Sunday, April 30, 2017

Weekly Wrap-Up #31 : LG G6, Vivo V5S, Smartron, Google Pixel, Galaxy Note 7R & More….

phoneradar weekly wrapup

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The latest PhoneRadar weekly wrap up is here with all the latest happenings around the smartphones. While there are many smartphone launches happened in the last few of weeks, we have seen very few in the last seven days. The South Korean company, LG has brought its latest flagship device to the Indian market. Talking about the upcoming devices, we will be seeing few more major launches in the next few days in India and China. Also, check out the list of upcoming smartphones to know about the new smartphone launches that are scheduled for the next few weeks.

  • Unlike the earlier launched flagship devices, LG has brought it latest flagship device very soon to the Indian market. Last week, the company launched the LG G6 in India for Rs. 51,990. However, there are few interesting deals on Amazon India that bring the final price to around Rs. 45,000. It sports a 5.7-inch FullVision Display with Quad HD+ resolution and an unusual aspect ratio of 18:9. Under the hood is the last-gen Snapdragon 821 SoC coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage. There is a dual camera setup on the rear featuring dual 13MP sensors. It comes with a non-removable battery, and the device is now water and dust resistant. While the U.S variant includes the wireless charging option, the Indian variant features the 32-bit Quad DAC for Hi-Fi audio output.
  • The Indian smartphone brand Smartron has signed the 3G and 4G patents deal with the chip maker Qualcomm. With this deal, Smartron has a royalty-bearing patent license to develop, manufacture and sell WCDMA, CDMA2000, and 4G/LTE complete devices. Last year, the company launched the smartphone and the 2-in-1 tablet. In the next few days, the company is all set to unveil its latest product Apart from the smartphones, the company is more focused on the IoT products and has been developing the tronX platform. Qualcomm has been fighting in court with smartphone brands like Meizu in China and Apple in the U.S. However, it had also successfully made agreements with OPPO, Vivo and few other brands in the last few months.
  • Samsung has pulled off the Galaxy Note 7 devices from the market after the battery explosion fiasco. But due to the proper recycling process, the company is bringing the back the devices to the market as the refurbished units with a smaller battery. The latest reports hints about the Galaxy Note 7R (a.k.a Refurbished Galaxy Note 7) going on sale in June in South Korea via three carriers. It will come with the model number SM-935 and might cost $250 lesser the official launch price of original Galaxy Note 7. If you are excited to see the cheaper and refurbished Galaxy Note 7 in India, back in February, the company has officially denied the launch of the refurbished device. Though we can’t confirm the availability of the device in India, we don’t think refurbished units will be made available in the most of the Western market due to their strict laws.
  • In 2015, Lenovo launched the new ZUK brand to compete with the online exclusive brands like OnePlus and Xiaomi. While the company already sells the smartphone through Lenovo and Moto brands, the new ZUK hasn’t seen the popularity to generate the sales. Last year, the company also made the ZUK devices available in the India but with the Lenovo branding. Now, the latest reports from China hints at the closing down of the ZUK brand in the next few weeks. While everyone expected to see the upcoming flagship device ZUK Z3 that is also rumored to feature bezel-less display. Even the Lenovo is said to kill the Lenovo brand in the smartphone world. The company seems to focus on the Moto brand which has a decent recognizing the most parts of the world. As there is no official confirmation, take these details with a pinch of salt.

  • Vivo had launched the Vivo V5S smartphone in India as an upgraded variant to the Vivo V5. The device is priced at Rs. 18,990 and comes with similar specification as on the Vivo V5 which is now retailing at Rs. 15,000. It will be available in Crown Gold and Matte Black color options. The Vivo V5S sports a 5.5-inch HD display and is powered by MediaTek MT6750 SoC. There is 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage with a MicroSD card slot. The USP of the device is its 20MP selfie camera with a Moonlight flash and f/2.0 aperture. There is also a 13MP primary camera on the rear with PDAF and LED flash. With the dedicated AK4376 audio chip, the Vivo V5S will surely give better audio output than other devices. It is backed by a 3,000mAh non-removable battery and supports dual SIM dual standby. Connectivity options include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, 3.5mm Audio jack, and MicroUSB 2.0 port.
  • Xiaomi has officially entered the Russian smartphone market by launching the Mi MIX, Mi Note 2, and Redmi 4X smartphones. While China and India are the two most important markets for the company, it has been selling its devices in Africa and Southeast Asian countries. The Xiaomi smartphones are also sold in the middle east countries. In Russia, the company has partnered with the local distributor RDC to sell its smartphones via RDC’s online and offline stores. The Xiaomi Mi MIX comes with 6GB of RAM and 256GB of storage is priced at RUB 39,990 (approx $700 / Rs. 45,000). It also comes with the 18K golden rings around the fingerprint and rear camera module. The Mi Note 2 with 6GB RAM and 128GB of internal storage comes with a price tag of RUB 34,990 (approx $615 / Rs. 39,500). Talking about the entry-level Redmi 4X, it comes with a price tag of RUB 12,990 (approx $230 / Rs. 14,700).

For more information related to any single topic, you can take the help of our search box placed on the top.

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Best Mobile Phones to Buy in India Below Rs 5,000 – May 2017

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The affordable smartphones are getting better with the fierce competition among the manufacturers. While the smartphone sales reached the saturation point in China, the Chinese brands are more focused on the Indian smartphone market. Most of the lesser known brands are entering the Indian market by launching the low-cost VoLTE smartphones. Even the Indian brands are now fiercely competing to capture more market share among the first-time smartphone users. Most of the devices under Rs. 5,000 price range now support 4G VoLTE and can be used with Jio 4G SIM.

Lephone W7 – Rs. 4,690

In the month of April, a new smartphone brand called Lephone has entered the Indian smartphone market. The Lephone W7 priced at Rs. 4,690 is the first smartphone to be made available in India. It comes with 22 Indian regional languages support on the system level. The device sports a 5-inch FWVGA (854 x 480 pixels) display on the front with a 2.5D curved glass laid on top. It actually runs on the 360 OS based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Under the hood is the unspecified quad-core processor clocked at 1.3Ghz and comes coupled with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of onboard storage. There is a 5MP camera on the rear with LED flash and a 2MP camera on the front for selfies and video calls. It offers dual SIM dual standby support with the 4G VoLTE connectivity option for a single SIM. With the Dual Account feature, the user can have two Whatsapp or Facebook apps on this device.

Buy Now: Lephone W7

Micromax Bharat 2 – Rs. 3,599

After months of leaks and rumors, the Micromax Bharat 2 smartphone recently went on sale. It can be purchased from the retail outlets and is priced at Rs. 3,599. The Bharat 2 is a low-cost VoLTE smartphone from the new Bharat series, whereas the Bharat 1 is a VoLTE enabled feature phone. It comes with a polycarbonate shell and sports a 4-inch WVGA (800 x 480 pixels) display on the front. Under the hood is the Spreadtrum SC9832 quad-core SoC which also powers many other low-cost VoLTE smartphones. However, it comes wth just 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. In 2017, we don’t think these specifications will offer the maximum potential of a smartphone. In the camera department, there is a 2MP rear camera and a VGA front camera. The Bharath 2 VoLTE smartphone runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow and is backed by a 1,300mAh battery. Though there are many others alternatives for a good a VoLTE smartphone, most of those devices are limited to online stores.

Buy Now: Micromax Bharat 2

Sansui Horizon 1 – Rs. 3,999

The Japanese company Sansui in partnership with Flipkart launched a new smartphone called Sansui Horizon 1. It comes with a price tag of just Rs. 3,999 and is exclusive to Flipkart. On the front is a 4.5-inch FWVGA (480×854 pixels) display and beneath that are the three capacitive navigation buttons. Much like a recently launched low-cost smartphone, the Horizon 1 also offers 4G VoLTE support for using with the Jio 4G SIM. It is powered by Spreadtrum SC9832 quad-core processor clocked at 1.3GHz. It includes 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage with a MicroSD card slot. It also packs a 5MP rear shooter, a 3.2MP selfie shooter, and a 2,000mAh battery. Connectivity options on this dual SIM device include 4G, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, 3.5mm Audio port, and a MicroUSB 2.0 port. Following the recent Government guidelines, the company also provided a panic button that sends the required information along with the location in case of emergency situations.

Buy Now: Sansui Horizon 1

Ziox QUIQ Flash 4G – Rs. 4,444

Ziox is another lesser known smartphone manufacturer to launch a low-cost VoLTE smartphone.The Ziox QUIQ Flash 4G priced at just Rs. 4,444 competes with other entry-level smartphones. It comes enabled with VoLTE & ViLTE and also supports dual SIM dual standby. The device can be purchased from Shopclues and is available in Champagne Gold and Black color options. It is also said to come with 21 Indian regional languages support. It sports a 5-inch FWVGA display that comes protected by a Dragontrail Glass on top. The 1.3GHz quad-core processor on the Ziox QUIQ Flash 4G comes coupled with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of onboard storage. There is also a MicroSD card slot for further expansion of storage. It runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow with the customized UI on top. Talking about the cameras, there is a 5MP rear camera with LED flash and a 2MP front camera for selfies and video calls. Compared to other smartphones at this price range, the Ziox QUIQ Flash 4G is kept powered on by a 2450mAh battery.

Buy Now: QUIQ Flash 4G

iVoomi Me 1 & Me 1+ – Starting from Rs. 3,999

iVoomi is another smartphone manufacturer that has been launching the entry-level 4G VoLTE smartphones in India. It has earlier launched the iVoomi iV505 smartphone and last month, the company unveiled a new Me series by launching the iVoomi Me 1 and Me 1+ smartphones. Both these new devices are priced at Rs. 3,999 and Rs. 4,999 respectively. They also support 4G VoLTE for accessing faster data speeds and making HD video calls. The iVoomi Me 1 and Me 1+ smartphones come with a 5-inch HD (1280 x 720 pixels) display with a 2.5D curved glass on top. While the Me 1 comes with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, the Me 1+ packs 2GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage. These devices are coming with Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box, but the company has promised to release the Nougat update soon. For selfies, both the devices are equipped with a 5MP sensor. The 3,000mAh batteries on the Me 1 and Me 1+ should easily last for more than a day of usage.

Buy Now: iVoomi Me 1

Buy Now: iVoomi Me 1+

ZOPO Color M4 – Rs. 4,999

ZOPO has launched a new entry-level smartphone called Color M4 in India. The plastic built smartphone comes with a 4-inch WVGA (800 x 480 pixels) display and is powered by MediaTek MT6737M quad-core processor clocked at 1.3GHz. There is 1GB of RAM which should be decent enough at this price. It also has 16GB of internal storage that can be further expanded via MicroSD card slot. The Color M4 sports a 5MP rear camera and a 2MP front-facing camera. On the connectivity front, the device supports 4G VoLTE which should make the device to work with the Jio 4G SIM. There are other basic connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, MicroUSB 2.0 port. With all these specifications and a smaller form factor, the Zopo Color M4 is backed by a 1,450mAh battery that might not give more than day-long battery life. It comes in Peach, Matte White, Caribbean Blue, Indigo, and Charcoal Black color options. Unlike the many other Chinese smartphone brands, the Color M4 can be purchased from your nearby retail store.

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Usenet Farm

If there’s one obvious pattern in the newsgroup industry, it’s that many of the leading providers are based in the Netherlands – and Usenet Farm is no different. The service is aimed at people who want a powerful yet affordable offering that puts privacy at the forefront.

Unlike other Usenet providers, you don’t need to enter all your personal details to use the platform. There aren’t any registration forms or passwords, meaning you don’t have to worry about your information being sold on to third parties, or spending time logging in. Instead, you just enter an email address and you’re sent a special login link.

There’s also an emphasis on anonymity. The company will only store your name and country, rather than all your personal details. And you have the option to pay for your account through Bitcoin, so no one will be able to track your payment details or transactions. As you can see, privacy is definitely at a premium here.

The company has also made a commitment to be transparent and listen to customers. It doesn’t offer services you don’t need, and when choosing a plan, you know exactly what you’re getting – there aren’t any hidden extras that may end up costing you more.


Retention is always important when it comes to performance – it refers to the amount of time articles are stored. Rates differ from provider to provider, although many offer over 1,000 days, and some over 3,000 days. Usenet Farm boasts a binary retention of 900 to 1,100 days. That’ll be fine for most users, and of course, these numbers can change over time.

Another key point about this company is that it’s capable of checking other Usenet services, if an article can’t be found on its own platform. Usenet Farm can also tap into Abavia (XS News) and Highwinds for articles. You get multiple platforms for the price of one, essentially.

UI and support

For any piece of software, the user experience is crucial. Fortunately, Usenet Farm does fine on this front, with a smooth interface and dedicated dashboard for members that allows for the viewing of statistics about your usage. This can be accessed via the main website, so you don’t need any additional components or software to get it working.

If you have a slow broadband connection, you can run into problems. While Usenet Farm aims to max out your connection speed as best as possible on anything but the most basic plan, if you run into performance issues, there are troubleshooting tips on the website’s FAQ page.

The firm also supports NTD/DMCA take-down, so you can report illegal content and it’ll be removed. There’s a specific form to facilitate this. In terms of other aspects of customer support, you can contact a member of the team via the website, and Usenet Farm aims to respond to tickets within 24 hours.


Usenet Farm is not only affordable, but it doesn’t overwhelm you with subscription options.

The cheapest plan (cheekily named ‘stingy’) costs €4.95 (£4.20, $5.40) monthly, and you get 24Mbps of speed, 2TB of data and 40 connections. For the €7.95 (£6.75, $8.70) ‘To the max’ monthly plan, you’re given unlimited speed, 3TB of data and 40 connections. Lastly, you can get a block plan for a one-off payment of €15 (£12.70, $16.40). With this, you get unlimited speed, 500GB of data and 50 connections.

It’s worth mentioning that with the first two monthly plans, the data limit is simply a ‘fair-use’ allowance. In other words, you can download more than this, but after the data allowance has been exceeded, your download speed will be capped to 8Mbps for the remainder of the month. It will revert to the normal speed limit when the next monthly period arrives.

Final verdict

Usenet Farm is an interesting offering. It may not be as accommodating as other platforms when it comes to retention rates, but the firm makes up for this with a generous data allowance. As well as this, it’s good to see that this provider is keen to please on the privacy front.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Samsung Galaxy J3 Prime with Android 7.0 Nougat Officially Launched

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The U.S carriers have started shipping the pre-ordered Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus smartphones to their users. Now, Samsung has launched its latest budget smartphone Galaxy J3 Prime in the U.S. The device specifications are already revealed in several leaks, and now, we can officially confirm them. It will be available through T-Mobile and MetroPCS and will be retailing at an outright price of $150 or just $6 per month on a 24-month contract. It comes only in Black color option. Considering its cheap price tag, the Samsung Galaxy J3 Prime comes with a polycarbonate shell.

Talking about the specifications, the Galaxy J3 Prime comes with a 5-inch display with HD (1280 x 720 pixels) resolution. Under the hood is the Exynos 7570 quad-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz and comes coupled with Mali-T720 GPU. There is also 1.5GB of RAM which should be good enough for regular smartphone usage. While multitasking on this device will not be that perfect, the users can play games and use social media apps without any lag. It has 16GB of internal storage that can be further expanded up to additional 128GB using the MicroSD card slot.

It runs on latest Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box with the customized TouchWiz UI laid on top. On the camera front, there is a 5MP rear camera with f/1.9 aperture and LED flash and a 2MP selfie camera. It comes backed by a 2600mAh battery that might not give more than a day long battery life. According to the company, it will give up to 20 hours of talk time and lasts up to 20 days standby time. Connectivity options on this device include Cat.4 LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, 3.5mm Audio port, and a MicroUSB 2.0 port. The device measures 139.7 x 69.85 x 8.89 mm and weighs 148 grams.

Read More: Samsung Galaxy S8 Smartphones launched in India, prices starts at 57,900 INR

Beneath the display, there is a physical home button with two capacitive navigation button on either side of it. The loudspeaker and the power button are placed on the right edge of the device, while on the left edge is the volume rocker. The SIM and MicroSD card slot are placed on the back of the device, which can be seen by removing the rear plastic panel. Even the Galaxy J5 2017 and J7 2017 also comes with the similar design with large camera strip on the rear. As of now, there is no information about the availability of these devices in the other markets.

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Dell Latitude 12 7202 Rugged Tablet

The Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet is not your standard slate – the device is targeted at those who usually slave away on an oil exploration project or work in the Amazonian tropical rainforest (as a biologist maybe).

It is designed to be dropped, bashed about, and generally undergo all sorts of treatment that would pretty much be guaranteed to destroy any consumer-grade tablet. As such, this is no ordinary slate and shouldn’t carry the same expectations as your average model.

That’s also probably why Dell has yet to release a new version – this one has been around for nearly two years and is still being sold despite having a Broadwell-based processor.

Longer product cycles ensure that platforms mature slowly, especially as the capital investments involved are often an order of magnitude bigger compared to the consumer market.

To say that this is a solid tablet would be a massive understatement; it has been designed and manufactured to withstand extreme conditions.

It has IP65, MIL-STD-810G and IP-810G certifications (rather than merely meeting the standards in laboratory tests), and these prove that the Latitude 12 7202 has a thick skin and should give other rugged tablets like the Xplore R12 (iX125 R1) or the Getac RX10 a run for their money.

At 312 x 203 x 24mm, it is fairly large for a tablet with an 11.6-inch display, while its weight – 1.79kg with two 2-cell 26Whr hot-swappable batteries – puts it in the ‘mildly-transportable’ category (as opposed to easily portable). You can only operate this device at arm’s length for only a short time before experiencing muscular discomfort (although your mileage may well vary).

The Latitude 12 is built mostly to withstand harsh environments, not win design contests, which explains a lot of pragmatic/functional decisions made by Dell.

There are massive rubber bumpers on the corners and the rubber enclosure itself is a couple of centimetres thick in order to protect the screen, arguably the most fragile component. The latter is also protected by the use of Gorilla Glass 3 technology in its construction.

Look around the tablet and you will find that most ports are covered with rubber flaps to prevent damage. Opening and closing them will be an issue if you wear gloves and it is worth noting that they can’t be locked. Dell also used a patented HZO liquid protection technology to stop water from killing your tech.

Default ports include USB 3.0, micro-serial port, mini-HDMI, microSD card reader, an audio combo connector and the power connector, which can be used with other compatible 45W Dell laptop power adaptors (like the one on the 2015 edition of Dell’s XPS 13).

Given the varied markets the Latitude 12 is expected to operate in, the tablet has an extensive range of connectors as well, including POGO-pin ports for a docking keyboard and a modular expansion pack.

A FIPS 201-certified smart card reader (with a nifty unit conversion cheat card), a fingerprint reader with TPM (v1.2), Bluetooth 4.0, Dual RF pass-through (Wi-Fi and mobile broadband), NFC, a 4G/LTE modem and 802.11ac Wi-Fi complete the list of connectivity options.

Note also the presence of air vents to cool the device. Even if that sounds counterintuitive given the rugged nature of this tablet, these slits doesn’t prevent it from being reasonably water-resistant. Dell uses a proprietary fan-based thermal management system that combines both passive and active cooling to keep the slate cool.

During our hands-on time with the device, the fan did work for reasonably long spells and we noticed that the tablet warmed up significantly, especially under load.

As expected, all the physical buttons (power, Windows, volume up/down, three programmable buttons and auto-rotate) require far more pressure to register than traditional tablets out there. Not only does that prevent accidental inputs, it also makes them easier to work with gloves. We further appreciated the fact that pressing the buttons causes the device to buzz and vibrate, so you know they’ve been pressed.

The tethered stylus slots nicely in the body of the tablet. It’s not as stylish as the active models, but at least you don’t have to charge it regularly and the pen will work regardless of the immediate environment.

At the heart of the Dell Latitude 12 7202 is the Broadwell-based Intel Core M-5Y71 CPU, a dual-core processor with a tiny 4.5W TDP and a base clock speed of 1.2GHz. It can overclock to 2.5GHz and down-clock to 800Mhz. The graphics subsystem is Intel’s HD Graphics 5300.

Our sample came with 8GB of dual-channel LPDDR3 1600MHz memory and a 128GB SSD (an M.2 2280 model from Lite-On) which was half full. There are two cameras with the front one sporting an interesting flap that allows the user to physically obstruct the lens.

The display, a glove-capable 11.6-inch 10-point multi-touch resistive screen, has a 1366 x 768 pixel resolution which is low, but this can be explained by the fact that, in the markets targeted by the Latitude 12, accuracy and battery life are far more important than the need to cram in as many pixels as possible.

The screen is not as bright as one would expect, although it does a decent job outside thanks to its matte finish. The tablet runs Windows 10 Pro and carries Dell’s solid three-year ProSupport and Next Business Day On-Site Service as default.

Oddly, while Dell included a full array of its own applications (Data Protection, Backup and Recovery, Rugged Control Center etc), there were also a couple of surprising additions like Deezer and Candy Crush Soda Saga; hardly enterprise-grade applications.

In use, the older Broadwell processor posted a decent score in our benchmark testing, although one can only wonder what a Kaby Lake upgrade might bring to the tablet (for a hint, check out the Xplore R12 which boasts a far faster Core i7-7500U Kaby Lake CPU).

The storage could also use an upgrade from a 128GB SSD. The limited capacity and lack of free space could explain why the Lite-On drive performs poorly on CrystalDiskMark and Atto in write tests (as opposed to read).

As for the battery life, the Latitude 12 7202 managed 4 hours 26 minutes with 27% battery left on our standard test (streaming a YouTube count-up video with brightness set to 50%). Extrapolating that number, one can expect the tablet to last just over six hours.

Early verdict

Dell sells the Latitude 12 7202 with two batteries for £1,599 (around $2,040, AU$2,700) excluding VAT and delivery. Options worth mentioning include a self-encrypted drive, a desktop dock, kickstand, keyboard cover with a kickstand, an extended IO module and a scanner module.

Compared to the competition, this is almost a bargain although we suspect that Dell is currently doing a bit of a clear-out – the device carries an official SRP of £2,284 (around $2,920, AU$3,860).

There are some issues here, as we’ve discussed – like a small SSD and an older-generation CPU – but these flaws can’t distract from the value proposition represented by this tablet at the current price.

Some users are reporting about random restarts on their Galaxy S8 smartphones

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Samsung‘s latest flagship i.e. the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus are undoubtedly the best smartphones which we have seen so far. They look absolutely stunning with that infinity display goodness and all that. However, ever since the day when the devices started shipping to users, most people have started complaining about various issues with their smartphones. Firstly we saw how these devices are showing signs of Red tints on the display for some users. And now we have yet another complaint.

According to the new reports which we have, few users of the Galaxy S8 smartphones are facing random restarts. Yes, few buyers of the device have now complained on both XDA Developers and the company’s official forum saying that their devices are randomly getting restarted. According to the reports it looks like this issue is happening on both Galaxy S8 as well as the Galaxy S8 Plus and hence it is hard to predict as to what exactly is causing the issue right now.

Most people are pointing towards the biometrics for being responsible for this. Apparently having both the fingerprint reader and the face recognition feature enabled at the same time locks up the phone. Do make a note that this is not yet confirmed officially but is being predicted as one of the cause for this issue. Also if you head over to the source link, then you will find out there are a lot of opinions on this as to why this could be happening and hence we suggest you stay patient until we have some confirmation from the company directly.

One of the user reported that when we got in touch with Samsung regarding this, he was asked to get a replacement unit from the retailer of the device. Well, we just hope that this issue is not something very serious and we will be seeing a fix for this very soon. But for the time being, Samsung has not yet officially addressed this issue and hence we will have to wait for any further communication from their end.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Rumor suggest LG G6 Mini Smartphone may launch soon

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LG has just recently launched the new G6 smartphone here in India, a couple of months after it’s official announcement at MWC 2017. This new flagship from LG improves upon what the G5 offered in a lot of different ways. The G6 is so much more refined and feels a lot like a premium device, which is what it is supposed to be like since it is a flagship device. However, for most people, it might not be an ideal package due to a lot of reasons. To begin with, it is a lot taller than most other smartphones due to its aspect ratio just like the Galaxy S8.

Well, yes there are a lot of reason as to why you might want a smaller version of the G6 and if you are one of those, then we might have a good news for you. According to the recent rumors which we have, it looks like the company is planning on launching the G6 Mini very soon. As the name suggests, this is going to be more like a toned down version of the smartphone with a compact design and we might also see some internal specs changes as well.

Now talking about the hardware, the G6 Mini is expected to sport a 5.4″ display on the front. Rumor has it that it will also retain the same aspect ratio of 18:9 which is again going to make it taller than usual devices. It is also reported that it will have a screen-to-body ratio of just under 80-percent. The fact that the smaller version of the G6 is making its debut, is definitely a good news for people who are always on the lookout for devices with smaller form factor.

Unfortunately, if you are looking for the internal specs of the device, then we don’t really have a lot of info on that just yet. It will be interesting to see if the Mini version will carry over the specs of the G6 or it will have more of a mid-ranged specs. And it also looks like the company will be focusing more on promoting these devices in emerging markets rather than pushing it in the U.S where they will be focusing more on selling the G6.

We do hope that the internal specs remain more or less the same since it would give the company an edge over the competition by having more than just one variant. However, as mentioned earlier, it is going to be interesting to see how this plays out for the company if we will actually be seeing the new Mini version of the smartphone. Having said that we would like to know what do you think about this. Would you be interested in buying the smaller variant of the device of would you rather pick up the regular variant itself. Be sure to let us know by dropping a comment down below and also, stay tuned to PhoneRadar for more info like this.

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Medion Erazer X7849

There’s something to be said for aspiring to move away from a full-sized desktop and towards a more portable, low-space notebook. The latest Erazer gaming laptop from Medion is technically portable: at 17 inches on the diagonal, it’d be considered a desktop replacement.

Packing an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, a 480GB solid-state drive (SSD), an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics chip and a G-Sync enabled, 17.3-inch, IPS 1080p screen, this Erazer isn’t about to rob you of a desktop-grade gaming experience just for shrinking down a bit.

This is a system more than capable of driving any of the latest AAA titles at a full 60 frames per second (fps) at 1080p, in beautifully color accurate detail with little to any worry. Couple that with Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, and watch as screen tearing and frame drops become a thing of the past.

Price, availability and value

But, with an asking price of £1,699 (about $2,199, AU$2,937), is the Erazer worth plunking down that much for a recently-dated processor and an apparent lack of spinning storage? That is a huge chunk of money, regardless of how you look at it, especially for the spec sheet this laptop touts, compared to the desktop competition much less laptops.

Don’t believe us? As of this writing, for £1,706 you could get a Ryzen 7 1700 CPU, Samsung 850 Evo 500GB SSD, 1TB Seagate HDD, 32GB of HyperX DDR4 memory, a Gigabyte GTX 1070 and a 27-inch, BenQ 1440p IPS screen – with a solid set of peripherals – for almost exactly the same amount of cash. 

That’s a system with four times as much computational power, three times as much storage, twice as much memory, running on a screen that’s 10 inches larger and at twice the resolution.

Ultimately, you’re paying for that portability. For that same money or less, you could have an HP Omen 17, replete with one of the latest Intel Core i7 processors (Kaby Lake) as well as a 128GB SSD + 1TB hard drive (HDD) combo. Likewise, you can get a custom-built Origin EON17-X laptop for a few more hundred bucks with more recent hardware.

And, honestly, we just don’t see a big portability play here with the Erazer. It’s big, it’s bulky and it’s just too much to cart on a commute. What does that leave you with? A system that you essentially still leave in one place from day to day.

As for availability, Medion serves both the US and UK as well as most of western Europe.


That said, the Erazer is truly a beauty. Although the LED lighting, situated around the trackpad and the back of the screen, may be less than appealing to those looking for a sleeker, more professional device, the soft touch finish wrapping the rest of the system is simply stunning.

And, while it’s certainly not the most portable of notebooks, the sharp angles situated around the design keep it looking sleek. The bezel is a little chunkier than we’d like, and the standard membrane keyboard leaves much to be desired (especially for the price), but there’s a lot to be said for it.

What did impress, however, was the cooling system. No doubt due in part to its large size, but it was rare for us to hear the fans ramp up, if at all. 

That said, unsurprisingly, the fans are somewhat whiney when they do kick in, but they’re nothing that a good pair of headphones can’t drown out. While, frankly, you shouldn’t have to, most of the time you’ll be buried into a good game, so it’s not something we’ll get too hung up on with how rarely it happens.

The I/O, on the other hand – oh boy, what a compliment. With the Erazer, you could effectively run three additional displays attached to this monster.

Memory abound, storage absent

Storage, however, is one area in which the Erazer really comes unglued. In short, you get a single 480GB SSD. Fill that up with your run-of-the-mill OS programs, and you’ll be left with less than 280GB for games – not ideal. Considering the Erazer nears the £1,700 mark, and given it’s humongous dimensions, we have to ask: why no additional HDD?

Fortunately, the situation regarding memory is far merrier. With two out of four available DIMMs taken up with two 8GB RAM modules of DDR4 RAM, meaning you could throw another 16GB in for good measure, to give you a total of 32GB, which useful for media rendering tasks. 

However, in that scenario, a seriously beefy external HDD, or a dedicated NAS, would almost be a necessity.


Computational performance was a little lower than we expected, averaging below 700 on CineBench R15’s multi-threaded performance, as to be expected from the mobile Skylake processor buried at the heart of this wee beastie. 

That last point is a bit of a stickler for us. At this point in time, Skylake is looking positively old in the world of advancing processors. Although Kaby Lake launched early in 2017, the mobile parts have been available since before December. 

On top of that, Kaby Lake X, Intel’s next generation processor, is supposedly right around the corner, meaning we could soon see a slew of new mobile parts hit the mainstream. Couple that with AMD promising Ryzen mobile parts within the next quarter, and the aging Skylake core looks positively decrepit.

Does that mean the Core i7-6700HQ is chump change at this point? Yes and no. It’s still a serious contender, even in its mobile form factor, equalling roughly the same processing power as any keen-eyed Core i5-6600K desktop-side. If you’re looking to dabble in video rendering and editing on the move, it should be more than plenty to whet your appetite.

As for graphics performance, the Erazer is well outclassed by the Origin EON17-X we reviewed last winter and on par with the HP Omen 17 of fall 2016.

A battery bummer

But, the big one is battery, right? In our testing, we found that during intense video playback, the battery lasted 2 hours and 37 minutes. So, enough to get the latest Marvel film done and dusted, and maybe go through some bonus features, but not quite long enough to get a good Peter Jackson ode to New Zealand quite all the way through.

Similarly, the PCMark 8 Home battery test reported a somewhat lackluster 2 hours and 53 minutes. Both of these figures are expectedly a far cry from the 4 hours promised by Medion.

Final verdict

Ultimately, the Erazer is a fine piece of work. Its soft touch finish makes the product feel premium enough, but it doesn’t tout the aluminium stylings we’ve seen from similarly-priced Asus, HP or Dell laptops. 

That said, this laptop should feel like home to any who spend the majority of their free time gaming, its frame resisting sweaty fingerprints and greasy food stains. Performance is solid, dependable even. And, the coupling of that GTX 1070 with a 1080p screen should mean you’re set for any AAA title that launches over the next two to three years at least, without tweaking any major settings.

The price, though, and the lack of portability that comes with it, makes the Erazer less appealing than we’d hoped. If a spinning hard drive was thrown into the mix, we could perhaps forgive it, but for what Medion is asking, well, it’s just a little too much for what’s on the table.

Welcome to TechRadar's 3rd annual PC Gaming Week, celebrating the almighty gaming PC with in-depth interviews, previews, reviews and features all about one of the TechRadar team’s favorite pastimes. Missed a day? Check out our constantly updated hub article for all of the coverage in one place.


California-based Arvixe has been hosting personal and business websites since 2003, and is now owned by Endurance International Group, the company behind tech names like, Bluehost, iPage, and more.

Arvixe has a huge number of products, and the website tries to cover them all. That includes personal hosting, business hosting, reseller, VPS, blog hosting, ecommerce, CMS, forums, and just about anything else you might want.

The baseline shared hosting plan, PersonalClass, seems to offer excellent value. $4 (£5) a month gets you unlimited disk space, bandwidth, databases, FTP accounts and email addresses. There's cPanel access, a free SiteBuilder and Softaculous one-click installations. Daily backups come as standard, and the free domain isn't just for year one – Arvixe will pay its renewals for as long as you stay with the company.

The only significant limit we could see is that the plan only supports six domains, but that's hardly unusual. Many starter accounts only allow one.

One concern we had was a ‘priority support’ add-on for $20 (£25) a month. Most hosts claim to offer great support as standard, so the idea that you might find it worth paying $240 (£300) a year to get better help isn't exactly reassuring. 

So, what do you get for this substantial extra outlay? Clicking the website icon to find out displayed a blank page, unhelpfully. The purchase page told us that priority support gets your tickets answered by more knowledgeable staff, which again makes us wonder who else is dealing with regular queries.

At any rate, we would find out more about Arvixe’s support in our own tests, which we’ll detail later in this review. But if you run into problems yourself, Arvixe's generous 45-day money-back guarantee gives you more time than usual to find and deal with them.

Account setup

The Arvixe website provides much more detail than many hosts on the low-level specs of its plans. You don't have to wonder whether the company limits the number of subdomains or FTP accounts you can create, for instance, because the details are right there on the list (they're both unlimited).

Tapping the Buy button told us that the headline $4 (£5) a month price only applied if we purchased a two-year plan. That's no great surprise – other hosts often try to push you on to a three-year plan – and shorter terms are reasonable. A one-year plan costs $5 (£6.25) a month, or you can pay a monthly $7 (£8.75) with no ‘setup fee’ or other penalty.

The same page has several other forms for entering all the usual signup information: your target domain name (new, or one you own already), along with your contact and payment details (credit cards and PayPal are supported).

Add-ons include $100 (£125) Bing and Google AdWords credits for free (US and Canadian customers only), $25 (£31) for a one-year AlphaSSL certificate, and the $20 (£25) a month for priority support we mentioned above.

We submitted our order, the website told us it was processing, and within a few seconds... it returned us to a blank order form. We had chosen PayPal, so were expecting Arvixe to open a new browser tab at the PayPal site, but no – nothing.

Had our order been lost? It looked that way, and it's easy to imagine how some customers might try to submit it again. Fortunately, we waited, checked our email and an acknowledgement message arrived.

This wasn't the only oddity. Our Arvixe welcome email gave us a link to the ‘client area’, explaining that we could log in using the password we'd just created. We did, successfully, and saw that our order was ‘pending’. Then, a few minutes later, another email arrived saying we wouldn't be able to access the client area – the one we were exploring at the time – until we'd verified our email.

Useless email verification? This didn't seem like a company we should trust with our security. To test whether this was due to the fact that we'd logged in too quickly, perhaps, we logged out and tried logging in again, still without verifying our email. It worked, plus we could see and change all our personal information. The email verification step seemed to be broken, or at least the rest of the website wasn't always checking for it.

Being able to access the website didn't get us very far while our order was pending, but we waited to see what would happen. 24 hours later the system appeared to realise something was wrong and we received an automated email saying the company couldn't take payment because, well, it didn't have our details. It gave us a link to log in and pay the invoice manually, we did so, and the account was set up right away.

Creating a site

The Arvixe welcome email included logon details for our control panel, a better place to start than the usual marketing-packed customer portal. We clicked the link, entered our details and were happy to see an up-to-date version of cPanel using the appealing Paper Lantern theme. (If you're not a cPanel user, that's a lighter and less cluttered look than the older style.)

Site construction options start with the excellent Softaculous. If you're not sure what sort of functionality you need, this might help you find a suitable application: forum software, blogging, e-commerce, whatever. These are well organised, you're able to read descriptions, look at screenshots, view demos, read user reviews and more.

If you already know what you want to install, there's a good chance you'll find it here. WordPress, Joomla, Magento, MyBB, PrestaShop and many more are all available, and you can have the basics set up in a click or two.

Arvixe has a free SiteBuilder, too. This is relatively easy to use, has almost 200 templates and no apparent limits on pages or anything else. But it's distinctly short on documentation and doesn't always work as you'd expect. It's a plus point for Arvixe in general, but we wouldn't trust it with anything more than a relatively simple personal site.

If you've built your site already then the cPanel console provides everything you need to get it uploaded and set up: FTP, File Manager, SSH and more.


There's no way a relatively brief review can tell you how a web host will behave over months and years, but we try to get a feel for how the company performs in different situations, especially when it comes to support.

Arvixe offers no support link directly from cPanel, so we opened our customer portal instead. This is far less cluttered than most of the competition, and there's a Support Centre link available if you need help.

The support link takes you to the regular site, outside your authenticated session. That's a little clumsy as it means you're now facing a login prompt again, and you have to click Back to carry on in the customer portal.

We spotted some issues with the support pages immediately. A list of categories includes an apparent duplicate (PHP appears twice), the total number of articles seems low, and some of the more advanced areas have surprisingly few articles (MySQL has five, the PHP categories have six in total).

This weakness was obvious when we tried some searches. Entering ‘import WordPres’ returned three articles, none of them related to migrating a WordPress site. A general search for WordPress gave us a single article describing how to fix a problem with WordPress 3.1, released in 2011. A search for MySQL displayed just four articles, one of them covering an ancient issue, the other three relating to the Plesk control panel – nothing to help shared Linux users.

Other articles carry the same dusty, faded and forgotten feel. Running a search for Outlook gave us instructions for setting up Outlook 2003-2010 and Mac 2011, but nothing later. Many other articles are dated 2009 to 2011.

Arvixe offers live chat support which seems to be implemented using the same system (and people, possibly) as other Endurance companies. As we were testing, Arvixe was just about to change its money-back guarantee from 60 to 45 days, so that seemed to be a good test subject.

We started a chat, an agent appeared within a couple of minutes and we told them we'd seen 60 days flagged in one place on the site, 45 days in another; which was right? They went away, presumably to look it up, and returned with the current 60-day figure only. They told us nothing about the imminent terms of service change, even though it was just days away.

We decided to send a ticket. This was the first time the site recognised that we'd never verified our email address and complained about it. This time we paid attention, clicked the verification link and entered details on the question we'd like to ask... only to be redirected to live chat, again. Despite Arvixe saying it has support tickets, and having links for them, they appear to be just a frontend for the chat system.

We asked another simple product-related query about Arvixe Builder, the drag-and-drop site creator: did it have any restrictions, and were there any links to tutorials or documentation? That's so basic we would expect anyone with the faintest product knowledge to give us an answer immediately.

Our agent gave us an identical line to the beginning of the last chat, though: "I will review your question and get back to you". Well, okay. What happened after that was so bizarre we're going to quote it in full.

Our starting question went as follows…

TechRadar Pro (TRP): Does Arvixe Builder have any limitations, for example a maximum number of pages, and are there any tutorials or help pages around to show me how it all works?

A_ R: Welcome to Arvixe live chat, My name is A_. I will review your question and get back to you. 

TRP: Hi A_, thanks! 

A_ R: I apologize. There is an ongoing issue on the Arvixe Builder. 

TRP: OK. What's that? 

A_ R: Our admins are working on this issue. 

TRP: Right. What about my question, though?

A_ R: You can upload the files through the FTP.

A_ R: The Arvixe Builder issue will be resolved very soon. 

TRP: OK. What is the issue, or does no one really know yet? 

A_ R: Meanwhile we suggest our customers to make use of FTP. 

A_ R: We are aware of this issue and it is being worked on. 

A_ R: It will be resolved very soon as it is affecting all of our customers.

TRP: OK, thanks for your help.

So our original and inline questions went unanswered, and instead they gave us a solution to another problem, without explaining what the problem was. It was more like having a conversation with a bot than a real person, and maybe explains why Arvixe thinks you might want to spend $20 (£25) a month on support, after all.

As usual, we completed our trials with some performance tests. Our Arvixe server seemed to be located in Texas, and as expected, US connection times were fast from everywhere. Connections from the UK lagged a little, but not enough to be a problem, and overall performance seemed average.

This may not be the end of the story as we sometimes noticed very lengthy login times to our cPanel. Did that mean the server was under load, or was there some other issue? We're unsure, but it was yet another reason to be concerned about the Arvixe service.

Final verdict

Arvixe gives you plenty of features for very little cash, but it's so poor at even the most basic tasks – taking payment, email verification, simple product support – that it's impossible to recommend.

Bose SoundLink Revolve

Wireless speakers are super convenient to use around the house but most are directional, sounding their best in one particular spot. Bose and other speaker makers have come up with a solution for this problem: 360-degree sound. 

The Bose SoundLink Revolve continues the company’s history of excellent build quality and sound and crams it all into a cylindrical speaker you can take with you on the go. The speaker bears a striking resemblance to the company’s excellent Bose SoundLink Mini II speaker but in a different form factor. 

However, Bose hasn't yet made a fully dust and waterproof speaker and that’s still the case with the SoundLink Revolve. 

With an IPX4 rating, the SoundLink Revolve will survive splashes but you won’t want to dunk it in a pool or take it to the beach. That’s a big drawback especially for the $199 (£199, AU$299) price point but, if it’s any consolation, the speaker at least sounds better than the fully waterproof competition. 


The Revolve takes the design of the SoundLink Mini II and stretches it into a cylindrical shape that slightly resembles the Dalek robots from Dr. Who. 

It features a strong aluminum housing which comes in either silver or black and features a rubberized base and buttons. The speaker feels extremely well made and should put up with being tossed in a bag with some keys and knick knacks. 

On top of the speaker you’ll find buttons for controlling every feature of the speaker, including volume, playback, Bluetooth, aux and power. Bose’s multifunction button controls everything from music playback to activating voice assistants like Siri and Google Assistant. The SoundLink revolve works great as a speakerphone for taking calls, something the UE Wonderboom, another well-regarded speaker that we reviewed earlier this month, lacks. 

On the bottom of the speaker you’ll find four pins for an optional charging dock and a threaded tripod mount. It’s disappointing that Bose didn’t throw in the $30 charging dock for free like it does with the slightly cheaper SoundLink Mini II, which costs $180 (£170, AU$300). While it might seem odd to have a tripod mount, it offers flexibility for mounting the Revolve in your home. 

Bose also lets you pair two Revolve speakers to use for stereo or amplification, a neat feature that's becoming more and more common these days. 


The biggest reason go to with the SoundLink Revolve over one of its flat-faced friends is if you want omni-directional sound. With it, you can move around and experience the same sound wherever you are. This is great for parties so everyone can have the same listening experience no matter where they’re sitting. 

In terms of volume, the SoundLink Revolve does a great job of pumping music loudly in all directions. That said, if you place it at the center of the room, the speaker lacks some bass response but that can be remedied by placing the speaker near walls to help reflect sound and increase bass response.

Overall, the Bose SoundLink Revolve's sonic performance is excellent, especially when compared to our other favorite 360-degree speaker, the UE Wonderboom. Where the Wonderboom sounds strained, the Bose plays loudly and effortlessly.

Bass response also sounds richer and more controlled than the Wonderboom, which features a mid-forward sound. However, you should take into account that the Wonderboom is half the price of Revolve. 

Compared to the aging SoundLink Mini II, the SoundLink Revolve sounds almost as good but can’t match the expansive soundstage and instrumental separation of the Mini II – though, admittedly both speakers sound very good and you’ll be hard pressed to notice the difference unless you listen to them side by side. 

Compared to the Bose SoundLink Color II, the Revolve features more detail and bass response. The 360-degree sound makes the Revolve more suited to listening outdoors than the directional sound of the SoundLink Color II. Both the Color II and Revolve are IPX4 rated, which means they’ll survive splashes but you won’t want to dunk either speaker in the pool. 

Compared to the competition, the Revolve's battery life is average for a speaker of this size, lasting 12 hours at moderate listening volumes. Be careful about charging the speaker the night before a big event as it also takes the speaker a ridiculously long 4 hours to fully charge when empty. It would have been nice to see Bose jump to USB-C for faster charging, but it's not a deal breaker. 

Final verdict

The Bose SoundLink Revolve is an excellent sound speaker for users looking for true 360-degree sound. It’s great for sharing music during a party or for moving around the room without losing audio fidelity. However, the Bose SoundLink Mini II sounds slightly better and is slightly cheaper to boot. 

On the debit side, it’s also not fully dust or waterproof so you’ll want to think twice before bringing the Revolve to the beach. 

For half the price, the Wonderboom is a great speaker that is completely dust and waterproof. While it can’t match the audio fidelity or features of the Bose, it's still great for on-the-go listening. If bass is your game, the JBL Charge 3 is an excellent fully waterproof speaker that sounds great but is big and heavy. 


CamStudio is a deceptively simple open source screen recorder. Capturing what’s happening on your monitor is as simple as clicking a button, but if you delve into the settings you’ll find that this little program is capable of so much more.

You can capture video or still images, and record audio from your PC’s speakers or a microphone, making it ideal for creating your own software tutorials. You can capture the entire screen, the active window, or a manually selected area (which can follow the cursor if you want). 

CamStudio can export your finished captures in a huge range of formats, with varying degrees of compression so you can strike the right balance between file size and image quality. This is particularly handy because, unlike most other free screen recorders, CamStudio puts no restriction on the length of your recordings.

User experience

CamStudio is a brilliant screen recorder, and there are no ads in the software itself, but the installer contains potentially unwanted software (including the Chromium browser and a search manager extension). Make sure you read each step carefully and click ‘Decline’ next to anything you don’t want to install. 

If you want to make a quick recording, simply click the record button and your on-screen activity will be recorded as an AVI file until you stop it manually. That might be perfect for quick tasks, but if you want to make a presentation or a tutorial for YouTube, take a look at the various audio and video settings.

CamStudio has too many features to list here, but one of our favorites is the advanced annotation tool that let you add your own text, drawings and images to footage, and create watermarks to help prevent unauthorised sharing of your work.

We also like the ability to capture still frames at regular intervals rather than recording smooth video, and to stop recording automatically after a certain time or event.

CamStudio is wonderfully versatile, and isn’t hamstrung by the restrictions of other screen recorders. Give it a try – we think you’ll be impressed.

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Snipping Tool Plus

Snipping Tool Plus is enormously popular, but is only available in German. That said, the interface is well designed, with icons that make it easy to use even if you don't speak the language.

Windows Vista and Windows 7 brought the Snipping Tool to our PCs, letting us take screenshots of selected areas or whole windows with a single click. Snipping Tool Plus brings this convenient function to all versions of Windows.

Snipping Tool Plus is a portable app, so there’s no need to install it – just extract the contents of the downloaded ZIP archive and double-click the EXE file to run it whenever you want to take a grab.

Unlike some screen capture tools, Snipping Tool Plus can’t record video, but its small size and built-in editing tools make it a superb choice for quickly explaining something happening on screen. It’s far more convenient than hitting Print Screen, then opening a separate image editor to make annotations.

User experience

After Snipping Tool Plus starts, choose whether to capture the current active window, a freehand selection, or the whole screen. A basic image editor image will then open, enabling you to blur parts of the image to protect confidential information, and add notes and markers.

Snipping Tool plus can export screen grabs in BMP, JPG, PNG, GIF or TIFF format, and save them automatically in a location of your choice or send them via email. You can also set the quality setting and image size (in pixels or centimetres), and choose a background image color if the area you’ve chosen to capture a small area.

You can also choose to take screenshots at set intervals with Snipping Tool Plus. This is an excellent alternative to recording video if you want to create a time-lapse video, for example, or don’t have the necessary disk space for recording continuously over a long period. 

Snipping Tool Plus a very convenient little tool to have on hand, and well worth keeping on a USB stick or a cloud storage service.

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Blu R1 Plus

The Blu R1 Plus is an incredibly cheap phone and the latest proof you don't need to spend much more than $100 to get a basic unlocked smartphone in the US.

It's an Android phone that costs 1/8th the price of the stellar Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus we just reviewed, and it also has a similar fraction of the convincing features.

That's an okay compromise for someone looking for a 4G LTE smartphone the boasts a 5.5-inch HD display, Android 6.0 Marshmallow and, most importantly, nearly two day battery life.

It's an improvement over last year’s Amazon-exclusive Blu R1 HD in every way. It has a mostly metal design, faster quad-core chipset, 32GB of internal storage and 3GB of RAM.

In fact, we were able to write this entire review on the phone in Google Docs, run almost every app we tried in the Google Play Store and summon Google Assistant to ask it questions.

Don't expect steady 3D game framerates or app multitasking. You're not going to get good enough performance for either of those at this price. It’s also missing a fingerprint sensor.

The Blu R1 does come with a number of accessories right inside the box, including a case and micro SIM card adapters. It adds just a little more to this best value pick.

Its features won't wow you, but everything you get for the price just may.

Price and release date

  • $109 for 24 hours on launch day: Saturday, April 29
  • $159 thereafter through stores like Amazon
  • Works on GSM carriers: AT&T, T-Mobile and Cricket Wireless
  • It won’t work on CDMA networks: Verizon and Sprint

The Blu R1 Plus is one of the cheapest Android phones you can buy in the US, even if it costs more than the Blu R1 HD. Its major specs bump adds a little to the bottom line.

You’ll get a rather big discount on launch day, though. It’s $50 off the normal $159 price, making it a $109 deal at Amazon and Best Buy. But the $109 price won’t last more than 24 hours.

That makes its biggest rivals the 5.2-inch Moto G5 Plus at $184 (or $229 without Amazon ads) and the forthcoming Boost Mobile-exclusive 6-inch ZTE Max XL at $130.

The advantage to the Blu R1 Plus is that it doesn’t have Amazon lockscreen ads and comes unlocked for use GSM carriers, including AT&T, T-Mobile and Cricket Wireless.

Obviously, the Blu R1 Plus flash sale makes it much more compelling next to its rivals, and so does the fact that it includes a case and micro SIM card adapters inside the box.


The Blu R1 Plus is surprisingly well-built for a sub-$200 smartphone. You can’t tell the difference between it and more expensive budget Android phones at first blush.

It has an aluminum finish to its back cover, slightly rounded glass edges protecting the screen, and a silver metal frame outlining everything. Plastic is limited to the the top and bottom for housing antennas.

No, this design doesn’t really stand out, but that’s entirely the point. It’s meant to look like a more expensive phone twice its price. It blends in really well until you start picking things apart.

Looking closer, you’ll begin to notice minor differences. It’s thicker and heavier than trendier budget smartphones, with a sloped back measuring 10.5mm at its peak. It weighs 191g.

You can take off the back cover to insert a microSD card for extra storage (up to 64GB on top of the internal 32GB) and micro SIM cards – plural. This is a great dual-SIM phone for travelers.

Just because you can peel away the back cover doesn’t automatically mean you can swap out the battery. It’s sealed into the back of the phone. Removing it voids your warranty.

Other curious design decisions were made: the headphone jack is at the top, the micro USB port is offset on the bottom and the speaker grille consists of six tiny holes in the back cover.

None of these drawbacks are deal breakers at this price. However, we did miss being able to unlock our phone with a fingerprint sensor during our tests. It’s sorely missing here.

You’ll find a fingerprint sensor on the similarly priced ZTE Max XL, but it’s a big plastic phone. Basically, at this price, you can have either a metal finish or a fingerprint sensor – not both.


  • Its big 5.5-inch HD display looks great for such a cheap phone
  • Gorilla Glass 3 can be reflective, but provides good protection
  • Lack the double tap screen-waking feature a part of other Androids

Blu R1 Plus boasts a big and colorful 5.5-inch LCD display that looks great for everyday use. Its 720p resolution is still considered HD, and that’s perfectly fine for a $159 phone.

Yes, you can make out individual pixels if you really stare intently at the screen, but it’s not a distraction. It just means this phone display is never going to be able to handle VR gaming.

What most matters here is that the screen gets just bright enough to use outdoors, even if the brightness slider falls short of where we’d like it to be on a sunny day. It’s adequate outside.

We did experience glare from the Gorilla Glass 3 in direct sunlight, but its protection proved to be a boon for us. Our review phone did a sudden faceplant when we were photographing it in the wild. It survived the minor fall without a scratch.

Missing is a better power-on method besides hitting the small power button on the side frame. ‘Double tap the screen to wake’ is popular feature on slightly pricier Android phones.

We also wish the bezel was a bit thinner and the Blue logo wasn’t tattooed across the bottom chin of the phone (it’s already emblazoned on the back). You have a Blu phone. Never forget.

But 720p on such a cheap phone? That’s not a problem. It looked good enough whenever we watched YouTube videos and played back our personal video recordings on the display.

Android Marshmallow and apps

  • One of the cheapest tickets to the Android ecosystem
  • But it runs Android Marshmallow, not Android Nougat
  • Lack split-screen multitasking and battery-saving perks

Blu R1 Plus runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which means it’s a step behind other phones that come preinstalled with Android 7.0 Nougat. And Android O will debut later this year.

The important thing is, at $159, this is among the cheapest tickets into the Android ecosystem. It’s stable, uses a fantastic Google-developed interface and runs all of the Play Store apps.

This is stock basically Android, from the Google keyboard to the notification shade. It remains unchanged outside of seven preloaded apps, mostly from Blu’s Amazon partnership.

Just don’t expect a big update to Android Nougat or Android O soon. Phones this inexpensive are often overlooked when it comes to updates. So far, no Blu phone runs Android Nougat.

What are you missing in the Nougat update? Google added split-screen multitasking, improved idle battery life and refined the pull-down notifications shade to make it easier to sift through. 

This phone’s ability to handle split-screen multitasking is suspect, though it could have used the battery life perk when the phone is idle. Fingers crossed the update will come eventually.

Specs and performance

  • Faster than last year’s Blu R1 HD and much more RAM
  • 32GB of storage expandable with 64GB microSD card
  • Graphic chip can’t handle 3D games very well at all
  • Call quality and rear-facing speaker is satisfactory

Even though the Blu R1 Plus is a rather basic Android smartphone, it has a meaningful specs bump over last year’s Blu R1 HD. You’ll have much smoother performance with this phone.

It has a faster 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek 6737 chipset, a healthy 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage. You can always add 64GB of extra space via the microSD card slot, too.

Blu deviates from the popular Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset we see in today’s Android phones for a lower-end MediaTek chip. It can handle basic tasks fine and keeps the phone cheap.

We’re really impressed that, at this price, we’re getting 3GB of RAM (up from 1GB on the Blu R1 HD) and 32GB of internal storage (up from last year’s 8GB or 16GB options).

You’re just not going to be able to run 3D games with this chipset. Its Mali-T720 graphics processor just can’t keep up with the frame rates of any racing. It turns into a slow-motion event.

We also found the call quality via the earpiece and mic to be merely satisfactory, just like the back-facing speaker – all sound a bit too tinny. The sound differences between this and a more expensive phone are noticeable, but fair for the price.


  • 13MP cameras take surprising good photos in ample light
  • Both the front and the back cameras have an LED flash
  • Struggles in low-light and missing optical image stabilization

Considering its rock-bottom price, the Blu R1 Plus camera can take a surprisingly good photo. Even if it’s soft on detail, it’s able to capture the vividness and color of a bright sunny day.

It has a 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front-facing selfie camera. Both have single LED flash and there are several modes in the default camera app to capture the right scene.

Modes include Normal, Pro (manual), Face Beauty, Panorama, HDR, Night, Sports and the truly bizarre but ultimately fun Scene Frame. Ever wanted to take a photo inside a car side mirror or a painter's canvas? That’s what this mode does.

We were able to snap several outdoor photos that gave us nicely saturated colors. It’s not going to compare to the new Samsung Galaxy S8 or an iPhone 7, but it’s close enough outside.

The selfies look okay, too. Again, it’s soft on detail and textures, but better once you disable the now-somehow-popular beauty mode filters. Scene frame works best in selfie mode.

Where the Blu R1 Plus camera struggles is indoors in low-light situations. It also has trouble, at times, with autofocus. It results in either grainy or blurry photos whether or not you have a steady hand to make up for the lack of optical image stabilization (OIS).

Video can be shot at 720p (which makes sense given the screen playback is in 720p) and it’s also missing OIS. Videos look okay, albeit a little dark, and the app always wants to default back to 480p.

We liked the fact that you can fip between the two cameras with an easy swipe down on the screen, but we sorely miss having a timelapse mode. No sunset hyperlapse test this time.

Battery life

  • Monster-sized 4,000mAh battery can last almost two days
  • Mostly drains from idle use, which an Android update could fix
  • No Quick Charge: takes 2 hours and 25 minutes to fully recharge

The Blu R1 Plus battery life lasted us just shy of two days thanks to its monster battery capacity. It’s 4,000mAh size is larger than most of today’s flagship Android phones.

What’s more, in addition to that impressive 4,000mAh capacity, the phone’s 720p HD display pays off because it burns a lot less pixels. That’s why it was still alive at the day-and-a-half mark.

Our official battery life test showed that it burned through 14% of its battery running a looped 90 minute HD video, leaving us with 86% left. Its screen isn’t the big battery life concern.

The reason we’d like to see this phone transition from Android Marshmallow to Android Nougat is it may fix the phone’s biggest battery hog: phone idle time. Its underpowered chipset is inefficient. 

Google’s latest update is supposed to help idle battery life drain. Overnight, it dropped 7% of a full battery over the course of eight hours. That could be significantly improved on a phone like this.

At this price you’re also not getting Quick Charge benefits and the reversible USB-C standard. The latter is a cost-savings if you have many spare micro USB cables lying around.

Blu R1 Plus gained 14% of its battery every 15 minutes for the first hour, but slowed the charge back to 100%. In total, it took 2 hours and 25 minutes to fully charge this phone. It’s a bit slow, but this is also a big, hulking battery.

The Blu R1 Plus updates one of the most popular cheap Android phones sold on Amazon, and it’s faster, sturdier and longer lasting than before.

At only $159 (and discounted to $109 on launch day), you’re getting a fully functional dual-SIM unlocked Android phone that doesn’t break the bank. It has all of the basics covered.

Its HD display, camera and metal design are surprisingly good for a sub-$200 phone, and its big 4,000mAh battery has nearly two-day battery life.

This phone isn’t going to win you over if your budget can stretch to a mid-range $400 phone. It can’t do intense 3D gaming or app multitasking, and there’s no fingerprint sensor.

This is a prime pick for everyone else who can live without the fringe benefits of a flagship and can’t live without the saved cash.

Should you buy it?

Yes, if you’re looking for a dual-SIM smartphone that’s extremely cheap, yet still runs Android. Obviously, this is a much better deal if you can get it for $109 through Amazon. At $159, it’s still a bargain considering everything you get from an unlocked, off-contract phone.

Who’s it for?

There are four types of people who are going to appreciate the Blu R1 Plus the most.

  • Someone who can’t afford the latest and greatest smartphone upgrade
  • Travelers who need a capable, GSM phone that’s unlocked and dual-SIM for travel outside of the US
  • Anyone who doesn’t care about phones that much, but wants to graduate from a feature flip phone to something new without splurging
  • That clumsy person (totally not you) who needs a temporary holdover phone because they broke their expensive Apple or Samsung and need to run out y̶o̶u̶r̶ their contract before an upgrade.


Moto G5 Plus

Moto G5 Plus is our current favorite Android phone of 2017, and that’s also thanks to its affordable $184 starting price exclusive to Amazon Prime members. How does it compare to the slightly cheaper Blu R1 Plus? The entry-level configuration has 32GB of storage (tie), 2GB of RAM (Blu wins), a 2.0 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chip (Moto wins), a 5.2-inch Full HD screen (tie – smaller screen, but 1080p), and a 12MP dual pixel camera (Moto wins). The battery capacity is a smaller 3,000mAh, but it has fast charging (so another tie), and you’re paying more (Blu wins). Of course, the phone you really want is the Moto G5 Plus with 64GB of storage + 4GB RAM that’s $239. That’s way better, but considerably more costly.


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