First Look at the Xperia XZ

Not an Apple Fan? Afraid of Samsung? The latest Sony debutant is worth a consideration. I had the chance to try out the Xperia XZ today and I was impressed. There’s no big wow factor this time, like the 4K screen on the Xperia Z5, but instead Sony has put together a series of refinement for a damn good phone. Something like what Samsung had achieved with the S7. Is this enough to turn around Sony Mobile chances? It’s their best chance yet.
(more…)

Huawei P9 Hands On – Change the way you see the world #OO

Huawei P9 – Reinvent Smartphone Photography #OO

Pricing & Design

Huawei P9 is the latest flagship phone introduced early this year, along with P9 Lite & P9 Plus. Huawei is commonly known to be introducing flagship-standard phone at a much affordable price. P9 is no exception with its retail price of $768 during their first launch. It is one of the most affordable flagship when you consider the fact that it is the easiest entry to get yourself into the Leica bandwagon.

At 6.95mm, Huawei P9 is the slimmest flagship phone introduced this year so far. Consider it an achievement as Huawei managed to squeeze in a 3000mAh battery and managed to avoid the dreaded camera bump at the back of the phone.

sdr

On the back of the P9, an additional fingerprint sensor was added, a great improvement from last year omission from Huawei P8 where fingerprint sensor are becoming mainstream on flagship devices.

5.2 inches display are vibrant and sharp despite only having the resolution of Full HD 1920×1080. At screen PPI of 423 pixels/inch, it is almost impossible to distinguish each pixel from a usual viewing length and angle.

Performance
Huawei is one of the only few companies that produce their own chipset for their devices, P9 is using brand new octa-core Kirin 955 CPU, an slight upgrade from previous Huawei Mate 8.

Daily usage proven to be smooth & responsive despite the fact that benchmarking are considerably lower than other flagship running on Snapdragon processor.

Huawei’s own power manager are able to identify the power-hunger application and shut it off when needed, along with Android 6.0 Marshmallow’s Doze function. Users of Huawei P9 are able to get a decent amount of screen on time without reaching for the charger in the midday. Huawei P9 will be available with 32GB/3GB RAM & 64GB/4GB RAM version. With the help of Huawei’s Power Manager, I did not experience any occasion where application are forced close due to lack of memory. I am able to run multiple app at once without any lag.

Leica-certified Camera

Duo camera phone has been here for years, from 3D camera to purely creating bokeh effect, no one seems to have an idea what to do with the second rear camera. Unlike others phones where the second rear camera are often an assistance to create effects, Huawei P9’s second camera can actually work on its own. The co-development with Leica results in one of the most interesting duo camera set up so far – a pure monochrome camera.

Leica users should be familiar with their monochrome camera series that only shoot in B&W. Huawei P9 works exactly like that without a color filter array on the sensor, hence the sensor is able to take in as much lights as possible.

With the duo camera setup, P9 is said to be able to capture 270% more light than typical smartphone these days despite the fact that the F stop is at F2.2 for both 12 megapixels sensor.

Focusing is assisted by laser focus to provide fast focusing. Duo-LED flashlight are also here for your night shooting need, though I would not recommend using any flashlight for shooting on phone but the overall quality remains acceptable.

Monochrome camera

Only one word to describe the monochrome camera performance – Stunning. Details are kept to their best – as opposed to taking a color photo and covert it to B&W. Check out the monochrome photo sample below!

RGB camera

The usual camera benefits from the help of monochrome camera & laser focusing. Color turns out to be accurate and night time shot does not suffer from shutter lag.

Wide Aperture Mode

Huawei P9 make use of the duo camera set up to produce a realistic bokeh – RGB camera taking the usual shot while monochrome calculate the focal distance. With P9’s top tier processor & camera application, you are able to view the bokeh effect live while shooting photos without any lag. Noted that the effect can be best achieve within 2 meter distance.
 

Pro & Other Modes

The overall UI are different from usual Huawei phone we’ve seen so far. With the collaboration with Leica, the camera UI has been revamped with the standard Leica interfaces.

 

While the amount of different mode seems to be overkill, there are a good reason to it.

Pro mode is available for both RGB & monochrome camera. Photographers will appreciate the whole range of customizable setting similar to a standard DSLR.

Swiping left & right on the camera app will brings you to various mode (HDR,Night mode & time-lapse, to name a few)

I particularly love the light-painting mode. In light-painting mode, there are four different choices given – Trail lights, Light graffiti, Silky water & Star track. What sets P9 light-painting mode apart from pro mode is that P9 took the photo in right exposure first, and you are freely to add in any lighting effect for almost an unlimited time period without risking the photo being over-exposed.


(Trail lights)


(Light graffiti)


(Silky Water)

Conclusion

With the expectation of camera innovation raised so high this year. Huawei P9 has proven to be a worthy contender for this camera race for 2016. Along with the affordable price, slim design & Leica-certified camera, it is hard not to recommend Huawei P9 to everyone this year.

Bonus

Do you know that Huawei is the first to introducing a warranty scheme that last more than one year?

You are able to get up to two year of prestige warranty for your Huawei P9, along with one year of free screen protect (changing of screen within one year due to screen crack). Huawei also provided a Google app called HiCare (installed on P9) that can provide you with more tips & contacting services to ensure you that Huawei is always there for you when you required assistance.

Review: Sony Xperia Z3+

Called the Xperia Z4 in Japan, but Z3+ everywhere else, here’s how the new Sony Xperia Z3+ stacks up. The Xperia Z3+ is Sony’s newest flagship smartphone, but it’s title might soon be usurped when the rumoured Xperia Z5 arrives next quarter.

Design

Sandwiched by two layers of glass, and all around metal body and aluminium trimming gives the Xperia Z3+ sleek, premium look. I particularly like that the Xperia Z3+ is only 6.9mm thick. Featuring the same “Omnibalance” design style, the Xperia Z3+ looks like a carbon copy of the Xperia Z3, and even the other siblings. But there are improvements, the reduced thickness of 0.4mm makes the Xperia Z3+ easier and lighter to hold. Although it seems like the trade off spec was the battery, which is now reduced from 3100mAH to 2900 mAH. Another new addition is bumpers to the Xperia Z3+ corners to give it reinforced strength.

The right side of the Xperia Z3+ features the volume rocker, power button, and retains the same dedicated camera shutter key from the Xperia Z3, to help with taking photos.

(more…)

M1 mySIM Mobile Plan – No Frills with 5GB for $30

Ahead of any announcement of a 4th telco, M1 surprises us with a new mobile plan. Called mySIM, you can get a $30 monthly subscription for 300 min talk time, 1000 sms, and more importantly 3GB of data. If you sign a 12 month contract, the bundled data increases to 5GB. The difference is that these plans are essentially no frills, you would not be able to purchase a handset at a discount.

The plan also comes with free incoming calls, unlimited free calls to 3 M1 numbers, promotional waiver of first month’s subscription for Caller Number Display for new line and voicemail Service. After the initial month waiver, caller number display is charged at $5.35 per month. As a no frills plan, Corporate discount and Senior / Youth Benefits are not applicable on mySIM plans.
(more…)

HTC One M8 First Thoughts & Singapore Launch April 2014?

The HTC One (M8) will be available soon as part of a global launch, with target for North America markets set as 10th April. It is pretty likely the phone would also be made available in Singapore at around the same time, with all three major telcos, Singtel, Starhub, M1 part of the Asia Pacific group listed. The HTC One has embraced its coding moniker M8 as part of the name. Quick opinion of the phone is that it is a close sibling to last year’s model with subtle improvements all around.

To me, one of the plus of the HTC One was the sleek metal body last year, and that helped the M7 garner a few fans as opposed to the all conquering Samsung. In comparison, Samsung has continued on with the plastic feel and users who are looking for a more premium look to the phone to rival the iPhones, should seriously consider the HTC One M8. This year’s model comes in a darker gun metal hue, which coupled with the aluminium body, excudes a sense of class as compared to the other Android competitors. The redesigned curved edges and back also makes it easier to grip and hold. It’s a little more rounder, less sharp, with with softer curves for a smooth, more natural grip.
(more…)