As military and heavy-lifting applications for robotic exoskeletons get closer to reality, the latest trend in wearable machinery is helping the elderly and those with limited mobility get back on their feet. Like their colleagues/competitors at Harvard and ReWalk Robotics, the team behind the Superflex have developed a soft robotic exosuit that could do everything from heavy lifting on the battlefield to replacing grandma’s walker.
While it’s not the first powered exosuit in development, the Superflex has an extra “smart” trick up it’s robotic sleeve. The onboard sensors actually learn the way each individual wearer moves and then uses that information to turn on the power at the precise moment when the wearer needs it. The result is a longer battery life and, eventually a less bulky set of body-mounted machinery. The main idea, SRI Ventures president Manish Kothari told the MIT Technology Review, is to empower users and “remove all of those areas that cause psychological-type encumbrances and, ultimately, redignify the individual.” Which is a polite way of saying the company wants to make you feel like a superhuman once you put it on.
The Superflex team, which was spun off from the SRI International nonprofit, doesn’t yet have a concrete date for a marketable version of the suit, but they are currently seeking partners to commercialize the prototype.
Rumors are swirling that we could see more of the new Crackdown in just over a week’s time at E3, but until Microsoft’s media briefing you’ll just have to make due with All Points Bulletin: Reloaded. The free-to-play online game of futuristic cops and robbers recently launched on Xbox One after a lengthy delay, and if you log in within the first month (or before its initial patch, whichever comes first), there are a few bonuses for you. In addition to weapon skins and a placard for your avatar if you play for 10 hours, there’s a special weapon (the Fireworks Flare Launcher) and vehicle (Mikro JC14 “New-Cross”) in store for everyone, regardless of play-time.
But how are Crackdown and APB even remotely connected? Well, in case you forgot, it’s time for a bit of a video game history lesson. Developer David Jones worked at Rockstar North precursor DMA Design, and was a producer on the original Grand Theft Auto. He worked on a few Nintendo 64 games after that (Body Harvest and Space Station Silicon Valley) before returning to a life of crime with Grand Theft Auto 2.
Jones founded Realtime Worlds in 2002, which was responsible for the first (and best) Crackdown, a comic-book styled open-world game that put you in the shoes of what was essentially an acrobatic superhero cop, and then the original All Points Bulletin. If you’re a fan of GTA Online, know that it got a lot of its ideas from APB.
Despite the game’s ambition and potential, though, financial woes forced the game to shut down in 2010 after the MMO’s servers had been live for just three months. It was picked up and turned into a free-to-play game by K2 Network in 2011 under the name APB: Reloaded. Now, Jones is heading up development on Crackdown 3 for Microsoft. See? Full circle.
APB: Reloaded is still scheduled for release on PlayStation 4, and the developer promises Sony fans will be able to play the game sometime after the Xbox One version’s first patch hits. The announcement post also lists all the changes that’ve been made to the game or that are en route for the new PC version as well.
Source: Reloaded Games
The Good GE’s new Profile Series French door model has a stylish slate finish and understated touch panel controls, complete with a nifty Autofill water dispenser that’ll automatically fill your glass up without spilling.
The Bad The interior feels a little more cramped than you might like in this price range — largely because some of the in-door shelves are too narrow to be of much use.
The Bottom Line This is a decent fridge and a solid, no-frills upgrade pick for modern kitchens.
GE puts out a steady stream of refrigerators under the Profile Series name. Last year’s fleet included models with a sensor-powered water dispenser capable of automatically filling up your glass, pitcher or pot. It scored as one of our favorite fridge features of the year.
This year’s refreshed lineup includes new models with that same Autofill water dispenser, including the $3,000 GE PFE28KMKES. It’s a good-looking fridge with easy-to-use touch controls and an understated slate finish (a stainless steel model is also available at the same price, if you like your fridge a bit shinier). It doesn’t have quite as many bells and whistles as last year’s models, but as a well-refined high-end appliance, there’s still a lot to like about it.
Filling up with GE’s Profile Series fridge…
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Design done right
First things first: This fridge looks great. It’s one of a growing number of slate-finish appliances from GE, and it might be the best-looking one yet, taking full advantage of the style’s modern aesthetic and inherent subtlety.
To that last point, I think GE was wise to switch from the full-color LCD touchscreen of last year’s models to a simpler, cleaner-looking touch panel. It isn’t technically as fancy as before, but it blends right in with the slate finish and seems like a much more appropriate choice than the flashy touchscreen would have been.
That touch panel is straightforward and easy-to-use, too, with all of the obvious buttons for controlling the temperature, the icemaker and the water dispenser. Key among these is the “Autofill” button in the middle. Set a glass, pitcher or pot down below and give that button a press. The fridge will fill it up all on its own with sensors that tell it when to stop.
It’s an undeniably cool feature and a surprisingly nice little luxury for your kitchen. I first tested it out a little more than a year ago, and I still “ooh” and “aah” a little bit on the inside whenever I watch it at work. It’s the exact sort of “little thing” that I wish more appliances got right.
That said, I wish that this model also offered Precise Fill, an option available in certain other GE fridges that lets you tell the water dispenser to dispense a specific quantity of liquid — say, four cups for a pot of pasta. In its place, you get a counter in the display that keeps track of how many ounces of water you’re dispensing as you’re dispensing it. It’s a nice touch, but not as helpful as Precise Fill.
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I was able to fit all of our test groceries inside along with our six stress test items, but it was a tight squeeze.
A look inside
The PFE28KMKES is a 27.8 cubic foot refrigerator, 18.6 cubic feet of which are allocated to the fridge compartment. That’s pretty much average for a French door model in this price range, so if you’re feeding a large family and space is at a premium, know that you can probably find something at least a little bit bigger if you shop around.
Augmented reality (technology that uses screen-embedded eyewear to overlay the real world with information, images and more) isn’t quite ready for mainstream consumers — but it’s almost ready for the diving community. The US Navy says it’s developing a high-resolution, heads-up display embedded in a diving helmet. It’s called The Divers Augmented Reality Display, or DAVD for short.
The project is still in the early stages, but the potential of DAVD is fairly promising. A heads-up display with real-time data could be a big boon for underwater missions, offering divers sonar data, photographs of what they might be looking for, briefing data, text messages and more. Project leader Dennis Gallagher likens it to Tony Stark’s augmented display from the Iron Man films. “You have everything you visually need right there within the helmet,” he says.
The DAVD helmet is a little more than Google Glass underwater, though. The rig uses two transparent displays to create a stereoscopic augmented heads-up display, which makes it possible for the overlay to simulate depth perception. And perception, it turns out, is key: divers often find themselves in low-visibility situations. DAVD could potentially overlay muddy waters with a real-time map created by miniaturized high-resolution sonar. Those sensors, like DAVD itself, are still in development — but the combination of the two could be a game changer for divers in murky water.
The prototype is about to move on to phase two, which will put it to use in real underwater test scenarios. In other words, it’ll be awhile before a consumer version of this is available to the public — but for divers who want more information underwater, it may be worth the wait.
Source: US Navy
As craft breweries explode in popularity across the US, more and more people want to express their love of specialty beers in the form of emojis — rather, emoji. There’s just one standard beer emoji (plus a “cheers” emoji that uses the same image) on Android and iOS, even though there are more than 100 styles of beer, some of which are meant to be served in specific ways. Here’s where the Belgian Brewer’s Association comes in. The group’s latest marketing scheme is an iOS and Android emoji board featuring 60 tiny images of Belgian beers, all served in their appropriate glasses.
These aren’t official iOS or Android emojis, so they won’t be compatible with all devices, as Fortune notes. That’s OK though — some beers aren’t compatible with all palates, either. We’re looking at you, sours.
Source: Belgian Beer Emojis
Humans don’t like the idea of not being at the top of the food chain; having something we’ve created taking power over us isn’t exactly ideal. It’s why folks like Tesla mastermind Elon Musk and noted astrophysicist Stephen Hawking are so determined to warn us of the terrifying implications that could culminate in a Skynet situation where the robots and algorithms stop listening to us. Google is keen to keep this sort of thing from happening, as well, and has published a paper (PDF) detailing the work its Deep Mind team is doing to ensure there’s a kill switch in place to prevent a robocalypse situation.
Essentially, Deep Mind has developed a framework that’ll keep AI from learning how to prevent — or induce — human interruption of whatever it’s doing. The team responsible for toppling a word Go champion hypothesized a situation where a robot was working in a warehouse, sorting boxes or going outside to bring more boxes in.
The latter is considered more important, so the researchers would give the robot a bigger reward for doing so. But human intervention to prevent damage is needed because it rains pretty frequently here. That alters the task for the robot, making it want to stay out of the rain, and then adopting the human interruption as part of the task rather than being a one-off thing.
“Safe interruptibility can be useful to take control of a robot that is misbehaving and may lead to irreversible consequences, or to take it out of a delicate situation, or even to temporarily use it to achieve a task it did not learn to perform or would not necessarily receive rewards for this,” the researchers write.
Deep Mind isn’t sure that its interruption mechanisms could be applicable to all algorithms. Specifically? Those related to policy-search robotics (a part of machine learning), so it sounds like there’s still a ways to go before the kill switch can be implemented across the board. Sleep tight.
Via: Business Insider
Source: Intelligence.org (PDF)
Terahertz radiation, or T-rays, can do some really incredible stuff. It can be used to scan for tumors and bombs build ultrafast wireless networks and see through solid objects. As an imaging technology, however, T-ray cameras have always had a resolution limitation. Well, they used to. Researchers at the University of Exter has developed a new terahertz camera that can see at a microscopic level — and they want to use it to find defects in microchips.
This breakthrough kind of changes the game for terahertz imaging. The radiation has always been able to look through solid objects without damaging them — which is why it’s frequently used in the art world to look past the surface layer of various masterpieces — but resolution limitations kept it from being used to diagnose broken computer chips.
Project lead Rayko Stantchev says his team has effectively doubled the technology’s resolution, creating a proof-of-principle prototype that can see a microscopic image printed on a circuit board obscured by a thick silicon wafer. “With our device you could test the quality of microchips that have buried under optically-opaque materials,” Stantchev says. “Allowing you to tell if a hidden chip is broken without having to open it up.”
The new, microscopic T-ray camera might have medical applications in its future, too. “We’re hoping to apply this imaging technique to detecting skin cancers,” Stanchev says. “And with this new resolution, finding them before they develop past a certain size.”
Source: Science, Popular Mechanics
Eight hours. That is the amount of battery life I typically get out of my Galaxy S6 in a normal work day. Battery longevity is the one thing that has not been able to break out into “the next level.” Due to this fact, portable battery packs have become very common in the lives of those like myself who rely heavily on their mobile devices. With that trend, Lynktec has seen fit to jump into the game with the Reeljuice line of portable batteries.
There are four versions of the Reeljuice charger that can be purchased; the 3X comes with a 5300mAh battery and the 5X comes with an 8000mAh battery (naming coming from the assumption that a phone could be charged up to five times with the 8000mAh full charge). Each of these can be purchased with either a 10 Watt wall charger or a standard USB charger. Lynktec sends the Reeljuice with a built-in microUSB cord but did not forget about those iOS users; they provide a microUSB to lightning adapter with every device. They even added a nice little storage spot for the adapter so it does not get lost.
- Battery: Li-Polymer
- Capacity: 5300mAh/8000mAh
- Input: 10W wall charger or 5V USB charger
- Output: 2.1A microUSB
- Size: 6.125 x 3.125 x 0.77 inches
- Weight: 10.3 oz
- Warranty: 12 months
Every charger out there has something that attempts to set them apart from the competition. The Reeljuice is no different, having two unique features that set this charger apart from the other options. First is the modular charging method which allows you three methods of charging your battery pack: the 10 Watt wall charger (which also has a passthrough USB output for convenient charging), the USB input charger (can be used with any wall charger or USB port), or a microUSB cable can be plugged into the module connector on the bottom of the device. The second, and most notable, distinction of the charger is the built-in charging cord that “reels” back into the body of the charger.
I was pleasantly surprised with the performance of the battery pack. The 2.1V charging speed is definitely not QC 2.0, but it is fast enough to get your device charged in a timely manner. It takes about an hour and a half to charge my Galaxy S6, which has a 2550mAh battery. An empty battery pack charges in about an hour with the wall charger, which means that you can charge your 8000mAh pack faster than it charges your phone.
The cord that is built into the charger is a nice quality, braided, microUSB cord. It is a welcome feature to not have to carry a cord around with me. This feature comes with a pretty hefty trade off, size. It is pretty obvious that the reel feature increases the width and girth of this charger making it more difficult to transport than other 8000mAh chargers. I would say it is nearly impossible to carry in your pocket and would only be transportable in a bag of some sort, perfect for students or professionals who often carry a medium to large bag.
The real “gotcha” with the Reeljuice is the price tag. The cheapest version of the device rings in at just under $100. Comparing that to some of the other chargers of comparable size, we can see that there is a major difference in cost. If they were to add a few features like Quick Charge or wireless charging then the price wouldn’t seem so steep.
The Reeljuice 5X is a great charger, built on a solid foundation of innovative ideas. If Lynktec could find a way to bring the cost into the realm of other comparable chargers, I think this would be a great device for those tech-heavy users. You can pick up the Reeljuice 3X or 5X with USB charging module on Amazon right now for $20 off the MSRP.
The Good With its air suspension, the 2016 Range Rover Sport delivers a very comfortable ride over long distances, while its available diesel engine is reasonably economical. Advanced offroad systems let this SUV go far off the beaten path.
The Bad The navigation system’s destination entry requires digging through too many menus. The dynamic driving program is not available with the diesel engine.
The Bottom Line The 2016 Range Rover Sport Td6 makes for an extraordinarily comfortable and capable SUV, while its diesel engine achieves much better fuel economy than its gasoline-equivalent, but don’t expect the most modern electronics or performance driving.
Scooting the 2016 Range Rover Sport Td6 over into a pocket on the side of a fire road to let other traffic squeeze by, the guy in the first truck says there’s a downed tree ahead that he couldn’t get under, so I’d probably have to turn around. The guy in the second truck asks after his dogs, the playful pack of black labs wearing radio tracking collars I passed coming up the road. I talk to him about the dogs for a bit, and he says they are tracking a bear.
Low enough to fit under this fallen tree, the Range Rover Sport makes its way up Cougar Mountain.
Welcome to the wilds of Idaho, one of our lesser-populated states that, however, has some of the best highways and Interstates in the country, not to mention big river canyons, lakes and heavily forested mountains. I’m in the middle of a 2,500-plus mile roadtrip, driving the new diesel-powered Range Rover Sport from San Francisco.
This well-packed fire road, running up Cougar Mountain near Coeur d’Alene, sees plenty of use, but trees fall frequently across its path. The locals probably scoffed at the upscale Range Rover Sport as they passed me, but I had no problem cruising under the fallen tree across the road. Further up, things got a little hairy as the rain increased and the road’s ruts deepened.
That’s when I engaged the Mud and Ruts setting on the Terrain Response System, letting the Range Rover Sport compensate for slip through a combination of locking differentials and automated braking system work. The air suspension lifted, keeping the chassis off the mud and the tires in contact with the track.
It was a moderate test of the Range Rover Sport’s abilities, and a chance to see some of the more impressive Idaho terrain, despite the reported presence of bears.
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Getting to that mountain in Idaho required many miles driving through California and the sweeping, high desert of Nevada. When I hit Reno and fueled up, the Range Rover Sport’s mileage didn’t impress me as much as I had hoped. 25.6 mpg seemed low for this truck’s turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 diesel engine after 300 miles of Interstate-driving, a bit under the EPA’s estimated 28 mpg for highway driving.
Brothers under the hood, diesel proves economical for the long highway.
Throughout the trip I would find that this diesel was happiest with the 55 and 60 mph speed limits of Washington and Oregon, where its average economy reached a high of 27.6 mpg.
Searching for diesel in Reno proved easy enough, after I dug into the Automotive points-of-interest category in the Range Rover Sport’s navigation system. However, subsequent searches for specific place names proved so complicated that I resorted to my phone. Land Rover is on the verge of rolling out a new infotainment system for its vehicles, which will hopefully offer a better destination search interface. Even better would be support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, neither features being available in Land Rover’s current system.
With its 23.5-gallon tank, I was looking at just over 500 miles between fill-ups, which proved especially useful during the desolate drive through Nevada to Winnemucca, then up the lonely Highway 95 through Washington and into Idaho, where fueling stations were very few and far between. This stretch proved the comfort of the Range Rover Sport, as its air suspension mitigated the toll on my body and limited the need for rest stops.
With their latest smartphones, vivo is looking to expand their growing presence within China to other parts of the world. The vivo V3Max claims to offer much of what many want from a flagship device, in a less expensive, mid-range package.
More vivo coverage:
- vivo X6Plus Review
- vivo X6 First Look
- vivo XPlay 5 Announced
But the question remains: how does vivo’s V3Max compare to similarly priced “super mid-range” smartphones? Let’s find out with our full review of the vivo V3Max!
It goes without saying that the vivo V3Max bears quite a bit of resemblance to the iPhone, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Despite its mid-range status, the V3Max encompasses an unmistakably premium design with notably solid build quality. The V3Max’s carefully crafted curves and physically soft metallic shell are particularly remarkable, and although the phone can be a bit slippery, it feels excellent in the hand.
The V3Max’s carefully crafted curves and physically soft metallic shell are particularly remarkable
While some may find its gold and rose gold color options to be a bit gaudy in press renders, it is worth noting that the color is much lighter in person to the point where one could easily mistake the gold for silver in some environments. I was slightly disappointed with the phone’s vibration motor, as it did seem a tad rattly and weak during my testing, which was noticeable primarily when typing. I do not consider this to be a major issue, but it is something to keep in mind, especially if you are coming from a higher-end smartphone.
Unfortunately, the three capacitive keys on the front of the V3Max are not illuminated, and the choice to use the first button for the general menu instead of the multitasking menu did seem odd, initially. It was not until I learned that vivo’s FunTouch OS integrates multitasking into its control center, which can be accessed with a simple swipe up from the bottom of the screen.
I do think that this implementation could be improved, however, with a single physical home button that would double as a back button, in which the user would tap to go back and press to go home. Meizu has followed this design for a while now, and it does seem more appropriate in this case as the general menu is oftentimes no longer accessed via a capacitive key.
The V3Max is sporting a 5.5″ 1080P display, which looks pretty good with a good amount of saturation and great viewing angles. It does seem a tad lacking in contrast, however, and sunlight readability leaves something to be desired. I found it to be very challenging to view the V3Max’s display in direct sunlight, which could be incredibly problematic, depending on how you intend to use the device.
Overall, the display on the V3Max is simply not as good as displays found on similar smartphones like the Xiaomi Mi 5 or much cheaper Meizu M2 Note. I was also fairly surprised to find that the display’s material feels more like plastic than glass, which made it much more susceptible to fingerprints and scratches in my testing. Since the material is not as smooth as the glass used on many other competing smartphones, the display can be fairly resistant to simple gestures like swiping.
It’s evident that vivo has focused on delivering a speedy experience with the V3Max
Despite its seemingly mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor, the V3Max is a great performer. With 4 GB of RAM and the “faster than faster” advertising slogan, it’s evident that vivo has focused on delivering a speedy experience with the V3Max. Fortunately, it delivers in that regard.
I also had no trouble playing higher-end games like Asphalt 8, thanks to the phone’s modern Adreno 510 GPU.
As is the case for many other smartphones intended for sale outside of the United States, the vivo V3Max does not support U.S. 4G LTE networks, and you’ll be limited to HSPA+ on AT&T in all areas and HSPA+ on T-Mobile in some areas.
FDD-LTE B2, B3, B5, B8 TD-LTE B40 WCDMA B2, B3, B5, B8 GSM B2, B3, B5, B8
With that said, the phone does support AT&T’s legacy band 5 for LTE, which I was able to utilize only in a rural area. Do keep in mind, however, that this frequency has been mostly phased out, hence its legacy status.
Call quality was pretty good, and many consumers will be happy to know that the device is both unlocked and supports dual-SIM cards. If you’re willing to give up one of V3 Max’s SIM card slots, you can take advantage of expandable storage with a microSD card, up to 128GB.
See Also: High capacity microSD cards and Android – Gary explains37
I found the V3Max’s rear-facing fingerprint reader to be incredibly fast and very accurate, easily beating out the Huawei Nexus 6P and Xiaomi Mi 5 in virtually every test. Combined with its great overall performance, the V3Max is one of the few mid-range smartphones to keep up when wanting to quickly check content-heavy apps like Twitter or YouTube.
The V3Max offers a superior audio experience relative to competing mid-range smartphones
With its AKM AK4375 Hi-Fi audio chip, the V3Max offers a superior audio experience relative to competing mid-range smartphones. However, it’s difficult to notice anything beyond a minor difference day-to-day unless audio is streamed at a higher bitrate or listened to through higher-quality headphones.
The phone’s external side-firing speaker, however, exceeded my expectations with its loud volume and low distortion. Although it is not a front-facing speaker, it is one of the highest quality speakers on a mid-range device that we’ve seen.
Battery life on the V3Max was also impressive, and I had no trouble reaching six hours of screen on time with variable usage, in addition to long standby times, sometimes even more than twenty-four hours. Although the battery capacity is a somewhat small 3000mAh, vivo appears to have made significant efficiency gains with software optimization. And if you do need the V3Max to last just a bit longer, there are several power consumption profiles available for use within the iManager app.
The V3Max’s 13 MP rear camera with phase detection autofocus produced very nice looking images in good lighting conditions. Most images appear to be sharp and detailed with good color reproduction and a great amount of dynamic range. While I did notice that the built-in camera app tended to underexpose, especially when shooting outdoors, the compensation slider proved to be a godsend.
The camera struggles to provide satisfactory results in low-light environments
Unfortunately, this performance is not met when shooting photos in low-light. Put simply, the camera struggles to provide satisfactory results in low-light environments, as photos appear noisy and distorted. While it is certainly possible to capture a good image in near-dark conditions, the camera here would definitely not be my first choice, even if I was limited to mid-range devices.
It is also important to note that the V3Max does not support 4K video recording, which was disappointing considering similarly priced smartphones like the Xiaomi Mi 5 do. Its 8 MP front-facing camera did perform well in my quick testing, however, and should be more than suitable in most environments. Although vivo has included a camera app which can be easily likened to Apple’s camera app, it is fairly easy to use while still remaining functional.
There are many different modes as well, all of which are easily accessible and include first time use explanations. There’s even a “PPT mode,” which automatically crops and scales an image shown on a projector or screen, which could be very handy for those wishing to capture important details from a slideshow.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the V3Max is its custom software. It’s running vivo’s FunTouch OS 2.5 on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop. The latter is disappointing enough, considering the latest version of Android, Android 6.0 Marshmallow, has been out for eight-months now. Sadly, this means that certain features like Google Now On Tap and fingerprint reader access for third party apps are not available with the vivo V3Max.
It’s fairly easy to see how the V3Max’s software could be a deal breaker
Even if you come to accept the older version of Android, vivo’s custom skin is sure to seem jarring at first, especially for those coming from stock or lightly skinned versions of Android. iOS-inspired changes like a control center and app names like iManager, iMusic, and iTheme are oftentimes simply not appealing to Westerns, and it’s fairly easy to see how the V3Max’s software could be a deal breaker.
Despite the strong departure from what we have come to expect from Android, there are many great features that FunTouch brings to the table. Features like S Capture, which give you a multitude of different options when wanting to share your screen, and wakeup gestures are commendable additions.
Vivo has released the V3Max globally in gold and rose gold variants, each with 32 GB of internal storage. If you’re in India, you can pick up the V3Max for Rs. 23,980, or about $355.
The vivo V3Max gets a lot of things right. It has a nice design, offers fast performance, Hi-Fi audio, and excellent battery life. However, its flaws cannot be ignored. The lack of U.S. availability and U.S. 4G LTE support, poor image quality in low-light, and likely jarring iOS-like software experience are enough to be deal breakers for some.
Quite frankly, it is difficult to recommend the V3Max over phones like the Xiaomi Mi 5, which is simply a more well-rounded option for about the same price. Unless you need the even better battery life, better speaker, or prefer the V3Max’s design, you may find the Mi 5 to be a much better option. With that said, vivo’s efforts are not to be diluted, and we must note that this is still a great mid-range smartphone, but with today’s highly competitive market, great only goes so far.
More vivo coverage:
- vivo X6Plus Review
- vivo X6 First Look
- vivo XPlay 5 Announced
So, what do you think of the vivo V3Max? Would you buy it over other mid-range smartphones? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!