This is undeniably the year of the Android camera. Over the last few months we've seen phone after phone come out with an intense focus on camera quality — to varying degrees of success — and many of the folks who use these phones every day couldn't be happier. This quantum surge in camera quality leaves a lot of folks who value the pictures their phone can take stuck between several great choices for an entirely new reason.
One of the big things OnePlus has been talking about with their latest smartphone release is how special their camera is, and how much work went into making it great. As we saw in our review, the camera in the OnePlus 2 is certainly capable of delivering quality photos. Now it's time to throw this camera in the ring with two other phones with amazing cameras, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the LG G4, to see which phone comes out on top.
For this camera comparison, each set will have the Galaxy S6 on the left, the OnePlus 2 in the middle, and the LG G4 on the right. The images in this post have been resized to 2048 x 2048 but are otherwise unaltered. Totally untouched versions of each photo are available at the bottom of the article.
The photos in this first set were taken Full Auto with the focal point determined by the camera. In this set you can see the G4 looks a little washed out compared to the OnePlus 2 and Galaxy S6, despite being the most color accurate.
The OnePlus 2 and Galaxy S6 are remarkably similar in detail for the foreground and background for this image, enough so that it's hard to call one a clear winner over the other.
This photo set is tap to focus, with Auto for all other settings. The tap point here is the five purple flowers arranged like the points of a pentagon in the left bundle of flowers, and in this instance the OnePlus 2 is the clear winner.
The colors are brighter and focal point sharper than either the Galaxy S6 or the G4. Samsung's camera is a close second here in overall quality, while LG's image gets a little grainy around the focal point.
This photo set is Full Auto HDR, with important points in the foreground and background. Once again LG manages to be the most color accurate, though OnePlus and Samsung manage to be more visually appealing with their post-processing.
Each photo shows great detail in the foreground, but the OnePlus 2 brightened the left side of the posts noticeably more than the G4 or Galaxy S6. LG is also noticeably weaker in the background details than either of the other two cameras.
Next up we have Full Auto with a ton of little things to check out. Detail is incredibly important with shots like this, and the OnePlus 2 fell flat on its face compared to the Galaxy S6 and LG G4. While the photo looks great zoomed out, there's almost no detail in the centers of the flowers for OnePlus.
LG clearly wins this round, with an incredible amount of detail all over the place. The Galaxy S6 is a close second, but not quite as clear as the G4.
An unfortunate consequence of failing to capture the appropriate detail in Full Auto is what happens when you take the same photo with HDR on. In this set you see a nice light look to all three photos, but if you look at the flower petals you see the OnePlus 2 washes out even more detail to get there.
The G4 is still the clear winner up close, but the Galaxy S6 is right on its heels.
This mural photo is another tap to focus shot with everything else set to Auto. The focal point is the green dot on the paper the old man is holding.
While each camera did a great job capturing the photo, the G4 failed to grab detail around the focal point once again. The Galaxy S6 and OnePlus 2 did a much better job grabbing all of the detail in the surrounding image, with no clear winner between them.
Lots of cameras take decent photos in perfect lighting, but low light is another matter entirely. This shot is another Full Auto in a dark room with a single light on 14 feet behind the camera.
Of the three photos, LG wins in both color accuracy and clarity. The Galaxy S6 is by far the worst here, being the most grainy and washed out for almost everything. The OnePlus 2 does a great job with color accuracy, but is still fairly grainy once you look away from the bamboo.
This next low light shot is with no lights on in the room at all, with a little light coming in through the window. Like the previous low light shot, the G4 photo is significantly clearer.
The Galaxy S6 is a blurry, grainy mess in comparison, with the OnePlus 2 sitting somewhere in the middle. The S6 captured the most light, but failed to do anything useful with it.
Last but not least, the flash on each camera is tested in this photo. Like the last photo, no lights were on in the room at the time. Tap to focus was used first, with the focal point being the red dot on the lifeguard figurine.
The LG G4 and Galaxy S6 capture significantly more light than the OnePlus 2, with LG being the most color accurate of the three.
So which camera is the best? There's no clear answer here. Each of these cameras has some clear strengths and weaknesses. The G4 does great in full auto if you're going for color accuracy, and detail, but struggles as a tap to focus camera. The Galaxy S6 works well in every environment except low light, where it struggles with clarity and focus. As for the OnePlus 2, it's a great all around camera that sits somewhere in between these two heavyweights, which is a big win for OnePlus.
It's also important to keep in mind that we're using unfinished software on this OnePlus 2. The current build is supposed to be quite close to the retail version of the software, according to OnePlus, but not exactly the same. We also know there's a manual mode coming to the camera soon, which opens the doors for even more comparisons in the future.
If you'd like to see the full resolution images for this comparison, you can do so here.
Blizzard has now confirmed that The Grand Tournament, the second expansion pack for its hit free-to-play collectible card RPG Hearthstone, will officially be released on August 24 in the US and Europe, and in Asia on August 25.
Square Enix is bringing the next game in the Tomb Raider series to Android users. The publisher revealed today that the mobile puzzle game, Lara Croft GO, will be released on Android, iOS and Windows Phone on August 27 for the price of $4.99.
The built-in Google News and Weather app will soon allow for more people on the planet to read it in their native language. Google has announced that it will add support for seven more languages to the app, bringing the total number of languages to 35. Google says:
ASUS once again has partnered with Intel to make something to make you question why we're spending so much money on high end hardware.
The quick take
The ZenPad S 8.0 is fast, capable, and has some of the best speakers we've ever heard in a tablet, but the overall experience is marred by awkward software and aggressive thermal throttling.
Solid overall performance
Mediocre battery life
ZenUI bloatware is awful
ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 Review
If there's one thing the 2015 mobile industry has challenged, it's the notion that price equals quality in smartphones and tablets. One of the more interesting companies proving repeatedly that Android doesn't just mean a Qualcomm processor and a $600+ price tag is ASUS. We've seen the impressive splash the company made with their ZenFone 2, and now they're setting up shop in the tablet space. For their latest, dubbed ZenPad S 8.0, ASUS has opted for an Intel processor, 2K display and stunning front facing stereo speaker setup for a price that embarrasses the heavyweights in the category.
Here's our review.
ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 video review
Light and fast
ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 Hardware
In some ways, designing a tablet is more difficult than designing a smartphone. The added size means a balance needs to be struck, and clear intent for use needs to be outlined in that design. It's one of the things that makes the Dell Venue 8 7000 Series just shy of being one of the best tablets out there, because it's so damn awkward to hold.
ASUS, on the other hand, has nailed the design for their latest ZenPad. The metallic back is cool and grippy to the touch, sloping down to a comfortably soft rubber edge along the bottom. These edges curve up to a chrome strip that holds the glass front in place, with nothing but the power and volume keys along the edges for the users to brush their fingers across. This design encourages the user to either grip with two hands or hold the tablet from the bottom with one, and have each position be comfortable.
ASUS added a portrait-oriented badge on the front of the tablet and a landscape-oriented badge on the back of the tablet, but the stereo front-facing speakers and positioning of the rubber strip makes the tablet feel like it was designed for mostly landscape use. Additionally, the off-center placement of the USB-C port makes continuing to use the tablet in landscape while charging easier.
Overall, this tablet feels solid and comfortable in the hand.
The first thing you notice when lifting the ZenPad S 8.0 off the table is how incredibly light the tablet feels. In reality it's only a few grams lighter than the Dell Venue 8 7000 Series, but the balance and soft curves offered by this design make a huge difference in how you hold it, making it feel lighter. Turning the tablet on exposes the 2K IPS display under the glass and the fantastic stereo speakers that spring to life with the boot animation. The combination of audio quality, visual appeal, and lightweight design makes you want to sit somewhere and watch movies on it all day.
Overall, this tablet feels solid and comfortable in the hand. The design is as close to perfect as you can get if you're a fan of 8-inch tablets.
We're dimming your display now
ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 Performance
Tucked under that beautiful 2K display is a 64-bit quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor with 4GB of RAM. If that sounds familiar, it's because that's the exact same thing you'll find the ZenFone 2. Just like the phone, performance is fantastic. Everything runs well, and the overall experience while playing all kinds of games is great.
For about 20 minutes, anyhow.
All phones and tablets get warm when you play games, but the ZenPad S 8.0 resorts to automatically controlling the screen brightness to keep the heat from reaching damaging levels. The little toast notification shows up just as the brightness drops on its own in the middle of the game you're playing, and when the system cools down you are once again allowed to control the screen brightness on your own.
Currently this seems to only happen when the screen brightness is at 100%, and ASUS has reached out and confirmed they are looking into the issue. At no point during this heat control did it feel like performance took a hit, and most of the time when the warning showed up the tablet didn't even feel that warm compared to some of the phones we've tested under the same circumstances. Regardless of reason, it's not a great thing to have happen on a regular basis.
Bloat Bloat Bloat Bloat
ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 Software
As cool as it would be to tell you the software on this tablet is just as pretty and well made as the hardware, lying to you seems like a bad idea. ZenUI is very much the same bright, colorful mess it has been on the last couple of phones Asus has released, with more of the same unnecessary apps no one should actually be using. Once you are finished deleting all of the excess nonsense, the rest of ZenUI is fairly easy to get used to.
ASUS throws a lot of unnecessary junk at its users
The Manage Home section is my favorite part of this interface. From the homescreen, you flick up from anywhere and these bubbles arrive. It's a quick way to do a ton of different things, and for the most part it stays out of the way of the primary interface. The ZenUI launcher include flipping panels and other cutesy animations, and the app grid includes and suto-sort option by default that groups all of your apps into folders, but for the most part it works the way you'd expect Android 5.0 to work. Worst-case scenario is you turn a lot of this off, but unlike a lot of other interfaces for Android you actually can turn a lot of this off without resorting to custom launchers.
One thing you can't turn off is the heavily modified quick settings panel. For the most part it works like you'd expect a quick-settings panel to work, but the embedded RAM boost tool and constant reminders that apps are using battery when you use them (you don't say!) are more than a little irritating.
ASUS throws a lot of unnecessary junk at its users, no doubt due to a lot of software partnerships, but overall it's not that bad. It'd probably be different if the interface was slow or stuttery, but never once did ZenUI show signs of slowing down. It may not be the most useful interface out there, but it certainly gets the job done.
It's a tablet camera
ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 Camera
Like all tablet cameras, the 8-megapixel rear camera and 5MP front camera on this tablet aren't much to write home about. They're perfectly capable video cameras, but you shouldn't expect too much when taking photos. In perfect lighting you'll get a decent photo from either camera, but even in perfect lighting the autofocus on the rear camera is hit or miss. Low light renders these cameras essentially unusable for photos, but again aren't too bad for video.
The coolest part of the photo experience with this tablet is the UI for the camera app, which includes some basic settings for your photos and a clever slider for the shutter button. If you drag the shutter button across the slider, you get up to a 5-second delay before the photo is taken. It's not something you see every day, and is perfect for those among us who use tablets for selfies.
Not great, but not terrible either
ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 Battery
Android tablets aren't exactly known for stellar battery life, something we're all hoping is fixed with the help of optimizations coming in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but the ZenPad S 8.0 is almost up front about what you can expect from the battery in this tablet. The specs sheet claims 8 hours of use based on a 720p video loop at 100 nits of screen brightness. While this tablet no doubt can do exactly that, your usage is going to be quite a bit different. Using brightness at full, that number drops to closer to 6 hours of 1080p video. If you're playing a particularly resource-intense game, you'll get closer to 5.
You can easily get a full day of activity out of this tablet, unless you're absolutely determined to beat Angry Birds 2 in a day or that Back to the Future marathon is calling your name. It's not quite as good as the Dell Venue 8 7000 Series in this respect, but competes easily with the Nexus 9 in battery capabilities.
Flawed, but still thoroughly enjoyable
ASUS ZenPad S 8.0: The Bottom Line
There's a lot to like with this tablet. It's fast, looks nice, sounds amazing, and USB-C is clearly the way of the future. The software mess that is ZenUI is unfortunate, and the weirdly aggressive thermal regulation is a problem. While neither is a deal breaker on their own, combined it's clear this is not a tablet for power users or heavy gamers.
One of the most important features to this particular tablet is the price tag. At $299 for the 64GB model, it's hard to look at the majority of current generation of Android tablets — especially Google's Nexus 9 — and see the value. Are rapid software updates and a clean UI worth the extra $180 for a tablet that has half the storage and no SD card slot? It's hard to say yes.
Should you buy the ASUS ZenPad S 8.0? Probably
While this is clearly not a tablet for gamers, anyone looking for a casual browsing tablet for video and the occasional game could do a whole lot worse than this tablet, and probably spend more in the process. Overall this is a great tablet at a price point that should excite a lot of people, and serves as further evidence that a reckoning is coming for those companies whose price tags aren't competing in this space.
At a media event in New Delhi, Xiaomi's global VP Hugo Barra unveiled the global ROM for MIUI 7. The latest iteration of the ROM — which has over 150 million users globally — comes with a bevy of new features, including new themes, better battery life, lockscreen animations, and much more.
Samsung has announced the new Galaxy Note 5 (and the Galaxy S6 edge+) and if you somehow missed all the coverage we've done, you're going to want to check that out. When you've caught up to speed, come back here and enter to win the all new Note 5 for your very own.
Here's how to get in on the action. We're giving you four ways to enter — and you can enter once with each method. (That's a total of four chances to win!)
One of the highlights of MIUI 7 is Showtime, a feature that allows you to set videos instead of static images for your contacts when receiving calls. The feature requires both parties to have a MIUI account, with your contact having the ability to create a five-second video that shows up instead of an image whenever they call you.
A quick heads up for those of you out there who use the Android app for Windows Central. We've pushed out a fix for a nasty login bug that was, well, keeping you from being able to log in. (Turns out it was one stray instance of "wpcentral" still in the code.) The update is available now through Google Play. So get it, and get back to commenting on our stories!
And if you haven't tried out our Android app (we know more than a few of you are rocking that one) now's a perfect time! And we're hard at work on a Material Design update, so it's only going to get better!
Samsung has released a teaser video for the upcoming Gear S2, showing off some details about the wearable. The media itself focuses more on the variety of screens the wearer will have the pleasure in analysing while pointing their wrist at one's face. A date and location were also confirmed at the end of the video, September 3 – IFA Berlin.
At the global launch of MIUI 7, Xiaomi announced that it will launch a limited edition Mi 4i in several colors, including blue, pink and yellow. With the white and black options already available, the phone will be available in a total of five color combinations.
Crimsonland, the popular top-down shooter by 10tons is currently available as part of the PC & Android Humble Bundle 13. This bundle will be available for two weeks, allowing you to pay exactly what you desire for the packaged titles, all while supporting select charities in the process.
At the MIUI 7 global launch event, Xiaomi announced a new feature for the ROM called Data Saver, made in collaboration with Opera. The feature compressed image and video data, with Xiaomi touting a reduction in data usage by as much as 50 percent.
Not everybody grew up in a house where cooking was an everyday experience. Cookbook Recipes on the Google Play Store helps by giving you what you need to level up your cooking skills. Whether that means starting easy with scrambled eggs, or whether it's planning out meals for the whole family, this app has got you covered. It's available on Android TV and that means high res pictures and directions to help you make dinner delicious.
Cookbook Recipes is an absolutely free app available on the Google Play Store, and really that just makes it even better. You can tell just by looking at it that it was created using Google's Leanback UI which gives it a sharp look. At the top left of the screen is your search button. You can use voice commands, or go the keypad route, whichever floats your boat. When searching you can look up recipes by their actual name, or you can search by ingredient. The results will be made up of recipes already favorites of other users, and shows you the most popular results first.
On the main screen, the recipes dominate the page—which is really the point. You'll see a list of categories on the left of the screen. They're things like family meals, vegetarian, or beef, along with Cocktails, For Mom, and more. On the right side of the screen you'll see hi-res, close up shots of the recipes in each category.
You can either hit the category, or the picture to open up a recipe page. First you'll get a recipe pop up page. You'll get that same picture of the completed meal, along with the name, number of servings, and number of ingredients needed. At the bottom of the page you can save the recipe to your favorites—which adds favorites to the categories displayed on the main page. Under the recipe pop up are several suggestions for similar recipes, in case the one you selected isn't quite what you're looking for. Some recipes also display an estimated time to cook, but this isn't true for all of them.
When you go into the recipe you'll first see a prep page. On the left of the screen you'll get another picture of the completed item, along with the name of the recipe. On the right of the screen you'll see a detailed list of all the ingredients you need, which can range depending on the recipe.
Each recipe is broken down into steps, and each one is separated onto it's own page. There are no pictures once you get to this point, but the directions are easy to understand provided you have basic knowledge in the kitchen. Now each step of the recipe may call for multiple smaller steps, and not every recipe is separated in quite the same way.
Cookbook Recipes on Android TV really is just a fantastic app from top to bottom. It's got an easy to use interface that puts everything you need at your fingertips. You can find the recipe you want by name or ingredient, save your favorites, and find plenty of new ideas to try out. With details like cook time, serving size, and number of ingredients you can quickly and easily decide if this is meal for you in a pinch. With the added bonus of being free anyone who spends much time in the kitchen should definitely give it a try.
While listening to your chosen podcasts on the move, being social with others is among the least of your concerns, especially with headphones blocking outside sound. Shifty Jelly, the developer of Pocket Casts, has released an update to help make it easier to discover new content and see what other users of the app are listening to.
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