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!

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.

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

 

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 Smartphones 2016 – Still a Good Bet in 2017!

Smartphones keep evolving each and every year. The benchmark to define which mobile out-shines the others varies from person to person. But here are few smartphones that were hugely acclaimed in 2016, and still remains a good bet in 2017! Let’s have a brief look at the best smartphones 2016 with just the key features highlighted.

Samsung Galaxy S7

Best Smartphone - S7
Samsung Galaxy S7

The Samsung Galaxy S7 comes with a 5.1 inch super AMOLED screen, 4 GB RAM, Octa core Snapdragon 820 processor,12 MP Primary Camera and a 5 MP Front Facing Camera. In addition to this, this comes with a 3000mAh battery and a fully Dust & water resistant IP68 certification. This smartphone’s look and feel are so premium, with the camera being one among the best in the lot. Low light photography is, in fact, the best in S7. The battery life isn’t that good but is far better than the abysmal previous flagship device of Samsung – Galaxy S6. It supports fast charging and wireless charging which makes it match the slightly below par performance of the battery. The phone is fast and streaming video content is a treat because of its super AMOLED screen supporting a 577-pixel density.

It runs on Android OS but has its Samsung Software TouchWiz over shadowing the stock Android feel. At the end of the day, it comes to personal preference as to which software feel suits you more.

With an external memory card slot expandable up to 256 GB, the base 32/64 GB version isn’t really going to bother you if you are a hardcore multimedia user. ¬†The music quality through the in box headphones is okay, but not up to the mark. A better pair of headphones would definitely enhance your experience.The main issue which I’ve personally faced with Samsung Models (S3 and S6 in particular)¬†is its late roll out Android Software updates to different devices according to their location.¬†And Samsung mobiles have long been known for their gradual speed degradation as years pass by.

At the end of the day, it comes to personal preference as to which software feel suits you more. With an external memory card slot expandable up to 256 GB, the base 32/64 GB version isn’t really going to bother you if you are a hardcore multimedia user. ¬†The music quality through the in box headphones is okay, but not up to the mark. A better pair of headphones would definitely enhance your experience.The main issue which I’ve personally faced with Samsung Models (S3 and S6 in particular)¬†is its late roll out Android Software updates to different devices according to their location.¬†And Samsung mobiles have long been known for their gradual speed degradation as years pass by.

Apple iPhone 7

Best Smartphone - iPhone 7
Apple iPhone 7

The iPhone 7 comes with a 4.7 inch IPS LED display with a pixel density of 326ppi. It comes with 2 GB RAM, Apple A10 Processor, 1960mAh, 12MP Primary camera and 7MP Secondary camera. It also comes with an IP67 certification as well. The main Pros of this Device are its software, the enormous list of AppStore Apps, front facing speakers (good to an extent) and its camera. The iPhone 7 Plus comes with a better dual sensor camera with certain additional features, but I am more concerned about the single hand usage factor. This being the main reason I opted for the 7 instead of the 7 plus.

The 3D Touch feature is good but I find myself using it just at times. For example, making calls to people in the favorite list, switching to different camera modes or when I have to quickly take notes in the note App. The camera produces excellent pictures and I would rate it equal to the Samsung Galaxy S7. But the low light performance is something where the S7 kills the iPhone 7 with lots of details. The audio experience is good but with a better pair of earphones like the RHA MA 750i (which I currently use), the experience is great. Yes, the iPhone 7 is costly, but with the iPhone 8 releasing next month, prices are going to fall. This makes it an even better deal.

The Touch ID feature is good but I find myself using it just at times. For example, making calls to people in the favorite list, switching to different camera modes or when I have to quickly take notes in the note App. The camera produces excellent pictures and I would rate it equal to the Samsung Galaxy S7. But the low light performance is something where the S7 kills the iPhone 7 with lots of details. The audio experience is good but with a better pair of earphones like the RHA MA 750i (which I currently use), the experience is great. Yes, the iPhone 7 is costly, but with the iPhone 8 releasing next month, prices are going to fall. This makes it an even better deal.

Check my review on the Apple iPhone 7 here.

One Plus 3T

Best Smartphone - OnePlus 3T
OnePlus 3T

The OnePlus 3T is one of the best budget high-end smartphones of 2016. With the recently released OnePlus 5 opening to mixed reviews, this seems a safe bet for its striking top end features at a very good price. The OnePlus 3T comes with a 5.5-inch screen, 6 GB RAM, and 3400mAh battery. The phone runs on Android OS over its OxygenOS. The software experience is far better than TouchWiz and provides a breezy performance thanks to its Snapdragon 821 processor. The 16 MP Front and Back cameras click good images, but not the best. But the front camera is far better than the one on OnePlus 3. Dash charging is a great feature, you can charge your mobile from 0% to 100% in less than an hour. The touch sensor unlocks the phone in a flash. Overall, this phone is a premium device at a budget price.

Other Best Smartphones 2016

In addition to these premium devices, there are two other devices worth mentioning- The  HTC 10 and The Google Pixel.

The Google Pixel is the highest rated smartphone camera by DxO rating, and HTC 10 being a great multimedia streaming device with an excellent pair of built-in earphones are close competitors to those phones I have discussed in detail upon. But the HTC 10’s camera isn’t up to the mark and its battery is something that disappoints very much. The Google Pixel has the advantage of stock Android experience and excellent camera. The design looks a bit odd but comes to personal preference. Battery and music quality are below par.

At the end of the day, with the prices of all the above-mentioned smartphones dropping down, it provides you with great value for money. All you need to check is your personal performance!

iPhone 7 – My Experience After a Week!

I got my iPhone 7 32 GB Gold last week after convincing myself hard that it would be a great jump from my previous iPhone- iPhone 6s. I’m not gonna review the product as there are so many experienced reviewers¬†out there. Just thought of sharing few things I like and dislike about this new product from Apple.

 

Likes

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  1. Design –¬†I’ve seen a lot of people raving about the similar design of iPhones for the past 3 years. But there’s this refinement of the antenna lines that makes the iPhone look a tinge more pleasing. This is a matter of preference, but I personally liked the slight changes plus the addition of black in this ¬†latest iteration of iPhones.
  2. Storage –¬†Base storage being marginally¬†increased to 32GB starting with the same price is great, but I would have preferred a 64GB base start. Anyway , a 16GB to 32GB jump means you need not frequently free up memory for downloading new Apps¬†or for making software updates.
  3. Battery –¬†iPhones are always known for their better standby time. iPhone 7 stands tall in this league. My 6s would hardly last an entire day of above average use. But, the 7 seems to do better. At least for the first week.
  4. Camera –¬†It’s the same 12MP camera but with a larger f/1.8 aperture. Just like the design, there is nothing much to boast about here, but the pictures seem to be more refined. Front camera with 7MP looks better on paper, but results¬†kinda look the same as iPhone 6s.
  5. Dust and Water Resistance –¬†I seriously felt that the iPhone 6s was dust and water resistant. I’ve dropped it in water twice. It worked perfectly fine even then. May be Apple decided to make the point more evident by scribing¬†it in the spec sheet. None the less, it feels more convincing¬†to hold it the rain now than earlier.

Dislikes

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  1. Stereo Speakers? Really? –¬†Apple was really boasting about the stereo speaker set up in its latest offering. But they don’t really sound that amazing. It is fine, but if you compare it with those boom speakers of HTC’s earlier line ups, gosh!
  2. New year ? New iPhone? –¬†iPhone 7 isn’t that big update you would generally expect from Apple going from a “s” to the next numerical model. The minor refinements don’t really seem like an upgrade, rather seems¬†like¬†a double “s” because the speed has increased slightly more than¬†the already speedy iPhone 6s.
iPhone 7
iPhone 7 shot with a Nikon D3300

iPhone 7 feels top notch, looks refined, takes good natural images¬†as always, comes with add ons like water &¬†dust resistance, Optical Image Stabilisation and better colour options. The lack of a headphone jack really means nothing to me. I either use it with the added adapter or a bluetooth headphone. The home button isn’t a button anymore and it needs¬†sometime to get used to it. It kinda feels nice to use the Taptic engine (Button?!)¬†once it becomes a routine.

After the first week, I’m okay with my¬†iPhone 7. I prefer¬†the ¬†“no whatsoever lag” and speedy nature of the phone. The Appstore with its millions of applications is a delight to explore. I’ve always been a big fan of Apple, but there is a bit of disappointment this time around as I was expecting a lot more additions. Hope the 10th anniversary¬†brings in more excitement¬†than the recent few mediocre years.

Click this link to purchase the iPhone 7.

Cheers!