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Posts tagged ‘Huawei’

17
Nov

Huawei’s MediaPad M3 is out now for $299


After launching in Europe this September, Huawei’s high-end Android tablet has finally made its way stateside. Available now to order on Amazon, the 8.4-inch MediaPad M3 ships on November 20th. Although Europe got 32GB, 64GB and 128GB versions, complete with 4G and WiFi options, only the 32GB WiFi model has made it over to the US, priced at $299.

Announced at this year’s IFA, the MediaPad M3 is a tablet with an unsurprising focus on media. Huawei is aiming to court those who love watching movies on the go with the M3, as it boasts a 2,560 x 1,600 display, high resolution audio support, Harmon Kardon-certified speakers and a generous 5,100mAh battery. Additionally, Huawei says its 10.1-inch MediaPad M2, another tablet already available in Europe, will join the M3 in the US next month.

Source: Amazon

17
Nov

Engadget giveaway: Win an Honor 8 smartphone courtesy of Huawei!


There’s something personal about a smartphone. It stays with you day-to-day or, heck, even moment-to-moment, so it helps to have a sleek design and quality camera on board to capture the moments you experience. Huawei’s recently released Honor 8 fits the bill, offering a premium exterior and the increasingly popular dual camera setup.

On the outside, the 5.2-inch Honor 8 is sheathed in subtly curved 2.5D glass with an aircraft-grade aluminum trim and the ability to catch light in artistic ways. The 12-megapixel dual camera gives you the tools to capture scenes in full splendor and the 8-megapixel front-facing cam will make your selfies shine. Huawei’s own EMUI 4.0 OS is laid upon an Android 6.0 foundation and its fast-charging battery will help you keep your life moving. With all these flourishes, the $400 price makes it a great option for your next pocketable life partner. This week, Huawei has provided us with one of its Honor 8 smartphones for a lucky reader to enjoy in time for the holidays. All you need to do is head to the Rafflecopter widget below for up to three chances at winning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Entries are handled through the Rafflecopter widget above. Comments are no longer accepted as valid methods of entry. You may enter without any obligation to social media accounts, though we may offer them as opportunities for extra entries. Your email address is required so we can get in touch with you if you win, but it will not be given to third parties.
  • Contest is open to all residents of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding Quebec), 18 or older! Sorry, we don’t make this rule (we hate excluding anyone), so direct your anger at our lawyers and contest laws if you have to be mad.
  • Winners will be chosen randomly. One (1) winner will receive one (1) Huawei Honor 8 smartphone ($399 value).
  • If you are chosen, you will be notified by email. Winners must respond within three days of being contacted. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen. Make sure that the account you use to enter the contest includes your real name and a contact email. We do not track any of this information for marketing or third-party purposes.
  • This unit is purely for promotional giveaway. Engadget and AOL are not held liable to honor warranties, exchanges or customer service.
  • The full list of rules, in all its legalese glory, can be found here.
  • Entries can be submitted until Nov. 18th at 11:59PM ET. Good luck!
3
Nov

Huawei’s new Mate 9 wants to be a smarter kind of smartphone


Huawei’s slice of the worldwide mobile pie isn’t as big as it used to be, but hey — at least it keeps getting better at making big phones. We didn’t know it would be the last Nexus phone, but the 6P was a solid sendoff. Then came the enormous Mate 8, which was incredibly well built (even if the company’s EMUI interface sometimes made me want to jam a fork in my eye). With the new Mate 9, however, Huawei is trying to do things a little differently. Case in point: the phone will eventually launch in the US, a first for the company’s flagship phablets. And that stuffed-to-the-gills custom interface? It’s been streamlined thanks to Huawei’s new user experience chief. Fortunately, the company’s smart moves don’t seem to end there.

For one, the Mate 9 feels impeccably solid, with a sloping back, rounded edges and an almost complete lack of bezel running around the sides. All together, these flourishes make the Mate 9 feel like a premium piece of kit and a little smaller than you’d expect. That last bit is especially important since the Mate 9 sports an enormous 5.9-inch, 1080p LCD screen — it’s still big, but surprisingly manageable. It helps that the Mate 9 is light too, so it’ll fit into a Daydream VR-compatible headset without straining your neck.

It would’ve been nice to see Huawei run with an even more pixel-dense display considering that Daydream compatibility, but the screen we did get seemed bright and plenty punchy. That more modest resolution probably helps the Mate 9’s 4,000mAh battery do its thing, too, and the SuperCharge tech Huawei has been working on should get a bone dry Mate to almost 60 percent in a half hour.

Huawei once again chose a Kirin chipset — the high-end 960 — to take on the Exynoses and Snapdragons of the world. It’s an octa-core affair paired with 4GB of RAM and an octa-core Mali graphics processor. We’ll have to wait and see the Mate 9 stacks up to the rest of 2016’s best phones, but the unfinished models we took for a spin didn’t break a sweat, even as we tried to break them. (Note to the Huawei folks reading this: I’m kidding. Sort of.) Now, sheer power is one thing — applying it more intelligently is a whole other matter. Ever notice how smartphones, like computers, start to run more slowly over time? Huawei says it’s using a machine-learning algorithm to prevent that power drain from happening.

To hear Huawei tell it, the algorithm looks for patterns in how you use your device over time. If you like to play Hearthstone immediately after using Twitter, for example, the Mate 9 should pick up on that and optimize available memory and CPU performance while you’re still checking tweets. The Mate 9 also uses a specific kind of storage system that keeps your saved bits from getting fragmented for even better performance down the road. This all sounds pretty great, but you should still probably take these claims with a grain of salt. Huawei promises that performance won’t suffer over time, but there’s really no way for us to check those claims right now.

The thing about using Huawei phones was that even though they pack a lot of power, the underlying software and interface was always sort of a mess. They’re working on it, though, and we’ve got a new version of Huawei’s EMUI that honestly does feel a little less cluttered. Icons have been redesigned, for one, and features that get used frequently are now easier to get to. That might not sound like a huge step forward, but it is. The EMUI of old involved a lot of putzing around, but now, something like 90 percent of the features people use most frequently are accessible within three taps. Beyond that facelift is the ability to run messaging apps like WeChat and Line in a split-screen mode, and a sort of private zone where you can store files and apps you don’t want others peeking at. It’s still a long way from stock, but there’s a good chance you won’t hate this software.

Then we’ve got the cameras. You guessed it: Huawei took a cue from the P9 and gave the Mate 9 a dual-camera system. There’s a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor around back that adds extra detail to the color data captured by the main 12-megapixel sensor. Together they’re Leica-certified, and together they’re used for a sort of 2x zoom mode… which the company has been pretty bad at explaining. Throw in the usual slew of photo modes and a handy adjustable aperture feature in software and you’ve got the makings of a fun, fascinating smartphone shooter.

Huawei hasn’t said when the Mate 9 will hit the US, or how much it’ll cost when it does. Even so, the Mate 9 leaves a strong first impression — in light of stiff competition in its native China and abroad, it’s nice to see Huawei’s bringing its A-game. Stay tuned for more juicy details as we learn them.

3
Nov

The Huawei Fit feels cheaper than its $130 price


It’s almost gift-giving season, and companies are scrambling to release products that will fill your loved ones’ stockings later this year. And plenty of people are considering options for the fitness fiends in their lives. Huawei threw its name in the ring today with the newly unveiled Fit, an activity tracker (with some smartwatch characteristics) that constantly monitors your heart rate. It’s also really thin and light, to the point where it actually feels kind of chintzy. The device costs $129, which is $20 less than the Fitbit Charge 2. I’ve spent about two days with a preview unit of the Fit, and so far, I think there are better options on the market.

Don’t get me wrong, there are things I like about the Fit. As a watch purist, I like that it has a round face. I also dig its clean aesthetic. At 11.2mm, its silver-colored aluminum case is thinner than most smartwatches, making it so comfortable that I often forgot it was on my wrist. There are no knobs, dials or buttons, other than a reset button on the underside, which keeps the overall design uncluttered. However, that left me confused as to how to turn on the device when I first unboxed it. As it turns out, I didn’t have to — it’s always on, as long as it’s charged.

I also appreciate how lightweight the Fit is, but although the device feels sturdy overall, it still manages to feel cheap. What’s more, three of my colleagues agreed when I asked for another opinion. That may be due to the watch’s silicone band, which wouldn’t look or feel out of place inside a McDonald’s Happy Meal box. This could be a difference in taste, but it’s worth noting that many people prefer a little heft in a $130 device.

The Fit is available in three band colors. I got an orange one, but my favorite’s the blue. If you’re boring, a black option is also available, although it’ll be a Best Buy exclusive until the end of November. You can also swap in any 18mm watch strap if you’re so inclined.

The Fit’s 1.04-inch, 208×208-pixel LCD touchscreen displays your stats in black and white, and it is easy to read indoors. An ambient light sensor activates the backlight so you can read it in the dark, but it’s harder to make out in strong light. You can’t adjust the brightness either, so there’s no way to tweak visibility in different environments. Another thing that made the display hard to read: It picks up smudges very easily — indeed, smears and fingerprints sometimes obstructed my view.

I like that the Fit constantly shows the time, so that I didn’t have to wait for it to wake up before finding out exactly how late in the day it was. That, together with the fact that the onboard heart rate monitor (HRM) was checking my pulse every 10 minutes, made Huawei’s battery life claim of six days somewhat impressive. That’s similar to the five-day estimate that Fitbit gives for the Charge 2. I’ve only been using the Fit for two days, so I can’t vouch for its endurance, but its indicator suggests the battery is still basically full.

In addition to tracking your pulse, the Fit is capable of quite a few tasks,though they’re all typical for the category. With its onboard accelerometer, gyroscope and HRM, it automatically keeps tabs on your steps, sleep, time elapsed, calories burned, cardio zone and distance traveled (when connected to your phone’s GPS). The new Huawei Wear app for iOS and Android also lets you create customized workout plans to meet goals such as running a 5K, 10K, half marathon or full marathon. The schedule will be beamed to your wrist so you can stay on target without having to pull out your phone.

For those who are interested in activities other than running, Fit also has workout modes for walking and cycling, and will follow your distance, time, fat burning and aerobic performance during those workouts. You can start a session from your wrist or from your phone, if you want to tap its GPS for distance tracking.

The Fit is rated IP68 and 5 ATMs for water resistance, which, in layman’s terms, means it can withstand submersion at up to 50 meters. The goal is to add swim tracking capability to the Fit by 2017, but this feature is not yet live.

Like many other fitness bands on the market, the Fit will remind you to get up and move if you’ve been idle for 30 minutes or longer. I got an alert in the middle of writing this story, and the watch showed an animated stick figure doing some stretches to prod me into action. (I ignored it because who has time for that?) And just like the rest of its competition, the Fit will buzz to alert you of incoming calls, texts and messages from apps such as WeChat and Facebook. The list of apps that can send notifications to the Fit is short at the moment, but Huawei says it’s working on adding more.

During my time with it, the Fit was slow to read my pulse. I’m used to the Charge 2’s speedy response time, so the relatively long 12 seconds I had to wait for the Fit’s readout probably drove my heart rate way up.

Folks with more patience can probably live with that delay (and the Fit’s other minor shortcomings) in exchange for its relatively low price. For the money, it offers a decent list of features, especially that constant HRM, and a clean design. But $20 is a small price to pay to upgrade to the more-powerful Fitbit Charge 2, which has a better display and faster sensor. Ultimately, the Huawei Fit’s biggest problem is that it simply doesn’t feel like something you’d spend $130 on. Huawei needs to drop the Fit’s price below $100 if it’s going to stand a chance against the competition.

31
Oct

iPad regains share in a shrinking mobile tablet market


Apple’s share of the tablet market has been sliding for a while, but it’s making a comeback… if not for the reasons the company might prefer. Strategy Analytics estimates that the iPad climbed from 19.1 percent of the market in the third quarter of 2015 to 19.9 percent a year later. However, that’s mainly because the market as a whole shrank 10 percent. The analysts believe that many tablet manufacturers’ shipments dropped year-to-year, and that Apple simply experienced a smaller decline than most. The one major exception is Amazon, whose $49 Fire tablet helped its shipments more than double.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple is on the wrong track. Strategy Analytics argues that the iPad Pro line puts Apple “on the path to recovery” by giving the company a laptop-like tablet that wasn’t an option before. However, it does show that Apple is consciously veering away from the strategies of its peers. Many of its Android rivals are shifting attention to 2-in-1 Windows tablets, like Lenovo’s Yoga series or Samsung’s TabPro S. Researchers say that Windows hybrid and tablet shipments jumped 25 percent year-over-year in the third quarter — some of those are bound to be from companies no longer convinced they can sell Android tablets as full-on computer substitutes.

The data suggests that the tablet market isn’t so much dying as maturing. Basic mobile tablets will still have an audience among those who just want to read books or watch video, but higher-end slates are taking hold. People want “everyday computing devices” that really can fill in for a conventional PC, according to analysts, and they’re willing to pay more for these devices.

Source: Strategy Analytics

19
Oct

Huawei opens preorders for its Honor 6X phone in China


A month after Huawei started selling its Honor 8 in the US, the company has opened up preordering for its 6X phones in China and to ship out on October 25th. While there’s no news about when that device will reach the rest of Asia, Europe or North America, because the 5X was the first phone in the Honor line to go on sale in the US back in January, it’s a good bed that its successor will follow in time.

As expected, the released spec list describes a beefier 5X, ditching the last generation’s Snapdragon 616 for Huawei’s in-house octo-core Kirin 655 processor. The lowest price tier gets you 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage for about $150, the middle boosts memory up to 4GB for around $190, and the top tier expands space to 64GB for about $240.

The 6X has a dual rear-facing camera (12MP and a second 2MP for depth), while its front one is a respectable 8MP. Like its predecessor, it supports dual-SIM functionality with a microSD slot, though 9to5Google couldn’t confirm whether it has a USB-C connector. It runs Huawei’s EMU 4.1 software on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow to start, with an update for Nougat likely on the way.

It’s not as powerful as the $400 Honor 8, which comes with a Kirin 950 processor, but the 6X has enough mid-range hardware at low prices to serve as a decent affordable option. At least its 5.5-inch 1080p display covered in 2.5D glass and all-metal build gives it a little class near the bottom of Huawei’s product family.

Via: 9to5Google

Source: FoneArena

10
Oct

Is the Huawei Honor 8 the midrange champion? (Review)


2016 is the year of the midrange phone. This year we’ve seen amazing offerings in the $400 range that push the limits of what we can expect from midrangers. It’s left a lot of us here at AndroidGuys wondering if it’s worth buying a flagship anymore. The OnePlus 3, ZTE Axon 7, Lenovo Moto Z Play, Alcatel Idol 4s, and Huawei Honor 8 represent the best of the best in terms of quality, but who takes the cake? We’ve spent a few weeks with the Honor 8 and it makes a pretty compelling case.

What’s the best $400 phone you can buy?

Specs

  • Display: 5.2″, 1080p LCD
  • Processor: Kirin 950 Octa-core processor
  • Storage: 32GB (expandable)
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Camera: Dual 12 MP, f/2.2 aperture (rear), 8 MP, f/2.4 aperture (front)
  • Battery: 3000mAh non-removable
  • Software: Android 6.0 with custom EMUI skin
  • Connectivity: Dual-Sim

    • 2G: 850/900/1800/1900
    • 3G: 850/1700 (AWS)/1900/2100
    • LTE Bands: 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/20

Read More: Reference guide to US carrier bands and networks

Build

If I were to tell you that you could get almost the exact same build quality of the Samsung Galaxy S7 while paying about half as much, would that interest you? Would you ask yourself how that was even possible? Well, I was certainly left wondering how Huawei pulled it off after I removed the Honor 8 from its packaging for the first time. I used the phone for about three weeks and was still constantly amazed at how well Huawei sandwiched glass and metal together to make this phone. It’s simply brilliant.

huawei-honor-8-9

 

The front of our blue review unit is simple, just the display, small bezels, a standard speaker earpiece/camera and proximity sensor up top with an Honor branding on the bottom. If the Samsung logo on the S7 and Note 7 bother you, the Honor branding might too, but I thought it looked nice without being too eye-catching or distracting.

The back of the phone is equally understated with just a fingerprint sensor, dual-camera setup, flash and honor branding at the bottom. You can see Samsung and Apple’s influence in the design for the Honor 8. It’s simple and doesn’t try to impress with a modular design, large front-facing speakers, or tactile buttons. Huawei kept it simple and let the materials impress those who are lucky enough to see it in person. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is the most visually stunning phone I’ve ever seen in person, but the Honor 8 is right behind it.

huawei-honor-8-3

 

With the premium build materials do come compromises, namely, fragility and slickness. The phone will absolutely slide off anything with an incline and any kind of fall onto bumpy surfaces will blemish the devices. At the end of a long drive, I sat the Honor 8 on the top of my car along with my keys and a few other things. I thought it was on a flat enough surface, but I was wrong and it slid onto our blacktop parking spot. Luckily the display was spared, but the corners took the brunt of the blow. No more nice beautiful phone, but it could have been worse. If you’re worried about dropping your phone, get a nice case or choose a different phone because it’s easy to scuff this one up.

Display

The display on the Honor 8 is a 5.2″ 1080p LCD display. Hardly the highest resolution display on the planet, but ask yourself if you truly need a 2560 x 1440p display at 5.2″. The Samsung Galaxy S7 has a 5.1″ QHD display and it truly is a thing to behold, but it’s more due to the AMOLED technology, deep blacks, and wonderful peak brightness rather than the pixel density. Huawei made the right call with “only” a 1080p display on the Honor 8.

The colors are vibrant and the blacks look great. Peak brightness won’t approach those in the upper echelon of devices- that’s one of the tradeoff’s you’ll make in this $400 device, but it does do well enough on cloudy days. Sunny days are another story. You’ll be covering the phone with your hand or running under cover to get a good grasp of what’s on your display.

huawei-honor-8-6

Auto brightness is better on the Honor 8 than most phones, but it does keep the display a bit dark. I kept my display at roughly 50% for the duration of the review period and was very happy. However, reading in bed was a bit of a pain. The display floor is pretty high and made for some squinting and eye strain in bed. If you like to read in bed you’ll probably need to download a third-party application from the app store to artificially lower the brightness.

Viewing angles are wonderful. If you often share your display with another while watching YouTube or Netflix on the couch at home or the train, you’ll be pleased with the Honor 8. I noticed no color shifting or distortion when viewed at even the most extreme angles.

Software

Software is the biggest area of difference between the Honor 8 and any other widely available Android device in the US market. The Honor 8 runs a heavily customized skin known as EMUI- or Emotion UI. These heavy skins are usually confined to the eastern markets of South Korea, Japan, China and others while we generally get lighter skins here in the States. EMUI takes a lot of what is great about Android and builds on it, but still has some head scratching decisions.

The biggest issue for me is the lack of app drawer. It’s 2016 and some companies, namely LG, have experimented with ditching the app drawer, but EMUI takes that step. I have used my fair share of iPhones and I love them for what they are, but part of the reason I use Android is for software functions like the app drawer. I don’t want three home screens full of folders that I have to search through for an app. Luckily you can swipe down on an empty space of the launcher to pull down a search bar that you can open apps from, much like on the iPhone.

Icons everywhere!Icons everywhere!

One of the smart improvements that the Honor 8 has is in the notification tray. A swipe down reveals all of your alerts, neatly tucked organized by what time they came in. It reminds me a lot of the timeline layout that Pebble uses in its smartwatches. A swipe to the right opens up your quick toggles. Unfortunately, you can’t customize what quick toggles you have or in which order they show up, but there are some smart toggles like Screenshot and WiFi hotspot toggles.

honor-8-notificationshonor-8-quick-settings

The app suite included with the Honor isn’t by any means bloated, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some bloatware here. You do get Huawei’s messaging app, gallery, theme store, music player, video player, calendar, clock, file browser, phone manager and email client. You’ll also see two folders named Tools and Top apps. The Tools folder has some of the usual suspects like a calculator, notepad, sound recorder and flashlight. Nothing too revolutionary. Top apps are all of the added bloatware like Facebook, Twitter, and Shazam. Luckily, these are uninstallable. I’ve said this before but if including these apps are what help companies keep the cost of phones down, I’m fine with it (as long as they are uninstallable).

During the review period, I did receive the September security update, so Huawei is doing a good job of staying on top of those. I would like to see when the Honor 8 receives Nougat, though, and what it looks like when it finally hits the phone. When a phone is heavily skinned like the Honor 8, updates tend to take a while because there are a lot of features to incorporate into a new operating system. That’s a lot of testing to make sure nothing is broken once those features are incorporated. If you care about the latest software updates you probably already own a Nexus device. If you care about cool features and aesthetics, the Honor 8 might scratch that itch.

Performance

The Honor 8 is powered by Huawei’s in-house Kirin 950 chip and represents the first phone in the US powered by it. The Kirin 950 is an octa-core chip with four 2.3GHz cores and four 1.8GHz cores. In real world usage, the chip feels comparable to the Snapdragon 820. Obviously, there are a lot of factors that go into how a phone feels but I’m basing my opinion on usage of the Samsung Galaxy S7, OnePlus3, LG G5, Motorola Z Force Droid, and Samsung Galaxy Note7 (which thankfully didn’t explode).

While I did experience minor hiccups, they were just that- minor and infrequent. Daily tasks like browsing Reddit, scrolling through my agenda in the calendar, checking social media apps, taking pictures, and watching videos on YouTube were frustration free. After turning the phone on, it did need time to “wind up”. I’ve seen this issue in Samsung phones as well where they’re difficult to use in the first couple of minutes after a reboot as processes get started. The Honor 8 wasn’t nearly as bad as some Samsung phones that I used, but the issue did exist.

Battery life was a big standout with the Honor 8. The smallish 5.2″ 1080p display combined with a power-efficient processor meant I was able to get through the day, even on heavy usage days, with battery left over. The only day I was reaching for a charger to top off was the first day I received the Honor 8 and that was due to the phone not having 100% battery out of the box and setting up all of my apps. If you have a charger in your car capable of quick charging or a charger at your desk, it’s very possible to not charge your phone at night and just continue topping off as needed. To say I was impressed with the battery life would be an understatement.

Camera

We’re starting to see more and more companies put dual cameras on the rear of phones to maximize mobile photography opportunities. Huawei was one of the first to do this with the Honor 8. The rear of the phone houses dual 12MP cameras, one lens to capture color and one monochrome. This design intends to let more light into photographs in low-light situations. While you will see some grain in these low-light situations, I was impressed at how well the Honor 8 was able to let in as much light as possible. When you’re able to use the flash, you will notice a huge difference. In the sample below, you would be forgiven if you though the brighter picture was taken during the day rather than at 7:30 at night in a dark room with only a television for light.

camera-sample-night-with-flashcamera-sample-night-without-flash

The cameras do even better in well-lit situations. A day at the ballpark and the beach left us with some truly excellent pictures. Here are some camera samples from my time with the Honor 8

Honor 8 camera samples

The camera app gives you more than just the bare-bones, too. I was impressed that a quick swipe to the left from the viewfinder found 16 different modes including pro and beauty modes for both photo and video, Good Food, Panorama, HDR, Night Shot, Light Painting, Time-lapse, Slow-mo, Watermark, Audio note, and document scan. While most of the modes will probably go completely untouched, it is nice to have them built-in to the camera app instead of needing to download third party applications if you ever do decide to use them.

honor-8-camera-modes

Conclusion

As lovers of technology, the writers here at AndroidGuys often engage in conversation about phones like the Honor 8, ZTE Axon 7, OnePlus 3, Moto Z Play, and the Idol 4S. It’s hard to pick which would be the “best” $400 phone since they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. But, the fact that we’re able to consider these phones over flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S7, LG V20, and HTC 10 means that the state of midrange phones has never been better.

huawei-honor-8-1

I really enjoyed my time with the Honor 8. I’ve used a lot of the phones released this year, and while it isn’t my favorite phone released in 2016 (Moto Z Play, in case you’re wondering) I would have no trouble recommending it to anyone. Huawei proves that they pay attention to detail and put a lot of work not only into the physical design of the phone but the software too.

The software may not be everyone’s idea of what they’d like to see on an Android device, but much like Samsung devices, Huawei was able to pack in a ton of features without making the device feel bloated. It feels sleek and cool like a cutting edge product no-one else has gotten their hands on yet. The Honor 8 is something completely different than what’s on the market right now and that’s a huge plus.

You can pick up the Honor 8 from Amazon, B&H Photo, or Newegg.

4
Oct

Huawei reportedly turned down Google’s new phone strategy


You may be wondering why Google appears to be going with HTC for this year’s Pixel phones instead of Huawei. Wasn’t the Nexus 6P a rousing success? Apparently, Huawei and Google aren’t getting along quite as well as you might think. An Android Police source understands that Huawei bristled at Google’s plan to take more control over its Android hardware, which included erasing any mentions of the phone builder’s name. Huawei wanted a larger footprint in the US, and it wasn’t going to get that by being reduced to a contract manufacturer.

The decision to back out wasn’t helped by trouble with the Nexus 6P launch, according to the tipster. Google had originally promised deals with all four big US carriers, but that never happened. Talks broke down, and the grand launch (which would have included a “multi-hundred-million dollar” ad strategy) was reduced to sales through Google and Huawei stores. Neither this nor the Pixel problem appears to have permanently soured the relationship between the companies (there may even be a Huawei-made Google phone in 2017), but Huawei would undoubtedly be frustrated.

The incidents may be hints of a broader problem with Huawei’s US division. Reportedly, the only device to get any significant traction is the cheap-but-capable Honor 5X. The GX8 (which shares ties with the Honor phone) has seen virtually no sales, while the MateBook is an “absolute flop.” There are hints that Huawei ousted most of its American leadership and has otherwise gone through major management changes in a bid to turn things around.

We’ve asked Huawei for comment on the report. Whether or not the Google stories are accurate, though, it’s no secret that Huawei hasn’t had the best time in the US. Outside of the Nexus 6P and Huawei Watch, the company doesn’t have much stateside recognition or a fiercely competitive lineup. Unlocked phones (beyond Google’s lineup) don’t garner nearly as much attention as their carrier-bound counterparts, and it’s hard to argue for the MateBook when the Surface Pro 4 is both better-known and better-built. In short, it’s not enough to show up — Huawei has to demonstrate that it compete with its biggest rivals on their home turf.

Source: Android Police

25
Sep

Honor 8 feature focus – Camera


While popular smartphone manufacturers like LG and Apple have just recently adopted dual camera configurations, Huawei has largely led the way, beginning with the Huawei P9. While the P9 never made its way to the United States, the Honor brand is now bringing its own dual camera tech to the US with the Honor 8.

More Huawei Coverage:

  • Honor 8 review
  • Huawei P9 feature focus – Camera

As we highlighted in our comprehensive review, the Honor 8 offers two factors that are often mutually exclusive: a high-end dual camera experience and an affordable price. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly the Honor 8’s camera is packing with our Honor 8 camera feature focus!

Buy Honor 8 now!

Technical Details

Before we jump into our image analysis, it’s worth reviewing the technical details of the Honor 8’s cameras. The primary configuration is composed of two lenses with f/2.2 apertures. Thanks to Honor’s unique technology, when you go to take a picture, the first lens captures a color image while the second lens captures a monochrome image.

This in itself may seem a bit futile, but when combined with some clever software processing, the Honor 8 is able to produce better, more vivid 12 MP images with crispier details. This can be primarily attributed to a greater availability of light ― up to three times more than a single lens, according to Honor.

This dual lens configuration, in addition to the fast aperture and larger 1.25 μm pixel size, are remarkably functional in lower-light conditions as well, which we’ll analyze below.

The cameras are accompanied by a dual-tone LED flash, which helps balance skin tones when using the flash. There’s also a laser module for laser autofocus, which is utilized in synchrony with contrast detection. Honor says that this improves the Honor 8’s autofocus speed, which is obviously very important when capturing time sensitive subjects.

Of course, we can’t forget about the 8 MP front-facing camera. It has an f/2.4 aperture, and you can view a couple sample images below.

Results

Normal mode
Beauty mode

Generally speaking, the front-facing camera produces great results. Yes, Honor’s Beauty mode is alive and well in the Honor 8’s camera software, but there’s now a slider to control the amount of skin softening. It’s fair to say that the results can still look slightly unnatural, but this effect can always be toned down from the default setting or turned off completely.

Honor 8 Camera Samples FF-33

The camera app also offers a myriad of primary camera modes, including but not limited to manual, panorama, HDR, time-lapse, and slow-mo. Each of these modes works as you would expect. In the panoramic image above, the Honor 8 did an excellent job with stitching each piece of the photo together.

Honor 8 Camera Samples FF-32

In this panoramic image, there are some areas where the stitching wasn’t perfect, but it’s still a great image overall.

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As we have seen with previous Honor smartphones, the Honor 8 includes a wide aperture mode which enables artificial background blur, up to f/0.95. The effect can be very fun to play around with and certainly gives otherwise plain looking images artistic looks.

This effect is still artificial though, and can stumble a bit in lower contrast scenes like the one on the left. Mainly, the processing software seems to have trouble isolating the banner from the cloudy sky in the background. Regardless of the sometimes disappointing results, this mode can really take your smartphone photography to a more creative level.

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HDR

Although there is an HDR mode which can be manually selected from the modes view, the normal auto mode often provides more than enough dynamic range, making many of the HDR photos virtually indistinguishable from the normal photos.

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Taking a closer look at those “normal photos,” you can see just how well the Honor 8 balances the highlights and shadows. In the left image, this can be seen especially when looking at the properly exposed sky and detailed darker areas. On the right, the sky is just a tad overexposed, but the statue in the center is surprisingly well detailed.

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Contrast is quite good across the board, actually, as can be seen in the images above. The Honor 8 also seems to do well with color saturation; images don’t come out oversaturated like they often do with the Samsung Galaxy S7, but they’re also still fairly punchy.

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Overall, the Honor 8’s camera captures great stills in good lighting. Sadly, video recording isn’t up to par with competing options. In addition to maxing out at 1080P/60p when most others go up to 4K/30p, the actual video quality is a bit under what you might expect. Colors appear muted in comparison to how they do in still images, and the software processing sometimes mixes up the correct white balance mid-shot.

There’s also no optical image stabilization, so it can be tricky to get a steady shot at times. It’s hard to recommend the Honor 8 for video because many competing options simply offer superior quality.

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In low-light conditions, the Honor 8’s camera offers surprisingly strong performance when compared to other affordable flagships. Granted, images do still appear noticeably noisy in dim conditions.

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Colors also appear less punchy and more muted, although there’s still a good amount of contrast overall. Detail can be a mixed bag and primarily depends on how steady you hold the phone when taking the shot. In order to compensate for the lack of light, the Honor 8 lowers the shutter speed, meaning that the sensor is exposed for a longer period of time.

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If you have shaky hands, this can be problematic when trying to capture the details of a low-light scene. Once you minimize camera shake, you’ll get noticeably better results. While the Honor 8’s camera isn’t as impressive in low-light when compared to phones like the Galaxy S7, it’s important to consider Honor’s competitive pricing.

In fact, perhaps the most impressing aspect here is how Honor was able to defy our expectations. One of the most pressing compromises with the vast majority of affordable smartphones is camera performance, yet the Honor 8 still manages to impress in this department.

That concludes our Honor 8 camera feature focus. How do you feel about the Honor 8’s camera? Is it enough to make you go out and purchase the Honor 8? Please do let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Buy Honor 8 now!

21
Sep

Huawei nova and nova plus review


HUAWEI recently announced two new mid-range Android smartphones: the nova and the nova plus. The nova is a 5.0 inch device with 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor. The nova plus is a 5.5 inch variant with the same basic internals. Following our hands-on first look at these two device, here is our full review.

Also check out:

  • HUAWEI P9 review
  • HUAWEI Mate 8 review
  • Nexus 6P review

Design

On the inside these two phones are almost identical, however on the outside they are quite different. The norm until now has been that the “plus” variant of a smartphone was essentially a carbon copy of its smaller sibling except with a bigger screen (and maybe a few extras), however that certainly isn’t the case here.

Both smartphones feature full metal unibody constructions, which makes them very sturdy, and allows for a nice and solid feel in the hand. The chamfered edges and the rounded corners give both phones a premium feel. Beyond that, the Nova looks a lot like a mini Nexus 6P, while the Nova Plus borrows its design language from the HUAWEI Mate series.

Although the design language is different on each device, the overall layout is the same on both. On the front is the 5.0/5.5 inch display along with the front facing camera and HUAWEI logo. Neither have capacitive keys as the navigation controls are on screen. On the left is the dual SIM tray which also doubles as the micro SD card tray (replacing one of the SIM cards). On the right is the volume rocker and then power button. On the top is the 3.5mm headphone jack along with a microphone. On the bottom is the USB Type-C port and the speaker grill. The nova plus has two grills, but there is only one speaker on each handset. Flip the phone over and you find the rear-facing camera, the fingerprint reader, a LED flash and another HUAWEI logo.

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It is from the back that the two phones look most different. The fingerprint reader is round on the nova but more square on the nova plus. The camera is central (with a bump) on the plus, but flush and more to one side on the nova.

Display

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On paper the displays for the phones are very similar (except the size). They are both IPS LCD panels and both have a Full HD resolution (i.e. 1920 x 1080). Both displays can be configured in the settings to alter the color temperature and both displays have the same level of brightness (450 nits). Obviously the screen on the nova plus is bigger (at 5.5 inches compared to 5.0 inches) and that means it has a lower pixel density (401 ppi compared to 443 ppi). When placed side-by-side the displays look very similar, however it I had to choose I would say that the nova plus has the better screen, but not by much.

Overall, both screens are crisp with good color reproduction that will provide a good experience regardless of what you’re doing on the screen. My only word of caution is that in very bright, direct sunlight you might find the displays a little hard to read.

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Hardware and performance

The HUAWEI nova and nova plus both feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 built using a 14nm process. This is certainly a mid-range processing package. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since today’s mid-range phones offer greater performance than some of the high-end devices of only a few years ago. In the CPU side you get eight 64-bit Cortex-A53 cores, clocked upto 2.0GHz. On the GPU side you get the Adreno 506, which supports OpenGL ES 3.1.

In terms of every day use you will find the Snapdragon 625 more than capable. The UI response was good, apps open and close quickly and with 3GB of RAM the multi-tasking capabilities are more than sufficient. If you are a power user then you will struggle with the Snapdragon 625, but for most users will handle just about everything you ask of it. Plus there is the added bonus that the Cortex-A53 core is one of the most power efficient 64-bit cores from ARM, which helps with battery life!

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Since the internals of both phones are very similar, both score the same in the popular benchmarks. For AnTuTu you can expect scores of 64969, while for GeekBench 4 the devices scored an average of 840 for the single core tests and 3112 for the multi-core tests. As for Epic Citadel you will get around 60 frames per second in High Quality mode, which is great. However when you bump the details up to Ultra High Quality mode then the GPU starts to struggle a little, scoring just 50 fps.

What that means in real world terms is that the nova and nova plus can handle normal productivity tasks (email, social media, web browsing) without any problems. It will also play 3D games reasonably well, but don’t expect the same level of performance as you would from a leading flagship device. I played Asphalt 8: Airborne and Riptide GP without any problems.

The fingerprint readers HUAWEI’s recent phones (including the Mate 8 and the P9) have been exceptional and I have come to expect nothing less from HUAWEI. The fingerprint readers on the nova and nova plus are equally as good. Since the fingerprint reader is on the back, you can wake and unlock your phone just by putting your finger on the reader. You can also use the fingerprint reader to trigger the shutter while taking photos, to swipe left and right when viewing photos in the gallery, or to answer a call.

Both phones feature a single speaker on the bottom edge, next to the Type-C USB port. The speakers are quite loud and the sound is reasonable considering that they aren’t front facing speakers. Like many smartphones, music can lack bass and sound a bit thin. I found that at full volume some tracks tended to distort and that the sound quality improved when the volume was actually turned down a notch or two. Comparing the nova with the nova plus, the sound quality is approximately the same, however the nova plus is the better of the two.

The nova has a 3020 mAh battery, which is impressive when you consider that the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the LG G5 both have smaller battery capacities. I ran a 3D test to measure the battery life while playing 3D games. According to my calculations you will be able to play 3D games for over 5 hours from a single charge. As for simpler tasks like browsing the web and watching video you should be able to get about 11 hours.

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The nova plus has a 3340 mAh battery, even bigger than the nova, mainly to compensate for the larger 5.5 inch display. I ran the same 3D test to measure the battery life while playing 3D games. According to my calculations you will be able to play 3D games for over 5 hours from a single charge. As for simpler tasks like browsing the web and watching video you should be able to get 11 hours.

Overall you will easily be able to get through a full day on either phone, maybe even two. My tests show that you should be able to get around 7 to 9 hours of screen-on time for both devices during a 24 hour period, of course depending on your usage.

Software

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The software experience is identical on the nova and the nova plus, with both running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, with HUAWEI’s Emotion UI 4.1 on top. If you have used a HUAWEI phone before, you will know what to expect here, and once again, you get a very iOS-like user interface, with no app drawer, transparency effects, and home pages filled with colorful icons. For some people the lack of a stock Android experience will be a stumbling block, especially the lack of an app drawer.

If you lack the EMUI launcher then it is also possible to replace it with an alternative like the Google Now Launcher. The trick is to make the Google Now Launcher the default under Settings -> Apps -> Advanced -> Default app settings -> Launcher.

However besides the cosmetic UI changes there are lots of additional features that you don’t get with stock Android including a floating dock, motion gestures, voice wake-up, a one-handed mode and HUAWEI’s own take on a “do not disturb” mode.

Under motion gestures you can enable motions like flip to mute, raise to ear to answer calls, and a tilt motion to move icons and widgets. The tilt motion feature works from the home screen editing mode. If you touch and hold an icon or widget you can move it to another screen by tilting the phone to the left or right. There is also the Knuckle gestures which allow you to take a screenshot by double tapping the screen with your knuckle, or drawing a letter to open an app. Both types of knuckle gesture can be disabled if you find they misfire.

Since the nova and nova plus both use on-screen keys, HUAWEI as added the ability to customize the order of the navigation buttons. By default the recent apps is on the right and the back button is on the left. However this can be reversed. It is also possible to add a fourth button for opening the notification panel. Tapping the icon is the equivalent to dragging the notification shade down from the top.

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HUAWEI has included a battery manager which gives you a high level of control over battery related features. For example you can set a power plan which will tweak the CPU according to your usage (and so save battery when possible). Other battery related options include a whitelist function to ensure that certain apps keep running after the screen is turned off and a power usage firewall which warns you about power hungry apps.

There is also an ultra power saving mode which will disable everything except calls and messages plus activate a simply monochrome UI. When running low on battery power this mode can add several more hours of usage.

Camera

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The camera is one area where the nova and nova plus differ significantly. The nova comes with a 12MP rear facing camera that can record video at 4K, plus an 8MP front facing camera. The nova plus has the better setup with a 16MP rear facing camera that includes OIS and 4K video, plus the same 8MP front facing camera.

The camera app is quite nice and includes some interesting features. As well HDR, panorama and the seemingly obligatory beauty mode, there is also a light painting mode, for long exposure shots. The built-in filters include car light trails, for capturing the trails of lights made by moving cars at night; light graffiti, for capturing trails of light in a dark environment; silky water, for silky smooth effects from running water; and star track, to capture the trails of stars and galaxies in the night! However you will need a very steady hand (or better still a tripod) to get the best results.

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There is also a super night mode, with a long exposure time for night time photos, a slow-motion mode, plus a special Good Food mode for taking close-up shots of your food! Two other interesting modes are the All-focus mode and the full manual (professional mode). The former allows you to refocus pictures post capture and change which object is in focus. The latter gives you control over the metering mode, the ISO speed, the shutter speed, plus the white balance. It also gives you full manual focusing control.

While the camera app is very capable, the actual pictures produced by these devices leave a lot to be desired. Pictures taken in ideal conditions come out quite nice, meaning the cameras are good for outdoor use in good light. However once you move indoors and the lighting is artificial then lots of noise creeps into the pictures.

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Both handsets are capable of videoing at 4K in 16:9 from both the rear camera and Full HD using the front facing camera. While the nova doesn’t include Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) it does have a software based image stabilization option when recording video.

Here are some sample shots from the nova so you can see for yourself:

And here are some sample shots from the nova plus:

Specifications

Display 5.0 inch IPS panel
1920×1080 resolution
5.5-inch IPS panel
1920×1080 resolution
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
CPU 8x ARM Cortex A53, upto 2.0 GHz 8x ARM Cortex A53, upto 2.0 GHz
GPU Adreno 506 GPU with support for
OpenGL ES 3.1
Adreno 506 GPU with support for
OpenGL ES 3.1
RAM 3GB 3GB
Storage 32GB + microSD 32GB + microSD
Cameras 12MP rear facing camera with 4K video, 8MP front facing camera 16MP rear facing camera with OIS & 4K video, 8MP front facing camera
Battery 3020mAh 3340mAh
Features Fingerprint scanner, USB Type C, Bluetooth 4.1 Fingerprint scanner, USB Type C, Bluetooth 4.1
OS Android 6.0 Marshmallow with EMUI 4.1 Android 6.0 Marshmallow with EMUI 4.1
Dimensions 141.2mm x 69.1mm x 7.1mm. 151.8 x 75.7 x 7.3mm
Weight 146g 160g

Gallery

Wrapping up

With 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, 4K video recording and Full HD displays then the nova and nova plus certainly have the hallmarks of a couple of upper mid-range devices. That is even more so for the nova plus with its built-in OIS and larger display. When I look at the specifications for the Qualcomm processor I myself wanting more, octa-core Cortex-A53 is very yesteryear, however the Snapdragon 625 is built using the latest 14nm fabrication process and as such it is more efficient than octa-core Cortex-A53 processors built on 28nm. I was hoping for a better Snapdragon processor from the 600 series, however after using the nova and nova plus for several days I must admit that the processor package works just fine. It isn’t the fastest and the GPU could be better, but for those looking to buy a phone in the mid-range (and not a flagship), it is more than adequate.

What do you think of the HUAWEI nova and nova plus? Do you plan to buy one, if so which one? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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