Smartphone

Sony announce Xperia Z5 series smartphones, Z5 Premium worlds first UHD mobile display

Xperia Z5

 

Sony have kicked of their IFA event swinging with their latest Xperia Z5 series of devices announced. Typically we get two device with a Xperia Compact model to follow to launch of their flagship device, but this year we have the Xperia Z5, Z5 Compact, and finally the Xperia Z5 Premium. The Z5 Premium being the first device to offer a UHD (4K) display, but we’ll get to that phone shortly.

Each device will house a Snapdragon 810 chipset from Qualcomm and a new 23MP sensor that should offer some great quality pictures.

First up let’s take a look at the Xperia Z5 and Z5 Compact, which offer very similar specs bar their sizes.

Xperia Z5

Sony Xperia Z5

The Xperia Z5 will feature a design no too difference from the previous Xperia devices. Sony are sticking with water-proofing the device with an IP65/IP68 certified design – thankfully the headphone jack and MicroUSB port do not require any flaps for protection.

  • 5.2″ Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixels IPS LCD display with 428ppi
  • 23MP camera, 24mm-equiv. f/2.0 lens, LED flash, dedicated hardware shutter key
  • 4K Video recording, SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode
  • 5MP, 25mm-equiv., front-facing camera with 1080p video recording, SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode
  • 3GB of RAM
  • Cat. 6 LTE (up to 300Mbps); Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac; Wi-Fi Direct; Bluetooth 4.1 with apt-X and Sony LDAC wireless High-Res Audio codec, GPS/GLONASS/Beidou receiver, Stereo FM with RDS; USB On-The-Go
  • 146 x 72 x 7.3 mm, 154g
  • 2,900mAh battery

Xperia Z5 Compact

Xperia Z5 Compact

The Xperia Z5 Compact takes most of the specs from the Xperia Z5 itself and brings them to a smaller body. Exactly what Sony have done in the past. The design is mostly the same with a smaller display and resolution. We also have a slightly smaller battery, but only a 200mAh drop, which is great.

  • 4.6″ HD (1280 x 720 pixels) IPS LCD display with 323ppi
  • 23MP camera, 24mm-equiv. f/2.0 lens, LED flash, dedicated hardware shutter key
  • 4K Video recording, SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode
  • 5MP, 25mm-equiv., front-facing camera with 1080p video recording, SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode
  • 2GB of RAM
  • Cat. 6 LTE (up to 300Mbps); Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac; Wi-Fi Direct; Bluetooth 4.1 with apt-X and Sony LDAC wireless High-Res Audio codec, GPS/GLONASS/Beidou receiver, Stereo FM with RDS; USB On-The-Go
  • 127 x 65 x 8.9 mm, 138g
  • 2,700mAh battery

The Xperia Z5 Premium

Xperia Z5

Sony’s latest flagship has a new name, and rightly so. The new device shares a lot of the same specs as the other Xperia Z5 devices. We have mostly the same internals with the Snapdragon 810 chipset. The new 23MP camera sensor, that we’re eager to take a look at. The biggest stand out spec is the new UHD display that’s also a worlds first for any company.

The pixel count make the Z5 Premium a shoe in for some from of VR, with the 800+ PPI being touted as a possible sweet spot of VR. While the hardware could never push 4K at 60fps, it doesn’t have too, as the 4K resolution alone should remove the screen door effect, and Sony can render away at 1080p. This is of course speculation, and there is no word on whether Sony will push this agenda, but it does seem likely.

  • 5.5″ UHD (3840 x 2160 pixels) IPS LCD display with 806ppi
  • 23MP camera, 24mm-equiv. f/2.0 lens, LED flash, dedicated hardware shutter key
  • 4K Video recording, SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode
  • 5MP, 25mm-equiv., front-facing camera with 1080p video recording, SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode
  • 3GB of RAM
  • Cat. 6 LTE (up to 300Mbps); Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac; Wi-Fi Direct; Bluetooth 4.1 with apt-X and Sony LDAC wireless High-Res Audio codec, GPS/GLONASS/Beidou receiver, Stereo FM with RDS; USB On-The-Go
  • 154.4 x 75.8 x 7.8 mm, 180g
  • 3,430mAh battery

The new devices also all share a new fingerprint sensor built into the power button on the side of the devices. Availability is set for October for the Xperia Z5 and Z5 Compact, with the Xperia Z5 Premium arriving this November.

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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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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: Vodafone Smart Prime 6

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 (9)

A budget smartphone isn’t anything new, but the word budget has always been attached to a limited device that cuts costs in every corner. It’s not like there haven’t been mid-range devices with decent price tags, but we must say Vodafone’s Smart Prime 6 was quite the shocker. So much so we had to get a hold of one to review, so a big thanks to Vodafone for sending one out.

The specs include a 5-inch 720p IPS display. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 410 chipset with quad-core CPU clocked at 1.2 GHz and  1GB of RAM. Storage is 8GB with a MicroSD slot for expanding and camera is an 8MP on the back and 2MP on the front. lastly we have a 2,500mAh, 4G connectivity and the device is running Android 5.

While not the most interesting specs compared to today’s flagships, they really hit the mark with the €89.99 price tag. That’s right folks. This device is only €89.99 with pay as you go. Probably the most outstanding aspect of the device itself. So we’re already impressed.

Let’s dive right in and take a look at the device itself.

The Vodafone Smart Prime 6

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 (4)

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 (3) Vodafone Smart Prime 6 (10)

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 (5)

The design is fairly straight forward and has a typical layout with the volume buttons and power button located on the right side of the device. The headphone jack is on the top and the MicroUSB is on the bottom. The left side is completely clear.

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 (6) Vodafone Smart Prime 6 (1)

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 (7)

The phone weighs 155g and is 9 mm thin. On the back is the camera sensor and LED flash. The back cover is removable, but only to add a MicroSD card, the battery itself not user removable.

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

The camera is very straight forward. Photos and Videos have separate modes and settings, but thankfully navigation is simple. Photos include options for panorama, Manual, HDR, Sports, and Night. Users can also control the size of the photos, but are limited to Small, Medium, and Large. lastly we have a timer control.

Video options include Full HD, HD, and Normal, and users can decide if they want to record sound..

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Camera UI (1)

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

Photos

Okay, so the camera while only 8MP is still pretty solid considering the sub €100 price tag. It also supports HDR photos, which we must admit was something of a shock. Below are photos taking with HDR off and the again with it turned on. HDR mode takes multiple shots and different exposure in extremely rapid succession – the photos are then combined for a more balanced shot, and undercuts any over/under exposure issues.

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Photo Normal (6) Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Photo HDR (15)

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

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Photo Normal (2) Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Photo HDR (11)

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Photo Normal (3)Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Photo HDR (12)

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Photo Normal (4) Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Photo HDR (13)

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Photo Normal (5) Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Photo HDR (14)

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Photo Normal (7) Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Photo HDR (16)

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Photo Normal (8) Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Photo HDR (17)

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Photo Normal (9) Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Photo HDR (18)

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Photo Normal (10) Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Photo HDR (19)

The HDR mode is one of the most impressive aspects we have seen with this device. Where standard photos suffered some serious under exposure in bright scenes, the HDR performed amaizingly and brought so much detail into view. This is some awesome stuff to be seeing from a phone this cheap.

Videos

The Smart Prime 6 sports full 1080 video recording, so we took videos to show of the quality.

Benchmarks

The snapdragon 410 is not set to break any records, but instead provide solid performance and efficiency for budget device. Thankfully it does just that. We didn’t notice any serous lag or slowness through out our review. We’re continually impressed by the Smart Prime 6. Here are the benchmark numbers for you to enjoy below.

3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited 21716
Antutu 5 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

Battery life

It’s time to see how long this budget device lasts. The Smart Prime 6 includes a 2,500mAh battery. We also have 4g connectivity, which is thankfully working in our area, and with that we included it our daily use.

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

Our battery tests goes for around a 12 hour period, and we use the device as we would with medium-heavy usage in mind. Above is what we aim to do throughout the day.

The Smart Prime 6 lasted through the period with over 30-percent left. Impressive results indeed. Being a lower powered device, we expected it to perform closely with flagship devices with larger batteries, and it has done just that.

So the device will easily get you throughout the day, with some left over. Some small changes, including lowering the brightness, we can definitely see this being a 2 day device on a single charge.

Conclusion

When we typically break down a smartphone review, we hold a certain standard behind the scene. Most of our smartphone reviews have been of flagship devices that typically offer the best hardware available at the time. This is a whole other ball game. The Vodafone Prime 6 offers users a substantial smartphone experience for a really low price. So low in fact, we were shocked to read the included specs.

It is conclusion time and like always we are going to break down the wrap up into a few sections. This is Design, Display, Camera, Performance and then overall. This has done well in the past and gives you an idea on how we feel about the different aspects of the device.

Design

Costs obviously have to be kept down, and the design is a simplistic plastic housing. There is a removable back cover, but this only provides access to the included MicroSD  and Sim slots. The device is pretty slim at just 9mm thick. It’s not going to blow anyone away, but at the same time, it doesn’t disappoint and the phone feels solid and well built.

Display

The 5-inch 720p IPS display is another stand out feature for a budget smartphone. Being a IPS display, we have great viewing angles, but we also have a very decent level of brightness. We’re fairly impressed with the display and it’s just another notch on a list of specs that make this budget phone all that more impressive.

Camera

The Smart Prime 6 includes an 8MP camera with LED flash. The camera on its own is nothing spectacular, and provides a somewhat okay performance. However, the HDR mode is really impressive and brings a lot more detail into every shot by providing a more balanced photo. Since normal photos had some balance issues, it’s great that the phone includes HDR capabilities. Performance is better than we expected, and mostly the HDR is the devices savoir.

Performance

The Vodafone Smart Prime 6 includes a Snapdragon 410 chipset with quad cre cpu clocked at 1.2GHz. Our benchmarks show we’re getting around halve the performance from current flagships. The numerical benchmarks may be low, but performance was excellent. Throughout are entire review we we got a fast, smooth and overall excellent performance out of the device. Not just impressive, but really shows that even budget phones can knock it out of the park.

Overall

We are down right over the moon with the Vodafone Smart Prime 6. This phone is manufactured by Alcatel, but is branded specifically for Vodafone. There have been cheap phones on the market before, but this really covers the bases extremely well. It offers a very good IPS display, decent camera with HDR and excellent performance. This also goes with the simple design, latest version of Android and 4g networking.

It’s hard to fault something that does a lot of the same things that other phones do for quadruple the price. Vodafone have nailed it with this smartphone and to be honest, it would have been a good deal at twice the price, seriously.

This device doesn’t just put pressure on other budget devices, but really pushed the mid-range and flagship arena as well – those devices are going to have to step up their game if they want their price tags to stay so high. To think you could buy 4-5 of these phones for the same money as a current flagship, really tells you something.

We of courses 110-percent recommend the Vodafone Smart Prime 6 to anyone looking for a great smartphone without the high price tag. This phone really has a lot to offer, and we hope the €99 pricetag doesn’t put people off, this phone is mostly a flagship from just 2-3 years ago.

Geektech.ie Gold Award

A big thanks to Vodafone for sending out the Smart Prime 6 for review. The current price of the device is €99 at any Vodafone retail store or online at Vodafone.ie

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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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LG G4 officially announced, includes 5.5-inch Quantum QHD display and Snapdragon 808 chipset

lg-g4-1
The LG G4 is finally real, at least beyond the casual and some not so casual leaks that have spread out for the past few weeks. While not much was left for the official launch, none the less we finally have complete list of details regarding the new flagship device from LG.

Starting with design, the new smartphone will features a similar overall shape to it’s predecessor, but now included options for either leather, metallic or even ceramic rear housing. There will be a good selection of colours including beige, black, blue, and yellow, with more to follow around launch.

Specs for the device start with 5.5-inch 2,560 x 1,440 Quantum IPS display. The specifically of the Quantum aspect, is to provide some of the highest possible colour reproduction on a display. So basically; Red, Green and Blue are more accurate of their respective colors in the real world.

Inside we have the Snapdragon 808 chipset form Qualcomm. The unit packs a 1.8GHz 64-bit Hexa-core processor with 3GB of RAM. Storage is a decent 32GB with a MicroSD slot included.

The rear facing shooter included is a 16MP sensor with an f/1.8 aperture. We also have the typical high standard specs including 4K video, OIS and like last time, a laser focus for quick auto focusing. The front facing camera is an 8MP shooter with f/2.0 aperture.

Other specs include WiFI AC, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, LTE and a 3,000mAh battery. The LG G4 looks set to take on the latest from Samsung and HTC. Pricing for the device has yet to be announced, but the device will be arriving around the end of May or early June.

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Sony announce Xperia Z4, features 5.2-inch 1080p display, Snapdragon 810 chipset, and IP68 housing

 

sony-xperia-z4-1

The Xperia Z4 was announced in Japan as Sony took to the stage to share details on their latest flagship device. Most of the specs are fairly similar to its predecessor. The device includes a similar design with 5.2-inch 1080p display, metal frame with IP68 water-proofing cert. The device is now thinner coming in at just 6.9mm thick.

Internals now include the latest Snapdragon 810 chipset from Qualcomm clocked at 2.0Ghz and 1.5Ghz. RAM is a decent 3GB and internal storage is 32GB with a MicroSD slot available. We have the same rear facing camera, but Sony have gone for a wide angle front facing camera this time around.

Release for the Xperia Z4 is set for the summer in Japan and hopefully most of the word around the same time, but sadly we have yet to hear anything regarding a launch outside of Japan.

Product name Xperia Z4
Dimensions (height × width × thickness) About 146mm × about 72㎜ × about 6.9㎜
Mass About 144 g
Battery capacity 2930mAh
Display Liquid crystal Birds Luminous display for mobile
Size About 5.2 inches
Resolution(number of pixels) 1920 × 1080
OS Android ™ 5.0
Built-in memory(ROM / RAM) 32GB / 3GB
SD memory card
slot
MicroSD, microSDHC, microSDXC (maximum 128GB))
Processor 2.0GHz / 1.5GHz Okutakoa
External connection Bluetooth®  Bluetooth® 4.1
External device  MicroUSB / MHL / headset connection terminal
DLNA Yes
The main software Sony Mobileoriginal software  Music applications, such as album application
Google providespre-installedsoftware  Google PLAY ™, Google Maps ™, Gmail ™, Google Search ™, such as YouTube ™
Camera function Main camera About 20.7 million pixel back-illuminated stacked CMOS sensorExmor RS for mobile
Front camera About 5.1 million pixel back-illuminated CMOS sensorExmor R for mobile
Camera shake correction  Electronic (video / still image) Auto focus  (video / still image)
Self-timer Yes
Motion picture Image size
(pixels)
 Main camera
4K (2160p), full HD 60fps (1080p) /full HD 30 fps (1080p) / HD (720p) /VGA (480p) / MMS
Front camera
Full HD (1080p) / HD (720p) / VGA (480p) /MMS
Photo Light  Main camera only
Still image Image size
(pixels)
 Main camera
20.7MP (4: 3) / 15.5MP (16: 9) / 8MP (4: 3) /8MP (16: 9) / 3MP (4: 3) / 2MP (16: 9)
 Front camera
5MP (4: 3) / 3.7MP (16: 9) / 2MP (4: 3) /2M (16: 9)
Flash  Main camera only Smile Shutter
Waterproof / dustproof  (IPX5 / 8, IP6X)
NFC  Yes
Wi-Fi  IEEE802.11a / b / g / n (2.4GHz / 5GHz) / ac compliant, MIMO support
Major Languages  Japanese, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Czech, Dutch, English (UK), English (US), French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Polish,  Russian, Spanish, Swedish , Turkish, etc.
Color variations  White, Black, Copper, Aqua Green
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HTC upgrades last years flagship with new specs, dubbed the HTC One M8s

HTC One M8s_PerRight_GunMetal

 

The HTC One M9 may be taking all of the press as HTC’s latest flagship device. HTC aren’t forgetting about their previous HTC One M8. The love of their most successful handset has HTC pushing out a revised version. The HTC One M8s launches with some modified specs, mostly a new camera and processor. Although internal storage is sitting at just 16GB.

The ultra-pixel on the previous M8 has now been swapped out for a 13MP f/2.0 Duo camera. Inside the processor has gone from the previous Snapdragon 801-chipset to a Snapdragon 615 with 1.7GHz octa-core configuration. The display size and housing haven’t change with the device still sporting a 5-inch 1080p display.

The last change comes from the internal battery – which has been bumped from 2,600mAh to 2,840mAh. The new device launches this month and will cost £379.

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Microsoft outs new budget smartphones, meet the Lumia 640 and 640 XL

Lumia 640

Microsoft have updated their budget series of phones. The new Lumia 640 and 640 XL are set to offer a more substantial feature list for the same money as the previous 630 and 635. The devices different slightly in specs, with the XL version packing a larger display and higher pixel camera. Both devices include a quad-core Snapdragon chipset running at 1.2GHz with 1GB of RAM. The 640 is rocking a 5-inch 720p display and 8MP camera, while the 640 XL has a 5.7-inch 720p display with 13MP camera. The 640 has a 2,400mAh battery and the XL has a 3,000mAh battery.

Both devices will up gradable to Windows 10 once it arrives. Availability is slightly different with the 640 arriving in May and the 640 XL arriving near the end of this month.  Both phones will also come with a year subscription to Office 365.

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