Photowalk With the Asus Zenfone Zoom

Vijay from iClickd had invited us for a Photowalk around Ulsoor Lake a little while back. That was the perfect time to try out the capabilities of the Asus Zenfone Zoom phone with it’s 3x optical zoom. We started off the walk at around 7am, a great time to catch some great photos, the lighting of the rising sun and the looks of a fresh day. During the day, Vijay took us though tips on photography and how to look at the same scene from a different perspective.

Zenfone Zoom

If you haven’t heard of the Zenfone Zoom, it’s an android phone with a 13 Megapixel camera with Optical Image Stabilization in which they even managed to include a  3x Optical Zoom (and 12x Digital zoom). It’s also got a Laser aided autofocus, which helps in getting a really quick focus on the scene. If you’re looking for the snaps taken with the optical zoom, take a look at the ones with the birds. I didn’t enable the digital zoom option during this photowalk.

Zenfone Zoom Camera Bump

The phone itself features a premium feel leather back, with a bump around the camera at the back. This is probably there to house the optical zoom mechanics.  Asus has managed to do the impossible by adding a the zoom functionality without the retractible lenses, which helps keep the phone’s profile relatively slim.

How does it perform?

Before we go to the Image capture samples, here’s my quick thoughts on the Zenfone Zoom.

  • Great Optics, average execution. While the camera features great optics from Hoya and the optical zoom, I found that the camera’s sensor and the software tuning of the images lacks in quality. This is especially true when you zoom into an image you’ve taken.
  • Hangs at times. During the photo walk I experienced the camera hanging a few times. In some cases, quitting the camera app and force closing it fixed it. Twice I had to reboot the phone to get the camera to work, since launching the camera brought up a black screen in those cases.
  • Slow Camera App in Low Light Conditions. While taking photos in low light conditions, the camera interface starts to stutter and starts acting quite slow in focussing and clicking snaps. You end up missing the subject or the they move by the time the camera gets into action.

Since most of the problem I faced were software based, I’m hoping that Asus brings out an update in the near future to fixe these nagging issues.

Image Samples

Sony Xperia Z2 – A Few Months Later: Z Life

Sony have been trying really hard to getting their game right in the flagship module. The Xperia Z1 was not really up to the mark, primarily because of the screen, but they had got it right with the build quality and waterproofing. They also struck the right balance with the Z1 compact which is still regarded as the best sub flagship mini in the market right now.

So lets find out if they have got it right with this year’s flagship the Xperia Z2, after a few months of use.

On the face of it, the Xperia Z2 has all the bells and whistles one expects out of a flagship. It packs in the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC with 3GB RAM on board. They have also tweaked the UI.

Xperia Z2 First Boot

Quick Look at the specs

Operating System : Android KitKat 4.4.2 (as of testing)

Dimension : 146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2mm. 163g.

Camera : 20.7MP autofocus camera with a 1/2.3″ Exmor RS sensor and F/2.0 Sony G Lens.

2160p video recording @ 30fps, [email protected] 60fps, [email protected] 120fps.

2.2MP front camera with 1080p video recording.

Display : 5.2″ 16M-color 1080p IPS capacitive touchscreen Triluminos display (424ppi pixel density) with X-Reality engine

Processor : Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset (MSM8974AB): quad-core 2.3GHz Krait 400 CPU, 3 GB of RAM, Adreno 330 GPU

Memory & Storage : 3GB RAM + 16GB inbuilt storage. Expandable upto 128GB.

Battery :  3,200mAh battery

Colours : White, Black and Purple.

Design and Handling

The Sony Xperia Z2 has 5.2” Full HD display with a pixel density of 424 ppi. This coupled with the X-Reality Engine results in a gorgeous display. The phone is packaged in a mixture aluminum and scratch resistant glass. The back is completely finished in scratch resistant glass and feels really classy and great to hold. It definitely feels like an expensive phone.

Sony Xperia Z2 Front Home Screen

The phone has no unnecessary undulations or uneven surfaces like camera bumps. The front and the back are completely flat and minimalistic, adding to the classy look. As mentioned, the rear is made of glass (Sony classifies it as scratch proof and shatter resistant). So far, it has not shown signs of wear, although the phone hasn’t really hit the pavement so far.

Sony Xperia Z2 Glass Back

Coming to the controls, there is a 3.5 mm headphone jack on the top along with a secondary microphone for stereo sound video recording. The right holds the Power button, the volume controls, the microSD card slot and the camera button. The bottom has the microphone. the left side holds the SIM tray and the micro USB port. While the flap covering the USB is a little fiddly for day-to-day charging, you do have pogo pins that can be used with a charging dock or snap -on magnetic cables for easy charging. It does not have Qi Wireless Charging though. Even though the flap makes the phone dust and water-proof, opening the flap for charging daily and closing it back later does allow some grime to collect at the edges, as evident from the photo below.

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The Z2 gets stereo speakers for quality output, one located at the top and one at the bottom. It isn’t as loud or rich sounding as the “Boomsound” speakers on the HTC M8, but it is not that far behind.

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There is a 2.2MP camera on the front. The back holds the 20.7 MP autofocus camera with a single LED flash.

Display and User Interface

The Z2 comes with Android KitKat 4.4 out of the box. It was also, the company’s first phone to do so. The UI is pretty similar to the previous versions on Z1 and Z1 compact with a few nips and tucks.

Starting with the lockscreen, like most smartphones these days it supports widgets on every pane. You can also go straight to the camera from the lockscreen, a feature of KitKat. Security wise you get the usual Face, Pattern, PIN or Password Unlock.

Enter the homescreen and you will be greeted with five panes which can be customized. You can add or remove panes, seven being the maximum. Any of these panes can be made default and a press of the home button will take straight to the default pane.

The phone comes inbuilt with a host of static and live wallpapers and as with all Xperia devices, the theme can also be changed using the Theme Chooser. There are a few inbuilt themes and you can also download themes from the Sony Select  app or from the Play Store, where you can find third party themes and customize your phone as per your need.

It’s a similar story with the app drawer. Swipe from the left and you can sort apps in the app drawer manually, alphabetically, most used and most recently installed. You can also define your own order. Searching for an app shouldn’t be difficult as the search option comes in handy. Uninstalling an app can also be done from here.

The Notification draw and the Quick settings have been split now to give space for more information and shortcuts at ease. Swiping down from the top of the screen with one finger reveals the Notification draw and with two fingers reveals the Quick Settings.  The Quick settings toggles can be customized and one can choose from over 20 different toggles.

One new app in the Z2 is the What’s New. As the name indicates the app tell you what’s hot and happening the the app world and as well as keeps you updated with multimedia. It also displays the latest from the Sony Playstation Store as well. Unfortunately, this service is offered as one short-cut when you swipe up from the home button, along with Google Now.

Sony keeps updating it’s stock apps from time to time, adding new functions, though this is handled by the Sony Updater and not via the Play Store like Motorola and HTC have been doing of late.

Battery

The Z2 comes packaged with a massive 3200 mAh battery. We threw everything possible at it, gaming, browsing, extensive camera use and we were still able to manage more than day’s usage on a single charge. The Power Manager lets you toggle between various settings to squeeze the most out your battery.

The STAMINA mode lets you disable mobile data and WiFi when the screen if off, but the clever thing is you can turn on data only for a set of applications which is user defined. It can also restrict device performance to squeeze that extra juice out of your battery. You can set all this to be done ‘Always’ or when your battery goes down a certain percentage.

The phone also has location based WiFi which essentially activates WiFi only when certain saved WiFi signals are in range.

 

Camera

The camera is a 20.7 MP unit which is the same as the ones in the Z1 and the Z1 compact. We have already seen the improvements in imaging in the Z1 compact over the Z1 using the same camera unit. Lets find out how different it is in the Z2.

The camera unit comes with a Exmor RS backside illuminated 1/ 2.3” sensor, which is about 70% bigger than the standard 1/3”. The lens is a 27mm wide angle Sony G Lens with f/2.0 aperture and BIONZ image processor. It captures images with a maximum resolution of 5248 x 3936 in 4:3 aspect ratio.

The Layout is pretty simple and all your basic and commonly used controls are just a click. The Camera module is supported by an array of filters and modes. As with the Z1 you get a Superior Auto mode, manual mode, burst mode, background defocus, creative effect, AR Effect and many more.

The results are a mixed bag, there are some features that we liked and some which are not up to standard. Images are best captured in Superior Auto Mode but unfortunately the resolution of these images maxes out at 8MP. The Manual does  let you shoot in 20.7 MP but the results are not upto a flagship phone mark. There is plenty of detail  but it still doesn’t match up to the S5 in sharpness and color accuracy.

The HDR mode is quite a letdown as all it does is brightens up the image without preserving detail. The images look blown out and the colors look washed out.

The Z2 offers quite a lot when it comes to videos. For starters it offers 4K video capture at 30fps but it is limited to just 5 minutes. There is also an option of recording Full HD videos at either 30fps or 60fps. It is also capable of capturing 720p videos at 120fps. Audio is captured in stereo mode and is pretty impressive. There is no optical image stabilization on board but the digital image stabilization does the part pretty efficiently.

One interesting video feature is the Timeshift video, which captures videos in 720p at 120 fps an then lets you slow down selected moments in the video, unlike the S5 which captures the whole video in 120fps. This feature was first seen in the iPhone 5s but it could slow down only one part of the video. Sony has bettered this feature and you can slow down multiple parts of a video.

Low light performance is pretty good too. We were able to capture some really amazing low light photos without the use of flash. The flash itself isnt very harsh on subjects and lights up the area pretty damn well.

One thing that we have noticed though, is that the camera performance has improved over time with different firmware updates from Sony. So we hope that with future updates, it will get even better.

The front camera is a 2.2MP unit and it performs like any other front camera unit on the market, it is able to capture Full HD video and does its part.

Performance

The Snapdragon 801 processor is a tried and tested processor and we didn’t encounter any lags or glitches in heavy usage. It isn’t the top of the line MSM8974AC, but there’s nothing really lacking in the SOC. The onboard 3GB RAM is a boon and gives the phone that extra edge. We were able to comfortably able to switch between applications while playing games. One problem we encounter though is that the phone does heat up when subjected to heavy usage, especially when using the 4K video capture. This is very uncomfortable and thankfully the phone force shuts the camera app before it can get any worse..

The graphics are pretty impressive, we tried a couple of action games like Asphalt 8: Airborne and Batman:Arkham Asylum and the detail of the game play was on par with its competitors.

Connectivity and Browser

The default browser was satisfactory in all aspects. We threw whatever possible at it and it renders content smooth and fast. Zooming into content renders smooth and crisp fonts and images, thanks to the 1080p screen. Videos too ran smooth and we didn’t encounter any sorts of lag during browsing.

Coming to the connectivity side, unfortunately, the Z2 does not support Band 40 (2300 MHz TDD LTE) for LTE service in India, which is a bit of a letdown. It does support Dual-Band WiFi along with 802.11 ac, which is a good thing, assuming you have a capable router (and network connection). Having said that, we had no real issues (aside from the lack of LTE) and if you’re in an area which is not covered by LTE (which basically means most of India right now), you won’t miss the LTE support (or lack thereof).

Conclusion

The Xperia Z2 is quite the step up from its older siblings, the phone has got a very sophisticated, neat and classy look to it. The gorgeous screen is complimented by the powerful Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM onboard. There were very few moments where the phone let us down. Sure the still Camera module is still not up to the mark, but that shouldn’t be a deal breaker as its Video capabilities make up for it. In the past, Sony really did not bother with firmware updates, but things have changed and they are among the first of the non Nexus/Motorola devices to get updates to the newer versions of android. The Z2 definitely has what it takes to be a high quality flagship and also a big thumbs up from our side. The only thing to note is that Sony is on a 6 month release cycle (as of this article, the Xperia Z3 is already available in some markets). The flipside is that you can now get the Z2 for cheaper when the Z3 rolls out at their top end phone.

Xiaomi launches the 16GB Mi3 in India for Rs. 14999

 

Xiaomi, a Chinese manufacturer, will start selling their first device in India shortly. The Mi3 will be sold at Rs. 14999 starting from 15 of July.

Mi_India

Now check out why this is a superbly priced phone – the specs speak:

CPU Quad-core 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor
Dimensions 144×73.6×8.1 mm weighing 145 grams
Display 5-inch Full HD 1080p LCD display with a resolution of 1920×1080
OS Android 4.3 based MIUI version 5
Memory2GB RAM, 16 GB onboard storage (13.22GB Usable capacity)
Camera13 Megapixel Rear Shooter with Dual LED Flash, 2 Megapixel front facing camera
Connectivity3G, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, Wifi, Wifi Direct, NFC
SensorsGyroscope, Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor, Electronic Compass and Barometer
Battery 3050 mAh Lithium Ion battery
Colors Metallic Grey

With all these features and the good looks of the Mi3, it’s surprising that Xiaomi has decided to price the phone at 15k. This is going to blow the competition away.

If you are app fanatic, and download a lot of apps, the 16GB variant may not be what you need. You may have to wait for the 32 and 64GB variants to hit the market. Yes, there are rumors that they will be coming too in the coming months.

As of now, you’ll just have to wait till the 15th of July to place your order. There were talks earlier that Xiaomi may be tying up with Flipkart for selling these devices, but there’s no official word yet. We’ll keep you updated if we do get some news. You can also check out the Xiaomi India page for more details.

Android Wear LG G Watch Goes on Sale in Indian Play Store

In a surprise move, just hours after Google announced the Android Wear devices at the Google IO keynote yesterday, the devices show up on the Indian Editon of Google Play. This is surprising since Google Play devices in the past took a few months after the international launches to hit the Indian market.

Let’s take a closer look at these Android Wearables.

LG G Watch

Android Wear LG G Watch
LG G Watch is currently up for preorder and is priced at Rs. 14,999. Orders start shipping on the 8th of July.

Here are the quick specs of this Android Wear device:

  • Screen: 1.65” 280 x 280 IPS LCD Display
  • Dimensions: 37.9 x 46.5 x 9.95mm weighing in at 63 grams
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz
  • Memory: 4GB Internal Storage with 512 MB RAM
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Compass, Gyroscope
  • Connectors: USB (pogo pin) on G Watch, Micro USB on Charging Cradle
  • Battery: 400mAh – which should last a day.
  • LG G Watch is IP67 water and dust resistant.

The Android Wear smart watches require you to have another Android phone which is 4.3 or up to pair with. If you want to see if your phone is compatible, hit this URL in your mobile browser – g.co/WearCheck

The only downsides I see is that you’ll have to charge the watch everyday, and it uses a proprietary Charging Cradle. Lose it and you’ve got a dead watch till you get a replacement.

LG G Watch on Play Store

Samsung Gear Live

Android Wear - Samsung Gear Live
Samsung’s Gear Live Watch is not yet up for sale, but the listing shows the price at Rs. 15,999 and that it’s coming soon.

Here’s what the specs of the Samsung Gear Live looks like:

  • Screen: 1.63” 320 x 320 SuperAMOLED (278 ppi)
  • Dimensions: 37.9 x 56.4 x 8.9mm weighing in at 59 grams
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz
  • Memory: 4GB internal storage with 512 MB RAM
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Compass, Gyroscope and Heart rate monitor
  • Connectors: USB (pogo pin) with Charging Dock
  • Battery: 300 mAh

Gear Live features a slightly smaller (though higher resolution) screen but has a smaller battery than the LG G Watch. There’s also a Heart Rate Monitor in this which should be useful for fitness tracking enthusiasts.

Samsung Gear Live on Play Store

Sony’s Xperia M2 has launched exclusively through Telecom in NZ

Sony had recently refreshed it’s lineup, from the Top of the Line Z2 to the affordable phablet T2. The refresh also included the M2, a good mid-range device that was well priced in it’s previous iteration, the Xperia M. The updated Xperia M2 is available in New Zealand exclusively through Telecom NZ. As a refresher, here’s what you get:

  • Display: 4.8″ 960 x 540 (qHD) TFT LCD
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz Quad Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
  • Connectivity: Quad Band GSM, HSPA  (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz), Dual Band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Camera: 8 MP Rear Camera, VGA Front Facing Camera
  • Memory: 8 GB on board, Micro SD card slot (expandable upto 32 GB), 1 GB RAM
  • OS: Android 4.3 (with Android 4.4 out sometime in the near future).

Check the press release below for details on where to get the device.  

Sony Mobile Communications New Zealand is pleased to announce the launch of its latest handset, the Sony Xperia™ M2 exclusively through Telecom NZ. The Xperia M2 is a strong offering in the mid-range price point, providing flagship experiences at an extremely competitive price point.

“The Xperia M2 showcases high quality technology at an affordable price,” says, John Featherstone, Managing Dirctor, Sony Mobile Communications Oceania.

“Incorporating many of Sony’s flagship features including, ultra fast processing speeds and OmniBalance design as found on Sony’s premium smartphone range. Plus unique Xperia camera and music apps which offer stunning entertainment experiences for all Xperia M2 customers”

Xperia M2 users will have the chance to enjoy a range of PlayStation® Mobile games that will be included.

Perfect for capturing all your favourite moments in brilliant quality, the Xperia M2 uses the expertise and technology of Sony’s cyber shot cameras combined with an 8MP camera. The M2 is armed with the latest in camera technology including Exmor RS for mobile, Autoscene Recognition and HDR.

“We’re always on the lookout for devices that give our customers a great experience without burning too much of a hole in their pockets and this smartphone really delivers,” says Jason Paris, Chief Operating Officer at Telecom.

“The Xperia M2 is a great all-rounder and we think it offers another exciting choice, particularly for those people who want a great camera in a sleek looking phone, but don’t have a fortune to spend.”

The Xperia M2 joins the Xperia Z1, Xperia M and Xperia E1, available through Telecom.

The Xperia M2 is available in white colour variant only. Exclusively through Telecom stores nationwide and through Telecom’s website (www.telecom.co.nz). RRP $399 or $0 on a $69 a month plan.


Lenovo Vibe Z review : What’s your Vibe?

Lenovo Vibe Z K910

Lenovo entered the Smartphone market very recently and have launched few if not many interesting phones. The K800 and the K900 were one the first few phones to be running on Intel’s Atom processor. In January 2014 the company bought Motorola from Google. The company was also recently listed as the world’s fourth largest Smartphone manufacturer. The future for world’s largest PC maker in the Smartphone market is, I must say, looking very bright.

VT's 1020_20140525_18_51_53_Raw

The company’s flagship model the Lenovo Vibe Z was announced last year and comes with all bells and whistles to battle the likes of the Samsung S4 and the HTC One. So let’s find if this flagship will match up to the segment leaders.

Quick look at the specs

  • Operating System – Android 4.3
  • Dimension – 149.1 x 77 x 7.9 mm, 145.2 g.
  • Camera – Sony IMX13513 MP f1/1.8, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, 1080p video at 30fps. 5 MP front facing camera.
  • Display – IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors. 1080 x 1920 pixels, 5.5 inches with 401 ppi pixel density.
  • Processor – QualcommSnapdragon 800.
  • Memory & Storage – 2 GB RAM + 16GB storage. Non-expandable.
  • Battery – 3000 mAh Li-Po, i.e Lithium Polymer, battery rated for 33 hours of talk time on 3G and up to  26 days stand by on 3G.
  • Colours – Silver and Titanium.

Design and Handling

VT's 1020_20140525_18_52_30_Raw

The Lenovo Vibe Z has a massive 5.5” 1080×1920 display and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The phone is pretty large and is not comfortable for one handed use. The bezels on the sides and the bottom could have been a little thinner for better handling. But this is not really a deal breaker. The phone is really light for its size at just 145.2 g, other 5.5” phones like the Galaxy Note 3 weighs 168g and the LG G Pro weighs in at 172g. Some of its weight can be credited to its battery, Li-Po batteries are believed to be thinner and lighter when compared to standard Li ion batteries.

Lenovo have put in a lot of effort to make the phone look good and we really appreciate the effort. The back panel is finished either in Titanium or Black and I should say that both feel really good and premium.

Lenovo VibeZ Back With Camera

The power button is placed on the top right hand corner and the volume rocker is on the left hand side. The phone uses a micro SIM and the tray for the same has been placed on the right hand side. The microphone is at the bottom of the screen, just below the glass area. The 3.5 mm headset jack is placed on the top left corner and the micro USB charging port is placed at the bottom. All in all, the phone feels really good to hold and gives you a premium and expensive feeling. A micro SD port will be sorely missed.

There are three capacitive keys placed at the bottom for navigation. The home button is placed at the center, the back button to the right and the options menu to the left.

Display and User Interface

The 5.5” display has a resolution of 1080×1920 with a pixel density of 401 ppi . While, this may not be on par with the 441 ppi of the Galaxy S4, the difference is minimal. The fonts in the browser look very crisp and so do the pictures.

The phone comes bundled with a heavily modified Android 4.3 and the layout is clean and simple. The colors of the icons and the system wide features are pleasing to the eyes. There are a lot of customizable options to make your phone distinguishable. The phone comes inbuilt with a Theme Center, where one can choose from an array of themes. Each theme comes with its own set of icons and widget designs, to suit everyone’s taste.

Theme Center

Once you switch on the phone, it’s not difficult to notice that the App Drawer is missing. This means that every app installed will be added on to the desktop and as apps increase in number it becomes a must to sort out your apps into folders.

Multi-Tasking-Lenovo-VibeZ

The Multi Window feature enables one to make full use of the 5.5” screen and toggle between two apps on the home screen. This lets you read a book and browse the internet in parallel without having to switch between the apps. Lenovo have included a lot nice features to play around with, Smart Answer automatically answers an incoming call when placed near your ear. Smart Call, makes a call to the person whose contact or message you are viewing without having to hit the dial button. Smart Dial is a feature which alters the size of the dialer keys based on the angle of the phone to favor one handed use, a useful feature considering the size of the phone.

Wide Touch is a one-shortcut access to all your favorite apps and system toggles. It basically provides you with an ease of access shortcut window where you can organize all your favorite and frequently used apps. As mentioned it also provides you with a shortcut to all the system toggles like wifi, Bluetooth etc. It is similar to Apple’s own AssistiveTouch feature.

The phone comes inbuilt with a lot of Lenovo proprietary apps, Lenovo calls it the DOit series of apps. The SHAREit enables you the share photos, videos, apps and other data to a paired devices or a group of devices. The CLONEit feature in this app lets you import all your files to a selected device. This is a nice addition provided the receiver device also has SHAREit installed which is available in the Google Play Store. We tried SHAREit with a Lenovo – Non Lenovo pairing we found data transfer to be considerably faster than normal bluetooth transfer.

SECUREit protects your phone from viruses, spam and malware. SYNCit helps you backup or restore your contacts, messages and call logs. SNAPit is your Camera and SEEit is your Gallery. Although on our device, SNAPit and SEEit came preinstalled as Camera and Gallery.

Lenovo have tied up with Gameloft to provide some very popular paid games at a discounted price. The Amazing Spiderman 2 for instance regularly available at Rs 390 is available for Rs 20 in the Gameloft store.

The phone has an inbuilt FM radio with a recording option. We did record a song over the radio and the quality of the recording was far from impressive.

Driving Apps

Drive mode gives users only those essential apps that one might need while driving, without the use of hands ofcourse. The user interface is pretty simple and and gives you access only to Navigation, Messages, Music and Telephone. Voice recognition is not upto the mark, but we were able to get what we needed after certain trials.

Battery

The 3000 mAh battery that powers the Lenovo Vibe Z is pretty powerful. We threw everything possible at it, gaming, browsing, extensive camera use and we were still able to manage more than day’s usage on a single charge. The Power Manager lets you toggle between various settings to squeeze the most out your battery.

Battery

Running really low on charge? Don’t fret, the Ultimate Saving Mode, will turn off all data connections making available only messaging, dialer, contacts and clock to access the screen also turns mostly black with white and blue to conserve power.

Camera

The Camera unit is a Sony IMX13513 MP f1/1.8, as you can see it is a pretty fast lens. The camera is pretty quick to take photos. Though it is a 13 MP unit, you will be able to capture a maximum of 12 MP at 4160×3120 pixels at a 4:3 ratio. For a 16:9 ratio one will have to settle for a maximum of 9 MP at 4160×2340 pixels. The volume keys can be used for digital zoom.

The camera offers a lot in terms of feature, if you are not an auto camera mode kind of person there are options to alter ISO, White Balance, Metering and the likes. Here is a list of other features available.

  • HDR for photos
  • Dual shot mode with the front and the rear camera.
  • Macro mode.
  • Smile shot.
  • Super night mode, for nice night shots.
  • Burst mode.
  • Self-timer.

There are also other useful features like

  • Eraser – This erases unwanted objects in your picture.
  • Group
  • Normal Gif
  • Magic GIF – Capture a GIF and make edits with some coloured markers.

Apart from these there is huge list of filters available at your fingertip. Oh and by the way they give you a live preview too.

The HDR mode works pretty well for those pictures where the light hits the lens directly. In the attached pic you can see that the detail captured around Jerry is pretty commendable, the colors look natural too. We also captured an outdoor picture in HDR, in the picture 2 you can clearly see that we get more blues in the sky but the reds and the greens don’t look natural.

The Camera is capable to capturing full HD videos at 30 fps. Sadly, there is nothing more to write about the video capture, unlike the Galaxy S4 you don’t get an option to shoot at 60 fps, neither there are any slow motion options. There is no HDR mode for the video either. So all you get is a straight forward 1080p video at 30fps.

The 5MP front facing camera can be described as selfie oriented and why not? We were really impressed by the detail and the quality of the photos taken by the front camera. The lens fills in enough light and is quick to capture photos. The front snapper is also capable to capturing full HD videos. We have to say that it is one of the best front facing cameras we have ever used.

Performance

The Snapdragon 800 processor is a tried and tested processor and we didn’t encounter any lags or glitches in heavy usage. The onboard 2GB RAM does help smooth and speedy performance. We were able to comfortably able to switch between applications while playing games. One problem we encounter though is that the phone does heat up when subjected to heavy usage. This is not that uncomfortable, but it is definitely noticeable.

The graphics are pretty impressive, we threw a couple of action games like Frontline Commander and Real Steel and the detail of the imaging were on par with its competitors.

Connectivity and Browser

The default browser was satisfactory in all aspects. We threw whatever possible at it and it renders content smooth and fast. Zooming into content renders smooth and crisp fonts and images, thanks to the 1080p screen. Videos too ran smooth and we didn’t encounter any sorts of lag during browsing.

Telephony , Gallery and Music player

The phone comes with Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic and does a really good job of cutting out noise. We didn’t encounter any voice related problems or disturbance on either side of a call.

The Gallery is given a really nice touch. You can view photos and videos either through albums or all at once. The photos are nicely spaced out and thumbnails appear as squares or rectangles. These thumbnails also act as live tiles, which is really nice touch.

Jigsaw is an inbuilt gallery extension where you can choose photos and arrange them in predefined collage templates.

There is a very clever option to view only portraits or landscape photos. The gallery automatically filters out only portraits or landscapes based on option chosen.

The phone doesn’t come with any proprietary Lenovo music player. We tested its music capabilities with the Play music app. We were really blown away with the performance of the bundled earphones, the sound is crisp and clear. The bass boost is accurate and not overdone. We also like the build quality of the earphones, they are definitely built to last. The loudspeaker is placed at the back at the bottom, the surface of the phone is slightly curved here making sure the speaker is not blocked when placed on its back. This also helps in reflecting sound and the final result is pretty good.

Conclusion

The Lenovo Vibe Z definitely has the vibe of a flagship smartphone, there’s not really much to not like about the phone. The build quality is excellent, though the camera has its downsides it still performs well for everyday use. It’s also priced pretty well at around Rs 30,000, the Exynos Galaxy S4 is priced about the same, but it’s not a Snapdragon. There is a lot to like about the phone, we really loved the 5 MP front facing camera, the sound clarity is crisp. All in all, the Lenovo Vibe Z gets a big Thumbs Up from My Portable World.

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SmartBand from Sony Mobile available now in stores across New Zealand

Sony Mobile Communications New Zealand today has confirmed the local availability of SmartBand SWR10 through Sony online and Sony stores with availability through other major retailers to be confirmed soon. Sony’s SmartWear experience combines the SmartBand and Lifelog to let you effortlessly capture experiences from life – places visited, music listened to, games played, books read – and present it in a beautifully visual interface on your mobile device.

Sony customers can purchase the SmartBand through Sony stores for $169.95 RRP, with online availability through Sony online (http://www.sony.co.nz/product/swr-10) to follow shortly.

Sony’s SmartWear Experience brings users Lifelogging, flexible style and Life tools

The SmartBand is said to be an “innovative life logging wristband that lets people keep track of everything including walking, running and counting calories”. It is a 24/7 wearable device with a completely waterproof core, meaning users can wear it in all conditions. Wearers can also be alerted to calls, messages and other notifications through a vibrating alert. When enjoying music on the move people can play, pause and skip tracks using the SmartBand. Additional software updates will be available in the coming weeks for the Lifelog application allowing users to log routes and times for driving, cycling and train trips.

“SmartBand and its innovative core are extending beyond fitness tracking, to add colourful, fun entertainment experiences to users’ lives,” said John Featherstone, Managing Director, Sony Mobile Communications Oceania. “Users can now simply log special moments and watch your life played back to you on your Sony smartphone or Android device just by wearing it wherever they go.”

We should have a more in-depth look at the Sony Smartband for you in just a few weeks, so watch this space for the full review.

 

Motorola’s Moto E Launched in India at Rs. 6999

After all the leaks and the teasing the Moto E is finally Official. The phone was launched in India in partnership with Flipkart at a price of Rs 6,999.

The Moto E is a direct competitor to the Nokia X and comes packed with a 4.3″ screen with a qHD display (540 x 960 pixels) and a pixel density of 256 ppi. The phone measures 124.8 x 64.8 x 12.33 mm in dimensions and weighs 140g. Powering the phone is a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor with Adreno 302 GPU. Memory includes a 1 GB RAM and 4 GB internal memory expandable up to 32 GB through a micro SD card.

moto e front and back

On the Camera front, the Moto E features a 5 MP rear camera with touch focus, without autofocus unfortunately, and 480p capture at 30fps. Unfortunately there is no flash nor a front facing camera. The phone runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat out of the box and a 1980mAh Li-On battery holds the charge.

moto e colors

The phone comes in White,  Black, Turquoise and Lemon color options. Flipkart is offering 50% on Moto E Covers and 50% off on 8GB Transcend Memory Card and Rs. 1000 worth preselected eBooks only for today. Head over To Flipkart if you can’t wait to get your hands on the Moto E.

Moto E Specifications

Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 200 with 1.2GHz dual-core A7 CPU Adreno 302 400MHz single-core GPU
Display 4.3 inches 540 x 960 qHD with a pixel density of 256ppi
OS Android Kitkat 4.4
Dimensions 124.8 x 64.8 x 12.3mm weighing 142 grams
Camera 5 Megapixel rear camera capable of recording video at a resolution of 854×480 at 30 fps
Battery Built in 1980mAh battery capable of 24 hours mixed usage
ConnectivityBluetooth 4.0 LE, WiFi – 802.11 b/g/n, 2.4GHz, 3G network Connectivity, MicroUSB with USB 2.0, 3.5mm headphone jack, FM Radio, GPS – Glosnas

Lumia 630 launched in India – Overview & First Impressions

In the first Lumia launch in India after the Nokia Mobile division acquisition, Microsoft Devices today launched the Lumia 630 in India. The Lumia 630 is the first device which comes with Windows 8.1 out of the box, and to top that off, it’s also the first Lumia with Dual SIM capability. The 630 will be available in India as two variants; the Dual SIM will hit the stores first at a best buy price of Rs. 11,500 and the single SIM version will be available later for Rs. 10,500.

VT's 1020_20140512_13_18_57_Raw

Quick specs of the Lumia 630

Display 4.5 Inch Clear Black FWVGA (854 x 480) screen
Processor 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon S400
Memory512MB RAM,  8GB internal memory onboard, MicroSD up to 128GB + 7GB Cloud Storage on OneDrive
Camera 5 MegaPixel Autofocus rear camera
OS Windows Phone 8.1
Dimensions 129.5 x 66.7 x 9.2 mm weighing  134 grams
ColorsBright Orange, bright green, bright yellow, and white and black
Connectivity USB 2.0 | Bluetooth 4.0 | WiFi | 3G Network | A-GPS and Glonass | 3.5 mm audio connector
Battery 1830 mAh removable battery for a rated talk time of 13.1 hours on 3G and standby time of 25 days

Highlights of the Lumia 630

The  Lumia 630 features quite a few firsts in the Lumia Range of phones. As we mentioned earlier, this is the first to come with Windows Phone 8.1 factory installed. So you get all the Windows Phone 8.1 goodies like the Notification bar, Word Flow Keyboard, Third Row of tiles on the home screen. Did you know that the Guinness Record holder for the fastest texting using an on-screen keyboard used a Windows Phone 8.1 device with Word Flow?

This is also the first in the Lumia range to ditch the capacitive button at the bottom of the phone, and feature on screen buttons. The good thing here is that you can customize the color scheme for these buttons now, as evident from the screen below.

Customizable on Screen Buttons

It’s also the first Lumia with Dual SIM capabilities. The 630 also comes with a new SensorCore which allows the device to track motion for health apps like Bing Health and Fitness. The SensorCore is very low powered and won’t take up much power at all even if it tracks your activities all day.

The Dual SIM features on the phone come with a Smart SIM feature allowing you give a custom name each of your SIMs. The Message and Phone call logs for both SIMs can also be linked to give you a single view of all your activities across both SIMS.

Overview

Positives

The Lumia 630 comes with a lot of features packed in at the mid-range price point they are launching the phone at.

  • The Quad Core processor on the phone makes it run snappy. In fact, after playing with the device for a while at the launch event, I would have to say that the phone was well powered, not displaying lags at all. In fact, the Microsoft/Nokia folks featured a demo showing two of the competitors in the same price range choking with on a browser demo which worked well on the Lumia 630.
  • The build quality is in lines with the Nokia heritage of the device of sturdy but stylish devices. The bright colors options which they come in are meant to appeal to the youth. For oldies like me, give me a white or black any day.
  • The SensorCore continuously monitors motion data allowing health apps to track your activities, allowing you to track your fitness activities without investing on a separate health monitoring wearable. Initially you can use Bing Health and Fitness to track your progress, Microsoft will be exposing API to this for third party apps to use this data as well.
  • The Smart Dual SIM features are a welcome addition to the Lumia range. Also, the phone comes with an option to add additional storage via a Micro SC card. With Windows Phone 8.1, you can move your apps and data over to the Micro SD card to better manage the use of your storage.

 

Negatives

Apart from these plus points, there are a few negatives which I would like to highlight. Not all may see these as negatives, but if you are a spec hunter, you’ll find them missing on the 630.

  • The device doesn’t come with a front camera, so if you are someone who takes a lot of selfies or uses Skype for video calls, this may be a disappointment. Even though the phone takes good quality pictures with normal indoor and daylight conditions and features the brilliant Nokia Camera App, the phone lacks a flash if you need that for night shots.
  • The display Clear Black display is quite good, and has a large viewing angle but unfortunately, is only a FWVGA screen which means that it’s resolution is 854 X 480 with a pixel density of 218 pixels per inch. It would have been great if they had managed to pack in at least a 720p display in here, since some competitors in that price range feature that.
  • The 630 also comes only with 512 MB RAM on the phone. Even though Microsoft says that almost all the apps on the store should work on this configuration, there may be one or two games which may choke on this. Of course, if you are not a heavy gamer, you can ignore this shortcoming, since it won’t affect you at all.

Nokia XL Hands On

We got our hands on a Nokia XL at a recently held bloggers meet by Nokia India. The Nokia XL was announced at MWC 2014 along with X and X+. As a refresher, the Nokia XL is an android based phone with a lot of tweaking to give it a Nokia flavor. The Nokia X was launched in early March 2014 and Nokia says the X+ and XL will be available in a couple of weeks. We covered the basic specs about the Nokia X platform in our write up here.

Nokia XL Meetup

We can say it was Nokia’s first event after it was completely taken over by Microsoft on 25th April, 2014. Addressing the event, Pranav Shroff, Product Marketing Manager, Nokia mentioned that the takeover will not hamper the Nokia X platform and that development and support will continue as usual. So the Nokia X platform is here to stay!

A Quick Look at the Nokia XL specifications:


  • Operating System – Nokia X Software Platform (based on Android 4.1.2)
  • Dimension – 141.4 x 77.7 x 10.9 mm
  • Camera – 5 MP, 2592 х 1944 pixels, autofocus, LED flash. Video at [email protected]  2 MP front facing camera.
  • Display – IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors. 480 x 800 pixels, 5.0 inches with 187 ppi pixel density.
  • Processor – Qualcomm MSM8225 Snapdragon S4 Play
  • Memory & Storage – 768 MB RAM + 4GB storage. Expandable up to 32GB through microSD card slot.
  • Battery – 2000 mAh battery with 13 hours of talk time on 3G and up to  30 days stand by on 3G.
  • Colours – Bright green, orange, cyan, yellow, black, white.

_DSC0018

As you can see the Nokia XL gains a lot over Nokia X. Starting with the obvious 5 inch screen, the RAM also has been bumped upto 768 MB. The camera unit is a 5MP auto-focus module aided by an LED flash, the phone also has a 2MP front facing camera for selfies. Bright orange is a new addition to the colour range and only available on the Nokia XL.

We were given a chance to toy around with the device and we had mix reviews about it. For instance we liked the way the phone is packaged, it gives you a uni-body look. But the 5″ phone is too large for one handed operation and also a bit heavy. The image above shows a size comparison between the Lumia 920 which is 4.5″ and as you can see clearly it is a pretty big in-your-face phone. The 5MP snapper was quick to focus and take photos. The photos themselves have a good amount of detail, but the video quality disappointed us. We were disappointed that the camera isn’t capable of capturing 720p HD videos, whereas the Lumia 520/525 in the same price bracket is capable of it. Maybe it is an indication that Nokia wants to keep the X series as low devices only.

image - Nokia XL Opened Back Cover

As mentioned the Nokia X post Google Play is not supported, one has to do use the Nokia Store or any of the other third party app stores like Amazon Apps, Yandex, Mobango or more. In fact, if you don’t find an app on the Nokia Store, they’ll give you suggestions on where you can get that app. Also, like the Nokia X the phone comes preloaded with a lot of apps – Vine, Skype, Facebook, BBM, Fruit Ninja, Simcity and more.

Nokia-XL-Colors

Price and availability wasn’t announced, but it was mentioned that the device would launched in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, head over to our gallery for a hands-on.