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

Google Play Delays Shipment of LG G Watch Pre-Orders in India

It looks like the folks in India who’ve pre-ordered the LG G Watch in India are in for a disappointment. We all know that the Android Wear devices on Google Play are currently showing up as out of stock. This also apparently affects  people who’ve pre-ordered the watches earlier.

For those who’ve pre-ordered, the status of the order in the Google Play shows up as “Dispatched from warehouse by 8 July”. This doesn’t mean that the devices are on their way. Clicking through to the order information page will show that the the order still doesn’t show a tracking number. This means that the devices are still not on the way to your wrists.

Google_Play

A quick email to Google Play support asking about the order status confirms the delay. Here’s what they say:

As per the update from the product team, Google Play is currently holding your order until we have the inventory ready to fulfill the entire order. This is because we’re currently experiencing high order volumes for the LG G watch and we’re out of stock. When the shipper ships your order, you’ll receive a shipping confirmation email along with the tracking number. Therefore, I’d request you to wait till the order is shipped. Unfortunately, I am unable to provide you with the exact date of shipment.

As the support email states, they have no information about when the devices will actually get shipped out to your homes. I’m sure the folks who’ve dropped a chunk of change on the device are eagerly waiting for the device to ship out. All we can do is wait till the logistics issues are sorted out.

Have you placed your order for the LG G Watch on Google Play? Let us know when you get any updates on the shipping status by commenting below.

Email from Google Play Support Confirming Delays in Shipment
Email from Google Play Support Confirming Delays in Shipment

[Infographic] How to Look Great While Wearing Smartwatches

We know how dull and drab most wearables and smartwatches look when we actually wear them. Of course they do provide great features which we would love to use, but at there are times when you’d rather not be caught wearing one of these geeky tech devices.

Here’s an infographic from Samsung showing us how to accessorize and wear their Galaxy Gear range of smartwatches for all occasions. These tips also hold true for most other smartwatches as well, so take a look and get inspired.

(Click on the image for a larger view)
How-to-wear-Gear-Series-in-style

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:

[table th=”false” class=”table-striped”]

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

Memory, “2GB RAM, 16 GB onboard storage (13.22GB Usable capacity)”

Camera, “13 Megapixel Rear Shooter with Dual LED Flash, 2 Megapixel front facing camera”

Connectivity, “3G, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, Wifi, Wifi Direct, NFC”

Sensors, “Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor, Electronic Compass and Barometer”

Battery, 3050 mAh Lithium Ion battery

Colors, Metallic Grey

[/table]

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.

The Gionee S5.5 to get Kitkat Update Soon

[highlight_orange]Updated[/highlight_orange] The OTA update is already out, so head over to your phone Settings > System Updates and download it.


For those of you who are using the Slim and Sleek Gionnee Elife S5.5 phone, here’s some good news for you. I just heard that the latest Android Kitkat update will be rolling out to your phones later today. Apart from the upgrade to Kitkit you’ll see a few more changes around the phone like a new layout for the phone and updates to the bundled apps.

Here’s a full list of what you can expect from this update for the S5.5:

  1. Android upgrade to Kit Kat
  2. New Desktop layout
  3. Removed the world cricket champion
  4. Added Du speed booster for faster operations
  5. Updated Amigo Paper with a brand new UI interface design
  6. Updated Game Zone with a new UI interface design
  7. Updated GioneeXender for optimized performance and further improved the linking success rate
  8. Updated UC browser, with optimized UI interface and page loading effects
  9. Updated NQ Mobile Security for better protection of your phone
  10. Updated Kingsoft WPS for more efficient work and study related operations
  11. Updated map with only one entrance into the main menu
    12.Theme and wallpaper will be reset to default after the system update, but data will not be lost. Simply re-apply chosen theme and wallpaper

If you find anything else which has changed after you update your phone, let us know by leaving a comment below.

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

Google’s Android Wear Features and Device Availability

Google made an initial announcement about their Android Wear platform a couple of months back. Well today, they’ve sent a lot more information about the platform our way.

Google Wear Features

Wear will support square and round screens, and will have low power always-on screens which will transform to a full color display when your hand is raised. These devices will have a selection of watch faces which you can select and use – I’m sure we’ll be able to download more watch faces to customize the watch once developers start churning them out.

Google Wear also pulls notifications from the phone and displays it on the watch screen. The UI for these are in line with the Material Design which was also announced today with Android L. You should be able to swipe up and down through notifications and swipe them off screen to dismiss them. What’s great is that dismissing a notification on the watch also dismisses them on your phone. You can also reject calls from the Google Wear Watch with pre-canned messages.

Wear devices will also be able to respond to voice commands to search, set reminders and more. The Google Wear devices come with sensors for activity tracking for your favorite health and activity tracking apps to tap into.

Yet another feature of Google Wear devices is the ability to navigate through Android TV interfaces straight from the watch using swipe gestures. While there are no Android TV devices on sale yet, they’re expected towards the end of the year.

Google Wear Devices

LG G Watch Powered by Android Wear
The LG G watch will come with a 400mAH battery, and like the two other devices announced today, will be dust and waterproof. Not much details have come out regarding the Samsung Gear Live, but it looks like it’ll be a similar spec device like the Samsung Gear 2. The only difference being that the Gear Live should be able to pair with most Android phones (running 4.3 and above), unlike the Gear 2 which works only with a handful of Samsung phones.

The LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live should go on sale on Google Play Store in the next few hours. The much awaited Moto 360, unfortunately, won’t go on sale today. The wait for this drool worthy device will continue for the next two months.

Google Announces Android One – For Low Cost Smartphones

It’s well known that Google wants everyone to carry an Android smart phone. Not just the high-end market, but at the lower end as well. Now we’ve all seen that the lower end of the Android market is plagued with outdated Android versions and virtually no updates.

To overcome this, Google today announced their Android One program. In this, Google is working on a set of hardware reference platforms which include hardware specs and which components are used in the device. Manufacturers who’ve partnered with Google can use these to create “high quality affordable smart devices”.

It doesn’t stop at hardware, these phones will come with stock Android experience. Through Google Play, Google will allow manufacturers and carriers to add locally relevant apps and content to the phones. The good thing here is unlike preloaded apps, you can choose to uninstall these if you wish to.

Micromax Android One PhoneWant more? All the software updates for Android One will auto update on the phones, since these will be coming directly from Google.

Google is currently working with Micromax to build out an Android One phone which comes with a 4.5 inch screen, Dual SIM, SD Card support and FM radio. This phone is set to retail at a price point of Rs. 6,000 or less. In addition, they’ve also partnered with Karbon and Spice to bring out more Android One devices in India.

This is going to boost up the quality of budget phones which will be hitting the Indian markets towards the end of this year. How I wish Google had initiated an update process like they’ve announced for Android One for mid-range and Flagship phones as well.

Android One Partners in India

Mobile Banking with ING Vysya App on Android and iOS

This has to be the first review of a banking app here on this site. We rarely ever cover mobile banking apps where since most of them are pretty limited in nature to check account balances and the last few transactions just a few other minor features thrown in. They’re great to see your account balance (or lack of) on the mobile, but you rarely ever do any transactions using a mobile app usually.

ING Vysya’s Mobile App

When I was initially asked to meet the team behind building the ING Vysya mobile apps a some weeks back, I was skeptical about being introduced to “yet another” mobile banking app. This changed as soon as I got my hands on a test build of the app running on my phone, and of course tied to an account with “test” money to play with. This was great to try out all the features of the app without actually playing around with real money. My initial views of app just from the few screens I saw was that it was quite mature and had a polished UI. The designers behind the app ensured that the app has great visuals and the UI flow which is intuitive. Just this refined look of the app encouraged me to dig in more and explore.

Full Featured

The more I explored, I found that this app manages to provide almost all the features that the online banking site provides right here on the mobile. They succeeded in doing this without having overtly complex menu systems. Here are some of the features that the app provides:

  • Account Balance, Recent transactions, Transaction report between dates and the ability to email or mail details of these transactions to you,
  • Open Recurring or Fixed Deposits
  • Fund Transfers
  • Bill Payments – Phones, Utilities, Charities, Insurance, DTH and even subscriptions to Readers Digest and India Today Magazines
  • Investments, Loans and Demat tracking
  • Shopping deals
  • Even last-minute gifting via e-gift vouchers which you can send your friends
  • ATM and branch Locator
  • Cheque snapshot feature – a little more on this coming up.

If you issue cheques regularly, you might be filling out the details on a slip at the back of the chequebook to keep track of details. This app comes with a feature where you can just click a snap of the filled out cheque and it’s stored on the phone and on the bank’s cloud. You can take a refer to these later when you need to look up details.

There’s not much you can’t do within the app making your mobile banking experience a full featured experience.

Screenshots from the ING Vysya App

It just doesn’t stop there, after I got my actual account activated in the Bank, I headed over to Google Play to download the app. The first thing I noticed was the reviews on the app, and the bank does seem quite proactive with reviews where people were facing issues and guiding them. It’s a great initiative for a bank to be on top of user’s feedback. So if you have an account in ING Vysya, go ahead and install the app for banking on the go.

Download

Download from iTunes

Download from Google Play

Download for Windows Phone

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

[table th=”0″]

Display, 4.5 Inch Clear Black FWVGA (854 x 480) screen
Processor, 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon S400
Memory, “512MB 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
Colors, “Bright 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
[/table]

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.