Acer Liquid Jade S: Another Semi-Precious One?

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The Acer Liquid Jade S seeks to carve a niche for itself with bold looks, a rather slim waistline and well-balanced hardware. Announced only six months following the Liquid Jade, the S version introduces illustrious upgrades in several major areas. It certainly has a more powerful chipset that features an octa-core processor. The higher-grade graphics processor is the key alteration, however, the doubled operating memory and onboard storage are also noteworthy changes. The new SoC is not merely about higher performance though, it also brings along the needed LTE support to the table.

There are many other key features that have been retained starting with the 5-inch display. The display may not be FullHD, but qHD resolutions aren’t unheard of in the price segment and 720p gives enough density without raising the price too high. The dual SIM capability will be applauded by specific users, even if the second card needs to fight with the microSD for the shared slot space.

The Acer Liquid Jade S sports prominent styling too. While certain design elements may not be to everyone’s liking, it’s definitely not just another nameless black rectangle of a smartphone. It’s also light and pleasantly thin – a rarity in a price range where build is usually sacrificed at the altar for a lower price.

The Acer Liquid Jade S key features include dual SIM slots, quad-band 2G connectivity for both SIM cards, quad-band 3G, and Cat 4 LTE for download speeds up to 150Mbps. Other key features include:

  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, hotspot; GPS with A-GPS

  • 64-bit Mediatek MT6752M chipset with an octa-core Cortex-A53 processor clocked at 1.5GHz

  • Mali T760MP2 dual-core GPU

  • 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage on board, expandable up to 32GB via microSD card in place of SIM 2

  • 5-inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen display of 1,280 x 720 pixels resolution, Gorilla Glass 3 protection

  • 13MP main camera with fast f1.8 lens, autofocus, and LED flash; 1080p@30fps video recording

  • 5MP front facing camera

  • DTS-HD certified audio

  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat with thorough customizations from Acer, promised upgrade to Lollipop

  • FM radio receiver

  • 2,300mAh battery capacity

  • Compact, light body; striking design

No matter how well-designed the device is, it comes with its own set of disadvantages too. It has a non-removable battery and there is no NFC. Further, the power button is in an uncomfortable position. You also can’t have dual-SIM and microSD at the same time on this phone.

So, as discussed in the above list, the Acer Liquid Jade S addresses the shortfalls of its predecessor and adds up to a convincing smartphone package – on paper. It has promising hardware, which is further complemented by a unique styling.

With the specifications duly in place, as many prospective buyers would like to have, the phone is all set to create a buzz in the market!

Vivo Xshot: A Shot at the Competition

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Another Chinese flagship mobile phone has rocked the market, but with a twist. The Vivo Xshot is a uniquely built phone flaunting a premium finish, unnerving specifications, and a camera setup that almost puts it in a niche of its own.

The Vivo Xshot is available in two variations. The first one is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC, with four CPU cores clocked at 2.3 GHz, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The second version, which also is lighter to hold, wraps up a Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of built-in memory. Besides the feature differences, the two handsets appear nearly identical. It is true that both of these variants are typical of most 2014 flagship phones. However, we do not mean that as a criticism. After all, the Vivo Xshot came into the market last summer, similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, but with a more conformed price.

Here are the key features of the device:

  • 5.2″ 16M-color 1080p IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen

  • Quad-core Qualcomm MSM8974AA Snapdragon 801 or Snapdragon 800 at 2.3 GHz, 2/3 GB RAM and Adreno 330 GPU.

  • Rear camera of 13 mega pixels with 4K video, OIS, f/1.8 and dual-tone flash; 8MP, wide (84 degree) front-facing camera with LED flash and 720p video.

  • Exclusive two-stage camera shutter button.

  • 16GB of built-in storage and a microSD card slot

  • LTE Cat. 4 (150Mbps), Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, GPS/GLONASS receiver, Bluetooth v4.0

  • Standard 3.5mm audio jack

  • Accelerometer, proximity sensor, gyroscope and compass

  • Active noise revoking with a dedicated mic

  • 2,600mAh non-removable battery

While the phone offers many useful and innovative features, it also has some disadvantages. Apparently, it is stuck on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with no UI update. The battery cannot be removed and is of a rather limited capacity. There is no actual WiFi AC support and even the user interface appears to be confusing at times owing to poor translation. The Xshot is equipped with a 5.2-inch IPS LCD panel of full HD resolution and 424ppi. It has a sharp, clear display, but it tends to get quite reflective at times.

Nevertheless, the camera setup is worthy of applause as the Xshot uses an ambitious 13MP sensor, complete with an f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilization and 4K video recording potential. Even the front-facing camera is great at 8 megapixels. It even has a dedicated LED flash for captures, so selfies should also come out quite nice!

Overall, the device is a fruitful experience for a specification-centric user and worth the money users will invest in it.

Nokia Lumia 1020: A photographer’s Delight

NokiaLumia1020The Nokia Lumia 1020 by Nokia was first unveiled on 11 July 2013 at a Nokia event in New York and has caught the fancy of people ever since. The Lumia 1020 has very nicely been wrapped up in a unibody polycarbonate chassis, which does bring about a certain confidence within users about the device’s durability. The Gorilla Glass 3 on the front of the 1020 is flush with the edges, which ensures that you do not feel any pauses when running your fingers through the device. The device has been made available in three lovely colors (yellow, black and white), each with a matte finish along with a coating that is both dirt- and fingerprint-resistant.

The Lumia 1020 offers a vast 32GB of internal storage, which is normally enough space for most users. Even for those who are going to utilize the phone’s numerous camera features to the fullest might just feel that the storage capacity is just enough to park their captures. That said, you actually can’t notice how pivotal a role the camera plays in the Lumia 1020’s performance. It has been made for the photography enthusiast. For them to be able to enjoy the performance closest to that of a DSLR. With that end in mind the Lumia 1020 takes their PureView tech and improves upon the imaging experience of a smartphone. For one, rather than having to switch between creative mode and high-resolution shots, the 1020 now takes both at the same time, delivering a 38MP photo (34MP for wide-angle) and an oversampled 5MP version with lossless zoom as well.

Putting the advantages and the disadvantages right across the table, the hits are that the device has a best-in-class imaging experience with a beautiful display and a very dependable battery life. It has a smooth performance and is made of real substance, promising a solid build quality and materials. The misses in the device aren’t much. The phone can be a bit awkward and is slightly uncomfortable to hold. It also has a few bugs, which do not appear often. But despite the misses, the phone is a real pleasure to own, especially for those who consider photographic quality important.

The Lumia 1020 is the best Windows Phone according to people who have tried it. Even while it’s a little difficult to hold conveniently, the phone offers the best camera in the industry.

 

HTC One M9: Better with Each Passing Year

As one of the most sought after cellphone brands in the market, HTC is known for its efforts to keep polishing its hit formula showcased in its previous handsets until it finally reaches the ideal it has been working toward. That’s what the company has attempted to bring forward with the HTC One M9.

Potential users would be glad to know that in most ways, the new handset is indeed a thoughtful refinement of the predecessors of the One series and the complaints, if any, form those devices haven’t gone unheard by the makers.

Hardware

While it becomes irresistible to compare the M9 to the One series phones that came before it, it is an interesting comparison. HTC’s new flagship phone channels more of the original One M7’s angular structure and has the same sloping back. The major improvement however, strikes with a more potent camera that is a square-shaped, sapphire-covered pod hosting a rather traditional shooter with 20-megapixels. Besides that, even the nano-SIM and microSD card slots sit nicely into the left and right edges of the handset. The microSD card slot takes cards up to a thumping 2 terabytes. How the phone looks is also more or less the same as its predecessors. However, the changes seem noticeable when you look at that 5-inch, 1080p screen fitted with incredible subtlety. The phone houses one of Qualcomm’s Octa-core Snapdragon 810s, 3GB of DDR4 RAM, 32GB of storage and support for super-fast LTE Cat 9 data speeds.htc new

Software

HTC has done a pretty good job of dialing back its influence on Android over the past few generations, and has brought out a version of Sense that is both smarter and great at getting out of your way when you want it to. If you’ve worked with the M8, you’ll feel a great sense of familiarity with the new handset by HTC. The new gadget has just about all the software features that The M8 flaunted on top of Android 5.0.2. It also comes with a few other smart and fresh bits.

new htc 2

Camera

When shot in bright, proper lighting, the M9 brings out detailed photographs with nicely reproduced colors, although they can be a little washed out compared to the M8. As such, the 20-megapixel camera is a great photographic channel on the phone and does try to keep you happy along the way even if it does not look very elegant.

htc3Speaking of the cellphone in a nutshell, it definitely scores well in performance and has a top-tier build. Sense 7 is a thoughtful feature too and the phone’s quick charging option works well. On the downside, the main camera of the phone is a bit lackluster and the battery too seems to be a bit slight. However, the phone is a remarkable piece from one of the greatest phone makers we have. So go for it!

Amazon Fire Phone: Simply Unique or Good Enough?

This is the phone with which Amazon plunged into the smart phone industry. The Amazon Fire phone was launched with many a unique features and has done pretty well for itself and the users. We dig a little deeper here to figure out exactly what the device has in store.

Hardware

Amazon seems to have put a lot of effort in the Fire phone’s innovative features and perhaps lost focus on making the device appealing. The Fire phone appears more to be a prototype than a phone with a competitive look and design. Looks should have been even more import for them at a time when well-designed gadgets like the iPhone 5s, LG G3 and HTC One M8 have already hit the market with a bang. The Fire definitely feels thicker than all of these phones because of its blocky design. It is thicker than the iPhone 5s and Galaxy S5, just as thick as the LG G3 and thinner than the One M8 and Moto X
amazonSoftware

The phone comes with Fire OS 3.5, a proprietary operating system based on the Android 4.2 open-source platform (AOSP). It is quite similar to the concept used for the Nokia X and other devices sold in China in order to provide more flexibility to the manufacturers to build what they desire without being bound to use Google Play Services. Fire OS is more or less about Amazon and features Instant Video, Kindle books, Newsstand, Audible audiobooks, music, and games. If you want to download apps, you’ll need to use the Amazon Appstore for it, which features about 240,000 titles.

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Camera

What we like about the Fire is that Amazon didn’t compromise even a bit on its imaging performance. The camera boasts of a 13-megapixel sensor with a five-element lens, f/2.0 aperture and optical image stabilization (OIS). What it captures clearly beat out the iPhone 5s and Galaxy S5. The camera takes great shots with appropriate detailing.

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Snapshot

PROS

CONS

Mayday assures quick access to tech support

Exclusive to AT&T, no global options

Comes with free Prime membership for a year

3D effects can lead to motion sickness

Call quality is good

Restricted ecosystem

Dynamic Perspective; Firefly needs improvement

Features interfere with battery and performance

Verdict

To cut the long story short, Amazon has indeed tried to bring out the best in its debut phone, there isn’t much of an incentive for users to switch carriers or platforms to purchase it. Its unique features don’t seem to offer enough utility, and come at the expense of both battery life and performance.

The Budget Smartphone Moto G

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It’s no news how Moto G took everyone by surprise when it was first introduced as the perfect budget cellphone. With a small price tag of under $200 and off-contract availability, it was indeed easy for people to mellow down their expectations of the device and not anticipate it to be the quickest or the smartest of the lot. But the Moto G was a surprise. It was one of those gadgets that ended up being more than simply satisfactory. Both the price as well as performance of the Moto G has been one of the best in the industry and it has rocketed to the top of the list as one of the best “cheap” smart phones one could own.

So here we are a year later, presenting the new Moto G, which isn’t much of a game changer and we pause here to ask, does it really have to be one? What we actually need to figure out is if this year’s model has met the standards set by its predecessor and is superior in any way? For what we know, the new Moto G flaunts a camera that is undoubtedly better than the original one. The Android 4.4.4 interface is a treat and will be liked by one and all. The device also feels crisp in hand despite the aging internals. And let’s face it, it is pretty darn inexpensive. A smartphone for the same price is not available anywhere with similar performance standards. While there are numerous pros to this new model, it is not without a few cons. The device has no LTE support. Also, the screen of this model isn’t very crisp as compared to the previous year’s model.

Moto G looks much like last year’s batch of Motorola devices with only a few noteworthy differences. The phone does have a more expansive, 5-inch 720p display and barely has any edges on the left and right. Also, a shiny pair of front-facing speakers above and below the screen help the Moto G impersonate the Moto E quite convincingly. On top, the tiny notification light glows the moment someone sends across an email or texts on your Facebook wall. All in all, that is what the device has to offer in terms of the visual appeal. However, the good news is that Motorola’s wallet-friendly strategy hasn’t changed a lot since the previous year’s release of Moto G, and that works pretty well for all of us!

OnePlus One: A Refreshingly Good Looking Cell Phone

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This cell phone’s motto, “Never Settle,” says it all when it comes to the Chinese company’s mission of making and selling the perfect smartphone. Its first attempt is the One, which is a premium-looking cellphone with customizable top-shelf specs. The best part? It is afford ably priced at $299 unlocked and free of contract, which is far less expensive than many other handsets that do not offer what this phone has to offer. While it does sound like the One is too good to be true, we wanted to see if indeed it is.

The OnePlus One actually does not appear to be a phone costing $299. Its arched spine, polycarbonate build, elegant chassis and amazing specifications can easily make someone mistake it for a much costlier phone. In a way, that could probably be because various other companies in the market are trying to market their own devices with such features for a much higher price.

One would certainly wonder then as to how a startup like OnePlus has priced its flagship device at a lower cost than many of its peers. In a way, the company doesn’t seem to be going after big money for a while. OnePlus has no track record to rely on apart from the fact that its founder and much of its workforce came over from Oppo, which has a reputation for making great devices (but at a much higher price). In that respect, keeping the price down is quite an investment for the company in its nascent stage.

The phone is indeed a great value for money. It has a fantastic display and a premium hardware. Boasting of top-of-the-line specifications, the firmware is as customizable as you can get. While there are minor stutters in the processor-intensive tasks, the phone overall offers for a smooth user experience. It has a low speaker volume which can also be easily managed.

For a price of $300, there is actually no other phone coming close to what the OnePlus One offers. Not only does it look and feel like a premium device, but it also offers the amazing specifications you look for in a flagship smartphone. So if you’re really looking for a high-end phone on a budget, your search ends here.

LG G Flex2: Has the Phone come up the Curve?

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The new G Flex2 is out and is making heads turn. It is smaller and is way sleeker and better looking than its predecessor. It does bring up some questions though about the strangely curved screens which has more to do with the phone’s design than its functionality. And this is not all. With all the new gimmicks and features this phone has to offer, let’s figure out if it’s actually worth buying.

The G Flex2 is LG’s latest flexible flagship phone, and it certainly shows improvements on its predecessor in more ways than one. It is indeed stylish, has good horsepower, and displays a better screen. The smart phone is one of the nicest curved phones that have appeared on scene till date but more or less, that is essentially all that it will be known for.

In many ways, however, the G Flex2 is indeed better and brighter than the original version. It is definitely a thought through refinement of everything that held back its ancestor. With the exception of the necessary microphone, headphone jack, a micro-USB port below and a teeny Infra-Red blaster atop, the edges of the phone are completely empty. The company has yet again placed the power and volume buttons onto the back of the phone, below the main 13-megapixel camera and laser autofocus module.

It’s no wonder that the phone has a gorgeous, stunning design and boasts of great video and gaming experience, few of the stock lollipop features in the handset are actually missing. The phone has a good camera and offers n easily changeable battery. However, its custom user interface seems a bit off and slow resulting in an overall lag in the phone’s usability. With a front-facing camera that doesn’t seem very promising, the phone wouldn’t be able to impress those with a fetish for clicking selfies.

BlackBerry Classic: A Blast from the Past

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For all of BlackBerry’s most ardent fans who still miss the times when QWERTY keyboards ruled the cellphone arena, with their efficient sets, the big news is that BlackBerry Classic has finally arrived. Although the name says it all, we must still dive deep to see what this phone brings with its blend of modern and classic features and feel to figure whether or not it is worth your money.

The BlackBerry Classic is sturdy and solidly constructed such that it looks like less of a phone and more of a tool. One thing this handset doesn’t share with its previous versions is the ability to shed the rear cover for a quick restart or the needed swap of batteries. The good thing, as will be appreciated by most BlackBerry fans, is that its physical QWERTY keyboard still rocks the way it used to do. On the other hand, finding or installing apps is a little cumbersome. In some areas, you might experience hit-or-miss performance which is certainly not a plus. Among other things that are not so good about the phone, is that the battery is not removable – at least not by yourself. The camera is mediocre and will serve the average user but those with higher expectations will definitely want something better. But besides all the not-so-good things, the device is loaded with useful and interesting software touches which give it the required refreshing touch. Regardless of the features and specifications, the phone’s throwback design will be loved by BlackBerry fans.

The front of the phone is just the sort of blast from the past that everyone is likely to expect. The historic look seems complete with the old notification light that will pulse as soon as an email hits your inbox. A 2-megapixel fixed-focus camera also sits nicely above the 3.5-inch square 720p screen. However, with slightly lower performance and an app system that will require quite a bit of getting used to, the Classic is indeed best suited for absolute die-hard productivity seekers and devoted BlackBerry fans.

 

 

World’s First Ubuntu Phone – BQ Aquaris E4.5

Ubuntu Phone

After an entire year of talks doing the rounds about Ubuntu’s first smartphone and everyone getting curious, the British company Canonical has finally managed to bring the world’s first Ubuntu operated phone – BQ Aquaris E4.5 to the market. The smartphone has been developed by BQ, a Spanish company, and will initially be available in Europe. This rebellious phone will definitely change the way of interaction as seen in existing smartphones.

Interestingly, the Ubuntu arrives without any apps. Instead, the device introduces “Scopes”–a modified look into the mobile user interface. Scopes are “simple” dashboards that resemble Android widgets and will be responsible for integrating content and services in an excitingly new user friendly way. They will bring in content like music, videos and news in a series of home screens instead of separate players and apps rather than just laying them separately in grids the way it happens in Android and iOS based phones. This will make it easy and comfortable for users and will save them the inconvenience of scrolling through screens of icons to find their app.

The Aquaris E4.5 is powered by a MediaTek SoC with 1.3GHz quad-core processor with an internal storage that sports 8GB and can be further expanded through a MicroSD slot. The smartphone features a 4.5 inch qHD display with 960×540 pixels of resolution, an 8 megapixel rear camera and a 5 megapixel front-facing camera. All these are the kinds of specs that the urban consumer looks for in a handset and so we expect that those searching for such features will find their answers in this new device by Canonical. The phone has Dual SIM support and the battery capacity is 2150mAh, stuffed in a 137 x 67 x 9 mm body weighing 123 grams. For those who largely depend on their phone cameras for all kinds of picture captures, this handset seems to have delightful specifications. Its main camera, in particular, features autofocus, dual flash and full HD (1080p) recording ability. It is also equipped with high-quality BSI sensors and a Largan lens.

The operating system isn’t the only thing that is different in this phone. Unlike other mobiles, this smartphone will be sold in a completely different way. It will come out in flash sales that will continue for only a limited time.

Ubuntu is a totally different concept in mobile operating systems. It is an ‘upstart OS’–a potential alternative to Android or iPhone. The BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition will be showcased at the industry trade show Mobile World Congress 2015.