Dictionary, Slow Motion Videos and more on apps this week

Instadict

Browsing through a page, find a word you don’t understand? Instadict to the rescue. Just highlight the word and shake your device. Currently has language packs for English, French and Italian.

Android –

Instadict
Instadict
Developer: Shashank.Mishra
Price: Free

645 Pro

Interested in iPhone photography? Do you like manual controls and dials? 645 Pro is the app for you. Let the video below explain it all:

645 PRO Mk III from Jag.gr on Vimeo.

‎645 PRO Mk III
‎645 PRO Mk III
Developer: Michael Hardaker
Price: 4,49 €

 

Groove Music

Microsoft has really stepped up it’s game when it comes to services. One of the newer additions to their suite of multi-platform apps is Groove Music (formerly XBox Music). What does it do? Well, you could get a Groove Music pass for $9.99 per month and stream from their collection of songs. What makes it much better though, especially for users of OneDrive or Office365, is that Groove Music allows you to stream from your music collectons stored on OneDrive, at no additional cost.

Android – 

Microsoft Groove
Microsoft Groove
Price: Free

iOS –
Microsoft Groove
Microsoft Groove
Price: Free

Windows/Windows Phone – Download from Windows Store

 

Le Kiosk

This section is more focussed on the service than the app itself and it’s availability would be limited to certain countries, but if you’re a magazine subscriber, I’d recommend Le Kiosk. There are different plans – 3 magazines a month for around €3.99, 10 for €9.99 and 25 for €19.99, with a 30 day free trial. It also offers a magazine discovery service and has most of the bigger publications along with a collection of the smaller magazines, the list varies by country. Currently, UK, France and Italy only.

Android – 


iOS – 
Windows/Windows Phone – Download from Windows Store

 

TruSloMo

TruSloMo is a must have app if you shoot slow motion videos on your iPhone and want an easy way to export and edit the videos. It’s much easier than using iMovie on your phone and even has an option to easily publish to Whatsapp or Instagram.

iOS – 

TruSloMo
TruSloMo
Developer: William Wu
Price: Free+

 

Morecast

For detailed, hyperlocal weather forecasts, you have the apps that use Forecast.io. However, the accuracy will depend on the weather stations available. If you’re in Europe, there’s another option – Morecast. With weather data from UBIMET which is a large weather data provider, the app is detailed and even looks good. The one downside though, is the lack of a 5 row wide widget (if you have a phablet).

Android – 

iOS – 

‎MORECAST Wetter App
‎MORECAST Wetter App
Developer: UBIMET
Price: Free+

Photography, image search and more on apps this week

ProShot

ProShot by Rise Up Games started out a while back as a fully featured camera app for Windows Phone back in 2012. It launched on iOS in 2014 and is now available on Android as well (for devices running 5.1 and up). On compatible phones, it gives you access to full manual control, editable presets, and on Android, RAW support (assuming your phone fully supports the camera2 API. Check the link above for the full feature listing for each platform.

Windows Phone:
Download from Windows Store

iOS:

Android:

ProShot
ProShot
Developer: Rise Up Games
Price: $4.99

 

Image Searcher

Looking for that Gif to send to a chat app? Or an image? Why bother searching and then downloading it when you can do it directly from the media share feature in the chat app? Your preferred chat app doesn’t have such a feature? Try Image Searcher. Just remember, don’t set a default while trying to share an image and it’s all good.

Android:

 

Google Drive on Windows Phone

Sure, Google doesn’t really bother supporting Windows Phone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use certain apps. If you are a Google Drive user, check out the unofficial drive client.. Check out the full review on All About Windows Phone.

Windows Phone:
Download from Windows Store

Polarr

What started out as a browser based photography app has now evolved into a free iOS app (with in app purchases, of course). It’s pretty feature rich and allows you to create and save your own presets as well.

iOS:

 

Football Frenzy – Apps for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone

With the UEFA Champions League and Europa Cup Finals just around the corner and with the FIFA World Cup just a month away, here’s a few apps that are must haves to keep track of the news and updates.

 

Forza Football

Forza FootballForza Football recently underwent a transformation, with a new name (it was formerly called Live Score Addicts), new icon and with a news section added in. It’s the app that I use, and it’s a brilliant, must have app.

You can control the update rate, from an addict friendly 5 seconds to a battery friendly 180 seconds. You can select leagues, teams and tournaments to follow, and it’ll even suggest the league and teams based on your location during initial setup. This includes almost every league and tournament in the world along with international competitions. You can customize what updates you want: Cards, Goals, Game start/half-time/full-time notifications and other events. You have league tables, player stats and much more. But the best part has to be the fact that you can mute notifications for a preset time period or during the nights.

Check them out over at footballaddicts.com

Get the app for iOS and Android (sorry Windows Phone folks):

Download from iTunes

‎Forza Football
‎Forza Football
Developer: FootballAddicts
Price: Free+

Download from Google Play

 

ESPN FCESPN FC

ESPN recently launched an updated app for the World Cup and certain leagues and clubs. It also has video highlights, which unfortunately, is US only.

The Leagues that are supported so far include the top English, German, French, Mexican and American leagues (and a few more), along with the top tournaments. You can get play-by-play updates, match analysis, transfer news bits and more.

Download from iTunes

Download from Google Play

Sorry Windows Phone users. You could try out ESPN Sportscenter:

 

FIFA

When in doubt, get the official app from the governing body itself: the official FIFA app. You get coverage of pretty much all the leagues and cups. I was quite surprised when the app turned out to be actually nice.

Apart from the news, game schedules and scores, the app also has a section outlining FIFA’s various initiatives.

Again, sorry windows phones fans, the app is iOS and Android only. For some weird reason, they don’t have an universal iOS app.

FIFA for iPhone

‎FIFA - Fussball Nachrichten
‎FIFA - Fussball Nachrichten
Developer: FIFA
Price: Free

FIFA for iPad

FIFA für iPad
FIFA für iPad
Developer: FIFA
Price: Free

Download from Windows Phone Store

ScoreMobile FC

ScoreMobile FC, so far at least, has been the only app that I have found that exists on almost every platform. It’s available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone & Blackberry (10 and OS7). It even used to exist on Symbian, until Nokia shut down the Ovi Store (you could probably search for a .sis file, I haven’t linked to one since I am not sure which is the right forum to look at for Symbian nowadays). While the standard features (score updates, game events, match schedules, etc) are present on all platforms, there are limitations on some platforms, primarily when it comes to push notifications.

Get the apps:

Download from iTunes

Download from Google Play

Download from Windows Phone Store

For Pre Blackberry 10 Devices, get the app hereBB10 users, the app has been renamed and is now called theScore. Get it here.

LiveSoccer World Cup Edition

A relatively new app on Android, one that I have not extensively used, is LiveSoccer. Honestly, it’s Football, not Soccer. But the app works pretty well and has the main functionalities that one would expect, with notifications, match details, schedules & news.

Download from Google Play

Are there any apps on your platform of choice that should be here? Let us know in the comments below.

 Image Credit: Wikipedia

Apps for the Week – Inorbit Mall, Dark Sky, Nine for Exchange Mail and Docs and Sheets

Inorbit Mall app for iOS and Android

Inorbit MallIf you regularly visit Inorbit Mall, here’s a nifty app: the official Inorbit Mall app for iOS and Android. Along with listing all the stores at each location, it also lists the current offers available at each store and a really nifty feature called Park Assist, a must have in my opinion, to help you remember where you parked your vehicle.

There is also an option to Shake & Win, which, as Inorbit says:

Shake & Win – Log in, Fill out your profile, tell us a few things about yourself i.e. birthdays, anniversaries & on special occasions at Inorbit you can win loads of prizes. Simply, launch the ‘Shake & Win’ icon and give the app a good shake.

Give it a try, click on the links below for the apps.

 

 Dark Sky for Beautiful Hyper-Local Weather

Dark Sky

Forecast.io is a really good hyperlocal weather service that can be used as a web app on iOS or Android. However, they have an official app for iOS, Dark Sky, and it’s quite a beauty. If you’re a weather forecast addict or just like nice apps in general, this is a must have. At $3.99, it’s pricey, but worth it. They say that they’re working on and Android app as well, although there are a few nice third party apps.

 

Nine for Exchange Mail on Android

Nine Mail

If you happen to use an email account that requires exchange activesync, there are a few apps on Android, including the venerable K9 mail, which has been redesigned. But of all the options that are available, Nine is by far the prettiest of them all. There’s a two week trial, post which you need to unlock full functionality with an in-app purchase, which is normally $19.99, but is currently available for $9.99. That makes it cheaper than MailDroid Pro, which is $17.99 (and it is much better looking). It’s customisable and has PIN entry supported, a must have if you have your work account set up.

 

Nine - Email & Calendar
Nine - Email & Calendar
Developer: 9Folders Inc.
Price: Free+

 

Google Docs and Sheets for iOS and Android

Google Drive was the place to go if you wanted to edit and manage your documents or spreadsheets. They also have Quickoffice. Well, now, opening a document or sheet in Google Drive will prompt you to download the standalone applications if you want to edit your files. Having said that, the standalone applications are quite useful. Download them below, they’re a must have for document viewing and editing while on the move.

‎Google Docs
‎Google Docs
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free
Google Docs
Google Docs
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free
‎Google Tabellen
‎Google Tabellen
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free
Google Sheets
Google Sheets
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free

 

IFTTT on Android and An Affordable Flagship Phone – News Bits

IFTTT now available on Android

If this then that. It’s a service that let’s you use triggers to complete actions and is automated. It was Web only at first. It was released for iOS last year. It’s now available for Android devices as well. The Verge has a really good write-up, outlining the new Android Specific actions that are available.

Read the write-up by The Verge here. You can use the service on the web over at IFTTT.com.

IFTTT
IFTTT
Developer: IFTTT, Inc
Price: Free
‎IFTTT
‎IFTTT
Developer: IFTTT
Price: Free+

The ONEPLUS ONE is officially available

Well, kind of. You still have to be invited to purchase the handset as of now, but the OnePlus One actually seems to live up to all the hype the company has been generating. Their motto is “Never Settle” and they aim to offer quality handsets at affordable prices. Going by the OnePlus One, the quality extends to beyond just build quality – it has top end internals and runs a version of CyanogenMod 11 that was made specifically for this device. The OS itself is customisable and you can change pretty much everything about it. Want on-screen buttons instead of using the capacitive buttons? Can do. Want to change the lockscreen look and shortcuts? Can do.

OnePlus is calling the One (not to be confused the HTC One or the HTC One -M8) the “2014 Flagship Killer”.


Specs:

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 2.5 GHz
  • Display: 5.5″ 1080p LTPS IPS Display from JDI (Japan Display)
  • Memory: 3 GB RAM, 16/64 GB Storage (eMMC 5.0)
  • Battery: 3100 Lithium Polymer Battery
  • Imaging: 13 MP Rear camera, 5 MP Front Camera. Record Videos upto 4K, Slo-mo 120fps at 720p
  • Connectivity:GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz,  WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/8 (Basically, every band in use), LTE: Bands: 1/3/4/7/17/38/40 (FDD LTE, covers a huge part of the world), Dual-band Wi-Fi  802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC

The Phone will be available starting Q2 2014 for $299 for the 16 GB variant and 349 for the 32 GB variant. You can also change the backplate, and OnePlus will soon offer options including Kevlar, Bamboo and Denim!

Check them out over at OnePlus.net.

Here’s the introduction video from OnePlus:

Moto G: A Few Months Later

The first phone that Motorola Mobility had launched as a Google company, the Moto X, proved that you don’t need top end specs to provide a good user experience. It didn’t have the latest processor, highest resolution screen and the features it did add, for the most part, were lauded by reviewers all over. The limited availability (it was US and Canada only for the first 6 months and only recently launched in Europe) and relatively high launch price aside, it proved that for a phone, it’s the whole, integrated package that counts. The second Motorola phone under Google ownership though, aimed for the stars, by going low. By all accounts, it’s been one of the best sellers that Motorola has ever created. We’re talking about the Moto G of course. Now, just as with the Note 3 review, this is a write-up of how the phone has been after months of usage.

The Specs:

  • Display: 4.5” 720p IPS LCD
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
  • Memory: 8/16 GB (No Micro SD slot), 1 GB RAM
  • Imaging: 5 MP Rear Camera, 1.3 MP Front Facing Camera, 720p Video Recording + Slow motion recording
  • Battery: 2070 mAh, Non Removable
  • Connectivity: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100. Single & Dual SIM Variants (available in different regions), WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, Micro USB 2.0
  • OS: Android 4.4.2 (came with Android 4.3 and was updated)

Before we continue, we’re talking about the single SIM variant. There might be small differences in the dual SIM variant (especially related to Battery Life, etc)

What’s in the box:

The Box contents vary by country. For some reason, certain countries do not receive a charger in the box, some countries do not get a headphone in the box, while others get everything. The Moto G sold in France comes with a charger and a pair of headphones, which unfortunately are not the in-ear type. I have not used the provided headphones so I have no idea as to the quality, but I’m sure it is more than passable for recreational uses and most people will use another headset in any case.

Moto-G-What's-in-the-Box

How does it stack up to other devices:

The Moto G is actually a little taller and thicker than the Moto X, but it still feels perfectly sized in the hand, and the dimple at the back somehow feels just right. Here are some comparisons to the Oppo N1, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Nexus 5 and the Moto G on the far right.

MotoG-Size-Comparision-With-Oppo-N1-Note-3-and-Nexus-5

The Good:

The thing that everyone will say about the Moto G is that it is astonishingly good value for the price. It retails for €169 for the 8GB variant and €199 for the 16 GB variant across Europe. In India, the Dual SIM variant retails for ₹12500 for the 8 GB and ₹14000 for the 16 GB. Unlike most of the other phones in that price range though, you get solid build quality and a phone that is actually usable. In normal usage, it actually feels as smooth as most flagship phones, although switching between apps, etc, is a tad bit slower. Having said that, most of the Mediatek powered phones just aren’t in the same league.

Battery Life: This is one of the standout points of the Moto G. On standby, it’s a battery sipper. It almost flatlines over long periods if left aside. In use, while listening to podcasts, walking around shooting some photos and videos, with auto brightness on, the phone lasted about 12 hours, which is really good. Check out some of the battery life screenshots below, which were on low to moderate use.

Moto-G-Battery-Stats

The “Skin” (or lack thereof): The Moto G follows in the Moto X’s footsteps. It’s more or less what most people call “Stock Android”, with some minor Motorola additions. Unlike the Moto X though, you don’t get the active display for notifications (it doesn’t make sense to have that on a LCD screen anyway) or the always listening feature (which is hardware dependent). You do get Motorola Assist, which lets you do certain actions using preset rules: turn the phone to silent mode if there are meetings on your calendar, do not disturb at night, etc. You also get the Motorola Camera app, which is way better than the stock android camera app (that’s one of the areas in which stock android is really, really, really, really, really pathetic). Motorola has also dissociated sections of the OS and has made those parts available via the play store, so they can be updated without requiring a full firmware update. The Gallery, the boot sequence, Assist, the camera app has all been getting updates with improvements and added features.

The Camera App: It’s very simplistic. You tap on the screen to focus and shoot, tap on the little camcorder button to record video. Swipe from the left to access a scrollable wheel of the settings, which include tap to set focus and exposure, slow motion video, Auto HDR (which I do not recommend), Panorama, and more. Swipe from the right to access the gallery. Simple, easy and well implemented. Check some of the sample photos below, along with a slow motion recording.

Photo Samples:

If you can’t view the Flickr Gallery here, you can check this Flikr set for the photos taken with the Moto G.

The Bad:

After months of usage, there are really just two things that bugs me and one of them is the camera. Sure, for the price and considering all the other bits (the performance and the build, etc), there had to be some corners cut. It’s not the low resolution that’s the issue, but the actual quality of the images taken. The auto HDR mode somehow never seems to work properly, so you’re better off toggling the HDR setting manually. Colours are muted, details are so-so. The camera has gotten better with various updates, but it’s got a long way to go.

The other issue is the lack of LTE support. A very minor quibble, considering that it’s a budget phone, with majority of it’s sales in non- LTE markets (and the fact that the SOC doesn’t have LTE support currently).

Final Thoughts:

So, after using the Moto G for a while, it’s really hard NOT to recommend this phone, be it as a backup device or as a phone for a person who doesn’t have really have high expectations when it comes to performance or the camera. It has brilliant battery life, solid build quality and a really good screen for the price. Would I still recommend it now? Absolutely. And I am really looking forward to what Motorola can do with the next iteration of the Moto G that might probably come out later in the year.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3: A Few Months Later

The Samsung Galaxy Note, when it was first announced back in late 2011, was pretty much mocked by the Tech Press in general. Surprisingly, it did reasonably well. Well enough, that when the Note 2 was launched in 2012, the Tech Press actually paid more attention to the device. There’s something about a phone with a massive screen (what most would call a Phablet) that is close to carrying a small screened tablet, in your pocket. You can add in all the “Gimmicks” that Samsung has chucked in there, including the S Pen, and some of it actually turns out to be useful. Samsung’s new Note 3 went on sale a couple of months ago and both Vinu and I have been using it since then. How has it held up? Was it worth the money spent on it (and it was quite a bit)? Let’s find out.

Before we actually get to the device, here’s the background regarding the devices we both came from just before this. I had a Galaxy S4, the Exynos Version, (and a BB 8520 for work), and a Nexus 4 before that. Vinu had a Nexus 4, an iPhone 4S and the Lumia 1020 (and the 920). I currently use the Note 3 and an iPhone 5S everyday (with the iPhone having replaced my work Blackberry) and Vinu uses the Note 3 along with the Lumia 1020 and now has a Oppo N1 CyanogenMod edition also. We’re going to try and talk about what it was like to use everyday, in light of the devices we have, and our different use cases. So, this is more of a report of how the device has been after using it for an extended period of time.

Specs of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Having said that, here’s the specs:

  • Display: 5.7” Super AMOLED 1080p
  • Connectivity: Quad Band GSM (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), HSPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz) (For the N900 variant. The N9005, aka the one running the Snapdragon 800 also has LTE support.), WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (Dual Band), Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.0 (with a weird plug), IR Blaster
  • Imaging: 13 MP Primary Camera, 2 MP Front Facing camera. 1080p (30 & 60 fps recording) (with 4k aka 2160p on the N9005), Slo Mo Video (just like on the Galaxy S4)
  • Battery: 3200mAh
  • Storage: 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage, expandable with a Micro-SD card
  • SOC: Exynos 5420 (aka the Exynos 5 Octa) for the N900. (the N9005 uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800)
  • OS/Platform: Android 4.3 (with 4.4 rolling out for the N9005/N900 as we wrote this)

The Software Experience

New Touchwiz – The Touchwiz on the Note 3 is a huge improvement over the previous versions, but for the Google purists, Samsung still lacks. There’s no quick access button for Google Now, and you have to perform multiple clicks to access this feature. On the S4, long pressing the menu button anywhere brought up Google Search (if you weren’t in an app) or the search menu within the app you were using. On the Note 3, this brings up Samsungs S – finder, which, to put it mildly, is absolutely useless. Frankly, I preferred the earlier implementation as in the S4 over the soft key pull up action as in the nexus series, because this lets you bring up in app search apart from google search. The search hot key brings up Samsung’s S Voice, which is not the best of breeds compared to Google’s Voice Search.
How does it compare to “Google’s Vision”? – Touchwiz is far far far away from “stock” Android and the “Google vision”  of what Android must be (take the Nexus 5 and it’s Google Experience launcher as an example). The colours, the menu layout which is tabbed (it even has a search option to find settings!), the toggles. But there are some redeeming features, some of which are now part of stock android. For example: the transparent status bar was a Samsung/HTC introduction, which third party launchers took advantage of, and now Google has added it as a feature on Kitkat. The ability to swipe down from the top in full screen apps to reveal the status bar is another TouchWiz feature that Google has added in Kitkat. The camera application is way better and more feature rich when compared to the stock android camera app. It’s an acquired taste and this is very much a YMMV (your mileage may vary) thing. You either like it or you don’t.

S Pen and Features:

Pen Window – A nice idea, that isn’t really well implemented. You basically have floating apps, of whatever size you want. But there’s a limited number of supported apps and I wish that they didn’t actually take the size and shape that you draw, but rather retained the aspect ratio of the app and sized to within an acceptable tolerance of the drawn window size.
Action Memo – This was one of the features that was actually useful. Pull the S Pen out, tap on Action Memo and quickly jot down a note. For me, having just moved to a new country, it was really useful while hunting for apartments, asking people for places to buy things and so on. Small things that I would have never put on Evernote, but might have written down on a notepad, if I ever carried one.
Scrapbooker – Like Action Memo, I actually used this to put together stuff while apartment hunting – Maps Data, Written notes, Web Pages with important rules and tenancy laws, etc, and then combined them later into S Notes (which can be set to sync to Evernote).
Handwriting Recognition – The Note 3 also comes with Samsung’s Handwriting recognition keyboard, which is a novelty feature, since not many would pull out the stylus and write up stuff on screen instead of typing. That said, I do agree that Samsung’s handwriting recognition works really well, it detects even cursive writing and no you don’t have to change your writing habits to get this to work – works well 90% of the times.

Other Perks that came with the Note 3 included (this may vary by region though):

  • Free Evernote Premium, integrated with S Notes
  • Free Dropbox 50 GB

Other Samsung Applications – There’s a boat load of Samsung applications preinstalled, but not all of it is bloatware. The only app that I appreciate is S-Health, which I use as a pedometer and also to track my weight, etc. You can connect it to a few peripherals and can also track your diet (although the diet portion is a pain to enter and manage, and I have more or less stopped using it).

The Hardware

Display – The 5.7 inch AMOLED display is pretty good, with really wide viewing angles and pretty decent outdoor readability. You also have to option to change the way it displays colours, either having them to a more “natural” tone all the way up to super contrasty and bright. The pentile sub-pixel arrangement is not noticeable (to be honest, I haven’t been able to pick out pentile vs non pentile, so your mileage will vary).
The New Back, non Glossy – The Black version that I have has a nice, non-glossy, faux leather back panel, which is a huge improvement over the Hyper Glaze rear panel on the S4. It still manages to look and feel new. As for the white cover – it’s not too bad, but tends to get a little dirty from time to time if you don’t use the a case.

The New Pen – there’s not much to say here. It’s thinner than the Note 2 S- Pen and it’s more or less symmetrical, so you could put it back into the slot without fiddling around too much. In my opinion, it’s too thin and the button seems to be a little harder to press and activate.

Access to buttons – The side mounted volume and power buttons (volume on the left, power on the right) are placed in typical Samsung fashion, although I wish they took a more Sony like approach and brought the buttons down a little bit for better access.

The IR Blaster – Now this is something that is actually useful. The Samsung WatchON app is useful, if you’re in a region and your cable provider is supported. The app is actually made by Peel, which also makes the HTC remote application, and is updated quite often adding support to a larger array of providers and set top boxes and TVs. But, if you really want to use the IR Blaster to it’s fullest potential, check out our post on the Smart IR Remote. This app is worth every cent because it allows you to control other peripherals as well (Your AC unit as an example).

Durability – The phone shows a few nicks and scratches on the plastic side from being dropped on the road, without a case to protect it. There are some minor scratches on the screen as well, despite being covered by Gorilla Glass 3 (this is where I go ahead and say “it’s scratch resistant, not scratch proof”)

Imaging

Auto Night Mode/Low Light Detection – Works reasonably well, but can be really irritating at times, as you have to toggle it off to use the flash.

Smooth Capture AKA 60fps 1080p Video – Honestly, I have not tried this feature, and since Youtube cannot really render/play 60 fps videos right now, I don’t see much use for this.

Slo-Mo Video Capture – The  Note 3 does some great Slow Motion Video Capture, here is a sample:

Camera UI and Controls – A lot has been said and written about the camera UIs on various OEM skins, but I have have to say that compared to stock android, the Samsung camera interface is much nicer to use, through not necessarily easier. If you see the screenshots below, similar to the Galaxy S4, you have access to slow motion videos (samples of which are posted below), but most people would never be able to find it. On the other hand, I like the fact that it does make use of the available hardware to let you take full sized photos while recording videos, unlike the AOSP camera app and the Sony camera app, that only take 1080p photos while recording videos (essentially capturing a screenshot of the video record).

Camera samples

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The original, full res photo samples are available on Flickr – here.

User Experience

Battery Life

The large 3200 mAh battery really lets you go free from a charger for extended periods, since it gives a really good backup. On the Nexus 4, Vinu had the battery last for 5-7 hours based on his usage, but on the Note 3, he goes for around 12-16 hours on a single charge. I used to get about 8 hours of use on my S4 and around 12 on the Note 3. Of course, your mileage may vary, as evinced by the stats from 3 users of the exynos model, on different firmware versions, on different networks, with different use cases below.

Vikram-Battery-Stats-Note3 Raghu-Battery-Stats-Note3 Deepak-Battery-Stats-Note3

Performance in day to day tasks

The phone performs quite well with day to day tasks of emails, social media and assorted gaming, the 3GB RAM and the  processor  allows multi-tasking without the usual slowdowns which show up on lower spec’d phones. Some people on the Exynos model of the Note 3 complain about freezes on their phones, but we didn’t notice that on our phones.

Summary

A few months later, and a few months closer to the next round of flagship releases, is the Note 3 still worth being considered as device to be purchased? Well, yes and no. The price should drop a bit soon and there’s still quite a ways to go before the next version of the Note series is announced. If you need a big phone with a big screen and the stylus, then yes, the Note 3 is definitely worth it. The IR Blaster is quite handy, especially when you consider all the other apps that can really take advantage of it, check out our previous post on how to do it. It also depends on which device you’re moving from. If you are used to a big phone, like the original Galaxy Note, then the Note 3 is worth a try (also, the original Note needs a rest). If you’re on a Note 2, you could possibly wait for the next one, unless you’re the frequent upgrader. In which case, go for it.

 

As mentioned in the beginning, @vinuthomas contributed to this post.

XOLO launches the Q900 in India for Rs.12,999

XOLO Q900 Xolo has been on a roll of late when it comes to releasing products. The released the Xolo Tab which uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 SOC and the Xolo Play Tab 7 which uses a Tegra 3 SOC. Now, they’re back again with a new, affordable phone, with a 4.7″ 720p screen, the XOLO Q900.

Here are the specifications:

 

  • Display: 4.7″ 720p screen (1280 x 720) TFT
  • Processor: 1.2 G Mediatek (MTK 6589) with a PowerVR SGX 544 GPU
  • Connectivity: Dual SIM (3G/2G) Quadband GSM (850/900/1800/1900), HSPA 2100 MHz, Micro USB, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Storage: 4GB Internal Storage, MicroSD Slot (expandable upt 32GB), 1GB RAM
  • Battery: 1800 mAh
  • Imaging: 8MP with a BSI Sensor Rear Camera, 2MP Front Facing Camera, 1080p Video Recording
  • OS: Android 4.2.1

The whole thing should cost around INR 12,999. You can find out more about the phone over on its product page, here.

Honestly speaking, I wish Xolo would also spend more effort on after sales support and updates for its older phones, but that might just be me.

 

Here’s the Press Release:

XOLO launches Q900 – Perfect Size with Brilliant Display
Priced at Rs. 12,999
30th October 2013: XOLO, the premium smartphone brand, today expanded its impressive portfolio of Quad-core Smartphones by announcing the launch of XOLO Q900. The newly launched XOLO Q900 is a perfectly sized smartphone with a super sharp 312 ppi display. It comes with an ideal screen size of 4.7 inches which makes this device very comfortable to hold and very easy to reach each corner of its screen effortlessly.
Its high density screen with 312 PPI, delivers crystal clear display that produces sharper, crisper images reflecting true colors. XOLO Q900 smartphone is perfectly suited for endless entertainment. It runs on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and is equipped with a 1.2 GHz processor and 1 GB  RAM for lag-free and smooth performance. It supports full HD video playback for a wholesome multimedia experience.
The 8 MP rear camera with LED Flash and BSI sensor produces brilliant pictures even in low light. The XOLO Q900 comes with 2 MP front camera for 3G video calling. The camera at the rear is also capable of recording videos at 1080p.
XOLO Q900 has 4 GB internal memory and its external memory can be expanded up to 32 GB to store lots of apps, pictures, videos, music and more.
The 1800 mAh battery on XOLO Q900 will support long hours of non-stop entertainment. It offers 18 hours of Music Playback and 5 hours of Video Playback. The standby time is 384 hours on 2G and 298 hours on 3G, the talk time on 2G is 13 hours and on 3G it is 10 hours.
The XOLO Q900 will be available in white color at Rs. 12,999
Key specifications of XOLO Q900
  • 1.2 GHz Quad-core Processor
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
  • 4.7 inch HD display with 312 PPI
  • 8 MP AF rear Camera with BSI Sensor
  • 2 MP front camera
  • 4 GB internal Memory
  • 32 GB expandable memory
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 1800 mAh Battery
  • Dual SIM (3G+2G)

XOLO gets into the tablet market with the XOLO Tab

Xolo, which has a plethora of Android Smartphones in its portfolio, including some Intel Chipset based devices (X900, X910, X1000) and a Tegra 3 Device (Xolo Play), is now getting into the Tablet market as well, with the launch of the Xolo Tab, an 8″ Android tablet that is quite affordable for a WiFi + 3G device.
image

 

Here’s a brief run through of the specs:

  • Screen – 8″ 1024×768 pixels, IPS
  • SOC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 (1.2 GHz Quad Core A5 Processor, Adreno 203 GPU)
  • Connectivity – GSM 900/1800 MHz, HSPA 2100 MHz, WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, USB 2.0\
  • Storage – 4GB Internal Storage, 1GB RAM
  • Imaging – 2MP Rear Camera, VGA (0.3MP) Front Facing Camera
  • OS – Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • Battery – 4000 mAh

What really surprised me was the fact that it didn’t utilize a MediaTek chipset like most other devices in the same price range and the fact that it runs 4.1.2, when most of the other Xolo devices run 4.2.2. But that’s all pretty much forgiven when you take into account the price of the device: INR 13,499. We’ll try and get our hands on one and take it for a quick test.

 

Here’s the Press Release:

XOLO expands its portfolio, launches its first Tablet- XOLO TAB
6th September 2013: After making a successful entry in the Indian Mobile Phone industry last year, XOLO now enters a new segment with the launch of its first Tablet. XOLO – a premium smartphone manufacturer came into existence last year in April, 2012 with the launch of the world’s first mobile phone with the power of Intel Inside and since then XOLO has launched various phones in the mid to high end smartphone segment. The brand’s philosophy since the inception has been to provide something better and extra to its customers, with an intent to deliver an experience of +1. XOLO’s latest addition to its portfolio is Slim and Powerful Q1000s and XOLO Play, a true delight for gamers that is powered by 1.5 Ghz NVIDIA Tegra quad-core processor with NVIDIA GeForce GPU.
XOLO today expanded its portfolio with the launch of its first Tablet – XOLO TAB. The light weight XOLO TAB comes with a big IPS 20.32cm (8) screen that offers clear and crisp display with a resolution of 1024×768 for an amazing and comfortable experience. It supports multi-touch and pinch to zoom. It has an Adreno 203 GPU and is capable of playing HD videos at 720p @30fps.
It runs on Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 and comes packed in with a powerful Snapdragon 1.2 GHz quad-core processor for faster and  improved performance. It also supports 3G video and voice calling to ensure users are always connected with their friends and family.
For faster and smoother experience the new XOLO TAB is equipped with 1GB RAM. It comes with 4GB of internal memory of which 2.5GB is available for the users and the external memory can be expanded using a microSD card up to 32 GB to store lots of songs, movies and games.
It has a 2 MP rear camera and a 0.3 MP front camera that can be used to make 3G video calls. It supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity as well.
Its 4000 mAh battery ensures that it doesn’t need frequent recharges and assures you of uninterrupted fun.
This big 20.32 cm (8) quad-core Tab with 3G connectivity is available for purchase at Rs. 13,499 only. It will be availabe in the white color in the retail stores by the end of this week.
 

Accessorise and Protect your phone with Case Mate

Your smartphone really is your portable computing device, your camera, media player, and so much more. You’ve probably invested a lot of money in your smartphone, both for the hardware and for the services and apps that you’ve purchased. You’ve probably also spent a lot of time setting it up so that it’s just right for you to use. Now all it takes is a little slip and what you have, is a broken phone (most probably the screen), a trip to the service center, and a hefty charge for replacement parts.

The most practical way to protect your phone is to put a case on it. It’ll probably also set you apart from the hundreds of thousands of people who have the exact same device. There’s a plethora of accessory makers out there, but the one that I’ve used for almost every smartphone that I’ve owned is Case Mate.

Now, what I generally do is buy the case from the Case Mate website or from Clove and pay extra for shipping to India. What I didn’t know though, was that as of late last year, Case Mate has an online presence in India. So that’s two benefits: It’s cheaper than buying it abroad and you’ll get it quicker (I really need to go and run a quick calculation to see how much I would have saved had I known about this).

They have a huge range of series, so regardless of what kind of cover you want, you’ll probably find something you like, from the Barely There series to the Pop Cases (with a kick stand to prop your device) to the  Tough Cases (which I personally prefer). You can also customize your case.

So head on over to Case Mate and a have a look and buy from their site. You can also follow them on Twitter and on Facebook. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

[button style=”2″ caption=”Visit Case Mate India” link=”http://www.case-mate.in/”][/button]

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