Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Madden 18 vs Madden 17: What’s New

This is what’s new in Madden 18. From the new Frostbite-powered graphics upgrades to the new Madden 18 features, this is how the Madden 18 vs Madden 17 comparison stacks up. Just ahead of E3 and EA Play we learn about Madden 18 MUT Squads, a new 3 vs 3 online way to play Madden.


We’ll help you decide if Madden 18 is worth buying for the new features that EA packs into the game. We know several new features and expect to learn more in June. You can pre-order Madden 18, or wait for more information.


As gamers, we are always concerned that sports games will phone it in with a roster upgrade and token changes. There will be a chance to play Madden 18 in June, and if you are at EA Play you can even go hands on.


We’re walking through the new Madden 18 features that we’ve discovered and that EA announced when they shared that Tom Brady is on the cover.


What's new in Madden 18 from Madden 17.
What’s new in Madden 18 from Madden 17.

The Madden 18 release date is August 22nd for the Madden 18 G.O.A.T. edition and August 25th for the standard edition.You can already save $22 to $26 with Madden 18 deals.


EA spent a lot of time on Madden 16 upgrading the passing game. In Madden 17 we saw a major emphasis on the defense, making Madden ratings matter more, enhanced realism and making it easier to play.


The new Madden 18 features we know about include new play modes, new play styles, target passing, coaching adjustments and graphics upgrades thanks to the Frostbite game engine that powers FIFA 17 and Battlefield 1.


Here are the new Madden 18 features and upgrades from Madden 17 that you can look forward to in August.


Watch Andy Rubin make a case for the Essential Phone


Andy Rubin, the co-creator of Android, isn’t resting on his laurels. He may have helped develop a mobile operating system that boasts two billion monthly active users, but he’s now eyeing the next big thing.


His company is set to release its first smartphone, titled the Essential Phone, in June, and we already know a bit about it from the specs and price details announced yesterday. Last night, Rubin also took part in a Code Conference interview to discuss why the Essential phone is here and what makes it special.





It’s an interesting interview, providing lots of insights into the industry. You can watch it in its entirety above, but I’ve also summarized the main talking points regarding the phone below.


“What’s post-mobile?”


Rubin said he and his team at Playground (the parent company of the Essential brand) were trying to figure out what was “post-mobile” when they started working together two and a half years ago, and believed it would involve “some form of machine-learning AI combination.”


Like how Android has played a vital part in the mobile ecosystem, Rubin now wants to be part of the next ecosystem. He said he was interested in, “planting the seeds today […] that will help us harvest those opportunities in the future.”


In other words, the Essential Phone is just a first step towards a much bigger idea. Though what this will be isn’t completely clear yet, you can already see the direction it’s going in some of the other IPs Essential has announced. The company is working on its own OS, known as Ambient OS (though its Essential phone runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat), and a Smart Home product like the Amazon Echo Show.


The OS and the assistant, it appears, will go hand-in-hand, but when asked about whether the OS would ever be used to power a smartphone, Rubin said: “I don’t necessarily see a reason for there to be,” but noted that, “if there becomes a reason in the future, I’ll be in a really good position to address it.”



“This isn’t rocket science, it’s technology evolution.”


The design of the Essential is distinct, with a large front-facing display and near bezel-less design. Rubin talked this up in the interview, saying that you’re getting the phablet-like screen in a regular phone size, but conceded that it was the way others in the industry were moving. “This isn’t rocket science, it’s technology evolution,” Rubin said. Rubin also discussed how the company employed titanium to strengthen the device body, stating that it would “bend in my pocket” if it was made from the typical aluminum used in smartphones.





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On the rear of the handset, two magnetic pins can be found which will be used to connect to Essential’s accessories. Rubin said this was a first step in a bid to get away from cables.


“Connectors of any kind are dumb,” he said. “They should all go away.” While the Essential phone does have USB Type-C, as the industry transitions, the Essential phone also employs magnetic pins for mod connectivity, which feature a near-field, 60 GHz RF chip that works effectively the same as USB 3.0.


Essential’s upcoming home assistant will utilize the same tech, and Rubin says future Essential Phones could change form factor without excluding existing accessories. Current Motorola phones are restricted to the same form factor if they want to maintain compatibility with the Moto Mods, Rubin said.



Rubin also talked a bit about the digital assistant integration, which is set to play a significant role in the Essential Phone. “If you think of an assistant, and how you would expect an assistant to run in your home, that same assistant runs on the phone,” he said. Essential is yet to talk about or demonstrate precisely what this assistant will offer, however.


Closing thoughts


“One of the reasons I started this company is because I would go into a store and I wasn’t happy with any of the phones out there,” Rubin disclosed during the interview. “Especially Android phones.”


This is as good a reason as any to begin a business building smartphones, and the Essential Phone looks great and has the kind of specs you’d expect from a $699 device.


I’m not sure if the Essential Phone is intended to bring something really fresh to the table yet, though. With Rubin — and his company — aiming to be part of the next great tech movement, I expect this is more of a foundational, “proof-of-concept” type product. But I hope it’s a success, because the next Essential Phones could be where the gears really start to turn.

Essential Phone Release: 5 Things to Know

The man that invented Android unveiled the Essential PH-1, a new premium smartphone made of titanium and ceramic. The new $699 Android phone is available for pre-order now and is worth a look for anyone considering a high-end phone with a big screen, such as an iPhone 7 Plus, Galaxy S8+, or Pixel XL. What sets the Essential PH-1 apart is that it’s almost all screen on the front and it has some innovative accessories, such as a 360-degree camera.


While the Essential PH-1 is a noteworthy device, the reason so many Android fans are excited about this device is that Andy Rubin, the co-founder of Android, is behind it.


While other manufacturers brag about maxing out the size of the display by getting rid of the bezels on the side of the phones, the Essential PH-1’s display extends up to the top edge of the phone as well. The display curves around the front-facing camera, filling out the space normally reserved for sensors and speakers. It’s the closest thing to a bezel-free phone we’ve seen yet.


The Essential PH-1 has dual rear cameras and a modular design with magnetic pins on the back for a 360-degree camera and other accessories that snap on. The Essential PH-1 is launching in the US first, with 4G LTE support for all major carriers.



Essential Phone Design


Essential is using a high-end titanium frame that’s more durable than the aluminum most smartphone manufacturers use. The same applies to the ceramic finish on the back instead of fragile glass. This combination means it can survive a drop test “without blemish, unlike the aluminum competitor devices,” according to the company.


You’ll still find a familiar rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, power and volume keys on the sides, and a pair of cameras around back. These don’t offer wide-angle or telephoto zoom like Apple and LG, and instead one is a monochrome sensor similar to recent Huawei smartphones. That second sensor takes in more light and colors for improved low-light photography.


The front has reinforced Gorilla Glass 5 that should resist scratches and damage. Then at the bottom is a small bit of bezel where you’ll be able to easily hold the phone without touching the screen and activating apps.



The star of the show is the screen. Coming in at 5.71-inches with a Quad-HD LCD display. As you probably already noticed, there is a hole in the top of the screen for the front-facing camera. Essential tells The Verge most Android phones don’t have anything in the middle of the status bar, so technically it shouldn’t cover any notifications or be a concern for buyers.


You’ll also find a USB Type-C port on the bottom for charging and enjoying music, as there is no 3.5mm jack. Essential will bundle a USB to 3.5mm dongle in the box that works with wired headphones.


Premium phones aren’t hard to find in the Android ecosystem, so the company aims to offer a slew of accessories that connect to the pogo magnetic pins on the back. The 360-degree camera and charging mat are just two of many the company has planned. Andy Rubin claims this will act as a way to upgrade the phone over time, so users won’t have to replace their phone once a year.


You’ll also notice there are no logos on the phone to keep the design elegant and simple.


Essential Phone Specs & Features


With high-end phones from Samsung, Apple and LG the Essential phone will need to pack quite a bunch to get consumers interested, and it does. Here’s a breakdown of the specs and features.


Essential Phone Specifications


  • 5.71-inch 2560 x 1312 LCD Display with a 19:10 aspect ratio (long and skinny screen)

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB of RAM

  • 128GB of internal storage

  • 13 Megapixel f/1.8 rear camera, secondary monochrome RGB camera sensor

  • 8MP front camera

  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat

  • 3,040 mAh battery with fast charging

  • Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, USB Type-C, and Powered Pogo Pins

  • Available colors: Black Moon, Stellar Grey, Pure White, Ocean Depths (Teal Green)


In 2017 most flagship phones have water-resistance and a microSD slot for storage expansion, but those are both missing on the Essential PH-1. Not to mention wireless charging only works with the proprietary dock when it’s finally released. That said, it has just about everything else one would want in a flagship smartphone.


Essential Phone Modular Accessories



For accessories, Essential will be offering what they’re calling the world’s smallest personal 360-degrees action camera. This snaps on to the magnetic pins on the back of the phone and works instantly. There’s no setup required for the add-on camera. It uses dual 12MP camera sensors and can record 4k video.


The 360-degree camera will sell for $199, but you can get it for $50 if you pre-order the Essential Phone today.



Shown above is the other accessory, a wireless charging pad that connects to the magnetic pins on the back of the phone. The company has other unique accessories planned and will even allow access to 3rd party manufacturers to create their own.


Essential Phone Release Date & Price


Sadly there’s no mention of an exact release date. The phone is available starting today, May 30th for pre-order and costs $699 with free shipping.


However, buyers will have to order one without seeing anything other than these press photos. There are no reviews or camera comparisons, and we’re not sure how fast software updates will arrive. Coming from Andy Rubin, we’re hopeful it will get updates quick like Nexus and Pixel phones. Everything is still somewhat of a mystery until further notice.



For now, the phone is only available in the United States and will work with all major wireless carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.


The two colors available at launch are Black and White, with Gray and Ocean Green being released later.


Those looking for more details can head to the Essential FAQ page. Essential also announced a new smart speaker called the Essential Home, which looks to take on Google Home or Amazon Alexa. We’ll update as soon as we know more.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Dell Inspiron 27 7000 is a Future Proof, VR Ready All-In-One

The Dell Inspiron 27 7000 offers an ultra-sharp display, virtual reality gaming and a microphone array to better interact with Microsoft’s Cortana personal assistant. In fact, it’s one of the most future-proof Windows 10 all-in-ones that shoppers can buy this summer.


The company revealed the Inspiron 27 7000 at the Computex 2017. As an all-in-one PC, it replaces all the things you might have on your desktop today. Matte black plastic and aluminum cover most of the machine. The body is two inches thick. There’s no tower, though a keyboard and mouse are included.


The 27-inch InfinityEdge display and the aluminum speaker grille dominate the front. The company uses InfinityEdge displays to achieve the thin screen bezels on the XPS 13 and XPS 15. Dell plans to offer a 4K display with HDR10 support in the near future.


The 4K display offers a higher resolution display on par with most TVs. HDR is short for high-dynamic range, HDR10 screens show more color contrast than the average display. A feature called Display Sharing lets buyers use the Inspiron 27 7000 as a 4K HDR10 display for video game consoles and set-top boxes.


Inspiron 7000 Series, 27 7000 AIO.
Inspiron 7000 Series, 27 7000 AIO.

There aren’t many all-in-ones that boast a premium gaming experience like this one does. The AMD Radeon RX 500 graphics card, Ryzen 8 Core processors and optional 16GB of DDR4 options are listed on Dell.com. Dell says the Inspiron 27 7000 can handle virtual reality gaming headsets from Oculus and HTC with the right options. Gamers don’t need headsets with this PC. It has two speakers and a subwoofer that are all tuned for MaxxAudio Pro quality sound.


Dell’s engineers planned for expansion. Because there are two drive slots, buyers can add a 1TB hard drive and 256GB solid state drive to the PC when customizing. The removable rear panel lets users replace these drives in the future. A USB Type-C port connects the PC to phones and docking accessories without much effort. 3 USB 3.1 ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, audio out, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI out, an SD card reader and headset jack are built-in.


Two hardware features enhance Windows 10 on this machine. The PC’s microphone array can hear commands for the Cortana personal assistant from across a room. Microsoft plans to enhance Cortana for these microphones with the next major update to Windows, and there aren’t many PCs that offer this today. A front-facing Windows Hello camera lets users sign in by making eye contact with the machine.


The Dell Inspiron 27 7000 begins shipping in the next few weeks worldwide, according to Dell. Expect it to cost as little as $999 in the United States. It’s available to order in China today from Dell.com


Asus unveils one new 8-inch and two new 10-inch ZenPad tablets




The ZenPad 3S 8.0 is a slight upgrade from last year’s model while the two new 10-inch tablets bring familiar midrange specs.





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Computex is usually an important venue for Asus: the Taiwanese electronics company usually unveils its latest smartphones, tablets, and laptops at this IT tradeshow held in Taipei. While this year, Asus hasn’t shown us any new ZenFones, the company did unveil – rather quietly – three new tablets. The ZenPad 3S 8.0, as the name suggests, is a slightly updated version of last year’s ZenPad 3 8.0, and the two new ZenPad 10 tablets offer purely midrange specs in two different screen resolutions.


ZenPad 3S 8.0


WinFuture


The processor sees a slight bump from Snapdragon 650 to Snapdragon 652 this year, and the same goes for the cameras.



The 8-incher should look and sound familiar: indeed, the S moniker implies that this year’s ZenPad is only a slight upgrade from last year’s model. It sports the same Quad HD IPS display and a 4,680 mAh battery. The processor sees a slight bump from Snapdragon 650 to Snapdragon 652 this year, and the same goes for the cameras. The front-facing camera is now 5 megapixels, and on the back, we now have a 13-megapixel camera. The tablet will run Android Nougat right out of the box and will be available in two configurations: 32GB of internal storage with 3GB of RAM or 64GB of internal storage with 4GB of RAM. Pricing and availability haven’t been released yet.


ZenPad 10 Z301ML and Z301MFL


ZenPad


The two new 10-inch tablets from Asus are rather mediocre. Although they might do well if the price is right, specs-wise, there is nothing surprising here. The Z301ML model features an HD display, an 18Wh battery, and a quad-core MediaTek processor clocked at 1.3GHz. You also have a 5-megapixel camera and a 2-megapixel camera on the front and on the back back respectively. It’ll be available in three configurations: 2GB of RAM with 16GB of internal storage or 3GB of RAM with either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage.


The Z301MFL variant is essentially the same tablet except it has a FHD screen.



The Z301MFL variant is essentially the same tablet except it has a FHD screen and a quad-core MediaTek processor clocked at 1.45GHz. Both versions will run Android Nougat right out of the box and will come in Royal Blue, Pearl White, and Quartz Gray. Again, their pricing and availability have not been released yet.


Are you looking for a midrange tablet? Thoughts on Asus’ new lineup? Let us know in the comments below!

Motorola’s next phone to be announced on June 1 in Canada


We might not know what Motorola’s next phone is, but we now know the company will announce it on June 1.


Motorola Canada confirmed the date through a tweet it sent out today, though it remains tight-lipped about what we can look forward to. We also do not know what time the announcement will be made… all we have is the tweet attached below:



Based on recent leaks, the phone could either be the Moto Z2 Play or the duo of the Moto G5S and G5S Plus. The former will feature a 3,000 mAh battery, with rumors pointing to a 5.5-inch 1080p display, a 2.2 GHz  Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 processor, 4 GB of RAM, 32 GB of native storage, and a 12 MP rear camera with dual auto-focus.





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By comparison, the G5S and G5S Plus will reportedly feature 1080p panels, with either Qualcomm’s new 630 or 660 under the hood. RAM and storage options will differ between models, though both are expected to feature expandable memory. Finally, software should remain as close to stock as a non-Pixel phone can be, with Nougat expected to be the flavor of Android for all three unannounced phones.


Check back on June 1, though, since we will get more information on the mystery handset then.

YouTube Android app gets a new bottom navigation bar in latest update


Android fans of the YouTube app will soon notice that the main navigation bar will be moved from the top to the bottom of the app. This is part of the latest update to the YouTube app, which began rolling out today in the Google Play Store.





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In a post on its product forums, Google stated that this new update for Android will make the YouTube experience more consistent across its mobile platforms (the new UI is already available on the iOS app). The navigation bar on the bottom now shows the Home, Trending, Subscriptions, and Library options. By the way, the Library section has now been separated from the previous Account option, which can now be accessed on the top bar of the app in the profile icon, along with Settings. Any videos you have uploaded or purchased are in the Library section, while also including your YouTube watch history and playlists.





The bottom navigation bar should be available on all YouTube app pages, with the exception of when you actually watch videos. Google adds that the YouTube Android app will also remember where you left off on each tab, which should make it easier to navigate the sea of videos when you go back to, say, the Home section.


Keep in mind this update has just started to roll out for the YouTube app, so it may take a few days for it to reach your device. If you already have this new design, what are your impressions of the new nav bar on the bottom? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

5 Things to Know About the May Battlefield 1 Update

This guide outlines the most important things you need to know about the brand new May Battlefield 1 update and its release for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.


DICE’s latest Battlefield 1 patch doesn’t deliver Nivelle NightsPrise de Tahure, or In the Name of the Tsar DLC content but it’s still an extremely important release, particularly for gamers who play the Operations game mode.


The update is now live for all three consoles and this roundup will take you through everything we know about the this month’s patch including the size for PS4/Xbox One/Windows PC, the bug fixes, and a look at what’s coming next.


May Battlefield 1 Update Size


As expected, the May Battlefield 1 patch is a pretty sizable download for all three platforms.


The Battlefield 1 servers are back online and you’ll be required to download the May patch when you fire up your copy of the game.


DICE’s new Battlefield 1 patch is several GB in size for Xbox One, PS4 and Windows. If you need to clear up some space on your hard drive, you’ll want to do so now.


If you typically encounter slow downloads you might try plugging your ethernet cord into your console or Windows PC to see if that helps.


Here is how the May update size shakes out for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.


  • Xbox One: 2.4GB

  • PS4: 2.6GB

  • PC: 1.1GB

Changes to Operations


The May patch makes some major changes to the game’s Operations mode including a fix for the empty server issue that’s plagued the popular game mode since the game’s launch in October.


DICE notes that “a completed match of Operations will loop back to the same Operation rather than exiting the mode.” The developer hopes this change will keep players in servers and “reduce the occurrence of being matched into an empty server.”


The company says it plans to “continue to expand this feature to cycle through a complete Operation playlist” in future Battlefield 1 updates.


Tweaks


The contents of the official May patch are official and the update is focused on improving game balance and fixing lingering Battlefield 1 problems. Let’s start with the tweaks:


Maps & Modes


  • Fixed a Spectator Mode bug where the first-person camera could become stuck during the Pigeon Carrier Artillery camera sequence on the Assault Tank.

  • Changed ticket count for Domination to 200 from 100.

  • Fixed missing game mode description for Operations.

  • Tweaked scoring values for capturing flags in Conquest. Capturing gives less score now, however more capture ticks have been added and the team controlling more than 3 flags than the other team will be awarded Conquest Control bonuses.

  • Decreased the percentage of contribution to flag capture/neutralize from 50% to 30%.

  • Added “Join Any Operation” button to main Operations screen. Will start a matchmaking session to join any available operation at any size (40 or 64).

  • Spectator camera no longer missing from the map on Frontlines, Verdun, and Soissons.

Vehicles


There are a ton.


Weapons & Gadgets


  • Activated aiming speed modifier during prepare state as well as charge state. This means a player can rotate a maximum of 50 degrees during the prepare state. Also added an input modifier disabling strafe while charging.

  • Adding subtle boost to 3P footsteps when bayonet charging to increase threat awareness. Boosted volume of Enemy VO for Bayonet Charge when close to player.

  • Slightly reduced maximum turn rate while charging.

  • Removed damage reduction while in charge. Weapons will now hit charging players for normal damage.

  • Tweaked criteria for cross-class medal to require single shot rifles.

  • Added UI for grenade resupply.

  • Reduced the occluder size for the scope glint from 0.25m to 0.15m to hide it behind walls better.

Gameplay


  • Added a camera shake advanced gameplay option to adjust the amount of camera shake caused by explosions, etc.

  • Automatically show low on ammo icons on friendly soldiers.

  • Added missing spotting animation when spotting a downed allied soldier as a medic with the Medical Syringe.

Controls


  • Players using controllers can now do custom buttons/sticks mappings.

UI


  • Moved ping widget to be below the kill log.

  • The user is able to switch the UGC option on a child account when fully blocked.

Netcode


  • Implemented per region threshold settings for server side hit detection: 130ms for US + Europe, 200ms elsewhere.

  • Leading shot only necessary by the margin above the threshold, eg. For US @ 150ms ping, you have to lead by 20ms.

Bug Fixes


The May Battlefield 1 patch also delivers bug fixes to address some of the ongoing problems with the game.


Maps & Modes


  • Spectator Mode: Fixed a bug where the first person camera could become stuck during the Pigeon Carrier Artillery camera sequence on the Assault Tank.

  • Fixed missing game mode description for Breakthrough.

Vehicles


  • Fixed a bug with third person aiming on vehicles that caused a bullet to not fire in the correct direction when aiming at a soldiers head while they are on a horse.

Weapons & Gadgets


  • Fixed bug where Bipod Audio could persist when switching to secondary weapon

Controls


  • Fixed select Operation button not properly appearing when using the joypad or on console.

UI


  • Fixed no squad in squad select screen being selected if the player is not in a squad. Will now select the first squad in the list by default. Also added support on PC for pressing the space bar to join/leave a squad.

  • Fixed issue with the flag icons and world icons ghosting when going in and out of the customize screen from the deploy screen.

Netcode


  • Fixed server side hit registration interpolation.

  • Leading shot only necessary by the margin above the threshold, eg. For US @ 150ms ping, you have to lead by 20ms.

  • Fixed latency display for server which is also responsible for decision if to perform client or server side hit registration.

  • Fixed input offsets for server side hit registration to match client side.

  • Fixed wrong hit indicator display when dying.

What’s Next


June is shaping up to be a big month for Battlefield 1.



DICE has also confirmed a new Battlefield 1 map called Prise de Tahure.

On top of the monthly patch, DICE is preparing to release a free map called Nivelle Nights. The map is the game’s first night map that pits the French against the Germans.


The company also plans to detail the next Battlefield 1 DLC, In the Name of the Tsar, at its EA Play 2017 event in Los Angeles.


In the Name of the Tsar is scheduled to be released in late summer which puts its release date on track for sometime in August or September.


After that, the company is planning two more pieces of Battlefield 1 DLC including Turning Tides and Apocalypse.


For more on In the Name of the Tsar, take a look at our roundup below.


Can’t afford a $3,000 HoloLens? Perhaps this $30 alternative will interest you




Microsoft’s augmented reality headset HoloLens isn’t available in its final form quite yet, but if you want to get your hands on the pre-production model, you’ll have to shell out $3,000.


For 1% of that price, Aryzon wants to bring you its own AR headset. Currently on Kickstarter with a goal of €25,000 (~$28,000 dollars), Aryzon’s self-titled headset is aiming to be the “Cardboard of AR,” a low-cost entry into the world of augmented reality using a smartphone as the viewfinder.


Compatible with both iOS and Android phones, Aryzon ships as a DIY kit that you put together and then insert your phone into. Once set up, you’ll have access to Aryzon’s app and various AR “experiences” — said to be updated continually. The team also says that the headset will be “fully accessible” to developers of AR smartphone apps so that they can adapt their applications.



“Aryzon hopes to create a community who are passionate about AR development,” it says on the Aryzon Kickstarter page, “allowing the platform to be optimized and improved with the objective of becoming the go-to platform for augmented reality content creation and sharing.”


The longevity of the product will depend on the other content Aryzon continues to roll out to the app (and how frequently it does this), and whether third-party creators make use of it for their own AR products; Aryzon can hope that others will want to develop for it, but there are no guarantees. As it stands, Aryzon looks like it will offer a lightweight introduction to the world of AR — and that might be a good investment for 30 bucks.


As of the time of publishing, you can still become an early-bird backer to get the headset one month early (August) for the price of €24 (~$27). It has more than €17,000 pledged of its €25,000 goal with over a month left — it seems pretty likely that this one is going to take off.


Check out Aryzon at its Kickstarter page here.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Micromax Dual 5 review


Not many will argue that 2016 was a bad year for Micromax. From being the second largest smartphone vendor in India, behind the global behemoth Samsung, Micromax was ousted from the top five as Chinese players took over the market as well as mindshare.


The company’s dominance in the budget segment took a hit with devices from other brands that offered more value-for-money or stepped on the gas in innovation or undercut pricing with the online-only model.


However, after an unusual quiet period, Micromax is back with Dual 5 – a comeback device with an aim to bring Micromax back in the game and establish its credentials in the mid-range segment – an unfamiliar territory for the company.


On paper, the Micromax Dual 5 packs in a punch and according to the company’s claims, it sports the best-in-class camera. Can it live up to the hype and the expectations? Let’s find out in our comprehensive review.


Design



The Micromax Dual 5 feels solid right away as you take it in your hand and with a unibody metal design, it looks premium too.


The all-metal body of Dual 5 is accentuated with the chamfered edges and antenna bands running across the top and bottom on the rear. I quite liked the minimal branding at the bottom with just the Micromax logo. There are two IMEI numbers too, not to my liking, but they aren’t an eyesore either.



With a curved a 2.5D glass on the top and curved edges, the Dual 5 offers fantastic grip and the phone fits comfortably in your palm even though it sports a 5.5-inch display. At 164 grams, it’s not very light, yet it’s very ergonomic and is pleasant to hold and use for extended periods of time.


Overall, the Micromax Dual 5 looks rad, and is definitely one of the best-looking smartphones to have come from the Indian smartphone maker. There’s nothing that we’ve not seen before, but the workmanship on this one is impressive.


Display



The Dual 5 sports a 5.5-inch Full HD AMOLED display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and an effective pixel density of 401ppi. The display comes with a layer of scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 3.


It’s a bright and vivid display that offers rich colors and sharp text. The contrast and color depth are impressive too and the vibrancy associated with AMOLED displays shines through here as well – although the colors might be too over-saturated for some people. The viewing angles are pretty good too. However, it is a tad reflective to my liking and while it is a problem in sunlight as is, the sunlight mode adjusts the display and brightness level to improve visibility.


Performance



Powered by the Qualcomm’s octa-core Snapdragon 652 processor, the Dual 5 packs in 4 GB of RAM and a very generous 128GB of internal storage.


The 652 is a very capable mid-ranger, and the Dual 5 runs through everyday paces very well. In my two weeks of usage, I didn’t face any lag while web browsing or navigating between the apps. Multi-tasking is a breeze too (the 4 GB RAM helps) and you can jump from one app to the other without any stuttering or significant delay. There’s no frame drops while playing graphic-intensive games like Dead Trigger 2 or Asphalt 8 or streaming HD videos. However, it does go warm when stressed. I had Google Maps open for navigation for an hour-long commute, and the phone got quite warm during the same.


A lot of people still use phones for calling (d’oh!), and the Dual 5 actually does well in that primary but often overlooked department. While the call quality on the Dual 5 is excellent, the company claims that the smartphone is equipped with stereoscopic antennas for three times better signal reception. Well, the claim holds true as far as practical, real-world observation goes. Even in areas with weak signals, the Dual 5 did manage to latch on to the network better than other devices I had on me at that moment.


The 3200mAh battery on the Dual 5 lasts a full day on moderate usage. It’s decent, but nothing special. However, the Quick Charge 3.0 support is a good addition, and it allows you to get from zero to around 40 percent in just 20 minutes and about an hour to fully charge the battery. That’s quite neat, really.


The Dual 5 can take whatever you throw at it, reasonably of course. This one is no 8xx chip by any measure, but packs in a decent punch.


Hardware



Micromax Dual 5 has capacitive buttons for navigation right below the display. It’s a shame they aren’t backlit; disappointing at this price point.


While the Dual 5 packs in a volume rocker and the power button on the right side, there’s a third button on the left side, dubbed ‘Smart Key’, which can be configured to perform different functions using the SmartKey app. There’s an infrared sensor as well that can help you control your home appliances without needing individual remote controls for each.


The Dual 5 includes a hybrid dual SIM tray which is despised by a set of users who want the ability to use two SIMs as well as a microSD card. It’s no showstopper if you aren’t one of them.


The Dual 5 packs in an independent security chip for storing passwords and fingerprints, and uses EAL 5+ military-grade security. It’s a unique proposition, though lost on most users.


Camera



Of course, the highlight of Micromax Dual 5 is its dual camera setup. The dual 13-megapixel cameras at the back capture photos simultaneously, capturing focus and depth-of-field information. Similar to the camera setup we saw on Huawei P9, one camera module captures monochrome imaging data while the second one captures RGB data.


Both cameras have f/1.8 apertures and support phase detection autofocus (PDAF). Yes, you can achieve a bokeh effect, a feature that is one of the most popular pitches for a dual camera setup these days.


In well-lit conditions, the Dual 5 captures some fantastic photos. I was surprisingly impressed with the color reproduction and the details it manages to capture. The camera focuses very quickly, but it takes quite a while to process the images. It’s actually annoying waiting for several long seconds after tapping the camera shutter button to move to the next one.


In low light or indoors, some of the shots come out great with great colors and texture. In some cases though, a lot of noise creeps in – quite noticeable when you zoom in.


On the front, there’s another 13-megapixel camera with an f/2.0 aperture…. Pretty much why the phone is marketed as one with ‘13 + 13 + 13 camera’. Outdoors in daylight, the Dual 5 can take some pretty good selfies although the ones in night are just average. There’s also a SmartBeauty mode to enhance your selfies if vanity is your thing.


The camera app offers a host of options and supports recording slow-motion and time lapse videos along with GIFs. There are different shooting modes and a few filters available too to snap on to your photos.


Software



If camera is the biggest highlight of the Dual 5, the biggest disappointment is that it ships with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. It’s 2017, and there’s no excuse for a flagship device to not have Android Nougat out of the box or at least share a clear timeline for an upgrade.


The Dual 5 runs Micromax’s new UI on top of Android which is similar to the one by Qiku. Qiku is the ODM for this device and hence the similarity in hardware and software from the one released by Qiku. App icons, notification shade, and the Settings app all have received a makeover – and there’s no app drawer.


The Dual 5 also includes a suite of apps by 360 Security for optimization and maintenance.



There are few handy addition as well. There’s a SafeSwitch feature that prevents anyone to shut down your phone without a password. My Pixel XL was recently stolen, and I would really like to see this feature in more smartphones. Also, if one attempts to pull out the SIM without unlocking the phone, the picture of the person will be automatically sent to a pre-configured account. There’s also a SecureVault app that offers a secure space that can be accessed only with fingerprint authentication and helps you keep apps and content hidden from plain sight.





SecureVault app from Micromax helps you hide your apps and private content


April 18, 2017



Specifications




















Operating SystemAndroid 6.0.1 Marshmallow
Display5.5-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) AMOLED | 2.5D curved glass | Corning Gorilla Glass 3
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 652 Octa Core 1.8 GHz | Adreno 510 GPU
RAM4 GB
Internal Storage128 GB; expandable up to 128GB with microSD card
Front Camera13 MP | f/2.0 aperture
Rear Camera13 MP (f/1.8 aperture) + 13 MP (f/1.8 aperture) | PDAF | Dual LED flash
Battery3,200 mAh
Weight164 grams

Gallery


Pricing and final thoughts



The Micromax Dual 5 delivers what it promises, and comes in a pretty nice looking chassis. It delivers good performance and manages to take some great photos.


The Micromax Dual 5 delivers what it promises, and comes in a pretty nice looking chassis.



There’s also one-year free replacement warranty, which is a segment first, and a nice proposition.


I would’ve liked if it came with Android Nougat out of the box, but apart from that, there’s hardly anything to complain. Overall, the Dual 5 is a nice package and Micromax should be happy withby what they’ve brought to the table to kindle their resurgence.

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