Review: The HTC U Ultra

The HTC U Ultra, designed for U, is the latest phone from HTC that is uniquely different from their previous phones. Moving away from the unibody metal signature look, the U Ultra boldly plonks for glass that has been made popular by the like of Samsung. I might miss the industrial look of the HTC One series, but the U Ultra with the new Liquid Surface looks good in a refreshing way, especially the brighter colours like blue and turquoise. The way it catches light and shimmers like a piece of jewellery is stunning. Let’s dive deeper with the phone.
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Samsung. Unboxed. The New S8.

Samsung is BACK, with the latest and greatest – the S8 and S8 Plus, are a revelation. The wraparound design makes the screen the centrepiece of the phone, the Infinity Super AMOLED display pops out with its vibrant colours and high screen to body ratio. Compared to the previous S7 edge, the new phones actually feel slimmer, and easier to hold, thanks to a taller aspect ratio, and a better edge build. They are beautiful phones and blows away the competition.

To achieve this, Samsung removed the non-essentials on the front of the phone. The branding, the home button / fingerprint sensor combo, have all been deemed excess to requirements. The smaller S8 managed to achieve a bigger display than an iPhone 7 Plus, in a smaller footprint, and yet, still retaining the 3.5mm jack. And that’s worth applauding. Now they just have to ensure that the phones do not explode and this would be a homerun.

The previous generation Galaxy S7 and Note 7 have been great phones and many top features have been retained. The IP68 waterproof feature, IRIS recognition, and compatibility with the other great Samsung products like Samsung Pay and GearVR are still on the cards. I am not too sure how useful Bixby would be, which is the other big star of the release, but there’s Google Assistant as an option as well.

Preorders with the local telcos – Singtel, Starhub, M1, is expected within the week, and with a ship date of April 21.

As you would expect from a flagship phone, the specifications do not disappoint.

Galaxy S8

  • Size: 148.9 x 68.1 x 8mm
  • Weight: 152g
  • 5.8-inch Infinity Super AMOLED curved display with 2960 x 1440 resolution (571 PPI)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor or Exynos 8895 8895 processor, depending on market
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB of UFS 2.1 storage
  • microSD support up to 256GB
  • 12-megapixel F/1.7 camera with autofocus and optical image stabilization, Quick Launch and Bixby support
  • 8-megapixel F/1.7 front camera with autofocus, Quick Launch, and Bixby support
  • Iris scanner
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Heart rate sensor
  • IP68 water and dust proof certification
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac with dual band support
  • GPS, Glonass
  • USB Type-C
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 3,000 mAh battery with fast-charging, wireless charging, and battery saving modes
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with Samsung UX on top

Galaxy S8+

  • Size: 159.5 x 73.1 x 8.1mm
  • Weight: 173g
  • 6.2-inch Infinity Super AMOLED curved display with 2960 x 1440 resolution (529 PPI)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor or Exynos 8895 8895 processor, depending on market
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB ofUFS 2.1 storage
  • microSD support up to 256GB
  • 12-megapixel F/1.7 camera with autofocus and optical image stabilization, Quick Launch and Bixby support
  • 8-megapixel F/1.7 front camera with autofocus, Quick Launch, and Bixby support
  • Iris scanner
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Heart rate sensor
  • IP68 water and dust proof certification
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac with dual band support
    GPS, Glonass
    USB Type-C
    3.5mm headphone jack
    3,500 mAh battery with fast-charging, wireless charging, and battery saving modes
    Android 7.0 Nougat with Samsung UX on top

Review : Samsung Galaxy Folder G1600

*Disclaimer: The Galaxy Folder G1600 is an exclusive model in China, hence Google Play are not available. The one we are reviewing is running on a rooted ROM with Google Play installed for the full Google experience if you are interested in the device.

We covered on Android Flip phones on our article previously. I got the chance to purchase it online and used it as my primary phone for the entire October. So here’s my review of the Galaxy Folder G1600.

Design

At first glance, Galaxy Folder looks like a compact Android phone that is similar in size to Samsung S4 mini. However, when you open up the phone, the length is double and it just looks gigantic compared to your usual iPhone/Galaxy devices. That being said, Galaxy Folder is still able to bring the full Android experience with its unique design.

Similar to Apple’s latest trend, Galaxy Folder does not come with 3.5mm headphone jack. The main reason for Samsung to omit the headphone jack is due to the phone being marketed as the Business phone, and users in the business segment often relying more on Bluetooth headset instead of plugging in an external headset. Samsung did bundle a micro-USB headset in the package if you are interested in listening to music on it.

Performance; Software & Battery Life

Samsung Galaxy Folder packs a 3.8″ WVGA display, running on the Snapdragon 425 along with 2GB RAM. By current standard, the minimum screen size is at least 5.0″ and trying to navigate your way through the Galaxy Folder is definitely hard to get used to. But with a little practice along with the keypad, you should be able to get used to the phone easily.

Despite its lower end specification, the overall performance is smooth thanks to its rather generous 2GB RAM. And also, its form factor also ensure that you are not going to play power-intensive games on this phone.

Galaxy Folder is running on Android Marshmallow, which isn’t the latest version of Android you might be expected. Android update to Nougat seems to be unlikely given that it being an exclusive model in China market, however, it is still on par with most of the Android phone in the current market. You are able to run most of the Android app through Google Play Store or sideloading and they work just like a typical Android smartphone. Some apps such as Facebook and Twitter would work with the D-pad on phone for scrolling but most of the time you have to rely on the touchscreen.

The battery capacity for Galaxy Folder is only 1950 mAh, far lower than the majority of the phone in the current market (in comparison, LG X Power released in the same year got 4100 mAh battery). Surprisingly the low amount did not translate to poor battery life in real life testing. On a typical day after powering it up at 7 am, it managed to stay above 30% at the end of the day most of the time with simple texting and web surfing.

Camera

Galaxy Folder comes with a F1.9 8MP rear unit and a 5MP wide angle front shooter. And to be honest, you shouldn’t expect too much from the camera performance from the low-end phone. The rear camera is OK, but the position of the camera is located at the back of the keypad hence it is awkward to hold the phone and take pictures.

Front Shooter
Rear Shooter

Pros & Cons

Pros
– Unique design
– Strong battery life

Cons
– Average camera
– Tall dimension when opened
– Lack of 3.5 mm headphone jack

Price & Availability
Galaxy Folder is China-exclusive for now, you are able to find it on Taobao for the average price of ¥1699 which is around S$350 excluding shipping cost. Do check for the reliable seller before making the purchase.

Verdict
I enjoyed using this phone for an entire month before going back to the mainstream Android phone. I would recommend this phone to people who are looking out for the unique phone in the market. Non-IT savvy user may find the keypad useful when they are trying to adapt to latest technology.

Samsung Galaxy A5 and A7 Available End January 2017

The Samsung Galaxy A(2017) phones will be coming to Singapore 21 January 2017. The Galaxy A5 and A7 will be available in Singapore later this month, with the A3 absent.

The phones come with the now signature Galaxy flair of metal frame and 3D glass back, and sports useful bells & whistles such as a fingerprint sensor, IP68 rating, Samsung Pay compatibility, Knox support, and a microSD / dual SIM hybrid slot.
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iNO5 Non Camera Smartphone

iNO 5 is the latest non-camera smartphone from iNO Mobile, and is the successor to the iNo 3.

What was once a specialised niche changed last year after MINDEF rules relaxation. If I am not mistaken, MINDEF now the disabling of cameras on smartphones through sandblasting (sandpapering) the lens, or removal of the camera module and filling the gap with epoxy.
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