Monday, 19 August 2019

Honor View 20: Better than the OnePlus 6T?

Honor’s View series is the company’s most premium range in India and after last year’s success with Honor View 10, the Honor View 20 has arrived in India at Rs 37,999, which puts it head to head against the OnePlus 6T.

As one of the best phones of 2018, the OnePlus 6T still commands a great deal of attention, even as we look forward to the phones in 2019. So how does the View 20 fare against the 6T, which has already proven to be one of the fastest flagships yet? Should you buy the Honor View 20 over the OnePlus flagship? Well, it’s time to answer these questions.

I have been using the Honor View 20 as my primary phone for the last 10 days now. I switched from my OnePlus 6, and I have also used the OnePlus 6T, but I had certain apprehensions to say the least.

Firstly, would I be able to get used to the punch-hole display? I wasn’t as impressed by the punch-hole design, as others have been, so it had a thing or two to prove to me. I also had my doubts on EMUI aka Magic UI. See, I have always been a stock Android fan, so I wasn’t really sure if I would be able to live with the custom implementation for long, and lastly, I had my doubts on the camera.

I know the View 20 has a 48MP camera, but we all know that more megapixels don’t necessarily mean a better camera. Let’s see if Honor has managed to convince me.

First, check out our video on the phone, and then read on to find out my thoughts on it too.

Honor View 20 Specifications

Before we get started on the full review, let’s take a small detour to see the Honor View 20’s specs. It’ll come in handy when reading our review:
Dimensions    156.9 x 75.4 x 8.1 mm
Weight    180 grams
Display    6.4-inch IPS LCD (~85.7% screen-to-body ratio) with 1080 x 2310 pixels resolution, punch-hole design
Processor    Octa-core Hilsilicon Kirin 980 (7nm SoC)
GPU    Mali-G76 MP10
RAM    6GB/8GB
Internal Storage    128/256GB, no microSD card
Rear Camera    48 MP, f/1.8, 1/2", 0.8µm, PDAF
TOF 3D stereo camera
Front Camera    25 MP, f/2.0, 27mm
Operating System    Android 9 Pie-based Magic UI 2
Connectivity    Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Bluetooth 5, dual-band A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, microUSB
Sensors    Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Battery    4000 mAh Li-Po battery, 22.5W fast charging

As for the in-box contents, the Honor View 20 brings a robust retail package. Here’s what you get in the packaging:

    Honor View 20 smartphone
    SIM ejection tool
    Clear case
    22.5W Huawei Super Charger
    USB-C to USB-A cable

Honor View 20 Design and Display

As I said, I had plenty of doubts about the Honor View 20, but after using it for a week and more, I was pleasantly surprised. The first thing I loved about the Honor View 20 is its stunning, premium design. The View 20 is, without a doubt, a looker.


The glass back with the awesome V-pattern brushed finish is really striking, and the almost bezel-less front makes for a gorgeous looking phone overall. Plus, I really like the display on the View 20. It’s not AMOLED, like the OnePlus 6T, and I do prefer AMOLED, but the display on the View 20 hasn’t disappointed me one bit.

The 6.4-inch IPS LCD screen is vibrant, and it’s pretty bright so it’s visible outdoors. There’s one complaint though, and that’s the lack of Gorilla Glass or any other branded protection. Our View 20 easily picked up a few scratches, so if you buy this phone, please use a screen protector.

The big change on the front is the punch-hole camera design and I have really gotten used to it. You can easily ignore the punch hole in most of the UI, apps and games, and since it’s just a small hole, it’s not a problem at all, even if you do notice it. Plus, I like the nice animations Honor has added to the ring around the hole when you are on a call, or when you switch to the front camera. These are nice touches that really add to the experience.


What I really appreciate on the View 20 is that it has everything covered. There’s a tiny notification LED at the top up front, and while it’s very small, it gets the job done. The fingerprint scanner is also perfectly placed and it’s super fast, unlike the inconsistent in-display fingerprint scanner on the 6T. Honestly, I definitely prefer the physical sensor on the View 20.

There is the USB-C port at the bottom, and the headphone jack on the top, which surely gives it some points over the OnePlus 6T. Yes, there’s no wireless charging, and some sort of water resistance would have been nice but those aren’t really deal-breakers.

Honor View 20 Performance

The Honor View 20 is a phone that looks and feels like a flagship, but another thing that’s worth noting about the View 20 is its top-tier performance.

The Honor View 20 has the flagship-grade Kirin 980 SoC, which makes it a phone that’s super snappy, and that’s coming from someone used to great performance on the OnePlus 6, Since the View 20 is in the same price range, I was expecting great performance from it, and well, Honor hasn’t disappointed at all.


Be it gaming, usual day-to-day tasks or multitasking, the phone hasn’t slowed down at all for me over the 10 days. High-end games like PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9 run on high graphics settings, and there has been no lag, and I like the fact that unlike the OnePlus 6T’s Snapdragon 845, the Kirin 980 is more future proof.

The OnePlus 7 will arrive soon with the Snapdragon 855, and that will make the 6T’s Snapdragon 845 a little old, while the Kirin 980 is a new 7nm processor that can take on the 855. Anyway, if you are wondering about the benchmark scores of the View 20 and the 6T, take a look. It’s clear that the Kirin 980 brings out the best in this phone and is more than capable of matching the 845.
Honor View 20
OnePlus 6T
Honor View 20
OnePlus 6T

We rendered a 2 minute 1080p video using Adobe Premiere Clip on both phones, and the View 20 took 3 minutes 11 seconds, while the 6T took 4 minutes 2 seconds, so the Kirin 980 makes all the difference when it comes to performance, even if it may trail in benchmarks. And that’s what really counts in the end.
Honor View 20 Software and Magic UI

Some credit for the great performance has to go to the well-optimized Magic UI 2.0. It’s still pretty much EMUI, with Android Pie on board, and while I am still not a fan, after using it for so many days, I have realized that I can live with it. Firstly, even though it has a number of pre-installed apps, I like that Honor lets you uninstall most of them, which is great and secondly, Magic UI brings some really interesting features.


There’s face unlock here, which is really fast, similar to what you get on the OnePlus 6T, so I really like that. There are also navigation gestures, which are a lot like the gestures on MIUI, and I think it’s a great implementation, although I haven’t found way to switch between apps, so that’s a little disappointing.

Another great feature is Digital Balance, yes Honor’s very own version of Digital Wellbeing, which shows me the time I spend on the phone, the apps I use the most, and I can even set app limits, and the bedtime, which removes the color from the screen to make it easier for you to nod off. It’s a great implementation of digital wellbeing features by Honor, and I am pretty sure a lot of users will find it handy.

Magic UI also brings an Easy Projection feature, which lets you access a Samsung DeX-like desktop UI by connecting your phone to a WiFi TV or monitor, but the twist here is, you don’t need a cable, it works wirelessly, and surprisingly, it works pretty well. I mean, I was expecting lag but the in my usage, things were pretty smooth. To be honest, using the View 20 as a trackpad isn’t the most intuitive thing, but I definitely think this feature can be handy for people who want to make a presentation or edit documents on a bigger screen. It’s a nice addition from Honor.

Anyway, there are a lot of other great features I found in Magic UI, like the performance mode, which sets your device to offer the maximum performance, fingerprint scanner gestures that I have found to be really useful.
Honor View 20 Cameras

The performance on the View 20 is something that really impressed me, but I know you are waiting for the word on that camera. The View 20 has the Sony IMX586 48MP sensor and a 3D Time of Flight sensor, which is honestly pretty limited, since there are no 3D motion games or apps you can try to test the 3D camera out.

Anyway, I took tons of photos with the View 20, and while there is an option to take 48MP photos, I much preferred the 12MP mode, which uses pixel binning.

Firstly, there’s not a lot of difference between the 12MP and 48MP shot from the View 20.  Sometimes the 48MP photo has a little more detail, and yes, you can zoom in to the photos more, but that’s pretty much it.

I also prefer the 12MP mode, because of the 1.6 micron pixel size, which means it’s a lot better in low light.


Overall, I like the camera on the View 20. It takes sharp and detailed photos in good light, as you can see, but there’s one small issue I have. Now, these photos might look great, but the View 20 generally captures photos that are warm. Almost every photo seems to have a little bit of yellowish tint in them, as you can see above.

It’s not a huge problem, and photos generally look good, but sometimes the warm colors do seem unnatural. In low light, the View 20 captures bright shots. As you can see, the above photos have a lot of light, but things are a little inconsistent, as sometimes the photos do not have a lot of detail and the noise starts creeping in.

Another problem is that the Portrait Mode on the View 20 does smoothen the face a lot, and that’s with beautification disabled. Some photos look fine, but when you zoom in, almost every photo has a bit of smoothening going on, which kind of ruins some shots.

Let me show you how it fares against the OnePlus 6T. So, here are a few comparison shots, and well, it’s very close.

OnePlus 6T

The photos look very similar, but I do prefer the 6T, with its more natural colors. However, it’s clear when you zoom into these images that the View 20 has more details. Even in low light photos, it’s very close. Generally, the View 20 photos are brighter, but I prefer 6T’s shots for the detail they offer.
Honor View 20 Night Mode

The Honor View 20 also has a Night mode, which works really well. Here are some photos comparing the night mode to the 6T. I prefer the Night mode shots from the View 20; the images here are just sharper and more detailed.

OnePlus 6T – Night Mode

The Honor View 20’s 25MP camera takes decent selfies, and well, it’s strictly decent. I mean, some selfies have the weird beautification going on, and some selfies just do not have much detail, even though it’s a 25MP camera.


Honor View 20 Video Recording

When it comes to videos, the View 20 has support for 4K, but there’s no 4K@60FPS support, which is a let down. The stability isn’t all that great because there’s no OIS, but the quality is really good. The details are nice, the colors are fine, and it’s sharp all around. Compared to the 6T, the video quality is just a tad bit better, but the 6T has more stability, since it has OIS.

So, concluding things on the camera front, I have been pretty happy with the Honor View 20’s cameras, and they are definitely great for the price, but if you ask me which is better, the View 20 or the 6T, it’s tough to make an outright call. I prefer the OnePlus 6T because its photos have more natural tones, the portrait mode is better, and the videos are more stable.
Honor View 20 Battery Life

The View 20’s 4,000 mAh battery has generally been very good to me. On most days, the phone easily lasted me more than a day. My usual day begins with some Google Maps usage, some music and continues with games, social media, mails, browsing, etc. The phone would generally be around 40-50% by the end of the day, which is really great. Plus, I like how EMUI always reminded me which apps are taking up more battery, so I could limit their usage, if needed.


And yes, the View 20 does come with Super Charge support. There’s a 40W charger in the box. I mean, the brick clearly says 40W, but weirdly, the View 20 only supports 22.5W SuperCharge, and not 40W SuperCharge 2.0, like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

While the Mate 20 Pro goes from 15 to 100% in just 50 minutes, the View 20 takes around 1 hour 20 minutes. That’s amazingly fast, and very similar to Dash Charge, so it’s still fairly impressive. Overall, the View 20 is pretty great when it comes to the battery and charging.

Honor View 20: What’s Good and What’s Bad

The Honor View 20 definitely has a lot going for it, but it does miss out on some features that could have made the experience even more premium. Here’s what it boils down to:
Pros

    Stunning glass design
    Bright and vibrant LCD
    No notch design
    Flagship performance thanks to Kirin 980
    Great battery life and fast charging
    Very capable camera and plenty of AI features
    USB Type-C port and headphone jack

Cons

    No wireless charging
    No water resistance
    Front camera could be better
    3D TOF camera is useless right now
    Lack of any screen protection
    No 4K@60FPS support
    Magic UI 2 can be overwhelming

Honor View 20: Better Than OnePlus 6T?

So the question is: Should you buy the Honor View 20 over the OnePlus 6T? If you want an AMOLED display, water resistance, a more refined Android skin, and slightly better cameras, the OnePlus 6T is the phone you should go for. It’s that simple.

However, the Honor View 20 at Rs. 37,999 is a great flagship phone, and one with almost no compromises.

It has a premium design with a “headphone jack”, a more consistent and faster fingerprint scanner, the new punch-hole display, a flagship processor that’s definitely more future proof, good battery life and super fast charging. So, if you are okay with an LCD display that’s still very good, and cameras that are just slightly inferior to the OnePlus 6T, the Honor View 20 is a phone that I will definitely recommend. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. India’s budget smartphone segment is the most active and decisive one right now, with a plethora of phone makers trying to dethrone Xiaomi and seize the pole position. Well, the Chinese giants are cluttering the market with new and updated smartphones every couple of months. Honor is leading the pack here by following up its budget effort, Honor 8C with the Honor 10 Lite, which we’re here to talk about.

The Honor 10 Lite (starts at Rs 13,999) picks up where the Honor 8C left off, building on the same design and upgrading the materials and screen for a more modern vibe. It also takes cues from the Honor 10 and looks really good. Honor was kind to send out a Blue variant of the smartphone to the Beebom office and here are my thoughts on the device, after having used it extensively for more than a week.

Honor 10 Lite: Specifications

But before we delve into my experiences with the device, let’s take a peek at the specs table for the Honor 10 Lite:
Dimensions    154.8 x 73.6 x 8 mm
Weight    162 grams
Display    6.21-inch Full-HD+ IPS LCD, with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio
Processor    octa-core Hilsilicon Kirin 710
GPU    Mali-G51 MP4
RAM    4GB/ 6GB
Internal Storage    64GB, expandable up to 512GB via microSD card
Rear Camera    13MP (f/1.8) + 2MP depth sensor, single LED flash
Front Camera    24MP (f/2.0)
Operating System    Android 9 Pie-based EMUI 9
Connectivity    Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, microUSB
Sensors    rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, accelerometer, proximity, compass
Battery    3,400mAh, 5V/2A adapter
Colors    Sky Blue, Sapphire Blue, Midnight Black
Honor 10 Lite: What’s in the Box

Honor recently made a minor yet delightful change to its packaging and we now see the device on the box itself. Here’s everything you will find inside the Honor 10 Lite box:

    Honor 10 Lite (without a doubt!)
    5V/2A charging adapter
    Micro USB charging cable
    Silicone case
    SIM ejector tool
    Information leaflets

One thing I particularly like about mid-range phones is that they now come with a pre-applied screen protector. A great touch for budget consumers.

Honor 10 Lite: What's in the Box
Honor 10 Lite: Design and Build

Right from the get-go, Honor 10 Lite looks like a premium smartphone. The glass-like finish on the rear and dewdrop notch on the front will capture your interest and they don’t make it feel like a mid-range device. The smartphone borrows design cues from its elder sibling, the Honor 10, as well as the affordable Honor 8C that I reviewed earlier last year.

The rear panel on Honor 10 Lite looks like glass, but unlike the Redmi Note 7 (which is yet to arrive in India) it has an all-plastic build which has been treated to look glossy and reflective, similar to the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2. It’s true to Honor’s design language and gradient colors, which is something I have come to love over the past year.

honor 10 lite rear

The Honor 10 Lite looks absolutely stunning and matches up to its competitors. However, as is the case with glossy polycarbonate phones, it’s also a fingerprint magnet and scratches really easily. Our unit already has a lot of micro-scratches all over, so I suggest using that case provided in the box.

honor 10 lite fingerprint magnet

I have been using the Honor 10 Lite for over a week, and the in-hand feel of the smartphone is perfect. It carries forward the curved, lightweight, and comfortable build of the Honor 8C, including the placement of its 13MP+2MP dual cameras, fingerprint sensor, and the branding on the rear. The Honor 10 Lite is easy to grip and the metal frame around the edges offers more sturdiness to the overall build. The fingerprint sensor on the rear is also quite snappy.

However, the one major aspect where the Honor 10 Lite and Honor 8C differ is when you turn the smartphones over. Gone is the big notch and Honor insignia on the huge chin, which have been replaced with a petite and non-intrusive dewdrop notch housing a 24MP selfie camera, and a smaller bottom chin. This gives it a much cleaner look and I find it to be perfect for 2019.
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honor 10 lite vs honor 8C rear

The earpiece has now been pushed to the very top and the notification LED resides in the bottom bezel. The power button and volume rocker sitting above it on the right are sufficiently clicky, the left side is totally clean, the bottom houses the microUSB charging port, the 3.5mm headphone jack, and the speaker grill, and the SIM slot is found at the top.
honor 10 lite ports
honor 10 lite buttons
Honor 10 Lite: Display

Well, I’m not mincing any words when I say that the display on the Honor 10 Lite is simply gorgeous. It may not be an AMOLED display but instead, a 6.21-inch Full-HD+ LCD IPS screen with a dewdrop notch that’s my favorite implementation for the notch to date.

While most of my peers feel a more curvy notch, as seen on the OnePlus 6T, looks more fluid, I find the Essential-like notch here to be fabulous as well. It offers a screen-to-body ratio of over 90%, thanks to the trimmed chin as well, and that’s enough for me.

The display sports a resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels, along with an aspect ratio of 19.5:9, which has also become the norm for large notched phones over the past year. Speaking of the quality here, well, the Full-HD screen is nothing short of brilliant. It offers great color reproduction, gets super bright in direct sunlight for you to be able to see the Maps or scroll through your Instagram feed on the move.

I, however, disliked the dark transparent layer on the notification bar (easily visible on light wallpapers) as it ruins the almost perfect look of the device. The rounded corners don’t look too off here, and I’m relieved as it was something that kept bugging me on the Honor 8C as the text and icons disappeared into the edges.

Further, as Honor boasts, this display is also certified by TÜV Rheinland and it will be super comfortable to use Honor 10 Lite at night-time, without having to lose sleep. You will need to turn on Eye Care mode from the settings to enable it, and you will have a great time with the display here. It’s immersive and one of the best among all mid-range phones in the Rs 15,000 price segment.
Honor 10 Lite: User Interface

We’ve stepped foot into 2019 and I’m happy to see that Honor 10 Lite comes backed by Android 9 Pie-based EMUI 9. Yes, it’s not really something to boast about, but once you learn about the fragmented state of the Android ecosystem, well, you know that it’s surely a thing to celebrate.

EMUI is one of the better Android custom ROMs out there and I’ve always had a pleasant time when I switch over to an Honor/Huawei phone from my Android One-backed Nokia 7 Plus. EMUI comes with a myriad of features, with your Google News Feed on the right, an option to bring back the app drawer (what a relief) and MIUI-like navigation gestures, which I don’t really like. There are a couple other navigation options available as well, so you can take a pick from them too.

honor 10 lite - user interface

While you would expect Android 9 Pie to bring AI features in tow, like Adaptive Brightness or Adaptive Battery and Digital Wellbeing tools, they’re nowhere to be found on the Honor 10 Lite. EMUI has its own granular controls for these features.

Huawei has built its own Digital Wellbeing clone, i.e. Digital Balance. It offers exactly the same set of features, such as screen time, app limits, and bedtime mode as well, which is kind of awesome, I guess. You also get facial recognition on board here and it’s really fast in daylight conditions, but falls face-first in low-light conditions.
Honor 10 Lite: Performance

The performance of the Honor 10 Lite is consistent for the most part, however, it takes a bit of a nosedive when you’re operating it hastily, or have too many apps opened or playing heavy games such as PUBG Mobile. We will talk about all of this in a little detail below, but before that, let’s get the hardware specs out of the way.

The Honor 10 Lite is powered by the HiSilicon Kirin 980 chipset, designed in-house by its parent Huawei, coupled with up to 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The two options offered by the company are enough, but I would’ve loved to see a 128GB variant too. Coming back to the performance, well, the chipset here is capable enough and would be able to handle most of the tasks you throw at it.

The app-opening times are fast, multi-tasking is usually a breeze but Honor 10 Lite is a little strict with memory management and that could be troublesome for some users. You’ll mostly experience no lags or stutters in the UI and both the scrolling, as well as the touch response are good. It offers a complete and satisfactory for the most part.

Turning our attention to gaming, Honor 10 Lite isn’t designed for heavy gaming (for someone who’s looking to play PUBG Mobile at the highest graphics settings) but it should be sufficient for casual gaming. The company certainly has GPU Turbo, a framework to boost gaming performance, baked into the Honor 10 Lite but it cannot just come in and do wonders here.

honor 10 lite pubg

I played PUBG Mobile, which takes up medium settings by default, on the Honor 10 Lite each evening and I found that it runs decently. You may notice a few frame drops when you’re caught in a firefight (it can be frustrating) and textures might not load properly, but that shouldn’t really affect your gameplay heavily. Just turn down the graphics to low to produce the best results.

I know PUBG Mobile is the only game most of you guys care about these days, but I also tested out Asphalt 9 and Mortal Combat X on Honor 10 Lite. Well, my verdict is that you shouldn’t expect a passable gaming experience here but the daily usage would be almost buttery smooth.
Honor 10 Lite: Benchmarks

Though we’ve already shed light on the performance on the Honor 10 Lite and we know it is not going to disappoint, well, still here are some of the popular benchmark numbers for those who give it a ton of weight. The Honor 10 Lite has a single- and multi-core score of 1530 and 5238 on Geekbench, whereas the Kirin 710 scores over 120,000 on the AnTuTu test bench.

honor 10 lite benchmark

When you compare these figures to the Honor 10 Lite’s direct competitors, well, we found the device sitting smack dab in the middle of the Snapdragon 636-powered Redmi Note 6 Pro and the Snapdragon 660-powered ZenFone Max Pro M2. The former’s AnTuTu score is around 116,000 whereas the latter sits near 130,000, so it’s fair to say that Kirin 710 is quite powerful and will handle all the tasks you throw at it.
Honor 10 Lite: Cameras

Cameras have now become an important factor for when you’re making a buying decision. The Honor 10 Lite packs in the same dual rear-camera module as the Honor 8C, including the 13MP (f/1.8) primary sensor and the 2MP depth sensor. Well, there’s not much more you can expect from a budget phone but Honor still offers a 24MP (f/2.0) camera on the front to help capture some stunning selfies.

honor 10 lite cameras

I spent the better half of the last week with this smartphone and well, the cameras on the Honor 10 Lite are probably the least impressive aspect here. I remember I liked the looks of the Honor 8C too but the cameras there were lackluster and I just don’t want to repeat myself but the same is the case here. The photos captured using the Honor 10 Lite aren’t really good. You can check out some of the samples we clicked right here:
Honor 10 Lite Camera Samples: Daylight

The photos captured from the Honor 10 Lite in daylight look vivid and beautiful, thanks to the AI working its magic in the background. It identifies the objects and adjusts the colors accordingly, mostly making the photos look a little oversaturated. The photos clicked are sharp and have decent detail, all of which seems lost even if you zoom in a bit. It will, however, work out in your favor if you post to social media platforms often.
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Honor 10 Lite Camera Samples: Low Light

The low-light and artificial light scenarios are where the Honor 10 Lite takes a backseat. It does capture the scene well, it illuminates it too, but the details are all lost in the process. The low light photos generally look like oil paintings when you zoom in, which is a sign of the sensor not capturing enough detail. The shadows are also often too much, and contrast in the resulting images is off the mark.
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Honor 10 Lite Camera Samples: Selfies/ Portraits

As for the selfies and portraits, well, the photos captured using the front camera have excessive beautification going on that smoothens out the skin a lot. This happens even when the beauty mode is off, which only suggests how artificial the skin tone is going to look when you activate it.

The portrait photos, on the other hand, have good edge detection with a natural-looking blur and the pictures clicked look good here. However, the phone falters when two people are in the frame, blurring out one of the faces.
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Honor 10 Lite Camera Samples: Night Mode

Finally, Honor has also baked a night mode into this sub-Rs 15,000 smartphone and no, there’s no need for it here, as it doesn’t work wonders. The Honor 10 Lite would certainly capture more light in this mode, but you have to wait a good 5 seconds and the photos will look too bright, with the painting effect.
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Without Night Mode
With Night Mode
Without Night Mode
With Night Mode
Honor 10 Lite: Video Samples

The Honor 10 Lite is capable of capturing up to 1080p videos at 60fps, which is a great addition to this budget phone on the company’s part. The smartphone also packs in EIS (Electronic Image stabilization) support, so the videos captured are stable but you can easily notice the wobble here. It isn’t the most stabilized video but it’ll get the work done:

Honor 10 Lite: Audio and Telephony

The bottom-firing speaker on the Honor 10 Lite is pretty good and gets really loud. The sound output isn’t the best though, it’s a bit tinny and the high-pitched instruments take over the vocals, thus, disrupting the experience. The sound output is flat with no bass either, and I’m not its biggest fan.

honor 10 lite calling

Further, I had been using the Honor 10 Lite with my primary Jio SIM and the network, as well as call reception, have been good. The company boasts that it uses AI to enhance the quality but I didn’t really notice anything out of the ordinary.

As for the audio output from the 3.5mm headphone jack, which a lot of you, readers, are concerned about on budget phones and ask us regularly, well, it’s quite decent for the price. It’s not tuned by AKG or anything, so don’t expect too much but it’s perfect for your daily use. I used the Realme Buds to test on the Honor 10 Lite, in case you are wondering.
Honor 10 Lite: Connectivity

Connectivity is one aspect where the Honor 10 Lite has improved over the Honor 10. The latter was a great phone, but it included only a dual nano-SIM card tray with no memory card support. The Honor 10 Lite fixes the same with the inclusion of a hybrid dual-SIM tray. It can either hold 2 nano-SIM cards or a SIM card and microSD card to expand storage up to 512GB.

The smartphone also supports the Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac standard, which means you can connect to faster 5GHz networks with it. The familiar connectivity options such as Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS (for navigation), NFC, and more are present here. The lack of the infrared sensor, which seldom comes in handy to control smart TVs or air conditioners, especially when you can’t find the remote, is saddening.
Honor 10 Lite: Battery Life

The Honor 10 Lite packs inside a modest-sized 3,400mAh battery, which is the same as the Honor 10. And well, the similarity doesn’t end there as the battery life is almost exactly the same as well.

I’m not going to lie, I’m a heavy smartphone user who not only sticks to calls, WhatsApp, and a bit of browsing. I stream music all day, have Twitter and Instagram active every so often, and play PUBG Mobile before heading home. And if that feels too much, add a ton of YouTube consumption after that.

Well, after all of this, I was still able to get an average of 5 hours of screen on time, which is quite good for me. The Honor 10 Lite also didn’t deplete much, only about 25%, during 1.5 hours of PUBG gameplay at 70% brightness. You can, however, manage the battery drain with the help of features such as the power saving mode, smart resolution and a better look at what apps are using your battery in the background.

I had about 10% of charge left before I plugged back the Honor 10 Lite, that brings us to the charging aspect here. The device does not come decked with a 22.5W power adapter that you get with its elder sibling. You only get a 10W (5V/2A) charger in the box. This means there’s no fast-charging support here, but the provided charger juices it up from 0% to 75% in about an hour and 25 minutes, which is solid.
Honor 10 Lite: Is it Honorable Enough?

We’ve now approached the most important and conclusive section of the review, i.e. the judgment section. The judgment for whether you should buy the Honor 10 Lite or not. I would never say that Honor 10 Lite (starts at Rs 13,999) is a bad device or that you should avoid it, well, because it is not. The device comes laden with modern quirks like a dewdrop notch, a glass finish, Android 9 Pie out of the box, and offers solid performance at a budget price.

All of this makes the Honor 10 Lite a perfect candidate for someone’s who is planning to get a modern mid-range phone in the sub-Rs 15,000 segment. However, I cannot stress this enough, you will have to compromise on the camera front a little. The picture you click won’t even match Redmi Note 6 Pro standard at times, which brings me to all the alternatives for the Honor 10 Lite.

And obviously, if you are looking for an all-around great performer but don’t mind a bland design then the Redmi Note 6 Pro (starts at Rs 13,999) is perfect for you. The Realme U1 (starts at Rs 10,999) or Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 (starts at Rs 12,999) should be your pick if you want a modern look but can compromise a little on the software and camera front respectively. And finally, if you can wait out your smartphone purchase, then the Redmi Note 7 is said to be coming to India soon and it’s going to be the Redmi device we’ve all been waiting for in 2019.

PROS:

    Gorgeous build
    Stellar in-hand feel
    Beautiful display
    Powerful speaker
    Fast biometric locks

CONS:

    Fingerprint magnet
    Scratch prone
    Inferior cameras
    Micro USB charging

SEE ALSO: Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review: The Best Budget Smartphone to Buy?
Honor 10 Lite Review: Bad Cameras Really Hurt!

In a world now saturated with Redmi and ZenFones, Honor is trying its best to offer a device that checks all the right boxes. The Honor 10 Lite has a standout design, modern waterdrop notch, and even the latest software features out of the box but still, it’s doomed because of the lackluster cameras – a long-running shortcoming in budget Honor phones. Xiaomi is easily most popular phone brand in India. It has reigned supreme for many quarters, according to IDC, and it’s all thanks to the many offerings in different price brackets, including the Redmi Y and A series in the sub-Rs 10,000 bracket, Redmi Note series in the sub-Rs 15,000 price bracket, and the flagship-grade Poco F1 in a sub-Rs 20,000 price segment.

The Chinese giant is, however, looking to court more users who’re finally giving in to the smartphone hype and converting over with the Redmi Go. It’s a sub-Rs 5000 smartphone that has a large screen, Android Go, and all essential features that you look for in budget phones.

Xiaomi was kind enough to lend us the Redmi Go, the blue color variant, and I have been using it for the past few hours. Here are my first impressions of the Redmi Go:
What’s in the Box

The Redmi Go comes packed in a familiar red cardboard box that we have seen from Xiaomi in the past. It comes with the Redmi Go branding in bold letters on the front and not a whole lot inside. Here’s everything you’ll find inside the box:

    Redmi Go handset
    microUSB charging cable
    5W charging adapter
    SIM ejector tool
    User manuals

redmi go unboxing

One shouldn’t really expect to see a pair of earphones or a silicone case bundled with the phone simply because of its affordable price tag. No complaints here.
Redmi Go: Specs

Before we delve into my first impressions of the Redmi Go, let’s take a quick peek at the specs sheet:
Dimensions    140.4 x 70.1 x 8.35 mm
Weight    137 grams
Display    5-inch HD (720x1280 pixels; 296 ppi)
Processor    Qualcomm Snapdragon 425
GPU    Adreno 308
RAM    1GB
Storage    8GB (Expandable up to 128GB)
Primary Camera    8 MP, Scene Recognition, Real-time filters
Secondary Camera    5 MP, Auto HDR, HD Calling support
Battery    3000 mAh
Operating System    Android Oreo (Go edition)
Colors    Black and Blue
Price    Rs. 4,499
Redmi Go: Design &  Build

While Xiaomi may have switched to a newer and trendy “Aura design language” with the mid-range Redmi Note 7 Pro, the Redmi Go will instantly remind you of the older budget phones from the company. The brushed metallic polycarbonate build of the Redmi Go feels similar to what we’ve seen on Xiaomi budget phones like the Redmi 6A and others.

The brushed metallic finish of the Redmi Go feels really good and the curved rear panel makes for a comfortable in-hand feel. It quickly gets smudged with sweaty palms, which can’t be avoided if you’re using the device without a case.

We’ve got the blue color variant with us and no, it isn’t blingy or shiny like a ton of phones with gradient backs these days. The rear camera sits flush with the rear panel but it’s higher placement, along the top edge, bugged everyone who saw it in our office. I was fine with it initially but not I can’t ‘unsee’ it.

The power key and volume rockers on the right edge are made from plastic as well. They feel a little mushy for my liking. Redmi Go includes the microUSB port, speaker, and the primary microphone at the bottom edge, and the 3.5mm headphone jack up-top with a secondary noise cancellation mic.
1 of 3
Redmi Go: Display

Redmi Go also has a pretty compact design, thanks to the small 5-inch HD display on the front. Xiaomi neither opted for a trendy 18:9 screen nor a notched one, probably to keep costs low. Also, someone purchasing their first smartphone (coming from a feature phone) wouldn’t really care for a taller display. Most such users should be happy with what they get for their money.

The HD display (1280 x 720 pixels) on the Redmi Go is decent for the price and features huge bezels on the top and bottom, with capacitive buttons on the bottom. The screen ordinarily gets bright, but appeared dim under the direct sunlight outdoors. We’ll thoroughly test the same over the coming days.
Redmi Go: Performance & Software

Redmi Go is powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 425 SoC, clocked at 1.4GHz and is coupled with 1GB RAM and 8GB internal storage. Xiaomi has launched only the lower-end variant of the smartphone in India, leaving out the 16GB variant. I have not toyed around with the Redmi Go enough to pass a final judgment but the 1GB RAM is possibly going to prove to be a bottleneck in the long run, especially if you load up heavier apps on it.

This smartphone as suggested by the name is made to handle light tasks and I’ve already seen frame drops and stutters across the UI. It is more evident when you switch between apps or type quickly. We will test out the same, along with the gaming performance of the Redmi Go, and deliver our final and complete verdict in the complete review.

    Software

Redmi Go, if you’re unaware, comes with Android 8.1 Oreo (Go Edition) out-of-the-box. This is a special version of your favorite mobile OS, designed to run smoothly on entry-level smartphones with 1GB RAM and less.

Note: It’s unfortunate to see Redmi Go running Android 8.1 Oreo. I find no reason why Xiaomi didn’t go with Android Pie when it’s been out for more than 6 months and there already are phones running the same out there.

Xiaomi has slapped its own Mint Launcher on the stock OS and the device comes pre-loaded with a number of Go apps including Google Go, YouTube Go, Gmail Go, Assistant Go, and more. There’s not much bloatware here, except for the FB Lite and Amazon app, and you certainly shouldn’t expect ads in this clean stock experience.

We got a 86MB performance update within minutes of powering up the device, so timely software updates can be expected from the Redmi Go.
Redmi Go: Cameras

redmi go camera

With a sub-Rs 5000 smartphone from Xiaomi, all we can expect are two cameras. Redmi Go delivers the same with an 8MP (f/2.0) rear camera, with a single LED flash, and 5MP (f/2.2) selfie camera on board. Xiaomi has bundled a myriad of camera features with the smartphone, including real-time filters, Auto HDR, the ability to adjust the scene type or manual controls.

We clicked a few samples (daylight, low-light, and selfies) we captured with the Redmi Go and the cameras look to be pretty average for now. It performs well in daylight and pictures look grainy in artificial light. We’ll reserve our final judgment for the full review, until then here are a few pictures we captured with the device:
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Redmi Go: Connectivity & Battery

Redmi Go comes with all the connectivity features you expect from a smartphone these days. It has 2 separate SIM trays, with one of them accepting just a single nano-SIM card, while the other one supports a nano-SIM card, as well as microSD card (up to 128GB storage).

While you can simultaneously use 2 SIM cards on this smartphone, you won’t be able to use VoLTE on both. No dual VoLTE support on board here, which would have been a huge plus.

    The dedicated microSD card slot on Redmi Go is a boon for users, especially because of the low internal storage.

The device supports Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, which means you’ll only be able to connect to 2.4GHz networks and not high-speed 5GHz ones. It includes Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, AGPS, GLONASS, and Beidou support as well.

    Battery

Xiaomi has packed the Redmi Go with a modest 3,000Ah battery pack that should be more than enough to get you through the day. I believe average use (calling, WhatsApp, and content consumption on YouTube on an HD display) will give you a great usage time, but we’ll have to spend more time with the device to confirm the same.

SEE ALSO – Asus ZenFone Lite L1 Review: Can This Break Xiaomi’s Budget Dominance?
Redmi Go First Impressions: Time to Dump Your Old Feature Phone?

Redmi Go is Xiaomi’s cheapest Android smartphone to date and it’s a huge deal because the Chinese giant will now attract feature phone users who are looking for a modern and feature-packed phone but without burning a hole in their pocket. Is it underwhelming, as some readers say on social media, or not, we will find out in our complete in-depth review.
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Fastest Wireless Charging but Only for Mate 20 Pro_Huawei Wireless Charger 15W

Smart lights may not solve many crucial problems in your life, but they do add a ton of convenience as the Indian market is beginning to find out. Smart home devices are one of the hottest selling categories on e-commerce platforms. India is seen as the biggest market for IoT or smart home devices, thanks to the already-existing mega smartphone market.

Xiaomi wants a big piece of this market, and it’s slowly bringing its various brands from China to India. We saw this with the success of the Huami Amazfit wearables, and now the formula is being repeated with the Yeelight smart lights and home accessories.

Yeelight has a number of smart lights, but perhaps the most unique of the lot is the Yeelight Aurora Lightstrip Plus. It’s a modular light strip that can be extended or truncated based on your needs, and it can easily be attached on a wall, or under furniture for accent lighting and a splash of color.
Yeelight Aurora Lightstrip Plus: Design and Build Quality

Our review unit came in a compact cardboard box with moulded cardboard holding the coiled-up light strip in plus on top. The lighting unit comes with separate cable power cable and is attached to a single-button remote via another cable. The LED Lightstrip Plus has a length of 2 meters, but it’s extendible to 10m in all with the adapter that you can purchase separately.

The light strip looks unlike any other string light you might have used in your life. The all-white body has a slight glint to it, and it will definitely stick behind furniture ends or on the wall thanks to the sticker back, which needs to be peeled off before installation on a wall. You can even let the Aurora Lightstrip Plus dangle around furniture or clumped up on a desk for a less formal look and it will look great there too. As the LED lights are covered by a plastic top layer, you don’t even have to worry about the lights scalding you when in use.

The clear plastic coating also protects the strip from accidental water splashes or, if exposed outdoors, from light rain. I found the light strip’s build quality to be excellent and given the modularity – you can cut the light strip at certain indicated spots to reduce its length – it’s also very versatile.

One complaint I have is the number of cables in the entire unit, which means everything gets tangled up very easily. Thankfully, you wouldn’t need to move the light too much after sticking it on a wall or a panel.
Yeelight Aurora Lightstrip Plus: Connectivity

Even without a smartphone connected, the light strip glows on when you plug the adapter in to a power outlet. The accompanying control unit can be used to reset the lights or to sync it with a smartphone. The Yeelight Aurora Lightstrip Plus comes with a 2100mAh built-in battery for up to 8 hours of continuous use.

When syncing with a smartphone, you need to download the Yeelight app, where you HAVE to register to a Mi.com account to proceed and link the lights to the app. Once the pairing is done, you will see the Yeelight in the control panel, where you can customize and tweak its colors, flashing intervals and set lighting profiles.We’ll get to those features in a bit.



Besides the Yeelight app, you can use Google Assistant or Alexa to control the lights too. For Google Assistant, you have to add a new device and select Yeelight from the list of manufacturers to add the light strip. While we didn’t use the Lightstrip Plus with Alexa, the process is similar.

Once you have assigned a room for the Yeelight Aurora Lightstrip Plus, you can turn it on or off using voice commands like any other Google Assistant task. You can also adjust the brightness of the LEDs using Google Assistant, but you cannot tweak the settings such as color cycle or flickering pattern using Google Assistant, which is only possible using the above Yeelight app.
Yeelight Aurora Lightstrip Plus: Illumination and Effects

The quality of the individual LED light units is really good. It gets very bright, so much so that we had to turn it to a lower setting for the photos that you see here.

The Yeelight Aurora Lightstrip Plus can produce more than 16 million colors and using the Yeelight app, you can play around with them to your heart’s content. Seriously, you will not be able to hit every color, if you tried.

I love how bright these LEDS get at full intensity. Which means you can have them ensconced behind even the thickest of wood panels and the light will still shine through any gaps between the furniture and the wall. We can imagine it looking really great in a gaming room, with the lights matching the rest of your build, or just as an accent for dim mood lighting in the bedroom. The lights have enough brightness to allow you to read a little, and you can turn them off through your phone without getting off the bed to fiddle with switches in the dark.

To make choosing the right colors and effects easier, you can pick any of the preset profiles or create your own. The effects included are mood lighting options such as romantic, twilight, candle flicker, birthday party, movie theatre like effects and more. I imagine most people will be too busy to use these settings when playing hosts, and are more likely to leave it on a particular color alone. Nevertheless, these presets can be cool to show off to friends.

You can also set a custom color cycle in the Yeelight app setting how rapidly you want the colors to change and the intensity of the LEDs. This option is great for entertainment venues such as a bar or to reflect a particular theme.
Yeelight Aurora Lightstrip Plus: Worth Buying?

Of course as with most smart ‘things’, this light strip is not as reasonably priced as one might expect.

Priced at Rs 3,599, the Aurora Lightstrip Plus is certainly not affordable for the product that is. At just 2 metres, the main unit is not that long, and to add dasiy-chain the lights, you need to spend over Rs 1,000 for each extension with 60 more such LEDs. It’s a lot to pay to truly decorate your house. So essentially, the Yeelight Aurora Lightstrip Plus has hidden costs, which – we can all agree for once – leave you with foul feeling.

Despite that the Yeelight Lightstrip Plus is cheaper than the Philips alternative, which starts at around Rs 5,000. Crazy, right? Instead of a light strip, you can purchase the Yeelight smart table lamp, which is priced at Rs 3,999. The Philips alternative for a table lamp is priced at Rs 7,500.

Let’s face it: most of us don’t tweak our light settings as often as some tech companies would like us to. In many cases, we also have a particular look we want to go for in our rooms from an interior design point of view, and our tastes don’t change so often that we need to instantly have a different color light in the room.

Secondly, the light strip is not ideal for all kinds of spaces, and leaving it coiled up on your desk or having it stuck on the outside of furniture can make it look tacky or messy. I would much prefer a smart lamp for my desk or a smart lamp with an alarm clock for my bedside. And I can definitely find that in the market as well for a similar price. Ever since Apple unveiled the AirPods, a lot of manufacturers started pushing the envelope to make wireless earbuds. Like I mentioned in my review of ESR’s Truly Wireless earbuds, this particular product category has become my favorite creations in the “tech” space.

That being said, not all truly wireless earbuds are worth pouring your money into. Some of them, as we all know, are very expensive while some of them are just bad and not worth checking out. Since then I’ve been on the lookout for a good pair of truly wireless earbuds that won’t break my bank. And recently I stumbled upon Zebronics’ Zeb-Peace, a pair of wireless earbuds that comes with an asking price of Rs. 3,999.

I honestly was a little skeptical about the Zeb-Peace earbuds mainly because of my experience with Zebronics products in the past. But I accepted the challenge of reviewing these pair to see where Zebronics has cut corners to make it an inexpensive AirPods alternative. Well, I’ve been using the Zeb-Peace as my daily driver for the past couple of weeks, and here’s what I make of it –
Zebronics Zeb-Peace: What’s In the Box

The Zebronics Zeb-Peace comes in very standard packaging. There are no fancy extras and the only thing you’ll get are the charging case, some extra ear tips and the earbuds themselves. Here’s a quick look at the box contents –

Zeb-Peace whats in the box

    Zeb-Peace wireless earbuds
    A portable charging case
    A micro USB charging cable
    Extra ear tips
    User manual

Zebronics Zeb-Peace: Design & Build Quality

The first thing that you’ll notice about any product is its design and build quality, and sadly, the Zeb-Peace is just a letdown. I didn’t even have to use it for an extended period before drawing the conclusion that Zebronics has cut some serious corners in this department.

Zeb-Peace build quality

As far as the design is concerned, it’s certain that Zebronics is going for a sporty look. It looks identical to something like the Bose SoundSport Free wireless earbuds. Thankfully, the Zeb-Peace isn’t as big as the SoundSport Free. The Zeb-Peace sits snug inside your ears, which is how I like my earbuds. Thankfully, the earbuds themselves are made out of plastic and they’re not as heavy as some other earbuds that I’ve used in the past. It’s also worth pointing out that the earbuds are splash-proof, which means you can use them during your workouts.

Now let’s talk about the build quality which, if I am being completely honest, really puts me off. Any pair of earbuds, be it wired or wireless, have to be comfortable to wear. I mean, what good is the sound quality if the earbuds themselves are not comfortable enough to be worn in the first place?

Zeb-peace buds

Well, I am not sure if it’s just my unit, but the charging pins at the back of the earbuds kept poking the insides of my ears. Just by looking at the earbuds, I can say that the pins are not supposed to protrude. The protrusion is not as bad on the right earbud, but the left earbud was just asking to be removed from my ear. These pins made it really difficult for me to wear and use them comfortably on a day-to-day basis.

They even bruised my ears, while I was trying to put them on and even while trying to press the button on the sides. As I said earlier, it’s highly possible that the issue is just limited to my unit. But in my defense, this shouldn’t have been the case since I was using what I believe to be a retail unit.

Zeb-Peace earbuds

Moving on from the not-so-impressive build quality of the earbuds, let’s talk a bit about the charging/ carrying case. The case itself is quite small and it can easily fit in your pocket. It’s not the smallest case that I’ve so far, but I am not complaining. There’s a micro USB port at the back and you’ll also see three LED indicators that keep you in the know of the battery levels of both the earbuds and the case itself.

As for the build quality, well, the case is made out of plastic and it has a gloss finish. Some would say it looks quite tacky, but I personally found it usable. I mean, it’s not the kind of design that would speak to you but you won’t have any issues with it either. The case also ships with magnetic points to keep the earbuds in place, so no complaints there either.

Zeb-peace charging case

Overall, I’ll say that I have some mixed feelings about the design and build quality of the Zeb-Peace wireless earbuds. Both the earbuds and the charging case do little to impress you and there are some really good options out there that have a solid build quality around the same price.
Zebronics Zeb-Peace: Comfort and Fit

Well, I’ve already made myself very clear that these are not the most comfortable pair of earbuds that I’ve tried. But as I said, your experience may vary. Besides the protruding pins which I mentioned before, I don’t really have any other complaints.

The earbuds ship with a bunch of extra ear tips with which you can find the perfect fit for a pleasant experience. Unlike the ESR earbuds, these don’t ship with comply foam tips. It’s not really a deal breaker, but something to make a note of.

Zeb-Peace Fit

One thing which I really liked about the Zeb-Peace is that the earbuds hug your ears if you find the right fit. Unlike some other pair of earbuds that forces you to use ear hooks to keep them in place, the Zeb-Peace managed to stay put. I personally workout less often than I like to admit, but I am sure you’ll be fine wearing this while, say, running or weight training.
Zebronics Zeb-Peace: Sound Quality

Now let’s get to the part which you might have been waiting for. The earbuds blow out sound through a pair of 6mm drivers, and the quality is on par with what I expected. They sound good for the most part and it gets decently loud as well, so it’s really good for casual listening. The earbuds managed to pump out a crisp and clear audio quality which is something that I really enjoyed. They were also surprisingly good when it comes to canceling out noise passively.

Zeb-Peace Sound quality

The earbuds have decent mids so you can hear things like dialogues very clearly while watching, say a movie or a TV show. I know a lot of wireless earbuds are sketchy when it comes to handling bass-heavy tracks, but the Zeb-Peace is particularly poor. As someone who’s been listening to a lot of mainstream pop music lately, I found the bass to be all over the place and the overall experience was not enjoyable at all.

The Zeb-Peace is also bad when it comes to soundstage i.e. the distribution of vocals and instruments between both the channels. I mean, there have been times when I literally had to pull out an earbud to out of my ear to figure out if it was working. Look, I know a lot of earphones fail to nail things like soundstage properly especially at this price point, but it’s hard not to mention when some other earbuds in and around the same price point handle them exceptionally well.

Zeb-Peace earbuds

The Zeb-Peace also has a microphone with which you can take calls or talk to the Google Assistant. However, I’d like to point out that only the left earbud works during a call. As for the call quality, I didn’t really have any issues but my callers did say that I wasn’t audible due to excess ambient noise.

Overall, I’d say the Zeb-Peace sounds like any other wireless earbuds that you can get at this price point. If I am being completely honest, I am yet to find a pair of truly wireless earbuds that sound “great”. If you are buying a pair of truly wireless earbuds then it’s probably for the convenience of not having to spend time untangling the cables. I am glad that Zebronics, unlike other manufacturers, have managed to make cord-free earbuds that aren’t unbearable to listen.
Zebronics Zeb-Peace: Connectivity & Battery Life

This is the part where I’d like to rant a bit about the connectivity. The Zeb-Peace earbuds connect to your devices over Bluetooth 4.1 and let me tell you that it took me a while to figure how the connection works, really. So let me break it down for you –

As soon as you pull out the earbuds from the charging case, you’ll have to press the buttons on the sides of the earbuds to power them on and wait for them to establish a connection with each other. Once you get a confirmation via an audio message, you’ll have to connect the left earbud, which shows up as “ZEB-PEACE” to your phone. This may or may not happen automatically, so I recommend doing it manually without having to wait.

Zeb-Peace Charging

As for the connection itself, the earbuds are not very reliable. During my usage, I found the right earbud’s connection to be a hit or miss. And since the soundstage of the earbuds is so poor, you won’t even realize that one of the earbuds is not pumping out any sound. And before you ask, yes, I did try pairing the earbuds with both an iPhone and an Android phone, and the problem persisted.

Fortunately, battery life is one of the strong points of Zeb-Peace. Zebronics says that the earbuds will last for up to two and a half hours before having to put them back into the charging case. While I couldn’t match Zebronics’ claim, I did manage to get around two hours of playback time. Personally, I listen to music at about 80 percent volume, so the performance may vary based on your usage.

Once you hear the “low battery” warning message, you can pop the earbuds back in the charging case and top them up in about an hour. The charging case itself would take about three hours to charge itself from zero to 100, but it can top up the earbuds up to four times.

While I don’t have too many good things to say about the connectivity, I can confidently say that the Zeb-Peace won’t disappoint you when it comes to the battery life. If you’re a casual listener who consumes music while the daily commute to work, then you may get away throughout the week without charging the case.
Zebronics Zeb-Peace: Pros and Cons

If you skipped through most of my ranting throughout the review, then here’s a quick list of Pros and Cons –
Pros:

    Splash-proof design
    Sits snug in your ears
    Good battery life

Cons:

    Sub-par build quality
    Average looks
    Unimpressive sound quality
    Finicky connection
    Uses Micro USB cable for charging

SEE ALSO: ESR Wireless Earbuds Review: Truly Wireless on a Budget
Zebronics Zeb-Peace Review: Are These Worth Your Money?

The Zebronics Zeb-Peace wireless earbuds as I mentioned previously are priced at Rs. 3,999. At this price, you won’t find a lot of good truly wireless earbuds, however, we ourselves have reviewed some really good wireless earbuds that gets the job done without breaking your bank. Alternatives like the ESR Truly wireless earbuds (~Rs. 3,500) and the Noise Shots X3 (Rs. 3,999), both of which fall under the same price bracket of under Rs. 4,000, makes it really difficult for me to recommend the Zeb-Peace.

In fact, if you’re open to buying a neck-band style earphone, then you must buy the OnePlus Bullets Wireless that’s priced at Rs. 3,990. They’re readily available online and are probably one of the best wireless earphones you can get your hands on right now.

Well, that was my review of the Zebronics Zeb-Peace wireless earbuds. As I’ve mentioned multiple times in this review, it’s really hard to find a “perfect” pair of truly wireless earbuds. Even some of the expensive options out there have a few quirks of their own. So unless you are committed to get rid of the cords, it’s best that you hold on to your neckbands or even the wired earphones for a bit longer. Apple may have been a bit too early when it decided to cut the cords and dream for a truly wireless future with the launch of the iPhone 7, the first iPhone with wireless charging. This wasn’t an industry first but Apple’s entry into the game set the stage for other manufacturers to follow and innovate in the area. More than two years later, Huawei has taken a new spin on wireless technology and launched the Mate 20 Pro, which not only charges its battery wirelessly but is also capable of charging other devices wirelessly by acting as an induction plate itself. Now, that’s something amazing.

Today, I’m taking a look at another amazing product from Huawei, i.e. the fastest wireless charger in the world, rated at 15 watts. Besides charging the Mate 20 Pro at 15W, this wireless charger can also charge Samsung flagships, iPhones, Google Pixel devices, and other Qi-compliant devices. In this review of the Huawei Wireless Charger, I’ll be taking a look at its performance and see how justified is its price tag of Rs 3,999. Let’s get started with what’s inside the box of the 15W Huawei Wireless Charger.

Huawei Wireless Charger 15W Review
Huawei Wireless Charger (15W) Box Contents

The wireless charger comes in a larger-than-expected packaging with a lot of heft, leaving you the impression that there is a lot packed inside this box. But, in fact, there are only two key things inside the box, and these are:

    Huawei 15W Wireless Charger
    USB-A to USB-C cable for power

Besides these two, you’ll find two thick user manuals which actually account for the bulk of the box. To be able to fetch the highest charging speed out of the wireless charger, you need a Huawei 40W wall adapter, the same as available with the Mate 20 Pro. But unfortunately, it is not available inside the box, at least not in India. However, the surprising – and rather, disappointing – fact is that the international variant of the wireless charger does come with the official 40W charging brick.

Huawei Wireless Charger 15W Review

The company has shown the same disparity in the past, and while things are improving, we would have preferred a fuller package. Nonetheless, that shouldn’t bother you if you own the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, which has that adapter.

Let’s take a look at the design and the build of the wireless larger.
Huawei Wireless Charger (15W) Design and Build

From the top, Huawei’s fast charger resembles a plain white puck, which is perhaps the standard look for wireless charger, as seen in the supplied unit with the Mi MIX 3. Looking at the device from the bottom, the Huawei Wireless Charger is shaped much like a saucer with a red circle running along its circumference. When a phone is charging, a small LED indicator – below this red line – lights up. This LED indicator only glows in white, regardless of whether your phone is still charging, has a critically low battery, or has charged fully.

Huawei Wireless Charger 15W Review

The LED on the front lines up with the USB-C port on the back, which takes in the cable. The company’s choice of USB-C over micro USB or a standard barrle plug is great. This is because USB-C finally appears to be catching up not just on smartphones, but also peripherals and smartphone enhancements, replacing older and slower micro USB.

Huawei Wireless Charger 15W Review

The top of the wireless charger is coated with a matte white silicon surface that has a soft and rubbery finish to prevent the smartphone from slipping off from any vibration or due to accidental nudges. However, this surface is prone to catching tiny fibers from table-top linen or even your clothes. Holding the wireless charger with sweaty hands might also leave some smudges on it. However, all of this can be cleaned if you’re willing to take the time and caution since the charger is not certified for protection against water or cleaning liquids. Use a damp microfibre cloth instead of a wet one.

Huawei Wireless Charger 15W Review

The 15W wireless charger does not feel hefty and can be lugged around in a bag without adding a lot of bulk. It also feels very solid and doesn’t look like it would break easily.

Overall, if you can bear with the surface that may attract dirt or smudges, you’ll be good to go with the Huawei Wireless Charger. The assuring build quality makes up for it, besides the promise of the fastest wireless charging speeds. As we will see now.
Huawei Wireless Charger (15W) Performance

I tested the Huawei Wireless Charger for its charging performance with an array of top performing smartphones including the intended beneficiary Huawei Mate 20 Pro along with Samsung Galaxy Note 9, iPhone X, and the Pixel 3 XL and the time taken for charging these phones fully was:

    Huawei Mate 20 Pro (4,200 mah) – 160 minutes (2 hours 40 minutes)
    Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (4,000 mAh) – 230 minutes (3 hours 50 minutes)
    Apple iPhone X (2,716 mAh) – 180 minutes (3 hours)
    Google Pixel 3 XL (3,430 mAh) – 260 minutes (4 hours 20 minutes)

Please Note: These charging durations were calculated using Huawei Mate 20 Pro’s 40W charger since charging with other chargers, including OnePlus’ Dash Charge-compliant adapter, was much slower.

Comparing the battery size and the charging time for each of the flagship smartphones listed above should give you a rough idea about the performance of the Huawei Wireless Charger, and how it’s best suited for the Mate 20 Pro over other phones. However, let me help you with a clearer analysis with this graph below:

As you can see in this plot of total battery capacity (in mAh) and the increase in battery level over time, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, with the largest slope, has the fastest rate of charging.

It is followed by the Galaxy Note 9, which supports a maximum wireless charging rate of 10W, the iPhone X capped at 7.5W, and the Google Pixel 3 XL which only charges at 5W – although it can charge at 10W using the proprietary Pixel Stand wireless charger.

This concludes that while the Huawei Wireless Charger works with any Qi-compliant device, it will best complement the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. Even in the case of Mate 20 Pro, the charging rate is not very appealing given the wired charger takes only 30 minutes to go from zero to 100% and less than an hour to charge the battery fully. However, if you want to be ahead of the curve with your Mate 20 Pro, and want the fastest wireless charger to accompany it, think no further.

These charging speeds cannot be guaranteed with other charging bricks and were much lower with the OnePlus 6’s Dash Charger which that I used along with the wireless charger.

All said and done, let’s take a quick look at what works for the Huawei Wireless Charger and what doesn’t.
Huawei Wireless Charger (15W): Pros and Cons

The 15W wireless charger from Huawei lives up to its claims of faster wireless charging than any other existing competitor. Its universal compatibility is great for anyone who uses multiple devices with wireless charging, except the Google Pixel 3. There are, however, a few trade-offs.
Pros

    Fastest wireless charger in the world
    USB-C port
    Minimal and sturdy design
    Skid-proof surface

Huawei Wireless Charger 15W Review
Cons

    Real benefit for Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro users
    Huawei’s 40W wall adapter sold separately
    White exterior picks up smudges
    LED glows in a single color

Huawei Wireless Charger (15W): A Great Mate for The Mate 20 Pro

The 15W wireless charger from Huawei is truly the world’s fastest wireless charger. It is undeniably a great accessory for anyone who owns the Huawei Mate 20 Pro or even the Mate 20 (but not for the Mate 20 X, which does not support wireless charging).

Huawei Wireless Charger 15W Review

However, for anyone who doesn’t own a Huawei flagship, the deal does not really work out since the charger doesn’t work on guaranteed speeds with any wall adapter other than the proprietary 40W wall adapter. The adapter is currently not available for purchase separately in many markets, but as I mentioned above, it is sold within the box in certain regions. So, you’ll have to check for that. Apart from this offering from Huawei, you can take a look at the Anker PowerPort 10W wireless charger, which is available for Rs 3,039 in India.

Even so, if you’re either using the Huawei Mate 20 or planning to buy one in India, the 15W wireless charger from Huawei will be an excellent accessory with superb value for money to let you get rid of the pain of cable management.
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Doesn’t Beat The Competition_Zaap Hydra Extreme

Bluetooth speakers are a dime-a-dozen in the market. Setting their products apart from the competition should be a huge challenge, but we see rivals routinely aping designs from each other or going with ODM-designs from China, which means that competing speakers look identical.

Zaap is one such manufacturer and while the Hydra Extreme (Rs 2,999) is not a unique speaker by any means it does have a few extras up its sleeve. For one, it’s water resistant and it also is protected against shocks from drops or falls. It’s a rugged-looking compact unit, which should ideally be perfect for the outdoors and your travels. Let’s see if it fits that bill.

We won’t delve too much into box contents, because there’s literally nothing in the box besides the speakers and the requisite aux and microUSB cables. It’s as basic as it gets. Instead let’s look at the design of the speakers.

Zaap Hydra Extreme: Design and Build

The Zaap Hydra Extreme comes with a carabiner attached to a compass. Add that to the rugged exterior with angled cuts of hard plastic and some metal elements, and it looks all set for a day of sailing. Alas, the compass is a fake and just for show. That’s a terrible first impression.

The body looks seriously serious. There’s not a touch of playful design here, with the ports protected by sober rubber flaps. The exposed screw-work is another touch that definitely makes these speakers look and feel masculine.

I definitely can see many people dig this design, and it certainly matches the promise of being a rugged speaker, even if it looks a little run-of-the-mill for this category.

It’s not Extreme by any means, but we can see why that word was used in its name. The ‘Hydra’ part is presumably for its water-resistant build. Hydra, of course, has nothing to do with ‘hydro’ which is the water-related prefix Zaap is trying to go for. But it stuck with Hydra, which you may know either as a genus of small, fresh-water organisms, the mythical Greek many-headed serpent or the fictional supervillain organisation from Marvel Comics, named after said serpent. It may seem like a digression, but it really does annoy me when brands use names without a thought. It’s the first thing anyone finds out about your product, so it should be bang on the money.

That aside, I don’t think I have any complaints about the look of these Bluetooth speakers; they look as promised and definitely make you feel like it’s rugged. The defunct compass was a shame, but then again, I don’t know anyone who would use a compass to navigate these days.
Zaap Hydra Extreme: Sound Quality

While the look gives you the feeling of the speakers being robust and full, I probably should not have expected much from the small sound chamber in these speakers. Sure it gets loud and has booming bass, but the sound quality is far from stellar. It comes with 12-watt stereo speakers and dual subwoofers for a very bass-forward sound.

For one, the speakers are not great for songs or genres which let the treble shine, as they don’t reproduce the highs very well – it tends to get shrilly and shows distortion easily at higher volume levels. Secondly, the mids are muddled by the bass. If you like bass-heavy genres or generally want to feel that boom, you should definitely pick these up because it has a very, very warm sound. A lot of the delicate instrumentation or layering is lost with so much emphasis on the bass.

I found a neat trick to making these sound better at home. Just set them at 80-85% volume, and leave them in a glass cabinet or shelf. You could even leave it inside a drawer, with it open slightly. This creates a better acoustic chamber for the speakers and does help in controlling some of that hyper-energetic bass performance.

I do wish the speakers had a more well-rounded soundstage and didn’t lean so heavily towards lows, which is shame for someone like me who prefers listening to Indie and Alternative Rock genres. It’s not that the speakers are bad, but if you have heard the same song many times over various earphones and speakers, you would easily notice the muddled mids and weak highs.
Zaap Hydra Extreme Connectivity

The speakers come with rubberised buttons on top, with a power button, volume controls and play/pause/call answer button. They all work fine. Connecting to the phone was also trouble-free and worked in the first attempt for multiple devices easily. Double-pressing the volume button also changes tracks in compatible apps.

For voice calls, the speakers are more than adequate and the built-in microphone works without a problem. I just don’t know about the convenience of answering calls on a large speaker. If it’s for you, the good news is you can do it.
Zaap Hydra Extreme Battery Life

The Zaap Hydra Extreme is rated for 8 hours of continuous listening, and I found the claim to be more or less true. In everyday usage, at around 60-70% volume, you are likely to get a full day’s usage with intermittent listening and just over 8 hours for continuous listening. You are likely to get less than that if you also take calls on the speaker.

When it comes to charging, the speakers use the older microUSB port and the supplied cable, while not the longest, is quite adequate for charging up the speakers next to your PC. You don’t get a power adapter, so you will have to supply that yourself for wall charging.



The performance over aux through the 3.5mm jack is similar to Bluetooth. I didn’t find any difference in sound quality, but battery life is sure to improve over the aux connection and it’s definitely great to have.

You also get a tripod stand screw in the bottom so you can place the speakers at a height when used in a multi-speaker arrangement.
Zaap Hydra Extreme: Up Against Stiff Competition

The competition is not much better though, and that should be some consolation. I compared the Zaap Hydra Extreme to Zook Rocker M2, which also has a super-masculine look and a rugged exterior. I have had the Zook Rocker at home for a while now, and it’s used as a companion for my laptop. It does the job and doesn’t have great sound, but it’s good enough for movie watching and the occasional YouTube party mix. The Zaap Hydra Extreme have a very similar sound signature and I suspect use the same driver manufacturer. In any case, the Zaap speaker’s water-resistance is an advantage over the Zook unit.

I also compared the sound quality to a Google Home Mini, which I use at home. And the Home Mini produces richer, fuller sound without overpowering any one frequency. And given that it’s same price as the Zaap Hydra Extreme, I would recommend the Home Mini if you only want to use the speaker in a fixed location with no expectation of portability.
Zaap Hydra Extreme: Final Words

The affordable Zaap Hydra Extreme speakers definitely look great, but the skewed soundstage and the bass-forward performance really didn’t impress me from a reviewer’s point of view. As a casual listener though, the speakers are adequate and match the competition with its loud output and long battery life. If you are looking for water-resistant pair of speakers which don’t break the bank, and don’t sound any worse than the competition, then the Zaap Hydra Extreme could make sense for you.

However, as we said in the beginning there are plenty of wireless speakers these days and a casual search on Amazon threw up plenty of rivals for the Zaap Hydra Extreme, which also have water resistance such as the Boat Stone 600 (around Rs 2,500) or Sony’s Extra Bass XB10 (around Rs 2,800) splash-proof speakers. We haven’t tested either but we can’t expect the sound quality to be much worse. So yes, there’s plenty of competition and Zaap just doesn’t make enough of an impact to earn a clear recommendation. The Galaxy M series is Samsung’s attempt at taking over the reigns from Xiaomi when it comes to the budget smartphone segment, with the M20 being the flag bearer of this attempt. So, does the Galaxy M20 succeed, or is it a failed attempt? That’s what we are here to find out.

I have been using the phone for more than a week now and while I haven’t had a great experience with Samsung’s budget phones in the past, be it the Galaxy J or Galaxy On series phones, honestly I was excited to use the M20. I has been hyped to be the Samsung budget phone that can truly take on the competition.

Well, after using it for a while now, I can tell you that the M20 is definitely a better attempt at budget phones than what we have seen from Samsung. And that’s saying a lot. Let’s see if it can really take on the competition?
Samsung Galaxy M20 Specifications

Before we get started, let’s take a look at the specs of the Galaxy M20:
Display    6.22” HD+ PLS TFT Panel, 1080 x 2340 pixels,
Processor    Samsung Exynos 7904 octa-core 14nm SoC
RAM    3/4 GB RAM
Storage    64 GB, expandable upto 512GB via microSD
Battery    5,000mAh
Primary Cameras    Main Camera: 13MP AF, F1.9 + Ultra Wide: 5MP, F2.2
Secondary Camera    5MP (F2.0)
OS    Android 8.1 Oreo
Sensors    Accelerometer, Barometer, Face Unlock Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor, Proximity Sensor, RGB Light Sensor
Network and Connectivity    LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/(2.4/5GHz) Dual VoLTE, Bluetooth 5.0, headphone jack, USB Type-C Port
Samsung Galaxy M20 Design and Build Quality

Let me tell you about my experience by starting off with the design. So the overall design of the Galaxy M20 is pleasing but it’s not great when it comes to looks, or to put it another way, lacks personality. I prefer the Redmi Note 7‘s premium glass design any day over the M20’s bland glossy plastic shell, but I have to admit it’s functional and Samsung is clearly going for that. If you have read our Galaxy M10 review, the Galaxy M20 is only a slight improvement with the plastic build sticking out in this day and age. It’s not bad by any means, it’s just not wow.

The Galaxy M20 has you covered on all fronts in terms of ports. You get the headphone jack, dedicated slots for SIM and microSD cards, fingerprint scanner on the back and a USB-C port, which is still rare in this price range.

That doesn’t mean it all works perfectly. The fingerprint scanner here is a little annoying. First of all, it’s placed awkwardly and I am still getting used to it. Secondly, it’s inconsistent. There’s no haptic feedback here, and sometimes it’s pretty fast, but sometimes it only detects my fingers on multiple attempts.

I also don’t like the fact that there’s no notification LED. I understand that this is a limitation due to the teardrop notch design, but Samsung could have placed it on the bottom chin like in the Redmi Note 7.
Samsung Galaxy M20 Display

The teardrop notch design aka Samsung’s Infinity V display certainly looks beautiful, despite the limited functionality. Ignore the bland back of the M20, and you will enjoy a beautiful looking smartphone. The modern front and the beautiful display complement each other well.

I know it’s a TFT display and there’s this perception that TFT displays aren’t good when compared to IPS LCDs, but trust me when I say that the display on the M20 is great. It’s vibrant, the viewing angles are great and while it’s not the brightest display I have used, it’s decent enough outdoors.
Next to the Nokia 6.1 Plus (left)

Samsung has done a good job when it comes to the display on the Galaxy M20, and the notch-laden front design is fine too, but the average fingerprint scanner is a problem for sure when it comes to the exterior of the phone.
Samsung Galaxy M20 Performance

Let’s take a look at the internals that keep the Galaxy M20 powered. I had my doubts about the performance of the all-new Exynos 7904 SoC which is backed by up to 6GB RAM. Unfortunately, the performance of the M20 is a mixed bag.

I am sure you already know that the Exynos 7904 benchmarks do not match up to the Snapdragon 660 or the Snapdragon 636 (as seen below), so we’ll only stick to the real world performance.

The phone has fine and smooth when it comes to usual day to day tasks, but I did notice some lag when I had multiple apps open or a heavy game like PUBG Mobile running in the background. It’s not too bad, to be honest, since I was using the phone as my daily driver, so it has a lot more apps than an average user in this mid-range segment, but I would have certainly liked a lag-free experience.

When it comes to gaming performance, a lot of you have asked us about the PUBG Mobile experience on the M20. Well, by default, PUBG Mobile runs on Medium graphics settings on the Galaxy M20, but the experience on medium is definitely not very good. There are a lot of frame drops, stutter, and it’s not really playable. Things are better when graphics are set to low, where it’s definitely playable, but it’s not the smoothest experience.

I also played Asphalt 9, where the graphics are automatically set to low, and the gameplay was good enough. Yes, there was some occasional stutter, but it wasn’t a huge problem. Also, if you are wondering about any heating issues, the phone did get warm for me but it wasn’t overheating by any means.

Overall, the performance on the M20 is just average and honestly, compared to the Redmi Note 7 and the ZenFone Max Pro M2, both of which have the more powerful Snapdragon 660, the Galaxy M20 just fails to match up. And it doesn’t help that the Experience UI 9.5, which is supposed to be more optimised, has its issues as well.

First of all, it’s Android Oreo, which is disappointing. Secondly, there are the ads. Yes, the Experience UI here has its own version of ads. Firstly, there’s Lock Screen stories, which shows you a new story on the lock screen, which are basically promotional photos for different companies. Now, you can disable this feature, but it’s really annoying.

Ads are also being pushed as notifications from the MyGalaxy app. I have never even opened the MyGalaxy app and I got clickbait notifications such as these. I really wasn’t expecting this when I started using the phone, and that has left me really disappointed.

Now, this is the reason I prefer stock Android over any other custom skinned UI. I mean, credit where it’s due, the Experience UI here has some great features, like the decently fast face unlock, navigation gestures like in One UI, and I like that it lets you choose if you want certain apps to be pre-installed or not, but ya, the sluggish performance and the ads in the UI don’t make a great case for the Galaxy M20.
Samsung Galaxy M20 Cameras

Moving on to the cameras now. The Galaxy M20 has dual cameras on the back, with the secondary sensor being a pretty cool wide angle sensor, so that’s nice. Anyway, here are some photos from the phone.


Now, as you can see in these photos, the photos aren’t mind-blowing, but they definitely look decent. The colors are nice, the details are good enough and yes, some photos have white balance issues, but it’s generally decent in good light. When it comes to low light, like every other budget phone, the M20 is a mixed bag. Now, the f/1.9 aperture does manage to capture photos with decent light, and some photos are okay but most low light photos have low detail with some noise. So, it’s definitely average.

I also took a few shots from the wide angle lens, and while the quality in wide angle photos isn’t very good, it results in some really cool shots, so it’s definitely good to have.

The M20 also has the live focus mode aka the portrait mode, and it works decently. Most portrait mode photos look good, with some nice colors but some shots do not have the best edge detection. But there’s one problem and it’s the fact that it only works on faces, and it does not work even when someone is looking away.

Compared to the ZenFone Max Pro M2 and the Redmi Note 7, you can see that the Galaxy M20 manages to beat the Asus phone on most occasions, but in almost every comparison, the Redmi Note 7 photos are just way better.

Galaxy M20

Anyway, let’s talk about the selfie cameras on the Galaxy M20. Now, I wasn’t really expecting much from the 8MP camera, and well, I was right in not expecting much, because as you can see, the selfies are pretty average. The selfies lack detail, the colors are off, it’s just not very good.

Moving on to videos, the Galaxy M20 only supports 1080p at 30FPS, and the videos tend to be a little overexposed. Plus, I have noticed that the M20’s autofocus does not work too well in videos and the white balance issues are present here as well. There’s no EIS or OIS either, which means videos aren’t the most stable, and are certainly worse than the Redmi Note 7.

Overall, the Galaxy M20 definitely has decent cameras for a budget phone. It’s not anything extraordinary, but it manages to beat the ZenFone Max Pro M2 in a lot of scenarios, which is great since the Max Pro M2 is one of the best budget phones out there. Having said that, it fares poorly against the Redmi Note 7. The M20’s cameras are no match for the Redmi Note 7.
Samsung Galaxy M20 Battery Life

I am sure you must have noticed that I have mixed feelings about everything in the M20 so far, but if there’s one thing in the M20 that has outright impressed me, it’s the battery. The M20’s massive 5,000 mAh battery lasts long.

Generally, the phone would be around 40 to 50% by the end of the day after being on 100 percent at the beginning, and on most days, I use my phone extensively. My usage includes Google Maps, music on Bluetooth, a few games of PUBG Mobile, usual web browsing, social media, camera usage etc. So, I like the fact that usually the M20 easily went to the second day. Plus, the M20 charges fairly quickly. The phone has a 15W fast charger in the box that charges the Galaxy M20 from 10 to 100% in just 1 hour 50 minutes. It’s really great, because it’s a 5,000 mAh battery we are talking about. The Max Pro M2, which also has a 5,000 mAh battery takes 3 hours to get fully charged, so the M20 is definitely amazing on this front.
Samsung Galaxy M20 Connectivity

Lastly, let’s talk about the connectivity, where again, the Galaxy M20 is a mixed bag. So, the Galaxy M20 has dual 4G VoLTE support and it has the Widevine L1 license, so HD videos on apps like Netflix and Prime Video shouldn’t be a problem.

However, the problem is, that the Galaxy M20 does not have support for 5GHz Wi-Fi. I know, the Max Pro M2 too does not have it, and I know it’s not a big deal in India but honestly, it’s something I expect from every phone.

Unlike in the past, where Samsung has cut costs by dropping sensors, I am glad to say that the M20 does not skip any of the major sensors. It has an ambient light sensor, a gyroscope, the proximity sensor and the accelerometer.
Samsung Galaxy M20: What’s Good and What’s Bad

I guess we have answered pretty much all your questions, so let’s move on to our verdict. It will help us to sum up the good and the bad in the phone.
Pros

    Really nice display
    Great battery life
    USB Type-C charging
    Interesting wide-angle camera

Cons

    Plain, functional design
    Performance is a mixed bag
    Ads in Experience UI
    Bad photos in low light
    No support for 5Ghz Wi-Fi

Samsung Galaxy M20 Review: Buy or Wait for Redmi Note 7?

Samsung really seems to have made an effort to compete in the budget smartphone segment, but having used the Galaxy M20, I believe Samsung still has a long way to go before it can truly compete with the likes of Xiaomi, Honor or Asus. Look, the Galaxy M20 has decent cameras, the design is functional and practical, the battery and charging is super impressive, but the inconsistent performance just does not match up against the competition.

Plus, there are some issues in Samsung’s Experience UI. The average fingerprint scanner also makes it hard for me to recommend the Galaxy M20. So, if you are looking to buy a budget phone right now, the ZenFone Max Pro M2, which is a great all around smartphone, even though it does not have the best cameras, is the option to go for.

And if you are in no hurry to buy a phone, I’d suggest you to wait for the Redmi Note 7, because the Xiaomi phone is just way better than the Galaxy M20 in almost every aspect from what we experienced.

So, there you have it. That was our Galaxy M20 review. If you still have any doubts, just comment down below and we will respond to them as soon as we can. A lot has changed since Samsung dominated the mid-range market in India with its Galaxy Grand series in and around 2013. At the time, Micromax was its biggest upstart rival, and now Samsung is the one trying to get back into the market, as it looks to break the dominance of Xiaomi, Honor and newer brands such as Realme, and even Asus’s renewed vigor thanks to the ZenFone Max Pro series.

As a result, the sub-Rs 10,000 segment is probably the most hotly contested segment in the market, even more so than the fluid mid-range segment. Samsung is bringing its best to the sub Rs 10,000 segment with the Galaxy M10, priced at Rs 7,990 onwards.

Along with the Galaxy M20, the phone represents Samsung’s biggest bet for the Indian market. The phones are being debuted in India and have been made completely in India, save for the imported SoC and other components. This means Samsung has been able to price it just right, and for once, a Samsung budget phone is competing on even pricing against its rivals.

In theory, the Galaxy M10 should make Samsung’s rivals worry, but can it become the Korean giant’s savior in the Indian market? That’s what we are about to find out after more than a week of using the Galaxy M10.
Samsung Galaxy M10 Specifications

Before we get started on our reviw of the Samsung Galaxy M10, here’s a look at the specs:
Display    6.22” HD+ PLS TFT, 720 x 1520 pixels
Processor    Samsung Exynos 7872 hexa-core 14nm SoC
RAM    2/3 GB RAM
Storage    32 GB, expandable upto 512GB via microSD
Battery    3,400mAh
Primary Cameras    Main Camera: 13MP AF, F1.9 + Ultra Wide: 5MP, F2.2
Secondary Camera    5MP (F2.0)
OS    Android 8.1 Oreo
Sensors    Accelerometer, Barometer, Face Unlock Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor, Proximity Sensor, RGB Light Sensor
Network and Connectivity    LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/(2.4/5GHz) Dual VoLTE, Bluetooth 4.2, headphone jack

There are some notable omissions such as the lack of a fingerprint sensor, which is seen in cheaper phones too. It does make the M10 seem less appealing for buyers. Does the phone make up for it with a great user experience?

Samsung Galaxy M10: What’s in the Box

The M10’s retail package is rather sparse, given that this is a budget phone. This is what you get inside the box:

    Samsung Galaxy M10 smartphone
    1 x USB Type-A to Micro USB Cable
    1 x 5V 1A Charging Adapter
    1 x Ejection pin
    User Manuals

Unlike other budget phones, you don’t get a clear Silicone or PVC case along with the Galaxy M10, but the plastic back should help hide some finer scratches.
Samsung Galaxy M10: Design and Build Quality

Like I said in our first impressions piece on the Galaxy M10, the phone seems to have been designed for utility and function, rather than a premium look and feel.

The front has a trendy teardrop notch, which the company calls Infinity-V.  We are still not used to seeing a Samsung phone with a notch, but this one is far less intrusive than most notches in this price segment, which tend to be wide and large. I love how the notch remains out of sight for most parts of the UI, a feeling enhanced by a dark wallpaper.

The screen to body ratio of the M10 is a healthy 81.6 % which is higher than the Realme C1 and Honor 9N, both phones with notches in this price range. I have no complaints with the front of the phone and it looks as modern as many mid-range phones such as the recently-launched Oppo K1.

One thing to note about displays with so little bezel is that the all-glass front picks up fingerprints rather easily. Cleaning the M10’s panel is an hourly chore, one not helped by the fact that the plastic back also picks up smudges easily. The notch holds the 5MP front camera, which is also used for face unlock, and since there’s no fingerprint scanner here, you would be happy to know it works quite fast and unlocks the phone quickly.

The so-called chin is rather large, but in my opinion, it makes the phone easier to hold in landscape for watching videos or for games. Overall, the front of the phone is definitely a step above the competition in this range, and perhaps on par with some more expensive mid-rangers.

    The notch and the slim bezels give the phone an unmistakable modern look

The modern look for the front is in stark contrast to the glossy blue rear in our review unit. The design of the rear panel seems generations older, not helped by the lack of a fingerprint sensor.  The plastic build means handling the phone is easy and there are no real sharp edges to be worried about. The phone feels light despite weighing 160 g, and is slim but it doesn’t feel flimsy.

The only thing that hints at this being a 2019 phone is the dual 13MP+5MP (ultra-wide) camera module, which have become oh-so-common even in the budget segment. The polycarbonate back is not a problem for me – I don’t really expect to see metal in this price range. And despite it being glossy, it’s quite grippy and comfortable to use in one hand.

The sides of the phone are plastic too, since the back wraps around the side for a monolithic look. The sides also start to pick up grime and smudges just as easily – using the phone with food or oil around means it will be dirty as soon as you pick it up.

The left side has the SIM slot, while the right has a clicky power button below the volume rocker. Both the buttons are quite tactile and while they are not the easiest to find blind, you get used to the placement after a day or so. You will find the 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom, along with a budget-friendly micro USB port and the speaker holes.

I would best describe the Galaxy M10 as a utilitarian phone which doesn’t waste time taking you through the scenic route. It gets straight to the point, and that’s something I can appreciate. Whether the performance matches up to that approach, we will see soon.
Samsung Galaxy M10: Display

Samsung’s Infinity V notch is not intrusive in the slightest, and certainly doesn’t get in the way of the UI. It reminds us of the notch on the OnePlus 6T, which is not a bad thing. We suppose more and more manufacturers will choose to use the single front camera with dewdrop or teardrop or U-shaped notches this year for the affordable segment. In Samsung’s case, the front camera shows a cool rippling or wave effect around the notch when unlocking the phone.

I really like the screen on the M10 – it’s easily one of the highlights of the phone. The 6.22-inch PLS TFT panel has a HD+ resolution of 720 x 1520 pixels with a 19:9 aspect ratio and around 271 ppi of pixel density. It’s obviously not going to make any hearts flutter, but it’s adequately bright, has surprisingly good viewing angles and is quite vibrant as well in color reproduction. That’s surprising given that it is a TFT panel, and not IPS, which are known for the natural colors. The M10’s display is not washed out, if that’s your biggest worry about this phone. The sunlight legibility is quite good too while not great.

The overall color tone of the display is a little cool for my eyes, with a noticeable blue tinge in white backgrounds. It’s certainly a bright spot in the M10’s repertoire.
Samsung Galaxy M10: Performance and Software

The Galaxy M10 is powered by the Samsung Exynos 7872 hexa-core 14nm SoC with 4 x 1.6 GHz Cortex-A53 cores and 2 x 2.0 GHz Cortex-A73 cores. For GPU, the chipset has the Mali-G71 MP1.

The phone didn’t seem bogged down by multiple apps open and didn’t seem to have any lag that got in the way of the user experience in the first two days. The combination of the SoC as well as 3GB of RAM provided a decent, stutter-free experience in our first few days with the phone.

There was some very noticeable lag after a couple of days, with apps taking a little longer to load up, after a few days of usage. In my experience, most budget phone users will not have over 70 apps installed on their phone, as was the case with my standard Android backup. Secondly, the impatience with waiting for some games to load is largely due to me being spoilt by flagship-grade performance in my daily phone. For someone who has never used a smartphone, or for those upgrading from older Android budget phones, or Android Go devices, the Galaxy M10’s performance should give no cause for concern.

For gaming, we tried out Asphalt 9 and PUBG Mobile. Neither game looked its best self on this phone, likely due to the less-than-top-tier hardware. Asphalt 9 showed some screen tearing when the cars went into hyper drive, while PUBG Mobile was smoothest at low settings. It’s not the best phone to have for someone who wants to keep gaming on the go, but it’s certainly more than good enough for casual gaming as well as shorter sessions. If you are looking for a budget gaming performer, the Galaxy M20 should be better suited for the task, since it has a newer Exynos 7904 SoC.

The M10 runs Android 8.1 Oreo, with the Samsung Experience UI bringing its share of bloatware to the out-of-the-box software experience. I really dislike the interface of this phone, and perhaps it’s just that I have become used to stock Android or that MIUI or EMUI seem more matured and polished.

I wouldn’t say it’s bad, just that it seems to lack some finesse and fluidity. Once you get used to the UI/UX quirks and Settings pages of Samsung Experience, the experience is more or less like any other budget phone with the only difference being the OEM skin. As for bloatware, the competition isn’t doing any better. At least, Samsung does not inject ads into your notification banner by default like on MIUI.

One can hope that Samsung also releases One UI for its affordable lineup. For software updates, Samsung has said the Galaxy M10 will only get Android Pie in August. That’s almost when Android Q is expected to be out. This can be a major disappointment for potential buyers, unless Samsung changes its mind soon.
Samsung Galaxy M10: Cameras

Dual cameras are becoming very common in the budget segment, but not like the ones on the Galaxy M10. That’s because Samsung has added an ultra-wide sensor, instead of the typical depth sensor found in the competition. We have seen a similar sensor in action in the Galaxy A7 and Galaxy A9 and the wide-angle definitely makes certain kinds of photos look more immersive and impactful.

As one might expect the rear camera has a host of shooting modes and options. Here’s a look at the UI of the rear camera’s modes and Pro photo settings.

Here are some samples from the rear camera:

As you can see, this is not the best example of a good smartphone camera, as the colors are definitely less vibrant than the actual scene, and the lack of detail is woefully obvious. The only positive is that the competition also has similarly average cameras in this price range. We have not really seen a budget phone with a really good camera yet.

And here are a couple of examples of the wide-angle camera in action. The lower resolution wide-angle shot has even less detail than the regular photo.
Ultra-Wide Angle Camera
Main Camera
Ultra Wide Angle Camera
Main Camera

While these are not great pictures, I think it’s more than enough for someone who is using their first smartphone or just using the M10 as a backup phone for travels. These photos might not win you real competitions, but they are more than enough for Instagram, Facebook or your WhatsApp groups.

The notch on the front houses the 5MP f/2.0 selfie camera. These selfies are nothing great and look similar to the ones shot by the competition in this price range. The colors look muted, and the skin tone is definitely not natural. Samsung has added a Live Focus mode which helps you take shots with blurred background. You can also add stickers to you selfies to be shared on messaging apps.
M10 Selfie with Live Focus mode
M10 Selfie Sample
M10 Stickers Sample
Samsung Galaxy M10: Battery Life

Another key focus area for Samsung with the M10 is the battery. Samsung has packed in a 3,400 mAh battery, which falls short of what some of the competition offers – Realme C1, for example, has a 4,230 mAh battery.

The Galaxy M10 should ideally provide all-day usage, and the smaller battery pack is likely to reduce the weight of the phone. At 160 g, it’s already on the heavy side so the weight must surely have been a consideration on Samsung’s part.

When it comes to day-to-day usage, the Galaxy M10 will easily last you the whole day, and you will only need to charge it at night or when you sleep. It’s a fairly long-lasting phone and given that most budget users do not tax their phone’s SoC or GPU all that much, you shouldn’t have a lot of trouble using this phone all day.

With conservative usage, only using the phone to check notifications and with minimal browsing and YouTube, I was able to stretch the phone’s battery life to the next day too, before it died by noon. It’s a really good sign for someone who doesn’t use their phone too much, but still needs to be connected.

The Galaxy M10 doesn’t have fast charging support and comes with a standard 5v 1A charging adapter in the box. Samsung has not mentioned any support for fast charging standards, unlike the Galaxy M20. Charging the phone takes just under 2 hours in ordinary circumstances, with usage while charging. When left alone, the phone gets full in just over 90 minutes.
Samsung Galaxy M10 Review: Samsung’s Comeback?

In my first impression piece, I called the M10 an underwhelming device, and much of that was due to the fact that at first glance, this is not a special phone. But Samsung has finally delivered a decent user experience in the budget segment, and without sacrificing on key specs. The biggest omission in the M10 is the fingerprint scanner, and there Samsung makes up with fast face unlock – albeit not very secure.

Starting at Rs 7,990, the Galaxy M10 competes with the Realme C1 (2019) and the Redmi 6 in India. The 3GB + 32GB variant is priced at Rs 8,999 in India. Both those phones are serious competition with Realme’s momentum and Redmi’s market standing, while Samsung has the pedigree of a premium brand with its after-sales service network. That’s the real benefit with this phone as Samsung has established a great service network over the years, while the other brands are still not on the same level.

In terms of specs and performance, there’s very little separating the M10 from its competition, so Samsung has pulled level in many ways. We also expect Samsung to improve its game when it comes to software updates. I wouldn’t be surprised if the M10 receives security or quality of life updates every month, even if Samsung delays the Android Pie release.
Compared to Galaxy M20 (bottom)

Samsung is hoping to change the budget segment user experience with the Galaxy M10 and over the course of this week, I can see the signs of a company realizing its follies from the past few years, and bringing its A-game to the take on the rivals. At this stage, the M10 puts Samsung on par, but it won’t be long before it faces stiff competition from the new brand of affordable phones of 2019.

Samsung has fired the first shot across the bow of the competition, and it will be interesting to see the response. I am quietly excited for Samsung, as a healthy Samsung tends to bring out the best in the competition in Android. Do let us know what you think about Samsung’s Galaxy M10, and whether it can help Samsung come back as a force to be reckoned with.
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