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4 weeks ago

The Xiaomi Mi Max is launching in India — watch the livestream right here!

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Xiaomi is all set to launch the Mi Max phablet in India. Hit up the video above for all the action from the livestream. The manufacturer is also bringing MIUI 8 to India today, and as such there should be plenty of things to look forward to.

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4 weeks ago

HTC kicks off Sense 8 Home closed beta on non-HTC phones

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Last week, HTC started sending out emails over a closed Sense 8 Home beta test on non-HTC hardware. The closed beta has now kicked off, with HTC giving beta testers access to the HTC 10 launcher and its user feedback app.

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4 weeks ago

LG's dual-camera X cam now available on South Korea's SK Telecom, LG U+

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LG announced the X cam earlier this year, and the phone is now available on South Korea's SK Telecom and LG U+ for ₩495,000 ($430). The highlight of the X cam is the dual rear cameras, with the phone getting a secondary camera with a 120-degree wide angle lens, much like the LG G5.

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4 weeks ago

ASUS ZenFone Max review: Lasts long, and that's that

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The quick take

The maiden ASUS ZenFone Max launched last year was not perfect, but it was a standout performer in the affordable smartphone segment with its stellar battery life. The company recently launched a refresh with upgraded internals and identical design – just months after the first one went on sale. The highlight of the ZenFone Max – battery life — hasn't changed, and it's one area where it doesn't disappoint. In few others, however, it sadly does.

The Good

  • Battery life
  • Solid build quality
  • Internal storage

The Bad

  • ZenUI experience and bloatware
  • No quick charging
  • Weight

About this review

I used the Indian retail variant of the ASUS ZenFone Max that ran ZenUI on top of Android Marshmallow out of the box. There was about 25GB of free storage available after setting up the device. For most of the time, I used it with an Airtel 4G SIM in Delhi NCR.

ASUS ZenFone Max Design

The ZenFone Max is not much of a looker, and is identical to its predecessor — the original ZenFone Max — which went on sale just six months ago and follows the company's design ethos with signature concentric circles at the front and a metallic strip running along the sides with large bezels all around.

At 202 grams, the ZenFone Max is quite heavy and sports a noticeable width – a trade-off for packing in a massive 5000mAh battery. But it feels quite sturdy and is a solid device. With that heft and build quality, you actually can use the ZenFone Max to throw at someone in case of a street fight (or not). I'd like to point out that several big-battery phones in the market — like those from Lenovo and Gionee — are lighter than ZenFone Max.

The removable rear panel sports a faux-leather finish which gives the soft-touch plastic a nice feel and aids the grip. The gold metallic edges provide a stylish accent to the rear panel. There's nothing special about the design of ZenFone Max, and it is identical to most ZenFone devices. Yet it stands out in the herd and feels nice in the hand.

ASUS ZenFone Max Hardware

When it comes to internals, the latest ZenFone Max gets a significant upgrade by packing in octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor as compared to the Snapdragon 410 that powered the original ZenFone Max. This time around, the ZenFone Max comes in two variants with either 2GB or 3GB of RAM. Both variants include a generous 32GB of internal storage, expandable up to 64GB via microSD card.

Category Features Operating System Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 with ZenUI Display 5.5-inch HD (1280 x 720) with Gorilla Glass 4 protection Processor 1.5 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 RAM 2GB/3GB Internal Storage 32GB; expandable up to 64GB via a microSD slot Rear Camera 13MP Front Camera 5MP Dimensions 156 x 77.5 x 10.6 mm Weight 202 grams Battery 5000 mAh

While overall the ZenFone Max is an able mid-ranger for your daily tasks, it tends to get bogged down with extensive multitasking or playing graphic-intensive games. Even with the Snapdragon 615 processor, the new Zenfone Max feels a bit underpowered and you would have hoped it was better. While I reviewed the 2GB variant, the 3GB variant would obviously fare better and makes more sense if you can spend the extra dough.

A fingerprint scanner is a noticeable omission on the ZenFone Max. While it is not a top priority for a lot of budget smartphone buyers at the moment, it is a blank spot on the specifications sheet when compared to several other budget and mid-range devices in the market right now.

ASUS ZenFone Max Display

While several, sub-₹10,000 smartphones from Xiaomi, Lenovo, Meizu, et al sport full HD displays, the new ZenFone Max stays with 720p HD resolution on a 5.5-inch display. The sole positioning of the smartphone is its endurance and a 1080p display would've hit that metric.

The display on the ZenFone Max is not the sharpest, yet the brightness and color reproduction is impressive. The viewing angles too are great and the screen is not very reflective, and therefore the sunlight legibility is pretty good. From the display settings, you can also customize the screen colors or choose from a few presets to tune the display as per your preference. Tinkering with the settings, you can adjust the temperature, hue, and saturation.

Overall, the display on the ASUS ZenFone Max is good enough for your daily drive and there's also Gorilla Glass 4 for scratch and shatter resistance. While a 720p display is a tad underwhelming on a large display, a lot of users might be okay with the trade-off.

ASUS ZenFone Max Software

Thankfully, the ZenFone Max now runs Android Marshmallow out-of-the-box wrapped under Asus's proprietary skin, the ZenUI. The latter though isn't optimized well, and often things would freeze and there would be random lags when a few apps were in background.

While Android skins are a matter of individual choice, the ZenUI is a tad gimmicky and much bloated. On first run, dive into the app drawer and you'd find a bunch of first party apps like ASUS Mobile Manager, ASUS Support, AudioWizard, Auto-start Manager, Do It Later, MiniMovie, PhotoCollage, Laser Ruler, MyASUS, Share Link, Splendid, Weather, WebStorage, ZenCircle, and ZenTalk. Also, you'd have all these apps and more updating on the first run which is a poor unboxing experience. There's also a bunch of third party apps like Clean Master, Dr. Safety, Amazon Kindle, Snapdeal, TripAdvisor, TrueCaller, Newshunt, and few others that are offered as suggested apps and are downloaded automatically as soon as you finish setting up the device.

The Asus Mobile Manager boosts and optimizes RAM and battery, but also includes shortcuts to several other optimization apps. Asus could've really packed in all that functionality in an integrated Mobile Manager app for better user experience.

The ZenFone Max supports gestures and along with the double-tap to wake up or turn off the display, you can draw various letters on the screen to launch apps from standby. It's awkward though that there is no option to customize the gestures. You can flip the device over to mute a call and can also take a screenshot while using any app by shaking the phone. It's not the best implementation though, and several times I had to shake the phone violently – to the surprise of folks around me – to capture a screenshot making it a pointless 'shortcut'.

ASUS ZenFone Max Battery life

Of course, the highlight of the ZenFone Max is the 5000mAh battery it packs and the tremendous battery life it claims to offer. The claim's not misplaced and you can easily get through the second day on ZenFone Max with moderate usage. A casual user will be able to squeeze in more than two days by configuring the optimum battery mode. Asus offers multiple battery modes based on your usage — performance, normal, power saving, and super power saving. You can also create a customized one.

The ZenFone Max supports reverse charging, and can be used as a power bank to charge another phone using the bundled OTG cable.

Like the last time, one of the baffling issues with the ZenFone Max is the inefficient charging via the standard 1A/5V bundled charger. The ZenFone Max is notoriously slow to charge taking an average of five hours to charge the phone from zero to hundred percent. A quick charging solution would've been great especially when you have to charge a bigger battery like the one it has.

ASUS ZenFone Max Camera

When it comes to camera, the Asus ZenFone Max has a pretty much standard package on the specifications sheet. There's a 13-megapixel rear camera with PDAF support and laser focus, and a 5-megapixel front camera. However, the rear camera is only average as compared to budget smartphones from Xiaomi and LeEco which has set new benchmarks in imaging for the budget smartphone segment.

The ZenFone Max captures good details and the colors are accurate. Some landscape shots though lacked sharpness. While the camera focusses in a jiffy, the shutter speed is unimpressive. Interestingly, the ZenFone Max does pretty well in low light photography. For a budget device, using the Night or Low Light mode, I managed to click several decent pictures. The front camera too is good enough for your selfies and manages to capture enough details and accurate colors.

The default camera app is loaded with options with several toggles right on the viewfinder. There are a variety of shooting modes like HDR, Super Resolution, Depth of Field, Low Light, Night, Slow Motion, Time Lapse, and Smart Remove and the settings include options to configure the ISO, white balance, exposure, and other features like Anti-Shake Enhancement.

ASUS ZenFone Max Bottom line

ASUS has retained the best bits of the first ZenFone Max — the design and build quality as well as the camera — while upgrading the internals across the board. There are still some misses, like the lack of quick charging and fingerprint scanner. The hardware upgrade too doesn't up the performance as much as one would've liked thanks to the buggy ZenUI.

The ZenUI user experience on the ZenFone Max leaves a lot to be desired, and the amount of bloatware is plain annoying. One would wish that Asus would give ZenUI a refresh like Samsung recently did with TouchWiz.

Should you buy it? Probably

At ₹9,999 ($148) for the 2GB RAM variant in India, the Asus ZenFone Max is a good buy if you're looking for a decent smartphone that can last long and does good enough in performance and camera department wrapped in a solid chassis. The 3GB RAM variant, while being a better performer comes at a premium (₹12,999 ($192)) that might not be good enough for the neither-here-nor-there smartphone.

See at Flipkart

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4 weeks ago

Brexit may force OnePlus 3 price hike in the UK

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OnePlus 3

'Worrying downward trend of the GBP may make it difficult to maintain our current pricing structure in the UK,' company says.

Priced at £309 in the UK, the OnePlus 3 is about the least expensive premium smartphone available. Only it might not be so affordable for British buyers in the future. In a statement emailed to press and posted on the company's forums, a OnePlus spokesman admits that prices may have to rise. To blame is the dramatic drop in the value of the British pound that followed the country's recent vote to leave the European Union.

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4 weeks ago

BLU announces the R1 HD starting at just $100 unlocked

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BLU has announced the R1 HD, its latest Android-powered phone that starts at just $100 unlocked. This phone will also be part of Amazon's latest offer where you can score it even cheaper if you don't mind it coming with ads.

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4 weeks ago

Get the new Moto G4 cheap from Amazon — if you don't mind lock screen ads

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Amazon has announced a new offer for Prime members that could see up to 50% knocked off the price of their next Android phone. The retailer is loading select phones with personalized offers and ads to appear on the lock screen of each phone in order to provide these discounts. The first phones available in the offer are the BLU R1 HD and the Moto G4.

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4 weeks ago

Where to buy the Wileyfox Spark

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Wileyfox's latest Cyanogen-powered budget phone sells for less than £90, and it's available to pre-order now.

British firm Wileyfox made a splash recently with the announcement of three new phones in its "Spark" range, and now the first handset in the series is available to pre-order. Right now UK buyers can reserve the base model Wileyfox Spark — which costs just £89.99 SIM-free and unlocked — from Amazon, Clove or Wileyfox itself.

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4 weeks ago

ZTE's beastly Axon 7 is now up for pre-order in Europe

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Unveiled in May, ZTE's beastly Axon 7 is up for pre-order from third-party sellers on Amazon in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The phone is priced at £359 in the U.K., and €449.99 in other European markets.

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4 weeks ago

T-Mobile Galaxy S6 and S6 edge now picking up June security patch

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T-Mobile's Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge are now picking up the June security update. The update comes in at 250MB, and brings new firmware to both phones in addition to the latest security patch.

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1 month ago

Moto G4 and G4 Plus will be available on July 12 starting at $199

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The Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus will be officially available starting on July 12 at select retailers. Best Buy, B&H, Amazon and others will begin carrying both models then, with Republic Wireless making them available on July 28. Pricing for the Moto G4 starts at $199, and the G4 Plus will be available from $249.

These will be unlocked versions and compatible with both GSM and CDMA networks Motorola says.

In the U.S., the new Moto G⁴ will be available starting at $199 and Moto G⁴ Plus will be available starting at $249 beginning July 12 at Amazon, Best Buy, BrandsMart, B&H, Car Toys, Fry's, MicroCenter, Motorola, Sam's Club and Walmart.com. Moto G⁴ and Moto G⁴ Plus will be available at Republic Wireless beginning July 28.

To sweeten the deal, Best Buy will also be offering a $50 gift card with in-store and online purchases of either model made through July 30. Will you be picking one of these up? If so, let us know which one in the comments.

More: Moto G4 Plus review

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1 month ago

Wileyfox Spark hands-on: What an £89 Android phone looks like

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British startup Wileyfox expands its product line into the budget space, once again tapping CyanogenOS on the software side — but as you might expect, there are a few compromises to deal with in phones priced between £89 and £130.

Wileyfox was part of the broad trend in 2015 towards decent phones that don't cost a whole lot of money. Partnering with Cyanogen for its software experience allowed the British firm to deliver a solid software experience and decent performance for well below £200. Recently, the more popular of Wiley's 2015 phones, the Swift, was been discounted to under £100, making it a great buy.

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1 month ago

Wileyfox unleashes the Spark — new Cyanogen OS phones starting at £89

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British startup Wileyfox grabbed a lot of attention last year with its competitively priced Storm and Swift, and the company is now announcing its third smartphone, the Spark. Set to be available SIM-free for £89.99, the Spark offers a 5-inch 720p display, 1GB of RAM, 8GB internal storage, a microSD slot, and Cyanogen OS 13.0 atop Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

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1 month ago

Wileyfox Spark, Spark X, Spark+ specs

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Wileyfox spark

Affordable new handsets powered by CyanogenOS.

British startup Wileyfox has taken the wraps off its latest handsets at an event in London this morning — the Wileyfox Spark series, which consists of three different variants.

The base model, selling for £89.99, features a 5-inch 720p screen, a quad-core MediaTek processor, an 8-megapixel camera, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. The Spark+ ups the storage to 16GB, RAM to 2GB and the camera to a 13-megapixel sensor, for £114.99. And at the upper end, the Spark X takes the internals of the Spark+ and adds a 5.5-inch 720p display, for £129.99.

You'll find full details down below.

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1 month ago

Save on the Gear VR and its compatible phones right now!

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DailySteals is running a promotion that not only saves you some cash on Samsung's Gear VR, but also all of the compatible phones. That's right, you can save $20 on the VR headset and you can also save some money on the Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S7, S7 edge, and Note 5.

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