Monday, 19 August 2019

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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