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Upcoming Nokia 8 flagship with Snapdragon 835 SoC, 6GB RAM and 24MP camera leaked

“The Nokia 8 will come in two variants – one with a Snapdragon 835 SoC, and the other with a Snapdragon 821”

HMD Global sent out invites yesterday for a press event at MWC on February 26th, where the brand is believed to unveil its new Nokia-branded Android smartphones. Now a couple of weeks ahead of the event, the company’s new flagship, allegedly dubbed the Nokia 8, has been leaked. Apparently, Qualcomm showcased the Nokia 8 flagship at CES. The chip maker asked people to not to take photos of the device, but someone managed to shoot a video of the phone.

The source suggests that the Nokia 8 will come in two variants – one with a Snapdragon 835 processor and 6GB of RAM, and the other with a Snapdragon 821 SoC and 4GB of RAM. The Snapdragon 835 SoC-powered edition of the phone will feature a massive 24-megapixel rear camera with OIS and EIS, a 12MP selfie shooter, and dual front-firing speakers. There’s no word on the camera specs of the Snapdragon 821 edition of the phone.

The leak shows both variants of the Nokia 8 side by side with their camera app open. The 24MP sensor of the Snapdragon 835-powered variant of the phone with OIS and EIS displays a high level of stabilisation even while shaking. The device is expected to feature Carl Zeiss optics, and its prototype appears to have a small rectangle with HRM written over it, which suggests a heart rate monitor. We will have official details next month, so stay tuned.

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HTC U Play with 5.2-inch display reportedly launching alongside U Ultra on January 12th

“The U Play will reportedly not feature a 3.5mm headphone jack and will deliver audio via a USB Type-C port”

HTC is expected to launch a new flagship phablet allegedly dubbed the U Ultra at its “For U” event, which is scheduled for January 12th. Now popular gadget tipster @OnLeaks suggests that the brand has another smartphone in the new U series, which will launch as the HTC U Play. It will allegedly be a smaller sibling of the U Ultra, and is also expected to launch on January 12th.

The tipster suggests that the HTC U Play (codenamed Alpine) will feature a 5.2-inch display of unknown resolution. It will also skip the 3.5mm headphone jack in favour of delivering the audio via a USB Type-C port. Unfortunately, the tipster didn’t reveal any other features of the U Play. Previous reports suggest that it will feature a dual-curved screen.

As far as the HTC U Ultra is concerned, it will allegedly feature a large 6-inch display, and will also not ship with a 3.5mm headphone jack. No other details regarding the U Ultra also available as of now. However, we will find them out in just a couple of days, so stay tuned.

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Alleged image of Samsung Galaxy S8 leaked, launch date pegged for April 18th

“The Galaxy S8 edge will feature narrow bezels on the top and bottom of the display”

Samsung’s upcoming flagship, the Galaxy S8, has been the subject of a number of leaks and reports recently. A recent rumour had suggested that the Galaxy S8 will offer a Windows Continuum-like desktop experience. Now an alleged live image of the Samsung Galaxy S8 edge variant has been leaked. In addition, a report out of South Korea has revealed the purported launch date of the phone as well.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 edge’s design seen in this image is in line with the earlier reports. The phone appears to have a dual-curved display, with narrow bezels on top and bottom of the screen. There’s no home button on the device, which suggests that the brand may have placed the fingerprint sensor at the rear. Unfortunately, the source hasn’t provided any images of the rear of the phone. There’s no way to confirm the authenticity of the image though.

Additonally, a report from Samsung’s home market of South Korea citing industry insiders claims that the Galaxy S8 will be unveiled at an event in New York City on April 18th. The brand is expected to launch two variants of the phone – one with a flat screen and one with a curved display – just like its predecessor.

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Samsung’s first foldable smartphone to reportedly launch in Q3-Q4 this year

“Samsung’s foldable phone will sport a hinge, which will allow it to be folded like a wallet”

Several reports last year had suggested that Samsung would be launching its first smartphone with a foldable display sometime in 2017. The phone is reportedly codenamed Project Valley, and might be launched under the name Galaxy X. Now a new rumour out of China suggests that the company will unveil its first foldable smartphones in the third or fourth quarter of this year.

The rumour came in the form of a post on Weibo (Chinese equivalent of Twitter). It gives a time-frame of the launch, but doesn’t provide an exact date or month. There aren’t many details about the alleged Samsung Galaxy X are available at the moment. However, a couple of recent patent applications by the brand gave us a glimpse of the possible design.

The patent applications suggest that Samsung’s foldable smartphone will feature a hinge, which will allow its display to be folded like a wallet. The phone is expected to arrive with various biometric security options like fingers, face, and palm, among others.

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ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe review: offers the performance but charges a premium

“ASUS attempts a wild gamble with the high-end and high-priced ZenFone 3 Deluxe. We find out if the gamble works or not”

Which brand comes to your mind when you see a sticker price of Rs 63,000 for a smartphone? If we were to take an educated guess, we’d say you are thinking Apple, Samsung, HTC, or BlackBerry even. What if we were to say that ASUS’ top-end variant of the ZenFone 3 series, aptly named – the ZenFone 3 Deluxe – actually demands that price? We won’t really be surprised if you actually flipped out after reading that. Especially because no ASUS ZenFone smartphone has every charged such a premium before. This puts the phone squarely in the league of the Apple iPhones and the Google Pixels of the world.

Pricing aside, ASUS packs the ZenFone 3 Deluxe with all the top-end hardware components but the kitchen sink – as expected. Let’s find out if it is worth braving the current wave of demonetisation in our country and splurging on the phone.

Specs at a glance

Display
Size 5.7 Inch
Resolution Full HD (1080 x 1920 pixels)
Performance
CPU Dual core, 2.15 GHz + Dual core, 1.6 GHz, Snapdragon 821
RAM 6 GB
Storage
Internal memory 256 GB
External memory Up to 128 GB
Battery
Capacity 3000 mAH, Li-ion, Non removable
Camera
Primary camera 23 MP
Secondary camera 8 MP
Connectivity
Network support Dual SIM 4G
Other options Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS
Others
Battery Capacity 3000
Operating system Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Design

Dimensions: 156.4 x 77.4 x 7.5 mm
Weight:  170 grams

The ZenFone 3 Deluxe oozes ‘premium’ the moment you take it out of its classy retail packaging. The body of the phone is made from aerospace-grade aluminium alloy and ASUS has somehow managed to cleverly hide the plastic antenna lines – used to receive the radio waves – present on other metal body flagships like the Apple iPhone 7 Plus (review) and the HTC 10 (review). This is definitely a great feat as far as engineering and designing a smartphone is concerned because antenna lines are nothing but an eyesore. 

 

 The edges of the ZenFone 3 Deluxe are neatly chamfered and the corners are rounded. Despite the large 5.7-inch screen size, the phone feels ergonomic thanks to the curved rear and small bezels. However, we are not really fans of the black border around the display, which breaks away from the otherwise cohesive design of the phone. The primary camera module has a slight bump and it sits on the convex part of the curve on the rear. This means that the phone wobbles when placed on a flat surface. The fingerprint scanner is placed below the camera module and it is a long rectangular block instead of a circle. For a flagship phone, the performance of ZenFone 3’s fingerprint scanner is iffy at best: it is not very responsive for one, despite the company’s claims, and furthermore it failed to recognise the fingerprint more often than not.

The power button and the volume rocker are placed conveniently at the right edge of the ZenFone 3 Deluxe. The travel on these buttons are not too great and they feel slightly mushy to press. We have another minor design inconsistency to point out – the backlit capacitive buttons below the display are offset closer to the bottom and are not center-aligned. This might not be a deal breaker for many, but it irks us primarily because the ZenFone 3 Deluxe is a premium smartphone and minute attention to detail is the least we expect.

All summed up, we’d like to say that ASUS has tried really hard to make the ZenFone 3 Deluxe stand out but falls short on multiple counts.

 

 Display

Size: 5.7 Inch
Resolution: Full HD (1080 x 1920 pixels)
Display Type:  Super AMOLED
Pixel Density:  386 ppi

The 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display on the ZenFone 3 Deluxe offers a display resolution of 1080×1920 pixels, which is comparatively low considering most Android flagships offer QHD displays. However, this is a good idea because it helps in saving some precious battery life – more details later. ASUS adds a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 4 for protection against accidental scratches. Despite using an AMOLED panel, the colour saturation is in check and the overall tone is pretty neutral too. Two thumbs up to ASUS for tuning the display right. The viewing angles are pretty good and so is the overall brightness. ASUS also bundles an app called Splendid that gives you the freedom to customise the colour temperature, hue, and the saturation. You also get a bluelight filter toggle that makes it easier to read with control over the levels. We like this implementation better than the night shift mode on the Apple iPhone 7 / 7 Plus.

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Software

Operating System: Android
OS Version: 6.0, Marshmallow

Let’s just say this upfront: the ASUS ZenUI skin on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow is an assault on your senses and not in a good way. The moment you start the phone you are inundated with customisation options and pre-loaded apps that you need to more than just a minute to take it all in. Let’s start with the pre-loaded apps. You get your regular suite of Google apps but along with it you also get ASUS’ homegrown apps like MyASUS Service center, PhotoCollage, MiniMovie, just to name a few. Apart from this, you also get built-in games and other third-party apps like Need for speed and Go2Pay, and many more. Unfortunately, most of these apps cannot even be uninstalled and can only be disabled.

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Moving on, if you are a tinkerer you will love the customisation options on offer like custom animations for home screens and themes. In our opinion though, all this feels a little too overwhelming after a point, and we feel that you will eventually settle for a particular layout. You also get other software tweaks like a One Hand Operation mode, an option to keep an always on screen, a special OptiFlex tool that enhances any app’s launch speed, and the list is unending. Quite evidently, ASUS is hellbent on giving you complete control over the operating system and the software.

Despite our discomfort, we have to hand it to ASUS that none of the features or tweaks feel broken at any point and it is a completely polished software. We’d totally understand if some users actually like this approach to skinning Android.

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Camera

Primary camera:  23 MP
Flash: Dual-color LED Flash
Secondary camera:  8 MP

The ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe uses a 23-megapixel Sony IMX318 sensor for its primary camera which is mated to a lens that has an f/2.0 aperture. ASUS also adds a TriTech auto-focus technology, which is nothing but a combination of laser, phase detection and continuous auto-focus methods. ASUS claims that this helps the camera lock focus in under 0.03 seconds. While we couldn’t verify the exact accuracy of the statement, one thing is for sure – the camera focusses on subjects really fast even in testing lighting conditions. A 4-axis OIS and EIS (especially for video) has also been added for good measure.

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In regular daylight shots, we noticed that the camera captures to underplay the saturation and give more prominence to details. However, despite the fact that close-up shots come out incredibly detailed, the camera sort of struggles to exhibit the same performance in wide angle landscape shots. Thanks to the fairly large aperture, portrait shots offer a decent amount of depth in the background. We did notice a slight lens distortion along the edges of the image in a few of our sample shots but that’s okay considering most smartphone cameras suffer with this issue. We noticed another peculiar issue during testing – the camera produced shots with a clear pink tint in all our HDR shots. In low light, the camera starts underperforming and the results are not even comparable with cameras on other flagship smartphones in the same price range. Having said that, the Low Light shooting mode on the ASUS sacrifices all the megapixels to shoot a 5MP image with more details. And somehow – using some clever software trickery – this works well.

Talking about shooting modes, just like the ZenUI skin, ASUS also offers a smorgasbord of options in the camera app as well. From tinkering individual settings in the Manual mode to using the Super Resolution mode to stitch multiple images and create a large 51MP image, ASUS leaves no stone unturned. Images captured using the Super Resolution mode look pretty sharp and detailed when not viewed at their full resolution. You can choose to use this mode as default to shoot images especially if you are only going to share them on social media. Click on the images in the gallery below to view the camera samples in full resolution.

 

The front camera uses an 8MP sensor. It captures decent selfies and offers a Beauty mode like most rival Chinese manufacturers do. Thankfully, the mode is not as aggressive as some of the other implementations we’ve seen in phones like the Gionee S6s (review) or theOPPO F1s (review). It improves your skin tone and texture but not to the extent that you look like a White Walker from Game of Thrones. The rear camera can also capture 4K videos with stereo sound recording. The camera holds on to focus without any trouble even if subjects are flitting within the frame and the overall image quality is pretty good too. The video quality replicates the image quality with muted colours and more emphasis on details instead.

Performance and battery

CPU:  Dual core, 2.15 GHz + Dual co…
GPU: Adreno 530
RAM: 6 GB
Memory: 256 GB + Up to 128 GB
SIM Slots: Dual SIM , GSM+GSM
Battery: 3000 mAH

The ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe we reviewed uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC paired with 6GB of RAM. It also comes with 256GB of storage and offers a microSD card slot for additional storage as well. You will not be left wanting for more storage space.
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These specs are enough to ensure that the phone never stutters and offers a super smooth performance. From running high-end games to day-to-day operations, the phone handles any task with the ease you’d expect from any flagship smartphone. But all this performance comes at the cost of slight heating issues especially when doing strenuous tasks. Thankfully, it doesn’t get unbearably hot. The ZenFone 3 Deluxe also supports Hi-Res audio meaning you can also run your 24-bit / 192KHz audio files for great audio quality. The bundled earphones are pretty average though and you might want to use better quality audio equipment to make full use of the ZenFone 3 Deluxe’s capabilities. The single speaker grille can also get pretty loud and the sound quality is pretty crisp too but the lack of stereo sound is a bit of a letdown. The call quality over the earpiece is good too.

The ZenFone 3 Deluxe uses a 3,000mAh battery to power itself. ASUS uses Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 tech for fast charging and we must say it is really damn fast. The battery charges from 0 to 100 in under 70 minutes flat. This is as good as OnePlus’ Dash charging technology and that is saying a lot. However, the overall battery life is average at best. The phone managed to last 9 hours and 22 minutes in our battery test and we constantly got a screen-on time ranging from 3 hours 20 minutes to 4 hours. Essentially, you will have to look for a charger after 20 hours of moderate usage.
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Verdict

Our short answer to should you buy the ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe with 6GB of RAM and Snapdragon 821 SoC right now is – no. Look at other equally capable phones, yet much cheaper phones, like the OnePlus 3T, Nubia Z11, and the Moto Z (review) instead. Quite honestly, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe badly needs a price cut and, if and when that happens we’d possibly ask you to reconsider the phone.

While we’ve been pretty straightforward with our verdict, let it be known that the ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe is by no stretch of imagination a bad phone. It is a polished product with a few issues that can easily be overlooked if you are not too finicky about these things. That said, it is bad enough you have to stand in never-ending queues to withdraw money in this current economic climate, that we cannot, in our right minds, ask you to spend Rs 63,000 on a phone that doesn’t offer any standout feature like the Moto Z’s modularity or the LG G5’s (review) dual camera.

 

Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5

 

Pros

  • Good display
  • Smooth performance
  • Quick charge 3.0 is blazing fast

Cons

  • Very pricey
  • Low-light performance of rear camera is average
  • Bloatware-heavy
  • Fingerprint scanner is iffy
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GALAXY S8 CONCEPT DREAMS BIG FOR SAMSUNG’ 2017, REVIEWS AND RELEASE DATE

Galaxy S8 concept dreams big for Samsung’s 2017 flagship phone
The Galaxy S7 is an awesome new smartphone, but it’s also a relatively minor upgrade from last year’s Galaxy S6. It’s still way too soon to know anything about next year’s Galaxy S8, but a new concept design from artist Steel Drake has an exciting take on what could be coming down the pipeline in 2017.
Galaxy S8 concept dreams big for Samsung’s 2017 flagship phone
Galaxy S8 concept dreams big for Samsung’s 2017 flagship phone
Galaxy S8 concept dreams big for Samsung’s 2017 flagship phone
Galaxy S8 concept dreams big for Samsung’s 2017 flagship phone
Galaxy S8 concept dreams big for Samsung’s 2017 flagship phone
Visually this Galaxy S8 concept design is absolutely stunning. Samsung’s flexible OLED is in full effect and the entire metal frame is curved as well, giving the device a look that’s somehow natural and futuristic at the same time. The bottom and top bezels are also impressively thin, leaving just enough space for a logo and a front-facing camera.
The concept also adds a built-in projector, which appears to be crammed into the rear-facing flash module. We’re not sure that’s actually possible, but it’s pretty awesome to imagine. The fingerprint scanner appears to have moved to the back of the device, possibly due to a lack of space in front.
Finally, the designer decided to ditch the charging port for the Galaxy S8. Instead, the device relies on wireless charging entirely. That includes a standard charging plate and a futuristic “charge translator” that releases electricity into the air so your phone can power up without touching anything. Again, this sounds more like sci-fi than reality, but it’s still fun to imagine it could be real.
Watch  Galaxy S8 concept dreams big for Samsung’s 2017 flagship phone
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Samsung Release 5 New Phone Models in 2017

London, May 17: Yes, it’s premature, almost ridiculously so, and it’d definitely be wise to wait and see how the Galaxy Note 6 (and its purported “Lite” derivation) come to pass before spreading unsubstantiated gossip about sequels to both it and the S7 that Samsung probably didn’t settle on just yet.

Well, we all know a Galaxy S8 (or two) and Note 7 (or two) will roll out at some point next year, but it’s quite the stretch to imagine their timelines and spec sheets are already worked out. It’s even less plausible that an obscure Chinese tipster somehow obtained intel on 2017 Samsung flagships, though if edge-to-edge iPhone 7s hearsay is acceptable, why wouldn’t something like this also deserve a quick media acknowledgment?

The same leakster wannabe that recently “divulged” pretty far-fetched Note 6 Lite information apparently believes there will be five main Galaxy-series high-enders released after this fall’s phablet.

These presumably include S8, S8 Edge, Note 7 and Note 7 Edge variants with “2.5K” display resolution, Super AMOLED and RGB technology, as well as a foldable “Galaxy X” capable of producing 4K video content on a PenTile Diamond matrix screen.

For the record, 2.5K is likely the same thing as 2K or Quad HD, i.e. 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, while 4K or UHD sees the ante upped to 3,840 x 2,160. The Galaxy X may or may not be the official market name of the long-rumored, long-in-development Project Valley phone, which is expected to seamlessly curl up in a 5-inch ball from its primary 7-inch form factor.

Still, nothing’s set in stone at the moment. Not even the specifications of the fast-approaching GNote 6.

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Lenovo K6 Power vs Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime battery test

“We test out the battery performance of two of the hottest phones in the budget segment”

To say that the recently launched Lenovo K6 Power poses a threat to the Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime’s (review) dominance in the budget segment would be an understatement. The K6 Power is powered by the same processor, brings a 4,000mAh battery to contest with Redmi 3S Prime’s 4,100mAh and packs a much sharper full HD display, all for the same price. While the performance of both the smartphones is on par with one another, an argument can be made that the Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime offers a much better battery life owing to a lower resolution display than the K6 Power. To see if the argument holds up, we conducted a battery test comparing the two smartphones.

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The battery test involves connecting the competing smartphones to the same Wi-Fi network with screen brightness on both the devices set to 50 percent. The audio levels are also set to 50 percent and a SIM card is also inserted inside the smartphones to emulate real-world usage. A video is then played on the smartphones’ browsers and the battery drain after 91 minutes is noted.

Curious to see which of the two smartphones won? Well, make sure to check out the video embedded below!

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BlackBerry DTEK50 review: Android’s customisability meets enterprise-level security

The current state of Canadian giant BlackBerry shows how companies need to continue innovating to avoid going into oblivion. From being the first manufacturer to offer ‘smart’phones with email access and QWERTY keypads to becoming an aspirational brand for youngsters and not just businessmen (remember the BlackBerry boys?) to grasping at straws – it has seen a meteoric rise and dramatic fall within the span of a decade. In fact, the company tried to change strategy drastically when it introduced its first Android smartphone in the form of PRIV (first impressions) last year, and now it has even given up on manufacturing and is re-using Alcatel’s designs for its latest offerings – the DTEK50 (first impressions) and DTEK60 (first impressions). While the former is a mid-ranger carrying a price tag of Rs 21,990, the latter is a premium device priced at Rs 46,990 to take on the flagships.

But can this move help BlackBerry become relevant again, and stand out from the competition? We got a chance to play with the BlackBerry DTEK50 and will try to answer this question. Read on to find what we think.

Specs At A Glance

Display
Size 5.2 Inch
Resolution Full HD (1080 x 1920 pixels)
Performance
CPU Quad core, 1.5 GHz + Quad core, 1.2 GHz, Snapdragon 617
RAM 3 GB
Storage
Internal memory 16 GB
External memory Up to 2 TB
Battery
Capacity 2610 mAH, Li-ion, Non removable
Camera
Primary camera 13 MP
Secondary camera 8 MP
Connectivity
Network support Single SIM 4G
Other options Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS
Others
Battery Capacity 2610
Operating system Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Design And Display: Plasticky Yet Stands Out With Its Durable And Lightweight Build

Dimensions: 147 x 72.5 x 7.4 mm
Weight: 135 grams

Even with its polycarbonate body, the BlackBerry DTEK50 is unlike any other smartphone available in the market. Thanks to a 5.2-inch display, the phone can easily be held in a single hand. Adding to the ergonpmics is its slim form-factor of 7.4mm and its featherlight weight of 135g. In fact, it’s among the lightest phones in its class.

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Since the company is using the Alcatel Idol 4’s design as a reference, the BlackBerry DTEK50 is very different from its lineage. It has a metallic frame on its edges, while the display panel has been placed on a slightly elevated portion. The button and port placement is unique as well – the volume button is on the right along with the circular convenience key. An ejectable tray is also available on the right spine. The power switch is on the left edge. We’ll talk about the purpose of the convenience key later, but it’s worth mentioning that its placement is extremely odd. It can easily be mistaken for a power button, not just because of its positioning, but because of its shape as well.

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The antenna bands can be found on both the top and bottom, along with a 3.5mm audio interface and micro-USB ports and primary as well as secondary microphones.

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Similar to the front, the rear has a raised profile, and sports a rugged texture. It improves the ergonomic quotient as well as makes for a good grip. Here you’ll find the primary camera module with the dual-tone LED flash and company’s logo.

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Interestingly enough, there’s no branding on the fascia of the BlackBerry DTEK50. There seems to be a considerable space wasted below, since the navigation keys are present as part of the software interface. The speaker vents are placed on the frame, which is thoughtful as the sound doesn’t get muffled when the handset is kept on a flat surface. The front-firing speakers offer loud sound output.

The 5.2-inch IPS display on the DTEK50 is a full HD affair, and makes for sharp text and vivid visuals. The brightness levels are also adequate, and while you might find some difficulty in reading under direct sunlight due to the reflective nature of the display, it’s not impossible.

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The BlackBerry DTEK50 won’t win any awards for its looks considering the stunning metal smartphones around, but it surely gets a thumbs up for its practical design.

Software: Android With An Element Of Security

Operating System: Android
OS Version: 6.0, Marshmallow

The BlackBerry DTEK50 is the first all-touch phone from the Canadian company running Android. The interface is relatively stock and sticks to Google’s Material Design ethos for the most part – be it the lock screen, homescreen, or the notification drawer. Don’t worry if you get confused with the layout of recent apps, as you can change it to tiles or Rolodex apart from the default collage-like format.

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That’s not to say that the interface on the DTEK50 doesn’t get any BlackBerry treatment. Pop-up widgets is an interesting idea as you don’t need to utilise the homescreen space for widgets, and you can just swipe up on the compatible app to access its widget. You can identify apps that support this feature with the row of three dots below their icons, although a very few titles offer this capability – messages, BlackBerry Hub, calendar, etc. While other apps like Google Chrome and Play Store support it, their widgets don’t help much as the former shows you the list of bookmarks, while the latter opens up the store itself in a smaller window. The feature is useful for an at-a-glance view of things such as calendar appointments, messages on IMs, etc.

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The productivity tab is however, more useful, as it’s an omnipresent sidebar on the side of the screen. You can drag it to bring up the calendar, BlackBerry Hub, Tasks, and Contacts. This allows you to access these features irresepective of what you might be doing on the smartphone.

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The convenience key can be used for opening any app, or initiating any action as its name suggests. However, similar to pop-up widgets, it’s a neat idea that’s implemented poorly. It would have been immensely useful if it was contextual – in the camera app for instance, it could act as a shutter key.

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The BlackBerry Hub used to be helpful on BlackBerry devices thanks to the close integration with the BB OS and even third-party apps as it offered all notifications from different apps at one place. However, in the case of the Android-powered DTEK50, it doesn’t feel as useful. For example, if you have finetuned Gmail properly with various categories, the Hub will forego that to bring all your emails in one place. Not to mention that you’ll get two notifications every time you get an email.

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Of course, the highlight of the BlackBerry DTEK50 is the security features. With the DTEK app, you can get the complete status of your device and the options with which you can improve its security. Many of the security-related aspects are taken care of in the background – such as app encryption, secure bootloader, etc.

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Surprisingly, even though the DTEK50 plays up on the security factor, it omits a fingerprint scanner, which has become a standard these days. A fingerprint scanner would have taken care of device security and made it convenient for users to authenticate themselves as well.

Music lovers would appreciate the fact that BlackBerry DTEK50 features MaxxAudio app from Waves which lets you tweak equaliser settings as per your preferences.

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However, the UI isn’t completely optimised as we ran into some app crashes during our usage.

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Camera: Reasonably Good

Primary camera: 13 MP
Flash: Dual-color LED Flash
Secondary camera: 8 MP

Cameras haven’t really been BlackBerry’s forte, and thankfully the DTEK50 tries to change that. The images clicked with its 13-megapixel primary sensor capture good details and reproduce accurate colours in daylight. Even when viewed in full resolution, the photos retain their sharpness levels. That said, the HDR mode is a hit-and-miss affair and while it does result in better-looking images when it works, images captured in low light are hardly visible. The LED flash fails to help since it isn’t able to illuminate the scene uniformly.

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Talking about the camera app, it’s feature-rich, with the viewfinder presenting all the options up front. The interface is easy to understand as well, with the various shooting modes and effects available at the bottom along with the shutter button, whereas the toggles for HDR, flash, etc. have been placed on top. There’s a pro mode too, which lets you tweak parameters like ISO and shutter speed to get the desired results.

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Overall, the BlackBerry DTEK50’s camera performance might not be able to propel it ahead of the competition in its segment, it’s still quite decent overall. Take a dekko at its camera samples.

BlackBerry DTEK50 camera sample (1) BlackBerry DTEK50 camera sample (2) BlackBerry DTEK50 camera sample - HDR off (3)

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Coming to the front camera of the DTEK50, it’s quite good. Selfie addicts will also love the front camera flash as the phone can capture selfies even in dim lighting. However, the video capabilities of the phone leave a lot to be desired. Not only does the resolution max out at full HD, but the dynamic range is also not the best. There’s software-based stabilisation which tries to help in keeping the videos smooth, but can’t match up to optical image stabilisation.

Performance: All Eight Hands On Deck

CPU:  Quad core, 1.5 GHz + Quad cor…
GPU: Adreno 405
RAM: 3 GB
Memory: 16 GB + Up to 2 TB
SIM Slots: Single SIM , GSM
Battery: 2610 mAH

After Snapdragon 810, another Qualcomm chipset that’s famous (read infamous) for heating issues is Snapdragon 615 / 617 SoC. Sadly, that’s what fuels the BlackBerry DTEK50, and the phone struggles with the same problem. The device starts to heat up even while performing basic tasks, and not just when the processor is pushed to its limits. It’s important to note that the heating is noticeable on the screen surface, rather than on the rear portion, possibly due to rubber being a bad conductor. Imagine when you have to make a call in such a scenario, when the screen is pressed against your ear.

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Coming to the day-to-day performance though, the DTEK50 offers a decent experience. The basic navigation, app opening times, and switching between apps is instantaneous. However, if we have to nitpick, we’d say there’s slight lag noticeable in the UI animations, etc. The trend continues with gaming as well, since Subway Surfers and Asphalt Extreme ran fine, save for some instances when there are noticeable stutters.

In the storage department, you get around 9GB space, which can be topped up further with the use of microSD cards.

BlackBerry DTEK50 screenshot (5)

The DTEK50 comes loaded with all the connectivity options – 4G, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS.

Being a productivity-centric smartphone, one would expect good battery life from the BlackBerry DTEK50. Blame the lower-than-the-usual battery capacity or poor software optimisation, but the device disappoints in this regard as it barely manages to last an entire working day. With the battery levels at 100 percent at 9 am in the morning, it was in dire need of a charge at 5 pm with mixed use consisting of internet usage via Wi-Fi, a few calls and 30 to 40 minutes of gaming. In our battery loop test, the handset fared rather poorly as it was able to play back an HD video for just six hours and 40 minutes.

BlackBerry DTEK50 screenshot (46) BlackBerry DTEK50 screenshot (47)

The device also supports Qualcomm’s Quick charge 2.0 technology, but doesn’t come bundled with a compatible adapter.

Verdict

To summarise, the BlackBerry DTEK50 generates mixed feelings. It could have been the Canadian giant’s masterstroke – combining the flexibility of Android with its security prowess, that too at a mid-tier price point. Adding to its troubles is the cut-throat competition in this price bracket. When it comes to compact options in the same price bracket, the ASUS ZenFone 3 (review), Xiaomi Mi 5 (review), and ZUK Z2 Plus (review) are powerful devices. If you don’t mind phablets, then the LeEco Le Max2 (review) is a steal deal offering the flagship-grade Snapdragon 820

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The BlackBerry DTEK50 is a decent smartphone, but isn’t meant for everyone. BlackBerry loyalists will miss the comfort of typing on QWERTY keypads, and while the inclusion of Android OS is enticing, there are some trade-offs like heating issues and poor battery life, making its case more difficult. However, if you are someone who values security and want a phone for one-hand use, then the DTEK50 could be worth a second look.

 

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OnePlus 3T unboxing and first impressions: licensed to kill future flagships

“While the 3T might not differ much from the OnePlus 3, it does remain an attractive proposition which is available at an enticing price point”

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Let’s take a trip back memory lane

It was December 2nd in 2014 when a barely known company named OnePlus made its way to India with the launch of its debut smartphone, the One. The Chinese upstart has come a long way since then, and has been able to make a space for itself in the hyper-competitive market, along with living up to the ‘flagship killer’ tag carried by its devices. Two years later, the brand has launched its latest offering, the OnePlus 3T, on the same date. A lot has been said (and pondered upon) regarding the phone, which is a mid-cycle refresh to its current flagship, the 3 – why would the brand launch a slightly upgraded smartphone just five months after launching the OnePlus 3, what problem does the 3T solve, or even what it means for the company’s future product roadmap.

If you view the OnePlus 3T objectively, then the only changes it brings to the table are a better front camera, a larger battery, and a new model with more storage. But even with these small upgrades, the 3T is an attractive proposition at its sticker price of Rs 29,999. Read on to find out why we think so in our initial impressions after a look at the box contents.

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Similar to the OnePlus 3, the 3T comes packed in a compact rectangular packaging, with a minimal branding. Opening the lid brings up the phone itself. Underneath it, you’ll find the documentation in the form of a quick start guide and safety information along with a SIM-ejection tool. Lastly, you’ll find the Dash charger along with the compatible cable. Interestingly, the Indian retail unit also comes with a voucher worth Rs 300 that can be used for buying accessories from OnePlus’ India e-store.

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Looks-wise, the OnePlus 3T is exactly same as its progenitor – the OnePlus 3 (review). That means you get the metal-wrapped smartphone with a curved rear, resulting in an impressive ergonomic quotient. In terms of the design, the only difference is that OnePlus 3T comes in a gunmetal hue, and a soft gold colour is due to come later. It’s worth mentioning that the 3T packs in a bigger battery pack, yet retains the exact same 7.3mm thickness and 158g weight of its predecessor.

Related read: OnePlus 3T vs OnePlus 3: what’s new

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Contrary to the rumours that suggested that the manufacturer is facing difficulties with a shortage of AMOLED display panels and hence might move to IPS tech for the OnePlus 3T, the new phablet continues to employ the 5.5-inch Optic AMOLED screen. As much as we’d have liked OnePlus to move to 2k resolution especially considering the rise of Virtual Reality, the 3T’s display sticks to full HD.

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Not just the outards, the internals of the OnePlus 3T are quite similar to the 3 as well. The device is powered by Qualcomm’s quad-core processor, and still remains among the very few options in the market that come equipped with a beefy 6 gigs of RAM. However, there’s one difference on the chipset front… the 3T utilises Qualcomm’s latest 821 SoC, which is an incremental upgrade over the SD820 chip. The Snapdragon 821 is clocked at 2.35GHz for two of the high-end cores (the 820’s high-end cores are tuned at 2.15GHz), while the power-efficient cores run at 1.6GHz. The hardware should be able to deliver buttery-smooth performance, although there shouldn’t be noticeable difference in comparison to the Snapdragon 820-toting OnePlus 3, except for benchmark scores. For storage, along with the 64GB model, OnePlus has now ousted a 128GB variant with the 3T,

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What’s odd however is that the OnePlus 3T isn’t compatible with Google’s VR platform, Daydream, even though the processor is capable of supporting it.

In the camera department, the OnePlus 3T sports a 16-megapixel Sony IMX298 sensor at the back with support for PDAF and OIS – same as the OnePlus 3. The major change however, is the front camera, as it’s now double the resolution at 16MP… hopefully translating into well-detailed selfies and a superb video calling experience.

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On the software front, the OnePlus 3T continues to offer Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but with the latest Oxygen OS 3.5 on top. The new custom skin offers some subtle changes such as uniform icons, support for more gestures, etc. The company has also promised that the handset would be getting an update to Android Nougat before the end of this year.

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While the OnePlus 3 was a near-perfect device – a rarity in the world of smartphones – it’s Achilles heel was the average battery life offered by the 3,000mAh unit. Thankfully the manufacturer has tried to take care of this issue by equipping the OnePlus 3T with a 3,400mAh battery. Of course, the 3T carries over the dash charging capabilities – which is probably the fastest charging system around.

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When the Chinese brand launched its second offering in 2015, aptly named as the OnePlus 2 (review), the company pitched it as the flagship killer of 2016. That seemed audacious, but showed its relentless pursuit to offer its consumers the best. The OnePlus 3T is also the result of the same thought process. Based on our brief time with the 3T, we think it has enough firepower to take on the flagships of next year, despite being priced in the mid range. But will it live up to our expectations? That only time and our review can tell, so keep watching this space.

 


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