Category Archives: Cellphone

LG NEXUS 5 – A Year of Pure Stock

LG NEXUS 5 

PURE STOCK ANDROID 

Nexus 6, Nexus 9, Android L. Android’s future is coming up to be a pretty exciting one. Rumours have spread out that these three next gen stuvves are coming this October 2014.

As Google’s next flagship arrive, their Nexus 5’s, current flagship, prices have been going down. With the trend of the Smartphone’s lifespan of only about 6 months, should this 1 year old product even still be in your list if you want an upgrade? Read on and Find out!

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  1. Design and Build

 looks

For the past year or two, Q4 of the year always seem to be the time for Bigger phone, Note 3, Note 2, One Max, etc. Last year, Google launched Nexus 5 with a 5 Inch screen, considerably smaller than its competitors. The front of Nexus 5 sports an all touch interface, no hardware buttons can be found here, as well as the front Camera, earpiece and a sensor with the screen with relatively thin bezel. The sides offer the volume rocker and the power button. The top and bottom houses the 3.5mm jack and speakers, respectively, both with mic. The back has the kind-of protruding camera with the Nexus and LG logo in a plastic covering.

Nexus 5 feels light and comfortable to hold, due to its matte-ish back, it doesn’t feel it will slip when you hold it.

Overall, the Phone feels ok but it does not exude an aura of appeal. I would often get asked, what phone is that? Is that China-phone? Also, Nexus 5 is not widely available in the Philippine Market, it can be bought on Grey Market, but I am still to find a store like Abensons to sell it. #TrueStory

  1. Display

disp

Nexus 5 sports a 5-inch 1920×1080 Full HD Display. This is the first Nexus Smartphone to come in Full HD and Nexus did it right. Texts look sharp, zooming in and out of webpage is crisp, and watching movies is amazing. With regards to sunlight contrast, it takes a huge hit in direct sunlight. I can’t remember the number of times I had to maximize brightness under the sun just so I can read a text message. I live in a tropical country so, yeah, that is a lot of times. On ok lighting conditions, it has ok viewing angles too. My tip? In a snatcher infested country, thank God I work in Taguig, where most, if not all people, are richer than me, DO NOT WHIP OUT YOUR PHONE in Sunlight/Public.

  1. Entertainment

mma

Functioning as a daily driver, Nexus 5 is still one of the best out there. Loudspeaker, understandably, suffers due to the poor speaker positioning, but nobody should use a smartphone for loudspeaker anyway. Plug in your headsets, LG Nexus 5 offers clean output, your music and sound stay faithful, no added bass, trebles or low. It has the right amount of loudness but compared to its competitors Note 3, S5, G3, etc. it is not as loud.

Being the Stock Harbinger, you can expect Nexus to slack on something, and I found 2! First one is the undying, never resolved, stock video codec. The codec included is extremely limited, it can play some of your files with the question mark of it playing fine, lagging, muting and worst of all, it transforms your 2GB movie file into Mp3. Nice work, Google! Fortunately, a quick download of MX Player Pro keeps you up to speed.

For Gaming, Nexus 5 does amazingly well! All non-HD Games opens and runs smoothly. Go into higher end games like NOVA 3, Real Steel, Dark Knight, and Captain America, it plays them smoothly, this is an amazing feat. If a 2013 phone can perform and play these games on such a high level, just imagine how well its competitor’s and its own successor will be able to play them!

Web Browsing has seen a continuous improvement from past iterations of Android, and coupled with powerful specs, Web Browsing on Nexus 5 is mighty fine. Video Streaming, is also a joy, as videos load fast and can now play Full 1080p! These two maybe internet dependent, but Nexus 5’s KitKat has certainly helped improving it.

  1. Camera

camera

Remember when I said Nexus 5 has 2 super flaws? Here is the second one! Nexus 5 has an 8MP rear camera. As with any other phone in its price range, it performs ok, take note, ok not great, but throw in a little darkness, use flash, and results come in as disappointing. As for its front camera, it performs ok too at good lighting condition. Finally, the camera experience is bare, you don’t get any gimmicky stuff here compared to HTC and Samsung. Lesson of the day? Don’t expect super camera performance from stock.

IMG_20141015_081120 IMG_20141014_072238 IMG_20141014_072228 IMG_20141015_081221 IMG_20141015_081230

  1. Software

ram

Nexus 5 is powered by Quad-Core 2.3GHZ Snapdragon 800 Processor with Ardeno 330 GPU with 2GB of Ram. Throw in the stock vanilla android and you have yourself, even up to today, yes today (October 2014), it performs at buttery smoothness, rare to none lags, and a powerful multitasker.

If you love stock, Nexus is obviously the one for you. The straight up no gimik approach with little to no bloatwares help aids its quick performance. Google Now is now shaping up to be a very respectable launcher. Sadly, this is Philippines so you can’t fully maximize its functions unless you are on an unlimited plan. Actually even if you are on UnliData plan, you will either get cut-off with cap or get garbage reception amidst telecommunication companies’ insistence that they have 5G or 100% 3G reception.

sms

Being a SmartPhone, Nexus 5 has shown that it can be Smart. Can it be a phone? Of course yes! Call quality, both as a receiver and a transmitter is ok, clear but sometimes, I can come up as soft. Dialer and Contacts are stock, and Hangouts is slowly shaping up to be the SMS app of choice. GoSMS is debatable as the best.

Another feature which catapults Nexus 5 with the best of today is the amazing number of custom roms and dev support.

Software-wise Nexus 5 offers top-of-the-line performance despite being a year old, and being a Nexus line, you can be sure it can be updated to the next 2 iterations of Android. Android L will definitely available and I have high hopes it will get Android M.

  1. Battery

 There is no doubt Nexus 5 is amazing but I did mention it has 2 super flaws. Well this is a major flaw. Battery life. Before Nexus 5, I was using Galaxy Note 2 as my daily driver, and I also tinker with it and sometimes, it was able to last me 2 days with 4-5 hours screen on time. With the Nexus 5, overnight charging is a must and before the day ends, my battery struggles. I average about 2.5 Hours of screen on time. Sadness.

 

Executive Summary

scoresese

CONS:

  • Disappointing Camera especially on low-light and flash photography without extra features
  • Non-expandable storage
  • Crappy out of the box video codec
  • Soft Loudspeakers
  • Some Bloatwares
  • Horrendous Battery Life
  • Does not look like a premium device (Applicable on in PH)
  • Bad Sunlight Contrast

PROS:

  • 5 Inch Full 1920×1080 Display
  • Great headset audio output
  • Stock Android
  • LTE Connectivity
  • Gorilla Glass 3
  • Tons of Developer Support and Customization available

2014-09-10-0492

I feel like I may have strayed from the original point of this article which is to answer if this phone is still a good choice with the upcoming of a successor. For me, Nexus 5 is still one of the best out there and its price drop is definitely something to consider. Branded phone is ALWAYS, ALWAYS better than rebranded phones. At most, I will probably still use it for the next 6 months unless Nexus 6 will be that good. The Nexus line is a line of premium Google device which does its best to give you the BEST value for money for the LONGEST amount of time. Other flagships releases twice a year, but Nexus releases once. This is a nice strategy to give consumers peace of mind and actually have something to look at least in terms of specs when looking to upgrade Z2 to Z3 anyone? Nexus also looks to have almost infinite dev support. Google may have stopped support on earlier Nexus like Galaxy Nexus Prime and below but all of them has gotten KitKat. Even my Nexus One runs KitKat, albeit laggy. Nexus 5, at least for the foreseeable 6 months, imho, will continue to breathe life support with Google, and if Google decides to pull the plug, Devs will be there to support. Just be sure to take note of the major cons before buying, otherwise, for those looking for a cheap bang for the buck, Nexus 5 is a safe and great choice.

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THL T6S Review

THL T6S

1st

 Today, there are a lot of China Smartphone makers in the country. From MyPhone and Cherry as Dual King of Rebranded Smartphones comes creeping other companies like SKK, Torque, Kata, THL etc. The craze for sub-10k phones is amazing. Whenever a company releases one, you can be sure that it will have a group on Facebook with fan base reaching thousands before the actual release!

Today, I decided to get back on the sub-10k range and try one from a well-known company in China which is trying to creep into Philippine Market. The one I bought is none other than the spec heavy, light priced THL T6S. Priced relatively cheaply at about Php 4,000. T6s packs 5 Inches of 854×480 JDI TFT Screen, Quad core MT6582M Chipset, 1GB Ram, and Kitkat out of the box. Does the China Made China released ‘Technology Happy Life (THL)’ phone pack a significant punch, or does it perform similar to pseudo rebranders king Cherry Mobile? Read on and find out!

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  1. BOX AND CONTENTS

 box

Contents other than the standard is present on T6S.  It contains the Manuals, USB Cable, charger and a headset. Nothing special.

  1. Design and Build

 looks

THL T6S sets itself apart by not going with curved edges. Instead it takes an Xperia-ish square edge, which, in my opinion, is a better choice with respect to looks. The button layout is pretty much the same, with Capacitive touch buttons below, volume rockers on the left side and power button on the right. Depending on your preference, the ‘Menu, Home, Back’ capacitive layout maybe good or bad. The back consist of a protruding camera, speakers and THL logos. It’s made with plastic Matte back which may or may not make you cringe when you scratch it.

Overall, the Phone feels and looks ok but it does not stand out. You won’t have any friends asking you ‘Wow, ang ganda! Ano to?’ (Wow this looks great! What is it?)

  1. Display

display

T6S sports a 5-inch JDI 854×480 screen. At this point in time, anything below 720p will probably get an eye-lash bat, but considering its price point and competitor (Flare 3 has 960×540 qHD display), this one is just about right.

The screen boasts good viewing angles and adequate brightness. Though if you are tight about display, you would undoubtedly notice some pixels here and there.

  1. Entertainment

multimedia

Performing as your Multimedia Driver, THL performs ok with some great hits and so-so miss.

On loudspeaker, T6S performs ok especially for bedroom use, it gets bad outdoors, well why would you use a phone loudspeaker on public. Attach your head/earset/bud/phone (I use JVC FX3X), it has good performance, great amount of loudness, but not too much bass considering I use a bassy in-ear plugs.

As expected from a China made generic android, the codec for videos is extremely bad. Luckily, MX Player Pro will easily solve this problem. Speaking of media playing, it runs 1080p videos but it does not seem to run perfectly as it shows stutters. Small sized 720p videos will work fine.

For Gaming, THL holds itself well, playing non-HD mainstream games with relative smoothness. For HD games, I expected it to perform badly but it surprised me! Don’t get me wrong, this thing is not made for such as there is presence of extremely long loading times but it did play Vice City, Asphalt 8, Gangster 4. It played them but expect long loading times and lags. Again, I know this is not made for such games, I’m actually praising THL for the fact that it opens the aforementioned games.

streaming

Web Browsing and YouTube streaming is not that of a strong suit. Don’t use for heavy browsing. And take note of the fact that it only plays up to 480p on YouTube. Yes, I am aware of the phone’s resolution at 480p.

Also note that, unlike high end phones today, this phone does not default to MTP, it uses USB Mass Storage Mode, which I think is less efficient than the former.

  1. Camera

 camera

For the camera, the box says it has 5MP, surprisingly you can capture pictures at 13MP! Amazing? No not really. As most of you may know, quality does not depend on Pixels. This is certainly true for T6S. Pictures look washed out especially indoors and low light. If you are looking for a camera phone with a cheap price tag, better stay clear of this one.

  1. Software

SOFTWARE

T6S is powered by a quadcore MT6582M processor partnered with 1GB Ram. Initially, it seems to be a very snappy phone, but open a few apps, it shows slowdowns. I don’t know if this is unit dependent but I sometimes encounter random reboot of the phone. Sometimes it becomes painstakingly slow, what I must do is reboot it and it runs fine again. It is also powered by Kitkat for those who have ‘latest always’ syndrome.

T6S’ interface is named Launcher3, which just looks and feels like a gimmicked version of Stock. I would have preferred the latter as I see no advantages on using this Launcher3.

telephony

Functioning as a phone, T6S does well, call quality is okay at best and SMS/Keyboard/Phonebook is all stock.

Being a China phone, expect some Bloatwares, you can easily uninstall them, though.

  1. Battery

 battery

Same as with every other P4, 000 phone, and battery takes a huge hit. I don’t think you should expect great battery life from this phone, as it is average at best. It CAN last you through your work, but overnight charging is a definite must. Expect standby time of 12 hours and on screen time of about 2 and a half hours.

Executive Summary

score

CONS:

  • Crappy out of the box video codec
  • Unimpressive Camera
  • Lags and stuttering on HD Games
  • Some Bloatwares
  • Disappointing Battery Life
  • Random reboots
  • Lags

PROS:

  • Ok headset audio output
  • Ok loudspeaker output
  • Ok Display for a 480p phone
  • Ok looking phone

conc

Honestly, I am not impressed with this phone. For a P4, 000 phone, I know I should not expect much. I can’t pinpoint it exactly but I feel there is something missing here. It has been a very long time since I reviewed a phone on this area so I can’t exactly tell you how it performs with others of the same price range. But if you are going to ask me if I can recommend this? I guess I can say it’s ok just be aware of the cons listed. With the way Asus Zenfone hit the market, other phones will have a hard time competing, Asus Zenfone 4 review will come up soon so stay tuned 😉

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Asus Zenfone 5 – The Rebrander Killer

ASUS ZENFONE 5

THE REBRANDER KILLER 

Untitled-1

Most, if not all Filipinos, are easily impressed by specs. Barring build quality and other factors, as soon as we see high-end specs on paper on any rebranded phone, most will drool and marvel at it and some end up impulsively buying it. I would not blame my fellow countrymen as I too am a sucker for such phones and with the steep price of high-end phones, this addiction is understandable.

As Samsung and Apple continue to dominate the high-end smartphone battleground, one international brand has slowly but surely been making its way up by going down. Let’s face it, anyone who dares to compete with monotonous looking Samsung and size growing Apple would probably end up losing in the long run.

So instead of taking a dip in the high-end wars, Asus is taking its talent through the budget-phone arena. Announced last January 2014 and released a few weeks ago in the Philippine Market. Asus Zenfone 5 has become a phenomenal hit that its Philippine Facebook pages has grown to a full thousand and more in a short span of time.

Priced at a very competitive P6, 495, Asus Zenfone 5 Sports a 5-Inch HD Display protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and encased beautifully. Will the Zenfone 5 punch a hole big enough to scar the rebranded market? Does it live up to the tremendous hype? Read on and find out! 

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  1. BOX AND CONTENTS

 Untitled-2

Asus Zenfone 5’s box looks like any other you have seen.  It contains the standard package consisting of Manuals, USB Cable, charger and a relatively good headset. Nothing special.

  1. Design and Build

 Untitled-4

Asus Zenfone 5 is undoubtedly one of the best looking budget phone to date. It is so good it can even pass as a high-end smartphone. The front houses a 2MP camera, capacitive touch buttons and good, but not quite thin, bezels. The lower part of the front adds to the high end appeal as it does look like last year’s HTC One. The volume rocker and power button are silver   and gorgeous. The back is protected by a plastic matte-back with the 8MP Camera, ASUS, Intel, Zenfone logo, and speakers.

Overall, the Phone feels and looks expensive and high class. It definitely screams PREMIUM.

  1. Display

display

Zenfone 5 sports a 5-inch 1280×720 HD display. As far as displays goes today, 720p displays feels a bit dated but looking at its price point, and from a trusted brander, it still can be categorized as a win.

Looking at the screen, it’s actually nice to look at, it is has the right amount of brightness, the text is sharp and crisp, and it has good viewing angles. Pic browsing and movie playback will definitely be and enjoyable experience with this phone.

One complaint I have would be why is there no backlight in the capacitive touch buttons? Sure you can easily memorize 3 keys but I Zenfone 5 actually sports a different button layout. For the past 3 years I have been using Android, I have always had Menu-Home-Back format. Now I am treated into a Back-Home-Recent buttons. The former configuration has been in my heart with me too much, I constantly make the same mistake especially when I am on a dimly lit room.

  1. Entertainment

One of the most important factor for a phone today is to function as your daily multimedia driver. For Zenfone 5, it functions amazingly well in that aspect.

On loudspeaker, Zenfone 5 sits with those in the poor category as it has a very disappointing loudspeaker. As far as listening with headsets go, it jumps as one of the best performers. It has clean audio output, respectable bass and right amount of loudness. To standardize my review, and for the upcoming reviews I will be using JVC FX3X (Review coming soon).

lose

Another minor disappointment is the device limited codec. You wouldn’t be able to play all your videos out of the box. But as soon as you download a reliable video player, MX Player (recommended), you can fully enjoy your movies with this beautiful 5-Inch 720p device. Also, Zenfone 5 can play 1080p videos (tested 2GB movies).

games

For Gaming, Asus was able to play all non-HD mainstream games. However playing games such as NBA 2k14, Dead Trigger, Dark Knight, it has shown some stutter and lags.

Browsing

Screenshot_2014-08-13-05-31-08

Web Browsing and YouTube streaming is another strong suit of Zenfone. I have had no problems in opening web pages and streaming videos.

  1. Camera

 camera

Asus Zenfone 5 sports an 8MP Main Camera and a 2MP front camera. As far as smartphone imaging is concerned, Asus does not have a good and strong reputation. As for this one, though, it has a good Main Camera which has TONS of features including the Famous Selfie Mode. Modes include Time Rewind, HDR, Panorama, Night etc. There is too much modes here I will make a separate review for it. So stay tuned! For Selfie addicts, the front-facing camera is not much to be excited about, it is a standard 2MP camera good enough for video calling, but it is nothing special.  See the pictures and judge for yourself.

Jpeg Jpeg Jpeg Jpeg Jpeg

  1. Software

Asus Zenfone 5 is powered by a Dual Core 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2560 Processor. I have to admit, this is my first Intel device, I was sceptical at first seeing, as I was one of those who thought cores are everything, but when I tried it, it was actually amazingly quick and responsive. Swiping between screens showed no significant lags and partner it with a 2GB Ram, opening apps and multi-tasking feels breezy. The device has an 8GB Internal memory 5GB useable. It is good enough for all your apps and one or two HD games.

Features 2

The phone also sports ZenUI, a custom skin from Asus. Android lovers have always loved the stock Android experience and ZenUI tries to mimic the simplicity of stock while adding some niche features and Asus’ own personality. The interface feels like stock and it is snappy, unlike other brand’s skin (ehem TouchWiz). A feature which is kind of cool is when you are on your lockscreen and your finger on it, a spotlight appears. Cool but pointless. It also has a Smartcover notification screen which is a useful one.

Functioning as a phone, Zenfone 5 has a clean stock SMS and a custom Asus Keyboard which looks and feels like a lovechild of Swiftkey and Android’s stock keyboard. It functions very similarly to Android’s stock rather than Swiftkey, though. Call quality both as a receiver and transmitter, is good.

Features

As far as being an international Brand, Zenfone 5 also has preinstalled apps, bloatware to some, these apps include:

  • Amazon Kindle Fire – EBook Reader
  • Audio Wizard – Adjusts your audio depending on what you want to use your device (Bluetooth not supported)
  • Do It Later – To do task bar
  • Mirror – Basically a front cam without shutter
  • MyASUS – Asus tech support and self-promotion app
  • Omlet Chat – Viber-ish app, stick to your preferred social messaging app
  • Party Link – Connects and shares pictures automatically to nearby devices. Security!
  • PC Link – Connects to your PC
  • Quick Memo – Kind of like Do it Later
  • Remote Link – Bluetooth remote
  • Share Link – Shares files between two Share Link enabled devices
  • Splendid – Changes the colour of your phone (actually cool)
  • Sound Recorder – Good voice recorder
  • Super Note – Like Galaxy Note’s Note minus the SPen
  • What’s Next – I don’t know

Some of the aforementioned apps are actually quite useful.

  1. Battery

 battery

Battery is probably the lowest point of Zenfone 5. I am a medium-heavy battery user and this one is just not made for a full day at the office. On a day, I average about two hours of video, 15-30 minutes of games and about 3 hours of music. I also enable Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or Mobile Data all the time. By the time its 6pm (5AM-2PM Work shift), I will have only about 10-15% battery life and I would have had to turn off everything except my 2G function to avoid full discharge. Also, I have noticed that the device starts to heats up while playing after 10 minutes. If you will look at the battery life when the device starts to heat up and you keep on playing, it burns through it like a hot knife through butter. A sad fact for Gamers. Well this device is not made for gaming anyway.

Executive Summary

2014-08-13-0405

CONS:

  • No Capacitive Touch Button Back Light
  • Crappy out of the box video codec
  • Soft Loudspeakers
  • Lags and stuttering on HD Games
  • Some Bloatwares
  • Disappointing Battery Life
  • Narrow Bezel

PROS:

  • As beautiful as that hot officemate/classmate from the other class
  • 5 Inch Vivid, Crisp HD Display
  • Great headset audio output
  • Smooth and Fast response even with a custom Skin
  • Good camera with shitloads of features
  • Gorilla Glass 3
  • CHEAPER THAN REBRANDED FLAGSHITS ehem FLAGSHIPS
  • Did I mention how beautiful this device looks?

Scores

As much cons as Zenfone 5 has, some of them can easily be fixed by third party apps. No Capacitive Touch Backlight? Install a menu bar (probably needs root). Bad codec? Download MX Player Pro. Soft loudspeakers? Why will you use a smartphone on loudspeaker? Bloatwares? Root and remove. That leaves only HD Game stutter, battery life and narrow bezel but these are things you need to compromise for the competitive price tag.

Zenfone 5 is an amazing phone to have, I would recommend this phone for those curious and for those looking at a budget phone. Asus is a far better choice than rebranders. I don’t hate rebranders, I actually had fun reviewing them some 2 years ago. But as I started to work and value money more, I don’t think it is wise to spend cash on a device you know will inevitably break and have to endure garbage after sales or inability to receive software updates. Granted that rebranders have consistently tried to make better built devices, it’s just not the same comfort you have with a branded one.

Steering into the budget-minded market, Asus has made a premium device well worth over the hype and maybe made a device which gives rebranders a run for their money. Priced at P6, 495, this is very competitively priced and brings competitive pleasure to any user who will have it.

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