Apple iPad (2018) review: Still outperforms every Android tablet

Apple has only itself to blame for this: the sixth generation of the iPad is a cheap iPad, or at least cheap by Apple’s standards. You get the sense that it was cheaply produced around almost every corner, and yet Apple has still produced an enormously good tablet with its 2018 edition. We’ll share our insights with you in our review, and we’ll do our best to also offer an Android-friendly perspective.

Rating

Good

  • Strong performance
  • High-quality apps

Bad

  • Display isn’t exceptional
  • Slow fingerprint reader

The iPad is still an iPad

My history with tablets has been difficult, especially my farewell to the tablet universe just under a year ago, but I was really excited by the new iPad and its lower price. So I made my way to the Apple Store to get the new device. Unfortunately, things are never particularly easy with Apple, starting from the very beginning.

If you thought the new iPad would just simply be on the shelf at the Apple Store, you’re mistaken. You can’t just pick one up and proceed to checkout. At the Apple Store, sales need to be made by individual employees, so if you come without an appointment, you’ll end up waiting for a free salesman. It was an unusual experience for me as a typical online shopper. I went at 7:40 in the evening and wasn’t sure that I’d be able to get an iPad that day. Unbelievable, but I did still manage to get it before the store closed.

AndroidPIT apple ipad 2018 3804 The 2018 version of the iPad. / © AndroidPIT

This backstory isn’t entirely pointless: it serves to illustrate how much Apple tries to create a complete experience with its products. This kind of purchasing experience is entirely unsuitable for me, but for buyers will less clear ideas or knowledge, this is ideal: before the purchase there is a personal consultation and demonstration.

But back to the iPad: at a starting price of $ 329.99, it’s not too expensive by Apple’s standards, but you can feel its simplicity around every corner. The aluminum body looks elegant, but feels a little hollow. The bezel of the display gives a neat but not flawless impression.

Display: Not quite razor sharp

Apple was one of the first brands to incorporate high-resolution displays in smartphones and later in tablets. They use the marketing term Retina to describe these displays, which indicates that individual pixels are no longer recognizable.

The sixth iPad also features a classic retina display, but the pixel density of 264 ppi isn’t overwhelming. Movies, photos, and games all look beautiful.

AndroidPIT apple ipad 2018 3795 The iPad display isn’t quite perfect for surfing. / © AndroidPIT

When you’re surfing on the web, however, the display doesn’t look quite as good: sometimes letters appear spongy. Especially with rather small font sizes or high zoom levels, the typeface could use some more sharpness. It’s still readable, and for this price range the display is fine, but more expensive iPads should offer more.

Desktop power in tablet form

With Android tablets, I’m used to processing at 1.5 GHz with ultra fast quad-core processors. I have to laugh sometimes: why would I buy a tablet with a low output? Though I definitely prefer using a tablet in comparison to a desktop computer, I’m never sure what to do with a tablet.

AndroidPIT apple ipad 2018 3792 The task manager is clearly arranged and accessible via the swipe gesture. / © AndroidPIT

Apple doesn’t show any skin when it comes to hardware. On the product page you’ll find out very little about the A10 Fusion processor, simply that it’s an “A10 Fusion chip of the 4th generation with 64-bit desktop architecture”. An entire article could be written about this information, but I’ll just summarize it quickly for you: The iPad is really fast. It’s not Apple’s fastest processor, but beats everything we’re used to from Android tablets.

Geekbench isn’t clear when it comes to benchmarks. The iPad scores 3505 points in the single-core test and 5,978 points in the multi-core test. Hardly any Android chipset will approach this kind of performance, especially in terms of single-core performance, which still plays an important role. In our benchmark comparison, only the Galaxy S9/S9+ comes close, as the octa-core of a Snapdragon 835 and above exceeds the multi-core values by a few hundred points.

The iPad in everyday use

This is where it counts! Since the whole preliminary debate is useless if the iPad doesn’t keep its promises in everyday life. The low weight and display edges are already pleasant: the iPad can be comfortably held and operated for surfing, playing games, or watching videos.

AndroidPIT apple ipad 2018 3806The new iPad is easy to hold. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

In the past two weeks or so, I’ve enjoyed using the iPad for surfing and at times working. Yes, with the 9.7-inch display, the iPad is nice to look at, and when you’re typing the virtual keyboard doesn’t make a sound. I tried out the Apple keyboard, Gboard, and Swiftkey. Gboard seems to be the smoothest keyboard overall, but the Apple keyboard gives you the easiest access to special characters.

AndroidPIT apple ipad 2018 3839Typing on the iPad isn’t perfect, but it works quite well. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

The apps and software experience generally work. Apple has given the tablet a few gesture controls that are easy to learn. If you swipe from bottom to top, the multitasking view and command center opens with a few quick settings for Wi-Fi, volume, etc.

AndroidPIT apple ipad 2018 3803Apple’s app universe is unbeatable. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

But the best thing is the apps. On Android, it seems the developers don’t really know what to do with a large tablet display.

How different it is with iPad: apps usually use all the space they have. There is no need to search for the home button because the gesture control is more intuitive, but the home button is always there if you get into an emergency. And this is beautiful to me as an Android user: important Google apps like Docs, Gmail, and Maps are available on the iPad and run very well.

Here’s another example: I don’t know an app like Luma Fusion on Android. Luma Fusion is a powerful video editor that lets you quickly cut different clips into one video. All the features like voice-overs, crossfades and music are included. But above all, the preview doesn’t jerk and shows the current form of the video without delay.

Disappointing speakers

Only the speakers and the fingerprint reader are somewhat disappointing. Although the speakers have stereo output, they are only mounted on the bottom edge. So when you’re watching a movie or playing a game, the sound only goes in one direction, and it’s a little weak. You’re better off wearing headphones. The fingerprint sensor, which Apple calls TouchID, takes eternities (a full second) to complete a scan.

iPad (6. Generation) battery

The new iPad’s battery life is impressively good. You can get several days of regular use after charging it once. If you run too many apps, complex games or ARkit apps, however, the battery will drain more quickly. The battery remains quite stable if you leave the device in standby mode.

iPad (6. Generation) technical specifications

Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 7.5 mm
Weight: 469 g
Screen size: 9.7 in
Display technology: LCD
Screen: 2048 x 1536 pixels (264 ppi)
Front camera: 1.2 megapixels
Rear camera: 8 megapixels
Flashlight: LED
RAM: 2 GB
Internal storage: 32 GB
128 GB
Removable storage: Not available
Chipset: Apple A10 Fusion
Number of cores: 4
Max. clock speed: 2.34 GHz
Connectivity:
Bluetooth 4.2
HSPA, LTE, Bluetooth 4.2

One word about the performance: we tested the basic model with 32 GB. You can optionally buy a model with an additional 128 GB of internal memory for an around an extra 100 dollars. 32 GB is really scarce, especially for people who consume a lot of media, but 100 dollars is a rather hefty sum for more internal memory.

Our early conclusion

Apple advertises the iPad as a computer. The iPad’s performance values don’t make this sound completely absurd. The device is mobile, the battery lasts long and the app universe is impressive in terms of its quality and larger selection.

The cheap iPad poses the question of what other tablet is worth considering. The iPad Pro will satisfy people who are hungry for performance, but it costs an extra 320 dollars, which seems too high, despite its better display. Things are looking bleak for Android in the tablet world. And Chrome and OS tablets? Well…

We’re not done trying it out yet. In a second review we’ll talk about the Apple Pencil and whether a keyboard turns the iPad into a productive machine. In the meantime, please let us know what you think of the new iPad in our comments section!

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TouchPal Pro review: AI at your fingertips for faster typing


How to setup TouchPal Pro

The app can be installed from the Google Play Store under the name of TouchPal Keyboard Pro-type with AI assistant. Just hit install to get it on your phone. It works on any Android phone running Android 4.0.3 and later and with its 32M doesn’t take long to install.

TouchPal Keyboard Pro- type with AI assistant Install on Google Play

For the initial setup of the app, you need to sign in using your Facebook, Google, Email or Twitter account, which will be used to backup the machine learnings. Next, you are asked to choose an initial theme, like a standard dark version, butterflies, water, cats etc. There is a wide range of these to choose from. You then land on the app’s home screen, which offers various categories, such as stickers, themes, live themes, Emoji packs, BoomTexts (you can create any text you type into its own GIF), fonts, games, localized dictionaries (like for various city-specific talk from Boston, New York, etc. or from a various sector, like health, legal or finance). Using all of these options, you are able to further personalize your keyboard to your every need and own personal taste.

AndroidPIT Touchpal app 2953 TouchPal Pro offers you a wide range of themes. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova AndroidPIT Touchpal app 2871 BoomTexts allows you to create any text you type into its own GIF. These are some of the cool ways they are displayed.  / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

TouchPal Pro feature: AI-powered accurate predictions and smart replies

To get into TouchPal, just open any app that requires a keyboard. I used WhatsApp to give it a whirl. When looking for the perfect keyboard for my smartphone, there is one thing I value most of all: speed and efficiency. Since nowadays we type so much, calling has seriously decreased, typing effectively is even more important. TouchPal claims that it has attained a 99.4 percent higher prediction rate because of its artificial intelligence engine with AI assistant-integrated predictions, smart replies and information recommendations driven by machine learning technology. I of course put this claim to the test. I found at the beginning, app was already able to suggest appropriate words to me, though it got even better with longer usage as the app picked up my typing trends. When receiving a message, TouchPal Pro did suggest some answers that I found to be suitable. The predictive typing also worked well and presented various options as well.

AndroidPIT Touchpal app 2942 TouchPal Pro supplies you with Smart Replies to the messages you receive, which can be a real time saver. These will improve over time as it learns from your behavior. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

TouchPal Pro feature: Talia digital assistant, smart information and recommendations

TouchPal integrated an AI engine that learns from your behavior to improve your typing suggestion. It also introduced Talia. This is the name of TouchPal’s very own smart assistant and comes with a wide range of “skills”: smart reply for response suggestions, weather forecasts, dining recommendations, pasting from the clipboard, GIF predictions and calculations of basic math operations. For all of these options, it is based off of what you type. After the input, you will be presented with a little text bubble, which I did not find to be intrusive at all, on the top right corner of the keyboard. Here you will then see whether it is a reply, the forecast, a GIF etc, depending on what context. 

AndroidPIT Touchpal app 2879 Certain words like Hello, Hola, Wow, Cute, OMG etc. prompt GIFs to pop up on the screen for you to choose from.  / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova AndroidPIT Touchpal app 2927 TouchPal Pro can calculate simple math equations that one aren’t so simple for some! 😉 / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

To access Talia and look up more information, you need to simply select the circular-like icon on the far right side of the keyboard. Here you can also search the web with either speech or typed input and receive a list of internet options. The website can then be shared directly into the chat. This is also a place where you can access and play games. Talia is still currently in its beta version, so there are likely to be more features in the future. It only works in English, Spanish and Hinglish at the moment.

AndroidPIT Touchpal app 2887 TouchPal Pro offers restaurant recommendations right in the app. Tap on the bubble will bring you to a list of nearby restaurants.  / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova AndroidPIT Touchpal app 2890 The restaurants will be presented in the Talia Digital Assistant screen. You can then share the info with the person you are chatting to. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

How is the user interface, controls and language choice on TouchPal Pro?

The keyboard is highly customizable and there are also many settings to play around with. In order for you to get the smart help, you need to turn this on in the Settings of your phone, under Accessibility, and then TouchPal Pro. Within the keyboard itself, the settings are found by tapping on the TouchPal icon on the far left. Here you can configure such things as the language and add as many as you want from the 150 tongues provided (great for multilinguals like me!), layout and size and key sound. Here you can also access the clipboard as well as trends, which is like a news feed.

AndroidPIT Touchpal app 2875 TouchPal Pro has its own integrated news feed called “Trends”.  / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

For more setup possibilities, the settings icon brings you to the Look and Feel (keypress setup, Smileys, animation smart suggestion toggles), Predictions, Cloud, Languages and Help and Support. Looking specifically at the Predictions category, you can step up the app’s learning capabilities by allowing it to learn from messages and Twitter. Under Cloud, it shows you where your dictionaries and data are synced (for me my Gmail account). You can also choose for the app to input word trends, meaning trending words, phrases and languages models. For quick access to the corresponding TouchPal app full of themes, fonts, etc, hit the icon that looks like a shirt next to the TouchPal icon.

AndroidPIT Touchpal app 2898 TouchPal Pro comes with a wide range of settings options to meet your needs. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

TouchPal Pro speed and stability: how fast is TouchPal Pro?

Typing, swiping, or Curve Typing, as they call it, and predictions were all very fast and though the first predictions using the app were not always spot on, the word I was looking for appeared in the list of other suggestions. I think this will become better with prolonged usage. The GIF suggestions didn’t work each time, however this may also be due to its learning of my habits or me getting used to the app, though I would have expected more GIFs right away to auto-show. I did find that this worked better after a day of usage though. That being said, there is a GIFs menu to wide range of options to search through. Recommendations worked as well, though these currently work in English, Spanish and Hinglish, and the countries that speak those languages. Recommendations for the USA worked well.

In addition to Curve Word gesture, you can also select Wave Sentence gesture. To input expected words, you need to swipe from the first letter to the space bar, then without releasing, drag your finger to the next letter for the next word. So, when typing See you, you just need to drag your finger from the S, to the keyboard, to the Y for you. Both options are very fast.

How secure and private is TouchPal Pro? 

Security and privacy are important factors to consider for any app you install on your phone. TouchPal does require permissions to your phone data, just as any app, and this especially so that it can enhance its predictions. For example, TouchPal will have access to your contact names to faster typing, as well as your SMS messages. There is a very transparent list of the data it collects on their website under Privacy Policy, which is a plus point for TouchPal. The company keeps the data anonymous, private and secure, and does not provide any information to third parties. This is a pill one needs to swallow for a faster typing experience so the app can learn from your behavior.

How much does TouchPal Pro cost?

The app is free to install and to use. A lot of the downloadable fonts, themes, games, BoomTexts etc. are free as well, but there are some paid ones too, like in the case for financial or legal jargon. The prices range from 0.85 USD to 5 USD.

AndroidPIT Touchpal app 2874 TouchPal Pro also comes with some cool games for free.  / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

TouchPal Pro final verdict – our parting words

For a free app (aside from the in-app paid add-ons), TouchPal is one of a kind and a pioneer in the AI keyboard game. With its plethora of setting, customization and feature options, in addition of course to the AI services it offers with the help of Digital Assistant Talia, TouchPal will continue to be used as often as it is now by smartphone owners around the world, on both Android and Apple. Though I would like to see it learn faster in the future, I could already observe the machine learning in process. It is also great to have an AI Assistant right in the app, so there is no need to exit it to get the info you need. Lastly, the fact that TouchPal openly and clearly say what it uses the data for is a big bonus point for me. While I am looking forward to Talia to come out of its beta stage and to be available in more languages, I can already recommend the TouchPal Pro keyboard app.

What do you think about the TouchPal Pro app with its AI engine and digital assistant Talia? Would you install this one today on your smartphone?

TouchPal Keyboard Pro- type with AI assistant Install on Google Play

This article was written in cooperation with TouchPal

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Huawei P20 Pro display review: Worthy of a flagship

What kind of display is it?

The Huawei P20 Pro is equipped with a 6.1-inch display with a body-to-screen ratio of up to 81.9%. The P20 Pro features what the Chinese manufacturer calls a FullView display, which was introduced last year with the Huawei Mate 10 Pro and features an 18.7:9 format.

FullView, OLED, 6.1-inch display, 1080×2244 pixel resolution and 408 ppi

This is an OLED panel, unlike the TFT IPS panel used on the P20. The resolution, however, is the same on both models: FullHD+, or 1080×2244 pixels resulting in 408 ppi. Huawei has decided against QHD resolution, which to the naked eye isn’t so different from FullHD and would weigh more on battery consumption. 2.5D glass joins the metal frame and protects the display.

AndroidPIT huawei p20 pro front 2cbu 6.1-inch OLED display with FullHD+ resolution for the P20 Pro. / © AndroidPIT

Color and brightness on the P20 Pro

To better understand the display’s color representation on the Huawei P20, we put it to the test using a tool for color calibration called Spyder 5 Elite. By adding the vectors x and y from the table, the distance between the measured color and the correct color can be calculated. Delta E values indicate the accuracy of the color representation. A low value means the color is more accurately represented.

The display of the P20 Pro offers good representation of all colors and good brightness.

Here you can see the results of the P20 Pro. The measurements were taken with automatic brightness off and set to the maximum:

Huawei P20 Pro: Our color representation test

Color: Red Green Blue Yellow Cyan Magenta White
x 0.6790 0.2492 0.1460 0.4249 0.1876 0.3185 0.2967
y 0.3210 0.7059 0.0426 0.5498 0.3089 0.1323 0.3188
Delta E 6.7 7.1 5.4 5.9 6.1 3.6 7.3

You can also take a look at the article below, which shows the results reported by the Super AMOLED display from the Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+, which according to the Display Mate portal is the best in the world. The results reported for the two devices are very similar; the main differences are in the Delta E values.

But back to the P20 Pro and its screen. The black triangle shown in the graph below is the sRGB color space. The white triangle indicates the color space measured on the P20 Pro. As you can see, it covers the space very well, exceeding the space occupied by the black reference triangle.

What does this mean in a nutshell? The P20 Pro’s display provides a good representation of all colors, so they are true and accurate.

p20 Pro display colors 1 The white triangle represents the measured value and the black triangle represents the sRGB color range. / © AndroidPIT

In the second graph you can see that blue pixels come out the most. Whites tend to slightly blue, but don’t forget that in the device settings, by going to Display>Color & eye comfort>Color mode & temperature, you can change this parameter manually to your liking.

Capture2 1 Blue sub-pixels come out on the P20 Pro.  / © AndroidPIT

In an OLED display, each pixel has its own lighting independent of the others. Blacks are absolute and contrasts are infinite because black has a brightness of zero. The maximum brightness we measured during our test carried out in the office was 442 nits.

In practical use, the Huawei P20 Pro’s screen is pleasantly bright and readable in direct sunlight. The viewing angles are also good.

Display functions you should know about

The Always on function is there, but it’s hidden and disabled by default! You’ll find it in the settings menu by going to Settings>Security & privacy>Screen lock & passwords>Always display information (if you search for Always On in the search menu you won’t find it).

This Always On function is a bit more basic compared to the LG V30. There are no notifications. You simply see the date, time, and percentage of charge on the off screen. You can program the activation of the Always On function for a specific time period if you don’t want to use it during the whole day.

With the Huawei P20 Pro you can watch HD content on Netflix. For our test, we used the DRM Info application that offers Level 1 support for Widevine certification and allows playback of streaming content in high resolution.

P20 Pro display EN HD on Netflix, manually adjustable color temperature and Always on are hidden in the settings. / © AndroidPIT

By activating Natural tone, the P20 Pro automatically adjusts the color temperature in low to ambient light. This is a pleasant function that you can activate by going to Settings>Display>Colors & eye protection.

In the section dedicated to the display you’ll also find the option that allows you to deactivate the notch, which can be hidden. This will result in a solid black bar at the top of the display. The implementation of the notch is still good and although it divides the screen in two, it doesn’t limit the display of information (except for Instagram Stories).

By clicking on Settings>Display>Screen resolution you can now manually change the screen resolution to either HD+ (1493×720) or FHD+ (2240×1080). The latter is active by default. If you select Smart resolution, the device will automatically reduce the screen resolution to reduce power consumption.

Do you think the Huawei P20 Pro can compete with the iPhone X? Who will prevail in this notch war?

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Huawei P20 Pro camera review: One big step forward

The cooperation between Huawei and Leica in smartphone cameras is entering its third round, and the two partners are taking an enormous step forward. For the first time, the P20 Pro features three cameras and a sensor with up to 40MP resolution. All this is not just a gimmick, because the initial camera test shows that the Huawei P20 Pro has the potential to frighten the competition.

The Huawei P20 Pro has received some impressive praise for its camera. With far better results than any other smartphone, DxOMark’s testers attest to the new model in all respects. Now the results from DxOMark aren’t set in stone, but it is a strong trump card that the manufacturer can pull out of its sleeve.

Before we take a look at the photos and videos that the Huawei P20 Pro delivers in the camera test, let’s take another look at the technology. The three cameras from top to bottom: at the top is a camera with a 12MP sensor and a telephoto focal length of 80 millimeters in 35mm equivalent; the aperture is f/2.4. Below are two wide-angle modules: in the middle is an RGB sensor with 40MP resolution and f/1.8, at the bottom a black and white sensor with 20MP and f/1.6. Between the lenses, the Huawei P20 Pro has an active laser autofocus with a transmitter, receiver and a flash with its own color temperature sensor to adjust the flash to ambient light.

IMG 20180327 204606 Low-light shots are a pleasure with the Huawei P20 Pro. / © AndroidPIT

Fast and easy to operate

As complicated as the technology is, operating the Huawei P20 Pro camera is as easy as ever. The camera app is tidy and still has a lot of features to offer. The speed of the camera is also impressive. The P20 Pro can take a photo in just 0.3 seconds from standby mode by using the quick start feature. In normal operation, the autofocus of the Samsung Galaxy S9 is a bit faster, but the P20 Pro is fast enough for any user.

The picture quality in automatic mode that the Huawei P20 Pro provided in the camera test is simply impressive. Whether a lot of light or very little of it, the images are always razor sharp and have very lifelike colors and little image noise. Unlike the Galaxy S9, noise reduction in the P20 Pro doesn’t cause details to blur; the richness of detail is outstanding.

IMG 20180329 160657 The exposure hits the black just as well as the autofocus. / © AndroidPIT IMG 20180329 160638 The Huawei P20 Pro captures lots of details. / © AndroidPIT IMG 20180327 204403 The dynamic range is impressive. / © AndroidPIT

Playing with the light in portrait mode

The P20 Pro has added new light effects in portrait mode. In addition, there is a ten-level beauty effect that is meant to artificially enhance photos. There is also a bokeh mode, which now functions very well. However, the light effects do always cause mistakes, which sometimes make the photos completely unusable. And the beauty effect can quickly become unnatural.

Here’s one tip: instead of using portrait mode, use the aperture mode, which just creates a nice blur that you can also change afterwards. You’ll save yourself the fuss and trouble of gambling with light effects. The aperture mode is excellent for portraits, and the bokeh mode is on the same level as pictures taken with the Google Pixel 2 XL.

IMG 20180328 104715 Crystal clear portraits in black & white… / © AndroidPIT IMG 20180328 112514 … and in color. / © AndroidPIT

The P20 Pro delivers remarkable performance in low-light situations. The images are enormously rich in detail, and with the HDR mode, they have a dynamic range that sometimes makes them appear almost unnatural. By combining the data from the three different sensors, Huawei manages to keep image noise very low.

IMG 20180328 121347 1 Good photos even with little light and in this case with 1/20 shutter speed. This picture features Marco Dettweiler from the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper as a model. / © AndroidPIT

Slow shutter speeds without the camera shaking

It is impressive that Huawei manages to make shutter speeds of up to eight seconds possible without shaking. This can deliver impressive results that no other smartphone can match.

IMG 20180327 214137 This image was exposed for 4 seconds, and the smartphone was held in just one hand. / © AndroidPIT

A small but forgivable drawback: if you zoom deep into the photos, you will see that the software is sharpening quite neatly. In the normal view, however, this is not a problem.

Speaking of zoom: the triple optical zoom is a blessing, especially when taking portraits. If you want to bring things even closer, you can also use the 5x hybrid zoom that uses the high-resolution 40MP sensor. This works perfectly for a smartphone even in low-lighting. Especially at maximum zoom, the electronic image stabilizer takes a little longer to engage from time to time, and the automatic white balance is a little off in some places.

IMG 20180327 205725 One with a wide-angle lens… / © AndroidPIT IMG 20180327 205735 …and once with 5x zoom from the same position. / © AndroidPIT

The different picture modes in Huawei’s camera app sometimes work better, and sometimes worse. The food mode is pretty unnecessary, and even the scanners, watermarks and filters aren’t necessary. The monochrome mode is ideal for fans of black and white photography. There are also other modes available to download.

Videos are better than any other Huawei smartphone

DxOMark has also given the P20 Pro top marks for video recordings in 4K – 98 more points than any other smartphone has achieved. This score, however, isn’t quite so comprehensive, because although the image quality is also good for videos, you’ll occasionally notice aliasing, color casts appear under artificial light, and the purely electronic image stabilizer of the P20 Pro reaches its limits relatively quickly. Meanwhile, the autofocus works just as well as the exposure setting, and the image noise is quite low. So videos are good and better than any other Huawei smartphone, but there are still manufacturers that can do it a little better.

The Huawei P20 Pro offers three different slow motion modes: 120, 240 or 960 fps. The handling is different. At 120 or 240 fps you can film a normal video and later use a slider to set the area to be played back in slow motion. This can also be done for the whole video. At 960 fps, the shutter release button starts a short video of half a second, which is then extended to ten seconds of super slow motion. This is of course looks more detailed, but you have to be very precise about what exactly you’re recording. The 240 fps mode is much more useful in everyday life.

One more thing to keep in mind: the software that plays an immense role in the camera of the Huawei P20 Pro is not yet final on our test device. It is expected that we will receive one or two updates soon. That’s a good thing, because the pre-release software still has a few problems. At irregular intervals the camera app of the Huawei P20 Pro quits when you use the zoom function.

On some occasions during our test it froze on its own and we had to close and reopen it manually. Among other things, Huawei has promised improvement for the image stabilizer for video recordings, which is also necessary. Changes to the general image quality are also still possible, and we’ll be keeping an eye on this.

Conclusion: An enormous leap forward

The first camera test after just two days with the Huawei P20 Pro made it clear that this could be a ‘game changer’ that would take smartphone photography to a new level. And there’s even more to the new Leica camera, because software updates should make some things even better. In manual mode, the Huawei P20 Pro can conjure up even better photos with a little training. We are very curious how the camera will compare to the other current flagships.

So what do you think of the pictures taken with the Huawei P20 Pro?

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

ZTE Blade V9 review: Great but not the best buy


ZTE Blade V9 design and build quality

The ZTE Blade V9 has a modern design that is now common to many devices. A metal structure with curved edges to facilitate grip and ensure design continuity with the two glass panels that enclose the device hardware.

ZTE’s 2.5D glass has a curvature that is only hinted at and barely noticeable at a casual glance. The device is really comfortable in your hand. Although the Blade V9 also looks very solid at first glance and the construction is good, keep in mind that the two panels are made of glass (the type is not specified by the company) so don’t expect it to survive hard falls.

AndroidPIT zte 9518 The design isn’t particularly original, but it looks good! / © AndroidPIT

The back panel has a similar finish to the Honor 8 and Honor 9, and ZTE calls this Aurora Glass because of the pleasant light effects it produces. The available colors are Night Black and Papohaku Golden.

Elegant in design, easy on the eyes

But the real star of the show is in the front of the smartphone. The ZTE Blade V9 has an 18:9 display that doesn’t follow the fashion of rounded corners, and instead has remained in the classic rectangular shape.

The frames around the display have been reduced as much as possible to achieve a remarkable 83.6% body to the display ratio (compared to 80.6% on the Honor 7X and a meager 69.3% on the iPhone 8 Plus). What is most striking is the size of the side bezels, which have been reduced to just 2.9 mm. As a result, the smartphone in your hand is comfortable even if it gives the impression of being slightly longer than the competition because of these extreme bezels.

The panel is a beautiful 5.7-inch LCD with Incell technology and FullHD+ resolution (2160 x 1080 pixels). This means that the hardware responsible for managing the touch input is integrated into the LCD itself, removing the need for an additional layer over it.

AndroidPIT zte 9521 Bye-bye, bezels. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

This makes for really good viewing angles on the display and brings the LCD itself closer to the user just as is the case on OLED panels. The colors look vivid and brightness is good, which we measured as just under 500nits in our test. From our measurements, the display seems to cover the sRGB color spectrum very well with a white that is near ‘perfect’ (if I may use the term), with only a very slight and imperceptible tendency toward blue.

display test zte blade v9 The values were measured with the Spyder 5 Elite. / © AndroidPIT

The contrasts are good, but not as good as the OLED panels and value we found was 1158:1, which is not bad. Of course, there are better displays on the market, but no other device in this price range can compete with these figures.

display test zte blade v9 2 Not all shades of blue are covered in the sRGB range, but there are so few that it’s not a problem. / © AndroidPIT

Interesting hardware

The smartphone has a SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 consisting of eight ARM Cortex-A53 cores at 1.8GHz. The CPU is a classic 8-core unit. It isn’t composed of two different quad-core clusters, so there aren’t two sub-units specializing in simple or high performance processes, as we have usually found in smartphones in recent years.

The ZTE Blade V9 is available for purchase in three different variants that differ in the quantity of RAM and internal memory, which in any case can be expanded with a microSD up to 256 GB. The version we tried is the version with 3 GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory but there is also a cheaper model with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage and a more expensive one with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of memory.

AndroidPIT zte 9527 No USB Type-C, but at least we get a mini-jack on the opposite side! / © AndroidPIT

Performance isn’t the strong point of this device, which performs well with basic functions, but isn’t so great with slightly more demanding requests and multitasking with more than two applications. I didn’t experience any delays with games. Most of the time, 30 fps shouldn’t pose a problem, but expect long loading to be slow with heavier 3D games.

When using browsers, mail, social media, and other apps, the Blade V9 does its job without any issues. Below you can check out a comparative table of benchmarks from the ZTE Blade V9 and some other smartphones in the same price range.

ZTE Blade V9 compared to the competition

  Sony Xperia L2 Honor 9 Lite LG Q6 ZTE Blade V9
3D Mark
Sling Shot ES 3.1
117 338 230 443
3D Mark
Sling Shot ES 3.0
285 231 470 805
3D Mark
Ice Storm Unlimited ES 2.0
6652 12170 7764 12738
Geekbench CPU
Single core
683 945 637 769
Geekbench CPU
Multicore
1928 3712 2119 3908

Great that it includes a 3.5 mm headphone jack, but unfortunately the charging port is still a microUSB Type 2.0. 

More battery than the new Galaxy

The battery has 3,200 mAh, which will get you through the day. I also have to add that I’m extremely satisfied with it. Not only does it have more capacity than the Galaxy S9’s battery, but the lower-power SoC also enables plenty of autonomy.

With normal use (accounting for the non-use at work) you can safely reach two days of autonomy, perhaps even three if you’re thrifty. The situation is different if you’re a gamer and pushing the SoC to its limits: in this case you can still get to the evening, but it’s better to recharge your smartphone at night, so it won’t completely drain until the next day.

A promise of perfect photos

“Picture perfect dual camera” – this is how ZTE presents Blade V9’s photographic capability. Given the price range we do not expect miracles but on paper the smartphone seems to promise much and keeps up with the competition.

AndroidPIT zte 9520 The dual camera has now become a must. / © AndroidPIT

The main photographic compartment consists of two sensors, one with 16 MP and one with 5 MP, both with 6-component lenses for less distortion and better performance. Only the 16 MP camera has PDAF 2.0 autofocus, while the second camera has fixed focus and is only used for shooting with bokeh effect and portrait mode (yes, because they are two separate modes in the ZTE Camera software). The front camera is 13 MP and has fixed focus.

ZTE provides your smartphone with photo software that offers many functions such as portrait modes, variable aperture (software), night mode, manual mode and others. The results won’t leave you breathless, but the performance in low light is more than acceptable.

IMG 20180225 172824 One of the photos taken with the ZTE Blade V9. The details are amazing (you can also look at the original photos in their uncompressed form below). / © AndroidPIT

I’ll avoid commenting on the bokeh mode and portrait mode (you wouldn’t expect them to work correctly, right?), I have to admit that the shots taken with the main camera of the Blade V9 are interesting. In good lighting, the photos are more than good, the colors are correctly represented and the details are visible and distinguished.

Am I dreaming or is this the newest Oreo?

The biggest surprise of all is in the software. The Android version is 8.1 Oreo with the January 2018 security patches. The ZTE interface is called Stock+ for one reason: we don’t find any major changes to Android in appearance but only in functionality, which is always very welcome!

AndroidPIT zte 9524 Android stock is a pleasant surprise, Oreo 8.1 is an even better one! / © AndroidPIT

The added features include unlocking with face recognition, fingerprint reader gestures and certainly many more that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to discover. At first glance, it seems to have a latest generation Pixel or Nokia in your hands, given the cleanliness of the software. It will be my duty to check in the full review whether the added features are useful, and more importantly, well-implemented.

zte blade v9 software 1 During the initial setup you’re asked install some additional apps, which is much better than having to find them yourself. / © AndroidPIT

Unfortunately, as is often the case with smartphones from lesser-known manufacturers from China, there are some apps that require permissions that aren’t really reassuring. Why does the stock browser need access to phone calls? Thanks to Android you’ll be able to block these requests and sleep at night.

zte blade v9 software 2 Dear ZTE, I’m sure you have good intentions, but you have to take better care of your software to dispel any doubts. / © AndroidPIT

Let’s just it’s not the nicest or best-maintained software I’ve come across, as there are some smudges here and there that are obvious during use. In any case, it is better to have an updated and practically stock version of Android, even with some defects, than to have slightly better software with a proprietary interface that isn’t updated as often. In this regard, ZTE doesn’t earn top marks, but should be applauded for its commitment.

Available in March at an attractive price

ZTE will fight in a price range full of competition. The version of the 3 GB/32 GB smartphone we tried and tested will cost 269 euros, which is equivalent to about $ 331. 

The company is preparing to launch the smartphone as early as March and seeks to enter into agreements with carriers for more widespread distribution. At the moment, ZTE does not plan to release the Blade V9 in the US, though fans of the brand may be keen to import it.

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Huawei P20 Pro Hands-on review: the three-eyed monster

Huawei has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence in recent years, and it should continue like this. But after the P10, which was a rather modest development, an impressive new flagship is needed. This is exactly what the Huawei P20 Pro, the top model of the new P series, is supposed to be. We’ve already managed to get our hands on the device to give you our first impressions.

Huawei P20 Pro release date and price

Right now, we only know about the European price of the Huawei P20 Pro, which is a cool 899 Euro. That’s a lot of money, but still a little less than Apple and Samsung demand for their top smartphones. 

Given the suspicion with which Huawei is viewed by the US Government and security services, it remains doubtful whether this impressive device could land stateside. If it doesn’t make it, American Android fans may miss out on something quite special. You can read more about the troubles between US carriers and the brand here. Most recently, Best Buy announced that they will stop selling Huawei devices.

Huawei P20 Pro design and build quality

The design trends for smartphones in 2018 are clear: narrow display edges, chic glass surfaces, metal frames – and the infamous notch, that gap in the upper display, which makes a fuller screen possible. Huawei follows all these trends with the P20 Pro, including the notch, which divides smartphone fans into two camps. A question of taste at the end, which every potential customer has to answer for themselves.

On the back of the Huawei P20 Pro you can see two innovations. One is the camera. For the first time, Leica has three lenses that are arranged vertically – or horizontally when shooting in landscape format. The second innovation is the new color Huawei has in its range. The P20 Pro shows itself in a shiny yet discreet purple, which shimmers greenish when tilted. Sounds a bit like a strikingly painted car from the tuning scene, looks the same, but less flashy, but actually quite modern and chic. Of course, there are also more subtle, boring color variations.

In comparison with the P10, some may prefer the glass finish of the new P20 series, some may not. In our opinion the P20 and P20 Pro offer much more than their predecessors without a doubt, in terms of design and everything else.

AndroidPIT huawei p20 pro back shiny 2cbu With this color, which has to be seen in real life, you’ll stand out everywhere. / © AndroidPIT

As chic as the design is and as eye-catching as the color is, there’s no other way than to think ‘this is copied from the iPhone X‘. And yes, indeed, the optical design of the P20 Pro does not look particularly original – on the contrary. The notch, the orientation of the camera, the shiny metal frame, the glass surfaces – all this gives the impression as if Huawei had taken a close look at the competition from Apple. What a pity, because the Chinese manufacturer had recently shown with the attractive Mate 10 Pro, for example, that it has the ability to create an independent design – why not here as well?

Perfectly finished and well equipped

Speaking of “ability”: Huawei can undoubtedly build hardware and integrate it excellently, and the manufacturer also shows this with the P20 Pro. The workmanship is great and the pre-series devices appear without fault. The Huawei smartphone looks high-quality and as if from a single mould, we could find nothing to criticize.

AndroidPIT huawei p20 pro front back 2cbu The Huawei P20 Pro with a trendy notch in the display. / © AndroidPIT

This is largely true of the Huawei P20 Pro, which is worthy of a flagship. The Kirin 970 from Hisilicon is with 6 GB enormously powerful, the memory with 128GB is more than enough. It’s just a pity that the P20 Pro isn’t compatible with a memory card. Sure, the 6.1-inch display has “only” FHD+ resolution, but the 2,240 x 1,080 pixels are perfectly sufficient to display everything in pin-sharp detail. In addition, the slightly lower resolution saves electricity compared to QHD. With the 4,000 mAh battery, the endurance should also be good. LTE Cat.18, Gigabit Wi-Fi, Bluetooth with aptX HD, Dolby Atmos, USB-C – there is hardly anything to complain about. The omission of the 3.5-millimeter jack plug corresponds to the spirit of the times. The fingerprint sensor is a bit narrower than the P10, but still has its place under the display.

Triple camera: welcome to the age of computational photography

One thing is certain: a camera like the one installed in the Huawei P20 Pro has not yet been seen by the world. The Triple-Clip gives an interesting view of the future of photography.

“Light Fusion Camera” is a name that sounds a bit like marketing nonsense at first, but there is an exciting truth in this: according to the manufacturer, the smartphone always “merges” the information from all three camera modules to create the photo in any situation. And the three modules couldn’t be more different.

AndroidPIT huawei p20 pro laser autofocus 2cbu A main camera with 40 megapixels and three lenses has never been seen before. / © AndroidPIT

At the top of the corner is a 12MP sensor with a telephoto focal length of 80mm in 35mm equivalent and an initial aperture of f/2.4. Two wide-angle modules follow below: In the middle is an RGB sensor with 40MP resolution and f/1.8. Between the lenses there is an active laser auto focus with transmitter and receiver, and a flash with its own color temperature sensor to adjust the flash to the ambient light.

AndroidPIT huawei p20 pro 5x zoom 2cbu Up to 5x zoom is possible. / © AndroidPIT

The bottom line for the user is a camera with 5x hybrid zoom, which shoots 10MP photos on the factory settings – with up to ISO 51,200. The image quality should remain comparatively stable even when the fivefold zoom is fully extended. If you want, you can also increase the resolution to 40MP. In 10MP mode, the merged pixels should have an edge length of two microns, which is remarkable for a smartphone. Unfortunately, Huawei didn’t tell us the manufacturer or any more details about the individual sensors.

As with the Mate 10 Pro, the NPU built into the Kirin 970 should also help the photographer in the P20 Pro. According to Huawei, an image analysis with 30 fps is constantly running on the chip and then recognizes motifs in real time. The camera app then intelligently adapts the range of functions. For example, if a landscape photograph is detected, it shows a spirit level, or a subframe for a group photo. Huawei also wants to improve the autofocus – at least at the first try the object tracking makes a quite good impression.

AndroidPIT huawei p20 pro portrait mode 2cbu Portraits are the focus of the P20 Pro. / © AndroidPIT

I really liked the feature of being able to make long exposures without a tripod. The P20 Pro stabilizes up to eight-second handheld photos. At least it worked quite well at the first test – but we couldn’t watch the shots on a big screen. 

Furthermore, the 2018 obligatory 960 fps video mode with 1280 x 720 pixels for Huawei is still on board. Huawei records a 2.25 second video snippet with the first and last full second recorded at 30 fps, and in between 0.25 seconds at 960 fps. During playback, this results in a ten-second clip with exactly eight seconds of super slow motion in the middle.

At least on paper, Huawei has all the prerequisites to compete with Samsung, Apple and more when it comes to cameras. Expectations have been raised – now Huawei must deliver.

AndroidPIT huawei p20 pro front 2cbu The Huawei P20 Pro comes with Android 8 Oreo. / © AndroidPIT

Current software with (hopefully) timely updates

The Huawei P20 Pro comes with the latest Android 8.0 Oreo and its own EMUI 8 interface. The manufacturer’s take on Android is always a matter of taste. Huawei still doesn’t manage to make its own interface look as modern and chic as pure Android. On the other hand, the look can be adjusted with themes and alternative launchers. Huawei does not yet have its own voice assistant like Samsung’s Bixby, but there is no need for one.

By the way: Huawei is represented with some models in Google’s enterprise program, so the P20 Pro will probably be there soon. This is actually irrelevant for private customers, but indirectly brings the advantage of a reliable update supply. Huawei must ensure this in order to stay in the financially lucrative program. The Huawei P20 Pro should therefore enjoy good support from Huawei.

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Galaxy S9 and S9+ camera review: Still waiting for the revolution

But here’s one disclaimer before we get started: in our camera tests we used two devices of each model and none of them were equipped with the final firmware. So there could be some differences in image quality, but ordinarily, manufacturers don’t perform any miracles at this stage in the development.

Let’s begin with the hardware: Samsung has actually given the camera in the Galaxy S9 and S9+ some new features. With a luminous intensity of f/1.5, the new flagship duo currently has the fastest aperture of all mobile phones. And apart from the Samsung W2018 reserved for the Asian market, the S9 and S9+ are the first smartphones to have a variable aperture. This means that the aperture ratio can be reduced to f/2.4 if required. But we’ll discuss that later in greater detail.

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy s9 plus 1055 The Samsung Galaxy S9+ has a dual camera. The Galaxy S9 does without the Tele Mode, which we’re familiar with from the Note 8. / © AndroidPIT

Under the f/1.5 lens there’s a sensor that is not specified by Samsung. Compared to the Galaxy S8, the sensor has grown a bit (at least according to EXIF data), and the crop factor is now 6.05 instead of 6.19, which corresponds to an increase in area of about 4.65%. The resolution is still 12 megapixels. The Galaxy S9+ also has a second camera, the same module that Samsung uses in the Galaxy Note 8, with an f/2.4 aperture and 12 megapixels. Both the wide-angle and telemodule have an optical image stabilizer.

Galaxy S9 and S9+ in daylight: Good image quality

As far as the hardware requirements are concerned, you can immerse yourself in the photos. In daylight, the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ deliver beautiful photos that look impressive, especially on the AMOLED displays of the devices themselves. On a color-calibrated monitor, however, I found the images supersaturated and they look extremely colorful. But apart from the saturation, the color rendering is sufficiently precise, but the image processing can also iron out the color nuances. The following photo looks pretty colorful, but the colors of the bananas and lemon were much further apart in reality.

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy s9 colors Even if the colors look lively here, in reality the color of the lemon is significantly different from the color of the bananas. / © AndroidPIT

The same can be said for the following photo, in which we compared the same subject once with the Samsung Galaxy S9+ and once with the Apple iPhone X. The iPhone photo simply looks more natural. At the same time, the image processing of the Apple smartphone has become more round, and the details are evenly emphasized throughout the entire photo. Samsung, on the other hand, places greater emphasis on the details in some areas of the picture, but then irons them completely flat in others.

The iPhone X brings more natural colors to the picture. In comparison, the photo from the Galaxy S9+ looks really flat-pressed or blurred in some places. / © AndroidPIT

And while we’re talking about lunch: the Galaxy S9 and S9+ feature a ‘food’ mode that has a prominent position in the camera app. The feature essentially adjust the colors a little: a pale yellow will turn into a crisp, rich gold. A blur at the edge of the image also directs the viewer’s focus to the plate, which ideally is placed in the center of the image.

In terms of contrast, there are parallels to the color reproduction criticized above: on the smartphone display, the images look crisp, and on the computer they suddenly look strangely dull. The HDR mode likes to overdo it and produce a typically artificial HDR look. This can be seen in a direct comparison between the Galaxy S8 and S9, which often look very similar. With high contrast subjects, however, the S9 tends to fully extend its HDR capabilities.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 has significantly increased the dynamics through HDR. / © AndroidPIT

In my opinion, however, the Galaxy S9 wants too much from extremely high-contrast motifs, and tries to get all the details out of them. This can lead to unsightly effects, especially on large, bright surfaces. In the following photo, for example, most of the image is underexposed just to save the actually unimportant details in the lamp. This could have overexposed the electronics. Of course, this problem can be solved by adjusting the exposure compensation. But often you rely on the automatic system and don’t spend any time checking the photos you’ve just taken.

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy s9 hdr desaster The automatic system could have overexposed the lamp here and made the whole picture brighter, but HDR mode leads to unattractive elements in the lamp. Alternatively, of course, the user could have adjusted the exposure, but who checks every photo immediately after it’s taken? / © AndroidPIT

The white balance of the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ occasionally tends to produce slightly reddish tints. This is particular noticeable in the various comparison photos with the Galaxy S8. The predecessor basically shot some more neutral photos, and the Galaxy S9 series often tends towards warm tones. With cloudy skies and a lot of sea in the picture, the S9+ colors the whole picture blue, including the stone fortress.

One thing remains to be said: The detail reproduction is really impressive in good lighting conditions, which brings us to the next point:

What does the variable aperture in the Galaxy S9 and S9+ do?

As soon as the new flagships detect more than about 100 lux, a small mask moves between the lens and the image sensor, shifting the aperture ratio from f/1.5 to f/2.4. 100 lux corresponds to the lighting typically found in corridors and stairwells in public buildings. But why does Samsung even bother? Because light is refracted to different degrees depending on the wavelength.

samsung galaxy s9 plus camera aperture c2vx The Galaxy S9 and S9+ have a variable aperture. If you look closely, you can see that it’s not a real iris diagram like in DSLR lenses. There are also two different apertures to choose from: f/2.4 and f/1.5. / © AndroidPIT

To be more precise, the lower the aperture ratio of an optical system, the more strongly the lenses are curved. Towards the edge of the lenses, the angle of refraction increasingly differs from the angle of refraction in the center of the image, and as with a prism, the light is fanned out according to the wavelengths of the colors. This causes spherical and chromatic aberrations. The spherical aberrations cause blurring, especially towards the edge of the image, and the chromatic aberrations usually manifest in the form of violet and green color fringes at transitions with great differences in brightness. The complex optical correction of these effects usually also plays an important role in the price of the camera lenses.

On the other hand, the tiny sensors in smartphones are still a good reason to install high-intensity optics. In low lighting conditions, the negative influence that high ISO sensitivities has on image quality is greater than the negative influence of a high-intensity lens. The difference between f/1.4 and f/2.4 is approximately one a half f-stops. This in turn usually allows the smartphone to shoot with ISO 1250 instead of ISO 3200, which significantly reduces noise.

As this picture shows, the detail reproduction is clearly improved with f/2.4 dimmed optics. / © AndroidPIT

In daylight, however, even a small sensor gets enough light, and the problematic peripheral regions of the lens are eliminated by dimming to f/2.4. As the preceding photo shows, this is really effective: the reproduction of details is much better at f/2.4 than at f/1.5, which is also noticeable in a direct comparison between the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S8. On its predecessor, Samsung still used an f/1.7 aperture. In this case it’s also noticeable that despite better quality, the file size of JPEG images slightly shrinks.

In a direct comparison the detail reproduction is better with Galaxy S9 than with the Galaxy S8, but I like the colors more in the old model. Again, a slight red cast is visible with the Galaxy S9. / © AndroidPIT

Night shots with the S9 and S9+: f/1.5 primarily helps Samsung’s marketing

But does the f/1.5 aperture really revolutionize night vision? The short answer is no. The difference between f/1.5 and f/1.7 is about one third of one f-ship, or the difference between ISO 320 and ISO 250. You can use the Pro mode of your smartphone and simply take two photos with these sensitivities and compare the results on your computer. ISO 250 may look a little better, but it’s not quite a revolution. The advantage in direct comparison with a Galaxy S8 is correspondingly small.

When taking shots at night, the difference between the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9 is limited. In order to highlight the differences a little more, we brightened up the upper right corner of the picture. / © AndroidPIT

It is noticeable, however, that the Galaxy S9 and S9+ deliver very noise-free shots. According to Samsung, multi-frame noise reduction is said to have reduced image noise by 30 percent compared to the S8, but this may not be quantifiable. In practice, it turns out that the Galaxy S9 photos are actually very low-noise, but they also lose many details. In direct comparison with the iPhone X, for example, the Apple phone gets significantly more details, even if there is more noise.

More details (iPhone X) or less noise (Galaxy S9): which do you prefer? / © AndroidPIT

A very similar comparison can be made between the Galaxy S9 and Google Pixel 2 XL. With HDR+, the Google smartphone brings significantly more image noise to the photographs in the dark, but it also gets more details than the Samsung Galaxy S9, so I find the results from the Samsung device more natural in this case. The iPhone X creates an image that is noticeably too dark in this scenario.

The Google Pixel 2 XL offers more dynamics than the Galaxy S9, but in direct comparison it is also clear that the image noise is significantly higher. / © AndroidPIT

There’s another aspect to the extremely bright optics of the Galaxy S9 and S9+: we found comparatively more halo effects and dazzling spots in photos, especially in shots taken at night. These are problems that come with such extreme optics. To put it into perspective, Canon’s 50 mm lenses with apertures of f/1.8, f/1.4 and f/1.2 cost around $ 125, $ 330 and $ 1,350, so Samsung is treading into technologically challenging territory here.

AndroidPIT comparison2 iphone x iphone x pixel 2 xl galaxy s9 The iPhone X is clearly too dark here. / © AndroidPIT

Selfies with the Galaxy S9(+): More shadows than light

Besides all their promotion for the main camera, the selfie camera hardly plays a role in Samsung’s marketing strategy. Their priorities in development seem to be similarly aligned. The selfie camera on the Galaxy S9 takes nice pictures, but in terms of image quality, the main camera is clearly superior.

The lower dynamic range is the first thing you’ll notice here. In daylight, selfies often struggle with overexposed areas in the image. The sky and sea in the background often appear completely in these selfies. As least Samsung reliably focuses on the person in front of the lens and exposes them correctly.

In return, however, there is the same orderly color rendering of skin tones that the main camera offers. At the same time, however, the selfies on the computer also tend to appear exaggeratedly squeaky and colorful and tend to shift in the red direction. At least the colors might be a desired effect for Instagram, etc.

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy s9 selfies While the colors are bright and intense, the selfie camera regularly has problems with dynamic range: see the left photo. And I promise: Fabi isn’t really that orange. / © AndroidPIT

Telecamera on the Galaxy S9+: Really nice portrait photos

Unlike last year’s generation, this year there is one more good reason to opt for the plus version of the Galaxy S9: the telecamera. As in the Galaxy Note 8, Samsung uses a second camera module in the larger model with a focal length of 52 millimeters

Higher focal lengths are much better suited for portraits than wide-angle cameras typical of smartphones with a focal length of 24 to 28 millimeters in 35mm equivalent. Photos taken with a wide angle lens always have a slight fisheye effect on the photos, which can for example make a nose appear unnaturally large.

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy s9 plus portrait The Galaxy S9+ takes really successful portrait photos with the 52-millimeter camera. / © AndroidPIT

Like the Galaxy Note 8, the Galaxy S9+ shoots beautiful portraits with the 52-millimeter snapshot. The bokeh effect also works well and is usually free of noticeable errors. Particularly in daylight, the pictures turn out really well, although the colors here are also borderline bright in a very Samsung-typical fashion.

Video quality: Weaknesses in the stabilizer

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ each offer a 4K video mode. The image quality in daylight is excellent, although the videos are often a bit too reddish for our taste. Skin tones in particular like to drift off into the orange zone. The detail reproduction is pleasingly clear, but the sharpness of movement is limited.

In poor lighting conditions, clear image noise becomes noticeable, resulting in unattractive posterization effects that mercilessly flatten details. The Image stabilization in video mode isn’t 100% convincing. The HTC U11 Plus was more convincing in the camera test. Although the stabilizer compensates for slight shocks quite well, it then repeatedly produces blurred areas in the image.

The sound is one positive aspect about the videos. Different sound sources in front of and behind the camera can be assigned well, wind noise is only noticeable in stormy situations, and the sound is always pleasantly clear and well-balanced.

Finally, there is a slow motion function that offers up to 960 frames per second in 1270 x 720 pixels, although only 0.2 seconds of recording time? Doesn’t this remind you of Sony? While the Japanese manufacturer has now made the leap to Full HD with the Xperia XZ2, Samsung has been working on the practicality of the high-speed feature with the Galaxy S9. Motion detection automatically triggers the high-speed feature as soon as the motion is registered in an image area defined by the user.

In the following video you can see a compilation of different scenes, which we recorded with the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+.

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Samsung Galaxy S9+ review: Inherits all the family genes


Samsung Galaxy S9+ design and build quality

From an aesthetic point of view, the Samsung Galaxy S9+ clearly doesn’t differ much from its predecessor, and when you view it from the front, it’s almost impossible to distinguish it from the Galaxy S8+. As always, the devices features two Gorilla Glass 5 curved glass panels at the edges as well as a metal frame and a solid construction.

At 158.1 mm in height, it’s slightly shorter than last year’s model. It is imperceptibly wider and thicker with a 73.8 mm width and 8.5 mm depth (gaining .4 mm in both dimensions). The weight has also increased by 16g to 189g total: with the device in your hand you won’t really notice these changes, but you will notice how the shape of the metal structure has changed.

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy s9 plus 1041 The Bixby button is still right below the volume control. / © AndroidPIT

The smartphone’s metal frame is less rounded and the transition  from glass to aluminum feels smoother when you grip the phone. I personally preferred the finish of the S8+; the Galaxy S9+ is slightly more square and is more reminiscent of the Note 8, so the S9+ looks like a strange mix of the top two top-range devices that preceded it in 2017.

The fingerprint reader has been moved and is now located underneath the two rear cameras. The positioning is better than last year’s flagship model, but still remains strange: it’s too low to be reached naturally and the flattened shape doesn’t make it easy to use. Last year’s model tended to make the camera dirty because the user always had to reach over it, and this year’s model does the same thing although in a different place. The fingerprint reader’s speed still isn’t competitive with Huawei’s and it doesn’t always recognize gestures.

Like before, the devices comes with IP68 certification to resist water and dust.

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy s9 plus 1055 A cover makes it easier to distinguish the fingerprint reader from the camera. / © AndroidPIT

Samsung is second to none

The Galaxy S9+’s display is the best in the world of smartphones. Period.

This is what Display Mate has reported after thoroughly testing the panel, and we can confirm that it’s true. As you may already know, Samsung also produces OLED panels for iPhone X and certainly wouldn’t let the smartphone from their biggest competitor outdo them in this respect. The S9+ (and its little brother) stole the top ranking from the iPhone X with a 6.2” Super AMOLED panel with 1440 x 2960 resolution and HDR10 support.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S9 0725 Samsung’s new top-range is arriving without a notch. / © AndroidPIT

Both the size, resolution and the 18.5:9 aspect ratio remain the same as last year, but the panel has improved in brightness and in terms of correct color representation. The home software button remains unchanged, but is now sensitive to pressure on the display.

If you are interested in a more in-depth analysis, I’ll refer you to our article directly below on accurate measurements and data:

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy s9 plus 0782a Keep the time, date and notifications at a glance with the always on display. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

“Wow”on paper, “Meh” in person

The Samsung’s flagship should have unrivaled performance at the moment. The international version of the Galaxy S9+ is equipped with a SoC Exynos 9810 processor produced by Samsung as well as an eight nuclei CPU (4x Moongoose M3 at 2.7 GHz and 4x Cortex-A55 at 1.8 GHz) and a Mali-G72 MP18 GPU. The US version has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (4x Kyro 385 Gold at 2.7 GHz, 4x Kyro 385 Silver at 1.7 GHz and an Adreno 630 GPU).

Both variants have 6GB of DDR4X RAM and 64 or 256 GB of internal memory. In the UK the 256 GB variant has been replaced with a 128 GB version and is slightly cheaper. You can also expand the device’s memory with a microSD of up to 400 GB if you sacrifice the slot for the second SIM.

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy s9 plus 1036 SIM and MicroSD or two SIM cards. The choice is yours. / © AndroidPIT

The version we tested is the one with Samsung SoC, but the performance of the two models should be comparable. In the following article you’ll find all the tests we did on our smartphones with tables and more detailed explanations:

In everyday use I can assure you that you won’t feel a difference in comparison to the Galaxy S8+, aside from in a few small moments. What really struck me the most, however, is that it doesn’t seem like this new generation of smartphones has really improved much from the last one.

I noticed this especially in relation to the device that I had before the S9+, the Google Pixel 2 XL. In many of the simplest everyday operations (like scrolling through the social timeline or switching between the various open apps), the S9+ seemed less responsive than Google, which has hardware from the past generation. I’m not saying that the S9+ has any obvious uncertainties or problems of any kind, but the Google smartphone runs more smoothly under your fingers, probably thanks to having the simplest and most optimized smartphone.

Samsung always improves at a snail’s pace

The Galaxy S9+ comes with Android 8.0 Oreo and security patches from February 2018. I’m sorry to see that the brand can’t keep up with new Android versions and we still don’t if the devices will be updated in the future to Android 8.1, or alternatively, if it will jump directly to Android P.

On a positive note, as soon as you start your smartphone, you’ll receive an update for the security patches from March 1, 2018 (provided you’re using a device with SoC Exynos).

s9 software If you already have an S8+, the differences in the software will seem minimal. / © AndroidPIT

The software, as per usual, was customized by the Korean company with the Samsung Experience Version 9.0 that we already saw on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ updated in Oreo. There aren’t that many differences and the heaviness of the software has decreased over the years, keeping only a few apps duplicated in comparison to Google services. But in comparison to Android stock, the differences are obvious.

There have been improvements in comparison to past models, and sometimes the extra touch that the company provides to its smartphones is exactly what makes the difference between a boring device and a pleasant one.

The iris scanner and face unlock combine forces

The iris scanner and face recognition unlocking function were already available on last year’s flagships. Starting with the Galaxy S9 and S9+, they can be used simultaneously thanks to the Intelligent Scan function.

The function scans the user’s irises and the classic facial recognition (not 3D like on the iPhone X) ensures a faster unlocking speed and better reliability. This means that your smartphone will primarily rely on face recognition, if you can’t immediately scan your irises. You can’t use face recognition in the dark and you’ll therefore have to rely on the iris scanner.

This is noticeable as the unlocking speed decreases after the sun sets. You also have to position the smartphone more precisely in the dark to allow the scanner to see your eyes.

The Plus gets a second camera

One of the main differences from the Galaxy S9 is the presence of two photo sensors at the rear. Both cameras are 12 megapixels and are optically stabilized. The main camera features hybrid PDAF and laser autofocus, dual pixel technology, and variable aperture between f/2.4 and f/1.5.

The secondary camera has telescopic lenses with two times more zoom than the main camera. It is also the same camera found on the Galaxy Note 8, which therefore allows the use of Live Focus mode, which via software can simulate a very good bokeh effect.

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy s9 plus 0911 The S9+ features a second rear camera that the S9 doesn’t have.  / © AndroidPIT

As with the small Galaxy S9, the super slow motion function of the main camera is particularly impressive. From a technical perspective, Sony provided the basis for this, as only the Japanese company currently has DRAM buffer memory built into the sensor. Unfortunately, the Galaxy S9+ can only record up to 960 frames per second in HD resolution thanks to this memory.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S9 0938 The front camera and iris scanner are located on the top of the smartphone. / © AndroidPIT

The software differs slightly from Sony’s because it is able to detect movement in the scene and can operate in super slow motion without input from the user. In this way, it is more difficult to miss the precise moment to slow down. In my experience, this mode is particularly interesting when it works, but it needs too much light for pleasant results and it doesn’t always capture the right moment.

The front camera is 8 megapixels, f/1.7 and has autofocus. You can use the front camera to create so-called emoji AR, but we’ll discuss that later on in an article dedicated to the function.

The photos taken by the device are of a high quality, so much so that DxO Mark (a site specialized in testing photo sensors) named the S9+ the best smartphone camera, right above the Google Pixel 2. In my personal experience, in fact, the photos taken aren’t that much better than the Pixel’s, and in some cases are even far less pleasant. Google’s HDR+ algorithm and software processing are much more satisfying than the more elaborate, but less immediately photographic software for the S9+.


We will soon publish an in-depth article by our photographer Stefan Möllenhoff on the photographic capabilities of the two new Samsung flagships that will analyze the merits and defects of the cameras from the Galaxy S9 and S9+.


Turn up the volume and start dancing

As my colleague Luis explained in his review of the Samsung Galaxy S9, the South Korean company’s acquisition of Harman Kardon has been fruitful. Not only does Samsung’s flagship now have stereo speakers with powerful volume and excellent quality, but it also comes with the same AKG earphones that were supplied last year with the Galaxy S8 and S8+.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S9 1038 The headphone jack stays where it is. Samsung won’t budge on this. / © AndroidPIT

Furthermore, the Galaxy S9+ has Dolby Atmos certification. It also has Bluetooth 5.0, which allows for better connection with accessories (including headphones) and also allows the simultaneous connection of two separately controllable speakers or Bluetooth headphones.

All you have to do is turn up the volume and start dancing!

High price but Samsung is by your side

There’s a lot of good news about the price, availability, and special offers from Samsung. The price for the Galaxy S9+ unlocked with 64 GB of memory is $ 839.99. The Galaxy S9+ with 256 GB of memory isn’t officially available in the US, but you can buy it on eBay for a little over $ 1,000. You have three colors to choose from, just like for the S9: Midnight Black, Lilac Purple and Coral Blue.

samsung galaxy s9 s9p colors c2vx Three different colors will be available for the launch of the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus.  / © AndroidPIT

As an incentive to purchase a Galaxy S9+ or S9, Samsung offers a trade-in program. Through this program you can receive a discount by sending in your old smartphone and purchasing one of the Galaxy S9 models. According to Samsung, depending on the model and conditions, you could receive up to $ 300.

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Amazon Echo Spot review: An AI video assistant for your bedside

The Echo Spot is here. The newer and more chic version of the Echo Show spent a few days in my kitchen and frightened my wife every now and then. With the drop in feature I was able to virtually spring into the kitchen at any time and see what was going on. Yes, this sounds like total surveillance and a great deal of mistrust, but the device can be configured in a friendlier way, which turns this product into a real game changer.

Release date and price

The Echo Spot is available on Amazon in black or white for $ 129.99, and if you buy two Echo Spots you’ll receive $ 40 in your Amazon shopping cart. There isn’t a comparable compact voice assistant with a remote video function available yet on the market. One alternative is the bigger Echo Show, which has a 16:9 display, but it’s significantly more expensive at $ 229.99.

Amazon Echo Spot

Design and build quality

The Echo Spot has measurements of 4.1 x 3.8 x 3.2 inches and weighs just under one pound. The circular 2.5-inch LCD display is on the front and is slightly tilted upwards. It is surrounded by an LED ring and lights up. The colors indicate whether the voice assistant is listening and whether the microphone is on mute.

  • Blue ring: Alexa is listening
  • Orange ring: Microphone is off
  • Moon symbol: ‘Do not disturb’, calls and the drop in feature are rejected.

With its format and the start screen preset to ‘analog clock’, the Echo Spot lets you know exactly where it wants to stay: right next to your bed. But it’s up to you whether you always want a listening microphone and a webcam next to you as you sleep.

AndroidPIT amazon echo spot 0737 Time, weather and video surveillance: that’s the Echo Spot. / © AndroidPIT

Display

The small round display distinguishes the Echo Spot from the closely related Echo Dot. It’s touch-sensitive, its brightness can be adjusted and it can also be switched off completely. Best of all, the Echo Spot can be set up without a smartphone thanks to the touchscreen display. However, a smartphone or computer can be of great help for configuring music services.

AndroidPIT amazon echo spot 0843 The device can control music playback like a CD player thanks to the Echo Spot’s display. / © AndroidPIT

Menus, operating elements and screen fonts are always displayed in such a large format that they can be read and used easily. The round shape is also easy to hold onto, and all apps are designed with this shape in mind so that nothing disappears in the corners.

Software

In addition to the traditional Echo functions for voice control of your smart home devices, calendar entries, shopping lists and purchases on Amazon, Amazon is now extending your options for personal communication. Together with the larger Echo Show and several Echo Spots, you can set up a small network of video intercoms at home.

AndroidPIT amazon echo spot 0828 If you call a contact with an Amazon account who has multiple Echo devices, all of them will ring. / © AndroidPIT

You can reach all your Echo Spots and Echo Views from other Echo devices as well as through the Alexa app, either by phone call or simply by dropping in. The drop in is the same as ‘entering without knocking’, because the camera, screen, microphone and speaker of the Echo Spot will turn on as you drop in from your smartphone. For better or worse, a video chat will start immediately and then you can see and hear one another.

AndroidPIT amazon echo spot 0775 It’s wise from time to time to tap on the moon and activate the ‘do not disturb’ feature. / © AndroidPIT

In my test at home, I called all my devices (which are in my home and in the AndroidPIT office) at the same time. My colleague Luis, who was already in the office that morning, was from there able to take the call unexpectedly and see me while I was still half-naked. That was a little embarrassing, but how you can avoid something like that? You need to configure the device. You can avoid situations like this through two methods:

Luis could’ve turned on the ‘Do not disturb’ function in the office to make the Echo View in the office unavailable. In this case Echo devices just listen for the activation word ‘Alexa’ (which can also be changed to ‘Amazon’, ‘Computer’ or ‘Echo’). The microphones can also be muted: this works the same way as in the Echo Dot. There’s a physical button on top and in the middle, with a symbol of a crossed out circle.

amazon alexa settings do not disturb Go to the settings and remotely change what mode all your Echo devices are in. / © AndroidPIT

The truth is I should have checked beforehand to see that the Echo View in the office was in ‘do not disturb’ mode. Since when I call myself with the Alexa app or with an Alexa-capable device, all my other devices will ring that aren’t in ‘do not disturb’ mode. Oh and by the way, you can also remotely reset your Echo devices to their factory settings.

Of course, the Echo Spot also offers the other customary Alexa features like voice commands, smart home compatibility, Skills, and all the rest. You can also link Alexa with the Philips Hue. It’s a piece of cake to set up the Spot, thanks to its touchscreen display, and you don’t even need a smartphone to do it. Updates will come automatically in the background so you don’t need to worry about it. The software will just magically get better and better.

AndroidPIT amazon echo spot 0861 One small tip: You can lock the shopping feature with a PIN. / © AndroidPIT

Of course, Amazon devices are inevitably linked to Amazon’s store. Thankfully, they offer protection so that your kids won’t be able to order any toys while you’re not at home. This can be controlled through the app (there’s a web app!) under the Voice Purchasing Settings.

Audio

Since the Echo Spot’s sound comes from a single 36 mm high frequency driver, you shouldn’t expect hi-fi sound. Amazon has focused on voice quality and above all on high quality microphones. After all, Alexa should be able to have an easy time understanding you.

AndroidPIT amazon echo spot 0786 You can connect a headset, but you can’t use it for calls. / © AndroidPIT

In contrast to the Echo Show, the Echo Spot offers a headphone jack for connecting external speakers. In addition, it offers the option of connecting Bluetooth devices, especially better speakers or headphones. Unfortunately, you can’t use headsets connected to the Echo Spot for making phone calls.

We found a lack of volume control in the test device. Even the minimum adjustable volume was too high for video calls and the volume can also be set excessively high. Amazon needs to improve on this with a software update.

Final verdict

You can have a lot of fun with the Echo Spot, but you need to adjust the settings from the start so it doesn’t lead to any problems. The standard settings are definitely not to everyone’s liking, but thanks to the helpful communication features, the little assistant can open up completely new ways of interacting.

The Echo Spot offers enormous added value. It has never before been so easy to place a family camera in common rooms and then quickly see friends and family when you need them. Dropping in is a matter of mutual consent, but also a stroke of genius in digital communication. It is the first unique Echo device feature to truly add value, totally independent of Alexa, AI, Smart Home and all the other buzzword features that come with it.

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Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review: even better one year later

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) release date and price

The Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 was made official at the beginning of January 2017 and went on sale February 3 of that year. Four colors are available: black sky, gold sand, peach cloud, and blue mist. Initial prices were £369 in the UK, $ 399 in the US, marking it as one of the pricier options in the mid-range.

Lowest price: Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)

Best price

While unboxing the phone, we discovered the included USB Type-C, the 5V / A2 charger, and a tool for opening the SIM and MicroSD card trays.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) design and build quality

The Galaxy A5 2017 is a head turner among mid-range devices thanks to its elegant design. In the past years, the design of mid-range phones has progressed and become more elegant and better assembled, resembling the high-end models in many ways. One of these well-built smartphones is of course the Galaxy A5 2017, thanks to its evident similarity to the Galaxy S7.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy a5 2017 4864 It definitely drew design inspiration form the S7. / © AndroidPIT

Samsung’s smartphone comes with a metallic unibody coated with 3D glass. The front can be distinguished from the Galaxy S7 in that the upper and lower bezels are broader. On the front, the Samsung logo is up top alongside the front camera lens, proximity sensor and speaker for calls. On the top of the display, you’ll find the home button with integrated fingerprint reader, and the back and recent apps capacitative buttons. These keys are backlit (but do not remain illuminated for long periods of time) and do not offer tactile feedback.

An elegant design that stands out from other mid-range devices

The glossy body has curved edges which are encased in a metal frame. On the back: here you’ve got the Samsung logo, the LED flash and the barely protruding camera lens. Thanks to its sleek design, the phone doesn’t wobble when put on a flat surface.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy a5 2017 4834 The camera doesn’t protrude from the back. / © AndroidPIT

A new feature is the location of the speaker next to the power button on the the right side of the display, which is featured on the bottom of the Galaxy S7 and last year’s Galaxy A5. The decision to move the speaker was likely motivated by the fact the bottom-located speakers are often covered up by the hand when gaming.

The speaker is now on the right side to optimize the gaming experience

The bottom edge lacks the classic grill for the speaker, but keeps the headphone jack on the right next to the USB Type-C port that supports USB OTG.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy a5 2017 4855 The single-SIM card slot. / © AndroidPIT

The volume buttons are on the left side of the device with the nano SIM, while the MicroSD card slot can be found along the top edge. It is in this detail that the A5 differs from the A3 2017: the latter only has one slot at the top that accommodates both card types together.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy a5 2017 4859 A small difference from the previous model, the headphone jack is on the right. / © AndroidPIT

The black metal frame encasing the body is interrupted by the gray antenna bands. The lines on the Galaxy A5 2017 are a lot softer than the previous model, and with dimensions of 146.1 x 71.4 x 7.9 mm, it is larger than the Galaxy S7, but has the same thickness. It is also 7 grams lighter than the high-end model, weighing in at 159 grams. The curved edges and the reflection off the device mask its true size, seeing as from a first glance you’d never think it was bigger than the Galaxy S7 or previous model.

The curved edges and the reflection off the device mask its true size, seeing as from a first glance you’d never think it was bigger than the Galaxy S7 or previous model.

Holding the Galaxy A5 is comfortable, it’s easy to handle with one hand, and it isn’t slippery. A negative but unavoidable aspect with the choice of materials is that it attracts fingerprints, as in the case with many phones. I find the black model used in the review to be aesthetically pleasing, but this is a subjective matter. The phone is elegant and subtle. Those who open the box will not be disappointed by what they find inside.

An impressive Always-on display

The Galaxy A5 2017 has a 5.2-inch Super AMOLED screen with a Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels) resulting in 412 ppi. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 4. The technology, measurements and resolution are therefore identical to those of preceding generation. The colors are brilliant and the same can be said of all viewing angles. Under bright sunlight, some details are lost unless you turn up the brightness to the max.

The Galaxy A5 2017 has the Always-on feature, which is not common among mid-range phones.

The Galaxy A5 2017 has the Always-on feature, which is not common among mid-range phones. This was a feature introduced with the Galaxy S7 that allows you to keep tabs on the time, date and battery status even when the screen is off. In addition, you can view notifications from third-party applications such as WhatsApp.

In the display menu, you can activate the blue light filter (equivalent to the night mode) to avoid eye fatigue.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy a5 2017 4869 The Galaxy A5 is always on. / © AndroidPIT

A smartphone for gamers and outdoor enthusiasts

Certification IP68

 Samsung packed a solid punch behind the Galaxy A series this year by adding IP68 certification, a feature that is also not common on mid-range phones. This certification protects the phone from dust and water, making the device better suited to use when doing outdoor activities (within reason). The Galaxy A5 2017 can be immersed to a depth of 1.5 meters for no longer than 30 minutes.

Game Launcher

Just like on the Galaxy S7, the A5 comes with Samsung’s Game Launcher. For those who don’t know, this is a platform that enhances the gaming experience with specific features: disable notifications, lock keys, take a screenshot, save the game…

After starting a game, you will see a button to access the Game Launcher. From there, you can access the various functions. This will delight all those who want to stay immersed in their game without any distractions.

The Oreo update is scheduled

This is one of the features that may irk potential owners: it originally came stocked with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow and was only later updated to Nougat. Fortunately, the update to Android 8.0 Oreo has been scheduled. 

When will your phone get Android 8.0 Oreo?

In recent years, the interface has been improved to offer a cleaner, more modern look with shades of white and blue. We currently don’t know the real name of the interface (we contacted the manufacturer to find out the end of the story): is it TouchWiz, Grace UX or Samsung Experience? Whatever the answer, it won’t change the user experience and that’s the main thing.

In practice, the smartphone offers 31.1 GB of internal memory and 1.1 GB of RAM.

In practice, the smartphone offers 23.1 GB of internal memory and 1.1 GB of RAM. Pre-installed applications include Google Services, Samsung applications (with S-Health and S Voice), and Microsoft applications (total of 6). You will also find Upday pre-installed, you can access it with a simple swipe to the right.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy a5 2017 4851 The UI has adopted a more modern look. / © AndroidPIT

If you press and hold on an application, a window appears where you can uninstall the application, get information on how to put it in standby and add it to the Secure Folder. With the latter, you can thus place the content away from prying eyes (such as photos, or documents) and you can also duplicate applications: one visible to everyone, the other visible only by you. Another interesting feature is the ability to block or delete notifications all at once. To activate the multi-window mode, simply press and hold the multitasking button. 

I can’t say that the fingerprint reader is slow, but it’s not accurate. 

The fingerprint reader allows you to enter three prints in the settings. The recording system is slower than on other phones (e. g. the Honor 6X), and when using it, the sensor can’t always recognize my fingerprint at first. With the index finger, I get much better results than with the thumb. I can’t say that the fingerprint reader is slow, but it’s not accurate. 

androidpit a5 review software Here is what the menu looks like when you long press an app. / © AndroidPIT

On a personal note, I would like to add that placing the fingerprint reader on the back offers a smoother result than when placed in the front because it is easier to recognize the sensor.

The minimum hardware for performance

Under the hood of the Galaxy A5, you’ll find an octacore Exynos 7880 that ticks at 1.9 GHz and 3GB of RAM. The graphics are powered by a Mali T830 MP3 chip. The phone comes with 32 GB of internal storage that you can expand up to 256 GB with an SD card.

For most everyday tasks, the Galaxy A5 2017 will meet your needs

In practice, you can use the Galaxy A5 to surf the web, use social networks, play games (even greedy, high graphics games), and you don’t have problems with slowdowns or overheating. On a daily basis you won’t have any problems, I just had a little problem with Google Chrome but nothing recurrent or really annoying. The Galaxy A5 can multitask effectively. 

We have tested the device on different benchmarks, you will find the results below:

Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 benchmark results

  3D Mark Sling Shot ES 3.1 3D Mark Sling Shot ES 3.0 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited ES 2.0 Geekbench CPU – single core Geekbench CPU – multicore
Nokia 5 289 580 9500 659 2788
LG Q6 230 470 7764 637 2119
Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 814 1146 13413 775 4109

As far as the SAR is concerned, the model we tested (European version) offers the following values: 0.522 W/kg for the head and 1.39 W/kg for the body.

The speaker moves to the side

Like previously mentioned in the review, Samsung decided to move the speaker from the bottom to the left side, meaning the speaker will no longer be covered when you use the device in landscape mode, for instance when playing a game or watching a video.

The result is a better audio experience during game and video sessions. It’s a mono speaker but, after all, it’s a mid-range device so no surprises there.

The audio quality is good, but I was expecting a little bit more from the maximum volume, which, let’s be clear, is much lower than what you can find on other devices, such as the Huawei Nova Plus. In terms of calls, the sound quality is good and communication is trouble-free.

androidpit a5 review sound This is the equalizer and the built-in radio. / © AndroidPIT

Samsung offers in the box a pair of headphones with which you can adjust the volume and skip to the next song. The smartphone has an FM radio and various audio configuration options, such as an equalizer that was already available in the Galaxy A5 2016. At the reception end, I didn’t encounter any problems, not even in the subway.

A standard camera

The camera’s lens is 16MP at the rear and front. Samsung therefore ups its game compared to the previous generation, especially with the front camera which was only 5MP. Both lenses have an f/1.9 aperture, but only the rear camera has optical stabilization. The lack of stabilization can be a problem in some situations.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy a5 2017 4846 Samsung opted for a 16MP lens for the front camera. / © AndroidPIT

The camera application offers several filters, you can access them by swiping from right to left. You will then see two modes: basic and beauty. You will also find a mode that is intended to take pictures of food: with filters it allows you to optimize your shots without having to go through a third party application.

The colors are vivid and realistic, the quality of images taken in good light conditions is also good.

You can also find the Panorama, HDR, Night and Pro modes. This allows you to change the ISO, exposure and white balance. You cannot set the shutter speed, making Pro mode almost unnecessary.

iso comparison Comparison of ISO values. / © AndroidPIT

The colors are vivid and realistic, the quality of images taken in good light conditions is also good. When the brightness is not optimal, we find noise on the picture and we lose a lot of detail, but despite that the colors remain rather good and we don’t see any yellow dots on the gray surfaces.

iso 1250 2 We lose quality when the brightness is not optimal. / © AndroidPIT

As my colleague Stefan Möllenhoff explains, to maintain a low ISO speed, the use of such exposure time is rather optimistic (1/17 seconds with ISO 250), which gives a fuzzy result if you can’t hold the camera firmly in poor light conditions. When the ISO is greater than 800, the image quality decreases significantly, which is probably why 800 is the maximum value in this Pro mode, which is not really a Pro mode.

hdr mode on off 1 HDR mode in action. © AndroidPIT

The HDR mode works smoothly and displays details in both bright and dark areas. However, it is not included in the default settings.

To switch to the front camera, simply swipe up and down. Samsung has integrated a beauty mode to improve skin, refine the face and enlarge the eyes. Fans will love the selfies! Although both lenses are 16MP, the rear camera provides slightly better shots. Both cameras capture video in 1080p at 30fps. The colors of the video and sound rendering are good.

The gallery automatically synchronizes your photos with the Samsung cloud. In the options menu, you can disable automatic story creation (which is enabled by default), which creates stories according to the faces, times and places where photos and videos are taken. The system also provides advice on which images to add to stories. All this can be disabled. You can also share your stories online with other contacts, by invitation, and add photos and videos.

To summarize: the camera is not as good as the one found in the Galaxy S7, but it does a good job (as long as you don’t expect too much from the Pro mode).

A fantastic battery

The Galaxy A5 2017 packs a 3000 mAh battery. This is 100 mAh more than the previous generation, already known for good autonomy. A quick recharge system is available, allowing you to fully charge your phone in 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Battery life is one of the strong points of the Galaxy A5 2017

Battery life is one of the strong points of the Galaxy A5. If you send messages to WhatsApp, use Facebook and Instagram, play Pacman and Ninja Spinki, check your emails, watch some videos and make some audio and video calls (all with 50% brightness), you manage to last a day and a half. With a more intensive use you can reach the end of the day with between 10% and 15% more battery.

If you access the “Device maintenance”menu, you can access the Medium or Maximum options. The latter displays a black background and limits usage to basic services. On PCMark, the test scored a score of 8 hours and 59 minutes, which is excellent.

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