This week Google Music will stop working for your devices, if it’s not already stopped working today. Over the past year Google’s phased out the Google Music ecosystem in favor of YouTube Music, they’re alternative to each service offered by the former. The Google Music platform allows switching to a YouTube Music account, and costs are similar, but users will need to actively make the change to download the new app and log in.
If you’re still using Google Music right now, you’re living on borrowed time. Google Music will soon cease to work on all of your devices, regardless of platform. The one POSSIBLE exception is as follows.
If you have a desktop computer or mobile device with Google Music and a bunch of downloaded (offline) music, you MAY be able to continue using that app into the future. You would need to keep your internet connection OFF for the rest of the time you plan on using the device with Google Music from this day until your last day… which could be a bummer.
In all other cases, Google Music will require users to switch to YouTube Music on all platforms. That includes Android, Android TV, desktop machines, iOS, and in browsers. If you’d like to initiate a switch to the YouTube Music platform, you’ll find a relatively easy method with the YouTube Music one-click transfer method. You might also want to go ahead and download your music, if you’re lucky, you might be able to do so using the Google Play Music manager tool right now.
If you’re unable to download the files you’ve uploaded to Google Music right now, you might’ve waited a bit too long. Google won’t likely keep your files safe unless you’ve already transferred your account from the original “Google Play Music” system to YouTube Music before now.
Google finally ripped the bandage off and officially shut down Google Play Music. Although, when opening the app it still says that Google Play Music will soon shut down so you have to make the migration to YouTube Music. In other regions, it doesn’t give you any other options except transferring your data to YouTube Music.
There’s also the “Manage your data” button that takes you to the GPM website and lets you download your full library and delete it later. You can also delete your recommendation history.
However, if you have any songs downloaded onto your device, you’d have to either delete the Google Play Music app or at least clear the user data and cache in the App info sub-menu.
The new features of EMUI 11 include the artistic Always on Display designs and clock themes, improved multi-window mode, smoother UI animations, better multi-screen collaboration, and more.
Huawei announced EMUI 11 during its Developer Conference today and even though it’s not based on Android 11, the generational upgrade deserves its name. It brings some visual changes to the table, new animations, features and under the hood optimizations.
Huawei EMUI 11 based Android 10 first look :
One of the most notable changes in the new EMUI are the multi-window and split-screen functionalities. Both are now put in the center so the user can get more familiar with the features instead of tucking them somewhere in the menus. Now there’s a dedicated gesture to bring out the Smart Multi-Window sidebar. You can summon it in every app or menu. A small side window will open with your favorite apps and with a single drag-and-drop gesture you can start multi-tasking. Of course, the windows are free-form and can be adjusted in size.
The always-on screen gets a couple of new customization options as well. There are new styles and even animated always-on displays. Choosing a picture from your gallery is also an option and the system will convert it into an appropriate color palette.
The animations when navigating through the menus have been optimized for high-refresh-rate displays. Huawei says that it poured hours of research into how the user perceives transition animations and where your eyes usually wander on the screen while navigating. Using the data, the company optimized the animations to look even smoother and also faster.
Multi-screen collaboration 3.0 is now part of EMUI 11 allowing you to control up to three Android apps from your PC once you sync your Huawei phone to the MateBook. Quite similar to Samsung and Microsoft’s Your Phone app.
There are other subtle improvements to the system apps and how the system handles permissions. One example would be the permission notification in the status bar. If an app on the foreground is using your microphone, GPS or camera, a status bar icon will let you know.
You can check the full changelog for more details.
EMUI 11 refines the user experience and brings vivid, dynamic visual elements for the Always On Display (AOD). AOD now allows you to customize your screen and showcase your personal style with text and images even when the screen is off.
Multi-Window allows you to open apps in a floating window for multitasking. You can relocate the floating window to the desired location or minimize it to a floating bubble for easier access later.
The brand new, intuitive animations throughout EMUI 11 create a smoother, more unified, and visually pleasing user experience when touching items or sliding on the screen.
Whether you’re toggling switches on or off, subtle effects have been enhanced throughout the OS for greater visual satisfaction.
This is a special feature that enables your devices to work together to achieve their full potential. You can mirror your phone to your laptop’s screen to improve your productivity with multiple app windows readily available. (This feature requires a Huawei laptop with PC Manager of version 11.0 or later.)
When you project your phone onto an external display, messages and incoming calls are displayed only on your phone screen, both protecting your privacy and ensuring the continuity of screen projection
Notepad now supports editing notes simultaneously from multiple Huawei devices. For example, you can insert a photo from your phone to the note being edited on your tablet.
You can now quickly identify and extract text from images or documents, edit the text, and then export and share it. Creating a digital version of a paper document has never been easier.
EMUI 11 will be pre-installed on all new Huawei phones from now on while the final version of the software will hit P40 and Mate 30-series pretty soon. The Android 11-based iteration, however, will be delayed because of the ongoing trade ban. Since Huaweididn’t have early access to Android 11‘s source code, the company has had that for only a couple of days since Google released its latest OS just the other day.
EMUI 10 was announced at Huawei Developer Conference 2019 (HDC). Following this release, Huawei announced the EMUI 10 beta rollouts for the Huawei P30 series devices.
Compared to its predecessor, EMUI 10 delivers faster performance, new UX design including Magazine Style UI layout, Morandi Colors, Dark Mode, Golden Icons, New Animations, New dark mode as well as improved privacy features.
Early 2020, Huawei unveiled Huawei P40 series, pre-installed with EMUI 10.1, a step-up version of EMUI 10 with added new features. EMUI 10.1 comes with new features such as multi-window multi-tasking, multi-device collaboration, multi-device browsing, new smart features, and more.
On September 10, 2020, at HDC 2020 Huawei launched EMUI 11, it brings new smart Always on Display, improved multi-window mode, smoother animations, better multi-screen collaboration, and more.
Which device will get the EMUI 11? Here are some of them. Most of the devices in this list are identical to EMUI 10 and 10.1 and it’s based on their OS upgrades cycles. As usual, the company will remove the devices that have completed their updates cycle.
Apple frequently lays down a gauntlet for Android vendors when it introduces new iPhones, and that’s truer than ever for the iPhone 12 series. While there are places where Apple falls short, the new iPhones also embarrass Android phone makers in a few key areas — and not just simple aspects like performance. Here’s how the iPhone 12, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max stack up vs. their Android counterparts.
High-quality designs across whole phone lines
If there’s an area where Android OEMs could most stand to learn from the iPhone 12, it’s in the consistently high quality of the design, even in more affordable devices.
Every iPhone 12 model, from the Mini to the Pro Max, has a string of features you don’t always see in Android equivalents. They all have high-resolution OLED screens; each one has extra-durable front glass thanks to a new Ceramic Shield; they’re all IP68-rated for water resistance; all of them have a new MagSafe wireless charging system (more on that later). That’s not including the consistency in performance-related features, like the A14 Bionic chip, 5G, and strong camera quality. While the lower-end iPhone 12 models have aluminum sides instead of stainless steel, that’s about the only obvious external compromise.
Many mid-range Android phones have stellar features, but there are usually gotchas. Samsung’s Galaxy S20 FE is fast and boasts a great display, but makes obvious compromises in design — unless you like “glasstic,” that is. Google’s Pixel 5 is better-built, but it’s not powered by top-tier silicon. Even the OnePlus 8T may struggle with camera quality. While Xiaomi’s Mi 10 series offers both a quality design and features at good price, it’s not readily available in North America and other parts of the world.
And those sacrifices are a problem. As a rule, iPhone 12 buyers can assume they’re getting first-class treatment no matter what model they buy. You can’t often guarantee that with Android. If someone is comparison shopping, they might pick the iPhone 12 simply because it looks and feels more like a premium device vs. its Android rivals.
Small phones with big features
iPhone 12 Mini is smaller than an iPhone SE, it packs features that put many Android phones to shame, let alone compact models. It has the same A14 chip, cameras, and MagSafe charging as its larger sibling. The OLED screen is only slightly lower-resolution than in the standard iPhone 12. And like we mentioned earlier, there are no major design sacrifices compared to larger versions.
Take a look at your Android options and… it’s not pretty. Many small Android phones are old, slower, or both. Even a Pixel 4a is relatively pokey, and it’s slightly larger than the iPhone 12 Mini (if also considerably more affordable). The Sony Xperia 5 II is an impressive phone all-around, but it’s much more expensive and some could argue that it’s not really a “small” phone.
Simply put, Apple’s offering is one of the better choices in a sea of lackluster small smartphones.
Easier wireless charging
Apple was undoubtedly slow to adopt wireless charging, having introduced it only with 2017’s iPhone X and iPhone 8. It’s catching up, though, and the iPhone 12 family includes a few features that Android vendors could stand to adopt in some form.
MagSafe, which uses magnets to align your iPhone for wireless charging, is the textbook example of a “why didn’t someone think of this earlier?” invention. You don’t have to worry that your phone might be off-center — you just drop it on the pad and walk away. Then there’s the accessories this enables, like snap-on cases and even a wallet.
There are certainly areas where Android phones fare better. MagSafe on the iPhone 12 line charging tops out at 15W where it’s not uncommon to see 30W or more from some Android phones. There’s no mention of reverse wireless charging to top up your other devices, either. But those features don’t address ease of use, and Apple might have an edge simply by eliminating one of the most common hassles of wire-free power.
More camera features aimed at enthusiasts and pros
Android phones are often chock-full of camera features, but they tend to be aimed at everyday users outside of the occasional manual mode. Samsung’s Single Take feature in the Galaxy S20 family is helpful in case you’re unsure of which shot you need, but it doesn’t offer much help if you’re an exacting mobile photographer. The notable exceptions are newer Sony phones like the Xperia 1 II, and they’re a handful of models in a much larger sea.
The iPhone 12 line bucks that trend. Although Apple’s official camera app won’t provide extensive control over shots, all the new phones can not only shoot Dolby Vision HDR videos (they’re the first phones to do this), while the Pro and Pro Max deliver RAW photo support through a new ProRAW format. In other words, you can create images that could be suitable for a TV show or photo spread, let alone your Instagram feed. A Night Mode that works across all cameras is helpful, too.
Yes, you’ve had RAW shooting on Android since Lollipop, but it’s inconsistently available. HDR video recording is also hit-or-miss. And that’s not counting more explicitly hardware-dependent features like sensor-shift image stabilization (again, new to phones) or LiDAR. Simply put, Apple is giving iPhone buyers a series of powerful camera features that are genuinely aimed at enthusiasts and working pros, and that could tip the balance for some buyers.
Custom processing power
As blisteringly fast as the current crop of Android phones can be, they tend to lag iPhones in performance to some degree. AnandTechnoted that even last year’s iPhone 11 models were sometimes outperforming Snapdragon 865 phones released several months later, let alone the iPhone 12. The Android phone market’s progress is largely dictated by one company, Qualcomm, and it hasn’t been moving at a breakneck pace.
Apple, meanwhile, doesn’t have that restriction. It designs the chips it uses in its devices, and the iPhone 12’s A14 Bionic illustrates the advantages of that approach. There’s no outside designer holding it back, and it’s targeting improvements for specific phones rather than trying to make a one-size-fits-all design. Whether or not Apple’s claims of up to a 50% speed advantage over rivals are true, its expected lead is evidence that custom processing power matters.
A few Android phone builders appreciate this as well, even if their execution isn’t flawless. Samsung has its (sometimes underpowered) Exynos chips, and Huawei had its high-end Kirin chips until the US blocked that option. Most others just follow the pack, though, and that lack of customization helps the iPhone 12 stand out that much more.
Where the iPhone 12 falls short
This doesn’t mean the iPhone 12 vs. Android battle is strictly one-sided. Apple falls short in a number of categories, at least if you’re used to what Android has offered. There’s no 120Hz screen. You still won’t find microSD expansion, a USB-C port, or very high-zoom cameras. You won’t even find a 1440p display on the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
There’s also the matter of software. As much progress as iOS 14 has made, additions like home screen widgets, changeable app defaults and iPhone picture-in-picture are catch-up features. You won’t be feeling a twinge of regret if Android’s flexibility is important to you, even if you may wish you had Apple’s timelier and longer-running OS updates.
Even so, the very fact that Android vendors could take multiple major cues from the new iPhones is important. It suggests that Apple is plugging some of the more glaring holes in its iPhone strategy. Android phone creators may have to step up if they plan to go head-to-head with Apple, particularly in that upper mid-range sweet spot occupied by the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini.
This is not just a smartphone. It’s a gaming smartphone.
Have you notice lately about a new breed of smartphones? Aside from the growing popularity of the folding phone, gaming smartphones are all on the rage right now. The rise of mobile gaming gave way for smartphone manufacturers to make gaming focused devices.
So are they just regular smartphones with slightly better specs on some areas or are there things common among these monstrous computing devices?
Here’s five distinct features that a gaming smartphone could or should have. We are not saying that all these things exist in a single smartphone but more often than not, these come as standard to be able to say that your smartphone is gaming focused.
1. High Refresh Display
What’s the difference between high resolution and high refresh displays? High resolutions are typically 1440p or 4K AMOLED displays mostly seen on flagship smartphones. High refresh rate displays are higher than 60Hz (the standard refresh rate even on laptop monitors). Gaming smartphones can have 120Hz or 144Hz refresh rates which provides a very smooth animation for gaming. It also allows you, the player, to react sooner to moving targets or elements in the UI. You have to see it to appreciate it. The Asus ROG Phone 3, ZTE Nubia Red Magic 5G have 144Hz refresh rate and a 1080p resolution. The OnePlus 8 Pro has a 120Hz refresh rate and a 1440p resolution. Notice that as the refresh rate increases, the effective resolution decreases. It’s a trade off to preserve battery life and maintain a cool thermal for the smartphone.
2. Enormous Battery Capacity
The Asus ROG Phone 3 has 6000mAh battery. ZTE Nubia Red Magic 5G, 4500mAh. Xiaomi Black Shark 3 Pro, 5000mAh. If you plan on gaming for longer sessions, your smartphone need to last for longer. Yes, you can plug in your smartphone to a powerbank while gaming but that’s not a wise idea if you want to maintain the performance of your smartphone. Your typical smartphone have 2500 to 3000mAh battery capacity. It’s perfect for regular daily tasks. But for high refresh rate gaming, a bigger lithium power source is needed. That’s why the big gaming smartphone brands are packing the highest possible battery to give you the edge to win.
3. Even Bigger Storage
OnePlus 8 Pro and Xiaomi Black Shark 3 Pro give you 256Gb of internal storage. And so is the Asus ROG Phone 3. ZTE Nubia Red Magic 5G, 128Gb. We all know that game files when downloaded locally can take up a lot of space. So gaming smartphones, in following this principle needed to have big storage spaces for these games. 256Gb is great but having the option of adding an external micro SD card, it’s even better. This means that you can allocate you faster internal storage for your games, and your external storage for all your other files.
4. Custom Cooling Solution
How does your smartphone keep itself cool? Simple, it transfers the heat from the CPU and other components to the case. That’s why when you hold your smartphone that just performed a very heavy task, it’s really hot. Yes, you are the heat sink. You absorb and transfer the heat from the device to your hands. Gaming smartphones, on the other hand, goes way beyond this solution and provide you with a custom cooling solution to accelerate this process. You will not see it but inside an Asus ROG Phone 3 are bigger copper heat sinks and thermal paste. Yes, the same thing you use on your desktop and laptop CPU. In effect, it can dissipate heat faster than your conventional smartphone.
5. Performance, Performance, Performance
It’s all about the performance. If your gaming smartphone has a weak CPU, it will not stay on top that long. Samsung Galaxy S20, Snapdragon 865 chipset. The same with Xiaomi Black Shark 3 Pro and ZTE Nubia Red Magic 5G. Asus ROG Phone 3’s got a better one, the Snapdragon 865+. In short, only the best processor with the highest possible speed will be allowed in this category. As soon as a new high performance processor is released, a gaming smartphone could have that hardware to maximise your gaming credibility – if only on paper.
Now you see how gaming smartphones are different from your pedestrian smartphones. They are based on performance, endurance and efficiency. Although your smartphone has these qualities too but nothing beats a smartphone that was specifically built, designed and sold to be good at gaming.
Call us at 8011 4119 if you have smartphone problems, Sydney CBD Repair Centre will fix it for you.
Why go to a repair shop or a manufacturer or the smartphone shop you bought the phone from? When you can do it yourself?
So you have to know if you are an enthusiast or a tech oriented individual. If you own a shop and you fix smartphones for a living, then this video is not for you. However, if you only do screen replacement once or twice a year, then watch out for the risk of DIYing a screen replacement.
Risk #1: You buy the wrong replacement part.
Think about it, the only places where you can buy these replacement parts is online shops or an actual repair shop that is willing to sell you one.
There will be a risk that you can buy the wrong part from a slightly different model. Whether it’s an iPhone or Android smartphone, you might end up with a half open smartphone that you fixed up in your kitchen counter because you can’t finish it because of a wrong part.
Risk #2: You don’t have the right tools or the knowledge to use them.
If you’ve seen some of our videos, we have a lot of special tools specifically designed to perform an operation. Oftentimes, we create our own tools based on experience.
If you don’t have the right tools to do the job, then you can jeopardise the whole repair by giving your already damaged device more damage. It’s a risk that you have to think about. Remember that a smartphone screen is made up of glass. You still have to be very gentle with it and use non-metallic tools to pry your smartphone open.
Risk #3: You can have complications while disassembling or reassembling the device.
You’ve watched videos on ifixit. you have the tools. You have the right part. But what if somewhere down your screen replacement operation, something came up that was not discussed in the repair video that you watched? What if your smartphone didn’t boot up when you tested it? What will you do?
Complications like these can happen if you don’t know the nuance of fixing a specific smartphone model. What is your smartphone chassis is bent? What will you do? What if you punctured your battery? These complications do happen, folks, so watch out.
Risk #4: You can spend more if you damage other components.
Speaking of complications, one other risk is damage to other components. So you thought that you just have to remove the broken screen and you’re good to go? One wrong move and you can bend your smartphone’s housing. Hashtag, bendgate. You can puncture your battery if you’re not careful too. That’s why no metallic objects should be used when you interact with electrical or glass components of a smartphone. You can also leave scratches on the smartphone’s aluminum body.
Damaging other parts of the smartphone if you’re not careful is a risk.
Risk #5: You don’t know advanced troubleshooting techniques if the smartphone won’t boot up after your screen replacement.
We already discussed this. What if your smartphone required more troubleshooting after you successfully replaced the screen? Do you know how to deal with it? If you’re not sure, just let the pros do it.
Sometimes, when you drop your smartphone and whacked the front display, you can also dislodge some parts inside the smartphone. Or your smartphone just won’t accept the replacement screen. It’s like next level skills that you can only get from years of experience fixing smartphones.
Call us at 8011 4119 if you have smartphone problems, Sydney CBD Repair Centre will fix it for you.
We know very well of the dangers of a battery exploding or instantly dying on you. One is a fire hazard and a health hazard. The other one can let you down on critical situations. So how can you tell that your battery needs to retire and you need to get a new one?
Reason #1: Reduced Battery Life
One of the main reason is when your battery isn’t as lively as it used to be a year ago. It needed a recharge after lunch? It needed one again just after six o’clock. What is going on? Aging. That’s what’s going on. Some lithium ion batteries just lost their capabilities to hold charge after a year. Some batteries are extreme so you might end up with a bad one. Get a new battery installed if you still want to use your old device.
Reason #2: Unexpected Shutdowns
This is worse. You are still at 80 percent and then out goes your smartphone to sleep. What’s going on? Well, your battery is not even registering the accurate charge through it’s controller. This means that it can go from hero to zero in a second. Battery replacement? Sure.
Reason #3: Bootloops
Smartphones are smart. That’s why when they detect that your battery is not supplying enough voltage to start up the device, they immediately retry. And then retry again. And again. You’re in a loop. A boot loop. Some factors can also cause this like corrupted OS or a bad motherboard. However, if you can fix it with a battery replacement, then go for it.
Reason #4: Physical Damage
Need I say more? Your smartphone is literally trying to rip itself apart because the battery pack is bloating. This is dangerous so don’t even attempt to open up your device if you don’t know what you’re doing. It can explode. Go to a repair centre immediately and have this sorted out.
Call us at 8011 4119 if you have smartphone problems, Sydney CBD Repair Centre will fix it for you.
While the Mi series may be the flagship series of Xiaomi‘s product line, it’s the Redmi series that’s the company’s bread and butter. And within the Redmi series, it’s the Redmi Note series that has everyone’s attention as it encapsulates Xiaomi‘s ethos of offering more bang for your buck.
Continuing the tradition this year is the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro, the flagship within the company’s Redmi lineup. Like the previous phones in the series, the Redmi Note 7 Pro pushes the budget smartphone category further than it has ever been, cramming in as many flagship features as it possibly can without breaking the bank.
The crown jewel this year is the presence of the Sony IMX 586, a 48MP behemoth that is found in nearly every flagship Android smartphone this year but Xiaomi was one of the first few companies to implement it, that too in a budget phone.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro specs
Body: Gorilla Glass 5 front and back, polycarbonate frame
Display: 6.3-inch, 2340×1080 IPS LCD, 409 PPI
Rear camera: 48MP f1.79 PDAF primary, 5MP secondary, 4K30 video
The rest of the kit isn’t bad either. You have a polycarbonate and glass body with a teardrop notch display, a Snapdragon 675 chipset with 4GB or 6GB RAM and 64GB or 128GB storage and a big 4000mAh battery.
When you remind yourself all of this is in what is still essentially a budget smartphone, it seems very impressive indeed. Of course, running on top of all this is Xiaomi‘s MIUI 10 based on Android 9 Pie, which, for now at least, is the latest version of Android available.
The front of the device has a display going nearly edge to edge. There is a small chin on the bottom and on top is the familiar notch, but neither are particularly distracting.
The sides of the phone are made out of glossy polycarbonate, which can feel slippery at times. On the right are the power and volume buttons, placed appropriately and having a decent tactile feedback.
On the top of the phone are two things that are very hard to spot these days, a headphone jack and an IR blaster. The latter is quite common on Xiaomi phones but the former is starting to disappear, even from budget offerings like the Mi A2 so this may just be the last Redmi Note phone with a headphone jack.
On the left side of the phone is a SIM tray with a hybrid design that can hold either two SIM cards or one SIM and one microSD. The tray has a rubber gasket around the rim, which should prevent water or dust from entering.
On the bottom of the phone is a USB-C port flanked by the microphone on the left and a loudspeaker on the right. This phone does not have stereo speakers, so that’s the only loudspeaker on this device.
The back of the phone is also finished in Corning Gorilla Glass 5 like the front and has a beautiful 2.5D gradient reflective surface that changes color from bottom to top. This finish is found on the blue and red variants but not on the black.
On the back is also a fingerprint sensor, which is easy to reach and the camera module, which sticks out a fair bit from the back.
The design of the Redmi Note 7 Pro is really nice, especially in the blue or red variants. It also feels quite premium in hand, something that’s not the case for a lot of budget phones, even ones that do have a glass body. This phone is heavier than most in the segment, which actually helps make it feel more substantial and opulent in hand.
However, the phone still isn’t rated for dust or water resistance, which is to be expected in this price range and other than the gasket around the SIM tray we saw no other evidence of this phone being able to ward off the elements, so it’s best to keep it away from water.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro has a 6.3-inch display with a resolution of 2340×1080. It’s an IPS LCD panel with a notch and a 19:9 aspect ratio.
The display has three color modes. The default Automatic contrast makes the colors more saturated with higher contrast and bluer whites. It also changes the display contrast based on ambient lighting and has manual white balance wheel. The Increased contrast option looks similar to Automatic contrast but lacks the automatic adjustment of contrast and white balance. Lastly, there’s the Standard mode, which is based on the sRGB color standard, and it’s what we used for our testing.
The image quality in the Standard mode is decent. The colors look reasonably accurate but the display has a greenish yellow cast. However, you do tend to get used to it and after a while it’s not that noticeable.
In our color checker tests, the display produced mediocre results in the grayscale patterns due to the greenish tint to the whites. However, the rest of the color performance wasn’t too shabby for a budget device.
Overall, the display quality is pretty good for the price but we would have liked to see better color accuracy.
As with all Redmi phones, the Redmi Note 7 Pro runs on MIUI. Our review unit is using the latest MIUI 10 on top of Android 9 Pie.
As we have mentioned in our previous Xiaomi reviews, MIUI is a major departure from stock Android. This is a complete redesign of the user interface and outside of a couple of specific menus you will never see stock Android UI elements here.
This includes a lot of custom items, such as the launcher, the notifications, the app switcher and all of the stock apps. All of these have gone through several changes over the years, with MIUI 10 easily being the best version so far.
The launcher is as we have seen before, lacking a traditional app drawer and instead of placing all the apps and widgets on the homescreen like on iOS. Xiaomi has a different launcher for the Pocophone that does have an app drawer and also some other features and while that launcher can be installed on any Xiaomi phone, for some reason Xiaomi chooses not to integrate the two.
The notifications also sport a custom design. The grid of icons is customizable but for some reason you cannot have fewer than twelve icons. The notifications themselves have seen several improvements over the years and do work more or less in line with stock Android and other Android phones.
Another thing that was improved recently was the app switcher. Instead of the horizontal card layout of previous versions, we now get a tiled view that shows four apps at the same time. This is definitely the most functional layout of any app switcher and there isn’t another phone that lets you jump straight to the fourth last app that you had opened.
Also updated are the volume controls, which now features a much more attractive and easier to use interface. You can also expand it to show all the volume levels for different functions.
The Settings app has gone through some changes as well and the About phone section has now been moved to the top of the list. This is convenient if you like to constantly check for new OS updates or updates for the stock apps that come pre-installed. The rest of it, however, is more or less the same and a lot of it is still a bit convoluted and many of the things aren’t placed where you’d expect to find them on any other Android phone.
Xiaomi has also added dark mode in the latest version of the OS. This works system-wide across all the stock apps as well as every other part of the UI. Well, almost every app as the File Manager app and the Security app for some reason aren’t affected by the dark mode.
As before, there is gesture support built-in. Xiaomi‘s gesture implementation is perhaps the best on Android, possibly because it’s identical to iOS. You swipe up to go home, swipe up and hold for app switcher and swipe from left or right edge of the screen to go back. It works as you’d expect and the animations are done well.
There are tons of other features in the OS that we don’t have time to discuss today. There’s also a lot of customization options built-in. It’s one of the reasons why people like MIUI so much and even prefer it over stock Android.
But while there’s definitely a lot to like here, it can also be quite a nuisance at times. Many of the stock apps that come with the phone will bombard you with notifications throughout the day. If you know how to block these, that’s fine but a lot of people don’t and it’s common to see someone’s phone going off and it’s the Themes app telling you of a new theme. The phone is littered with such apps and even apps you don’t expect to send you notifications will do so at some point or other.
There are also far too many duplicate apps on the device. In the same vein as Samsung, Xiaomi loves to have a version of its own app for every Google app, so the phone comes with two of everything. There are two browsers, two music players, two image galleries, and two app stores. The app store is particularly annoying, as it merely exists so Xiaomi can shove promotional content at you and offers nothing extra over the Play Store. As you can guess, none of these duplicate apps can be removed entirely.
The other nuisance is ads. Xiaomi has gone on record saying it can afford to sell these phones at such low prices because it’s found another revenue model – by pushing ads through its apps. Unfortunately, practically every app that comes built into the OS now has ads built-in. The good thing is these can be disabled but you have to do that on a per-app basis and the option to do it isn’t always easily accessible.
It is possible to spend an hour or so going through every app and setting to disable all the notifications, unwanted apps, and ads. We’d also recommend switching the launcher to something more practical and sensible with a better-looking set of icons. Unfortunately, a lot of this requires knowledge that most people don’t have. Most people just use their phones as they come out of the box and the out-of-the-box user experience for MIUI phones isn’t great.
Unfortunately, there’s no point expecting Xiaomi to fix any of this considering these annoyances are now part of the company’s revenue model. However, it’s good to note that this is not the case on all markets that Xiaomi phones are available on. Users in most Western countries seem to be spared the barrage of ads. For now.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro comes with a fairly respectable Snapdragon 675 chipset with a choice of either 4GB or 6GB RAM with 64GB or 128GB storage, respectively. The regular Redmi Note 7 (or Redmi Note 7s as it’s known in India) has a Snapdragon 660 chipset instead.
For the price, the performance of both Pro and non-Pro models is really good. Xiaomi generally has very good performance optimization so the phone never feels sluggish or out of breath. Even doing things like switching apps or taking pictures in the camera app feel very quick. You only really notice the difference in performance if you use a much more powerful smartphone side by side but for most users, the performance on offer here is perfectly satisfactory.
Gaming is another area where the Redmi Note 7 Pro does reasonably well. We played a few rounds of PUBG Mobile and even at ‘HD’ setting and ‘High’ frame rate option, the game was perfectly playable and we didn’t have any issues with it.
The single loudspeaker on the bottom of the sounds good but it doesn’t get particularly loud and just having it on one side makes it sound unbalanced when you’re watching a video or playing a game. Fortunately, the phone does come with a headphone jack although there aren’t headphones provided with the phone and you will have to buy those separately.
Lastly, the fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone also works quite well and was generally quite reliable.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro has the Sony IMX 586 sensor on the back with 48MP resolution in a Quad-Bayer array. If you don’t know how a Quad-Bayer array works, you can check out our explainer here.
The camera has an aperture of f/1.8 along with phase detection autofocus and a dual LED flash. Complementing it is a secondary 5MP depth sensor used for taking portrait images.
The camera application is similar to what we have seen on Xiaomi phones in the last couple of years. The UI is inspired by the iOS Camera app, so on the bottom, you have all the various camera modes and you can tap or swipe to move between them. On the top are toggles for the flash, HDR, AI mode, beauty and color filters.
There’s also an additional menu housing the options for tilt-shift mode, aspect ratio adjustments, countdown timer, and Google Lens. There’s also the Straighten option, which uses the phone’s accelerometer to automatically straighten the image even if you don’t hold the camera perfectly level.
Among the various modes we have the standard Photo mode, a dedicated 48MP mode, Portrait mode, Night mode, Panorama and lastly Pro mode. For video there’s the standard Video mode and also a short video mode that takes quick 15 seconds videos suitable for Instagram.
The Pro mode on the Redmi phones isn’t as elaborate as on the Mi phones, which is a shame considering the sensor on this device. Here we find white balance adjustments, manual focus but without focus peaking, shutter speed and ISO. There’s no option to capture images in RAW.
Image quality in the default photo mode during daylight is largely excellent. The camera has excellent color reproduction that even surpasses some of the more expensive phones on the market, along with really good contrast and exposure. Images captured in daylight have rich details with very little noise or over-sharpening. The only area where it struggles is in capturing bright highlights in moderately lit situations but apart from that there’s not much else to complain about.
Low light is a different ballgame, however. The images in low light come out way too soft at times. The noise reduction algorithm wipes out a lot of the detail and texture in the images. The lack of optical image stabilization also doesn’t help, as the images can also tend to be shaky and the camera has to bump up the ISO instead of the shutter speed to compensate.
There’s also a night mode, but it doesn’t really do much and is basically useless.
The HDR mode works quite well. Images shot in HDR mode have improved shadow and highlight detail without looking too over processed.
You can also choose to shoot images in 48MP mode; however, we didn’t see much reason to. While in bright sunlight you do get some extra detail, it’s not enough to justify the 2 seconds or so where the camera app freezes while it saves the image, nor is it worth the 2-3x increase in file size.
Also, the camera will only actually capture true 48MP images in bright light. In any other situation, it will simply upscale 12MP images, which as you’d expect, don’t look any better than the default 12MP images.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro can also record 4K video. Unfortunately, there is no OIS on this phone and the electronic stabilization is also disabled in 4K mode. This results in a detailed but very shaky video and the camera shake, even when standing still, makes the video unwatchable.
The same is true for the 1080p60 mode, which also does not have any stabilization. On top of that, this mode also suffers from a very soft image as it’s being captured at a fairly low internal resolution and then upscaled to 1080p.
The best mode in our opinion is 1080p30, where you get good image quality, at least in daylight, but also electronic stabilization.
You can also record 120fps slow-motion video in 1080p but the video is soft and there’s no stabilization.
Overall, the camera on the Redmi Note 7 Pro is rather good for the price range. As with the other phones with this sensor, the 48MP description is a bit of a misnomer but even in 12MP mode the phone captures some good-looking images, provided there’s enough light.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro has a 4000mAh battery. We didn’t do our usual battery life test, but in actual usage, the phone easily went through an entire day on a single charge. The battery life has always been a highlight of the Redmi Note series, and the Redmi Note 7 Pro is no exception.
The phone does support Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0, but the phone does not ship with a fast charger. The bundled charger does charge the phone in under three hours but if you want faster charging you will have to spend extra for a compatible charger.
The Redmi Note series has pretty much dominated the budget Android smartphone segment ever since it was released. In markets like India and China that are remarkably price- and value-conscious, the combination of affordable price and robust feature set of the Redmi Note series made it the absolute favorite of the masses and pushed Xiaomi to the top of the sales charts.
With the Redmi Note 7 Pro, Xiaomi is injecting even more of the flagship smartphones into the budget market. The glass body feels premium, as does the large, nearly edge to edge display. The performance is best in class, and the 48MP camera takes some terrific photos. And finally, the battery life is as good as it has ever been.
As a complete package, few phones can compete with the Redmi Note 7 Pro on the market, which is why it has been so challenging to get one since it was released. We would like to see Xiaomi improve its software experience further and make it less of an annoyance with the abundance of ads, notifications, and duplicate apps but apart from that there’s not much to complain about here.
Good design and build quality
Good display quality
Good performance for the price
Good daylight camera performance
Good battery life
Well priced for the hardware and performance
Software loaded with bloatware, ads and disruptive notifications
It’s been almost nine months since the Redmi Note 5 series premiered, and it’s already time for an upgrade. The Redmi Note 6 Pro is now official, shaking up the lineup with one of the most recognizable and controversial features on the market – a frame-to-frame display with a notch.
Yes, the Redmi Notes have reached that inevitable moment, where the notched screen would become the default one until something better comes to replace it. Even the cheapest of smartphones have already jumped on the notched bandwagon, so it’s no surprising to see the Redmi Note 6 Pro being the forerunner of change for the Notes to come.
Xiaomi has pretty much thrown logic out of the window for the Redmi Note names. The Redmi Note 5 is widely available as Redmi 5 Plus, the Redmi Note 5A had little to do to with the Note series at all, while the Redmi Note 5 Pro got an enhanced version called Redmi Note 5 AI Dual Camera. So, the Redmi Note 6 Pro is the Note 6 series opener, but please, don’t ask what happened with the Redmi Note 6. Nobody knows.
Anyway, the Redmi Note 6 Pro isn’t a massive upgrade over the Note 5 Pro, but that’s to be expected given the short development cycle. The Note 6 Pro does bring a larger display fitted in the same body, but keeps the same Snapdragon 636 chipset, beefy battery, and plastic/metal design. It borrows the main camera from the Note 5 Pro AI Dual Camera edition, but the selfie photography got a boost with a new dual-camera at the front.
Connectivity: Hybrid dual SIM (4G+3G), 4G VoLTE, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS/GLONASS/BeiDou, Wi-Fi Direct, FM Radio, IR blaster, microUSB, headphone jack
Misc: Fingerprint sensor
We can’t think of anything that’s missing on the Redmi Note 6 Pro and it’s shaping to be one very thoughtful smartphone with great bang for the buck ratio. And now it’s time to pop this thing out of the box.
Unboxing the Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro
Xiaomi has bundled the Redmi Note 6 Pro with the usual accessories – a 10W charger, a microUSB cable, and a soft silicone case.
The Redmi Note 6 Pro ticks all the right boxes for a best-seller in its class and price segment. But it’s not the only one. There are plenty of smartphones with big notched screens, Snapdragon 636 chips, dual-cams, and large batteries.
The first market to officially get the Redmi Note 6 Pro is Thailand, but the Indian premiere should be just around the corner, too. And there are quite a few phones to consider before making a decision.
Oppo Realme 2 Pro • Xiaomi Mi A2 (Mi 6X) • Asus Zenfone Max Pro (M1) ZB601KL • Motorola One Power (P30 Note)
The Realme 2 Pro is the first device worth mentioning. It’s cheaper, more powerful (S660), and it has a much better take on how a notch should look like. The Realme 2 Pro also does 4K video recording out of the box, and its base model has more storage and RAM. Oh, and the SIM slot is not a hybrid one!
If you aren’t a notch person, then the Xiaomi Mi A2 might suit you better. All-metal design, more powerful chipset, better dual-camera, and Android One enrolment for a clean OS with regular updates. Worth the extra bucks, if you can live without an audio jack and a microSD slot.
The Asus Zenfone Max Pro (M1) ZB601KL is very cheap, doesn’t have a notch, but has the same Snapdragon 636 chip, and a good enough dual-camera on the back. It boasts a massive 5,000 mAh battery underneath the 6″ screen, which combined with the low price may tip the odds in its favor.
The Motorola One Power is a very good match for the Redmi Note 6 Pro. It packs identical screen and chipset, similar main camera, but is powered by an impressive 5,000 mAh battery. Android One is in charge of One Power, which means Android Pie is coming very soon. The Motorola is more expensive though and can’t beat the Note 6’s bang-for-buck ratio.
It’s the new Redmi Note and for the fans, this is enough of a reason for an upgrade even though the novelties aren’t that many since the Redmi 5 Pro. But the Redmis, and the Notes particularly, are becoming more attractive by the hour for users that are either disappointed by the major companies in the industry, or just tired of the high prices they are charging lately.
The Redmi Note 6 Pro has it all – great display, snappy performance, no-nonsense features, excellent battery life, and very good and hassle-free camera experience. And all this is available at an amazingly low price.
Big screen with superb contrast and tiny bezels. And a notch.
It is always refreshing to see a new face on the smartphone landscape, especially one as reputable as Razer, a major player on the thriving PC gaming scene.
You don’t necessarily have to appreciate Razer’s style and portfolio, but you’ll most likely agree that the “PC master race” audience is a tough one to please. Razer has made a name for itself by managing to do just that, catering to the fickle gamer crowd’s whims and fancies.
This is probably the best kind of track record to bring along when setting off to explore Android as a mobile gaming niche. An idea that few have dared to pursue. Mobile gaming is far from dead, nor is it a niche activity per se. Quite on the contrary, it’s a growing fad and probably the one that’s best equipped to accommodate a busy modern lifestyle.
With the rapid advances in hardware performance and a growing number of serious, competitive gaming titles, such as MOBAs, making their way on to the Android platform, it seems like a matter of time for more gaming brands to hop on the mobile hardware bandwagon. If there is money to be made, that is.
Enter the Razer Phone, the first phone to dare bring a high refresh rate screen to the traditional Android markets. An impressive 120HZ IGZO screen is easily the single most impressive novelty but the rest of the spec sheet is painting a pretty solid 2017 flagship picture.
Battery: 4,000mAh; QuickCharge 4+ support (proper charger included)
Connectivity: LTE Cat.16, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, USB Type-C
Misc: Fingerprint sensor embedded in power key, dual front-facing speakers, THX-certified amplifiers, Dolby Atmos
No 3.5mm audio jack
No increased resistance to water or dust
No wireless charging
It is a true powerhouse, the Razer Phone, no doubt about it. Even with the few major omissions noted above. And with the Razer brand behind it, it is sure to get plenty of exposure to just the right crowds. But the real question is, will Razer finally punch through where so many have already failed.
The Razer Phone is clearly a new and different breed of device, no doubt about it. Spearheading what could ultimately become an entire gaming hardware niche within an already saturated smartphone market is no easy task. Naturally, some growing pains and a fair bit of pioneer backlash are to be expected. And for those reasons alone, we appreciate Razer’s efforts.
That being said, we have to be objective and really judge the Razer Phone for what it is, beyond the loud and frankly at times obnoxious “gamer-y” PR efforts. No matter how hard Razer wants you to believe in the “by gamers, for gamers” mantra and all the “best in the world”, “insane” and “1337”, at its core, there is no real “secret sauce” to the Razer Phone.
The 120Hz, IGZO panel has important potential future implications for mobile gaming as a whole, but, in its current form, it comes with many limitations and at a high cost to battery life, max brightness and outdoor legibility. Razer’s overall design and appearance, while undoubtedly well thought out to cater to gamer needs, has a certain antiquated feel and a deeply polarizing nature in a world of ultrawide, bezel-less and curved aesthetics.
Beyond this carefully crafted image lies yet another 2017 flagship device. Not dramatically different or quantifiably better than its competitors and flawed in its own way.
Razer Phone key test findings
The Razer Phone has a very particular look and design. It looks a bit industrial and has a retro vibe. However, most layout decisions are logically made to cater to gamer needs.
The black brushed metal unibody makes for a solid build and a surprisingly subdued look. The speaker grills on the front collect dust easily and quickly start looking worn out.
The fingerprint reader works reliably but is not really fast. Its side-mounted position works well and feels natural. However, the volume buttons are very inconveniently placed and sized.
The 120Hz variable refresh rate panel offers an amazing buttery-smooth experience within the UI and during web browsing. Most apps and games, however, are not optimized to push high frame rates and can’t really take full advantage of the technology. ULTRAMOTION also makes the panel very power-hungry.
Update, Nov 13: This point has been updated with better numbers following a re-test. Despite the IGZO TFT technology, the 5.7-inch Razer panel turned out to be one of the dimmest panels we’ve tested recently, maxing out at 300 nits (230nits in our initial tests). Sunlight legibility is also very poor. Color accuracy is excellent though and we saw a DeltaE of only 2 when measured against the sRGB color space.
The Razer Phone does not handle its massive 4,000 mAh battery well, with 62 hours of endurance rating. Standby and talk time ratings are solid, thanks to the Snapdragon 835. However, both on-screen tests drain the battery very rapidly. Lowering the panel’s refresh rate down to 60Hz does not really help much either. Quick Charge 4+ is awesome and Razer gives you a charger in the box.
We definitely miss the 3.5mm audio jack. At least there is a dongle in the box. The X16 LTE modem is about as quick as they come. Local connectivity is well covered. Bluetooth is a bit outdated at v4.1. There is only a single SIM model.
The Snapdragon 835 chip inside the Razer Phone scores very comparable to its similarly-equipped flagship rivals. Despite Razer’s lofty claims, it is not better or worse.
Game Booster offers convenient controls over CPU speeds, resolution and fps caps on a per-app basis. However, there are system-wide resolution and refresh rate controls as well and the two tend to conflict and interfere with each other.
Few existing Android games can run at more than 60 fps. The OS and their respective engines are simply not designed to do so. Even some of Razer’s advertised titles can’t take full advantage of the 120Hz panel. Still, 120 fps-capable games do exist, so the future holds some promise.
Streaming PC games on the Razer Phone at more than 60 fps is a no-go with current solutions as well.
Razer opted for a near-stock Android Nougat ROM, with a minimal app package. This is beneficial to performance. There is still a powerful theme platform in place, with an online repository of free, high-quality, gaming-inspired themes. Razer’s few custom apps are near AOSP in layout and functionality, but do support themes.
There is no obvious or stable way to play high frame rate video on the Razer Phone, which seems like a missed opportunity. You can manage to trick certain players, like the default Google Photos into working at 120 fps by bringing out the navigation bar during playback, but that is hardly a solution.
The two front-facing speakers on the Razer are one of the loudest we have ever heard. Having two separate AMPs seems to help. The THX certification and DOLBY ATMOS technology and equalizers also enable incredibly crisp sound, with almost no distortion even at high volume.
Audio output on the Razer Phone, with the provided Type-C adapter is pretty clear with an external amplifier. Plugging in headphones results in a bit more stereo crosstalk than we would like. Overall, a good performance, but short of most other 2017 flagships.
The Razer Phone’s dual camera setup is not very impressive. The second telephoto snapper uses a very dim f/2.6 lens. Plus, Razer’s linear “seamless zoom” feature means you can never use the telephoto without interpolation.
The camera UI is really bare-bones. There are no modes, no filters, no effects, not even panorama. There is also no Auto HDR, only a manual toggle. Camera settings are also scarce. At least there is a dedicated video mode and viewfinder.
Stills come out noisy, even in good light and a bit too soft, especially near the edges of the frame. Lots of fine detail is lost and the dynamic range is about average. The Razer Phone is very inconsistent with exposure and easily over or underexposes shots. It is also stubborn about accepting spot metering. Sunlight tends to confuse it a lot and brings out a tendency to opt for a very warm color pallet. HDR is best kept on at all times. Indoor shots come out better.
Low-light photos are on the noisy side and not exactly impressive.
The 8MP, fixed focus selfie cam is serviceable, but suffers from the same overall issues as the main snappers. Again, HDR should be kept on to help it get less confused around sunlight.
4K quality is good, but not great. Videos are sharp, but could use some more detail. Unreliable exposure metering is still an issue and so is the warmer color pallet. The lack of any stabilization is very apparent at 4K.
1080p video retains good quality, compared to its 4K counterpart. Razer did include some form of stabilization at FullHD, but it crops the viewfinder quite a bit and has a tendency to drift horizontally from time to time, especially while using a tripod.
On a more positive note, Razer does seem to have the right marketing idea, especially for a first-time competitor on the smartphone scene. Not only is PR targeted at the right audience, but a $699 (EUR 750) launch price is surprisingly competitive as well. Quite an unexpected turn of events, when you consider most of company’s other premium asking rates.
Like we said earlier, the Razer Phone is a device quite unlike any other, with its own clear marketing angle. Keeping that in mind, nothing short of a decked-out current flagship will do, as far as raw gaming performance goes. An EUR 750 budget or so actually gives us a lot of wiggle room on a pure pricing basis.
If a solid specs sheet and a spacious display is what you are after, the Huawei Mate 10 can deliver. A 5.9-inch, QHD display, backed up by the company’s Kirin 970 top-end chip, means excellent gaming performance. The 16:9 aspect ratio is still the preferred choice as well.
Huawei Mate 10 • HTC U11 • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
Going by the same general logic, both the HTC U11 and the Sony Xperia XZ Premium will chew through modern heavy Android titles with ease thanks to the powerful Snapdragon 835 and the Ardeno 450. And while other high refresh rate mobile panels are hard to come by, opting for the latter Xperia will still net you a specs advantage and potential bragging rights among friends, thanks to the whopping 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution. Just like Razer’s ULTRAMOTION panel, however, taking full advantage of that 4K display is not straightforward.
If these options are a bit too boring for your taste, you could also opt to go down the new trendy ultrawide aspect ratio path. Assuming continued proper app optimization by developers, there might just be some future gaming advantages in doing so. The Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 instantly springs to mind. Another Snapdragon 835 beast, but one with an 18:9 aspect ratio. Not to mention a stunning appearance.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 • Samsung Galaxy S8+
Speaking of which, we can’t overlook Samsung’s excellent 2017 lineup. Sadly, the Galaxy Note8 is still way too pricey to compare with the Razer Phone. However, the 6.2-inch, 18.5:9 Galaxy S8+ has come down in price quite nicely since its launch. Its Super AMOLED panel is one of the best the industry currently has to offer and it is backed by either a Snapdragon 835 or the equally capable, if not better Exynos 8895, depending on the market.
Since we are in search of an ultimate gaming device, it is definitely worth mentioning that the latter has support for Samsung’s Gear VR platform. The price to entry is quite low and experiences have been constantly growing in number and getting better. The Oculus backing is a nice futureproof reassurance as well.
Then again, if you are seriously into mobile VR, you can probably do one better in terms of pure visual experience than the S8+. Since a curved panel is not exactly the best idea for convincing VR, looking into the older Galaxy Note5 or the significantly smaller, but more powerful Galaxy S7 might not be a bad idea. Both have flat Super AMOLED panels – a better bet for VR. Plus, you could save a fair bit of money, in exchange for sacrificing some performance and future-proofing.
Google’s Daydream VR platform might be a good alternative to Gear VR as well. It is definitely too early to say which one has better future prospects. While support for Daydream is a lot more widespread and varied across manufacturers, opting for company backed hardware could net some benefits, The Pixel 2 phones are way out of budget, but the original Pixel XL isn’t.
And since we are already looking into creative solutions to the gaming dilemma, we might as well throw a few more your way. The Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact, for instance, is a distinctly unique offer in its own right. If you can live with a display diagonal of just 4.6 inches, you can benefit from a Snapdragon 835 pushing pixels on to a panel with 720p native resolution. As we discovered in our respective review, the performance benefits are tangible.
Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact • Motorola Moto Z2 Force • Apple iPhone 7
The Motorola Moto Z2 Force also has a unique trick up its sleeve and a potentially game-changing one (no pun intended). Thanks to its flexible Moto Mod platform, Motorola is offering a Moto gamepad accessory. Dual analog sticks, shoulder buttons, the works. Razer, start taking notes.
Last, but not least, why not look into an iOS device? Apple’s platform is renowned for its gaming potential. Sadly, the Razer Phone budget can only stretch as much as a 4.7-inch iPhone 7.
So, is the Razer Phone the revolutionary device that will finally shake the smartphone industry, rearrange priorities and change the rules? No. Realistically, it can probably hope to match or best the sales of its Nextbit Robin ancestor and gain some traction with loyal brand fans.
That being said, unless you belong to that group, the shortcomings of the Razer Phone seem to currently vastly outweigh its dubious benefits, making it unfit for a daily driver recommendation for most. In many ways, buying the Razer Phone is similar to picking up a high-end Razer Blade Pro laptop, a first generation one at that: It’s a luxury, niche item you want to own, not necessarily one you need, nor the most optimal and functional choice.
Still, we have high hopes that the Razer Phone will be extremely important in its own right as a catalyst for future mobile gaming tech. None of its growing pains are really insurmountable. So, who knows, we just might be lucky enough to be standing on the brink of the next big smartphone trend.
Arriving a few months after the rest of the Mate 20 series phones, but considered by many as the best phone in the family, the Mate 20 X is finally stepping in by offering all the screen real estate you could possibly want in a phone.
Better late than never, as the old saying goes. The Mate 20 X was among the most interesting Mate 20 phones, but it never really saw the light of day outside of a few Southeast Asian countries. Not until recently, that is.
The Mate 20 X has now launched in a few European markets and while the chances are that the P30 is already around the corner, the Mate 20 X has niche of its own.
The 20 X is indeed the most memorable device of the Mate quartet – it has the largest of screens, the best of cameras, the fastest of processors, and the beefiest of batteries. It supports a Huwaei’s M-Pen stylus and the gigantic OLED screen has the smallest of them notches.
The Full HD resolution isn’t what we’d call exactly ‘best’, but it is the one to have if you are a gamer. And among other things, the Mate 20 X was indeed praised for its potential gaming prowess. You can even opt for a special hardware controller for a more immersive gaming experience.
We were eager to get this beast of a phone for a spin since its announcement, and here it is – finally in our hands. But before we dig into its productivity, gaming and photography skills, let’s take a closer look at its specs.
Huawei Mate 20 X specs
Body: dual-glass with metal frame; IP53-rated for dust and splash resistance
Camera features: 1/1.7″ 40MP sensor, up to ISO 102,400, 5x optical zoom, OIS + EIS, Variable Aperture, Portrait Mode, can shoot long-exposure without a tripod
Selfie cam: 24MP, f/2.0 Leica lens, Portrait Mode with live bokeh effects
Battery: 5,000mAh; Super Charge 22.5W
Security: Fingerprint reader (rear-mounted)
Connectivity: Dual SIM, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5 + LE, NFC, USB Type-C
Misc: IR blaster, stereo speakers, M-Pen support
What a specs sheet – but that goes without saying as it’s shaering the Mate 20 Pro’s DNA through and through! The Huawei Mate 20 X enjoys a large AMOLED, larger than the Huawei Mate 20 Pro but has a more game-friendly resolution and notch size. Then, it also has the same Kirin chipset, the same triple-camera with 3x optical zoom, and a massive 5,000 mAh battery with Super Charge. What’s not to like, right?
Well, the lack of water-proofing might be an issue, but the Mate 20 X does have proper stereo speakers and an audio jack.
But before we dig into any of that, let’s do some unboxing.
Unboxing the Huawei Mate 20 X
The Mate 20 X, just like the star of the series – the Mate 20 Pro – comes packed within a black paper box. Inside you’d find the 22.5W charging brick, the special USB Type-C cable you’d need to fast charge the X, and a pair of earbuds.
The box also contains a transparent rubber case in some regions outside the EU, but we didn’t get one along with ours. There was a factory preapplied screen protector, though.
We have never been keen on Huawei‘s flagship fragmentation and it’s getting worse with each new series. While we could get behind the release of a normal and Pro model for the P series, the Mate versions never really made sense. And the Mate 20 lineup is not an exception, on the contrary.
The Mate 20 Pro is the model intended for the global market, but the mere presence of this Pro moniker hints for other options. And if a customer wants to see them, well, they are not available to him. This just doesn’t make sense, at all.
Mate 20 X between the Mate 20 Pro and Mate 20
But it is what it is, and the Mate 20 X is finally available for purchase outside China. It took four months for Huawei to begin selling this in Europe, and it’s only official in a couple of markets, but that’s a huge step in the right direction. On top of that, various online retailers are shipping the Mate 20 X across the world, so pretty much anybody can get it now.
The Mate 20 X was shaping as the best Mate 20 phone owing to its massive screen, gaming skills, class-leading camera, S-Pen-like stylus, and huge battery, but Huawei never really meant to push its sales. While it could have been the Pro model, the maker instead considered it more of a limited fan edition, rather than a full-fledged package.
Here is hoping the Mate 20 X does sell well and Huawei reconsiders what the Mate 30 series should look like next fall.
The Mate 20 X has the largest screen in a smartphone so far, flagship camera, chipset and all, and this is quite enough to leave it without competition.
The only phone to come close to Huawei‘s behemoth is the Xiaomi’s Mi Max 3 with a 6.9″ 1080p LCD screen. The Mi Max 3 is a mid-ranger with a Snapdragon 636 chipset, but other than that, it offers one very good 12MP camera with large pixels, a massive 5,500 mAh battery, and is super cheap at about €250.
Speaking of Xiaomi, its most current large phone is the flagship Mi Mix 3 slider, which has a notch-less 6.4″ 1080 AMOLED, Snapdragon 845 chip and great all-round camera experience. It’s cheaper than the Mate 20 X, but you’d be losing the extra camera skills.
The Galaxy Note9 with its 6.4″ QHD AMOLED screen is Samsung’s offer if you want a phablet, and it ships with an S-Pen and a dedicated slot for it within the Note’s body. It’s equally powerful, the screen doesn’t have a notch, and is now cheaper than the X, too.
Vivo’s NEX S has a 6.6″ AMOLED screen, notch-free as well, flagship-grade Snapdragon 845 chip, and a good-enough camera. It’s as limited as the Mate 20 X, if not more, but it might be cheaper where officially available. If you are after a smartphone with a large screen, you should check this one out. The pop-up selfie camera might not be your thing, though, so you have been warned.
Finally, Apple has the iPhone XS Max with a 6.5″ 1242p AMOLED screen and is probably best equipped to compete with the Mate 20 X despite the different operating system. The iPhone’s screen has an eyesore of a notch, sure, but is one of the largest screens around. Then Apple’s A12 Bionic chip is currently the fastest chipset in a smartphone. The XS Max is fully water-proofed, but while its camera is quite capable, it is not as versatile as the Mate’s and lacks Night Mode. The XS Max is a bit more expensive than the Mate 20 X.
And of course, if you want a Huawei like the Mate 20 X, but a bit smaller and cheaper, you can always go for the Mate 20 Pro or Mate 20.
Xiaomi Mi Max 3 • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 • Samsung Galaxy Note9 • vivo NEX S • Apple iPhone XS Max
The Huawei Mate 20 X is not everyone’s cup of tea because of that giant 7.2″ screen. While it is a joy for gamers, it might be a nightmare as a daily driver because of that size. Then again, the Mate 20 Xis about 15-17mm taller than the most recent bunch of phablets – the Galaxy Note9, iPhone XS Max, Mi Mix 3 – so its footprint might be not so tough to stomach after all
And if size is what you are after, the rest is as flagship-grade as it can get right now. The Kirin 980 chipset is one of the best, the triple-camera on the back might be the most-skilled setups to date, and the battery life is pretty awesome. There are also some nice touches like the true stereo speakers, the audio jack, and the stylus support if you need one.
Overall, the Huawei Mate 20 X is one of the best flagships right now, even four months after its premiere. No other modern phone can match its screen size, and this alone could have won Huawei the whole phablet category. If only Huawei has thought this through last fall…