Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2017 - 12:03 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: ZenFone 4 Max, zenfone, Snapdragon 430, smartphone, ips, dual camera, asus, Android
The midrange phone market has a new contendor with the ZenFone 4 Max, launched today by ASUS and featuring some impressive specifications - particularly in the camera department - for an unlocked device with an MSRP of $199.
The phone offers a 5.5-inch display - though likely due to the price target it is just 1280x720 - and the metal and glass construction gives it a more premium (if familiar) look. It's the back of the device where the dual camera sensors really set this apart from the majority of ~$200 unlocked phones: a pair of 13 MP sensors reside behind both a wide-angle and telephoto lens, which allows for more flexibility in composing shots.
"ZenFone 4 Max features an advanced dual-camera system designed to take your mobile photography to new heights. Its 13MP main camera is equipped with the wide, F2.0 aperture lens to capture clearer photos. Its 120° wide-angle camera lets your fit more scenery and people in the frame for dramatic landscape shots, better group photos, and a more convenient photography experience in confined indoor spaces."
The application processor is the Snapdragon 430, a capable 8-core design with Adreno 505 graphics which also crucially offers 2x image signal processors for a dual camera setup. One area that is decidedly not midrange is the battery - which is a whopping 5000 mAh (!). Not only does this massive capacity allow for the unusual feature of turning your smartphone into a battery pack to charge other devices, but it should provide some really outstanding real-world battery life as well. The onboard Snapdragon 430 supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, so refilling that huge battery should be efficient as well.
The unlocked ZenFone 4 Max is available now for $199 on Amazon.com in a 32GB capacity.
Subject: Mobile | August 23, 2017 - 12:40 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: snapdragon 835, smartphone, Samsung, s pen, phablet, OIS, Note 8, Note, galaxy note, dual camera
The wait is over: Samsung has officially announced the Galaxy Note 8 (or Note8), which will be their first large-format (or phablet) smartphone since the Note 7, which obviously did not remain on the market for long. So what is Samsung doing with such a negative history behind them? Looking forward and not back, of course. That was the message of the event. But Samsung was on stage to do more than apologize for the failure of the late Note, and there were some subtle jabs at the Apple's large phone, with a particularly damning camera comparison with the iPhone 7 Plus making a big splash.
We are familiar with the processing power behind the Note 8 already: the Snapdragon 835 currently powers the U.S. version of both Galaxy S8 handsets. While there won't be added speed compared to rest of the Galaxy line, this was never the point of the Note series. Note phones have been about a larger format, with the overall device and screen size being the key difference compared to Samsung's other smartphones. But the Note 8 is just 0.1 inches larger than the Galaxy S8+. In fact, the design and screen of the new Note is essentially the same as that of the S8+, other than the bump from 6.2 to 6.3 inches from the 2960x1440 AMOLED displays.
- Display: 6.3-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED, 2960 x 1440 resolution (521ppi)
- AP (U.S. market): Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
- Memory: 6GB LPDDR4 RAM
- Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB
- Dual Rear Cameras with Dual OIS
- Wide-angle: 12MP Dual Pixel AF, F1.7, OIS
- Telephoto: 12MP AF, F2.4, OIS, 2X optical zoom, up to 10X digital zoom
- Battery: 3,300mAh
- Dimensions: 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6 mm, 195 g
- OS: Android 7.1.1
The advantages of the Note 8 over an S8+ are still obvious, even if the handsets themselves seem very close at first glance. First there is the new dual-camera system on the back of the device, which boasts an industry first by incorporating OIS (optical image stabilization) into both of the rear lenses. During the presentation direct comparisons to an iPhone 7 Plus were made with both still and video capture, and if these dual-OIS cameras provide the same results in the real world Apple is in trouble.
Sure, this Samsung dual camera is very similar to the iPhone 7 Plus, right down to the 2x optical zoom in the telephoto lens and including a portrait mode effect (though Samsung's is adjustable similar to what we saw with the Huawei solution on the Mate 9). But having both lenses suspended with optical stabilization allows for more clarity and better low-light performance, at least in theory. It will be facinating to test this new camera system.
The real star of the event: that stage! Full floor projection along with giant rear screens.
The other advantage of the Note 8 over the Galaxy S8+ is the S Pen, and such a pen has been at the heart of the Note experience since the beginning. For dedicated S Pen users this alone will tip the scales in the Note 8's favor (the ability to take up to 100 pages of notes with the screen off sounds very cool), though with this design the speculation that battery capacity was sacrificed to make room for the pen's internal storage seems to be spot on, as the 3300 mAh capacity is lower than even the S8+ at 3500 mAh. Even with that pen, however, the Note 8 still offers an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance, though drops are still going to be the primary worry (for me, anyhow) with a 6.3-inch device that is nearly all curved screen.
The various colors of the Note 8 - which vary by region.
The Note 8 is launching September 15, with pre-orders going up soon at prices ranging from $930 to $960, depending on your mobile operator.
Introduction and Specifications
The Mate 9 is the current version of Huawei’s signature 6-inch smartphone, building on last year’s iteration with the company’s new Kirin 960 SoC (featuring ARM's next-generation Bifrost GPU architecture), improved industrial design, and exclusive Leica-branded dual camera system.
In the ultra-competitive smartphone world there is little room at the top, and most companies are simply looking for a share of the market. Apple and Samsung have occupied the top two spots for some time, with HTC, LG, Motorola, and others, far behind. But the new #3 emerged not from the usual suspects, but from a name many of us in the USA had not heard of until recently; and it is the manufacturer of the Mate 9. And comparing this new handset to the preceding Mate 8 (which we looked at this past August), it is a significant improvement in most respects.
With this phone Huawei has really come into their own with their signature phone design, and 2016 was a very good product year with the company’s smartphone offerings. The P9 handset launched early in 2016, offering not only solid specs and impressive industrial design, but a unique camera that was far more than a gimmick. Huawei’s partnership with Leica has resulted in a dual-camera system that operates differently than systems found on phones such as the iPhone 7 Plus, and the results are very impressive. The Mate 9 is an extension of that P9 design, adapted for their larger Mate smartphone series.
Subject: Mobile | November 3, 2016 - 09:58 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: smartphone, phablet, Mate 9, Mate 8, Mali-G71, Leica, Kirin 960, Kirin 950, Huawei, dual camera
Huawei announced their flagship Mate 9 smartphone earlier today, successor to the Mate 8 we reviewed a few months back. A hair smaller than last year's phablet design, the Mate 9 boasts improved internals and the dual-lens Leica camera recently introduced with the company's P9 phone.
The biggest change inside the Mate 9 is the new Kirin 960 SoC, which makes use of the latest ARM Cortex architecture in an 8-core big.LITTLE design. Importantly, the Kirin 960 also includes the latest Mali-G71 MP8 graphics, and with GPU power a low point with the Kirin 950 this is a welcome change.
- 5.9” FHD display
- 2.5D glass
- 1080p (1920 x 1080), 373ppi
- 16.7M colors, Color saturation (NTSC) 96% High contrast 1500:1 (Typical)
- CPU: HUAWEI Kirin 960; Octa-core (4 x 2.4 GHz A73 + 4 x 1.8 GHz A53) + i6 co-processor
- GPU: Mali-G71 MP8
- Memory and Storage:
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB Storage
- microSD card slot, supports up to 256GB (uses secondary SIM slot)
- Front: 8MP AF, F1.9
- Main: Dual, 20MP Monochrome + 12MP RGB, F2.2 OIS (Optical Image Stabilization)
- 4K video
- Wi-Fi 2.4G/5G, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with Wi-Fi Direct support
- BT4.2, BLE support
- USB Type-C (Hi-Speed USB)
- Battery 4000 mAh
- Operating System: Android 7.0 (Emotion UI 5.0)
- Colors: Space Gray, Moonlight Silver, Champagne Gold, Mocha Brown, Ceramic White, Black
- Size and Weight:
- (H x W x D): 156.9 x 78.9 x 7.9 mm
- Approx. 190 g
The other major improvement for the Mate 9 vs. the 8 is the primary camera, which now incorporates a dual-lens system. The dual Leica lenses in the Mate 9 are backed by two different cameras, with separate color and monochrome image sensors. This unusual setup has the potential to offer more detailed images, and the camera system can also produce simulated depth-of-field effects.
We have day-one review hardware in hand here at PC Perspective, so stay tuned for the full review!