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2 weeks ago

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review: Another budget winner

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Xiaomi Redmi Note 4

The quick take

When it comes to budget smartphones, the Redmi series from Xiaomi is a force to reckon with not just in China, but also in markets like India – the company's second home.

Xiaomi launches phones in quick succession, and pushes the envelope further each time. There's much hype, and a lot of anticipation. Not undeserved, one would say. Launched in China last month, the Redmi Note 4 is a turbo charged Redmi Note 3, and the all-metal budget smartphone looks set to be another winner for the company.

The Good

  • Metal chassis with 2.5D glass display
  • Beautiful Full HD display
  • Long battery life
  • Great price

The Bad

  • Average camera performance
  • Micro-USB, not USB Type-C

About this review

I used the Chinese retail variant of the Redmi Note 4 that ran MIUI 7.3 out of the box, but there was an update for MIUI 8 available immediately. For most of the time, I used it with an Airtel 4G SIM in Delhi NCR.

I used the 2GB/16GB variant which had about 9.5GB of internal storage available out of the box. There's also a higher-end variant with 3GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

Redmi Note 4 Design

The Redmi Note 4 carries on Xiaomi's design ethos. Apart from rare aberration, most devices in the Xiaomi portfolio look alike, and the Note 4 looks just like the Redmi Pro. That's not a bad thing, really. Xiaomi makes good looking budget smartphones and the Note 4 is no different. There's nothing special, but the industrial design works for most.

However, while the metallic chassis on the Redmi Pro sports a smooth back, there is a hint of cheapness on the Note 4 with rugged surface which gives a feeling of it being less "solid" than the former. Of course, you get what you pay for. The curves on the edges at the back aid the grip, and makes it a nice phone to hold in the hand.

A successor to Redmi Note 3, there are only a few subtle changes on the Note 4. While both phones boast of a full metal unibody design, the Note 4 sports 2.5D curved glass on the front that exaggerates its style. There are changes here and there but unless you look closely, it's hard to differentiate between the two.

At 175 grams, the Note 4 is not light, although it doesn't get too overbearing in the hand. However, since it packs a massive 4100mAh battery, most users who are picking the Note 4 for long battery life would want to overlook this.

Redmi Note 4 Hardware

Category Features Operating system Android Marshmallow 6.0 with MIUI 7.3 Display 5.5-inch IPS LCD
1920x1080 Processor 2.1GHz deca-core Mediatek MT6797 Helio X20 RAM 2GB / 3GB Internal Storage 16GB/64GB
MicroSD up to 256GB Battery 4100mAh Rear Camera 13MP, f/2.0, PDAF
Dual LED flash Front Camera 5MP, f/2.0 Dimensions 151 x 76 x 8.4 mm Weight 175 g

Xiaomi's always looked to pack in a punch in terms of specifications, and the Note 4 is no different. It boasts of MediaTek Helio X20 processor – clearly a high-end processor in a budget smartphone.

Increasingly, smartphone makers are bundling 3GB RAM in budget devices as well, but Xiaomi has chosen to keep it at 2GB for the lower variant. For a heavy skin like MIUI, that is just about okay. More available memory never hurt on Android, and you might want to look at the higher variant, which also quadruples the internal storage from 16GB to 64GB.

That said, the Remi Note 4 performs well on daily usage. Multi-tabbed browsing, interface navigation, and even playing graphic-intensive games is a breeze. The processor offers good enough grunt for most apps and games. It does stutter sometimes when multitasking and the culprit is most often the lack of available RAM.

The Note 4 includes a hybrid SIM slot, so if you'd want the dual SIM functionality, you'd have to be contended with inbuilt storage it offers since you won't be able to put in a microSD card. Another reason to pick up the 3GB/64GB variant.

One of the biggest disappointments of the Note 4 is Xiaomi opting to put in a Micro-USB port instead of the newer USB Type-C. Yes, it's a budget smartphone and Micro-USB is not dead yet, but a smartphone coming in second half of 2016 should've been better.

Otherwise, the Note 4 is a winner all the way. The fingerprint sensor works great, and unlocks the phone in a quick snap each time. There's also an IR port on the phone so that you can use it as a universal remote controller. Also, the Note 4 packs in the latest version of Bluetooth v4.2.

Redmi Note 4 Display

The Note 4 sports a beautiful 5.5-inch display panel with 1920x1080 resolution — good for a density of 401 ppi. The 2.5D arc glass accentuates the display. It's vivid with great viewing angles and the colors and contrast are perfect. For a budget device, the display on the Note 4 stands out as one of the highlights.

Outdoors in sunlight, the display is a tad dim, and I preferred to keep it at maximum (or high) brightness than what was set automatically. Still it's crisp and consistent from different viewing angles.

Redmi Note 4 Software

While I assumed the Redmi Note 4 comes with the latest version of the company's proprietary UI, the MIUI 8, it wasn't the case. On first run, I was greeted with MIUI 7.3 running on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

But then, there was MIUI 8 Stable waiting for me, and I updated immediately. While customized Android skins are a matter of personal preference, MIUI has been able to garner a large fan base. And credit where it's due, it's not misplaced. Xiaomi works hard on MIUI bringing features, UX tweaks, and nifty utilities to augment the Android experience.

One of the highlights of the MIUI 8 is Second Space that allows a user two configure two profiles on a device – like virtual desktops so to say. It allows you to keep separate apps or separate layouts for distinct personal and work needs.

Then there's the new Dual Apps feature which allow you to run two instances of apps like WhatsApp that don't allow multiple sessions with different accounts otherwise. Well, I don't have any use for this feature personally, but a lot of people, especially the ones who use two SIMs, have always wanted a functionality like that.

MIUI 8 also boasts of 'Quick Ball' similar to the assistive touch on iOS. You can configure it for frequently used apps and actions on a single tap for easy accessibility. While it is very handy for phablet, Note 4 users would only appreciate it if one-handed usage is a big deal – like for those who take long daily commutes to work or school.

Redmi Note 4 Battery life

One of the highlights of the Redmi Note 4 is its superb battery life. Of course, it packs in a big battery at 4100mAh, but there's also enough power optimizations under the hood that makes it last long – really long. While there's no USB Type-C, the Note 4 does include MediaTek PumpExpress 2.0 technology for fast charging.

On moderate usage, you could stretch the battery life up to about two working days. For a power user like me, it lasted me whole day of being out and about and still had some juice left at the end of the day. Pokemon Go fans, rejoice!

Redmi Note 4 Camera

Unlike the last few Xiaomi devices, the primary shooter on Redmi Note 4 fails to impress. Yes, it's a budget device and manages to click decent pictures, but Xiaomi itself has been one of the companies at the forefront of spoiling budget smartphone buyers offering too-good-to-be-true internals, camera, and build quality.

The 13-megapixel rear camera unit sports a dual LED flash. It does manage to click some nice photos with a decent depth of field effect, but the color reproduction and saturation is not the best. In not exceptionally bright conditions, like indoors or on a gloomy day, the photos are just okay. In well-lit conditions, I did manage to snap a few good ones on Auto mode.

The Note 4 has a great display, but once you take some of those average photos off the phone, you'd notice that the contrast is a tad off. The focus is spot on and quick though, almost the best in any Redmi devices till date.

The camera interface on the MIUI 8 is slick and offers a variety of options with seamless user experience. I'm hoping a firmware update would come soon to improve the camera performance. It's not a bad camera, mind you, but with some of the budget devices – including last couple from the Xiaomi stable – impressing in this critical component, we've started to expect more and more.

Redmi Note 4 Bottom line

The Redmi Note 4 is a pretty good smartphone for its price. It's a capable performer and a decent snapper, but there's nothing exceptional about it. Except the price of course.

If you're in India, you'd not get this variant, mind you. Due to an ongoing legal tussle with Ericsson, Xiaomi cannot sell MediaTek-based devices in India. So, like in the past, Xiaomi will come out with a Qualcomm-based Redmi Note 4 for the Indian market. Hence, there is also a chance, Xiaomi only launches one variant of the same which would then most likely be the 3GB variant, or so we hope.

Should you buy it? Probably

At CNY 899 for the lower specced variant and CNY 1,199 for the higher one, the Redmi Note 4 is a value-for-money device, just like the Redmi Note 3 was. It's not perfect, but at the price, you should be okay to adjust expectations here and there.

Available in three colors – silver, gray, and gold – at the moment you can pick one from the TinyDeal.com, the popular Chinese online retailer for $169.

See at TinyDeal

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2 weeks ago

Action Launcher's September update brings rumored Pixel phone features

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It's September, which means another update to Chris Lacy's excellent Action Launcher, our favorite third-party launcher.

This month, Action Launcher offers a set of features that are rumored to be coming to the upcoming Pixel phones when they are expected to launch next month. Many of the improvements, such as swiping up from the dock to reveal All Apps, have been built through leaks and off-hand experiences.

The full change log is below:

  • Integration of Nexus Launcher's rumored All Apps drawer. Swipe up on the dock to reveal All Apps.
  • Two new Nexus Launcher inspired style folder types!
  • Add tinted dock background.
  • Customize the colors of All Apps, folder icons and the dock background via Quicktheme.
  • Add caret (^) page indicator.
  • Add Google "pill" widget.
  • Add date widget.
  • Many miscellaneous bug fixes.

I've been using the September update on my Moto Z for a month or so in beta form and have to say it is one of the most easily-recommended launcher experiences on Android, period.

Download: Action Launcher (free)

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2 weeks ago

Transport Canada advises airline passengers not to place Note 7 in checked baggage

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Transport Canada has issued a statement about taking the Galaxy Note 7 on planes following a global recall and subsequent statement from the FAA.

In the statement, the airline regulator recommends Canadians traveling with the beleaguered device "be carried in the cabin, where an incident can be immediately mitigated," and to avoid keeping the phone in checked luggage where a fire "could easily overwhelm the fire suppression system of an aircraft."

The move mirrors a similar statement by the FAA, which "strongly advises passengers not to turn on or charge these devices on board aircraft and not to stow them in any checked baggage."

The full statement from Transport Canada is below:

The purpose of this safety advisory is to advise air operators, passengers and crew of the risks involved in transporting the new Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone in checked baggage or inside the cabin of an aircraft. In light of recent incidents and concerns involving the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, Samsung announced on September 2nd, a global recall and replacement program for millions of these devices because of batteries exploding or catching fire.

Lithium-ion batteries that typically power these devices have the potential to overheat or short-circuit if they are defective, mishandled, or not packed properly. In turn, this can lead to a fire and cause a chain reaction with other lithium-ion batteries nearby. This type of fire could easily overwhelm the fire suppression system of an aircraft.

For this reason, Transport Canada is advising air operators, passengers and crew of this safety risk and recommends that Samsung Galaxy Note 7 devices be carried in the cabin, where an incident can be immediately mitigated, and not in checked baggage. Transport Canada also strongly recommends against using or charging these devices in the cabin of an aircraft.

Canadian airlines Porter, WestJet and Air Canada will also be reminding customers about this policy through announcements prior to takeoff.

Earlier today, Samsung Canada told Android Central that new stock of the Note 7 would be arriving as early as next week for those who have turned their phones in to their carriers or directly to Samsung. The company is working with Health Canada to expedite the recall process.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .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; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { 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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2 weeks ago

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission working with Samsung for proper Note 7 recall

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Samsung Galaxy Note 7

We're one step closer to quickly getting all of these Note 7s replaced.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced it's working with Samsung for a complete and proper recall of the Note 7 in the U.S. Currently, Samsung's Note 7 recall isn't an official "recall" in the U.S. in terms of how the government is involved — it's technically a voluntary replacement program, even though you should absolutely swap out your Note 7 for a new unit.

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2 weeks ago

The best adult apps for Android

In an ocean of apps done poorly, these rise to the top.

If you're reading this, chances are you have an awesome pocket computer running Android at your disposal. Today's Android phones and tablets can pretty much do anything, and that includes things of an adult nature. We want to help you find and see that content the best way possible.

Android After Dark

It's a big world out there, and it's not all Rated G. Welcome to Android Central's NSFW section — home to sex, booze and other stories of an adult nature. It's not for everyone — especially if you're underage —and that's OK. Be adult. Be respectful. And be responsible.

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .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; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { 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;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

We're not here to condone or condemn anyone or anything — and by all means let's keep things legal — but we feel that adults using their Androids to peruse adult content is just fine and dandy. We bet a good number of you guys and gals feel the same way.

If you don't agree, that's cool, too. We also are firm believers in the "live and let live" philosophy, and fully respect your opinion and support your right to have it. We also advise you to not click through the break if you think you might be offended. We love you regardless.

Don't worry, we're not trying to push any boundaries or limits (too terribly far), we just want to share a list of the best ways to find and browse adult content on Android. And do it in an adult way.

Namaste my friend. Namaste.

Article updated September 2016

There are countless ways to see adult content on your Android out there, covering a broad range of subject matter. This is our list of the best of the best, and ones we feel confident to recommend. Be sure to tell us in the comments if you know another we should have a look at. Sorting through apps is a tough job, and we always love hearing input about the great stuff we need to check out.

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2 weeks ago

Best MetroPCS phones

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Best MetroPCS Phones

MetroPCS offers some great phones to go along with its affordable plans, and we're going to find the one that best suits your needs.

MetroPCS gives you the opportunity to not break the bank when buying a phone without a contract, but most of its phones are mid- to low-end when considering specs. They do offer some high-end phones, which we've featured on this list. Coupled with their affordable plans, you might not be able to pass them up.

We'll be updating this list regularly to keep current with new phones!

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7

MetroPCS brings you Samsung's latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S7 — a surefire choice for anyone looking to upgrade or anyone just stepping foot into the smartphone game. Enjoy the latest from Android with 6.0 Marshmallow, and shoot photos to your heart's content with a 12MP Dual-Pixel camera. The Galaxy S7 is able to charge wirelessly, and has 32GB internal storage you can upgrade to 200GB with a microSD card.

Color options are limited with MetroPCS: the Galaxy S7 comes in Onyx Black only.

If you're thinking about going with the Galaxy S7 but want to learn more, check out our review:

More: Samsung Galaxy S7 review

See at MetroPCS

Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung's previous flagship, the Galaxy S6, was released in 2015 and received stellar reviews. Its 16MP camera with image stabilization is a great feature for anyone who loves to shoot photos, and features a brilliant display that compliments Samsung's first effort towards unibody design for their flagship brand.

MetroPCS gives you gold and white color options when choosing your Galaxy S6.

More: Samsung Galaxy S6 review

See at MetroPCS

LG Stylo 2 Plus

Need a bigger screen? You might want to try the 5.7-inch Stylo 2 Plus, one of LG's budget phablet devices. The phone is slim, offers decent battery life, and features a removable battery and expandable storage. And if drawing or penning notes is your thing, there's a stowable stylus that comes with a suite of compatible apps. Just bear in mind that while the phone's Snapdragon 430 processor is capable enough for everyday tasks, it's not exactly a gaming powerhouse.

See at MetroPCS

Bring your own device

If you don't want to shell out the money for a Galaxy S6 or S7 and don't want to settle for a lesser phone, MetroPCS allows you to bring your own phone to their service. Before you pull the trigger have a look at MetroPCS's restrictions when it comes to using your own device with their service.

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2 weeks ago

What you need to know about U.S. carrier plans and subsidies

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Can I still buy a smartphone with a carrier subsidy?

I forgot what it's like to actually buy a smartphone. I've been living in a bubble because of my privileged position as a former smartphone reviewer and I missed out on the fact that carrier subsidies aren't really a thing anymore.

Back in the day—that is to say, a mere two years ago—you could purchase the latest smartphone at a significant discount after signing on for another two years of service. But in the last year, U.S. carriers have effectively changed their policies so that their customers have to either finance or lease their smartphones, or just buy them outright.

Are there any major carriers still offering subsidies? The answer is, not really. But that doesn't mean that purchasing your next smartphone has to be a daunting experience. Here's what the four major U.S. carriers are offering in terms of upgrades.

Tip: Most of the major carriers have special offers throughout the year that could save you some cash on your next device. For instance, Verizon offers up to $300 trade-in value for your old smartphone when you upgrade or add a line on select devices. These deals change from time to time, but like buying a car, if you can wait to upgrade until the next promotion, it could afford you some major savings.

Verizon Wireless

At present, Verizon only offers two smartphone buying options: Financing the phone with monthly payments, or buying the phone outright. By default, Big Red will allow you to pay for your phone over the course of 24 months, or two years from your purchase date. For instance, if you wanted to buy the 32GB Samsung Galaxy S7, you'd be paying $28 a month until you reach the $672 retail price. Alternatively, you could also put some money down, like $200, and only pay $19.67 per month for 24 months. Unfortunately, you can't pay extra towards the balance of the phone each month after the fact, though you can choose to pay it off entirely at any time if you have the funds.

Big Red will allow you to pay for your phone over the course of 24 months.

Long time customers have a little more luck. Verizon stopped offering subsidies to new customers late last summer, but if you were on contract at that time and you're only now considering an upgrade, you can still buy your next smartphone at a discount until Verizon decides otherwise.

AT&T

Like Verizon, AT&T allows you to pay for your smartphone over time or in one lump sum. There are is an option if you're aching to upgrade early on, however, and depending on your credit, you might even have the luxury of paying off your phone slowly, up to 30 months after initial purchase.

AT&T Next is a bit more flexible than Verizon's offering.

AT&T's financing plan is called AT&T Next, and it's a bit more flexible than Verizon's offerings. For example, if you're looking to upgrade to the 32GB Galaxy S7 edge and you have a good credit score, you can choose to put nothing down and pay $36.50 a month for 30 months. You could also lower your monthly rate by adding on an optional down payment and then choose to pay off your device over 24, 18, or 12 months if you qualify.

AT&T also offers a Next Every Year program, which makes you eligible for a discount on a new phone with a trade-in, but only after your current device is halfway paid off (this takes roughly one year). And if you cancel your service in the middle of paying off the device, you'll have to pay it in full before you can leave.

Sprint

If you're a Sprint subscriber, you can choose to lease your phone, buy it outright, or pay for it in monthly installments.

Sprint's leasing program works similarly to leasing a car. You choose almost any phone you want and then pay for it over the period of 24 months. At the end of the lease, you can choose to pay off the remaining balance on the device, trade it in for a new model, or continue paying month-to-month until you figure out what you want. There's also a $5 monthly Early Upgrade option, though you'll have to have paid toward your device for 12 consecutive months before you can upgrade to a new phone. And if you're crazy for every new Samsung device, you can sign up for the Galaxy Forever leasing program.

Sprint's leasing program is a bit problematic. You don't actually own the device unless you choose the purchase option and should something major happen to the device in your care before it's paid off, you'll be liable for the Damaged Device Fee unless you're enrolled in the Total Equipment Protection plan, which also costs a monthly fee.

Sprint's leasing program is problematic in that you don't actually own the device.

At the end of it all, Sprint's leasing program doesn't sound like the best deal. You'll have to pile on program fees just to ensure you're not paying up the wazoo at the end of the lease, and if you decide to keep the phone, you'll actually be paying more than the current value of the device at the end of the leasing terms. The full terms of Sprint's leasing program are here.

It's also unclear if Sprint has done away with subsidies. On its cell phone upgrades page, Sprint says, "If you have completed a 2-year commitment, you can upgrade to another discounted device if you enter into a new 2-year Service Agreement." This applies only to those customers that are paying at least $40 a month for their bill.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile's Jump program costs $10 a month and includes device insurance. Once you're signed up, you'll pay for the device in monthly installments, and after it's halfway paid off, you can trade it in for a new one.

T-Mobile will let you pay for your phone outright or in 24 month installments.

Like Verizon, T-Mobile will also let you pay for your phone outright, or in installments over 24 months, though you may have to fork over a down payment depending on your credit score. At the very least, that down payment goes towards the full price of the phone. You can also choose to pay extra each month so that your phone is paid off sooner, though you'll have to file that separately from your monthly bill so that it's registered in the system as a device payment.

Lastly, T-Mobile offers a leasing program called Jump! On Demand, which is great for smartphone enthusiasts who are keen on having the latest and greatest but don't necessarily want to commit to shelling out all the cash at once. You'll essentially be making monthly payments to use the phone, though you'll never actually own it. The upside you can walk into any T-Mobile store and trade your months-old phone in for a new one, up to three times in a year. But it also means that you can't get too attached to your daily driver.

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2 weeks ago

India's civil aviation ministry also advises against using the Note 7 in-flight

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India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation is the latest to advocate against using the Note 7 in-flight.

As Samsung proceeds with the Note 7 global recall, India's civil aviation ministry has issued a public notice advising users to not use the phone in-flight. The move follows similar statements from the FAA, and several Australian airlines as governments and carriers work to prevent any untoward incidents.

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2 weeks ago

Is the Galaxy Note name ruined?

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The internet never forgets. But it does forgive.

Yes, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has a bit of an image problem. It should be under close scrutiny right now.

You can't ignore that the Note 7 can catch on fire or explode because of an issue with the battery, or that Samsung thinks everyone who bought one should return it for a replacement or refund. That's like a giant blinking sign that the elephant in the room carries around. Even the FAA is getting involved (as they should) which keeps people talking about it — which is also a good thing. We need to keep talking about it until everyone who bought a Note 7 knows. It's completely understandable that there is legitimate concern about this phone in particular and Samsung phones in general — that's just how people are. Caution is hardwired into us as a survival mechanism.

But will this whole exploding Note 7 thing ever go away or has the Galaxy Note line been sullied forever?

Samsung will keep selling millions of phones. Some of them will be Galaxy Notes.

While this is a bit more severe, I can't help but think about the iPhone 4 and its antenna "issue." While no phones were destroyed and nobody was put at any immediate risk, it was still a thing that affected the tens of millions of devices sold and continues to affect the millions of people still using it in 2016. And it certainly caused a ruckus — one that was compounded when the late Steve Jobs suggested that owners were holding it wrong. The original issue was frustrating, and Apple's response even more so. Folks couldn't stop talking about it and how horrible Apple was and all manner of nonsense about how the iPhone name is tainted filled the internet. Eventually, things had to be settled in court. Fast forward to 2016 and iPhone sales have hit the one billion mark because, in the end, we either forgot or just didn't care.

I'm not trying to say the Note 7 has, ever will have the same popularity that the iPhone enjoys. But this does give us some insight into how much we're willing to tolerate and how soon we will forget things — even if they were never made right. I think for most people the same thing will happen with the Galaxy Note.

Plenty of people will return their Note 7 for a refund, and buy something else. Plenty of others will not buy a Note 7 simply because of concerns about the battery, or being unsure whether they're buying a "new" model. Samsung is certainly going to miss their target for projected sales. But plenty of people will buy or replace their Note 7, and once the dust settles we'll all have moved on to the next object of internet concern and/or outrage. And when the Note 8 comes around, jokes will be made and the noise level will go up a notch, but the people who love the Galaxy Note will still love them, and still buy them.

Samsung needs to make things right, and they will. We need to keep reminding them until that happens.

Samsung will be OK, and the millions of dollars they may lose because of the Note 7 recall will just come out of the billions they earned from the rest of their mobile products and washing machines and components and self-propelled armored 155mm howitzer artillery pieces. They will keep doing what they do best and will sell phones by the millions. Some of them will be Galaxy Notes.

The Galaxy Note 7's image may be a little tarnished, and perhaps rightfully so. But that doesn't mean it is going away or that it ceases to be a damn good phone. We're still going to care about it and so will plenty of other people. Expect to see it given the full treatment that it deserves here at Android Central, but also expect us to also hold Samsung's feet to the fire until everything is taken care of, and folks aren't at risk from a bad phone.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

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2 weeks ago

BB-8 now comes in a battle-damaged Special Edition with Force Band!

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It still won't give you a thumbs up, though.

BB-8 is adorable, fun to play with, and without a doubt one of the most successful Star Wars toys to arrive with The Force Awakens last year. Sphero, the company behind this clever robot ball, promised several updates to BB-8 over time and so far has delivered in big ways. BB-8 will sit with you and watch The Force Awakens now, and holographic projection messaging has improved several times over the last year.

The biggest update to BB-8 is coming in the form of a wristband that will control the bot instead of your phone. It's being cleverly dubbed Force Band based on how you move your body to control BB-8, and to celebrate its launch Sphero is releasing a battle-damaged special edition of BB-8 with one of these bands in the box.

While you can absolutely buy the BB-8 Force Band without a new robot attached, the updated visuals on the Special Edition reflect BB-8's journey in The Force Awakens. Spoiler alert, this little robot has seen some shit and his outer shell absolutely reflects this by the end of the movie. If you never got around to picking up a BB-8, this could be the perfect way to get everything in one box. If you already own a BB-8 and can't help yourself, that's cool too. No judgement here, just happy little bloops and smiles as this robot rolls on by.

See at Amazon

Sphero BB-8

Amazon Best Buy

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2 weeks ago

How is the iPhone 7 Plus dual camera different from Android cameras?

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iPhone 7 Plus

Android manufacturers say they had dual-camera phones first. Technically they're correct. But Apple's doing things very differently.

For those of us who live and breathe smartphones, it's fun to poke Apple when it "invents" a feature we've been seeing in the Android space for years. Like when it "invented" bigger phones in 2014, or "invented" split-screen multitasking on the iPad Pro.

Sometimes the snark is justified. Other times, not so much. (And for what it's worth, Apple rarely claims to be first with features.) In my view, the clamoring over the iPhone 7 Plus's new dual-camera setup fits somewhere in the middle. Sure, in the Android world dual cameras aren't new. But there's a lot Apple's doing that is new and important.

Let's take a look at how Android's been doing dual cameras over the past two and a half years, and how it differs to Apple's new stuff.

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2 weeks ago

Galaxy S8: New report points to twin edge-screen flagships for 2017

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GS7 edge

5.1 and 5.5-inch edge screen Galaxy S8 models on the way, according to reports from Korean.

After introducing a more subtle edge screen in the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung might be doing away with completely flat screens altogether in its next-gen Galaxy S phone. According to a new report from The Korea Herald, both Galaxy S8 models might feature curved screens, at the same 5.1- and 5.5-inch sizes as the GS7.

Sources said the company has already started securing display panels in two sizes — 5.1-inch and 5.5-inch -- from its own display-making unit Samsung Display, the world's sole producer of double-edged screens.

An improvement in yield rates of the hard-to-make curved displays is a key factor, the outlet says.

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2 weeks ago

Huawei P9 second opinion: A well-rounded smartphone with a brilliant camera

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The quick take

The latest flagship smartphone from Huawei, the P9, has a lot of things going for it in tandem to offer a great Android smartphone experience, along with arguably the best mobile photography credibility a smartphone has offered yet.

The Good

  • Brilliant camera
  • Excellent fingerprint sensor
  • Good display
  • Elegant design and build quality

The Bad

  • Not cheap
  • EMUI is overwhelming
  • Occasional lags
  • Single SIM only

Huawei P9 Full Review

Huawei does a lot of things right. It's made some great hardware for the past couple of years, like the Nexus 6P and the P8. Then there's the Honor sub-brand that has offered some very capable and nice-looking smartphones for customers on a budget. It took the Nexus 6P, obviously aided by the Google branding, to make a lot of people aware about the company's research, engineering, and design capabilities.

The Huawei P9 with Dual Leica Lens is an engineering marvel on paper, and has much improved EMUI software – the biggest showstopper for Huawei phones till date. Let's see how the P9 fares against the flagship smartphones and the value-for-money flagship killers — because it sits right on the fence between the two.

About this review

I used the Indian retail variant of the Huawei P9 (EVA-L09) that ran EMUI 4.1 running on top of Android Marshmallow 6.0 out of the box. For most of the time, I used it with an Airtel 4G SIM in Delhi NCR. There is another higher spec'd variant with 4GB RAM and 64GB of internal storage that is on sale in some markets. This 32GB variant had about 25 gigs of storage available out of the box.

Huawei P9 Design

The Huawei P9 has an industrial design that is consistent with the company's design ethos, yet the metallic unibody construction gives it an elegant look. It's solidly built and the craftsmanship with the chamfered edges and the nicely milled aluminum is impressive.

Because of the smaller screen size, the overall footprint is compact and it is a delight to use with one hand – something which is a thing of the past when it comes to the current trend in flagship smartphones. At 144 grams, it is light and easy to handle, and yet doesn't feel flimsy because the weight is evenly spread across the surface area of the device. With less than 7mm of thickness and curved edges, it feels great to grip the P9 in your hand and you'd not want to reach for your pocket or bag to put it away all the time.

The back sports the camera unit which, despite the advanced optics, does not have a bump like the Nexus 6P had. Of course, there's the Leica branding next to it which is something definitely worth flashing.

There's no doubt the P8 and P9 are part of the same lineage, which isn't a bad thing. The Huawei P8 was a well-designed smartphone, and the P9 is a nice evolution of the same. There's nothing flashy about the Huawei P9 and yet it is one of the best designed smartphones on the market – not just in looks but in ease of use as well.

Huawei P9 Hardware

Category Features Operating system Android Marshmallow 6.0 with EMUI 4.1 Display 5.2 Inch Full HD (1080 x 1920) IPS LCD | 423ppi Processor 2.5GHz Huawei Kirin 955 Quad-core RAM 3 GB Internal Storage 32 GB; expandable up to 128GB via a microSD card Battery 3000mAh Rear Camera Dual 12MP (color & monochrome) | ƒ/2.2 lens | Co-engineered with Leica Front Camera 8MP Dimensions 145 x 70.9 x 6.95 mm Weight 144 grams

Powered by Huawei's home-brewed octa-core Kirin 955 chipset with four Cortex-A72 cores clocked at 2.5GHz and four Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.8GHz, the P9 packs in 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage.

The Kirin 955 packs in enough muscle for being a daily driver without breaking a sweat, and it's a shame that many question Huawei's decision to opt for its own chipset instead of going with a Qualcomm one without taking it for a spin in the real world. From multi-tabbed browsing to Full HD video playback to playing graphic-intensive games, the P9 handles everything thrown at it smoothly. It does tend to get a little hot when playing games for an extended period.

It's not all hunky-dory though. While there's a lot of memory management optimizations under the hood, I did run into occasional lags with the P9. It's not a showstopper, but one wonders if packing in 3GB of RAM (or having a lower spec'd variant for India) was a wrong decision by Huawei. Overall though, the Kirin 955 does well to offer a fluid Android experience with a lot of tweaks for the camera experience.

The fingerprint sensor on the P9 is one of the fastest in the business and supports 360-degree recognition. You can also configure the fingerprint sensor for additional functionality like answering calls or taking phones et al. Also, the EMUI offers several gestures in conjunction with the fingerprint sensor for extended functionality — like swiping down on the sensor to bring down the notifications shade or double-tapping it to clear the notifications. One of the more useful gestures is the ability to swipe left or right on the sensor to browse photos without your finger blocking the view over the display.

Interestingly, the Huawei P9 has a single nanoSIM card slot that supports 4G LTE instead of the common hybrid Dual SIM slot – surprising considering the trend in the Indian market. So if you use two SIMs on an everyday basis or on your frequent travels, the P9 is a no go for you.

Huawei P9 Display

The Huawei P9 features a 5.2-inch Full HD IPS LCD. Unless you're a fan of the 6-inch-and-around display sizes, the display on the P9 is just about perfect for most people. Huawei steers clear of the temptation for boundary-pushing 4K or even a Quad HD display, and the 1080p screen makes absolute sense on a 5.2-inch display. Anything higher would only drain the battery faster.

In any case, the display on P9 is extremely good and with a pixel density of around 423ppi, the P9's panel makes images look incredible and the text crisp. The 2.5D curved glass looks beautiful and accentuates the display. The viewing angles are great and the color reproduction is pretty accurate. You can also adjust the color temperature of the display from the settings to make it warmer or cooler as you'd prefer.

The sunlight legibility is just good enough, though slightly marred by the reflective glass. Overall, the display is sharp, and watching a movie or viewing your photos is a treat.

Huawei P9 Software

Emotion UI, or EMUI, is Huawei's custom UI layer running on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Far from just a skin, it adds a ton of features to the operating system including a variety of gesture controls. The number of features can actually be intimidating, so you may need to spend a couple of weeks moving things around to make everything work for you.

Like most of the proprietary UIs from Chinese brands, the EMUI lacks an app drawer. There's a one-hand UI with shifting keyboard (not sure why you'd need it on a compact smartphone like the P9 though) as well as a simple UI mode for basic users and for those who are visually impaired. There's the 'Phone Manager' app that gives easy access to, well, phone management options like system optimizations, memory clean-up, traffic manager, battery manager, as well as a harassment filter for blocking unwanted calls and messages.

The EMUI 4.1 is thankfully a good progression and takes care of some annoyances of the past. It's a very usable user interface with a host of customization options. Once you get a hang of it, it becomes clear that EMUI 4.1 is the best version of the EMUI yet, and as powerful as any other launcher. Of course, if you don't like what Huawei has done with the EMUI, you can switch to your favorite launcher just fine.

Huawei P9 Battery life

The Huawei P9 includes a respectable 3,000mAh non-removable battery, and big props to Huawei for packing a battery of that size into the slim form-factor of the P9. With average usage, the P9 easily lasts a day. The lack of Quad HD or 4K panel is a definite factor here, as well as the power-efficient optimizations of the Kirin 955 processor. You can squeeze out even more juice with the useful 'ROG power saving' mode which reduces the phone's resolution to 720p — further knocking down the battery consumption.

Overall, the battery life on the P9 is pretty good — not stellar — and since it supports fast charging, you can charge it up to two-thirds in less than 30 minutes. Trouble is, the supplied charger is the normal 5V/2A charger and takes over two hours to charge the phone from empty to 100%.

Huawei P9 Camera

Of course, the highlight of the Huawei P9 is the camera — co-engineered with Leica, the legendary optics enterprise from Germany. It's obviously less of a hardware partnership and more of a branding collaboration, similar to the Dolby Atmos or Beats tie-ups we've seen in the past for audio component.

Yet, imaging is a critical aspect of a smartphone experience today, and the collaboration with Leica and the execution is impressive, and so let me just say it outright. The photos clicked with the Huawei P9 are some of the best photos clicked with smartphones – the flagships included. Shots from the 12-megapixel rear camera offer a lot of details with impressive color reproduction.

The rear camera on the P9 packs in two sensors – RGB and Monochrome – with 27mm focal length and an f2.2 aperture, assisted laser AF as well as a dual-tone LED flash. The smartphones that boasted dual camera sensors in the past typically used them for 3D effect or for sensing depth of field, and hence never made a big impression. For Huawei, the dual camera sensors allow you to snap outstanding pictures using the two sensors, which work in unison with the RGB sensor capturing the colors and the monochrome sensor capturing the details. Despite sporting a smaller sensor as compared to the Samsung Galaxy S7 for example, the P9 has terrific low-light performance because of that monochrome sensor.

The P9 also includes a dedicated depth sensor which allows users to mimic depth of field just like shooting with DSLRs. Several other phone cameras with similar attempts end up clicking pictures that look unnatural. But the P9 excels here, allowing for bokeh effects that are pleasant to look at and look real.

Just as the marketing pitch of Huawei proposes, snapping monochrome photos on the P9 is an indulgence in itself. The monochrome mode captures photos with the monochrome sensor – unlike other smartphones where the photos are taken with an RGB sensor and then desaturated to look like a black-and-white photo. Nah, not the same thing! The monochrome photos with the P9 are brighter with more details. If you're like me and love monochrome or B&W photos, you'll end up shooting random things using the monochrome mode on the P9 all day for the sheer delight of the results.

On the front, there's an 8-megapixel camera with a f/2.4 aperture. It does well for those selfies outdoors, and even in low light although they are a tad darker in the latter case. There's also the functional beauty mode if vanity is your thing.

The brilliant results the P9 camera manages to offer are not just due to the optics hardware, but also the under-the-hood processing as well as the stock camera app. The latter may be intimidating as there is a lot going on here. There are almost too many options and features baked in, including 14 modes for clicking pictures and the option to shoot in RAW or the manual mode to granularly adjust ISO value, exposure, shutter speed, and focus.

At the end of the day, this is still a smartphone camera. It will not replace your DSLR (no smartphone can make such a claim at the moment) like some hyperbole headlines would suggest, but it's a darn nice camera with tons of options to get the photos you want for those likes and shares.

The video recording tops out at 1080p and 60fps and the P9, despite all its camera credentials, doesn't shoot in 4K. Frankly, like most people, I don't care about 4K, but it's a dent on the specifications sheet. Even on other flagships that support 4K recording, I record only 1080p to save storage space. You still get manual controls, and an option of standard, smooth, and vivid colors for video – but not the star monochrome option here. There's no optical image stabilization as well. So, yeah, you can shoot decent videos on the P9 but nothing fantastic or extraordinary like the stills it manages to capture.

Huawei P9 Bottom line

After the Nexus 6P, which probably isn't a Huawei phone in absolute terms, the Huawei P9 is the best smartphone from the Chinese brand. As Phil NIckinson says, the P9 is the "best mainstream phone Huawei has made." It's one of those smartphones that can't be judged on mere specifications and impresses you when you hold it in your hand and start using it.

The EMUI is in its best avatar on the P9, and although a little overpowering, it offers what the best in business offer feature-by-feature. It's got powerful internals with a well-executed dual-camera setup encased in a beautiful chassis with understated elegance. There are misses, too. Like the underwhelming RAM — in number or in memory performance. With all the camera hype, expert videographers and photographers — not me — would point at the lack of 4K recording and the just about average f2.2. aperture. And there's no dual SIM variant, mind you.

Should you buy it? Yes

The Huawei P9 is a top-notch smartphone, but alas, it's not a 'value for money' device like the Xiaomi Mi5 or OnePlus 3. At ₹39,999, the P9 is expensive but also a really impressive smartphone, and Huawei is within its rights to charge the premium for it.

Go ahead and buy it if you love mobile photography (who doesn't?) or like a stylish-looking slab that fits snuggly in your hand.

See at Flipkart

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