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3 weeks ago

Best cheap phone to buy while you wait for a Note 7 replacement

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What is the best cheap phone to hold me over until the Note 7 replacements come in?

You're looking at your Galaxy Note 7 wondering how long it will take for Samsung and your carrier to get new stock in after the recall takes place. In the meantime, you may be without a phone — or at least a phone you want to use — for a while. In that case, why not buy a cheap(ish) Android phone to tide you over? One that, when you get your beloved Note 7 back you'd be happy to give to a family member or friend.

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3 weeks ago

Rugged phone ratings: Everything you need to know

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Ever wonder exactly what the IP rating on your phone means? This reference has your answers.

IP ratings are a way to describe the ingress protection of your phone. IP itself stands for International Protection Marking, but you might see it called ingress protection because it fits and describes exactly what it is. Phones like the Galaxy Note 7 are rated with an IP specification (IP68) to tell you how resistant to dust and water they are.

IP ratings are broken into two numbers. The first number is the level of protection against solid objects — things like fingers, tools, wires, and dust. The second number is the liquid protection rating and is tested using water (no water specifications for things like salinity or TDS are referenced) and not other liquids unless specifically mentioned.

Because there are so many different combinations in use, a set of charts will help explain it all.

Solid particle protection

Solid IP number How effective is it? IP number How effective is it? 0 Not protected at all against any size particle. 1 Particles larger than 50 mm can not enter in enough quantity to affect the normal operation. 2 Particles larger than 12.5 mm
This is the minimum rating to protect against putting your finger(s) into a thing. 3 Particles larger than 2.5 mm can not enter in enough quantity to affect the normal operation. 4 Particles larger than 1 mm can not enter in enough quantity to affect the normal operation. 5 Dust Protected
Dust must not enter in enough quantity to affect the normal operation. 6 Dust Tight
Dust can't enter, even in a vacuum.

The type of dust used for the last two tests could matter and no specifications or particle sizes are given like they are in the first five tests. If you're working with something like a dry stone saw that creates really fine particles, you might want to assume you're not protected. For everyday use, though, dust is dust.

Liquid ingress protection

Liquid IP number How effective is it? IP number How effective is it? 0 Not protected at all. 1 Protected against dripping water. 2 Protected against dripping water when tilted up to a 15-degree angle from its normal position. 3 Protected against spraying water when tilted up to a 60-degree angle from its normal position. 4 Protected against splashing water at any angle. 5 Protected against water sprayed from a 6.3 mm nozzle at 12.5 Liters/minute and 30 kPa (pressure) from three meters away for three minutes. 6 Protected against water sprayed from a 12.5 mm nozzle at 100 Liters/minute and 100 kPa (pressure) from three meters away for three minutes. 6K Protected against water sprayed from a 6.3 mm nozzle at 75 Liters/minute and 1,000 kPa (pressure) from three meters away for three minutes. 7 Protected against immersion in water up to one meter at normal pressure for 30 minutes. 8 Protected against immersion in water one meter or deeper at specifications detailed by the manufacturer. 9K Protection against water sprayed from high-flow and high-pressure jets at high-temperature
Water volume of 14 to 16 Liters/minute
Water pressure of 80 to 100 bar
Water temperature of 80-degrees Celsius
Distance of 0.10 to 0.15 meters

Ratings of 5, 6, 6K and 9K are pretty extreme protection and something we'll never see on a phone or watch or tablet. I'm pretty sure 6K testing would damage your skin, and 80-degree Celsius liquids are a bit above the comfort level of most of us. For phones and other electronics, the 7 and 8 ratings are more important.

In addition, the IP Code has letter designations for additional protection. Like any K rating, you'll never see these on a cell phone.

Additional protection designation

Letter code What it means Letter code What it means f Oil resistant H High voltage protection M Motion during any testing S No motion during any testing W Weather resistant

Note that these additional ratings aren't mandatory. Their absence doesn't mean your phone (or any other IP rated product) will not survive exposure. It just says that nobody is certifying it.

Most importantly, having an IP rating doesn't mean you can do anything you like with your phone. Phones aren't tested individually and they are mass produced. Your phone might fail if you take it into the pool, even if rated for water resistance. Having the IP rating does mean that the people who made it should be willing to stand behind it for any warranty issues.

We wouldn't use an IP certification as the only reason to buy a phone, but having it certainly can be an added bonus!

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3 weeks ago

Samsung announces global Galaxy Note 7 recall following battery explosions

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Samsung Galaxy Note 7

All Note 7s sold to be recalled and European launch delayed as Samsung tackles defective batteries.

Following reports of explosions due to defective batteries in some units, Samsung has announced a global recall of Galaxy Note 7 handsets.

Samsung says that due to a "battery cell issue," 35 "cases" (of overheating, fire or explosions) have been noted so far, adding "we are currently conducting a thorough inspection with our suppliers to identify possible affected batteries in the market."

More: Everything you need to know about the Galaxy Note 7 recall

All Note 7s sold to consumers will be replaced "over the coming weeks," Samsung says and NPR's Elise Hu reports that unsold units will also be recalled. Gizmodo Australia reports that the number in consumers hands right now makes up 1 million of the 2.5 million units produced. The only exception is China, where Samsung uses a different battery supplier.

In the meantime, Samsung has halted sales of the phone. Samsung U.S. says it's working with carrier partners to announce details of a product exchange program "as soon as today."

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3 weeks ago

Best cases for HTC 10

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HTC 10 Ice View

HTC's new flagship is handsomely designed. Protect it from bumps and scratches.

Like any responsible phone owner, you're probably considering a case for your HTC 10. It's a brand new phone and you want to keep it as pristine as possible for as long as possible.

With a new phone, it can be hard to find a good case because not everyone is jumping onboard the new phone train, so reviews are limited. For the most part, we're seeing TPU cases galore, but there are a few rubber and wallet cases and there'll likely be many more to come upon the phone's release.

We've rounded up the best cases (so far) for your gorgeous new HTC 10 that'll hopefully keep it looking like new until the HTC 11 comes out!

HTC Ice View

HTC Ice View

We'll start with the coolest case you can buy for your HTC 10, which is HTC's own Ice View. With the One M9, HTC had the Dot View to give us a peek at what's happening on the phone. Ice View adds more detail to match the 10's cleaned-up design.

The flip cover allows you to interact with your phone in so many ways that some people might not even need to lift it. You can take photos, read texts, control volume and music, turn on the flashlight, and tons more. Plus, the Ice View supports third party notifications like Instagram, Google+, and more.

If you struggle with covering up such a pretty phone but still want it protected, you might as well cover it up with a case that's super cool and offer a ton of functionality on top of that protection.

See at Amazon


Cimo Premium Slim Fit

Cimo Premium Slim Fit

A great standard for anyone who wants a simple, minimalist case that offers solid protection without breaking the bank, Cimo does it again. It's got a tactile, satisfyingly grippy feeling and leaves all the essential ports open.

The beveled front edge leaves you worry free when leaving your HTC 10 face-down and the slim design means no unnecessary bulk in your pocket. If you're looking for a case just because you know it's the right thing to do, then Cimo is a solid place to start.

See at Amazon


Spigen Neo Hybrid

Spigen Neo Hybrid

Spigen makes great phone cases. That's just a fact. The Neo Hybrid is no exception, with it's flexible TPU shell and hard polycarbonate bumper, it protects the most fragile points on your HTC 10 – those corners.

Some folks reported issues with previous versions of the Neo Hybrid, notably a loose polycarbonate bumper that was weak around the buttons. But Spigen has upgraded the design for the HTC 10 and now everything should fit snugly and feels sturdy in your hand. This is an excellent blend of protection and a slim form factor, since it really doesn't add a ton of bulk to your HTC 10. It's by no means a "slim fit" case, but it's also not heavy, nor is it too thick.

If you like a great-fitting case and having your phone truly feel like it's protected (without the extra weight), then go for Spigen's Neo Hybrid.

The PC bumper comes in champagne gold, gunmetal, and Satin Silver.

See at Amazon

SUPCASE Full-body Rugged Holster

SUPCASE

The HTC 10 is a solidly built aluminum phone that feels sturdy and strong in your hand, even without a case. That being said, it's still fragile and if you lead a fairly active lifestyle, a rugged case is a great investment.

SUPCASE's Full-body Rugged Holster is designed to protect your phone from some pretty harsh stuff. It's made of hard polycarbonate and soft TPU, so it's shock-absorbent and protects against bumps, scratches, and drops. Despite being a rugged case, the Full-body Rugged Holster is relatively slim, covering all of your HTC 10 except the screen. Even the earpiece is protected.

And if you're not one for carrying your phone in the pocket, this case comes with a belt clip, so you can wear it on your hip for easy access and a bit of extra stability.

You have your choice of black-on-black or black-on-blue.

See at Amazon


Diztronic full matte TPU series

Diztronic

This case from Diztronic is made entirely of flexible TPU, which means extra bouncy shock-absorption all around for your HTC 10.

The matte finish resists fingerprints and gives the case an overall grippy feel, so you know your phone isn't slipping out of your hand. The buttons are covered, but the TPU over them is very responsive and you can feel the click, so if you're controlling volume or shutting off an alert while it's in your pocket, you'll know you're hitting a button.

You have your choice of black, charcoal gray, or a very lovely navy blue.

See at Amazon


Love Ying Crystal Clear Ultra

Love Ying Crystal Clear Ultra

Another great TPU cover that offers minimal bulk with cushioned shock absorbency is the Love Ying Crystal Clear. Like Tauri, Love Ying offers as view different colors to match your style; theirs are a little more vibrant and playful.

The cover is raised both on the front and the back, so you're not putting your HTC 10 down right on its screen or right on the camera lens, which is a nice feature if you happen to drop it flat. It's dust and scratch resistant and fits like a glove.

As with other TPU cases, just be aware that your case may yellow over time thanks to the Sun. Also be careful putting it on your HTC 10 and taking it off too much, since it might stretch and stop fitting so well. Other than that, it's a great way to protect your phone without adding a ton of bulk or breaking the bank.

See at Amazon

What do you think?

When you get your HTC 10, let us know which case is your favorite by sounding off in the comments below!

HTC 10

HTC Best Buy Verizon Sprint

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3 weeks ago

Hands-on with the ZTE Axon 7 mini

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ZTE Axon 7 Mini

ZTE has unveiled today the latest addition to its flagship AXON series, the AXON 7 mini. It looks a lot like the bigger Axon 7, but with a 5.2-inch display. This gives consumers more options, especially those who don't want to spend a lot of money on a new phone. Watch our hands-on video to see it in action.

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3 weeks ago

Where to buy the Moto Z, Moto Z Force and Moto Z Play

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You can get your Moto Z in three flavors, and from either Verizon or unlocked.

The Moto Z family started out with a single phone, but quickly expanded to three and then beyond with different models for different regions. You have the regular Moto Z, but also a "Droid Edition" of the phone for Verizon. You then have the Moto Z Force Droid Edition, exclusive to Verizon. And now we also have the lower-end Moto Z Play, and again it has a Droid Edition variant.

No matter what one you're looking for, or where you want to buy it, we have you covered right here.

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3 weeks ago

Sony Xperia XZ + X Compact specs

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Sony Xperia XZ + X Compact

Sony's late-2016 handsets are official — the Xperia XZ, a new flagship-tier phone with the latest Sony camera tech, and the Xperia X Compact, a trimmed down version in a 4.6-inch body. If you're wondering how both phones stack up in terms of raw specs, we've got all the info you need down below.

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3 weeks ago

Sony Xperia XZ review: Return of the flagship

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Sony Xperia XZ

Sony's late-2016 flagship is the phone it needed six months ago, with some of the most important upgrades in years for an Xperia phone. But is it enough?

The more things change, the more they stay the same. With the apparently sunsetting of the Xperia Z line and the move to Xperia X, Sony appeared to have lost interest in the traditional spec-chasing high-end smartphone game. Yet here we are less than half a year later with a new Sony flagship: The Xperia XZ.

The naming convention speaks to the nature of the phone: A continuation of the X series spearheaded earlier this year with the Xperia X and X Performance, but with hints of the old Xperia Z brand: A bigger screen, a more capacious battery, and some seriously important camera upgrades — including, for the first time in a Sony phone, hardware stabilization.

This is the phone Sony needed half a year ago — and arguably a device which is more of a complete through than the overpriced, underwhelming X Performance. But the competition in the high-end space hasn't died down since the spring, and the XZ will face a similar band of challengers as its immediate predecessor.

So how does the most interesting Sony phone in two years measure up? Read on to find out.

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3 weeks ago

Sony Xperia X Compact hands-on

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Sony Xperia X Compact

Sony's fan-favorite 'Compact' line returns with what might be its most compelling installment yet.

If you want a flagship-class Android phone in a smaller form factor, Sony's Compact series of phones is basically the only game in town. Unveiled at IFA 2016 in Berlin today, the Xperia X Compact is the series' fourth addition, bringing the internals of the Xperia X down to a more manageable size. We've had an early look at the X Compact ahead of today's unveiling, and what we've found is a worthy addition to one of the most unique Android families — though one lacking the trailblazing specs of previous generations.

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3 weeks ago

Huawei Nova and Nova Plus preview: Making affordable feel premium

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Huawei Nova + Nova Plus

Huawei makes its best build quality more attainable than ever in a brand new line of metal-clad phones.

In the past ten months since it shipped the Nexus 6P, Huawei has firmed up its place among the best Android manufacturers when it comes to industrial design. Sure, the software has often been a whole other mess, but it's hard to argue with the build quality of phones like the P9 and P9 Plus. Huawei makes good stuff — hardware that deserved a spot next to the Galaxy S7

But premium hardware often demands a premium price tag, and that's where the Chinese firm is looking to differentiate itself through a new mid-level line: Huawei Nova.

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3 weeks ago

This is the Hasselblad True Zoom, the essential camera add-on for the Moto Z

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Motorola and legendary camera manufacturer Hasselblad have created the essential smartphone camera add-on.

The moment I learned about Moto Mods, the magnetic add-ons for the Moto Z line, I yearned for a camera. Batteries, sure; a speaker, fine. But a camera: to me, that made the platform truly compelling.

Now, months later, we are getting just that, in the form of the Hasselblad True Zoom. The Mod is the first mainstream smartphone accessory the legendary Swedish camera company has ever attached its name to, and while it doesn't quite live up to my admittedly high expectations, it's a truly remarkable piece of engineering, and at $249, a compelling proposition.

The hardware

The Hasselblad True Zoom celebrates the medium-format camera company's 75th anniversary with the insignia '4116' imprinted on the inside of the frame. 1941 to 2016: a long time to perfect a craft.

When installed, the True Zoom replaces the Moto Z's built-in camera. Indeed, the Mod has a small foam slot for the phone's camera module to rest to avoid getting it scratched. Being independent, the True Zoom has its own sensor, lens and optical image stabilization module, and uses the phone's screen as a viewfinder and its battery as a power source. As I quickly found, lacking its own battery and generating an enormous amount of heat means that the True Zoom is better suited to the thicker, more capacious Moto Z Force or Play, but it will work with the flagship as well.

It's clear care was taken in designing the True Zoom, since it attaches to any of the Moto Z phones with a satisfying click and immediately initializes. A modest grip on the right side makes it easy to hold in one hand, and the dual-stage shutter button mimics the responsiveness of much more expensive cameras. A separate power button extends and retracts the optical lens, and the zoom slider attached to the shutter button engages the zoom — all familiar ideas to anyone who has used a digital camera since, oh, 2003. A real Xenon flash attaches to the left side, making me nostalgic for the Nokia Lumia 1020.

It's inside that the True Zoom loses some of its luster: I had a chance to speak to Motorola's head of product marketing, Jim Thiede, and President of Hasselblad's American arm, Michael Hejtmanek, and it quickly became clear that this is a partnership in name only. None of Hasselblad's actual technology is inside the True Zoom, which, given its modest $250 price tag, is not surprising. Akin to Huawei's partnership with Leica, it appears Motorola sought expertise and brand alignment more than intellectual property.

Still, the 1/2.3" sensor and f/3.5-6.5 lens, with a 35mm equivalent focal length of 25-250mm, is superior to anything you'll find on a smartphone today, and the photos that come out of this thing are stupendous.

Using the camera is not always stupendous, though. Because its weight is biased to the right side, near the grip, your thumb is forced onto the glass just to the right of the screen in landscape mode, jutting up against the navigation keys. I cannot tell you how much times I accidentally pressed the home or multitasking button as I depressed the shutter, and that Motorola doesn't include an option to temporarily disable those touch areas when the True Zoom is connected confers a dearth of consumer field testing. Thankfully, you can hold down the power button (next to the shutter) once the Mod is connected to quickly launch the camera app from any app.

None of Hasselblad's actual technology is inside the True Zoom, which, given its modest $250 price tag, is not surprising.

It's unclear whether people will want to keep the True Zoom attached while they're out and about, since even attached to the lithe 5.2mm frame of the Moto Z it doesn't comfortably fit in a pants pocket. In my week using the Mod I was constantly caught in between attaching and removing the attachment depending on what I was doing.

The Software

A quick note: my Hasselblad True Zoom has been paired with the Moto Z Play, a phone that has yet to be released, and is running pre-release software. When I first got the Mod, it frequently crashed the camera app and overheated the phone, but Motorola released an update to its Moto Mods platform a few days into my testing that considerably improved the True Zoom's stability.

Using the True Zoom is easy, since it merely subsumes the existing camera experience. It takes advantage of the same simple camera UI, and automatically turns on when entering the app — or any app that uses the camera — so the learning curve is relatively low. Still, due to the larger sensor and more versatile zoom lens, Motorola has surfaced a number of unique camera modes, including monochrome capture, and the ability to save RAW files in addition to vaguely useful presets like "Sports" and "Night landscape". While Motorola is hedging right now, claiming these modes are still works in progress and will be more useful by the time the Moto Z and Z Force are updated in mid-September to support the Mod, I rarely noticed any improvements to my photos with these turned on.

Hasselblad also plans to release a version of its Phocus PC software to make it easy for users to offload and edit the RAW files captured by the camera. That and Motorola's offer of two years free full-quality backups to Google Photos, and users won't need to worry about on-device storage.

The Photos

So what about the photos themselves? A 1/2.3" sensor in a phone is not unheard of — Sony's Xperia Z and X line have housed one that size for years — the combination of relatively large pixels and an optically stabilized zoom lens should make for some good results. And they are good. Don't believe me? Have a look for yourself.

Let's be clear: These are not of the same quality as you'll find on a mirrorless camera, or even most point-and-shoots these days. If you're expecting otherwise you'll be disappointed. The photos captured by the True Zoom are merely very good for a smartphone, with the added benefit of being able to optically zoom with no loss in quality — just a slightly narrower aperture.

The good news is that at its widest the lens is sharp and focuses quickly, with vibrant, warm colors that will please most users. That the photos are captured directly to the phone and can easily be shared to social media is a bonus. Like many zoom lenses, though, the True Zoom becomes more difficult to stabilize the longer it extends, and with a fairly unforgiving minimum focus distance I've had trouble getting the thing to lock onto a subject, even stable ones.

But it's also that zoom function that most users are going to love. Here are some samples of the True Zoom at its widest and longest.

Left: Hasselblad True Zoom — widest (25mm equivalent) / Right: Hasselblad True Zoom — longest (250mm equivalent) — click image to view larger

And here's a typical sample comparing the True Zoom to the Moto Z. Both have 12MP sensors, though the one on the True Zoom is slightly larger. As with all of its photos, the Hasselblad is warmer and more true to life, but due to its slightly narrower f/3.5 aperture at its widest focal length it doesn't let in quite as much light as the Moto Z's fixed f/1.8 lens.

Left: Hasselblad True Zoom — (f/3.5, 25mm equivalent) / Right: Moto Z (f/1.8)— click image to view larger

Should you buy it?

When everything comes together, the True Zoom is a wonderful piece of technology, and almost justifies the $250 cost — but I can't help but feel that most people would be better off spending a bit more to get a proper zoom camera to get better results.

If the Moto Z line takes off, and Moto Mods with it, I can see a family investing in a True Zoom and sharing it between members when necessary.

The Hasselblad True Zoom will be available starting in September from Verizon for $249, and Motorola for $299, and will be coming to other markets in the coming months. An update will be issued to the Moto Z and Moto Z Force on September 15 to add compatibility with the True Zoom.

More: Moto Z Play preview: The most accessible modular phone yet

See at Motorola

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3 weeks ago

Moto Z Play Droid preview: The most affordable modular phone yet

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Can Motorola bring its modular phones' best features to the $400 price point? The Moto Z Play Droid gives it a good shot.

For the past two weeks, I've been carrying around two phones — one in each pant pocket. Both are alike in many ways, but one costs around $300 more than the other. This is the truth of the Android market in 2016: high-end, expensive smartphones are increasingly difficult to differentiate from their much-cheaper counterparts. Such a supposition is even more profound when you consider the two phones I am carrying with me: the Moto Z Droid, and the brand new Moto Z Play Droid, Motorola's newest entry into its modular lineup.

Coming to Verizon on September 8 for just over $400, to the rest of the world (as just the Moto Z Play) at the end of September, can the Moto Z Play Droid stand on its own as a phone while successfully integrating into the growing lineup of Moto Mod accessories? Let's find out.

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3 weeks ago

Coolpad Mega 2.5D review: An inexpensive performer for the Indian market

10

Coolpad is a Chinese brand offering excellent smartphones at impressively low prices.

The quick take

The recent deluge of smartphones in India under $125/₹8,500 is changing the way we perceive budget smartphones, and upping the consumer expectations. Once ready to compromise for a basic smartphone experience, budget smartphone customers are now spoilt for choice with manufacturers pushing the boundaries with devices that have decent specifications sheet, good looks, as well as a capable camera.

Coolpad is one such brand offering feature-laden smartphones at affordable prices like we saw with the Coolpad Note 3 — 3GB RAM and a fingerprint sensor for cheap. Focused at the selfie-loving crowd, the Coolpad Mega 2.5D is a delightful looking phone with a pretty good overall experience for customers on a budget.

The Good

  • Impressive design
  • Good display
  • Decent selfies for a budget smartphone

The Bad

  • Middling performance
  • Average battery life

About this review

I used the Indian retail variant of the Coolpad Mega 2.5D that ran Cool UI running on top of Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 out of the box. For most of the time, I used it with an Airtel 4G SIM in Delhi NCR. During my two weeks of usage, I received a minor system update with no specific changelog.

Coolpad Mega 2.5D Design

For a budget device, the Coolpad Mega 2.5D impresses on the first glance. Despite the plastic casing, Coolpad has done quite well in the design and construction of the phone making it one of the best looking devices in its price segment.

With the gold metal-colored finish and metal frame on the side, the Mega 2.5D doesn't look cheap in any way and despite sporting a plastic body, the matte finish on the back panel and slightly curved body gives it an unlikely elegance. Of course, as the name suggests, the highlight is the 2.5D curved glass on the front which adds to the overall style and gives it almost a premium look.

One of the understated highlights of the Coolpad Mega 2.5D is its weight, or rather the lack thereof. At just about 140 grams, the smartphone feels really light once you hold it in your hand. Most 5.5-inch devices in the market easily weigh upwards of 150 grams.

Coolpad Mega 2.5D Hardware

Category Features Operating system Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 with Cool UI 8.0 Display 5.5-inch HD (720 x 1280) Processor MediaTek Quad-core 1GHz MT6735P processor RAM 3 GB Internal Storage 16GB, upgradable up to 32GB via a microSD card Battery 2500mAh Camera 8MP primary camera | 8MP secondary camera Dimensions 153 x 76.8 x 7.9 mm Weight 143 grams

Powered by the 1GHz MediaTek MT67355P 64-bit quad-core chipset paired with Mali T720 GPU and 3GB RAM, the Coolpad Mega 2.5D does well on the specifications sheet – similar to other budget smartphones in the segment. In real world usage, the performance is just about average though. While it is decent enough to handle day-to-day tasks, there is a bit of lag here and there – sometimes while performing basic operations or switching between apps. It's a shame because the phone packs in a generous 3GB of RAM.

While playing graphic-intensive games, there is a visible drop in frames and the back panel tends to heat up (rarely though when not gaming). Clearly, if you're a mobile gaming fan, the Mega 2.5D isn't for you.

Although the Mega 2.5D sports 16GB of internal storage, you can expand it using a microSD card. That's only if you're using only one SIM with the phone since the hybrid tray allows you to use two nano SIMs or a combination of one SIM card and a microSD card.

Coolpad Mega 2.5D isn't the fastest phone in the market, but gets along through most everyday tasks. With the specs it boasts of, one would've expected it to fare much better though.

The Coolpad Mega 2.5D sports an impressive 5.5-inch HD display. The color reproduction is accurate and viewing angles are fairly good as well. The text looks sharp, and even outdoors the sunlight legibility is surprisingly high.

The curved glass on the top though is a tad reflective. There are no physical buttons on the Mega 2.5D, and it uses on-screen navigation buttons.

Coolpad Mega 2.5D Software

The Coolpad Mega 2.5D runs on Android Marshmallow 6.0 with the company's proprietary UI, CoolUI 8.0, on top. Like most custom UIs from Chinese OEMs, it doesn't come with an app drawer and several aspects of it are clearly inspired by iOS – like the drop-down search for apps or the control center that comes up on swiping from the bottom, for example.

Honestly, the UI isn't bad and like with most UX paradigms, one gets used to it. However, it's apparent that Cool UI is a significantly heavy UI and pretty much the culprit behind the phone's less than impressive performance. The phone is also painfully slow to boot up, although that's not a showstopper really.

Coolpad Mega 2.5D Battery life

The battery life on the Coolpad Mega 2.5D is just about average. Only with limited use, the 2500mAh battery would last for an entire day. Stretch it a little, and you'd need to run for your charger by evening.

Few other smartphones in the price segment are offering two-day battery life, and although that's not an absolute comparison, customers might want to look elsewhere if this is a primary buying decision. Of course, it's not all bad. Also, the bundled 5V charger can charge the battery to full capacity in under two hours.

Coolpad Mega 2.5D Camera

The Coolpad Mega 2.5D packs in an 8MP rear camera with f/2.2 aperture. The photos from the rear camera are decent and the color reproduction is good enough mostly. Although, you'd notice some washed out photos or the ones with the colors bleeding too frequently.

The front camera though fares better – justifying the focus on selfies in marketing pitch. The Mega 2.5D sports a generous 8MP front camera with 83.6-degrees field of view, that allows you to take great selfies for its price. Most photos are decent and sharp, and that's that. Even indoors, photos turned out to be nice to look at, although with a bit of noise. There's the beauty mode with options to make your skin smooth or slim your face, but most photos with the beauty mode tend to look a bit unnatural.

Coolpad Mega 2.5D Bottom line

The Coolpad Mega 2.5D is no pushover. There are few things going fine for a phone at its price – the impressive design, the decent selfies one could manage, and the overall neat display. Therefore, it's a capable phone let down by just about average performance. There's no fingerprint reader too, mind you.

The Mega 2.5D is company's third budget smartphone in the Indian market after the well-rounded Note 3 and the Note 3 Lite. Clearly, the Coolpad Mega 2.5D is not as impressive as those two, but still makes for a fair option on the table.

Should you buy it? Probably

At ₹6,999 ($105), the Coolpad Mega 2.5D is a good enough budget smartphone with a decent display and acceptable performance. While the selfies are better than most in the segment and it looks stunning, the competition from Xiaomi with the Redmi 3s is tough – with a battery that lasts really long.

Pick up a Mega 2.5D if you're okay with its misses, and really appreciate the positives. Coolpad though will do itself a favor to improve the Cool UI experience because that would take care of most of the mishits with this phone.

See at Amazon

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3 weeks ago

Where to buy the Galaxy Note 7 in the U.S.

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Where to buy the Galaxy Note 7 in the U.S.

The Galaxy Note 7 is here, and it can be yours from the major U.S. carriers.

It doesn't come as much of a surprise that the Galaxy Note 7's going on sale from major carriers in the U.S. — with Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular all getting in on the game. You get the same phone from all of the carriers, leaving your decision up to how the network will work for you, and what incentives it can offer with the purchase.

Here's a breakdown of all the details for buying the Galaxy Note 7 from the major U.S. carriers.

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3 weeks ago

How to decipher those 'rugged' ratings on your phone

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How do I tell what those IP ratings on my phone really mean? Just because a phone is rugged doesn't mean it will survive a dunk in the pool.

Several of the companies that make Android hardware build them a little bit tougher or more resistant to the hazards of daily life. It's a big selling feature. If you're an enthusiast and bought a recent phone from Samsung, Sony, Kyocera or Sonim, you probably know at least a little bit about them. What those numbers represent can be important or even a deciding factor when spending the cash on a new phone.

You'll usually see "ruggedness" described with an IP rating or a MIL-STD rating. Those are standards (loose ones in some cases) that determine how resistant something is the elements — things like shock (both electrical and physical), temperature, air pressure, and a host of other things that want to ruin your phone.

The ratings and certifications were developed long before the invention of cellphones — they cover things like valves and electrical boxes. But more recently, they do apply to phones, and not just the ones that are built like tanks. Let's break each rating down a little so you know what they really mean.

Ingress Protection

No, not the location-based game from those Pokemon guys, ingress protection refers to the ability for a product to prevent foreign objects — usually liquid and dust particles — from getting inside. And while the term IP usually stands in for ingress protection, it actually stands for International Protection, as in an International Protection Marking.

The IP Code is designated by the initials IP followed by two digits and the presence or absence of an K. The K is something we'll never encounter on small portable electronic devices; it refers to something that can withstand high-pressure, high-flow spray jets, like a car wash sprayer nozzle. In that situation your phone would be toast.

(Never run your phone through the car wash, unless it is one of these and you don't mind breaking the car wash. We're kidding. Don't run even the Nokia 3310 through a car wash, people.)

Never run your phone through a car wash to test its IP rating. Seriously.

The digits each represent a resistance rating. The first number stands for the level of solid particle protection (and is mandatory). The second number stands for liquid ingress protection (and is also mandatory). If a tested and certified device is not rated in either category, the number will be replaced by an X. Here's how the numbers stack up.

Solid particle protection

Solid IP number How effective is it? IP number How effective is it? 0 Not protected at all against any size particle. 1 Particles larger than 50 mm 2 Particles larger than 12.5 mm
This is the minimum rating to protect against putting your finger into a thing. 3 Particles larger than 2.5 mm 4 Particles larger than 1 mm 5 Dust Protected
Dust must not enter in enough quantity to affect the normal operation. 6 Dust Tight
Dust can't enter, even in a vacuum.

Liquid ingress protection

Liquid IP number How effective is it? IP number How effective is it? 0 Not protected at all. 1 Protected against dripping water. 2 Protected against dripping water when tilted up to a 15-degree angle from its normal position. 3 Protected against spraying water when tilted up to a 60-degree angle from its normal position. 4 Protected against splashing water at any angle. 5 Protected against water sprayed by a 6.3 mm nozzle at 12.5 Liters/minute and 30 kPa (pressure) from three meters away for three minutes. 6 Protected against water sprayed by a 12.5 mm nozzle at 100 Liters/minute and 100 kPa (pressure) from three meters away for three minutes. 6K Protected against water sprayed by a 6.3 mm nozzle at 75 Liters/minute and 1,000 kPa (pressure) from three meters away for three minutes. 7 Protected against immersion in water up to one meter at normal pressure for 30 minutes. 8 Protected against immersion in water one meter or deeper at specifications detailed by the manufacturer. 9X Protection against water sprayed from high-flow and high-pressure jets at high-temperature
Water volume of 14 to 16 Liters/minute
Water pressure of 80 to 100 bar
Water temperature of 80-degrees
Distance of 0.10 to 0.15 meters

In addition (because this wasn't confusing enough) the IP Code has letter designations for additional protection. Like any K rating, you'll never see these on a cell phone but I'm putting them here because we're going to be complete. Deal with it.

Additional protection designation

Letter code What it means Letter code What it means f Oil resistant H High voltage protection M Motion during any testing S No motion during any testing W Weather resistant

Yes, the "f" is not capitalized, and "Weather resistant" doesn't tell us anything at all. We didn't write the specification. Like everything else that happens now, I am going to blame Phil.

So when you buy a phone like the Galaxy S7 that has a rating of IP68 you can put it in a vacuum and dust can't get in, or let it sit in more than one meter of water forever, right? Nope.

Phones sent to a testing lab passed. Yours might not.

The dust protection rating leaves zero wiggle room. The S7 is dust proof under any conditions a human being can be in. The liquid ingress protection of 8 is "specified by the manufacturer", and Samsung says submersion up to 5.0 feet for up to 30 minutes.

Cool, let's go play with it in the bathtub and take videos of a rubber duckie versus GI Joe Wet Suit Frogman battle royale. This will be epic.

Not so fast. Samsung also says your device is not impervious to water damage in any situation, which is a total buzzkill.

The Galaxy S7 phones used for testing and certification were able to withstand dust intrusion under any circumstances up to and including a vacuum, and immersion in water 5-feet deep for a half hour. Your phone might not. The certification facility can't test every phone. The people who made it should be willing to talk about the warranty if you have an issue, though.

Lil Wayne can afford a dump truck filled with Galaxy S7 edges. Can you? Be smarter than Lil Wayne.

MIL-STD

This is a U.S. Military standard that specifies how something will fare against the environment during its lifetime. Android phones, watches and other electronics often carry the MIL-STD 810G certification, which means it was tested in a lab under conditions that simulate a gigantic list of environmental variables and still worked. Some of the things that are tested include temperature extremes, altitude, thermal shock, fungal ingress and being frozen solid. It's an exhaustive list, and if your phone passed these tests you can expect it to survive anything, including a week with Bear Grylls, right?

Nope.

In essence, this certification is basically meaningless. For starters, the testing procedures clearly state that you only have to test simulated environments, which doesn't mean it will withstand the real thing. If that's not enough of a red flag, the fact that whoever does the testing gets to decide how anything is simulated and that the thing being tested doesn't even need to pass should be. And feel free to see what happens to a phone with a battery when you freeze it and then thaw it out.

Ride with me in my way back machine, where we can see Dr. Conrad H. Blickenstorfer, Ph.D. explain it perfectly.

The MIL-STD-810G does not mandate standards or set minimum goals for the various tests; for the most part it simply describes how testing is to be conducted. This leaves considerable room for interpretation, and it is therefore important for manufacturers of rugged notebooks to provide detailed information on what tests were conducted, how exactly they were conducted, what the results were, and what those results actually mean. The claim that a product is "MIL-STD-810G tested" is not enough, and prospective customers should ask for more detail.

Saying something is MIL-STD 810G tested without providing a copy of the testing parameters and results means the same thing as "feels faster" or "excellent camera." Never use this as a factor in your decision to buy an electronic device.

Seeing IP numbers and Military toughness ratings on a phone you buy is generally a good thing. Not all individual devices will pass all real-life testing, but someone somewhere made it a little tougher than normal.

Having an IP-spec phone is great protection against accidents like spilling a beer, and a MIL-STD 810G phone will probably fare an icy snowbank or fungal garden better than one without. Just remember, taking your phone scuba diving or spelunking just might mean time on a different phone with whoever handles the warranty.

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

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