Android

Review: Vodafone Smart Ultra 6

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 (11)

We recently took a look at Vodafone’s sub 100 euro smartphone and were truly shocked to see such a solid device for a price that low. Vodafone quickly trampled over that with the launch of the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6. The specs include a 5.5-inch 1080p IPS display, Octa-core processor and 4G support. The most important factor here is the cost with the price tag set at €175. This is pretty mind blowing, since we’re dealing with mostly top notch spec’s. We’re already seriously impressed.

It’s time to get this review rolling. Below are the main specs and after that we take a look at the phone itself.

  • Android 5.0.1 Lollipop
  • 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS display
  • Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615
  • Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & quad-core 1.0 GHz Cortex-A53
  • 2GB of RAM
  • Adreno 405
  • 13 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
  • 5 MP front facing camera
  • 16GB Storage with MicroSD slot
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, hotspot, v4.0, A2DP,
  • FM radio
  • 154 x 77 x 8.4 mm, 159 g
  • 3000 mAh battery

The Vodafone Smart Ultra 6

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 (10)

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 (9)   Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 (1)

The design is very similar to the Smart Prime 6, but the MicroUSB is now centered, and we no longer have a removable back cover. The Nano sim slot and MicroSD slot are now located on the sides of the device and are accessible using an included metal pin.

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 (6)

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 (8) Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 (7)

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 (5)

 

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 (2) Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 (3)

Much like the Smart Prime 6, Vodafone had to keep the costs down as much as possible, but the design is still very solid with the device being both slim and lightweight.

The UI

Thankfully Vodafone have kept a pretty clean and vanilla Android UI. The device does include some Vodafone apps, which considering it’s a Vodafone phone is no surprise and not an issue.

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 UI (1) Vodafone Smart Prime 6 UI (2) Vodafone Smart Prime 6 UI (3)

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 UI (4) Vodafone Smart Prime 6 UI (5) Vodafone Smart Prime 6 UI (7)

Again, straight forward and clean, exactly what we love to see. If users want to use a third party launcher, they can do so just as with any Android phone before it. The UI is also as smooth as most flagship devices, and even multi-tasking loads quicker than expected.

Camera UI

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Camera UI (6) Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Camera UI (4)

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Camera UI (3)

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Camera UI (7)   Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Camera UI (2)

The included camera app is surprisingly well built and offers a decent array of included modes and level of control with the manual mode. The layout does have some issues, with options and title information staying in portrait, even though most users will use the camera in landscape.

Photos

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo Normal (3) Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo HDR (5)

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo Normal (2) Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo HDR (2)

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo Normal (1) Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo HDR (1)

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo Normal (5) Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo HDR (3)

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo Normal (4) Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo HDR (4)

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo Normal (7) Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo HDR (7)

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo Normal (6) Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo HDR (6)

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo Normal (9) Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo HDR (9)

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo Normal (8) Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo HDR (8)

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo Normal (10) Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo HDR (10)

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo Normal (11) Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 Photo HDR (11)

Pretty solid quality, but we can see some balance issues when using HDR. but the standard performance and balance is fairly solid and typical of a standard 13MP camera.

Videos

Benchmarks

Most flagship devices will offer insane performance that mostly goes far beyond what is necessary for the function of the device, but there still are some important aspects of performance and it’s nice to know your device is up for the challenge of the future.

The Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 includes an Octa-Core processor which offers fantastic performance throughout the UI and application of the devices. The benchmarks below also shows you shouldn’t be running into any issues with most applications. Another impressive fact for this €175 euro device.

3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited  7790
Antutu 5  26531
Geekbench 3 Single-Core  647
Geekbench 3 Multi-Core  2143
Vellamo Metal  900
Vellamo Multicore  1040
Vellamo Browser (Chrome)  2188
PC Mark 2884

Gameplay Performance

An easier way to determine performance is for some heavy gameplay. We have done the same test on every flagship device to launch over the years, so let’s see how the Smart Ultra 6 from Vodafone fairs with the top games on Android.

GTA San Andreas had some hiccups on max settings, but other than that, performance was epic. Both dead trigger 2 and Modern Combat 5 played and looked beautifully. GTA mostly looked the same even with the lowered settings, and was more than enjoyable. We have seent he same issue with other flagship device in the past, with GTA almost being the Crysis of the mobile world.

This device continues to impress.

Battery life

Being a large device, it only makes sense to see a decent size battery inside, and thankfully Vodafone included a nice 3,000mAh battery.

Our test aims for medium-to-heavy usage within a 12 hour period with different tasks done throughout the day. The idea here is to use the device as intended and determine an approximate performance users can expect from the phone over a similar day usage.

Phone Calls 20-30 Minutes
Text message/Chat/Emails Throughout the day(checking) and 20-30 sent
Photos 10-20
Video recording 20-30 Minutes
Internet browsing Throughout the day(around 30-40 minutes total)
Gaming 30 Minutes
YouTube/Netflix 30-40 Minutes
Connectivity WiFi and 4G; mostly 4G
Screen Brightness 50-percent

Color us impressed. At the end of the day we had over 35-percent battery left, which is higher than expected. We can easily see 2 days usage with the device with gaming being dropped and brightness being lowed slightly. 30-percent brightness was more than ample, but we use 50-percent for all of our tests. Again, we’re impressed and the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 seems like it’s hitting all the right targets.

Conclusion

It’s time to wrap up the review. Below is a breakdown of different categories with Design, Display, Camera, Performance and finally Overall.

Design

The price aspect of this device of course comes with some serious conditions, and design is definitely going to be one. While plastic designs are considered lesser when it comes to premium design, when their done right, can still offer a nice experience.

Vodafone kept the device slim and light, considering it is a 5.5-inch device. The device feels great in hand, and doesn’t once feel cheap in anyway. It’s definretly a well built device and we commend Vodafone for being able to do that on a device at such a low price point.

Display

Easly the most stand out feature on paper. The sub €200 device offers a 1080p IPS display, something we have never seen before from any manufacturer. Even Apple are only now offering a 1080p IPS display on their iPhone 6+.

The screen is bright, has great colours, and look fantastic. Exactly what you would expected from a 1080p IPS display. Vodafone didn’t manage to get a hold of some B grade displays on the cheap, they put a solid performing IPS display into their device that is sure to impress.

Camera

Probably the only feature that doesn’t blow us away . The 13MP is a solid performer, but we are still spoiled by the insane performance that Samsung, Sony and others offer with their flagships.

The images are clear, with great detail, but again, the performance is not on the same level you would get from a true flagship device from this or even last year. Again, at this price point, we doubt anyone would be shocked, and performance is in no way bad, but there are some balance issues with the HDR mode, that were’t present with the smart prime 6, so not expected with bigger sibling.

Performance

The Snapdragon  chipset is set to give you great performance , We didn’t experience any lag or issues throughout UI performance, as thankfully Vodafone offer a pretty clean Android UI and nothing gets it the way of the smooth performance.

Gaming shows us the Smart Ultra 6 can easily handle the top games. GTA showed some low FPS, but a quick change from max to high settings gave us much smoother performance with barely a drop in quality. We have seen GTA with issues on other devices with max settings, even with a €500+ pricetags.

So basically you shouldn’t expect anything other than top performance out of the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 smartphone. We checked again, this phone really is only €175.

Overall

If you haven’t already guessed it. We absolutely love the Smart Ultra 6. Vodafone have done some real magic here and to be honest, this really is a game changer. If a network itself can offer a device of this level for a this price, it really should put the big manufacturers on notice to bring something new to the table, or at least offer more affordable devices with similar specs.

1080p IPS display, Octa-Core processor, 4G networking, MicroSD slot and great battery life are all available for €175. Last year a phone like this would have set you back over €500. Bar the camera’s less than spectacular performance, we have zero negativity for this device, and even then, we’re stretching about the camera.

Now we have had phones with better displays, performance, and design, but none at anywhere near this pricetag. We can’t even think of a device that costs double that would really do much more than this.

The Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 no doubt gets a gold award and we definitely recommend it to anyone look for a great full featured high end smartphone for under €200.

Geektech.ie Gold Award

A big thanks to Vodafone for sending out the Smart Ultra 6 for review. The current price of the device is €175 at any Vodafone retail store or online at Vodafone.ie

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Samsung announce Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5

edgeplus-fb

It was rumored that Samsung were aiming to pull up their release of the new Note series device as en effort to curb Apple’s sales, and then the press invites rolled out and the next Galaxy unpacked event was set for today.

Samsung took to the stage to announce two new devices, and thanks to plenty of leaks, we had pretty solid specs/details on both devices. The new Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Note 5 have arrived and most of the leaks have been confirmed. Below is a breakdown of both of the new devices.

Galaxy Note 5

note5-fb

The Galaxy Note 5 will feature a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with 2,160 x 1,440 resolution. Inside we have Samsung’s own Exynos 7420 chipset with Octa-Core processor with 4 x 2.1GHz and 4 x 1.5GHz. Ram has now been bumped up to 4GB for some serious multi-tasking prowess. The device will be running Android 5.1 and has a 3,000mAh battery. The camera on the back is 16MP, which we assume is the same as the Galaxy S6. Sadly this time around, we have no removable battery or expandable memory, which seems like a massive step backwards for Samsung.

The S-Pen has been given a new look and now has a push mechanism for releasing it form the phone itself. Users can also start writing an instant memo even while the device is in standby.

Galaxy S6 Edge+

edgeplus-fb

The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is a larger twin of the not so long ago S6 Edge. The specs are mostly identical to the Note 5 above with the same Exynos 7420 chipset and display size and resolution (5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with 2,160 x 1,440 resolution). We have the same 16MP camera and 3,000mAh battery. The curved display is of course still present, and Samsung have included some new software tweaks that allow apps to be pinned to the edge of the display.

Again, much like the S6 and S6 Edge, we have no removable battery or memory card slot, meaning what you see is what you get.

Both devices are sent to arrive on August 21st, at least in the US. Pricing is as expected with over €700 for a contract-less unit. The devices will be avaialble in both 32GB and 64GB models, with 128GBset to arrive in the near future.

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Review: Urban Armour Gear for HTC One M9

HTC One M9 UAG Cover (11)

 

While a metal device looks and feels great, a scratch or dent doesn’t. No matter the device or build quality, we always recommend a cover to protect it. We’re a big fan of UAG’s covers and we got one for the HTC One M9 and wanted to put together a quick review.

The review is straight forward, below are shots of the cover for the phone, and below that we have a conclusion. We also have embedded the video review if you wish to check that out as well.

The UAG Ash Cover

HTC One M9 UAG Cover (5)

HTC One M9 UAG Cover (4) HTC One M9 UAG Cover (3)

HTC One M9 UAG Cover (6)

HTC One M9 UAG Cover (9) HTC One M9 UAG Cover (7)

HTC One M9 UAG Cover (11)

HTC One M9 UAG Cover (8) HTC One M9 UAG Cover (10)

HTC One M9 UAG Cover (14)

Conclusion

Throughout the years UAG have brought us cover and cover and each time they offer a beautiful design with excellent protection abilities. We have said it before, they have been nothing but consistent when it comes to excellence and we’re still huge fans of their offerings.

The UAG Ash for the HTC One M9 offers the popular urban look with the added protection on the corners, added grib and the overall semi-transperent design compliments the HTC’s metal body extremely well.

It’s hard not to be impressed with the cover for the HTC ONe M9, it’s not too expensive and ticks the right boxes for a good looking cover that offers great protection. We definitely recommend the UAG Ash if your looking for exactly those features in a cover.

Geektech.ie Gold Award

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Review: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (15)

Samsung have typically always stuck to a certain set of design rules with their flagship smartphones, but up until recently we have see that mentality change. We normally deal with plastic housing, removable batteries, and expandable storage. While not the most important aspects of the device, they did shape the overall design, feature set and aesthetic. Something we had become use to with Samsung over the years.

The Galaxy S6 pretty much chucks those previous rules out the window. The Galaxy S6 Edge is one of two (possibly more) devices in Samsung’s latest flagship offering. The design stems from the Note edge which launched late last year with Samsung now taking the edge to both sides of the device.

Before we take a closer look at the device, let’s check out the specs for the Galaxy S6 Edge

  • Android 5.0.2 Lollipop with TouchWiz
  • 5.1″ Super AMOLED of QHD (1440 x 2560) resolution with 577ppi and  Corning Gorilla Glass 4
  • Exynos 7420 64-bit chipset, octa core processor with four 2.1GHz Cortex-A57’s and four 1.5GHz Cortex-A53 cores,
  • Mali-T760 MP8 GPU
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 16MP camera, f/1.9 aperture, 4K video recording, LED flash, optical image stabilization
  • 5MP front-facing camera, f/1.9 aperture, 1440p QHD video, HDR
  • 32/64/128 GB of built-in storage (64GB comes as standard issue on some markets)
  • fingerprint scanner
  • LTE Cat.6, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, GPS/GLONASS/Beidou, NFC, IR port, Bluetooth 4.1, ANT+
  • Heart-rate sensor, barometer, SpO2
  • Wireless charging (Qi/PMA)
  • 2,600mAh battery

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (9)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (10) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (11)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (8)

The edge of display bleeds over the side of the phone. This not only looks beautiful by itself, but also gives the display a very nice immersive feeling. The Note edge featured a single side curve, but it was more distinctive. the Galaxy S6 edge doesn’t really add separate functionality such as dedicated notices as the Note edge did, but still looks way nicer.

 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (7) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (4)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (5)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (6) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (14)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (12)

The Galaxy S6 and S6 edge both feature a metal frame and gorilla glass on the front and back of the device. Sadly, the device is completely sealed, meaning no removable battery, and shockingly no MicroSD card slot. While the lack of those features are sizable drawback, this is no doubt Samsungs most beautiful device. It looks and feels amazing, a true piece of engineering beauty.

UI

The Galaxy S6 is rocking their latest version of TouchWiz. This is easily the best version yet. It’s simple and unbelievably fast. The design also has subtle changes, but Samsung did a great job in making sure TouchWiz didn’t use up too many resources. The Octa-Core CPU of course helps in this arena.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge UI (1) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge UI (6) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge UI (4)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge UI (5) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge UI (7) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge UI (8)

The recent app list is very similar to the Android default, but does include the multi-tasking button to split view two apps together. Something the Note 4 had at launch as well.

The S6 Edge also has a side swipe action that brings up 5 color coded icons that users can set up for specific contacts. The colors are then associated with the contact and allows the device to flash that color when facing down – allowing you to identify who is ringing before looking at the screen.

Camera UI

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Camera UI (1) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Camera UI (5)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Camera UI (2) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Camera UI (4)

The camera app has been given a decent upgrade. The latest version includes more control over manual settings with the new Pro mode. Auto is still available for quick options, which still includes HDR, Video Stabilization and such. Samsung also include saving custom options in the Camera Pro mode. This is an excellent feature that allows users to really tweak their camera settings and save them for future user without having to keep re-doing them each time.

Now let’s take a look at images taken with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. Below are images taken with HDR off and HDR on. The full size images can be viewed with the link below them.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Photo (1) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge HDR Photo (1)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Photo (4) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge HDR Photo (4)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Photo (2) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge HDR Photo (2)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Photo (3) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge HDR Photo (3)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Photo (5) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge HDR Photo (5)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge HDR Photo (6) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Photo (6)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Photo (7) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge HDR Photo (7)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Photo (8) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge HDR Photo (8)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Photo (10) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge HDR Photo (10)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Photo (9) Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge HDR Photo (9)

Full size images

Videos

The Samsung Galaxy S6/edge supports a good few different video modes. This includes 1080p, 2K, 4K, HDR, stabilization, and 60fps. Below are some videos put together with all of these different options.

1080p

1080p@60fps

2K

4K

Benchmarks

Performance has already been clear throughout the device, but benchmarks are still a great way to convey just how good it performs.

3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited 21716
Antutu 5 64bit 67706
Geekbench 3 Single-Core 1468
Geekbench 3 Multi-Core 4630
Vellamo Metal 2558
Vellamo Multicore 3001
Vellamo Browser (Chrome) 3064
Vellamo Browser (Stock) 5178

Pretty much the highest scores we have seen on a smartphone. The Galaxy s6 Edge is easily the top performing smartphones on the market.

Gameplay

We’re always interested to see how well gameplay performance is on a device. Below are some of the most popular and graphically intensive games on the market. The games we test are Dead Trigger 2, GTA San Andreas, and Modern Combat 5. Normally we use an Xbox 360 joypad with a USB OTG cable, however Samsung have not included support for the joypad with the device. Something we first saw with the Galaxy Alpha, but not with the Note 4, so not sure what Samsung are doing here. We do apologies for any interference in the video you may getting from having to use touch controls.

Battery Performance

Samsung include a 2,600mAh battery inside the Galaxy S6 Edge. Since the battery is not user removable, it makes it more important that we can decent performance out of it. Below is our run through of semi-specific tasks.

Phone Calls 20-30 Minutes
Text message/Chat/Emails Throughout the day(checking) and 20-30 sent
Photos 10-20
Video recording 20-30 Minutes
Internet browsing Throughout the day(around 30-40 minutes total)
Gaming 30 Minutes
YouTube/Netflix 30-40 Minutes
Connectivity WiFi and 3G; mostly 3G
Screen Brightness 50-percent

At the end of the day we saw the Galaxy S6 Edge last all day with just under over 25-percent battery life left. This is with medium-heavy usage. While not as impressive as we had hoped, we can easily see this device lasting all day with somewhat heavy usage.

Keep in mind that at 50-percent the display was still extremely bright and lowering it more would easily provide a decent boost. The same can be said for many factors, where doing more or less of certain tasks will have an affect on battery life, so always keep that in mine.

Conclusion

It’s time to wrap up our review. The Samsung Galaxy S6 edges takes Samsung in a few new directions and offers the usual bump in performance mostly across the board. We break down our conclusion into a few categories with Design, Display, Camera, Performance, and finally overall.

Design

The new direction for Samsung. The Galaxy S6/Edge is Samsung’s first device were design was the main focus, and more so for the Edge. It can’t be denied that the Galaxy S6 Edge is Samsung’s most beautiful looking device they’ve made. It’s also one of the nicest available. The curved glass is a marvel to witness and hold and really goes a long way to making the device look unique and gorgeous. That being said, it does bring forward some drawbacks and highlights what could be seen as some bad decision making on Samsung’s part.

The device now lacks any form of expandable storage, and no longer has a removable battery. Two features that have been apart of Samsung design foray for years. Also missing from the predecessor is any form of water resistance behavior, again another feature missing that simply means Samsung sacrificed real functions for design; not always the best move.

While some people may not miss some of these features, it is clear that Samsung’s Galaxy S6 is meant to look as good as possible, and Samsung ditched anything that got in the way of that. We do love the look of the S6 Edge and think Samsung nailed its design. We just wish it didn’t cost us those important specs and it would have been nice if Samsung  kept at least the expandable storage, but we all know what time spent wishing does.

Display

The display included in the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is outstanding. Reaching one of the highest PPI on the market with it’s 5.1-inch 2560 x 1440 resolution display. The S6 Edge also includes the beautiful curve on the sides that give a subtle but nice immersive feeling. The quality overall is top of the line with colors being the typical AMOLED saturated and clean. The brightness is beyond high and and makes for some easy sunlight viewing. While the specs on paper are a clear winner over the S5 from last year, it must be noted that the S6 doesn’t take much of a leap over the S5, simply because of the S5 was so good as well.

However, much like the Galaxy S5 last year, the new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge display is their best yet and easily one of the best available.

Camera

Samsung include a 16MP ISOCELL sensor that includes an insane list of features starting with HDR, OIS, near-instant focusing, 1080p@60fps, 2K, 4K recording. We ran through the usual photos in both normal and HDR and then all of the top video modes. All fantastic, but the real winner for the camera is the app. Samsung did a great job giving the user more control over individual options, while sticking with the typical auto features.

Camera quality itself was excellent. Images have never looked so good on a Samsung flagship device before. The videos did well when using the video stabilization, but we did get some serious shakiness without it. So make sure to use it when available.

Performance

The fastest smartphone on the market. Every aspect of the Galaxy S6 Edge was completely smooth. Our benchmarks showed a massive jump in numerical performance over the current market competition.

Battery life was decent, but again could have been more improved over the S5 from last year. The now 2K display will easily drain a little more, so it would have been nice if we saw a bigger bump in battery life. The fast charging does works really well and give’s us 100-percent in just over an hour.

Overall

The latest from Samsung goes in a semi-new direction. We still have a lot of the same, but it’s clear that Samsung’s ideology has changed. Looking back at previous Galaxy S devices, we could predict the future model based on tech available. Who knows how long Samsung were looking to mix things up with a new design, and the curved display wasn’t a shocker and first stepped out with the Note Edge.

Straight up we are displeased with the lack of expandable storage, non-user removable battery and no form of water resistance. We typically wouldn’t be as displeased with the lack of these features had they not been previously available in last years S5; moreover, Samsung already proved they could make a beautiful device with some of those features intact on the Galaxy Note 4. No matter the argument it’s a solid downside that they’re missing on the Galaxy S6, and for no feature alternative – just a new design.

The last drawback on the Galaxy S6 Edge is the pricing, with the smartphone ranging from €700-to-over-€1000 depending on the storage amount.  This makes it easily one of the most expensive smartphones out there, again something nobody likes to see.

Once we get passed those hurdles. The Galaxy S6 Edge is still Samsung’s best device. Starting with a spectacular looking phone that houses their best display, best and unbelievably fast chipset, and a camera that aims to please with beautiful shots and excellent array of modes and a fantastic app.

We don’t really see a massive leap over the previous Galaxy S5 that warrants an upgrade for everyone. The display and camera while better, won’t have anyone jumping out of their seats. We’re basically looking at a few semi-incremental updates with a much better looking device and a massive performance gain.

There is no denying the Galaxy S6 Edge is one of the top phones available and beyond the few drawbacks that we hope Samsung will never repeat, It’s still an amazing piece of tech that hits the mark on most aspects and the design proves Samsung can make a spectacular looking phone.

Geektech.ie Gold Award

 

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Sony Xperia Z3 Plus officially announced: 5.2-inch 1080p Display, Snapdragon 810 chipset

Sony Xperia Z3 Plus

 

Sony have finally gotten around to announcing their latest flagship device. The Xperia Z3+ offers somewhat incremental updates over the previous Xperia flagship from last year. The new specs include the latest Snapdragon 810 chipset from Qualcomm clocked at 2.0GHz and 1.5GHz with 3GB of RAM, a 5MP front facing camera, and thinner profile.

The Xperia Z3+ stems from the Xperia Z4 that was announced for release in Japan a month ago. The Name different is aimed at identifying the Z3+ similarities with the previous Z3. Something Sony aren’t worried about in Japan.

The new flagship mostly offers a bump in performance with a slightly thinner design at 6.9mm. The battery itself has also dropped from 3,100mAh to 2,900mAh.

The design on the device is mostly identical, but Sony have removed the flap cover on the MicroUSB slot and relocated it to the bottom of the device, which is great to see, as it doesn’t affect the water proofing aspects of the device and we are still IP65/68 certified.

The Xperia Z3+ arrives this June globally and will be available in single and dual sim versions.

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Review: HTC One M9

HTC One M9 (10)

 

Earth has made its way around the sun since the launch of the M8 from HTC. The M8 was one of the best designed phones released to the market. Its curves, polish and just awesome feel were what made it one of the most beautiful phones available. A year goes by and we now have the HTC One M9, which offers a similar design with updated specs. Let’s get right into this review and take a look at the specs for the HTC One M9.

  • Android 5.0 Lollipop with HTC Sense 7 UI
  • 5″ 1920 x 1080 display with 441pi with Corning Gorilla Glass 4
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset: 2 GHz quad-core Cortex-A57 and 1.5 GHz quad-core Cortex-A53 processor
  • Adreno 430 GPU
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 20MP AF camera with a 1/2.3″ BSI sensor and 27.8mm f/2.2 lens, dual-LED flash, 2160p@30fps video capture
  • 4MP fixed-focus UltraPixel front-facing camera with BSI sensor and 26.8mm f/2.0 lens, HDR, 1080p video recording
  • 32GB of built-in memory, microSD card slot
  • LTE Cat.6, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 & 5 GHz), GPS/GLONASS, NFC, IR port, Bluetooth 4.1, FM radio, microUSB 2.0 port, MHL, USB host
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated microphone
  • Front-facing stereo speakers with BoomSound and Dolby Audio
  • 2,840mAh battery
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 support

Sadly we can see the display hasn’t changed in spec at all. The internal chipset and camera have been swapped out for newer units. All in all we’re not seeing much in terms of an upgrade over the previous device, but let’s take a closer look at the device itself and see the new design.

The HTC One M9

HTC One M9 (2)

HTC One M9 (6) HTC One M9 (5)

HTC One M9 (11)

HTC One M9 (8) HTC One M9 (7)

HTC One M9 (1)

HTC One M9 (9)

Not much of the design has changed since last year. We still have the same unibody curved shape. The sides of the device feature a flatter shape compared to the M8. This is clearly done to add a little more grip to the side of the device and prevent it from slipping out of the users hands, which was sometimes possible with the M8.

The lack of the depth camera is also another change on the back. We now have a single camera sensor with Dual-tone led flash next to it. Pretty much every other aspect is the same. So, If it ain’t broke!

UI

HTC’s Sense UI is still present and strong with the M9. The overall interface includes some deep customization with great theme abilities. Let’s dive right in and take a look at the UI.

HTC One M9 UI (1) Screenshot_2015-04-14-14-38-44 HTC One M9 UI (10) HTC One M9 UI (2)

Most of the layout is still the same, but HTC are now including some custom widgets. The home screen houses a section that displays a different set of apps depending on what option you pick – Home, Work, or Out. The idea is to make it a little easier to access the apps you use most in different environments.

HTC One M9 UI (7) HTC One M9 UI (4) HTC One M9 UI (3)  HTC One M9 UI (11)

The dialer, app drawer, and settings are pretty straight forward and haven’t changed since the M8 or previous devices. Navigation is straight forward and easy to use. HTC’s UI is a solid experience, but being Android, users can always swap out the home launcher with a a more robust third party one.

Themes

HTC One M9 UI (12) HTC One M9 UI (9) HTC One M9 UI (8) HTC One M9 UI (13)

The included support for themes adds a massive amount of customization. We have seen themes on Android phones before, but the level of change that these themes can implement is impressive. Not only does the app drawer change along with the theme, but so does the dialer, keyboard and more. We’re very impressed by this addition and think  people will have great fun trying out new themes, or even putting together their own.

Camera UI

HTC One M9 Camera UI (1) HTC One M9 Camera UI (2)

The camera app is extremely easy to use. Swiping up and down will change the mode.

HTC One M9 Camera UI (4) HTC One M9 Camera UI (3)

The camera app also includes a decent amount of settings on the bottom of the screen. Giving the user access to ISO and Exposure levels. You can also change the scene selection mode and white balance as well. Overall the camera app was a pleasure to use and we got use to it pretty quickly.

Photos

Below are photos taken using normal settings and then again with HDR activated. HDR is a feature that adds balance to a shot by combining multiple shots with different exposure levels.

HTC One M9 Photo Normal (1) HTC One M9 Photo HDR (1)

HTC One M9 Photo Normal (2) HTC One M9 Photo HDR (2)

HTC One M9 Photo Normal (3) HTC One M9 Photo HDR (3)

HTC One M9 Photo Normal (5) HTC One M9 Photo HDR (4)

HTC One M9 Photo Normal (6) HTC One M9 Photo HDR (5)

HTC One M9 Photo Normal (7) HTC One M9 Photo HDR (6)

HTC One M9 Photo Normal (8) HTC One M9 Photo HDR (7)

HTC One M9 Photo Normal (9) HTC One M9 Photo HDR (8)

HTC One M9 Photo Normal (10) HTC One M9 Photo HDR (9)

HTC One M9 Photo Normal (11) HTC One M9 Photo HDR (10)

HTC clearly made the right choice by moving to a higher megapixel sensor instead of the previous Ultra-pixel sensor. While we had great admiration for the idea of going in a different direction with phone cameras – nothing can replace the quality of a high end camera sensor with lots of pixels.

Full Size Images

Videos

The included camera supports 1080p, 1080p@60fps and 4K recording. Below are all three settings to give you an idea of what the quality is like for each.

1080p

1080p@60fps

4K

Again, we can clearly see the new sensor is giving us a much better level of quality compared to One M8 and M7.

Benchmarks

The performance aspect of smartphones haven’t really changed in the past while, we’re dealing with super smooth and insanely high performance devices and nothing has changed with the HTC One M9. Inside we have the Snapdragon 810 chipset which uses a big.LITTLE architecture. Below are some scores from the most popular benchmarks available.

3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited  23302
Antutu 5  46039
Antutu 5 64bit  50955
Geekbench 3 Single-Core  862
Geekbench 3 Multi-Core  3521
Vellamo Metal  2125
Vellamo Multicore  1991
Vellamo Browser (Chrome)  3064

The numbers are pretty solid. The straight up core speed is slightly slower than before. Android is running as smooth as ever and we didn’t experience any lag or jitters.

Gameplay

Gameplay is an important factor in today’s smartphones. We always put together a recording of gameplay done on the phone. Below is that said video. The games demoed are Dead Trigger 2, GTA San Andreas, and Modern Combat 5.

Smooth as butter shall we say. Gaming on the HTC One M9 had zero issues, as expected.

Battery Performance

The One M9 battery has increased by 120mAh, but the main treat is the Snapdragon 810 chipset which includes a big.LITTLE architecture. A benefit here is having lesser and more efficient quad-core CPU to use when the phone isn’t doing anything too demanding. The second quad core CPU is clocked at higher speeds, but can be used along side the slower processor. We’re hoping this gives us an a decent battery life.

Phone Calls 20-30 Minutes
Text message/Chat/Emails Throughout the day(checking) and 20-30 sent
Photos 10-20
Video recording 20-30 Minutes
Internet browsing Throughout the day(around 30-40 minutes total)
Gaming 30 Minutes
YouTube/Netflix 30-40 Minutes
Connectivity WiFi and 3G; mostly 3G
Screen Brightness 50-percent

Our usage is aimed at covering all of the typical tasks in a given day. This way we can truly form an opinion on every aspect of the devices usage. After the period of testing we had just over 35-percent battery left. This is up from the HTC One M9 and overall an impressive number. Doing more or less of a specific task will have a better or worse impact on battery life, but we can easily see this be a complete full day device with heavy usage or two days with medium usage.

Conclusion

HTC have been getting more and more popular with each new flagship since the launch of the M7. The first flagship that put HTC on the map as one of the titan designers in the market. They stepped their game up even further with the launch of the M8.

Their latest M9 is here and it’s conclusion time. HTC’s latest flagship offers some decent upgrades over the M8 including the latest from Qualcomm, a better camera and slightly adjusted design. Below is a breakdown of the Design, Display, Camera, Performance, and then Overall.

Design

We’re pleased to see HTC sticking closely with the design of the M8. The main changes are mostly the flatter sides, which make for an easier grip. The complete curve on the M8 was beautiful, but lacked a decent grip and made for a slippy device.

The M9 overall design is again mostly the same as what we seen before on the M8. Considering the M8 was one of the best designed phones on the market, it’s hard to fault the M9. The better handling is a great addition, but more importantly doesn’t worsen the design. While not much different than its predecessor, the HTC M9 is their latest king and offers one of the nicest designs yet.

Display

HTC haven’t changed anything with regards to the display inside the HTC One M9. We’re still rocking the same 1080p resolution and SLCD3 Panel we have seen the past two years. The screen quality is pretty solid, but the lack of any update of the predecessor has the device feeling somewhat lacking in terms of overall quality compared to the competition. The brightness levels and colors are all excellent, but no different than last years device. It would have been nice to see a better display this time around, since the competition are putting out better and better displays each year. HTC have some catching up to do.

Camera

Probably the biggest upgrade within the entire device. HTC have removed the Dual-Pixel Ultra-Pixel camera and have went for a more traditional 20.7MP camera sensor. Sadly we don’t have OIS support, but the quality was fantastic. This is a clear upgrade over the HTC One M8’s camera, which lacked a real benefit of the One M7 – much like the display still does. Both pictures and videos are around the same level of quality we have seen from the competition. Although not in every case. The lack of OIS is a significant drawback since we’re getting use to it becoming the standard now, and it really does show in most videos. We were pleased with the overall quality and think HTC made the right choice, but OIS would have been even better.

While we don’t normally talk about the front facing cameras, we find in this case it was important to mention the fact that HTC included an Ultra-Pixel sensor on the front of the device. Probably something most will overlook, but the extra pixel size increased the low light performance significantly enough to warrant this mention. We’re really impressed with their decision to use the UltraPixel camera on the front of the device and boost its low light performance for those all important selfie shots.

Performance

The Snapdragon 810 chipset offers a big.LITTLE architecture with an Octa-core processor. The big set is clocked at 2GHz with the little clocked at 1.5GHZ. While benchmarks are similar to last years M8, we did see a much needed increase in battery performance due to the more efficient use of lower clocked CPU’s that use less power. Thankfully nothing affected the overall smoothness of the OS and everything ran like butter. We’re also running a 64-bit chipset now, which provided a boost in performance where possible. Overall performance in terms of CPU/GPU is similar to last year, if not slightly better; but battery life takes great advantage of the new internals.

Overall

The overall opinion of the M9 is sort of mixed. We liked pretty much every aspect of it, but mostly because we liked those same things in the M8 from last year and again from the M7 the year before. The design hasn’t changed much, but is improved, however the display hasn’t really changed at all. The real differences with the M9 are with the included chipset and camera, while the latter is an important factor with any smartphone, the internal chipset at worst offers a slight increase in performance, and at best a bump in battery life. Great for a new device, but enough to warrant an upgrade?

We’re definitely fans of the HTC One M9, but it must be said that HTC haven’t really changed much over the previous device to warrant anyone jumping from the M8. That being said, it’s clear that HTC didn’t really have much to change considering how good the M8 already was and still is. A better display and OIS would have been great. Unless your looking for a better camera, than anyone rocking an M8 should hold off, however anyone on the M7 will get a decent upgrade to the new hardware. The new chipset and camera sensor aren’t the most impressive things on the market, but put together with the fantastic design, you still have yourself an amazing smartphone.

The One M9 is definitely HTC’s best device yet. It may not offer the upgrade over the M8 most were hoping for, but none the less offers great performance across the board in one of the nicest and most beautiful crafted phones available.

Geektech.ie Gold Award

A big thanks to HTC and the Keogh Partnership for sending out the HTC One M9 for review.

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HTC One M9+ launching in China, features 5.2-inch 2k display and MediaTek Helio X10 chipset

M9-plus-black

The HTC ONe M9 has barely off the factory line, but HTC are ready to add to the latest flagship line up. The HTC One M9+ has the same design as the M9, but with some changes including a bump in screen sizes to 5.2-inch along with a higher resolution at 2,560 x 1,440. HTC are also including a MediaTek Helio X10 chipset instead of the Snapdragon 810 inside the One M9. The camera is also a 20MP sensor, but contains the extra Duo Camera sensor for added depth features.

The sad news regarding is the device is only launching in China. Pricing has yet to be revealed and HTC have stated they have no plans to launch in European or North American markets.

HTC is excited to bring the HTC One M9+ to customers in China, where we have worked closely with mobile operators to create a phone with the right balance of screen size, processor performance, software, and radio network compatibility to meet consumers’ needs. Ranging in other markets will be confirmed locally at a later date. The One M9+ is not currently planned to be released in North America or Europe, where we believe our flagship HTC One M9 is the best choice for blazing fast performance, incredible sound, and network compatibility across the broadest range of operators.

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Nvidia Shield Android set top box announced, arrives May for $200

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nvidia are coming to your TV. The Nvidia Shield Set top box is Nvidia’s effort to bring their version of a complete entertainment device to your living room. The box will be running Android TV as is being launched as the world’s first 4K Android TV. Specs include Nvidia’s Tegra X1 chip – which is touted to be double the performance of the Xbox 360. The hardware includes HDMI 2.0, Gigabi ethernet, two USB 3.0 ports, and a MIcroSD slot for internal expansion.

The Nvidia Shield takes advantage of Android’s voice search function with the remote including a Microphone for that very reason. The remote also enjoy’s Bluetooth connectivity and allows users to connect 3.5mm headphones directly to it for semi wireless audio.

The device isn’t just about 4K video content. It’s still a gaming device at heart. Being Android, it will have a massive availability of titles already, but Nvidia are going a step further and porting a massive list of high end titles to the device.

Another feature being bundled with the launch is Nvidia GRID. The game streaming service will give users two options. Free with the choice to rent and buy games, or paid with an all you can eat type subcription. The service basically streams high end games directly from Nvidia’s own supercomputer fields to the device itself. Not something we haven’t seen before, but being offered with 1080p 60fps should be nice bonus.

The Nvidia Shield launches this May and will cost just $200.

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Review: Samsung Galaxy Camera 2

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 (12)

Digital cameras aren’t being adopted as much as just a few years ago, and of course that’s due to smartphone cameras getting better and better.  This resulted in the need for a dedicated point and shoot camera becoming less and less. However, there are some advantages of having a digital camera over a smartphone camera. This includes potentially a better sensor, optical zoom, and more extensive features. Smartphones obviously offer their own set of features and a good list of advantages over a straight up dedicated shooter.

Samsung have aimed to offer a lot of advantages that smartphones have by bringing the Android OS to a dedicated digital camera. We have included the full specs just below, so lets get this review rolling.

Image Sensor

16.3 effective megapixel 1/2.3″ BSI CMOS

Lens

21x Optical Zoom Lens, 23 mm Wide Angle, F2.8 (W) ~ 5.9 (T)

IS

OIS

Display

121.2mm (4.8-inch), HD Super Clear Touch LCD Screen

ISO

Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200

AP

1.6GHz Quad Core Processor

OS

Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean)

Memory

8GB Internal memory (User memory approximately 2.8GB) + microSD slot (up to 64GB)

2GB RAM

*User memory space may be less than the total memory space due to system files. User memory may differ by region, carrier, and supporting language, and may change after software upgrade.

Image

JPEG format

16M, P14M, 12M Wide, 10M, 10MP, 9.2M Wide, 5M, 3M, 2M Wide, 1M

Video

MP4 (Video: MPEG4, AVC/H.264, Audio: AAC)

Full HD 1920×1080 /30fps, 1280×720 /60fps, 1280×720 /30fps, 640×480 /60fps,

640×480(30fps), 320×240(30fps)

Multi Motion Video 768 x 512 (WVGA, x1/8, x1/4, x1/2, x2, x4, x8) /120fps

Audio

Format: AVI, MP4/3GP, WMV, FLV, MKV, WEBM

Value-added Features

Smart Mode : 28 modes (Smart mode suggest, Beauty face, Best Photo, Selfie Alarm, Continuous shot, Best face, Colour bracket, Kids shot, Landscape, Dawn, Snow, Macro, Food, Party/Indoor, Action freeze, Rich tone (HDR), Panorama, Waterfall, Animated photo, Drama, Eraser, Sound&Shot, Interval, Silhouette, Sunset, Night, Fireworks, Light trace)

Built-in Pop-up Xenon Flash

Samsung Link, Samsung ChatON

Story Album, Xtremera, Paper Artist

S Voice

Group Play:  Share Music(MP3), Share Picture(JPEG, GIF), Share Document(PDF, PPT), Play Games

Google™ Mobile Services

Google Search, Google Maps, Gmail, Google Plus , Google Hangouts,

Google Play Store, YouTube, Google Plus Photos, Google Chrome, Google Play Books,

Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music, Google Play Games,

Google Newsstand, Google Setting

Note – The availability of each service may differ by country.

Connectivity

WiFi a/b/g/n, WiFi HT40

GPS/GLONASS

Bluetooth® 4.0

NFC

Sensor

Accelerometer, Geo-magnetic, Gyro-sensor, Gyro-sensor(for OIS)

Bundle Software

Samsung Kies (Windows & Mac)

Dimension (WxHxD)

132.5 x 71.2 x 19.3 mm, 283g

Battery

Li-on 2000mAh

 

It’s clear from the specs we’re looking at a pretty solid digital camera. The advantage of the Android OS brings us access to a lot of software and additional features. We also have a quad-core CPU clocked at 1.6GHZ with 2GB of RAM. We also have 8GB internal storage with a nice MicroSD slot for expansion, but let’s take a closer look at the camera itself.

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 (13)

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 (5) Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 (3)

Samsung didn’t attempt to hide the true nature of the device. The large lens will gather the most attention on the front side of the device, but on the back we have that nice large 4.8-inch display. The resolution isn’t highest at only 720p, but it should get the job done nicely.

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 (12)

The lens extends outwards only when in use. The built in lens sports a 21x optical zoom. More specifically it’s a 4.1mm – 86.1mm – 1:2.8-5.9 – 23mm

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 (4) Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 (2)

On the left side we have the NFC logo, which is of course also where NFC is located. The right side includes a 3.5mm headphone hack, MIcroUSB connection, and a lanyard connection.

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 (7)

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 (11) Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 (14)

The included xenon flash can be ejected using the button right next to it on the top of the device. This is obviously a nice advantage of smartphones with typical LED flashes, which are no match for a full on xenon flash. The included battery is 2,000mAh and the compartment is located on the bottom of the device.

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 (10)

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 (6) Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 (9)

 

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 (8)

 

That’s pretty much it for the camera’s astethics. It’s very much a typical point and shoot camera, but with small hint of smartphone simply due to the large display on the back of the device.

Benchmarks

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 antutu 1 Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 antutu 2 Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 geekbench

Performance of the Galaxy Camera 2 is what you would expect from a mid-range smartphone of today’s standard. The device clearly is designed to house the most powerful chips available, but they shouldn’t have a problem getting the job done.

Camera UI

The main aspect of this device is of course the camera, and just before we take a look at the camera UI, below is some screenshots taken form the Galaxy Camera 2.

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 UI

Unlike smartphones, the Galaxy Camera 2 will be more likely used in landscape rather than portrait It does support both in any regards. Both the Camera and Apps icons are static when scrolling through the different home screens available. Nearly every other aspect of the device is standard Android with Samsung’s own TouchWiz UI.

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 UI 3 Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 UI 2

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Camera UI (1) Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Camera UI (3)

The camera UI is very similar to what we see from Samsungs Galaxy smartphones. However, being a more robust camera, it does come with some extra options.

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Camera UI (6) Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Camera UI (2)

Both the auto and smart modes are very similar to Samsung’s smartphones, we do have a more extensive list of available modes to choose from. The manual mode however, includes complete control over your camera in a nice graphical way. Sometimes navigation can be laggy, but mostly it’s an elegant process for fine tuning your settings.

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Camera UI (4) Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Camera UI (5)

Samsung include a pretty extensive list of available modes to choose from. which we have included below. Samsung also allow users to add specific modes to a custom list – allowing for quicker navigation.

  • Smart mode suggest
  • Beauty face
  • Best Photo
  • Selfie Alarm
  • Continuous shot
  • Best face
  • Colour bracket
  • Kids shot
  • Landscape
  • Dawn
  • Snow
  • Macro
  • Food
  • Party/Indoor
  • Action freeze
  • Rich tone (HDR)
  • Panorama
  • Waterfall
  • Animated photo
  • Drama, Eraser
  • Sound&Shot
  • Interval
  • Silhouette
  • Sunset
  • Night
  • Fireworks
  • Light trace

Photos

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Photo (7)

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Photo (14) Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Photo (13)

 

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Photo (15) Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Photo (16)

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Photo (8)

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Photo (1) Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Photo (3)

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Photo (2)

Full Zoom

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Photo (11) Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Photo (10)

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Photo (18)  Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Photo (19)

Videos

The camera supports full HD recording. below is a few minutes recorded using default settings.

http://youtu.be/03Hzd6wL5qQ

Conclusion

It’s time to breakdown the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2. We’re breaking down the conclusion into Design,Display, Photo, Video, and then finally Overall.

Design

The Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 is no doubt a digital camera, and like we said before Samsung haven’t made any attempt to make the device more smartphone like. We do have a nice large 4.8-inch display on the back side, but mostly the device is very camera like. The flash is raised by a mechanical button and can be reseated by flicking it down, which may have some concern to wear in the future, but overall the device is very sturdy and easy to use.

We also like the added Micro HDMI connection, but may have been better suited if located on the side of the device, rather than underneath. We also have a standard screw connection (1/4-20) for using the camera with most tri-pods and mounts available. To be honest, the design of the camera is very standard and is very much a take it or leave it. We’ve got three buttons on the top of the device – which are flash release, power button, and finally the shutter button. this includes zoom function, which is a quick rotary mechanism.

The lens when not in use extends 2cm outwards from the device, which then becomes 5cm when it use and when completely zoomed in, it reaches 7.2cm. The camera itself at its thinnest is still just under 2cm and and its widest is just over 2.5cm thick. This make’s it a fairly bulky device, and not at all on the slim side of things. Weight isn’t too bad for a digital camera @ 285g. It’s still should be noted, that regardless of the near tablet/smartphone aspect, your still carrying around pretty beefy digital camera.

Ultimately it’s a pretty standard looking digital camera with a large display, with nothing too negative outstanding regarding its design.

Display

The included 4.8-inch 720p display is nothing to brag about. There really isn’t anything exceptional regarding the display, other than its size, which isn’t typical of a digital camera. This is to cater to the included Android OS, which the display has no problem making it very easy to use. Basically, you won’t find much a difference using the Galaxy Camera 2 over a mid-tier smartphone from a year ago, display wise. Brightness isn’t as high as we would have liked, as we have no alternate view-finder to take advantage of if we’re dealing with the bright sun.

Photo

The main purpose of the camera is to take pictures, but also video as well – which we will get to shortly. The main purpose of a dedicated digital camera is to gather great quality photos, optical zoom, and of course extensive features. Thankfully the Galaxy Camera 2 delivers on those. Camera quality is great and provides well balanced and excellently detailed photos. We also have the 21x optical zoom. The zoom does have trouble focusing at times, but when focused it works wonders and is obviously a massive step over the sad digital zoom we get with smartphones.

Overall we’re pleased with the photo quality and it’s one of the Galaxy Camera’s strong points.

Video

Sadly the video quality isn’t on the same level as the photo quality. We’re more impressed with the latest smartphones available, when it comes to overall quality and features. The main issue with video recording is the focusing, which can in a lot of cases prove to be very laggy, or in some cases fail to focus altogether. Simply put, we don’t recommend the Galaxy Camera 2 for video if any form of moving is involved, as focusing isn’t that good. The quality was pretty decent, but again, we’re more impressed with the latest smartphones and most of the competition in the digital camera space can offer a better overall video performance.

Overall

Samsung have obviously pushed the Galaxy Camera series in effort to offer a unique point and shoot experience. The full Android OS offers users access to a great many apps, with a lot of specific camera apps that the Galaxy Camera 2 seems very well suited. Photo quality is decent enough from a dedicated camera aspect, but sadly we’re not seeing the best video performance, with the focusing the main culprit for a less then joyful experience.

The Galaxy Camera 2 really comes down to one aspect, and that’s whether you will find use out of the full Android experience included. That’s the only real benefit the device offers over the competition, in some cases even Samsung offer better alternatives if the Android OS is no benefit to you. There is definitely advantages to having an Android OS included with your camera; like we said before, the many apps available for it are an easy pro for the device itself. It also allows directly syncing photos on the device to the many backup services available through android. This eliminates the extra step of having to copy them to another device.

Overall, the Galaxy Camera 2 is an okay digital camera with solid photo performance, okay video recording with a very picky auto focus. The main attraction is the large display and complete Android OS. There is no doubt the device is very unique and isn’t going to be for those just looking for a decent dedicated shooter, but rather one that offers an amazing OS that can be of some use when taking pictures. We do recommend the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 if the aforementioned features are something your after. However, if your simply looking for a decent point and shoot camera with quality your main concern, then we definitely recommend checking out some other digital cameras on the market.

 

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Review: Sony Xperia Z3

Sony Xperia Z3 (9)

It was only a couple of months ago that the Xperia Z2 took to the shelves. Now we already have the Xperia Z3 in hand. Sony are pushing their flagship devices out every six months; the latest device includes a lot of new chips and modules — which include the Snapdragon 801 chipset, a 25mm wide angle lens, and increased battery life. While not the most exciting update to start with, a new device to play around with none the less. Let’s start off the review and take a look at the official specs for the Xperia Z3, and then move on and take a closer look at the phone itself.

  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat
  • Display: 5.2″ 1080p IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen
  • Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8974AC Snapdragon 801, Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400, Adreno 330 GPU
  • Memory: 16GB/32GB storage, MicroSD card slot
  • Rear Camera: 20.7 MP auto-focus camera, 1/2.3” Sensor, LED flash,
    2160p@30fps, 1080p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 720p@120fps
  • Front Camera: 2.2MP front-facing camera, 1080p@30fps
  • Networking: Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi hotspot, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, standard microUSB 2.0 port, GPS/GLONASS receiver, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Modem: GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSPA/LTE Cat 4
  • Battery: 3,100mAh Li-Ion non-removable battery
  • Other features: Stereo FM radio with RDS, IP68 certified – dust proof and water resistant over 1 meter and 30 minutes
  • Dimensions: 146 x 72 x 7.3 mm, 152 g

The Xperia Z3

Sony Xperia Z3 (2) Sony Xperia Z3 (1)

Sony Xperia Z3 (15)

Sony Xperia Z3 (3) Sony Xperia Z3 (16)

Sony Xperia Z3 (8)

The design hasn’t changed a massive amount over the Z2 from just a couple of months ago. The subtle changes included are still enought to impressive. We have a thinner and lighter profile, but with the same 5.2-inch display. The device feels pretty solid in your hand and definitely gives of that premium impression when holding it.

Sony Xperia Z3 (4) Sony Xperia Z3 (5)

Sony Xperia Z3 (14)

Sony Xperia Z3 (12) Sony Xperia Z3 (10)

Sony Xperia Z3 (13)

Sony Xperia Z3 (7) Sony Xperia Z3 (6)

The design features a glossy glass cover on the back, protection guards on the the exposed connections for the included IP68 water proofing. We also continue to have the propriety Sony dock connector.

UI

Sony still use their own app launcher and UI. Not much has changed compared to previous Sony devices, but let’s take a look around anyway.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact UI (9) Sony Xperia Z3 Compact UI (1) Sony Xperia Z3 Compact UI (5) Sony Xperia Z3 Compact UI (6)

Most of the layout is pretty straight forward. The app launcher includes a menu system by swiping all of the way to the left. This allows for changing the order of the apps and quickly uninstalling some.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact UI (2) Sony Xperia Z3 Compact UI (3) Sony Xperia Z3 Compact UI (8) Sony Xperia Z3 Compact UI (7)

The dialpad and keyboard also have the same design and features. The launcher and keyboard are take it or leave, as with Android, you can simply install your own. That being said, we personally had no real issue with it. It’s fairly straight forward and easy to use.

Camera UI

Let’s a take a quick look at the camera UI before taking a look at some photos taking with the Xperia Z3.

Soyn Xperia Z3 Compact Camera UI (1) Soyn Xperia Z3 Compact Camera UI (9)

The main mode is Superior Auto – which pretty much handles all of the settings. Images are downscaled to 8MP and users can start recording video or take pictures from the same screen.

Soyn Xperia Z3 Compact Camera UI (13) Soyn Xperia Z3 Compact Camera UI (14)

The Camera includes a lot different modes. The Manual mode opens up a lot of options for the camera. Here you can select the full 20.7MP resolution, turn on HDR, image stabilization and more.

Soyn Xperia Z3 Compact Camera UI (15) Soyn Xperia Z3 Compact Camera UI (12)

The video options include 1080p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 720p, VGA, and finally MMS size. Users can also record in 4K by selecting the specific mode first.

Photos

Since the camera app includes a lot of different modes, we have a lot of photos to take a look at. We took photos with a few different settings which are Superior Auto, Manual 20.7MP, and Manual 8MP with HDR. While most users will probably stick with the Superior Auto mode, the broad range of tests should cover all of the different quality levels available. Our conclusion on camera performance is included among the finally conclusion.

Superior Auto

Sony Xperia Z3 Photo Superior Auto (1) Sony Xperia Z3 Photo Superior Auto (2)

Sony Xperia Z3 Photo Superior Auto (10) Sony Xperia Z3 Photo Superior Auto (9)

Sony Xperia Z3 Photo Superior Auto (3) Sony Xperia Z3 Photo Superior Auto (4)

Sony Xperia Z3 Photo Superior Auto (5) Sony Xperia Z3 Photo Superior Auto (6)

Sony Xperia Z3 Photo Superior Auto (7) Sony Xperia Z3 Photo Superior Auto (8)

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20.7MP Manual

Sony Xperia Z3 Photo 20MP (2) Sony Xperia Z3 Photo 20MP (1)

Sony Xperia Z3 Photo 20MP (9) Sony Xperia Z3 Photo 20MP (8)

Sony Xperia Z3 Photo 20MP (6) Sony Xperia Z3 Photo 20MP (4)

Sony Xperia Z3 Photo 20MP (3) Sony Xperia Z3 Photo 20MP (7)

 Sony Xperia Z3 Photo 20MP (10) Sony Xperia Z3 Photo 20MP (11)

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8MP HDR

 Sony Xperia Z3 Photo HDR (3) Sony Xperia Z3 Photo HDR (1)

Sony Xperia Z3 Photo HDR (7) Sony Xperia Z3 Photo HDR (6)

Sony Xperia Z3 Photo HDR (4) Sony Xperia Z3 Photo HDR (5)

Sony Xperia Z3 Photo HDR (9) Sony Xperia Z3 Photo HDR (8)

Full Size Images

Videos

Since the Xperia Z3 Compact Camera has a good few modes to play with. First up is those recorded with 1080p. Here we alternate between Normal, HDR ON and OFF. We used Superior auto mode when recording without HDR and switched to manual when using it. The other video is simply recorded with manual mode using the 1080p@60fps. Lastly we have some 4K footage as well.

1080p

1080p 60fps

4K

Benchmarks

Let’s take a look at some benchmark numbers for the Xperia Z3. Since the phone includes a Snapdragon 801 chipset, we’re of course going to see high side numbers.

Sony Xperia Z3 3dmark ISU Sony Xperia Z3 antutu 1 Sony Xperia Z3 antutu 2 Sony Xperia Z3 Geekbench Sony Xperia Z3 vellamo

3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited  17871
Antutu 5  42505
Geekbench 3 Single-Core  989
Geekbench 3 Multi-Core  2774
Vellamo Metal  1566
Vellamo Multicore  1823
Vellamo Browser (Chrome)  2965

The performance is exactly what we expected. The Snapdragon 801 will have no issues providing us with a nice smooth experience.

Gameplay

Gameplay is a great way for us to detail some real world performance of the device. The games we’re taking a look at are Dead Trigger 2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and Modern Coombat 5.

Battery Performance

It’s time to take a look at how long we can expect out of the Z3. Thankfully Sony include a nice large 3,100mAh battery – which should hopefully get us through the day.

Phone Calls 20-30 Minutes
Text message/Chat/Emails Throughout the day(checking) and 20-30 sent
Photos 10-20
Video recording 20-30 Minutes
Internet browsing Throughout the day(around 30-40 minutes total)
Gaming 30 Minutes
YouTube/Netflix 30-40 Minutes
Connectivity WiFi and 3G; mostly 3G
Screen Brightness 50-percent

After our 12 hour period, we had just over 30-percent battery life left. This simply means that a full day usages shouldn’t be a problem with medium to heavy habits in mind. Keep in mind that doing more or less of any single task can have a big impact of your battery life. Turning the brightness down a bit, using 3G less, and no gaming –  the Z3 can probably offer you two days usage. A great offering indeed.

Conclusion

It’s time for the conclusion. As always we break down our conclusion in a few different sections – this includes Design, Screen, Camera, Performance, and finally overall.

Design

Sony’s six month release schedules are seeing near incremental updates with Sony’s Xperia designs. The Xperia Z3 is thankfully the best yet. Sony have kept the metal frame and glossy back around, but have given the phone a more symmetrical look and feel. We’re pleased that Sony have kept the water proofing features around, but that does mean some protection flaps on the MicroUSB, MicroSD and NanoSIM slots – hardly a deal breaker since it brings us water proofing. Overall the build quality is a solid offering. Sony are hitting the market pretty hard with their flagship devices, but at least their design is improving over the years. The Xperia Z3 is a great looking device that offers a premium look and feel, but also offers water proofing proection, which can make all the difference.

Screen

We’re not seeing a resolution bump in the least Xperia smartphone, but pixel count isn’t everything, as the display’s quality is pretty top notch. Max brightness levels are fairly high and provide ease of use in direct sunlight. It’s not the best display we have seen, but still offers great quality. To be honest – we have no real negatives for the display. Color is nicely produced with sharpness and detail typical of a high quality 1080p display. Brightness levles are the only real change over the Z2 but a welcome upgrade all the same.

Camera

Since we have already reviewed the Xperia Z3 Compact with the same camera –  we have a pretty solid opinion on the camera’s quality and overall performance. Much of the conclusion for the camera below is the same as the Z3 Compact camera.

The Z3 camera can take some great shots, but we aren’t blown away by the performance. This could be due to it being identical to what we already saw before, but also the fact we’re seeing better quality coming from the competition. The quality on the Xperia Z3 is great, but not as good as what we have seen and doesn’t offer much of an upgrade over it;s predecessor. Sony did include a nice 25mm wide-angle lens, which provides a great field of view, and the increased ISO does help with low-light shots, but not by much. Like most of the device –  your getting a small update over the Z2.

Performance

We’re not seeing anything really new here. We have a 1080p display with a snapdragon 801 chipset – which uses a Krait 400 CPU and Adreno 330 GPU. This provides the nice smooth performance throughout the device. This includes great gameplay performance and 4K recording without any issues. We can’t see anyone running into performance issues with the Xperia Z3.

Overall

The Xperia Z3 is pure evidence that Sony are begining to see diminishing returns from their six month release cycles. The Z3 on paper offers a better display, thinner and lighter footprint, better camera features, better CPU performance, and long lasting battery life. The problem is, these are all extremely incremental in terms of better. We have a slighty brighter display, a wider lens, and barely an increase in performance. It’s not completely negative;the device is much nicer looking and Sony have done a great job getting the design of the device better each time around. The downside is that Sony really don’t have much to offer over the Z2. To make it simple, the Z3 is a worthy device if anyone is looking for a beautiful phone with water proofing, great camera, and excellent performance. It’s not nearly enough to warrant an upgrade over the Z2, but those who were stuck in contract or waited longer to upgrade will no doubt be thankful of that little advantage.

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