for the slider: mute all notifications, receive only prior alerts or receive all notifications. Actually, this is truly a helpful way to manage the device’s usage, however, users still have to manually set the priority applications.

The reversible port of USB Type-C is on the bottom of the device, which is now very new among smartphones. Though, this is not a USB 3.0 port, it’s still the USB 2.0 one and thus, the transfer speeds cannot reach 5 gigabits/ sec and still stay the same as on other current devices.

Next to the USB Type-C port are the speakers, actuall they are just single speaker, not the dual one.

Of course, the main camera is located on the back of the phone, this is a 13 MP rear cam with laser-assist focus. The front-cam is a 5 MP one.

Unfortunately, there’s no slot for micro SD card, which means the memory is not expandable (it’s fine for 64 GB ver but not for 16 GB ver). Also, the battery is not removable.

OnePlus 2 Review Buy

OnePlus 2 Review Buy

Hardware

The processor being shipped with the OnePlus 2 is the Qualcomm’s octa-core Snapdragon 810 with 1.8GHz speed. As mentioned before, there are 2 options for internal memory: 16GB and 64GB. There are also 2 versions of RAM: 3GB (for 16GB memory model) and 4GB (for 64GB memory model). The battery is embedded and powered at 3,300mAh.

Someone may say that the 810 processor shall make the device overheat but OnePlus did claim that this situation shall not happen on their OnePlus 2 as the Oxygen OS is optimized to well handle the hardware.

In comparision with other top-end devices, there are 3 noticeable features that the OnePlus 2 lacks are: NFC, quick & wireless charging. Another less noticeable thing is the disappearance of microSD card but actually this shall be the trend as the recent Galaxy Note 5 also comes without it.

In the US, the OnePlus 2 shall work on 2 carrirer networks: T-Mobile and AT&T. Verizon and Sprint networks are not compatible for this device.

 

Operating System

The operating system being shipped with this OnePlus 2 is the latest Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. There is also a feature named Shelf available to help users quickly access their frequent apps, themes are customizable on the phone.

OxygenOS – an Android Lollipop 5.1-based custom skin – comes with the OnePlus 2 this year. Thus, users can get familiar with the OxygenOS very quickly if they are used to the Android. This is also not problem even for iOS users.

However, there’s one thing I hate is the big size of the app icons. In my opinion, the manufacturer should give users option to down-size the icons and the gaps between icons.

Since the Oxygen OS is still new, bugs are unavoidable (for instance: the palm detection). But they can be fixed by software update.

 

Camera and video

Talking more about the 13 MP rear cam, this one is shipped with optical image stabilization, added with laser-assit focus, dual-LED flash and featured with f/2.0 aperture. The camera sensor is also larger in order to take higher quality shots under low-light conditions. This rear cam can record video at 4K quality. As mentioned before, the front-cam is 5MP one.

There are several basic modes  to be listed here are: real-time filter, HDR and paranoma. Exposure can also be locked by holding finger on 1 spot. However, HDR is not auto though this feature is auto in other top-end devices such as iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6.

Generally, the camera quality has greatly improved in the OnePlus 2 and it does not disappoint the users. Colors are true to life with sharp and in-focus objects. In order to review the recently captured photos, users have to swipe to the left, though this gesture, in landscape mode, does not work well.

The quality of video recording is also very high: up to 4K with rear cam and up to full-HD with front cam. The camera also adjusts quickly when lighting conditions change, and so does the focus when the camera is moving.

Another thing that impressed me is the DOF effects, this works pretty good in the OnePlus 2 though it way far can compare to a DSLR. Clear Image mode is also quite helpful as it will combine multiple photos to make a final clearer-looking shot.

 

Performance

As the processor is really powerfull, it’s no surprise that the OnePlus 2’s performance is lag-free and very smooth. Quickly start camera, smooth game streaming even with intensive game like the Asphalt 8.

In comparision with other phones that also use Snapdragon 810 processor like the ZTE Axon Pro and HTC One M9, the OnePlus 2 performs noticebly well.

 

Battery life

The 3,300mAh unremovable battery shall make users expect the device to last quite long, especially when the power-draining 4K screen display is not available on the OnePlus 2.

In real experiment, the results of video streaming is not as good as we expect: the OnePlus 2 just lasted for 9 hours and 46 mis while the Galaxy Note 5 can last up to 15 hours. Luckily, in moderate use, this device can easily last for 1 full day.

 

Call quality and data speeds

The OnePlus 2 works both on GSM and LTE networks, 2.4 GHz & 5GHz Wifi dual-band is also featured on the device.

Regarding the call quality, it’s pretty satisfactory as there’s nearly no distortion or buzzing occur when making calls. Voice from both 2 sides are clear and loud. Audio speaker’s volume is also proper without any issue.

 

Conclusion

Overall, the OnePlus 2 is a smartphone aiming in high-end market that choose price advantage as a competitive feature. This device can bring you excellent performance that you can find in another handsets with almost twice the price.

If you want to find other simliar options, Xiaomi Mi Note and ZTE’s Axon Pro are also worth-considering.

In conclusion, if you don’t mind the “invitation only” purchasing method, the OnePlus 2 surely will satisfy you with its performance, its design and its price tag.

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.

 

 

 

BlackBerry Passport Review

Let’s talk about the comeback of a “once upon a time” hero – BlackBerry with the BlackBerry Passport.

Pros: powerful hardware, clever keyboard which brings great experience for editing and reading.

Cons: the awkward square shape, lack of several key apps which can be easily found on Play Store of Google.

Bottom Line: BlackBerry focuses on making a great physical keyboard for the product but forgets to make a comfortable-to-use device.

The BlackBerry Passport plainly is an efficient product, which is the symbolic feature of the BlackBerry: professional and business-focused. With a powerful hardware, some smart features and a great operating system BlackBerry OS 10.3, the device is surely a strong competitor in the elite smartphone range.

The BlackBerry Passport shall be on sale with the price of $599 for the US market, €649 for the France and Germany market, £529 for UK market and CND$699 for the Canada market. For Australia market, the Passport is brought to customers exclusively by Optus with the price of AU$899.

Design and Specs

The BlackBerry Passport is featuring with a distinctive square shape – which is nearly the same as the US passport. This shape shall immediately draw attention from everyone when you are holding the device. The phone is 3.5 inches wide, which is wider than many big-sizes smartphone such as the IPhone 6 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. However, both these 2 competitor devices offer larger screen displays than the one on BlackBerry Passport (BlackBerry Passport has 4.5-inch screen, iPhone 6 Plus has 5.5-inch screen and the Note 3 has 5.7-inch screen).

But be aware that the BlackBerry’s targeting customers are totally different from the market-niche of these 2 abovementioned products: the BlackBerry Passport is created mainly for nebulous “professional” consumer. If you still fall into a physical keyboard – which has been forgotten for so long nowadays, the BlackBerry Passport is definitely a go-to for you.

Previously, there were several devices attempting the full-QWERTY keyboard with the somewhat odd square shape such as Acer BeTouch E210 or the HTC ChaCha, but the effect was not strong. However, things are totally different with the BlackBerry Passport. The device looks really sharp with stainless-steel frame, which brings a premium feeling for customers when holding the phone. Also, the Passport can comfortably sit in the pocket.

The square screen display of the BlackBerry Passport is in 4.5-inch size with resolution at 1440 x 1440 pixel and 453 ppi pixel density. The screen is gorgeous, and with such width, it can display around 60 characters on each line. This is nearly close to the print industry standard, where 66 characters each line is considered optimal. Thus, the Passport brings great reading experience to the readers.

The display quality is good with crispy text, vivid and true-to-life colors. The screen can also be very viewable under both indoor and outdoor as it is a glossy IPS LCD. Of course, under direct sunlight, this level shall go down a bit.

The Keyboard

Physical keyboard is somewhat inseparable with the BlackBerry device. With the BlackBerry Passport, BlackBerry has brought things up to a higher level. The familiar 4-row keyboard (which was seen on the BlackBerry Bold/BlackBerry Q10) is now replaced by the new 3-row keyboard. This means a mix of virtual and physical keyboard, with context-sensitive row located on the display’s bottom edge.

The physical keyboard of the BlackBerry Passport has been “enriched” with some smart gestures and features. Firstly, this keyboard is touch-enabled, which works pretty well. Predictive text is also a useful feature for faster typing, though it requires some practice to get used to. When it comes to document editing, my experience is very satisfying. The magnifying glass shall immediately appear just by slightly double-tapping on the keyboard. Then, the keyboard can be used as a touchpad or a cursor. All functions are smoothly and precisely operated. However, please be noticed that you still need to use 2 hands to manage things with this Passport due to its abnormal width.

Software and features

The operating system being shipped with the BlackBerry Passport is the BlackBerry OS 10.3. This system is really strong and powerful, except the limited app selection. However, good news is that some Android apps can also run on this BlackBerry OS. Amazon Appstore is pre-installed on the phone, and users can download apps they need as what they often do with Android handset. Unfortunately, Google Play Store is not available and thus, users are blocked to an ocean of applications provided on this market. For me, it’s a true sadness as all my favorit Android games and apps cannot be found. Luckily, as mentioned before, as some Android apps can run on the Passport, if you have APK file of the app, problems are solved!

BlackBerry already offered their native mail and calendar applications for the Passport. The only Google service can be found on Amazon Appstore is the Google Talk. But it lacks many new features such as free SMS and free voice calls. Of course, BlackBerry’s BBM is available and it welcomes the join of users from Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

The square display may not optimize with some apps, and in this case, this will look quite odd (such as the Angry Birds).

BlackBerry Passport Review Buy

BlackBerry Passport Review Buy

The BlackBerry 10.3 OS

If you are happy enough for the BlackBerry’s ecosystem, the BlackBerry 10.3 OS surely shall not disappoint you. The handset does a great job on emailing and messaging, which has been the strong point of BlackBerry from the beginning.

Users can be able to rapidly respond to many frequently-used actions such as messaging, emailing or file managing by Instant Actions – the sidebar on the right of the hub. The Priority Hub, which is similar to priority inbox of Gmail, shall let you quickly access your important messages as you flag them.

Other useful gestures to mention are: swiping down with 1 finger from the screen top to access app setting, swiping down with 2 fingers from the screen top to access general phone settings and swiping up from the screen bottom to minimize an app or access multitasking screen.

BlackBerry Assistant

Similar to Siri for Apple iPhone, Google Now for Android phones and Cortana for Windows Phones, the BlackBerry Assistant is for BlackBerry phones. Users can call for their assistant by pressing on the voice assist button then start talking with it. With the help from this assistant, they can order the phone create calendar events, send text message/ emails or dictate notes. Users can even order their assistant to activate some hardware functions such as turning on flashlight. However, it requires quite a long time to handle the orders with the Assistant: around 10 seconds.

Performance

The hardware of the BlackBerry Passport is also a spotlight as it is equipped with a quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU processor and a 3GB RAM. This kind of CPU is the same as what you can find in the Samsung Galaxy S5. The processor helps the phone handle flawlessly even with graphics-intensive games.

Internal storage being offered on the Passport is 32GB and it can be expanded up to 128GB more by microSD cards.

As my test for call quality on AT&T network and in San Francisco, everything was great. My calling partner sounded clear and loud, and they feel the same about my end.

Premium phone trimmings such as NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, 802.11 b/g/n+ac Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi direct and Miracast  are all supported on the Passport.

A clever feature can be noted on the Passport is the microphone in earpiece of the phone – which measures sound pressure inside user’s ear to dynamically adjust volume, which shall very helpful in enhancing conversation experience.

The speakerphone of the BlackBerry passport is also very good. Though it’s a little light on bass, the conversations come through clear and loud. However, I would not recommend this one for music.

Regarding battery life, the device is powered with a 3,450mAh battery, which can last up to 12 hours of video streaming and 18 hours of talking time. According to the real results of or battery drain test, the Passport lasted impressively up to 26 hours and 41 mins of non-stop talking time.

Camera

Actually, I did not expect a good camera on the Passport. But I was pleasantly surprised with the camera here as the autofocus is not sluggish and the taken shots are fairly nice. The phone also will suggest some tricks to enhance the quality the captured products. For example, it will suggest the “Time Shift” mode to take continuous shots of faces so as to capture the right face when the cam detects one.

However, the annoying thing may be due to the shutter sound since we have no way to disable it.

Conclusion

I didn’t think that I will like the BlackBerry Passport this much as it is truly a fantastic phone for me. The sturdy outlook brings me the feeling of a proper professional and the clever keyboard helps me much on easy handling with text-heavy tasks. With this device, my response time to emails or texts is dramatically increased and this surprises many of my friends and colleagues. The BlackBerry’s ecosystem is not bothering me as I can access enough good apps here, no need for the further expansion from Google Play Store.

The only one thing that annoys me is the ridiculous width of the phone, which is not comfortable to hold or manage.

LG G Vista Review

Let’s take a look at our review for te supersized smartphone – the LG G Vista.

Pros: affordable price, massive screen display, interesting and useful customized software from LG.

Cons: the massive size may be troublesome for some users, internal storage is limited and the 720p resolution is not good enough for such massive size of the screen display.

Bottom line: the LG G Vista is a worth considering choice for people who are looking for a budget-friendly big-sized phablet.

Similar to the ZTE Boost Max and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – the LG G Vista, with its massive 5.7 inches screen, has joined the battle among massive phablets world.

Despite of the big size, the on-contract price is not big at all. Instead, the LG G Vista’s price tag is very affordable. For on-contract service, it only costs $50 on AT&T and on Verizon, it’s even free. Without contract agreement, the LG G Vista cost $400 and $355 on Verizon and AT&T respectively. Reason for such low price is the mid-range specification: the 720p resolution of the screen, the 8 MP cam and the 400 CPU Snapdragon. The device is like the scaled-up size but scaled-down specs of the LG G3.

As the pictures taken on LG G Vista is not the best and it’s processor is not the most powerful, it does not mean the Vista is not a good handset. Actually, its performance can be considered reliable at an attractive cost. Thus, in general, this device is my recommendation for users who has small budget but still look for a phablet.

Design

As mentioned previously many times, the LG G Vista is huge. Although there are still many bigger devices such as: the 6.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Mega, the 6-inch Nokia Lumia 1320, the LG G Vista is still pretty massive with dimension at 5.99 inches x 3.12 inches x 0.36 inch (length x width x thickness). You can only manage the handset with 2 hands unless you have massive palm.  With such big size, obviously small handbags and jean pockets are not the place for the Vista, suitable place for this gadget is the shoulder bags. The 5.93 ounce weight may be hefty for some users, however, in consideration with the massive size of the Vista, this weight is surprisingly light.

The IR blaster (which assists the Quick Remote app to control various home appliances) and the headphone jack are placed on the top of the phone. On the bottom edge sits the Micro-USB charging port. Different with other brands’ handsets, the volume rocker, the control buttons and the power/sleep button are all located on the back cover of the LG G Vista. Two small speakers’ slits sit right below these buttons. This arrangement is similar in the brothers of the LG Vista such as the G2 Mini, the Flex 2 and the G3. The slots for microSD and removable battery can be approached by opening the back cover.

Corning Gorilla Glass 3 is used for the 5.7 inch screen display of the Vista, with 1280 x 720 HD resolution and pixel density at 258 ppi.  It’s far more to be compared with the elite device such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (whose resolution is up to 1440p), however, it’s still forgivable with such affordable price tag. In general, everything appears on the Vista’s screen quite bright and crispy and the screen is viewable under direct sunlight. The viewing angles are also wide and colors are vivid. The screen is also very responsive.

LG G Vista Review  Buy

LG G Vista Review Buy

Software features

Android 4.4.2 KitKat is the operating system being shipped with the Vista. With this OS, you will have all Google apps as you expect such as Chrome browser, Gmail, Google Drive and Google Hangouts. Other portals to approach many services supplied by Google Play such as Play Books, Play Music, Youtube.. are also available.

Device for AT&T network shall be preloaded with apps such as DriveMode (which lets users send messages while driving faster than 25mph), FamilyMap (which lets users locate their family members via AT&T account) and My AT&T (which lets users check account info and data). Mobile Locate app is another goodie since it helps pinpoint your phone’s current location if it gets lost or stolen. AT&T Live – the news app is also available to let you watch TV shows with 7 days of trial usage for Mobile TV. Other services and apps being supplied by AT&T can be listed here are: apps for navigation, for setting mobile hotspot and voice mail, for connecting to public Wifi and for usage manager. Through AT&T Locker, 5GB of cloud storage is also available for free.

With Verizon network, featuring app to be mentioned is the My Verizon Mobile (which helps users checking their data usage, caller ID and cloud services). Apps which are similar to AT&T’s are also available such as navigation, voice mail, message… Several Amazon Apps can also be found on the LG G Vista for Verizon.

Similar to other LG’s handsets, LG G Vista is also baked in with some signature software of LG such as Dual Window – which can be accessed by long-pressing “back” key on screen. Just by dragging 2 apps’ icons to the bottom or top of the screen, this software shall help you split screen of the 2 chosen apps. KnockCode shall help you in unlocking lock screen or turning on the device by just 1 action. Guest mode, QSlide and QMemo+ are also very helpful. So, my recommendation is you should take sometimes to discover these features too optimize your using experience of the LG G Vista.

The specs of LG G Vista are not impressive at all: just 1.5GB Ram, 8GB built-in storage and NFC support. However, it’s still forgivable with the mid-range phablet like this, except the 8GB internal storage and it the approachable storage is even less.

Camera and video

Though the photo quality taken by the 8 MP cam shall not be impressive, it’s decent and acceptable. Under ideal lighting conditions, things are in-focus with clear outlines. Obviously, with lower lighting conditions, objects shall be a little bit blurred with soft outlines, less in-focus and contains digital noise. At times, colors appearance lacks of vibrancy and there will be an unattractive yellow cast on the photos when using flash.

Talking about video capturing, the results are good with well-displayed 1080p HD video quality. Still objects and moving objects are both captured well and in-focus with true colors and well picked-up audio. However, the camera shall need some seconds to adjust the focus and lighting. Good thing is that no lag is found between viewfinder’s live footage and the camera’s moving.

Setting options for camera are kept to minimum with just HDR and panorama shooting mode, grid lines, timer and voice-activated shutter. Pictures can be taken in 4 different sizes and video can be captured at 2 standard resolution with the rear cam. With the 1.3MP front-cam, there are 2 sizes for photos taken and 1 size (720p) for video captured. A “beauty meter” is included in the front cam to beautify the selfies.

Performance

About call quality, as my test in San Francisco on both Verizon and AT&T network, the results are both good. Call quality is reliable with no conversation dropped, consistent audio and appropriate volume range.

According to 4G LTE speed test, in terms of web surfing, data speeds are overall similar in both 2 networks with averagely 6 – 8 secs to load. Obviously, this result is variable depends on locations and online time.

The engine of LG G Vista is powered by a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor, which is popular among mid-range smartphones nowadays. With this processor, daily and basic tasks can be easily executed without issues. Other more advanced actions many take more time to process such as editing photos or playing graphics-intensive game like Riptide GP 2.

According to the results on Quadrant benchmark tests, the LG G Vista gots 8,969 scores while the LG G2 Mini and the Motorola Moto G (2014) got 8,369 and 8,839 scores respectively.

The 3,200 mAh battery can helps the device last easily a workday without charging, with maximum brightness and mild usage. LG claims that the Vista can last up to 26 hours of talking time and 15 hours of general use. For my real test, the Verizon model last for 17 hours and 21 mins of video streaming while the AT&T version just last for 14 hours and 48 mins.

Conclusion

If you are looking for an elite phablet to smoothly and quickly handle all difficult and easy tasks, LG G Vista is not the choice for you. Instead, look for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 or the upcoming Galaxy Note 4.

However, if you are looking for an affordably priced devices, the LG G Vista is a worth-considering option among other mid-range handsets I have experienced.

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.