Honor 7

The latest from Huawei's Honor brand boasts phenomenal value — but with a few familiar caveats ...

The quick take

Through a mix of solid hardware — in terms of performance as well as build quality — the Honor 7 finds its way into the fast-growing category of really-good-and-extremely-affordable Android phones. At a functional level, it does just about everything really well, and it packages that functionality in the kind of impressive metal chassis we've come to expect from Huawei. But just as Huawei is a strength for Honor, it's also a weakness. For some buyers, particularly Android purists, the company's highly customized EMUI software will be the biggest reason not to buy.

The good

  • Solid build quality and easy one-handed use
  • Fingerprint scanner works well
  • Speedy, lag-free performance
  • Bright, punchy display and impressive speaker
  • Excellent value for money

The bad

  • Huawei's EMUI software is overbearing as ever
  • Many software issues from the P8 left unaddressed
  • Camera hit and miss in low light
Width Height Thickness
5.64 in
143.2mm
2.83 in
71.9mm
0.33 in
8.5mm
  • Display:
    • 5.2-inch Full HD
    • LCD Display
    • 1920x1080 resolution (435ppi)
  • Camera:
    • 20.7MP, ƒ/2.0 lens
    • 5MP front-facing camera
  • Battery:
    • 3100mAh capacity
    • Quick Charging
  • Chips:
    • Octa-core Huawei Kirin 935 processor
    • 4x2.2GHz A53e cores + 4x1.5GHz A53 cores
    • 3GB RAM
    • 16GB internal storage
    • microSD slot (also second SIM slot)

Honor 7

About this review

We're publishing this review after a week using a European-spec Honor 7 (PLK-L01) in the UK. Most of the time we used our review device on Vodafone UK, in areas with decent LTE and HSPA coverage and a 64GB Samsung microSD card fitted. To test the phone's dual-SIM capabilities, we used it with an EE SIM alongside the Vodafone SIM.

Honor 7 Video Walkthrough

Honor 7

Familiar, Sturdy, Dependable

Honor 7 Hardware

If you know your Huawei phones, the look and feel of the Honor 7 is pretty easy to sum up. It's basically a cross between the Mate 7 — last year's Huawei "phablet" device — and the company's current high-end offering, the P8. Although Honor is its own distinct brand in the UK, the Huawei design traits are clear to see. There's a largely untouched front face, save for the usual earpiece, camera and sensors, while the back panel serves as a reminder of Huawei's high-end phones, with a curved aluminum surface and eye-catching chamfers.

Veterans of the Honor series will find a device closer to the Honor 6 than the larger (and beefier) 6 Plus. The LCD gets a modest bump up to 5.2 inches with the same 1080p resolution, while modest hardware upgrades from the Honor 6 can be found in other areas.

This is basically the offspring of a Mate 7 and a P8.

The Honor 7 runs Huawei's homegrown 64-bit Kirin 935 CPU, an octa-core chip packing four higher-clocked "A53e" cores at up to 2.2GHz and four lower-power A53 cores at 1.5GHz. If you're keeping score here, that's basically the same as the Kirin 930 powering the Huawei P8, only at higher clock speeds. And it's paired with an ARM Mali-T624 GPU and a roomy 3GB of RAM. Elsewhere, the battery capacity stays at an ample 3,100mAh, while the front and rear cameras earn upgrades to 8 and 20 megapixels respectively. (The front camera's also grown an LED flash for low-light duckfacing.)

There's an even more significant addition around the back. The Honor 7 features a touch-activated fingerprint sensor with a few neat tricks to offer. As well as biometric security — no need to unlock first, by the way, as touching the sensor will activate it even when the phone is off — you can swipe down to open the notification shade, or up to view recent apps. The notification shortcut in particular is ridiculously useful — even on a relatively small phone like the Honor 7, reaching up to the notification shade can be troublesome, and the swipe shortcut replaces this awkward finger-gymnastics with one easy gesture. We really hope everyone working on a fingerprint-scanning phone steals this feature.

Honor 7 swipe

The new fingerprint sensor enables a couple of ridiculously useful software shortcuts.

And like just about everything else in Huawei's EMUI, these extra functions are configurable in the menus. There's also a "smart" button on the left edge, which can be programmed to load up different apps or perform various tasks on a single, double or long press. All genuinely useful stuff, though it's easy to accidentally press the "smart" button along with the power button when picking the phone up.

The Honor 7's display matches that of the P8 on paper, and we found it to be equally bright and vibrant as well. (And, anecdotally, perhaps a bit easier to see in direct sunlight.) There doesn't seem to be anything too crazy going on with contrast enhancement, though Huawei has implemented a brightness-limiting feature that adjusts the backlight brightness depending on the brightness of the image being shown.

Despite the presence of two grills, there's just a single loudspeaker to be found, located to the left of the microUSB port. Smartphone speakers are still really hit-and-miss, but the Honor 7's impressed us, and like the P8 it offers surprising volume, bass and clarity from a relatively small cutout.

In the hand, the Honor 7 feels sturdy yet classy. The top and bottom sections are plastic to allow those all-important radio waves in and out, but the main contact points are along the metal sides and back, so this isn't especially noticeable. The same goes for the slim plastic border between screen and body — which should protect the phone from knocks and scrapes as well.

Honor 7

Like most Huawei phones these days, the Honor 7 nails the fundamentals.

Conventional wisdom suggests that a 5.2-inch screen is about the limit for comfortable one-handed use, and this holds true for the Honor 7. There's no in-hand slippage due to the metal body, and the combination of this screen size and the angular metal design makes the Honor 7 easy to one-hand. While it's not spectacularly thin or light, it feels solid and dependable — arguably more so than a lot of more expensive phones.

Honor 7

Dual-SIM connectivity is the other big trick up the Honor 7's sleeve. The SIM tray has two slots — a primary nanoSIM slot, and a secondary slot that can hold either a second nanoSIM or a microSD card. In a country like the UK, where users aren't generally hopping between two coverage areas, dual-SIM support isn't especially useful. But it is an added bonus for frequent travelers, and doubling it up with the microSD slot means it's not wasted if you're just using one network.

As for internal storage, you're limited to 16 gigabytes, which is the bare minimum of what we'd consider acceptable from any smartphone in 2015. You'll have 10GB and change left over for your own stuff, though the SD slot may alleviate some of your storage woes.

Other hardware notables? There's a top-mounted IR blaster that works with the built-in "Smart Controller" app, allowing you to control just about anything with an IR receiver. And quick charging support is included, though we're told the bundled charger won't be quick-charge compatible. While we couldn't confirm that the phone was definitely charging at higher voltages on our Motorola Turbo Charger, it seemed to reach peak capacity pretty quickly.

Honor 7 apps

Familiar caveats

Honor 7 Software

The Honor 7 runs Huawei's EMUI 3.1 software atop Android 5.0. And if you've read our P8 review you'll know what to expect here — a heavily-skinned version of Android with a highly-customized look, a few pet hates, and system that feels at odds with Google's vision of the OS.

Though most of the things that were straight-up broken about the P8's initial firmware have been fixed, many visual and functional annoyances remain.

EMUI continues to be afflicted by visual and functional annoyances.

Aesthetically, there's a lot to like. The UI is built around circles, lines and rounded icons, with accent colors from your chosen wallpaper being included in Huawei's built-in apps. Everything, including app icons, is heavily themeable, and the library of themes has been expanded upon since the days of the P8, including some that now actually look pretty good.

The entire theming system still feels overbearing, though, and because not all the themes are up to date with the latest app icons, the experience is somewhat disjointed too. It's one of many areas of the software where we wish Huawei would have just left things alone.

Honor 7 apps

Others include the notification system, which duplicates notifications from some apps, including Gmail, and only shows notifications on the lock screen if you're using a certain lock screen style. If you're used to the relatively light touch of Samsung, HTC or LG, these changes may well be maddening. If not, then they are what they are: Different, and not necessarily for the better. In particular, Huawei's approach to "protected apps" — apps with permission to run when the screen is off — and constant notification area nags about apps using power in the background, add unnecessary mental overhead.

When it comes to overall performance and the visual cohesiveness of Huawei's own apps, there's not much to complain about. While it might not gel with Google's vision of the OS, it's clean, sharp and undeniably iOS-influenced.

You also can't fault EMUI's expansive feature set, which is surprisingly light on cruft and surprisingly heavy on genuinely useful stuff, like programmable shortcut buttons, voice-activated wake-up functionality and a wide array of camera features. But we'd still like to see a comprehensive overhaul of Huawei's software for EMUI 4.0, and hopefully see this highly customized layout replaced with something closer to vanilla Android.

We've got a more in-depth look at EMUI 3.1 in our P8 review, so check that out for more of the good, the bad and the confusing from Huawei's take on Android.

Honor 7 camera

Competent, if not spectacular

Honor 7 Camera

As smartphone hardware becomes more commoditized, imaging is one of the few areas left where traditional flagship phones have an edge. Even so, we're starting to see some impressive photographic capabilities from less expensive handsets, including Huawei's own Honor 6 Plus with its wacky dual-camera setup.

The Honor 7 opts for a traditional front and rear camera arrangement, however. There's a 20-megapixel shooter around the back, behind an f/2.0 lens with dual-tone LED flash, while the front-facer gets bumped up to 8 megapixels and is joined by a single LED of its own.

This is no Galaxy S6-beater, but it is capable across the board, and occasionally very impressive.

When you're selling a phone around the £250 price point, however, there are some trade-offs to be made. The biggest of these is the lack of optical image stabilization, which is the main reason the Honor 7 can't match the clarity of phones twice its price in low-light conditions. (And that's not unexpected, honestly.)

There is a "super night" shooting mode that combines a series of longer exposures, though this is largely useless without a tripod. We've also noticed an unfortunate tendency for the Honor 7 to miss focus in darker conditions, resulting in shots that are both blurry and grainy.

As for pics in good to moderately-lit conditions, the Honor 7 is a reliable performer across the board. Auto HDR mode dutifully kicks in to prevent washed-out skies and underexposed landscapes, keeping everything evenly lit. Overall, we have no real complaints when it comes to image quality — plenty of detail is captured thanks to the high-resolution sensor, and colors are generally accurate, if somewhat desaturated compared to the likes of the GS6 and G4.

Honor 7 camera options

Huawei's camera app also presents a bunch of useful features, including a dedicated light painting mode like the P8's, where longer exposures are used to create artistic light trail effects. You'll want to use a tripod with this feature though, as the lack of OIS makes it almost impossible to get steady, longer exposures with the phone in-hand.

As for the front camera, it's comparable with what you'd get from the current Android flagships, complete with beautification modes to either enhance your features, or make you look like a terrifying live waxwork version of yourself. There's also a front-facing LED for when the lights are low and fun things are happening, which, given the proximity to your face, takes a little getting used to.

So that's the Honor 7 camera experience — competent, capable, but not quite a match for the current flagships, or, we'd argue, the Honor 6 Plus's insane low-light capabilities. Everything about this phone needs to be considered in the context of its price, though, and with that in mind you're getting a pretty solid imaging setup for your money.

All that juice

Honor 7 Battery Life

By the numbers alone, a 3,100mAh battery should be able to provide more than enough juice for a phone like the Honor 7. The manufacturer claims heavy users will comfortable get more than a day (1.2 days, in fact) out of the phone's fixed battery, with lighter use getting you up to two days per charge.

One day with ease, or two at a squeeze.

And our experiences with the phone track pretty closely to that. Throughout more than a week of testing the Honor 7 never died on us before the day's end, even with extensive use on LTE, and with two SIMs inserted. On lighter days, which were mostly limited to Wifi usage indoors, we easily reached the evening with 50 percent or more remaining. In terms of screen-on time, we're looking at anywhere between 3.5 to 5 hours, depending on usage.

Honor 7

A word of warning on some of the battery charts displayed here: The firmware version we're using doesn't seem to display awake time and mobile network reception properly, so take both with a pinch of salt.

For all practical purposes, though, you'll simply won't need to worry about battery life if you're used to a regular nightly charging pattern. That's still not true of all high-end phones, so Huawei deserves credit where it's due.

As for charging, the Honor 7 supports quick charging — a welcome addition given the battery size — although Qualcomm's standard isn't specifically mentioned by the manufacturer. That said, Quick Charge 2.0 doesn't necessarily require a Qualcomm CPU, and as previously mentioned we've found the phone charges fast enough using a Motorola Turbo Charger.

Honor 7

A worthy contender?

Honor 7: The Bottom Line

The Honor 7's impressive array of hardware and highly competitive price point makes it worthy of your attention, and perhaps your money too. As usual, Huawei gets the hardware side of the equation right — the Honor 7 is a well-built, premium handset and a quick performer, camera capabilities that stand out in the mid-range space. EMUI, despite its flaws, adds genuinely useful capabilities, and has a coherent look throughout, even when themed.

The brand is different, but the hardware and software remains the same.

But we think it's time for an overhaul of Huawei's software experience. From the confusing notification and background app management system to the overbearing way in which EMUI takes over icons and status bar colors, there's plenty here to irritate Android purists. If that's you, that could be a reason not to buy.

Ultimately, as much as Honor is a distinct brand in its own right, its handsets' triumphs and foibles run in parallel with the parent company's. You're still getting a Huawei phone through-and-through, with all the benefits and annoyances that brings.

Should you buy the Honor 7? Maybe

We keep saying this over and over, and we'll have to do so again here: Huawei makes great hardware — really great hardware. But software continues to be a glaring weak point. For that reason we can't recommend the Honor 7 unreservedly, but it is worthy of your consideration if you're shopping around for a capable new mid-range handset. But the Honor 7 has tons of competition from countless rivals, and you'd be wise to take a look at the hardware-software balance from the likes of Alcatel, Motorola and ASUS before parting with your cash.

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1 week ago

Camera Showdown: OnePlus 2 vs LG G4 vs Galaxy S6

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Camera Showdown

This is undeniably the year of the Android camera. Over the last few months we've seen phone after phone come out with an intense focus on camera quality — to varying degrees of success — and many of the folks who use these phones every day couldn't be happier. This quantum surge in camera quality leaves a lot of folks who value the pictures their phone can take stuck between several great choices for an entirely new reason.

One of the big things OnePlus has been talking about with their latest smartphone release is how special their camera is, and how much work went into making it great. As we saw in our review, the camera in the OnePlus 2 is certainly capable of delivering quality photos. Now it's time to throw this camera in the ring with two other phones with amazing cameras, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the LG G4, to see which phone comes out on top.

For this camera comparison, each set will have the Galaxy S6 on the left, the OnePlus 2 in the middle, and the LG G4 on the right. The images in this post have been resized to 2048 x 2048 but are otherwise unaltered. Totally untouched versions of each photo are available at the bottom of the article.

The photos in this first set were taken Full Auto with the focal point determined by the camera. In this set you can see the G4 looks a little washed out compared to the OnePlus 2 and Galaxy S6, despite being the most color accurate.

The OnePlus 2 and Galaxy S6 are remarkably similar in detail for the foreground and background for this image, enough so that it's hard to call one a clear winner over the other.

This photo set is tap to focus, with Auto for all other settings. The tap point here is the five purple flowers arranged like the points of a pentagon in the left bundle of flowers, and in this instance the OnePlus 2 is the clear winner.

The colors are brighter and focal point sharper than either the Galaxy S6 or the G4. Samsung's camera is a close second here in overall quality, while LG's image gets a little grainy around the focal point.

This photo set is Full Auto HDR, with important points in the foreground and background. Once again LG manages to be the most color accurate, though OnePlus and Samsung manage to be more visually appealing with their post-processing.

Each photo shows great detail in the foreground, but the OnePlus 2 brightened the left side of the posts noticeably more than the G4 or Galaxy S6. LG is also noticeably weaker in the background details than either of the other two cameras.

Next up we have Full Auto with a ton of little things to check out. Detail is incredibly important with shots like this, and the OnePlus 2 fell flat on its face compared to the Galaxy S6 and LG G4. While the photo looks great zoomed out, there's almost no detail in the centers of the flowers for OnePlus.

LG clearly wins this round, with an incredible amount of detail all over the place. The Galaxy S6 is a close second, but not quite as clear as the G4.

An unfortunate consequence of failing to capture the appropriate detail in Full Auto is what happens when you take the same photo with HDR on. In this set you see a nice light look to all three photos, but if you look at the flower petals you see the OnePlus 2 washes out even more detail to get there.

The G4 is still the clear winner up close, but the Galaxy S6 is right on its heels.

This mural photo is another tap to focus shot with everything else set to Auto. The focal point is the green dot on the paper the old man is holding.

While each camera did a great job capturing the photo, the G4 failed to grab detail around the focal point once again. The Galaxy S6 and OnePlus 2 did a much better job grabbing all of the detail in the surrounding image, with no clear winner between them.

Lots of cameras take decent photos in perfect lighting, but low light is another matter entirely. This shot is another Full Auto in a dark room with a single light on 14 feet behind the camera.

Of the three photos, LG wins in both color accuracy and clarity. The Galaxy S6 is by far the worst here, being the most grainy and washed out for almost everything. The OnePlus 2 does a great job with color accuracy, but is still fairly grainy once you look away from the bamboo.

This next low light shot is with no lights on in the room at all, with a little light coming in through the window. Like the previous low light shot, the G4 photo is significantly clearer.

The Galaxy S6 is a blurry, grainy mess in comparison, with the OnePlus 2 sitting somewhere in the middle. The S6 captured the most light, but failed to do anything useful with it.

Last but not least, the flash on each camera is tested in this photo. Like the last photo, no lights were on in the room at the time. Tap to focus was used first, with the focal point being the red dot on the lifeguard figurine.

The LG G4 and Galaxy S6 capture significantly more light than the OnePlus 2, with LG being the most color accurate of the three.

So which camera is the best? There's no clear answer here. Each of these cameras has some clear strengths and weaknesses. The G4 does great in full auto if you're going for color accuracy, and detail, but struggles as a tap to focus camera. The Galaxy S6 works well in every environment except low light, where it struggles with clarity and focus. As for the OnePlus 2, it's a great all around camera that sits somewhere in between these two heavyweights, which is a big win for OnePlus.

It's also important to keep in mind that we're using unfinished software on this OnePlus 2. The current build is supposed to be quite close to the retail version of the software, according to OnePlus, but not exactly the same. We also know there's a manual mode coming to the camera soon, which opens the doors for even more comparisons in the future.

If you'd like to see the full resolution images for this comparison, you can do so here.

OnePlus 2

OnePlus

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max-width: 350px; width: 50%; } div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox h3, div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) h3 { text-align: center; } div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox a.buy-link, div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) a.buy-link { margin: 0 5px 8px 0; width: calc(50% - 5px); } div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-child(even), div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) .devicebox a.buy-link:last-child, div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-child(even), div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) .devicebox a.buy-link:last-child { margin-right: 0; } div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-child(odd):last-child, div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) a.buy-link:nth-child(odd):last-child { display: block; margin-right: 0; width: auto; } /* LANDSCAPE */ @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox .video, div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox h3 + p { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } div :last-of-type ~ .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 20px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 59px; } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox p, div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px), all and (max-width: 500px) { div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link { margin: 0 5px 8px 0; width: calc(50% - 5px); } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-child(even), div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:last-child { margin-right: 0; } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-child(odd):last-child { display: block; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) and (min-width: 501px) { div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox a.buy-link:before, div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } @media all and (max-width: 660px), all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px) { div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } div :last-of-type ~ .devicebox ul, div :last-of-type ~ .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 660px) and (min-width: 501px), all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px) { div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link { margin: 0 5px 8px 0; width: calc((100% / 3) - 7px); } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):nth-last-child(odd), div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):nth-last-child(n+3) { margin-right: 0; } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(2), div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(2) ~ a, div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(4), div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(4) ~ a { width: calc(50% - 5px); } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(2) ~ a:nth-last-of-type(odd), div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(4) ~ a:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin-right: 0; } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-child(odd):last-child { display: inline-block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox, div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox, div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) { float: none; margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

All about the LG G4

img { width: 100%; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } /* PORTRAIT */ div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox, div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) { float: right; margin: 0 0 20px 20px; max-width: 350px; width: 50%; } div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox h3, div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) h3 { text-align: center; } div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox a.buy-link, div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) a.buy-link { margin: 0 5px 8px 0; width: calc(50% - 5px); } div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-child(even), div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) .devicebox a.buy-link:last-child, div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-child(even), div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) .devicebox a.buy-link:last-child { margin-right: 0; } div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-child(odd):last-child, div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) a.buy-link:nth-child(odd):last-child { display: block; margin-right: 0; width: auto; } /* LANDSCAPE */ @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox .video, div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox h3 + p { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } div :last-of-type ~ .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 20px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 59px; } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox p, div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px), all and (max-width: 500px) { div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link { margin: 0 5px 8px 0; width: calc(50% - 5px); } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-child(even), div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:last-child { margin-right: 0; } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-child(odd):last-child { display: block; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) and (min-width: 501px) { div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox a.buy-link:before, div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } @media all and (max-width: 660px), all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px) { div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } div :last-of-type ~ .devicebox ul, div :last-of-type ~ .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 660px) and (min-width: 501px), all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px) { div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link { margin: 0 5px 8px 0; width: calc((100% / 3) - 7px); } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):nth-last-child(odd), div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):nth-last-child(n+3) { margin-right: 0; } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(2), div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(2) ~ a, div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(4), div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(4) ~ a { width: calc(50% - 5px); } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(2) ~ a:nth-last-of-type(odd), div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(4) ~ a:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin-right: 0; } div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-child(odd):last-child { display: inline-block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { div *:last-of-type ~ .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox, div *:not(:last-of-type):not(div) + .devicebox, div .netshelter-ad + .devicebox:not(:nth-last-of-type(3)) { float: none; margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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1 week ago

The Grand Tournament expansion pack for Hearthstone is coming on Aug. 24

4

Blizzard has now confirmed that The Grand Tournament, the second expansion pack for its hit free-to-play collectible card RPG Hearthstone, will officially be released on August 24 in the US and Europe, and in Asia on August 25.

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1 week ago

Lara Croft GO will raid some tombs on Android Aug. 27 for $4.99

4

Square Enix is bringing the next game in the Tomb Raider series to Android users. The publisher revealed today that the mobile puzzle game, Lara Croft GO, will be released on Android, iOS and Windows Phone on August 27 for the price of $4.99.

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1 week ago

Google News and Weather to add support for seven more languages for a total of 35

2

The built-in Google News and Weather app will soon allow for more people on the planet to read it in their native language. Google has announced that it will add support for seven more languages to the app, bringing the total number of languages to 35. Google says:

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1 week ago

ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 review

57
Asus ZenPad S 8

ASUS once again has partnered with Intel to make something to make you question why we're spending so much money on high end hardware.

The quick take

The ZenPad S 8.0 is fast, capable, and has some of the best speakers we've ever heard in a tablet, but the overall experience is marred by awkward software and aggressive thermal throttling.

The Good

  • Lightweight
  • Amazing speakers
  • Impressive display
  • Solid overall performance

The Bad

  • Mediocre battery life
  • ZenUI bloatware is awful
  • Thermal issues

Asus ZenPad S 8

ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 Review

If there's one thing the 2015 mobile industry has challenged, it's the notion that price equals quality in smartphones and tablets. One of the more interesting companies proving repeatedly that Android doesn't just mean a Qualcomm processor and a $600+ price tag is ASUS. We've seen the impressive splash the company made with their ZenFone 2, and now they're setting up shop in the tablet space. For their latest, dubbed ZenPad S 8.0, ASUS has opted for an Intel processor, 2K display and stunning front facing stereo speaker setup for a price that embarrasses the heavyweights in the category.

Here's our review.

ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 video review

Asus ZenPad S 8

Light and fast

ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 Hardware

In some ways, designing a tablet is more difficult than designing a smartphone. The added size means a balance needs to be struck, and clear intent for use needs to be outlined in that design. It's one of the things that makes the Dell Venue 8 7000 Series just shy of being one of the best tablets out there, because it's so damn awkward to hold.

ASUS, on the other hand, has nailed the design for their latest ZenPad. The metallic back is cool and grippy to the touch, sloping down to a comfortably soft rubber edge along the bottom. These edges curve up to a chrome strip that holds the glass front in place, with nothing but the power and volume keys along the edges for the users to brush their fingers across. This design encourages the user to either grip with two hands or hold the tablet from the bottom with one, and have each position be comfortable.

ASUS added a portrait-oriented badge on the front of the tablet and a landscape-oriented badge on the back of the tablet, but the stereo front-facing speakers and positioning of the rubber strip makes the tablet feel like it was designed for mostly landscape use. Additionally, the off-center placement of the USB-C port makes continuing to use the tablet in landscape while charging easier.

Overall, this tablet feels solid and comfortable in the hand.

The first thing you notice when lifting the ZenPad S 8.0 off the table is how incredibly light the tablet feels. In reality it's only a few grams lighter than the Dell Venue 8 7000 Series, but the balance and soft curves offered by this design make a huge difference in how you hold it, making it feel lighter. Turning the tablet on exposes the 2K IPS display under the glass and the fantastic stereo speakers that spring to life with the boot animation. The combination of audio quality, visual appeal, and lightweight design makes you want to sit somewhere and watch movies on it all day.

Overall, this tablet feels solid and comfortable in the hand. The design is as close to perfect as you can get if you're a fan of 8-inch tablets.

Asus ZenPad S 8

We're dimming your display now

ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 Performance

Tucked under that beautiful 2K display is a 64-bit quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor with 4GB of RAM. If that sounds familiar, it's because that's the exact same thing you'll find the ZenFone 2. Just like the phone, performance is fantastic. Everything runs well, and the overall experience while playing all kinds of games is great.

For about 20 minutes, anyhow.

All phones and tablets get warm when you play games, but the ZenPad S 8.0 resorts to automatically controlling the screen brightness to keep the heat from reaching damaging levels. The little toast notification shows up just as the brightness drops on its own in the middle of the game you're playing, and when the system cools down you are once again allowed to control the screen brightness on your own.

Currently this seems to only happen when the screen brightness is at 100%, and ASUS has reached out and confirmed they are looking into the issue. At no point during this heat control did it feel like performance took a hit, and most of the time when the warning showed up the tablet didn't even feel that warm compared to some of the phones we've tested under the same circumstances. Regardless of reason, it's not a great thing to have happen on a regular basis.

Asus ZenPad S 8

Bloat Bloat Bloat Bloat

ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 Software

As cool as it would be to tell you the software on this tablet is just as pretty and well made as the hardware, lying to you seems like a bad idea. ZenUI is very much the same bright, colorful mess it has been on the last couple of phones Asus has released, with more of the same unnecessary apps no one should actually be using. Once you are finished deleting all of the excess nonsense, the rest of ZenUI is fairly easy to get used to.

ASUS throws a lot of unnecessary junk at its users

The Manage Home section is my favorite part of this interface. From the homescreen, you flick up from anywhere and these bubbles arrive. It's a quick way to do a ton of different things, and for the most part it stays out of the way of the primary interface. The ZenUI launcher include flipping panels and other cutesy animations, and the app grid includes and suto-sort option by default that groups all of your apps into folders, but for the most part it works the way you'd expect Android 5.0 to work. Worst-case scenario is you turn a lot of this off, but unlike a lot of other interfaces for Android you actually can turn a lot of this off without resorting to custom launchers.

One thing you can't turn off is the heavily modified quick settings panel. For the most part it works like you'd expect a quick-settings panel to work, but the embedded RAM boost tool and constant reminders that apps are using battery when you use them (you don't say!) are more than a little irritating.

ASUS throws a lot of unnecessary junk at its users, no doubt due to a lot of software partnerships, but overall it's not that bad. It'd probably be different if the interface was slow or stuttery, but never once did ZenUI show signs of slowing down. It may not be the most useful interface out there, but it certainly gets the job done.

Asus ZenPad S 8

It's a tablet camera

ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 Camera

Like all tablet cameras, the 8-megapixel rear camera and 5MP front camera on this tablet aren't much to write home about. They're perfectly capable video cameras, but you shouldn't expect too much when taking photos. In perfect lighting you'll get a decent photo from either camera, but even in perfect lighting the autofocus on the rear camera is hit or miss. Low light renders these cameras essentially unusable for photos, but again aren't too bad for video.

The coolest part of the photo experience with this tablet is the UI for the camera app, which includes some basic settings for your photos and a clever slider for the shutter button. If you drag the shutter button across the slider, you get up to a 5-second delay before the photo is taken. It's not something you see every day, and is perfect for those among us who use tablets for selfies.

Not great, but not terrible either

ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 Battery

Android tablets aren't exactly known for stellar battery life, something we're all hoping is fixed with the help of optimizations coming in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but the ZenPad S 8.0 is almost up front about what you can expect from the battery in this tablet. The specs sheet claims 8 hours of use based on a 720p video loop at 100 nits of screen brightness. While this tablet no doubt can do exactly that, your usage is going to be quite a bit different. Using brightness at full, that number drops to closer to 6 hours of 1080p video. If you're playing a particularly resource-intense game, you'll get closer to 5.

You can easily get a full day of activity out of this tablet, unless you're absolutely determined to beat Angry Birds 2 in a day or that Back to the Future marathon is calling your name. It's not quite as good as the Dell Venue 8 7000 Series in this respect, but competes easily with the Nexus 9 in battery capabilities.

Asus ZenPad S 8

Flawed, but still thoroughly enjoyable

ASUS ZenPad S 8.0: The Bottom Line

There's a lot to like with this tablet. It's fast, looks nice, sounds amazing, and USB-C is clearly the way of the future. The software mess that is ZenUI is unfortunate, and the weirdly aggressive thermal regulation is a problem. While neither is a deal breaker on their own, combined it's clear this is not a tablet for power users or heavy gamers.

One of the most important features to this particular tablet is the price tag. At $299 for the 64GB model, it's hard to look at the majority of current generation of Android tablets — especially Google's Nexus 9 — and see the value. Are rapid software updates and a clean UI worth the extra $180 for a tablet that has half the storage and no SD card slot? It's hard to say yes.

Should you buy the ASUS ZenPad S 8.0? Probably

While this is clearly not a tablet for gamers, anyone looking for a casual browsing tablet for video and the occasional game could do a whole lot worse than this tablet, and probably spend more in the process. Overall this is a great tablet at a price point that should excite a lot of people, and serves as further evidence that a reckoning is coming for those companies whose price tags aren't competing in this space.

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1 week ago

Here are all the new features in MIUI 7

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At a media event in New Delhi, Xiaomi's global VP Hugo Barra unveiled the global ROM for MIUI 7. The latest iteration of the ROM — which has over 150 million users globally — comes with a bevy of new features, including new themes, better battery life, lockscreen animations, and much more.

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1 week ago

Win a Samsung Galaxy Note 5!

3580

Samsung has announced the new Galaxy Note 5 (and the Galaxy S6 edge+) and if you somehow missed all the coverage we've done, you're going to want to check that out. When you've caught up to speed, come back here and enter to win the all new Note 5 for your very own.

Here's how to get in on the action. We're giving you four ways to enter — and you can enter once with each method. (That's a total of four chances to win!)

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1 week ago

Xiaomi introduces video ringtones, Child Mode in MIUI 7

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One of the highlights of MIUI 7 is Showtime, a feature that allows you to set videos instead of static images for your contacts when receiving calls. The feature requires both parties to have a MIUI account, with your contact having the ability to create a five-second video that shows up instead of an image whenever they call you.

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1 week ago

Windows Central Android app updated for login bugfix

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A quick heads up for those of you out there who use the Android app for Windows Central. We've pushed out a fix for a nasty login bug that was, well, keeping you from being able to log in. (Turns out it was one stray instance of "wpcentral" still in the code.) The update is available now through Google Play. So get it, and get back to commenting on our stories!

And if you haven't tried out our Android app (we know more than a few of you are rocking that one) now's a perfect time! And we're hard at work on a Material Design update, so it's only going to get better!

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1 week ago

Samsung Gear S2 teased once again ahead of IFA 2015

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Samsung has released a teaser video for the upcoming Gear S2, showing off some details about the wearable. The media itself focuses more on the variety of screens the wearer will have the pleasure in analysing while pointing their wrist at one's face. A date and location were also confirmed at the end of the video, September 3 – IFA Berlin.

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1 week ago

Xiaomi Mi 4i Limited Edition with new color options launching in India on August 25

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At the global launch of MIUI 7, Xiaomi announced that it will launch a limited edition Mi 4i in several colors, including blue, pink and yellow. With the white and black options already available, the phone will be available in a total of five color combinations.

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1 week ago

Crimsonland can be yours as part of the latest PC & Android Humble Bundle

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Crimsonland, the popular top-down shooter by 10tons is currently available as part of the PC & Android Humble Bundle 13. This bundle will be available for two weeks, allowing you to pay exactly what you desire for the packaged titles, all while supporting select charities in the process.

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1 week ago

Xiaomi teams up with Opera to bring data savings to MIUI 7

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At the MIUI 7 global launch event, Xiaomi announced a new feature for the ROM called Data Saver, made in collaboration with Opera. The feature compressed image and video data, with Xiaomi touting a reduction in data usage by as much as 50 percent.

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1 week ago

Cookbook Recipes for Android TV uses the biggest screen in your house for cooking

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Not everybody grew up in a house where cooking was an everyday experience. Cookbook Recipes on the Google Play Store helps by giving you what you need to level up your cooking skills. Whether that means starting easy with scrambled eggs, or whether it's planning out meals for the whole family, this app has got you covered. It's available on Android TV and that means high res pictures and directions to help you make dinner delicious.

Cookbook Recipes is an absolutely free app available on the Google Play Store, and really that just makes it even better. You can tell just by looking at it that it was created using Google's Leanback UI which gives it a sharp look. At the top left of the screen is your search button. You can use voice commands, or go the keypad route, whichever floats your boat. When searching you can look up recipes by their actual name, or you can search by ingredient. The results will be made up of recipes already favorites of other users, and shows you the most popular results first.

On the main screen, the recipes dominate the page—which is really the point. You'll see a list of categories on the left of the screen. They're things like family meals, vegetarian, or beef, along with Cocktails, For Mom, and more. On the right side of the screen you'll see hi-res, close up shots of the recipes in each category.

You can either hit the category, or the picture to open up a recipe page. First you'll get a recipe pop up page. You'll get that same picture of the completed meal, along with the name, number of servings, and number of ingredients needed. At the bottom of the page you can save the recipe to your favorites—which adds favorites to the categories displayed on the main page. Under the recipe pop up are several suggestions for similar recipes, in case the one you selected isn't quite what you're looking for. Some recipes also display an estimated time to cook, but this isn't true for all of them.

When you go into the recipe you'll first see a prep page. On the left of the screen you'll get another picture of the completed item, along with the name of the recipe. On the right of the screen you'll see a detailed list of all the ingredients you need, which can range depending on the recipe.

Each recipe is broken down into steps, and each one is separated onto it's own page. There are no pictures once you get to this point, but the directions are easy to understand provided you have basic knowledge in the kitchen. Now each step of the recipe may call for multiple smaller steps, and not every recipe is separated in quite the same way.

Cookbook Recipes on Android TV really is just a fantastic app from top to bottom. It's got an easy to use interface that puts everything you need at your fingertips. You can find the recipe you want by name or ingredient, save your favorites, and find plenty of new ideas to try out. With details like cook time, serving size, and number of ingredients you can quickly and easily decide if this is meal for you in a pinch. With the added bonus of being free anyone who spends much time in the kitchen should definitely give it a try.

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1 week ago

Latest Pocket Casts update lets you get social with podcasts

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While listening to your chosen podcasts on the move, being social with others is among the least of your concerns, especially with headphones blocking outside sound. Shifty Jelly, the developer of Pocket Casts, has released an update to help make it easier to discover new content and see what other users of the app are listening to.

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