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iPad mini vs. iPad 2: Which one is for you?

This idea came across my mind just a couple of days back, when I convinced my grandfather to buy an iPad instead of one of those netbooks that I think are no good. Since his requirement was just to type a few emails, browse the web and print a document or two every once in a while, the iPad 2 was a logical choice. I own an iPad mini given to me as a birthday gift. Since the internals of both these tablets are basically the same, I started to think which tablet would be ideal for whom.

They seem to look more similar than they actually are.

To be clear, this won’t entirely be an objective view about a specs comparison. This is a subjective view more than anything else. I’ve been using the mini for almost a year now and the iPad 2 is, well, exactly the same internally but that should come as no surprise. There are a few differences and let’s talk about them first.

Cameras

The cameras on the iPad 2 are horrible when compared to the iPad mini. I’ve posted pictures from both the cameras of the respective tablets. The difference seems quite evident when seen side by side. The mini has wider viewing angles on both the cameras and captures better low light shots. Images clicked indoor are less grainy than ones on the iPad 2. I am not very fond of taking pictures on a tablet if I have a potent camera on my phone. The front camera on a tablet is definitely more important than the rear. Using Skype on both tablets tells you exactly why that is so. Video quality from on the iPad 2’s front camera is, relatively speaking, pretty bad. The fact that most Skype calls are made indoors doesn’t help. What good is the mini’s HD camera if the quality of video is downgraded anyway? Regardless, self-portraits turn out to be beautiful, invariably.

iPad 2: Rear Camera

iPad mini: Rear camera

iPad 2: Front Camera

iPad mini: Front camera

Connector

The 30-pin connector is, frankly speaking, a pain in the neck. It’s unidirectional ,so you just can’t connect the device when you need to charge your tablet as a typical impatient person would. To add to the misery, the charging speeds are slower and so are the speeds achieved when copying files across the device.

Speaker

While the iPad 2 definitely has speakers that are loud enough to get the job done, the mini has better (and more as claimed on Apple’s website) speakers. You can actually listen to music on in a small room and won’t feel the need to pull out your earphones which, incidentally, aren’t there in any of the iPad’s boxes, in case you were naïve enough to expect the earpods along with the mini, like I was.

Now let’s get down to the real and probably the only thing that matters, since it is not fair to compare the mini’s specifications to something that was released two years ago. What really matters is the screen size. Whether you need a bigger screen size of 9.7” or you can manage with a 7.9” tablet is what your question really should be. Basically, a 9.7 inch tablet amounts to a laptop replacement. You should pick one of these up if you are really into doing work such as photo editing, video and music editing or creating and editing presentations, word documents using the iOffice suite of apps etc. However, this isn’t to say that those apps wouldn’t be used satisfactorily on the mini. There is absolutely no difference across the board except the roomy-ness you get with the iPad 2. The mini, holds good as a true tablet since it is extremely portable and gives the iPad 2 a run for it’s money. It makes more sense to get the iPad mini if reading e-books is your thing.

Typing doesn’t seem cramped up at all on the mini, but it would take a few mails to get used to. Using the iPad 2’s keyboard is as comfortable as typing on a 15.6” laptop, the reason being that the keyboard on the iPad 2 is exactly the same size as that of a regular sized keyboard.

A comparison of the iPad 2 and my 15.6″ laptop’s keyboard

While both have the same screen resolution, the smaller screen size on the iPad mini results in a greater pixel density which is just right for reading text on web pages. On the contrary, the iPad 2 will let you enjoy movies on a bigger screen. Keep in mind though that holding the iPad 2 in one hand for a long time is definitely a taxing affair.

Do you require the retina Display?

The mini doesn’t require it at all. The pixel density (162 ppi) is sufficient enough for me to not make me feel the absence of a retina display. When you use the three finger tap gesture to enlarge any portion of the screen, which by the way, is an incredibly useful feature at times, the the screen does get pixelated to quite an extent making it look ugly at times.

On the iPad 2, umm…yeah! If you’ve seen the ‘resolutionary iPad’ you’re going to hate the display on the iPad2. If not, you can surely make do with it. A small factor that helps you in doing so is you instinctively hold the larger screen a tad far than you would hold the mini.

Of course, things might change once (and if) the next iPad mini with a retina display shows up.

Play it smart:
If you think the mini is winning all too much here and something is just not fair, you are absolutely right. The reason is because the mini has an ‘all new design’ as Apple prefers to call it. The sleek bezels on its sides and its thinness are what hold the key to the mini’s success. All the regular sized iPads have been extremely heavy and have had huge bezels which seemed a necessary evil until the mini was introduced. Worry not, though, Apple has been known to put in some impressive engineering in its products, especially in the past couple of years to make its products faster and slimmer whilst maintaining the battery life. Rumors point to a similar recipe being adopted to cook the next regular sized iPad. And at the time of writing this post, the next iPad isn’t that far away, so waiting seems to be a wise option. The iPad with Retina Display might see a few hundred dollars being slashed off it’s price tag and we might even get to see a new iPad mini.

This should give you a perspective into the thickness of both the tablets.

One more thing…
There is just one more thing though. The iPad 2 lacks Siri integration. No talking jibber jabber with a digital assistant just for the gags if you choose the iPad2.

6

OPPO Find 5 Unboxing and Review [Developing Post]

Been a long time since I posted, and things have changed since. I got a part time job, so I could afford a better phone than the Jiayu G4 which I had earlier planned to get. Not only that, the Jiayu is still out of stock. So with the money I got off selling the UMI X1, I added my first salary and was still short of more than half the cost of a 32GB OPPO Find 5. Dad chipped in with a generous amount, and here it is. Full in-depth review will come soon, keep watching this space.

OPPO Find 5 full specs:

  • Screen size: 5 inches
  • Resolution: 1920x1080p Full HD
  • Display type: IPS LCD
  • Protection: Gorilla Glass 2
  • Cameras: 13MP rear (Sony Exmor RS sensor), 1.9MP front
  • RAM: 2GB LPDDR2
  • ROM: 16GB (White), 32GB (White/Black)
  • Expandable memory: No
  • Processor: APQ8064 chipset, 1.5GHz quad core Krait CPU
  • OS: Android 4.1.1 customized by OPPO
  • Battery: 2500mAh
  • Removable? No
  • In the box: Phone, Users manual, SIM ejector pin, 2 NFC tags, Dirac HD earphones, USB Cable, USA Charger
  • SIM type: Micro SIM
  • OTG, MHL: None
  • Other: OPPO’s first international phone. Great community support at OPPOForums. Dirac HD sound, which is pretty amazing.
  • Price: 16GB 499USD, 32GB 569USD.
  • Here is the link to GSMArena’s specs page if you will.

Packaging:

China is giving me sweet surprises. First it was the UMI X1 with neat packaging, now the OPPO. This is by far the best phone packaging I have come across, the box is of good quality laced with a metal sheet on the corner of one flap. The front has ‘OPPO Find 5’ etched, with the numeral ‘5’ highly stylized. The two flaps open like doors and are held together by magnets when not open. The backside of the box has the key specs printed on it with a few important information such as the IMEI and barcode. When you open the flaps, you are greeted by the phone which sits on top of everything else, which looks great. In my opinion the black version looks even better than the white one. PIC 1. There is a matte-styled screen guard installed on the phone from the factory, which again has some information regarding the phone usage. The phone itself sits on a paper/cardboard sheet which has a little flap on the top which makes it possible to take the phone out without having to invert the box. The level of detail in the packaging shows you how much OPPO are trying to impress their customer. I’d say they’re highly successful with me at least.

Upon taking the phone out, you see a black envelope sitting in the box, with a white USB charger on the other side. The two-side open envelope carries the user’s manual and a credit card shaped card which houses the 2 NFC tags. Under the envelope, in one section there is the pair of Dirac HD earphones and the USB cable, and the charger (USA pin) in the other. That is pretty much it for the packaging. Impressions: Excellent.

Accessories:

As I said, the phone comes with one micro-USB to USB cable, a USA pin charger, and the Dirac HD earphones which are open type. That’s all from OPPO, my seller included a USA pin to EU pin adapter because that is what we use here. The adapter is ok OK quality, costs about 15 INR in my country.

PICS

Device:

The device feels insanely sturdy. I’ll be updating the review with comparisons with phones like the Lumia 920 and SGS3, etc. Almost the entire front is covered by glass, which is coated with Gorilla Glass protection. One thing I’d have liked would be curved glass, but then it might not have suited the sharp design of the phone. Below the glass, there’s the phone’s chin which continues from the sides and back. The front top houses the proximity, light, etc sensors, the 1.9MP camera on the left and the notification LED on the right with the speaker sitting in the center.

PIC

The Power/Lock button is on the left, while the vol+/vol- buttons sit on the right. It might take some getting used to for you to properly operate the phone since most major manufacturers have the power button on the right.

PIC

3.5mm audio output on the top.

PIC

Micro USB port on the bottom.

PIC

The phone’s back is curved, meatiest at the center. This makes you feel that the phone is thinner than it actually is, since you only get a measure of thickness on the sides, and this on is at the thinnest at those points. The phone feels extremely premium and well made, and the weight adds to the premium feel. The weight (162g) might actually not suit the fairer sex or in general people with small hands.

The design takes a minimalist approach, and there’s literally nothing printed on the front. Even on the back, there is OPPO printed in the center and other certifications and warning below the grilled holes for the speaker. It really makes you want to look and the device over and over.

Having played a bit with the SGS3, this phone beats the S3 hands down in terms of overall feel and the satisfaction of holding something premium in your hands. The metal frame around the phone again adds to it.

Screen:

The screen is a full HD panel measuring 5 inches diagonally. It is extremely bright, and viewing angles are excellent. Since I’ve been indoors during day-time ever since I got the phone, I haven’t been able to test it under sunlight but I would assume the screen would not let me down.

 

Post in development, will be updated as and when I can. You can comment and discuss in the meantime.

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AndroidGuruz are NOT official resellers of OPPO atleast; confirmed

As I (maybe many more, looking at their attitude towards potential buyers) suspected, AndroidGuruz (www.androidguruz.com, oppo.androiduruz.com) are NOT an official reseller of OPPO products in India. As you can see from the picture posted, I had a conversation with OPPO on Twitter (@OPPO) and they confirmed the same. AndroidGuruz have been misleading the media according to OPPO, and one should be careful before making a deal with them. This is like a nationwide scam and people are giving it a lot of footage on blogs and websites, and no one has bothered to check their authenticity yet. I think I saved myself a hard time by confirming this with OPPO themselves, as I was about to place an order with AndroidGuruz for an OPPO Find 5. Time to start thinking again.

4

In review – UMi X1 [Updated 5 Feb 2013]

Hello to all. Thanks for heading over, I will try my best to cover as many aspects as I can in this review. If I have missed on something which you want to know, please feel free to ask.
Also, it may help to keep in mind my phone history – had an LG Optimus One before this which I used for a year and a half.


UMi X1 – Specifications

Manufacturer’s website: http://www.91umi.com

URLs contained in QR code on box: http://www.91umi.com, http://www.weibo.com/u/2949207210, t.qq.com/umi2012sz

Price: USD 200-230 (As of Nov 2012) for international buyers; USD 159 for people in China

OS: Android – ICS 4.0.4, default unrooted.

Screen:

  • Size – 4.5 inch touchscreen IPS, 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio
  • Resolution – 1280×720 pixels, 326 PPI

Battery: 1750mAh

Network support:

  • GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • WCDMA: 900/2100 MHz

Dual SIM (WCDMA+GSM)

Chipset/internal hardware:

  • CPU – MediaTek MT6577 Dual-Core Cortex A9 @1 GHz
  • GPU – PowerVR SGX 531 clocked @394MHz
  • RAM – 1GB, 970MB usable
  • ROM – 4GB (System – 503MB, 2.16GB – internal, 1GB – Apps)

Cameras:
8MP rear with dual LED flash and autofocus, 2MP front

Dimensions and weight: 129x68x8.5mm, 138g with battery

Other features: GPS, A-GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi b/g, microSD support up to 64GB, gravity sensor, accelerometer, light sensor, proximity sensor.

Accessories available (sold separate): Screen protector, plastic case, leather case, spare batteries, UMi Hi-300 earphones, desktop charger (to charge spare batteries)

Ok, so here’s my take.


PACKAGING:

Comes in a very sleek and beautiful box which you’d never have seen before. I like it a lot. In fact, the box is so sleek that the charger as well as the additional accessories come in separate boxes. The fact that it looks like a book may help some people who’re looking to avoid paying customs. :P

IN THE BOX:

As stock, you get only the phone, data cable and charger, nothing else, not even a user’s manual in Chinese. My seller sent a microSD card reader, a soft pouch I’ll never use, and fake Dr. Dre beats headphones as freebies. I paid extra for – UMi earphones, extra battery, desktop charger, leather case.

HARDWARE:

In the front there is the 4.5″ screen, three capacitive (there’s a marker under each button which is backlit as opposed to the buttons themselves being backlit) buttons below the screen – back, home and menu respectively. Above the screen there are the sensors – light and proximity, and the 2MP camera. There is the speaker in the center, and ‘UMI X1’ printed. Strangely, it is printed on the screen protector instead of the phone itself.
On top – power/lock button, 3.5mm earphone jack
Left – microUSB port
Right – Volume up/down
Bottom – Microphone

The phone itself feels extremely thin and light. At first, it felt like it was cheap quality. But now after two days it doesn’t feel cheap in any manner, nor does it feel Samsung/LG quality. It took me time to get used to the 8.5mm thickness. I’d been using an LG Optimus One for quite long, and it was much much more thicker.

I compared it to SGS, SGS Advance, SGS 2, SGS 3 in terms of weight and feel. It felt lighter than any of those at first, but when I took both (UMi X1 in one and SGS 1/2/3/advance in the other) it felt heavier than SGS and SGS 2. Please keep in mind there’s no numbers here.

They’ve made the back cover extremely thin, maybe to save on a millimeter of thickness. I advice anyone to be careful when taking that off/putting it back on.

Screen – The screen is an IPS screen, with a superb resolution of 1280×720 pixels. Personally I am not extremely happy with the screen, viewing angles are not as good as my Chinese tablet’s (Aoson M11) screen which uses an IPS panel too. Apart from the viewing angles, the brightness is satisfactory, but I haven’t tested it outdoors yet. The resolution is amazing, pictures look fluid and pixels cannot be detected by the human eye, at least mine. The high PPI of 326 definitely pays off, simple built in wallpapers look gorgeous. Here are a few pictures:


Touch sensitivity – Sensitive enough. 5 points multitouch. Nothing more.

Capacitive buttons – It will take you some time to get used to the back button being on the left, as most popular phones have it on the right. The buttons are very sensitive, as good as my brother’s Samsung Galaxy S advance. I’m happy with the sensitivity. Not happy with the backlight on the buttons, very dim. Here’s a picture:

Sensors, etc – The light and proximity sensor work just fine. I never really set brightness to automatic, most of the time (indoors) it is set to minimum. On this phone, the sensor is too sensitive, brightness levels are changed as soon as there is a change in the amount of ambient light (or maybe the software reacts too quickly?). Not everyone will like this, plus it might drain more juice out of the battery.
As for the proximity sensor: I’ve been using the phone with the leather case, and when I’m on a call I close the leather flap, this turns the screen off. Samsung Galaxy Note style. There are appropriate holes on the leather case for the speaker, rear louspeaker and the rear camera. The USB port cannot be accessed with the case on.

Call quality – The speaker is loud and clear. All fine. No complaints from the receiver.

Micro USB port and charger – I am disappointed with it. Only the stock USB cable fits tight and snugly, and using this one my computer was not able to detect the phone, but the phone could charge itself this way. I tried a few other microUSB cables and they worked fine, but they don’t fit as tight as you’d want them to be.

The charger is rated at – Input: 100-240V–50-60Hz/150mA
Output: 5V–400mA/800mA

It works fine, has an EU plug by default.

CAMERAS:

Rear camera – This one is a decent performer in daylight. Autofocus is good and pretty fast. I would say it is as good as the 5MP unit on my brother’s SGS Advance. Also, the stock settings are pretty useless for me, pictures come out well with HDR turned on. Strangely with HDR on there are 2 pictures saved in the gallery for every click. But you’ll know which one to delete. Flash is not well directed – by that I mean that flash will wash away the picture, making it pretty much useless most of the time.
Here are some pictures; the first two are with HDR on and the other two with HDR off.

Front camera – I’m quite happy with this. Maybe because I didn’t have much expectations. But this 2MP unit is good enough to make video calls and stuff like that. No self potraits.

This picture is taken using the front camera:

CONNECTIVITY:

Dual SIM functionality works fine. I tried it with two AirTel SIMs, one on 2G and the other on 3G. I’m planning to get myself another SIM from a carrier who offers good 3G speeds, and is cheap. I found GPRS on this phone to be faster than on my Optimus One, I don’t know if its just me or not.

Here’s how the SIM and microSD ports are arranged:

As I listed above, the phone is completely unlocked for worldwide use.

Bluetooth works fine, tested it with a bluetooth headset, my laptop and paired it to a phone to send and receive files, flawless, as expected. WiFi is fine too, I haven’t used it much so I can’t say. Just used it once with my brother’s phone as the hotspot.

GPS – Here is a screen from the app ‘GPS test’. It took quite some time to lock my position, but I believe there are various fixes to overcome this problem. I will update once I try them out. Google Maps was extremely quick to show my position.

I haven’t tested the WiFi hotspot functionality as yet, but there should be no problems, I guess. Also, there is an option for Bluetooth tethering which I quite like. But I guess it can be used only with PCs, not with phones.

OS, USAGE AND PERFORMANCE:

This is one department where this phone just shines. The Android OS is extremely stable, in two days of extensive usage and testing I haven’t been able to notice any lag. The dual core CPU coupled with the PowerVR GPU handles the system well enough for an average user. There are some goodies for the advaneced as well as average user; such as automatic power on/power off, audio profiles, battery percentage, etc. These may not sound much but these come in very handy to me.
Also, it came with Google Play store preinstalled. Works fine out of the box, I didn’t expect that.

It comes with ‘GO Launcher’ as default, but a little tweaked by the factory. The app drawer icon now says ‘UMI’. I personally don’t like GO Launcher much, have replaced it with Nova Launcher.

Here’s how the stock launcher looks:

I suggest anyone interested in this phone to buy a desktop charger seat as well, this way I do not need to plug the phone at all. The desktop charger charges the spare battery, and all I need to do is just swap this with the drained one.
Battery life out of the box was a little less than satisfactory, but then I rooted the phone and tweaked it a little and now it is much much better. Keep in mind this is a huge screen with a 1750mAh battery, so you might want to re-think what your expectations are.

Rooted the phone yesterday.

I’ll do a tutorial on how to root if people want.

One thing I noticed last night when I used the phone for really long non-stop (around 3 hours I think) was that the region around the camera got quite heated up. I’d assume that is where the processor sits.

I do not believe benchmarks much, it is more of user reviews which give a better picture. Anyway, just did an AnTuTu test. If anyone wants me to do more benchmark tests, I’ll oblige.

The phone comes with 4 GB ROM on board. Obviously, all of this is not usable. A a part of it is reserved for the system, a part for internal storage, and the rest for the user.

In this case the partitions looks like:
System – 503 MB
Apps – 1 GB
User – 2.16 GB

Sound and music: The rear speaker is really loud, louder than most phones I’ve seen. But at max volume there is noticeable distortion. I don’t play music on the loudspeaker anyway, it might be a problem for those who do. Solution: keep the volume 2 steps lower than maximum.
One important thing readers might want to make a note of – the IMEI is in 86xxxxxxxx format, luckily it works for me. Some countries need the IMEI in international format (ie 35xxxxxx). Also, as this is a dual SIM, I expected it to have two different IMEI numbers, instead, it comes with two same numbers. But it can be easily changed. It might be considered as a criminal offence in some countries to change the IMEI, and there are tutorials on the net to do the same.

ACCESSORIES AND VALUE FOR MONEY:

The original UMi earphones are simply amazing. Maybe I had too low expectations, but the sound quality with those earphones on the UMi is at least as good as my iPod. Unfortunately I can’t use this as a music device, as I can’t afford to dry up the battery too soon. But if you’re confused whether to buy the earphones or not, please go ahead.

The leather case is not very useful. In fact, I don’t think it is leather in the first place. :P

And yes, I’d placed an order for the ThL W3 dual core initially, this phone did not seem to be available at all. The seller shipped it with FedEx, and during that time FedEx weren’t shipping any parcels which contained a battery. So I got refunded. The process took 10 days, and the UMi started to appear. So I pre-ordered.

This is it from me. If you have any questions or queries, please feel free to comment. Thanks!

UPDATE – 5th Feb 2013

After updating to the 20130101 ROM (Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean) the AnTuTu scores have gone up by quite a bit. From 5357 to 5962, which is a good improvement. The ROM is pretty smooth, and recommended to anyone.

4

JiaYu G4 Spec Review and comparison with similarly spec’d devices

After reading a lot about this phone, I decided to do a specs review of this phone. (I don’t have it yet)

Key specs:

SoC MT6589
Clock frequency 1.2 GHz
Processor architecture ARM Cortex A7
No. of cores 4
Memory (RAM) 1GB/2GB (Youth/Advanced)
Storage (ROM) 4GB/32GB (Youth/Advanced)
Screen 4.7″
Screen protection Gorilla Glass II
Resolution 1280×720 (720p)
Battery rating 1850mAh/3000mAh
Cameras 3MP/13MP (Front/Rear)

The phone will be unlocked for worldwide use, with dual SIM support and support for HSPA+ in either of the SIM. Expect the price to be in the $210-230 for the Youth and in the $240-300 range for the Advanced version. As I type  this Pandawill are pre-selling it for $218.99 and $248.99 which seem good prices at the moment. But if you like a little more security like me, you might want to wait till sellers start getting stock and then buy from AliExpress or eBay.

I will be upgrading from my UMI X1 to the G4 (hopefully the Advanced version) in the coming month (or whenever there is stock). Why I will go for the Jiayu G4 over any competitors despite Jiayu’s poor marketing skills (Read: innumerable delays):

  • Solid build – The basis is Jiayu G3 here. It was reportedly the best built in its generation of phones.
  • Gorilla Glass protection
  • Huge user base – This means there will be custom ROMs and fixes
  • 1280×720 as opposed to 1920×1080 – FHD is overkill for a sub 7″ device if I’m concerned. I honestly don’t think I have eyes powerful enough to differentiate between  720p and  1080p on a sub 5″ screen. A 1080p screen looks pretty on paper for sure, but in real life situations a 720p is more than enough and it also means better battery life.
  • Large capacity battery – The UMi with its 1750mAh battery has managed to impress me. A 3000mAh will come in really handy.
  • Design

Having said this, I would also like the readers to know that I plan to live with this phone for quite some time now. If you do not have similar plans, there are quite a few options. Here are a few competitors (all based on the same platform – MT6589):

  • UMi X2 – Just like what the UMi X1 did to the Jiayu G3, the X2 will hope to do to the G4 – launch before the G4 and take advantage of Jiayu’s poor marketing skills. The X2 comes with 2GB RAM and a 5″ 1080p screen. No word on the type of protection offered yet. Expect it to sell for around $250.
    USP – Price and 1080p screen for some.
  • iOcean X7 – This is a very pretty phone which borrows its styling from  Sony Xperia devices. Comes in Youth (1GB RAM) and Premium (2GB RAM) versions just like the Jiayu G4. iOcean is reportedly a big OEM manufacturer so quality shouldn’t be an issue. Expected price should be under the $250 mark.
    USP – Styling, price, screen.
  • Neo N003 – A decent looking phone for a decent price tag. Again, comes with an option of 1GB/2GB RAM (Youth/Advanced). I don’t expect the build to be better than Jiayu. Touted to be the world’s cheapest phone with a 1080p screen.
    USP – Pricing.
  • Various Zopo devices. This brand has never impressed me much so I haven’t dug up a lot.
    USP – English website and English speaking staff.

A video showing the gaming capabilities on the Jiayu G4

Testing the strength of Gorilla Glass

Also, a franchise is claiming to bring 42 Chinese brands to India. This means that Indians will be able to buy these phones for as much as it is sold in China. I personally hope this does come out good. More on this after I can confirm the news.

I hope this post helps many electronics enthusiasts like me make a decision as to what to buy. Any questions, feel free to comment.