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10
Aug

Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K): What’s the rumoured difference?


With Sony announcing a special PlayStation event in New York for 7 September, it is commonly thought that we’ll finally see the company’s plans for its next generation console – a massively upgraded version of the PS4, currently codenamed PlayStation Neo.

That’s hugely exciting for gamers, but does beg several questions, especially on the build up to the holiday season when people will have cash in their pockets and a hankering for a new games machine.

Prior to the possible PlayStation Neo announcement, we’d have said the Xbox One S was a no brainer, being a faster, slimmer version of the former model and a 4K Blu-ray player to boot. But now Sony is about to unveil its plans, it could really plop a big fat fly in the ointment.

That’s why we’ve decided to look at what we know about the PlayStation Neo so far through rumours, in comparison with the already available Xbox One S, to see if you should splurge your money now or wait a bit longer.

  • Sony PlayStation 4K: What is PS4.5/Neo, when is it coming and what will it offer?
  • PlayStation Neo (PS4K) vs Project Scorpio: What’s the rumoured difference?
  • PlayStation Neo confirmed and 4K-ready, but PS4.5 won’t be at E3 2016
  • PlayStation Neo launch confirmed for 7 September
  • Xbox One S review: Best console and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player out there

Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K, PS4.5): 4K HDR gaming

One thing we know for sure about the PlayStation Neo is that it will be capable of 4K gaming. PlayStation boss Andrew House effectively said as much to the Financial Times on the eve of E3. That means it will have enough graphics and processing grunt to render games in 2160p, quite possibly at 60 frames per second too.

The Xbox One S on the other hand is not capable of 4K gaming. It does upscale all video output to 4K, including games, but you don’t get anymore detail – it just takes on the upscaling duties rather than rely on your TV’s abilities.

The Microsoft machine does offer HDR (high dynamic range) gaming though. Developers can now choose to offer a great level of contrast and depth in their games, for users with TVs capable of showing them. Forza Horizon 3 a Gears of War 4 are two games coming with HDR graphics.

We’d be willing to bet our collective houses that the PS Neo will have the same support. 

Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K, PS4.5): 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

One of the main reasons existing Xbox One owners would consider an upgrade to the Xbox One S is that it also doubles as a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player. It is capable of playing the new format discs and in HDR to boot.

Considering Sony’s heritage in Blu-ray – being the founder of the format and that – it is nigh-on guaranteed the PlayStation Neo will have a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray drive too.

Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K, PS4.5): 4K video

As well as 4K Blu-ray support, the Xbox One S is also 4K-ready for streaming services. At present, that just means Netflix in the UK, but we fully expect an updated YouTube app soon and, possibly, Amazon Video will offer 4K streams in future too.

There is absolutely no reason to think that the PlayStation Neo will be any different.

Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K, PS4.5): Performance

This is where things really start to head in different directions. In effect, the Xbox One S is a slightly tweaked version of the former model. Its quad-core processing chip is clocked higher in order to run faster and offer a boost in performance, but it is fractional. RAM also runs faster too, but the most obvious improvements come with faster menu screens than in-game activities.

On the other hand, the PlayStation Neo is rumoured to sport a 2.1GHz octa-core processor and a graphics chipset with a purported 4.14 teraflops of power and GDDR5 memory running at 218GB/s.

In comparison, that’s like having a drag race between a Ferrari F12Berlinetta and an Audi A5. Yeah the Audi A5 is a lovely car… but it’s no Ferrari.

It means the Neo will be able to run games in 4K 60fps, ensuring many of the effects and graphical nuances are present while maintain smooth play.

Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K, PS4.5): Design

This is almost impossible to make a judgement call on considering there are literally no details on what the PlayStation Neo will look like, but we can speculate with considered authority that it will be bigger than the new Xbox One S.

The white One S is 40 per cent smaller and thinner than its former generation, with the power supply now tucked away inside the main casing. The PS4 also has the power supply inside and is slim, but does make quite a racket when it’s hot.

Considering how powerful the PlayStation Neo’s chipset will be, we think it will run extremely hot. Hotter than the Xbox One S and PS4. That means there will need to be plenty of cooling inside.

Consider its spec is more akin to a gaming PC, then imagine how big a decent gaming rig can be thanks to sufficient cooling and you can see why we think the PS Neo will be on the beefy side.

Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K, PS4.5): Backwards compatibility

It has already been confirmed that the PlayStation Neo will be backwards compatible with all PlayStation 4 games. Even brand new games will run on both of Sony’s consoles, just in a higher resolution on the new machine, and with better graphical presentation all round.

The Xbox One S is also completely compatible with all current and future Xbox One games. Several will appear with HDR graphics, but even they will run in a conventional Xbox One without the added visual flair. Microsoft has said that it’s answer to the PlayStation Neo, the Project Scorpio, will also be compatible with all Xbox One games when it comes out in late 2017.

Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K, PS4.5): Price

To be honest, there is no indication yet as to how much Sony will ask for its powerhouse, flagship console. It’ll be a darn sight more expensive than the Xbox One S, that’s for sure.

We’ll update this section if and when we find out more, but for now the Xbox One S is priced at a very reasonable £249 for the 500GB model, £299 for the 1TB and £349 for the 2TB edition, although it is said that the latter is now completely sold out.

Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K, PS4.5): Release date

The Xbox One S is already in shops although, as we mentioned above, the 2TB launch edition is already reportedly out of stock. You will have to wait for the 500GB and 1TB versions instead, although we’re yet to find out when they will be available. We suspect later this month or September.

The PlayStation Neo’s actual release date is anyone’s guess at the moment. Smart money suggests it will come out in 2017, but Sony has thrown a spanner in the works by hosting its launch event on 7 September.

The PlayStation 4 was first unveiled 20 February 2013 and it hit US shops on 15 November later that year. If the Neo is to follow suit, we should expect it around the beginning to mid-June. E3 anyone?

Xbox One S vs PlayStation Neo (PS4K, PS4.5): Conclusion

Some of those already in the know would say that this was an unfair comparison from the off. The PlayStation Neo is designed to be a considerable step-up from the PS4, while the Xbox One S is more of a stop-gap console until Microsoft’s Project Scorpio comes later next year.

Indeed, Project Scorpio is the Neo’s direct peer, not the Xbox One S, and that’s where the true next-next gen battle will take place.

As it stands, the Xbox One S is an excellent console – the best currently available. And unless Sony pulls a massive shock and announces the Neo for a Christmas 2016 release, you might consider the Microsoft machine as your better bet for now. After all, it’s also the cheapest 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player on the market.

It’s worth considering that our opinion is based on the rumoured specifications of the PlayStation Neo rather than confirmed details. We’ll reassess after its 7 September debut.

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10
Aug

All-new 4K Virgin Media TiVo box revealed, coming soon to rival Sky Q


Virgin Media has posted a teaser image of a new set-top-box on its corporate Twitter account, thought to be its answer to Sky Q.

Earlier this year, as part of financial results statement in May, Virgin Media revealed that it will be launching a new, 4K-ready TiVo box this year. Now we’ve had a brief glimpse of what it will look like.

To be honest, the tweet doesn’t give away much, save for the fact that much more will be unveiled tomorrow, 11 August. An unboxing will be shown on the same @VirginMediaCorp Twitter feed.

We’ll be unboxing something right here for you tomorrow… pic.twitter.com/MH9RdAQE9Y

— VirginMediaCorporate (@VirginMediaCorp) August 10, 2016

There’s no coincidence that Virgin Media has decided to unveil its new box this week. Sky officially launches its 4K service for Sky Q customers at the weekend, with the start of the Premier League football season seeing three matches broadcast in Ultra High Definition.

We’re not sure yet when you’ll be able to upgrade to Virgin Media TiVo 4K, or how much extra the service might cost, but existing TiVo box users will likely get an updated user experience at the same time.

10
Aug

Alexa support coming to BMW’s ‘Connected’ assistant app


BMW first revealed its revamped “Connected” assistant app in March, and it will finally be available this month. As a reminder, it does a lot more than sync your phone and car, acting more like the love-child of Waze and Google Now. It can scan your device’s calendar and address book, then calculate the drive time to an appointment based on your route and real-time traffic data. After factoring the vehicle’s fuel or battery level, it will send a “time to leave” notification to your iPhone or Apple Watch.

All of that information, including addresses and arrival times, is automatically synced to your car when you get in, assuming it’s a ConnectedDrive BMW, Rolls Royce or Mini. Yes, other apps including Android Auto, Waze and others let you do most of those functions. But Connected, being integrated with the vehicle, also lets you lock and unlock your vehicle, flash the headlights to help find it, and turn on the AC before you get in, among other functions. Once you arrive, it’ll give you “last mile” walking or transit directions.

Later this year, BMW will join Ford as one of the few automakers with Alexa support. That’ll let you shout commands at an Echo to remotely execute door locking and other functions, or get info like your vehicle’s fuel or battery levels. BMW says that the app will arrive on iOS sometime in August, with the Alexa update coming later in the year. There’s no word yet on Android support.

Source: BMW

10
Aug

Vizio TV update helps you play HDR Blu-ray movies


Your shiny new Vizio TV just became much more useful for playing high dynamic range movies. Vizio is in the midst of rolling out an update to its SmartCast M- and P-Series sets that adds the HDR10 support you need to play HDR Blu-ray movies on current Ultra HD players from the likes of Philips and Samsung. While the sets already supported HDR, they were relying solely on Dolby Vision — more advanced, but not ubiquitous.

This won’t guarantee that Vizio TVs will show HDR video from any and all Ultra HD Blu-ray players. However, the newly acquired firm promises that it’ll “further expand support” as HDR-capable players show up. If all goes well, you won’t have to worry about your choices of formats or hardware when looking for vibrant videos.

Source: Vizio (PR Newswire)

10
Aug

IFTTT’s recipe-based automation is coming to other apps


IFTTT’s recipes are great for getting apps and devices that you use on the regular to interact with each other without being prompted to do so. Before now, you had to download the IFTTT app or visit its website to get everything setup, input your account details and more. That’s about to change. Over the course of the last year, the company has been working with other companies to integrate those formulas inside their own apps rather than relying on IFTTT to handle the coordination elsewhere. The result is easy access to expanded features for companies beyond the standard tools their services provide.

The list of partners that are putting IFTTT recipes in their apps right now include the likes of Ring’s video doorbell, Foobot’s indoor pollution monitor, Automatic’s car adapter, Qapital’s banking app, Garageio’s garage door controller, Roger’s voice messenger and more. What’s more, you can create and save IFTTT rules inside those third-party apps as well. If you want Automatic to send its reports on your vehicle to Google Drive for example, you can opt to do that without having to jump over to another app.

IFTTT’s Partner Platform and the ability to sort recipes with the software you’re likely already using is certainly handy, but we’ll be interested to see if more companies opt in. At launch, the full list of partners includes Ring, Qapital, Foobot, Garageio, Automatic, Awair, Skybell, LIFX, Bloomsky, Roger, Abode and Stack Lighting. The new integration inside those companies’ apps are rolling out now, so if you’re using their connected gadgets and software, you should be able to use the new workflow soon enough.

The expansion for IFTTT comes on the heels of Microsoft announcing its own version of an automated workflow. With Flow, Microsoft connects over 30 services that are mostly focused on streamlining your email, to-do list and other productivity tools. However, a mobile app does some of the same things IFTTT can do, like tweet your Instagram snapshots as actual pictures rather than links. There’s no mention of using those IoT devices with Flow yet, so IFTTT remains your go-to for automating connected gadgets with other tech.

Source: IFTTT

10
Aug

The Rapidfire K70 is a gaming keyboard that typists will love


Mechanical keyboards are favored by gamers and programmers for how precise and springy the buttons feel under their fingers. The latter is important not just for improving a player’s reaction time in a heated match, but a shorter key depression is also way kinder to a typist’s hands. So it seems that Corsair’s new Rapidfire K70 RGB would be the ultimate step up thanks to its new “Cherry MX Speed” keys, which only need to be pushed down 1.2mm: the shortest actuation point on the market. I’ve been using it as my work keyboard for the past two months and it’s been a sweet experience, though not without a few bumps.

Unlike other gaming keyboards that might pack in extra features like macro keys or a display screen, there aren’t too many bells and whistles on the Rapidfire K70. In fact, there’s not a whole lot to distinguish it from the standard K70, which was the top pick in our gaming keyboard roundup last year. It has a pretty basic key selection of 107 keys, though there are a few media buttons on the upper right along with a roll bar for adjusting the volume. The K95, also from Corsair, has a selection of 18 macro keys on the left side, but it’s not a Rapidfire model, so you’ll miss out on the benefits of MX Speed buttons.

I appreciated the simplicity of the layout, which made it ideal for mixed-use scenarios, in which you might want to use the same keyboard for gaming and work. Its compact size means its reach is far friendlier to my smaller hands, and the rubberized palm rest feels nice to the touch. I’ve had issues with rests before, as some plastics have a tendency to irritate my skin. I haven’t had that problem with the K70, even after hammering away on a few 1,200-word stories. I’m even typing this review on it, and loving it.

There are other nice touches here. The space bar is textured, and the K70 also came with some extra key caps if you prefer your WASD setup to feel a bit rough as well. It’s extremely easy to remove the caps, too: Corsair thoughtfully packed in a tool to pull them out, though you can also just give the buttons a good yank with your bare hands and the tops will come right off. This makes the whole rig extremely easy to clean, as the keys are housed in an aluminum deck with no nooks and crannies to trap crumbs and dust. This is ideal as I’m a bit of slob; it’s not uncommon for me to eat breakfast or lunch while I work. Indeed, I just noticed something stuck on the side of one of the number keys. It looks like jam? Probably best not to think about it. The important thing is that I was able to pull the key cap off, wipe it down and pop it back onto its switch with no evidence that anything was ever wrong.

The aluminum board also means the Rapidfire feels solid and is heavier than your average keyboard. In fact, It feels like something you’d keep around the office as a melee weapon in case you get caught at work during the zombie apocalypse. It’s that sturdy.

The USB cords alone make it a bit unwieldy; their braided design means they don’t tangle, but they also don’t tuck away easily, so they’re always this looming presence on your desk. It’s especially annoying as one is a USB passthrough, which I don’t need, so it just sits around like a paralyzed snake, making it harder to keep my cables in order.

In use, the Rapidfire K70 is mostly a pleasure. The buttons are smooth and responsive; a little smaller than I’m used to, but it hasn’t been a problem. I love the sound of the keys, too. Mechanical keyboards have a well-earned reputation for being noisier than the membrane and scissor-switch peripherals that populate most offices, and the K70 is definitely louder than my standard decks. But the lighter touch needed to activate the Cherry MX keys means that it’s possible to be whisper-quiet with enough practice.

What’s become more apparent in my time with the Rapidfire K70 is how sloppy a typist I can be. The larger buttons on my usual Comfort Curve Keyboard mean that I don’t need to have a good aim to hit the right one, and I often have to slam my finger to get the membrane keys to register. I don’t need to be delicate or precise: It’s a blunt instrument for typing.

One persistent problem I had with the K70 was that my palm sometimes brushed against the Alt key as I typed. It isn’t an issue on a membrane keyboard or even other mechanical layouts because it’s not enough to register as a deliberate key press. But thanks to the extremely short actuation point on the Rapidfire K70, I was activating hotkeys left and right. No, I don’t need the edit menu right now, thank you very much. Stop that.

In contrast, a mechanical keyboard is more of a scalpel, and the Cherry MX Speed switches on the Rapidfire K70 make it even more so. They’re a bit thin, so I have to be careful about hitting the center of the key cap. I barely have to touch them to register a press; it feels like I could breathe funny on the keyboard and end up typing gibberish. That won’t actually happen, though. I hit the K70 with a can of compressed air and the keys jiggled but didn’t depress enough to register as strokes.

Rapidfire K70

My ham-handed typing aside, it feels and looks great — I’d be remiss in not mentioning the backlit RGB keys, which are bright and bold and pretty distracting. Of course, Corsair provides its own utility engine, so you can tweak the lighting as well as programming macros. It’s pretty robust but also a bit opaque, so if you want anything more complicated than simple keystroke shortcuts you need to put in a serious sit-down with the software to figure out how it works. But it’s easy enough to mess with the default lighting schemes and find one that looks good without being too annoying. And if the lighting does ever become a problem, there’s a button on the keyboard to just turn it off.

But I don’t really want to. The candy-colored lighting makes me happy in a way my conscious brain can’t explain. That visual treat combined with the crisp, light typing makes the Rapidfire K70 RGB a sensory delight that actually gets me excited about typing on it. It makes me want to work. When was the last time you could say that about a keyboard?

10
Aug

Facebook launches guided tours for 360-degree videos


When you explore 360-degree videos on Facebook like you’re supposed to, you could miss crucial moments happening outside your POV. The social network’s new “Guide” tool for Pages, however, can make sure you see the best, funniest and most compelling parts. Now, when publishers upload a 360-degree video, they can enable the feature and highlight points of interest simply by pausing and clicking “+ Add Point.” It will then be on by default, and the video will automatically swivel to show you those highlighted scenes. It’s like having a tour guide pointing out the most interesting sights to see to a bunch of overwhelmed tourists.

You’ll know that it’s active if you see the word “Auto” on the right side of the video — if you want to switch it off and be able to pan around on your own, you only have to tap that indicator. Facebook has begun rolling out the feature today, and you can expect to encounter more and more guided videos as it becomes available to all Pages these coming weeks.

Source: Facebook

10
Aug

NFL Network and NFL Redzone are now live on Sling TV


After striking a content deal with the NFL last week, Sling TV is now making the NFL Network and NFL Redzone channels available on its streaming service. The company announced that, starting today, Sling Blue subscribers will have NFL Network on their guide — that bundle is $25 per month, in case you’re not familiar with Sling TV’s offering. Meanwhile, NFL Redzone requires the Sports Extra add-on for Sling Blue, which costs an extra $5 monthly. Thankfully for cord-cutters who love watching football, the timing couldn’t be better, as the NFL preseason kicks off tomorrow with a game between the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints.

Source: Sling TV

10
Aug

First Photo of Apple’s A10 Chip for iPhone 7 Appears With Mid-July Production Date


Less than one month before Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, Chinese repair shop GeekBar has shared the first photo of what appears to be the next-generation A10 chip destined for the smartphones on Weibo. The number of pins appears to be consistent with the A9 chip’s 64-bit LPDDR4 interface.

While the photo could easily be faked, the chipset is labeled with a 1628 date code, corresponding with mid-July production. Additionally, GeekBar has accurately leaked components for unreleased Apple products in the past, including the iPhone 6s display assembly and iPhone 6 schematics showing a 128GB storage option.

What is pictured here is not the complete A10 chip and may be the RAM layer that is stacked on top of the A10 wafer as one system-on-a-chip, rather than the processor itself. Apple A-series chips are typically labeled on all four edges, suggesting this chipset is in a mid-production state.

TSMC is expected to be the sole supplier of Apple’s faster A10 chip based on its 16nm FinFET WLP process. The new processor should bring performance improvements to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The smartphones are expected to be announced on September 7 and released on September 16.

Last year, TSMC-built A9 chips were found to outperform Samsung-built A9 chips in early iPhone 6s battery benchmarks, but subsequent tests showed less significant impacts that Apple later said amounted to only a 2-3% difference in “real world” battery life. Samsung is not expected to be an A10 chip supplier.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tags: weibo.com, GeekBar, A10 chip
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10
Aug

Moto G4 Review: No longer a game-changer (Video)


Before Lenovo bought Motorola from Google in 2014, the company created a few very interesting lines of phones under the Moto brand that sought to change the way we buy phones. One of these is the Moto G line, that was introduced a few years ago and offered an very reliable and speedy phone for less than $200 unlocked. The Moto G eventually became Motorola’s highest selling phone of all time.

Fast-forward to today, Lenovo hopes to carry on the legacy of the Moto G, and offer a quality, affordable successor in a world where most other smartphone companies are offering their new phones for lower prices. The Moto G4 is here, and literally bigger than ever.

Build

The Moto G4’s build quality hasn’t improved from the previous years iterations, but it feels solid for a $200 plastic phone. At 155 grams, it has the perfect amount of heft for me. I really like the plastic back of the phone which has a slightly textured feel to it and feels almost like rubber, although the oil from your hands will visibly show up on it after just a little usage. Wash your hands at all times.
IMG_7960IMG_7962

The front of the device brings the classic minimalistic style I’ve loved since the Nexus S came out a long time ago. In fact, the design of this phone reminds me so much of a bigger Galaxy Nexus – front and back. There’s nothing on the front except the secondary camera and a single front-facing speaker right above the screen. No Lenovo logo, no Moto logo. That’s a +1 right there. While I’m bummed they didn’t include dual speakers like last year’s Moto G, I can’t complain for the price. Plus, the single speaker does get very loud, and almost competes with speaker quality on flagship phones using single speakers on the bottom.

As for the power and volume buttons, someone at Lenovo should’ve spoke up about these. They feel cheap, and barely provide any feedback when pressing them. It takes more effort to press the volume buttons than any other phone I’ve used. The power button at least has a horizontal line texture on it to distinguish it from the volume.

Screen

Easily the highlight of this phone. I’ve seen quite a few cheap LCD displays on phones before, even on more expensive phones, but the 1080p LCD display on the Moto G4 rocks.

I was disappointed with Lenovo’s decision to put a 5.5 display on the Moto G, but after using it for a week, it doesn’t feel like a big phone at all. 71% of the front of this device is covered with screen, so it doesn’t feel bulky to me.

Aside from the size, the quality of this screen seriously impresses me for what it’s worth. If any of you still own the OnePlus One or OnePlus 2, the display quality is right with those. I will say, the viewing angles are not great, as the brightness decreases and colors go yellow as soon as the device is slightly shifted away from your eyes. However this isn’t a problem for me, as my phone is directly facing me 98% of the time I use it.

Comparing the screen to other LCD displays like the Nexus 5X and Nexus 5, I immediately prefer the display on the Moto G4. The colors look very washed out on the LCD Nexus devices compared to the Moto G4, which is able to produce colors almost as vivid as an AMOLED display.

The 1080p resolution is perfect for this device. I started using this phone right after using the OnePlus 3, and believe it or not, I prefer this screen. These phones both have 5.5 inch 1080p displays, but the pentile AMOLED screen on the OnePlus 3 holds it back in comparison in terms of image sharpness. Images are sharper, more accurate, and the whites on the G4 look much better. I still much prefer the deep blacks on the OnePlus 3’s AMOLED screen though.

Performance

In 2016, it’s hard to find a phone running Android 6.0 that doesn’t perform well. The Moto G4 runs on a Snapdragon 617 processor which was unveiled by Qualcomm in September of 2015. I was expecting a sluggish experience, and to this day I’m waiting for the inevitable crashes or hair-pulling slowdowns to happen. But so far, this phone runs well! If I were to compare the everyday speed of the Moto G4 to something else, I would say it’s neck and neck with the Nexus 5 from 2013 – which still runs like a champ on Marshmallow with its Snapdragon 800 chip.

After using the phone for a couple hours on AT&T LTE while browsing on Chrome, the phone didn’t get as warm as other phones have, and quick-charging it with the Motorola Turbo-Charger doesn’t make the phone as hot as previous Motorola phones, specifically the hot-plate that is the Droid Turbo.

If you’re into mobile gaming, you might want to look the other way. The Adreno 405 GPU here does not handle most games very well, and loading times are pretty terrible. I primarily play Fallout Shelter, and while I had zero hiccups and quick loading times playing it on a phone with a Snapdragon 820 chip, the loading time to get into my game on average took a staggering 72 seconds on the Moto G4. This was if the game didn’t freeze or crash mid-load, which happened 20% of the time. I experienced similar results with other 3D games.

Camera

Don’t expect miracles here, people. But also don’t expect a bad camera. The Moto G4’s 13-megapixel with f/2.0 aperture provides pictures more than deserved for a $200 phone. Pictures in daylight look a little more dim than they should be.

IMG_20160721_115653606_HDRIMG_20160726_130935205

Low-light pictures lose a lot of detail, but having HDR mode on really helps balance out the bright parts of the photos and the darks. Notice the overexposure of the Subway sign and interior in normal capture mode.

HDR off

HDR off

HDR on

HDR on

Daylight HDR on

Daylight HDR on

Daylight HDR off

Daylight HDR off

The camera app takes a couple seconds to open, which is annoying when trying to grab a quick shot. The app comes with some useful features such as professional mode that allows for manual tweaks, slow motion mode (although the 540p resolution for this is kind of a joke) and auto-HDR.

Software

I was a little nervous Lenovo would take Motorola’s near-stock Android skin and mess it up, but things have barely changed since previous Moto phones.

This is basically stock Android with the addition of a few useful features. First, we have Moto Gestures, which includes four ways of interacting with the phone. When it’s off, you can make a chopping motion with the phone to turn on the flashlight. Keeping the phone face down immediately mutes the phone and keeps it silent. When someone calls, picking the phone off the table cuts the noise of the ringer. Finally, whether the phone is on or off, twisting it will launch the camera.

IMG_7963IMG_7964IMG_7965

On top of this, Moto Display is back, showing your notifications when the phone is sleeping, however it;s nowhere near as useful as it is on the Moto Z, or previous Moto X phones that have sensor on the front for hand waving gestures, or the AMOLED screens that actually save battery when using the Moto Display. On this phones LCD display, you can totally tell the entire screen is on, and it just doesn’t look great.

Battery

A 3000mAh battery is becoming common for a high-end phone, so the decision to put one in the $200 Moto G4 was a great move from Lenovo. This phone lasts until the very end of the day for me with 10-15% left. To be exact, I unplug the device at 6:45 AM, stream Play Music for 30 minutes to work, browse reddit and Chrome for about an hour a day, text my imaginary friends using Textra, send between 20-30 snaps with Snapchat, and use a lot of GroupMe until I’m tuckered out at 10:30 PM. That’s 16 hours of “moderate” usage.

I haven’t felt concerned with running out of battery in a day yet, but if I do, this phone comes with a Turbo-Charger that supports Qualcomm Quickcharge. I remember when I had to pay extra for a Turbo-Charger when I bought a Moto X 2014… so I’m very pleased with this.

Conclusion

I’m satisfied with the Moto G4. I’m not blown away by it, and I’m not disappointed with it. Lenovo didn’t take risks with this device, and they didn’t push any boundaries. The build quality lives on from previous Moto G generations, and the display quality is something I never expected to see on a $200 smartphone. But is a bigger, better display worth the removal of dual front-facing speakers and a waterproof exterior? If I were to give an answer, I would say the screen is more important to me than speakers I rarely use, or having the ability to pour champagne on my smartphone.

At $199 for the 16GB model, the Moto G4 is less impressive than it was in its earlier generations, and faces serious competition from smartphones in similar price ranges, such as the all-metal, fingerprint scanner included Honor 5X. For $199, I would recommend the Honor 5X over this phone, but you won’t be disappointed with a purchase of the Moto G4, especially with the experience of customizing it through the innovative Moto Maker website.

You can purchase the Moto G4 here

 

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