My Smartphone Purchase Decisions over the years!

I’m the kind of guy who changes my smartphone every 8 -10 months. The thought process that goes into zeroing on a particular model of the smartphone has evolved seriously over the last couple of years. Initially, it was all about music. I had a craze about the Sony Walkman series. I till remember bugging my dad to get me the then musical sensation Sony Ericsson W810. But what about 10 years ago. Now things have changed.

HTC one M7 was my most calculated smartphone purchase. I bought it because of its awesome front facing speakers and awesome screen resolution. Then came in the Apple craze. The iPhone 5S was my first ever iPhone and it was awesome. I loved the simplicity and lag-free nature of the iOS. The camera was awesome and the 4-inch form factor was awesome to carry about. The main reason behind purchasing the iPhone 5S was that I needed an Apple phone. I wanted to get the feel of owning an iPhone. ūüėĄ

iPhone 6S was my next phone which I bought just because of its camera features and again the “Apple” factor. The Samsung Galaxy S6 was my next smartphone that was a great smartphone camera then. The screen, camera and “let me try an Android phone” factors made me buy this phone. But the fast battery drain made me switch over to the iPhone 7 in few months time. The iPhone 7 purchase was more of an instant decision because of the frustration that the Samsung S6 brought to me on a daily basis. The main problem with Samsung phones is that they get slower in the long run. I promised to myself that I would never ever go back to Android. But after 8 months, I wanted to give the Google Pixel 2 a try. Just because of its camera. And this is definitely the best smartphone choice I’ve made in a long time after HTC one M7. The Google Pixel 2 has an awesome smartphone camera and of course an exquisite software backing it. It’s been over 8 months now and I’m not switching to any other smartphone anytime soon. My smartphone purchases have been more camera-driven in recent times. And on a general note, smartphone companies are working harder on the camera part more than bringing on new innovations!

We all do think a lot before making a smartphone purchase. We make sure the time we invest in checking on the features of a smartphone is worth the money we invest in buying a smartphone. What are the factors you generally consider before purchasing a smartphone or suggesting one for your friends? Let me know down in the comments section!

When Smartphone cameras are better than DSLRs!

Undoubtedly, DSLRs provide the best quality images and a wide room for manual tweaks. Smartphones can’t really match up DSLR standards in terms of image capturing capabilities. But every now and then a smartphone photo receives the comment – “Wow! That looks like a picture clicked using a DSLR!” Smartphones have become the go-to photography device for many reasons-

Handy!

Wherever you go, you take your smartphone with you. You often don’t carry your DSLR with you just because of it’s heftiness and the mere need to carry it along with you for the time other than clicking pics. A small handheld device that serves multiple functionalities in addition to taking images is something we would prefer as a handy option!

Capturing “In a Flash” Moments

When you see something interesting happening in front you and for a short duration, you don’t always get the time to set your DSLR up and adjust the settings. This is where a smartphone comes in as a friendly option. All you need to do is unlock the phone, open the app and click it. It’s not gonna take more than 10 secs. Tadaa!

Smartphone cameras now are Awe!

Smartphone cameras are advancing at a brisk pace. I’ve been using the Google Pixel 2 for the past 8 months and I’ve used it more than my DSLR for snapp scenic spots just because of it’s awesome HDR mode and software tweaks. Read my review of Google Pixel 2 photography here. Smartphones like Huawei P20 pro with the triple camera system are taking the smartphone photography game to a different level. The next few years are going to be damn interesting!

When can we be “Maskless”?

How often do we see people talk straight out of their hearts? How often do we find people talking what they feel is right rather than buttering the ass of others? The answer ranges widely from “we’ve not seen anyone like that” to “A very few of them”.

Before posing the question on others, we should be answerable to the same question. We as individuals don’t react to two different persons the exact same way. Be it your parents, your friends, your teacher, your boss, your wife, your cousins, you bring out a different version of yourself to interact with them.

So what exactly is the real “you”? Or who exactly are you? When you think before replying or base your actions and answers depending on the respondent, you are “masked”. When you are open to your thoughts and don’t care about what the other person would think when you express your thoughts, you become “Maskless”.

Even though it is tough a see or be a person without masks, we can be a person with lesser masks. Obviously when you are doctor and a father, you can’t behave the same way to a patient and your daughter. But to the other vast majority, you can be the real you!

We base our voice and actions thinking what the respondent would think about us. This is the main reason why we see a lot of artificiality in the society now. But only when you start being the real you, you will be able to find the real ones who truly care and love for you irrespective of your foolishness, madness aaaaaand of course the real you!

Are Smartphone cameras swiping off DSLR dominance?

I bought my Google Pixel 2 last December. Ever since I bought this amazing photo snapper, I didn’t bother carrying my DSLR along with me. Google Pixel 2 was critically acclaimed as the best smartphone camera and still holds that position in spite of many high-end smartphones making its appearance on the market. The main reason why I jumped from the iPhone 7 to the Pixel 2 was that of its camera. And yeah, the photos are awesome. The HDR options make the pixel 2 camera a very picturesque clicking device. The video modes aren’t that eye-catchy, which I think the iPhone did comparatively better. However, on the photos front, Pixel 2 shines star high!

I’ve tried the pixel 2 in almost all lighting conditions and it does wow! The single lens doing a portrait is an added benefit. I’ve personally tested it along with other dual lens phones and I find pixel’s images far superior. Combine the awesome software along with the Sony-sourced hardware and you get eye catchy images. Here are few samples that you can check out.

If you want to check more images that were shot using the Google Pixel 2 visit my Instagram page.

So does the Pixel 2, the best camera smartphone, out throne the DSLRs of the current era. While I find my Pixel 2 being handy to click pictures wherever I go, I still think you need a DSLR to click high resolution “advanced” shots. By “advanced” I mean macro, wide-angle and zoom shots. Even though you have lenses for smartphone cameras, they can in no way match the brilliance of DSLRs quality. So for highly professional photos you still need to rely on DSLRs. However, for Instagram posts, you are better off with your smartphone. Also you’ve got hell lot of advanced image editors that can your images look better!

Let me know what you guys think about smartphone cameras? Do you think they’ll outshine DSLRs in the coming years? Well, with the recent release of variable aperture lens system in Samsung S9+, I think we are going to see huge advancement in smartphone cameras in the upcoming years!

Google Pixel 2 – Best Android Experience at a Price!

The first generation Google smartphones launched in 2016 had a great smartphone camera. With stock Android experience and phones able to get updates on the very first date of the rollout, made the “Pixel” an Apple ‘iPhone’s” alternative. This was made more evident by the way Google priced their smartphones. Google’s target was clearly iPhone users who want a similar feel but in an Android world. But with the second iteration of “Pixel” launched in October 2017, it seems like Google have started to think beyond their competition.

Google Pixel 2 Review (Image Source - Firstpost)

Google Pixel 2 is the best android experience you can get out of a smartphone. I remember using the LG G5 for few days and was forced to switch back to my iPhone. LG’s way of reinventing android didn’t work for me. But the Pixel 2 made me stick to it. It was more like switching from Apple to Google ecosystem with minimal sacrifices. Yeah, I did miss iMessage and Facetime, but you’ve got WhatsApp and Duo to get the job done. Moreover, the ability to add a lot of widgets of soccer matches and get well-organised notifications was something I enjoyed.

Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL were one of the best smartphone snappers of 2016. It was ruling the smartphone camera competition even in 2017. But with smartphones going with Dual Camera sensors for portrait and wide angle features, Google was expected to deliver something different. With lots of leaks around the Pixel 2 with just a single camera sensor, tech enthusiasts didn’t expect much of an upgrade from the earlier Pixel. But Google with its software made the portrait feature available with just a single camera sensor. Leaks and Rumours do provide you with the hardware details, but Google being a software Giant surprised almost everyone with this addition. And you’ve got portrait Mode in your front camera as well. I have used both iPhone 8 Plus and the Pixel 2 to click a lot of portrait images. iPhone even after a year and half of updates for portrait mode still can’t match the software brilliance of the Pixel 2. And Google builds both the normal and XL variant with exactly the same camera features, unlike Apple which uses dual camera sensor only for the larger and costlier iPhone. the Pixel 2 does a great job in still images. Their auto HDR+ mode gets you Instagram ready images, but for videos, I would still prefer the iPhone 8, 8 Plus or the X.

The front facing speakers of the Pixel 2 are great to have but I do miss the good old HTC One iteration models that deliver the best audio experience. Their earphone quality was great as well. And you don’t get an earphone out of the box. You need to get a USB-C earphone or Bluetooth earphones to listen to music. I’m using an RHA MA750i earphones with the 3.5mm to USB-C adapter that Pixel 2 provided in its box, and the quality is good. The phone comes with a 5 Inch AMOLED screen and a 1080p resolution. It provides a great video viewing experience.

The phone comes with a 2700mAh battery and works okay for my usage. I usually get over 4 hours of screen on time and a standby time of over 9 hours. This includes browsing the web, listening music, watching YouTube Videos, texting and playing games. With power saver mode on, you will be able to get even better usage time.

You get an amazing camera and free back up of images and videos up to 2020. So you can be satisfied with the 64GB model rather than paying more for the 128GB model. The phone is sturdy and has not had a single scratch even after I dropped it few times.If you can look past the 67.9 % screen to body ratio and the high price point, the Pixel 2 makes perfect sense for a person looking for the Best Android smartphone on the market right now.

Check our video review of Google Pixel 2 Portrait Photography to know more.

To see more images that were shot using the Google Pixel 2, visit my Instagram Page.

Google Pixel 2 Portrait Photography

Portrait Photography is the art of capturing a subject and making it look predominant in contrast to its surroundings. This feature has been the fanciest smartphone feature of 2017. It started off as a half-baked camera gimmick but its really great to see how far Google has come with just a single camera system and mere software enabling it.

Here are few portrait shots that were clicked using the Google Pixel 2. Get ready to be mesmerized.

Rear Portrait 1
Rear Portrait 1

This portrait was shot during broad daylight with a distance of 2 feet between the subject and the camera. The Pixel does a great job highlighting the subject and evenly blurring the background.

Rear Portrait 2
Rear Portrait 2

The Pixel 2 does a great job in portrait photography when there are sharp edges in the subject supported by ample of light. This image is a testimony to that.

Rear Portrait 3
Rear Portrait 3

This Portrait image was shot in low light and its really cool to see how good Google’s software makes this image look crispy.

Rear Portrait 4
Rear Portrait 4

The Pixel 2 does a decent enough job processing portraits in indoors having a bit a light. This portrait was shot with just the decorative lightings of the Christmas Tree.

The low light and bright light portrait selfies come out well. Getting a portrait image from the 8 MegaPixel front camera is a cool feature to have on hand.

Check our Full Video of the Google Pixel 2 Portrait Photography in this link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QBN-vZrUqo&t=14s

Google Pixel 2 Portrait Photography
Google Pixel 2 Portrait Photography

 

iPhone 7 Camera Test – Is It Still Worth the Price?

It’s been more than a year since the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus was launched. But recent reports suggest that the iPhone 7 has taken the throne as the best selling ¬†Apple phone in the third quarter of 2017 in spite of the launch of the new 8 and 8 plus (Source: CNBC). Let us for a moment leave the hype around the iPhone X and concentrate just on the iPhone 7.¬† Most purchase decisions nowadays (to an extent) are made based on the camera capabilities of a smartphone. Apple has always been known for its “true to life” images and picturesque photo quality. Let’s see if the iPhone 7’s camera is still a “bang for the buck”.

A slight Spec recap. The iPhone 7’s rear camera comes with a 12 Megapixel F/1.8 aperture six elements lens. It supports optical image stabilization¬†and has a Quad LED True Tone Flash. The front camera includes a 7 Megapixel F/2.2 aperture lens and a Retina Flash. It also supports 1080p HD Video Recording.

The iPhone 7 still holds a solid place in this age where Portrait Features have become the new sensation. A small handy device that clicks very good images is a joy to carry, and iPhone 7 stands tall in this category.

iPhone 7 Camera Test

iPhone 7 Camera Test
iPhone 7 Camera Test – Click on this image to check the Full Video Review

iPhone 7 Camera Test YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/hfThFU6yOKU

The Bright light images are very eye pleasing. The iPhone camera does a great job evenly exposing the scenes and at the same time making things look sharp.

iPhone 7 Camera Test - Bright Light
iPhone 7 Camera Test – Bright Light

The problem starts when you start to zoom in. Unlike its elder brother, the iPhone 7 Plus, which comes with a Telephoto Lens, the iPhone 7 snaps with a single camera system. So, once you start zooming beyond a limit, the image quality gets a big bang!

Sunset shots come out really well. And so does medium light photography. Look at the following photo sample and you will know for yourself.

iPhone 7 Camera Test - Just Before Sunset
iPhone 7 Camera Test – Just Before Sunset

The Macro shots are great. There are situations where the camera sensor finds it difficult to focus certain tiny objects. But that’s how smartphone cameras work currently. Smartphones have their own share of limitations when compared to DSLRs. And DSLRs can never replace a smartphone camera, at least¬†for now.

iPhone 7 Camera Test - Macro
iPhone 7 Camera Test – Macro

The iPhone 7 camera performs well in low light. But just like the vast majority of smartphones out there, it does struggle to provide the necessary exposure and contrast.

iPhone 7 Camera Test - Low Light
iPhone 7 Camera Test – Low Light

The Selfie camera does a decent job in bright light. But when it comes to low light, you can see ample of grains. However, the retina flash does make the image look pleasing by evenly lighting the subjects.

iPhone 7 Camera Test - Selfie
iPhone 7 Camera Test – Selfie

So is the iPhone 7 camera still worth it? Definitely, Yes!
But if you are interested in the fancy Portrait Mode features, then there are a lot of other smartphone options available on the market now.

Follow me on Instagram to see more photos clicked by me using iPhone 7.

Instagram Links:

Official Page: Unlok TV 

My Personal Page: neeb_pr

Deepak’s Page:¬†deepakthampy

 

Ashes Cricket – A Brilliant Realistic Cricketing Action!

I think it’s the right time to share my thoughts on the recent release – Ashes Cricket 2017 after two days of extensive gaming. I’ve been playing casual matches with my friends and then started playing around with the “Ashes Series” Tournament option. With Australia and England alone coming with licenses, it’s a welcome addition as this is the first time you get to see real-life¬†like players for gaming. Of course, you can download players and teams from the “Community”, but none can match the licensed players found here.

Ashes Cricket

I’ve been a big fan of Don Bradman franchise’s gameplay. Add it with official licenses, this game gets all the more interesting. Improved stadiums, slight refinement in bowling actions and batting style makes up for a welcome addition. I would strictly ask you cricket fans to stick to the “medium” or “hard” level as its more competitive, else batting will surely look more or less like the EA Cricket series. The new control system titled as “Standard” makes it easy for first time Don Bradman Series’s players easy to adapt to. But I personally prefer the “Classic” control system. You can have batting in “Standard” mode and Bowling (separate selections for spin and fast bowling) in “Classic” mode. You can switch to any of these control systems even in the middle of a match.

As I started playing matches with “Medium” and “Hard” batting, bowling and fielding difficulties, the matches got more intriguing. Each and every delivery involves some sort of mental calculation, be it the batsman or bowler. This adds more realism. When I was playing the “Ashes Series”, I had to bowl 140 overs to England to dismiss the Mighty “England” Team for 409. Never for a second did I feel bored or feel the urge to simulate the innings.¬† The realistic gameplay and licensed characters with interesting comments from the wicketkeeper (especially when Lyon is bowling) are enjoyable. And most importantly, I had to work very hard for each and every wicket.

Like any game, Ashes Cricket comes with little glitches. The screen would half blur out for no reason, batsmen from one end alone run while the other batsman just stays glued to his ground. The commentary is still not good. You get repetitive comments made and that too irrelevant ones. Another thing that annoyed me the most- In some situations the fielder needn’t throw the ball to the bowler or keeper to initiate the next delivery. But there are other times where you have to throw. Else everything stands still. It’s rather inconsistent. Add to this, the same irritating repeated commentary for this fielding glitch.

But these are flaws that can be easily ignored in front of the strong positives that make this game a must play for cricket fans. 

Played in PS4.

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus – Should you Buy Them?

iPhones Vs the Android World

Apple is no longer the company that brings breakthrough upgrades to its iPhone lineups. The features that were found much earlier in Android Phones makes its way to iPhones years later. This has been the trend for the past few years. Motorola was the first to bring in the fingerprint scanner in 2011. But it was Apple that perfected the use of fingerprint sensor in its 2013 flagship РThe iPhone 5s. Similarly, the iPhone 7 was upgraded with an IP67 rating dust- water-resistant build. Samsung models were one of the first to flag in water and dust resistance in their smartphones. But the iPhone 6s was also a tad water resistant. It was called a

Motorola was the first to bring in the fingerprint scanner in 2011. But it was Apple that perfected the use of fingerprint scanner in its 2013 flagship РThe iPhone 5s. Similarly, the iPhone 7 was upgraded with an IP67 rating dust- water-resistant build. Samsung models were one of the first to flag in water and dust resistance in their smartphones.  iPhone 8 and 8 Plus comes with the same IP67 rating and this time around comes with wireless charging capability (a feature that Samsung Galaxy Series and The Note lineups have had since ages).

Apple iPhone 8
Apple iPhone 8 and 8 Plus – Wireless Charging

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus vs iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus comes with slight incremental growth from its previous iterations – The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Glass back for supporting wireless charging, 25% more sound with better bass from the speakers, new camera capabilities like “portrait lighting”, and better low-light images. It comes with AR capability and a “True Tone” Display. The True Tone Display is the one in the iPad Pro.¬† So are these improvements really worth making the upgrade?

The features mentioned above won’t excite a large set of users because these just aren’t worth emptying your pockets for.

True Tone Display Nope.
Camera “Deeper Pixels” Upgrade + “Portrait Lighting” in iPhone 8 Plus (Still on Beta) – Kinda Ok.
Wireless Charging – Heard its damn slow that the other wireless charging options available in the market now.
With a charging mat (AirPower Mat) still in the development stage that could charge the Apple Watch, iPhone and the Airpods at the same time, I guess we could see wireless fast charging coming along with it.

The iPhone 8 and 8 plus come with an all-new A11 Bionic Chip. It crashes all other high-end smartphone’s benchmark scores. But with the yesteryear iPhones 7 and 7 Plus still faring well in speed and fluidity, who would want an even speedier smartphone?
One more thing to note is that the latest iPhones have a slightly smaller battery than the previous iPhone 7 models. Don’t know if the processor could better optimise the battery consumption. Have to wait for battery tests. If you are a fan of the unboxing and want to have an overview about the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, check this video from Jonathan Morrison.

Bottomline

When comparing the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus with its predecessors, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is still premium. The new iOS 11 will make the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus function just like the recently released iPhones. But these countable new additions don’t make the new iPhones a much better choice than the previous models.

The iPhone 7 Plus comes with a better Battery life and Camera Portrait feature when comparing it with the iPhone 7. But with a one-handed friendly user experience complimented with a similar fast A10 Fusion chip, the iPhone 7 is one among the best below 5-inch screen size smartphones.

There is one more suggestion that I would highly recommend to people who are looking for the latest iPhone in the market with a better screen to body ratio and higher screen resolution.¬†And don’t give a damn about the money factor.¬†The iPhone X. Wait for another month and check the reviews and base your decision on it.

Apple iPhone X
Apple iPhone X

Best Places in Goa – Must Visit!

It’s been long overdue for a Goa Trip and I finally decided to pull it off. Planned with my friends but ended up going with my wife. It was fun nonetheless. So, here are the best places in Goa (according to me), which deserves your time and presence. I planned my stay in Radisson Blu Candolim and it was worth the price.

Aguada Fort

"Best

The first place I visited in Goa still holds strong in my mind. It was raining that day and added grandeur to the already bliss setting. With lots of greenery and sea backdrop, the fort stands tall with beautifully built structures.

Vagatoor Beach

Best Places in Goa - Vagatoor Beach
Vagatoor Beach

Goa is known for its beautiful beaches. There are a hell lot of them. I visited a lot of beaches and found just a few among them worth visiting. Vagatoor Beach is one of the best beaches I’ve been to. A place that seems built for photography and has lots of shops just near the shore.

Panjim Boat Cruise

Best Places in Goa - Panjim Boat Cruise
Panjim Boat Cruise

There are a lot of boat rides available in Goa. Then there is the Casino. But the casino can be visited only after 6 pm. You’ll have dances and party over there.

This boat cruise for about 40 minutes costs Rs.300 per person and is totally worth it. You’ll be educated with famous movies that were shot there in nearby boats/ships and other ancient builds. Totally worth it!

Best Places in Goa - Panjim Boat Ride
Panjim Boat Ride

Basilica of Bom Jesus & St. Francis Church

Best Places in Goa - Basilica of Bom Jesus
Basilica of Bom Jesus

The Basilica of Bom Jesus is a beautiful place. Besides being a very scenic spot, there are lots of things to explore and learn. There was a service going on and the chorus lit the surrounding. FYI – I visited the place on a Monday, around 5 pm.

Best Places in Goa - St. Francis Church
St. Francis Church

Goa Snow Park

Best Places in Goa - Goa Snow Park
Goa Snow Park

The driver suggested us this place and as it was humid outside, I thought of giving this snow park a go. It was an amazing visit. Loved the chillness and the way things were put up. There was a bar inside and that added much more fun element.

Mangeshi Temple

Best Places in Goa - Mangeshi Temple
Mangeshi Temple

A place filled with calmness and peace. Loved this temple. The road to Temple has a lot of shops and is worth spending money and time on. Don’t forget to yum the wine chocolates!

Spice Farm

Best Places in Goa - Spice Farm
Spice Farm

This is a medicinal farm. The place is filled with greenery everywhere and the guide will educate you on the medicinal benefits of the different variety of plants on a short tour inside the field. There is a separate store where you can purchase plant oils and other healthy drinks. They also have a lot of showcase items in the store. They have a buffet lunch organized for the visitors and is yummy!

Dona Paula

Best Places in Goa - Dona Paula
Dona Paula

A very good place to visit and I would call it another shopping spot. Looks cool and a treat for photographers.

Calangute Beach

Best Places in Goa - Calangute Beach
Calangute Beach

Another beach I enjoyed visiting. There was a lot happening around. Few kabaddi matches. basketball matches and police shouting at young guys going beyond a point. Lots of restaurants to choose from.

Best Places in Goa - Calangute Beach
Calangute Beach – Time for a Drink

I find these places to be the best places in Goa that deserve your time. There are a lot of other places in Goa like the Chapora Fort and Wax Museum. But I Didn’t find anything special in them. The road to Chapora Fort is a traffic hub. We had to wait for more than an hour to exit the Chapora Fort. I would suggest people visiting Goa to rent a car or bike and use their GPS to visit places there.

Visit my Instagram page to see more images from my Goa Trip.