Skip to content

Archive for

8
May

Best wallet cases for the Galaxy S7


best-wallet-cases-galaxy-s7.jpg?itok=Ufs

Protection, style, and sensibility. Galaxy S7 wallet cases have it all!

Wallet cases offer a blend of protection and functionality. They feature full coverage of your phone’s screen and have room to store basic wallet items — like credit cards and cash — so that you have the option to ditch your wallet completely!

We’ve rounded up some of the best wallet cases for the Galaxy S7 that you can find. Take a look at the cream of the crop and pick one that suits your fancy!

  • rooCASE Prestige Wallet Case
  • Otterbox Strada Series
  • VRSDesign slim fit leather wallet case
  • Spigen Wallet S
  • Snugg leather wallet case

rooCase Prestige Wallet Case

rooCASE.jpg?itok=icqda-81

They call this case the Prestige, and with good reason — three card slots, a cash pocket, and a magnetic clasp that attaches to the front to keep it all together.

This case’s two-piece design makes it stand out from the others on this list. The phone sits in a polycarbonate shell that attaches to the synthetic leather case via magnets. Taking photos with a wallet case can sometimes be difficult because the flip cover can get in the way of the rear camera, but not with the Prestige. Just pull it out of that stylish leather casing, take all the beautiful photos you want, and just plop it back in the case when you are done. It also features a kickstand ability for watching videos.

Because leather stretches over time, most leather cases take a while to break in. The rooCase is no different, so don’t be too discouraged when it takes you a while to get your cards in and out of those slots for the first while.

See at Amazon

OtterBox Strada Series

Otterbox.jpg?itok=JEEVQsx3

OtterBox is well known for being the Fort Knox of phone cases and the Strada series is no different. OtterBox puts all their cases through rigorous testing, which includes dropping them on the ground and putting them through durability tests in various situations. So if you are looking for a strong wallet case, this could be the one for you.

The Strada series is a one-piece case. The phone snaps into a polycarbonate shell covered by genuine leather, with a cover that flips over the screen to offer full protection. The case fits snuggly and gives you the feeling of true security when it’s in your hand.

The one downside of the OtterBox case is that it only has one card slot. You can fit more than just one in there, but it does lack the ability to be as organized with your cash and cards as some other wallet cases.

See at Amazon

VRSDesign slim fit leather wallet case

VRSDesign.jpg?itok=byYpa-Pm

The first thing you will notice about this case is its size. It’s made from genuine leather which gives it a great feel. The thickness the leather adds does make the phone feel a lot more secure.

Designed with three card slots and a spot for cash, the VRSDesign case is great for staying organized. The clasp around front is magnetic so it’s easy to close the case and keep everything together. The cutouts around all the buttons and ports keep the functionality of the Galaxy S7 accessible at all times.

One thing you should know is this case seems to have trouble accommodating wireless charging. The thickness of the leather seems to impede the ability for most wireless chargers to function properly. If wireless charging is an important feature for you, this may not be the right case for you.

See at Amazon

Spigen Wallet S

Spigen_0.jpg?itok=oRUTyjK1

The Spigen Wallet S is a solid entry into our round up because it seems to have a little bit of everything. Three cards slots, a slim design that doesn’t add bulk to the phone, and a snug fitting polycarbonate shell that the S7 snaps into effortlessly.

The Spigen Wallet S can be used as a kickstand, so you can prop it up to watch videos or play games without having to hold the phone yourself.

The one bad thing about this case is the clasp at the front doesn’t have a place to go when the case is open, so it is a little bit in your way when you are trying to use your phone.

See at Amazon

Snugg leather wallet case

Snugg.jpg?itok=Pf7R51eI

The Snugg leather wallet case is the thinnest wallet case featured in our round up. The case doesn’t seem to add any extra weight or bulkiness to the phone at all, which is highly uncommon for a wallet case.

With three card slots and a cash slot, the Snugg case has more than enough room to fit your most important wallet items, and it also has a kickstand feature.

The best feature of the Snugg case is the magnetic clasp attaches to the back of the case when the cover is open, allowing you to always have full view of the screen without the clasp getting in your way.

See at Amazon

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

  • Galaxy S7 review
  • Galaxy S7 edge review
  • Here are all four Galaxy S7 colors
  • Should you upgrade to the Galaxy S7?
  • Learn about the Galaxy S7’s SD card slot
  • Join our Galaxy S7 forums

AT&T
Sprint
T-Mobile
Verizon

8
May

Apple holds talks on the future of podcasts


Podcasts may not make Apple any direct revenue, but they’re still important in an era when Serial and other big shows are drawing in lots of listeners. And apparently, the company knows it. New York Times sources say that Apple recently held talks with seven “leading podcast professionals” at its headquarters. While the crew at 1 Infinite Loop didn’t vow to make any changes, they reportedly discussed “several pressing issues” in podcasting. The company’s internet software and services lead, Eddy Cue, came in afterwards to talk privately with staff.

While the exact nature of the talks is hush-hush, there are a few common issues that likely came up. First is simply the matter of discovering shows. Apple’s current iTunes Store podcasts page (and the handful of people who run it) can only do so much to promote thousands of shows, and sharing them on social networks isn’t all that easy. Podcasters also want better subscriber data, such as the number of people actively listening and how far they get into a given show. There’s the not-so-small matter of revenue, too — some podcasters would like ways to charge for access. You can listen to some music podcasts in Apple Music (such those from Above & Beyond or Armin van Buuren), but that doesn’t really work for talk-oriented programming.

There’s certainly pressure for Apple to do something. Spotify added podcast support last year, and Google finally brought podcasts to Android’s official music app last month. In other words, you no longer have to turn to the web or an indie developer’s app to listen when you can’t (or simply won’t) use Apple’s software. The tech giant may have to rethink its strategy if it wants to remain synonymous with a media format that it (and specifically, the iPod) popularized over a decade ago.

Source: New York Times

8
May

iOS 10 reportedly includes a dedicated smart home app


There’s no shortage of devices that support Apple’s HomeKit platform. However, managing those devices is something of a mess — you typically end up visiting separate apps to control your lighting, security and appliances. You might not have to worry about that when iOS 10 rolls around, though. MacRumors says it spotted an Amazon review from an Apple employee (verified after the fact) who claims that the next iOS release will have a “standalone” HomeKit app when it arrives in the fall. The staffer doesn’t say how it’d work, but the implication is that it’d serve as a hub for all your HomeKit-compatible smart home gadgets.

There’s no certainty that this HomeKit app will show up as promised, since there’s always the chance that Apple will either delay it or scrap it entirely. There is evidence that this isn’t just speculation, mind you. Apple used a shell company to file a trademark for a HomeKit icon late last year, so it’s at least thinking about what a dedicated app would look like. As it is, Google isn’t standing still between its OnHub networking and its internet of things platform, Brillo. A full-fledged HomeKit app might give Apple a competitive edge by taking some of the hassle out of automating your household.

Source: MacRumors

8
May

Verizon starts rolling out its Marshmallow update for the Droid Maxx 2


Verizon is now rolling out its Marshmallow update for the Droid Maxx 2. The update comes in two parts, with the bumping the Maxx 2 to software version 24.64.4.

droid-maxx-2-9.jpg?itok=_F_zZ2Gr

As for what to expect from the update, of course you’ll get all of Marshmallow’s improvements, including Doze, Now on Tap, and granular app permissions. Verizon also says that the update brings along the “latest security patches.”

The update is only just started rolling out, so it may take some time to appear for you. However, you can always try checking for an update manually by going to Settings, About phone, and checking for the update. After you’ve downloaded the update, be sure to hit up our forums to discuss the changes.

8
May

Best minimalist cases for the Galaxy S7 edge


samsung-galaxy-s7-edge-best-clear-cases-

Give your phone basic protection but natural style with a minimalist case on your S7 edge!

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge is a real looker. If you’ve got one, you want to be able to show off those curves so everyone can admire your shapely new device. If you’re willing to compromise safety for style, then a minimalist case is the best way to show off your phone while protecting it from minor scratches and bumps.

  • Caseology Skyfall
  • Spigen Thin Fit
  • Pleson Protective Bumper Case
  • Ringke Slim
  • Samsung Protective Cover

Caseology Skyfall

Caseology-Skyfall-Press.jpg?itok=fxtrjQl

Like the James Bond film of the same name, these cases are highly regarded for their style, class, and skill with a PP7 (…or maybe just the first two). The really good thing about these minimalist cases is you can choose a color that matches your phone really well. One of the keys to a minimalist case is the way it blends in with your phone’s natural shade, and if you don’t want to have a completely clear case, there are a few good option in the Skyfall lineup.

This case has a scratch-resistant back cover which should protect it from keys and coins in your pocket or purse. The lip of this case raises up just a hair to curl around the the top and bottom corners of the screen to give a little extra protection in a prone area without adding a lot of bulk.

See at Amazon

Spigen Thin Fit

Spigen-Thin-Fit-Press.jpg?itok=J0iJH_u_

Spigen’s Thin Fit case snuggly hugs the shape of your S7 edge to add only a few millimeters to the overall size of your phone. The Thin Fit model gives a little extra protection compared to other minimalist phones since the top and bottom of your S7 edge will be fully enclosed, except for openings for your charger, headphone, speakers and microphone.

The lip around the edge of your screen is 0.8 mm and the case design is raised to 1.22 mm around your camera lens so you’ll never have to Instagram a meal with a cracked camera. The back of the case is a hard, polycarbonate material designed to provide you with a good grip, and at just 0.6 oz, this case doesn’t add a lot of weight to your S7 edge.

See at Amazon

Pleson Protective Bumper Case

Pleson-Protective-Bumper-Press.jpg?itok=

Pleson makes a case for your S7 edge that is barely there, which is exactly what most people look for from a minimalist case. The thermoplastic polyurethane (more commonly called TPU) that makes up your case is a perfect compromise between protection and style, as it envelops your S7 edge only in the most crucial spots, leaving most of your phone highly visible.

This case has been built-up with bumpers that are very strategically placed. Put your phone facedown on a table, and these bumpers are just high enough to keep your screen from making contact. Place your phone on its back, and the bumpers are the perfect height to lift your camera lens up so it doesn’t get scratched. This case does cover your side buttons rather than leaving cut-outs, but overall this case embraces the full minimalist spirit.

See at Amazon

Ringke Slim

Ringke-Slim-Press.jpg?itok=5QAPuTM4

Even though it’s thin, the Ringke Slim is pretty strong for a minimalist case. This durability comes from its full, four-side, coverage. Even though all four sides of the phone are protected, this case still wants to show off your phone. With gaps exposing your phone’s side buttons, you’ll actually be able to feel the buttons when you turn the volume up or down or power your S7 edge on and off, instead of pushing through the side of a case.

The Ringke Slim case was designed with a minimal lip on the top and bottom of your phone so if you place it screen-down on a table there will be 0.7 mm of clearance to protect your phone from scratches or debris on the surface. Available in five colors (including two variations of clear) this case can blend so well with your phone you’ll forget it’s even there.

See at Amazon

Samsung Clear Cover

galaxy-s7-edge-clear-case.jpg?itok=xjrax

If you like to stick with first-party accessories, then you’re in luck! Samsung has designed a clear case for the S7 edge. Manufactured to fit your phone with absolute precision, Samsung’s case was designed to offer basic protection without hiding the gorgeous curve of the S7 edge’s screen.

The ultra-slim form of this case hugs barely adds any extra width to your phone except around the corners. These are bulked up to protect your phone from corner drops and to prevent the camera or the screen from getting scratched if you lay the phone flat. Cutouts around the side buttons and bottom jacks of your S7 edge allow you to see and feel as much of the phone as possible, even while it’s in your case.

See at Amazon

Personal Picks

Do you have a minimal case you absolutely love? If it’s not on our list, leave a comment, and let us know what case you use and why you love it!

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

  • Galaxy S7 review
  • Galaxy S7 edge review
  • Here are all four Galaxy S7 colors
  • Should you upgrade to the Galaxy S7?
  • Learn about the Galaxy S7’s SD card slot
  • Join our Galaxy S7 forums

AT&T
Sprint
T-Mobile
Verizon

8
May

Uber faces lawsuit over aggressive Austin voting ads


Uber is known for being aggressive when it wants changes to the law — just ask anyone who has received email after email asking for support. However, its latest effort might have crossed the line. The app-hailed transportation service is facing a class-action lawsuit over a text messaging campaign that called on Austin residents to vote for Proposition 1, which would let ridesharing companies operate without running fingerprint background checks. The lawsuit claims that Uber not only spammed Austinites with “vote for Prop 1” messages without their consent, but made it difficult to avoid those promos. Text replies went unanswered, and calling the source number would only give you an automated error message. In other words, it sounds like the sort of robodialer that would violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

For its part, Uber maintains that it isn’t doing anything wrong. It took “great precaution” to stay on the right side of the law, according to a statement. It even suggests that the lawsuit has a sinister motive, since news of it broke at an anti-Prop 1 event. Whether or not there’s a hidden agenda is likely beside the point, though. It’s hard to deny that Uber messaged a lot of people without permission, and in many cases did it multiple times.

Whatever happens, the vote (which happens today, May 7th) could be crucial to deciding the fate of ridesharing in Austin. Both Uber and its rival Lyft have threatened to quit Austin if Prop 1 doesn’t pass. That could be a big blow to a city that not only thrives on music and tech conferences, but is highly dependent on cars — its mass transit system isn’t exactly world-famous. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine concerned locals backing down when a handful of drivers have committed sexual assault and other crimes that might have been prevented through stricter background checks.

Source: Daily Dot, Texas Tribune

8
May

Check out some of Studio Ghibli’s ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ in VR


If you ever wanted to explore Howl’s Moving Castle, now’s your chance. That’s assuming you own a virtual reality headset, that is. A scene from it, dubbed “The Meadow,” is available for folks using Oculus Rift and HTC Vive right now. It comes from developer Nick Pittom, who’s previously released interactive scenes based on Ghibli’s other lauded work including My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away. “The Meadow” is bundled with other, older interactive scenes from Hayao Miyazaki’s landmark films, and RoadtoVR writes that “the level of detail that each scene captures is really nothing short of astounding.”

If anything, these demos should help while the time away before a sequel to the studio’s 2013 co-venture Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch arrives on PlayStation 4 — whenever that actually releases, of course.

Via: Road to VR

Source: Wear VR

8
May

Apple Meets With Podcasters to Hear Wide-Ranging Community Grievances


Apple has held a special meeting with leading podcasters in an attempt to address concerns that the company is failing to adequately support the iTunes broadcast community, reports to The New York Times.

According to the piece, the meeting took place last month at the company’s Cupertino headquarters, where seven top iTunes podcasters were invited to air their grievances regarding Apple’s handing of the popular audio format in recent years.

The podcasters expressed in “frank terms” their biggest issues to a room full of Apple employees, according to two attendees, who spoke on condition of anonymity after signing nondisclosure agreements.

Top of the complaints list was a frustration among podcasters at their lack of ability to make money through subscription downloads, mainly due to insufficient access to data about their listeners – data that they argued Apple is in a unique position to provide.

The program producers also took issue with iTunes’ limited sharing features, which take multiple clicks to advertise content on social media. In addition, podcasters said they had been “relegated to wooing a single Apple employee” when it came to discussing issues, such as perceived inconsistencies in the way iTunes elects to promote content.

After the meeting was over, SVP Eddy Cue met with Apple employees separately in a closed-door session to discuss the issues that had been raised by the podcasters, but the company did not make any promises to address their concerns, according to the sources.

Apple essentially gave birth to the mainstream podcasting community in 2005 when it released iTunes 4.9 with native support for podcasts. Within a year, public radio networks like the BBC, CBC Radio One, and National Public Radio had placed many of their radio shows on the platform.

The format’s popularity has surged in recent years, with many amateur podcasters going professional and major media organizations posting new shows every week. In 2014, breakout hit “Serial” garnered 110 million downloads as listeners avidly followed the radio spin-off’s re-examination of a murder case. In 2015, at least 46 million Americans listened to podcasts each month. That figure is expected to reach 57 million by this year’s end, according to a survey by Edison Research.

The report notes that podcasts bring Apple no direct revenue and its iTunes podcasting hub has changed very little since it was introduced, while promotion is decided by a small team that fields pitches and conducts its own outreach.

In a statement to The New York Times, Apple SVP Cue said, “We have more people than ever focused on podcasting, including engineers, editors and programmers.” Cue added, “Podcasts hold a special place with us at Apple.”

With Google and Spotify now actively promoting their own podcast promotion and distribution services, time will tell whether broadcasters agree.

Tag: Podcasts
Discuss this article in our forums

MacRumors-All?d=6W8y8wAjSf4 MacRumors-All?d=qj6IDK7rITs

8
May

Keep track of your Kids phone and tablet habits with Familoop (Review)


Overview

In our protective world, parents are always looking for ways to keep tabs on their children; we (or they, depending on your age) always want to know when, where, how, and who in regards to their children’s lives. In comes Familoop, a parental control app that lets you keep up with what your kids are doing on the web, as well as where they are and what pictures they take.  

Developer: Familoop

Cost: Free, 10-day trial (two different pay tiers of $39.99 and $69.99)

Setup

Family16Login Screen

After signing up for an account, simply download the app to the device you want to monitor. Once installed and in the app, click the “Parent” tab and sign in. Once you have set up the device for monitoring, you can then monitor it via the Familoop Hub.  

Review

The initial setup was a little daunting, but once I figured out that you install the app on the device you want to control (and not your own as well) it was easy from there. I hadn’t realized that you couldn’t monitor from the app, but instead from your phone or computer via browser. I have reached out to the developers and confirmed they are working on bringing this functionality to the app.    

There are numerous features that this app offers, which include but not limited to:

  • An in-depth look at how many hours per day the device is used, broken down by apps
  • What kinds of searches are being performed
  • Who is being contacted via Phone and Texting
  • Pictures that are being taken
  • Where the device is going
  • My personal favorite: Time-Out Mode

It’s worth talking about a couple of these features a bit more. “Safe Zones” are GPS locations that trigger notifications when the tracked device enters or leaves.

Family2Set Safe Zones

Another neat feature I really like is your ability to use protections based on age. Not all children are the same – a 16-year old is dramatically different from an eight-year old, for instance – so the ability to filter apps by age is extremely useful. It can get a bit extreme (like blocking YouTube for children under 13), but manually adding or subtracting apps from the built-in whitelist is a breeze.

Conclusion

While Familoop is not fool-proof (anyone with children knows that they can break into or out of anything), it’s one of the best options out there for tracking the little ones in your life. If you really want to monitor your kid’s tablet time, see where they’re going, or perhaps most importantly, make sure they aren’t taking inappropriate pictures, this is a very good option.

Download Familoop from the Play Store.

1 of 18


8
May

Oppo F1 Plus review: iPhone-esque, but Oppo’s best yet


oppo-f1-plus-back-wood.jpg?itok=3h7GPC7r

Oppo has seen massive growth in the last 12 months, and this is its best phone yet.

The quick take

Oppo is a name still alien to the smartphone masses in the West, but that hasn’t stopped it from working hard in the East. It’s been steadily putting out better and better phones in the last year or so, culminating in the F1 Plus — its best yet. It looks a bit too much like an iPhone for some tastes, and the software is a big departure from the Android many know and love. But there have been so many steps forward it’s hard not to be impressed. If only it wasn’t running Lollipop.

Pros

  • 64GB internal storage as standard
  • Excellent build quality
  • One of the fastest fingerprint sensors around

Cons

  • Uninspired design
  • Color OS still has some flaws
  • Still on Lollipop

The selfie expert

Oppo F1 Plus Full review

The Chinese are coming. That’s no secret. While Samsung and Apple still account for the largest share of the smartphone market, from there the Chinese brands are starting to make their mark. Some, like Huawei and Xiaomi are well publicized, but Oppo has quietly become a major player.

It’s been adopting something of a Huawei approach in recent times. The hardware has been pretty good. Well made, decently designed and for the most part, fairly priced.

Oppo is already making its mark in its native China, but with a big push planned for India in 2016 as well as starting to push for a presence in Europe, it could well become a name we begin to get more familiar with.

The F1 Plus is the latest to bear the badge, and it’s the so-called “selfie expert.” The 16-megapixel front facing camera is very much the marketing focus. But, hey, people take selfies. Hopefully there’s a good smartphone behind it all, and that’s what we’re here to find out.

About this review

We’ve been using a Southeast Asia model F1 Plus for the purposes of this review provided by Oppo, on both EE and Vodafone in the UK. There was also a spell where the phone was roaming in China and Hong Kong on local networks.

During the course of the review period of two weeks, the F1 Plus received a software update to build number X9009EX_11_A.13_160413. The software has been Color OS 3.0 throughout, based on Android 5.1 Lollipop.

The phone we’ve been using (X9009) is in most regards identical to the European spec F1 Plus, with the exception that it doesn’t support LTE Band 20. The retail models made for sale in Europe will have this we’re informed by Oppo,

The video

Unboxing and hands-on

The numbers

Oppo F1 Plus specs

Operating System Color OS 3.0 based on Android 5.1
CPU MediaTek MT6755 Octa-core
RAM 4GB
Display 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 AMOLED
Rear Camera 13MP f/2.2
Front Camera 16MP f/2.0
Storage 64GB + microSD
QuickCharge Yes VOOC Flash Charge at 4A
Battery 2,850mAh
SIM Dual nano-SIM
Connectivity MicroUSB
NFC No
Fingerprint scanner Yes
Dimensions 151.8 x 74.3 x 6.6 mm
Weight 145g
Price €389 or £299

oppo-f1-plus-hands-hero.jpg?itok=sA4qskm

It’s not an iPhone, promise

Oppo F1 Plus Hardware

The F1 Plus follows recent Oppo trends in a sense that it’s metal, metal, metal. But while Chinese phones are often criticized for being to Apple-esque, here it’s fairly warranted. Whether that’s a bad thing or not depends on your personal outlook. Either way, it’s a good looking, well put together phone.

It’s slim, sleek and yes, looks a bit like an iPhone

The F1 Plus is very slim, and yet doesn’t feel awkward to hold as can be the case when things go on too much of a diet. The metal back and sides meet the front of the phone with a chamfer, and creates just enough of a lip not to be too slippery. Oppo includes a TPU case in the box, if that’s something you’re worried about.

It’s fairly well balanced, too, with the almost non-existent side bezels keeping the width of the phone in check while it’s quite tall. That’s mostly down to the fingerprint sensor, which for the F1 Plus comes around to the front and marks Oppo’s first phone with a physical home button.

In the hands-on video above I criticized the fingerprint sensor, as out of the box it just refused to work. After some better time with it that opinion has changed dramatically. This is one of, if not the fastest around. The key is in the setup.

During my first out of the box set up I didn’t move my finger around that much. And I noted that it only worked with the finger dead straight. Turns out if you move your finger around and change the orientation to horizontal when you’re recording the print, everything works just fine.

I’m such a noob.

Huawei has been the recipient of significant praise for the speed of its fingerprint scanners, but Oppo may have taken the crown. It’s definitely faster than the iPhone. You still have to tap the home button to wake the screen, but the scanner is so fast you never see a hint of the lock screen.

Oppo’s fingerprint scanner is insanely fast. Class-leading type of insanely fast.

The display is nice, if unremarkable. Oppo has stuck with full HD at 5.5-inches, and anyone who says that isn’t perfectly fine is probably lying. This isn’t a top of the line phone, anyway, but even so, it’s good. The AMOLED panel is vibrant and still plenty sharp enough to make the pixels disappear. So everything looks fairly crispy.

The rest of the F1 Plus bares regular phone parts. You have a charging port down the bottom, microUSB for now, with support for Oppo’s own VOOC quick charging. Along the bottom edge you also get the solitary speaker and the 3.5mm headphone jack. Yes, it’s on the bottom, where it belongs.

The one design choice I’m not so fond of is splitting the power and volume controls across opposite sides of the phone. It might be muscle memory on my part, but I’ve turned the display off way too many times when I actually wanted to turn the volume down. The positioning is at least very handy for taking screenshots. Using two fingers with either hand wrapped around the phone you can snap them with ease, which is pretty good for a fairly large phone.

The other thing I really want to point out is the internal storage. The F1 Plus has a microSD card slot, which is great. But what’s even better is the 64GB that’s built in. More than the LG G5, the Galaxy S7 or the HTC 10. Oppo did good. Really good.

Ultimately what we have in the F1 Plus is a nice looking, well made, slim and light phone with an amazing fingerprint scanner. On the hardware side it ticks most of the boxes, especially if you’re looking for a solid mid-ranger. There’s lots to like, and nothing that sticks out as being something to dislike.

oppo-f1-plus-color-os-screen.jpg?itok=ng

Color OS 3.0

Oppo F1 Plus Software

Remember when we collectively drew a line in the sand about phones launching in 2016 and not running Marshmallow? The F1 Plus does not run Android Marshmallow, so consider a line drawn.

That’s not it, though, review over, because there’s a lot to talk about. And believe it or not, a lot of good that Oppo has done with its custom version of our favorite mobile operating system, Color OS.

The first is with the overall performance. Previous versions have been pretty bad in places, with the sort of lag and jerky behavior that you’d have found back in 2011. Not good. But with version 3.0, that’s all gone. Hello Smooth City, population Oppo F1 Plus.

color-os-3-screens.jpg?itok=bQHR1UZV

It could also be the extra hardware found in this phone over previous ones, but whatever it is, it’s now a smooth, speedy experience. And one that makes Color OS mostly enjoyable to use.

As with EMUI and MIUI, the appearance of Color OS will split opinions. There’s lots of white, lots of color and a whole heap of themes to download and change it even further. There continues to be no app drawer, and that’ll either bother you or it won’t.

You can’t see notifications that have black text. You just can’t.

One of the changes over regular Android, and one that takes Color OS down the iOS rabbit hole, is how the stock apps’ settings can all be found within the main settings menu on the phone. You might not use any of them, but it’s still a little confusing to see. It affects basically everything except the stock browser.

That’s probably because the stock browser is Opera. It’s not labelled as such, more that it’s “powered by Opera” but it’s the exact same app you’d get if you downloaded Opera from the Play Store. I like this, partly because I use Opera anyway, but the approach is better than Oppo making its own, sub-par experience. You still get Chrome pre-installed as ever, but for once the stock browser isn’t some hideous app you’ll never want to touch.

It’s mostly pretty good stuff. Aside from the notification tray. Both looks and how it behaves. It suffers from the Huawei problem of being a dark, translucent background, which means any apps pushing notifications with dark text (like Gmail and Slack) become unreadable.

The bigger issue is that sometimes you just don’t get notifications at all or when you do, tapping on them does nothing. I do like the split-screen approach where all the quick settings are together, a swipe over away from a full screen of notifications. But, there are definitely bugs to be worked out.

But issues aside, Color OS 3.0 is a big improvement on what came before it, especially as we wait to see what happens with Project Spectrum. But it’s hard to hide our disappointment at Android Lollipop in April 2016. Especially since that excellent fingerprint scanner on the front can’t be used with apps that make use of the APIs in Marshmallow.

You look beautiful

Oppo F1 Plus Front camera

As it’s the main marketing focus for this phone, I’m going to break from the norm and talk about the front facing camera first. It’s a whopping 16MP sensor, larger even than the one on the back of the phone. While this just means larger, higher resolution selfies, it’s still unusual and impressive.

For the ultimate selfies, you could still argue something like the OIS HTC included in the 10 is more beneficial. Especially holding a phone at arm’s length. The F1 Plus does give you screen flash, though, for those darker moments.

Beauty mode just makes you an awful lot smoother

The F1 Plus also includes, the now seemingly standard, beauty and panorama modes, to smooth out your features and add some rosy cheeks or include all your friends in your snapshot. Nothing too fancy, but as with other phones with the so-called beauty mode, your mileage will vary. Some of us just look like much smoother beasts.

The panorama mode is very easy to use, it just takes three images and stitches them together. Take a picture of yourself first, then turn one way, then the other, and get a big happy group selfie to remember your super fun times.

oppo-f1-plus-selfie%20%282%29.jpg?itok=poppo-f1-plus-selfie%20%281%29.jpg?itok=Eoppo-f1-plus-selfie%20%284%29.jpg?itok=ooppo-f1-plus-selfie%20%283%29.jpg?itok=-IMG20160413095453.jpg?itok=A7hX2ShC

What of the actual pictures? (Since that’s what matters the most.) They’re very good, but in my experience there’s nothing that really wows me. I’m no selfie aficionado, but I don’t see anything that really stands out as being groundbreaking. They’re just, well, nice pictures. Maybe that’s a side product of the marketing hype.

It takes nice-looking shots, but at the edges they can become a little blurry. Sure, the focus is supposed to be your face, but perhaps I expected a little more. And the British filter is misleading. I expected tea and crumpets, or something.

One thing that does frustrate me is that the front camera shoots mirror images, i.e. text is all backwards. And there doesn’t appear to be an editing tool built in to flip it back around. That might not be a problem for you, but I like things the right way around. At least it is when you shoot video.

oppo-f1-plus-camera-app.jpg?itok=KnNqjir

Take pictures of other things

Oppo F1 Plus Rear camera

When you’re done taking pictures of yourself you can turn things around and use the 13MP rear camera. You get a few added options over the front camera, like HDR and an actual flash, but much is the same.

There are a few additional things you can do with the rear camera. Like the front-facer you can shoot GIF animations and use filters as well as take double exposure shots. But for the back you get an “Expert mode” which lets you fiddle with some manual settings, including the ability to save RAW files.

There’s also one labelled “Ultra HD,” which isn’t what you might think it is, especially since it doesn’t relate to video. For all intents and purposes you get the same looking pictures as just snapping in auto, but the picture itself is larger. Useful perhaps if you’re going to be cropping in a little.

The camera app is pretty easy to use, everything is well laid out and nothing tries to be too complicated. The F1 Plus is quite fast to focus and shoot, and takes fairly nice looking photos. Nothing outstanding, but solid enough.

This sample gallery was taken with everything on default settings.

oppo-f1-plus-sample%20%281%29.jpg?itok=Xoppo-f1-plus-sample%20%283%29.jpg?itok=zoppo-f1-plus-sample%20%285%29.jpg?itok=doppo-f1-plus-sample%20%286%29.jpg?itok=koppo-f1-plus-sample%20%287%29.jpg?itok=boppo-f1-plus-sample%20%288%29.jpg?itok=Ioppo-f1-plus-sample%20%2810%29.jpg?itok=oppo-f1-plus-sample%20%2811%29.jpg?itok=oppo-f1-plus-sample%20%2813%29.jpg?itok=oppo-f1-plus-sample%20%2814%29.jpg?itok=oppo-f1-plus-sample%20%284%29_0.jpg?itok

It leaves something to be desired in lower light situations, but when it’s not so dark there’s not a lot bad to say. And it does have a tendency to over saturate, most noticeable in my testing when shooting greens.

oppo-f1-plus-battery.jpg?itok=t_0wdYAb

It can go all day

Oppo F1 Plus Battery life

The battery in the F1 Plus isn’t the largest of a phone this size, but the important thing is that it can make it through a day. That seems to be the case, with even the usually taxing roaming not dropping usage below the end of a working day.

The F1 Plus support’s Oppo’s VOOC fast charging which means that if you are finding yourself short and you can find an outlet, a quick plug in will top you up quite quickly. Sadly since my review unit hasn’t come with a UK or even European VOOC adapter, I’ve not been able to put it to regular test. But using it while in China, it seems to be the real deal.

Oppo showed us its next generation of fast charging at MWC, claiming to be able to go from 0-full in just 15 minutes. While it’s not jumping in with a standard like QuickCharge from Qualcomm, it is serious about fast charging.

Where there is a little confusion is in how Oppo handles reporting what’s using your battery. It’ll give you apps and percentages and what not, but it doesn’t seem to just give you a graph and the screen on time like pretty much every other Android phone does.

This will only be an irritation if you’re the kind of phone buyer who looks into this stuff and cares about screen on time, but still. It’s a little odd that something so simple would be made so much more complicated than it needs to be.

oppo-f1-plus-front-wood.jpg?itok=Q1xFUsl

Oppo’s best yet

Oppo F1 Plus: The bottom line

The F1 Plus is Oppo’s best phone yet. While the ‘R’ series is typically the higher-end offerings, the more mid-range ‘F’ is currently the one to beat. It’s a combination of things, not least that the software is now, well, usable.

That’s more important than anything on the hardware sheet. Previous versions of Color OS were not pleasant to use. They were slow and janky and tarnished any kind of positives. But that’s all gone away now, and for the better. Even if it does still run on Lollipop.

You may criticize that it looks too much like an iPhone, which it does, but that would be doing it a disservice. It’s a good phone.

It’s also a good phone at a great price. It’ll cost around £300 in Europe when it goes on sale in May, and you get a lot for that. A pair of good, if not exceptional cameras, fast charging, solid internal hardware and a whopping 64GB of onboard storage with a microSD card slot. Phone’s that cost almost twice as much still only have half that amount of storage.

Oppo’s tale of recent success has been mostly down to the Asian market. But you can buy this phone without a carrier for £300, and you’ll probably be very happy with it.

Should you buy it? Sure

While we’re not definitively saying that this is the phone to buy, especially as the mid-tier, unlocked market is stronger than ever, there’s no real reason to say you shouldn’t buy it. So long as you’re happy with a phone that currently runs Lollipop.

If you like what you see then go for it and be very happy with your choice. Huawei’s non-Honor branded phones are plenty more expensive, Xiaomi still doesn’t exist in Europe and we’ve still to see where OnePlus goes this year, likewise with Motorola.

The Oppo F1 Plus is a fine choice in this price range.

The Oppo F1 Plus is due to go on sale in Europe some time in May. It can already be purchased in retail stores in India, as well as at Snapdeal.

See at Snapdeal

%d bloggers like this: