Samsung Galaxy M10: The phone designed to win Bangladesh back

When getting a phone, the price is the most important aspect to almost everyone residing in and around Bangladesh. This is evident from the sales of local brand Symphony, and more recently that of Xiaomi. They simply offer more for less, and for us, that’s usually more enticing than brand value. And thus, the Galaxy M10. Samsung’s response to losing a foothold in the Indian subcontinent’s market. I’ve used the phone for about a week, and this review will be based on my somewhat extended experience with it.

The look and feel

Designed to win back the market lost to Xiaomi, the M10 had to offer more for less. And it does.

The phone has a 6.22-inch Infinity V display with a waterdrop notch, offering almost 82% screen-to-body ratio.

It’s also a very slim and wieldy device, having 7.7 mm in thickness and just 163 gm in weight (check out the full specs). Personally, I have an issue with glossy finishes or glass bodies because of the smudge your fingers are prone to leave. But the finish on this phone works really well and doesn’t smudge much. The overall design is very lush, especially when you take the price into consideration.

The performance

It’s got a headphone jack, so you know it’s already 40% better than other phones. The M10 has an Exynos & Octa 7870 CPU and 2/3 GB of RAM. That’s not substantial in terms of Samsung. But take into consideration the price of the phone, and you will see that the power it packs is something you expect from local brands or Xiaomi. Not out of worldwide market leaders like Samsung. The phone performs smoothly and seamlessly. Someone at the office tried playing PUBG on it after I refused. I played Injustice 2 instead. Both games ran very well. It has got very decent battery life. The phone has a loud and clear speaker, if you’re into using phones like that. Basically, the phone runs everything just as well as it should. There isn’t anything to complain about.

The Camera

The camera is sort of a mixed bag.  It doesn’t have autofocus options. It does however have HDR and continuous shooting modes. The 13MP back camera allows for smooth, sharp and natural looking images to be captured in a few different modes like Pro, beauty and live focus. The selfie camera is average. It doesn’t have optical image stabilization, which doesn’t play into taking photos as much as it does with capturing videos. The captures tend to stutter a bit, but retain the right amount of exposure and lighting you would expect on a Samsung phone. Again, good value for the money.

Distinguishing Features

Does the headphone jack count?

The M10 has a very responsive face scanner unlock in place of a fingerprint sensor. Then again, a fingerprint sensor wouldn’t be feasible at this price point. The most impressive feature is the Widevine L1 support on this phone. This feature allows HD streaming from Netflix and other services. This is a feature unique to a phone at this price and wasn’t even on the Pocophone F1 at release.

In conclusion, the Galaxy M10 is a great get for the price.

It offers fine specifications with the added value of the Samsung brand. If you’re trying to get a phone on the budget, consider the M10. You probably won’t be disappointed.

Best phones under BDT 20,000

There are quite a few great phones out in the market right now. Sadly, many of them require you to bankrupt yourself. We don’t want you to trade an arm and a leg for a smartphone, so here’s a list of great phones you can buy under 20,000 BDT right now. Hurry, because many of them are on sale for a short time at many different vendors. You may find many of these phones at local markets as well.

  1. Xiaomi Mi A2

The Xiaomi Mi A2 is a pretty decent phone. It is the most expensive phone on this list, however. It has great specs. The version we recommend is the Global Version with 4GB RAM and 32GB ROM. The phone has a 5.99-inch display with a 2160×1080 pixel resolution. Having an octa-core Snapdragon 660 under the hood gives the phone significant power as well. The cameras on the phone are also very impressive. The front camera is a fantastic 20 megapixels with AI capabilities. The back has two cameras, at 12 and 20 megapixels each. The phone can take 4K videos with the back cameras, although only at 30 fps. A2 has no headphone jack, as is the norm now. It has significantly thick bezels, however. Some may not like that on a phone nowadays. Overall, if you want a great phone that can run most apps and games but still take stunning photos, and don’t mind bezels, this is the phone for you.

Get it from Daraz here.

  1. Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite

Another Xiaomi phone is up next on the list. The Mi 8 Lite has an impressive 24 megapixels in its front camera. This makes the selfies look extremely crisp.  The display is a huge 6.26 inches, packing a resolution of 2280×1080 pixels. 4GB of RAM may not be the highest in smartphones these days, but it comes with a whopping 64GB of ROM. The Snapdragon 660 is a dependable processor and will pop up on this list a few times. The phone comes with a notched design with may not be to everyone’s liking. Other than that, it’s a very good phone that could be an awesome daily driver for many.

  1. Moto G6

The 32 GB version of Moto G6 fits very easily into this category. While the Snapdragon 450 is not as powerful as other chipsets on the list, it’s still decent. It’s got a display with a 1080p resolution. The GPU is as impressive as anything on this list, being an Adreno 506. It’s got two cameras, 12 and 5 megapixels respectively, on the back. The front has one 16-megapixel camera with LED flash. The phone can perform very well for something that’s so inexpensive. The phone looks a little old fashioned but it performs great.

  1. Moto X (4th gen)

The more buff version of the previous entry, the Moto X is cheaper than the weaker G6 now due to a sale going on. This makes this beast an automatic choice for the list. This is also a little old-fashioned to look at, with the thick bezels and everything. The real impressive parts are hidden under the hood. The phone boasts a Snapdragon 630 with an Adreno 508 GPU. The 3 GB of RAM is just enough for you to be able to multitask or play games on your phone like PUBG. It sports 2 cameras on the back at 12 and 8 megapixels. The front features a single 16-megapixel camera. If you like powerful phones with good cameras, but want to buy one on a budget, and don’t mind bezels, it could be a good daily driver for you.

  1. Lenovo Z5

We recently reviewed this and had to include it in the list. It has its fair share of problems, and the marketing was almost 100% lies, but it delivered. The 6 GB of RAM really lets you use however many apps you want to. The Snapdragon 636 is a powerful enough processor, and the Adreno 509 GPU is one of the better GPU’s in the market now. The display is notched, but the cameras are decent. They may not be as good in low light as they are in well-lit scenes. All in all, as my own personal daily driver, we have found it to be good enough.

Android P: two steps forward and one step back

With another year comes another Android dessert, NOT heading to a phone near you. With the announcement and release of a second developer preview, Android P, as it’s currently known (until Google can make up its mind on what to call this one), is already out in the world with most of its highlight features out in the open for all the world to see and analyse.

If you were expecting this to feature a major shakeup like Lollipop’s Material Design or Oreo’s Notification Controls, you are in the wrong year. While P has a boatload of new things to bring to the table on an exclusive few devices later in the year, it’s nothing worth going nuts over, yet. Do keep in mind that these are not the final additions, and more things may be added or removed as this gets closer to the release date. With all that said, lets jump into what’s new with Android’s latest treat:

Gesture navigation

We must admit, we were surprised Google hadn’t implemented gesture controls previously as Android had the most diverse landscape with towering screens long before Apple thought of going Plus sized. Anyway, with this new addition to Google’s stable, the navigation bar has been slightly redesigned with the removal of the recent apps button, and instead, swiping up from the home ‘bar,’ you’ll see all of your app icons. Sliding your home button to the left opens up multitasking views, and you’ll be able to perform quick actions from this view. For those who are already terrified at the prospect of learning new controls, the system also has a ‘legacy’ mode where it brings the traditional controls back.

Redesigned quick toggles, settings and notification shade

If you thought the vanilla Android look was boring, you wouldn’t be wrong. Seems Google thought that way too as their quick toggles have been given a slightly ‘bubbly’ look and some colours to liven it up. The same treatment was given to the settings menu as well, all in a bid to liven it up and make it easier to find what you need. Google has also taken to P to further enhance the way you interact with notifications, as a continuation of Oreo’s improvements, such as adding the ability to send pictures straight from the notification. Oh, and the volume slider sees its first proper redesign by now making them vertical, with proper toggles to change profiles.

Efficient learning

Machine learning goes big with Android P as it plays key roles behind the scenes. Starting from learning how you use your apps, to adjusting your brightness based on times and locations, not just from the ambient light sensor. Android P will also use your usage habits to save as much battery as it can. Dubbed Adaptive Battery, it’s mostly targeting to managing battery when your device is idle.

https://youtu.be/gmWIf5sINEc?t=5m3s

Multi-camera and notch support

Android P allows developers to access streams from two different physical cameras simultaneously using the multi-camera API. This API requires either dual camera setups, a norm these days (plus maybe a Pixel 3 prediction). Another new addition is support for the very controversial notched displays, also a trend nowadays (although not a great one).

The annoyances

As mentioned before, many of these features are subject to change and most of the changes are under the hood. As it stands though, P is also set to introduce some interesting annoyances too. For one thing, the gesture control system is nowhere as complete or as intuitive as its iOS counterpart. Also, if you were to bring up the idea of saving screen real estate, you’d lose on that one too because the navigation bar is still very much there. So until Google irons out this new gesture control system, iOS leads by a country mile.

Another interesting annoyance with the current build is the omission of some very helpful shortcuts, which were present in previous versions of Android. Most notably, the expandable small options menu attached to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth is gone. Another omission is that small icon to jump directly to the full system settings from the Quick Settings screen. Their attempt at streamlining the DND (Do Not Disturb) has ended up dumbing down a very useful feature. Gone are the Alarms Only and Priority Only modes, and that’s sure to annoy the hell out of most users.

Technically, Android P still isn’t in its complete form yet and things are subject to change, but as it stands, this new one is mostly a just a generational update and nothing more. There are some things that iOS still trumps it on, mostly the gesture based navigation, but assuming Google polishes it up, it could very well become its secret sauce.

Product review – Oppo F7 smartphone

There was a time when Oppo used to make amazing flagships with innovative designs. Through their impressive work with cameras in their phones, Oppo rose through its competition in China and has expanded globally ever since. They marketed what they did best – class-leading cameras. Back in 2014, the Oppo Find 7 and it’s successor, the Oppo N1. Times have changed however, and so their leadership in the market has waned. They’re still one of the biggest smartphone makers in the world, particularly in Asia. Their focus has shifted from offering top-tier performance and functionality to focused marketing on excellent performance both for the front and rear cameras. But since then, Oppo been struggling in putting out a device that satisfies the average Joe-shim looking for a phone. The Oppo F7 is somewhat of a departure from their philosophy, and it’s for the better.

Sure, the phone isn’t the best example of bang-for-buck, but the F7 isn’t quite a terrible phone compared to the products Oppo has put out in the past few years. Its current competitor in the market is the Vivo V9, and it does almost everything better while costing a bit less than the V9.

The Performance

The Oppo is no slouch in this department. It uses Mediatek’s latest P60 SoC, which performs on par with the Snapdragon 660 and 636. The user interface is snappy and responsive, but Oppo’s ColorOS based on Android 8.1 Oreo tries hard to deliver an iPhone experience with no app drawers. If one feels bothered about this, Nova Launcher or Google Launcher is ready to be installed from the Google Play Store, offering a more familiar experience on the F7. With 4 GB of ram, the phone easily gets day-to-day tasks done, even handling intensive tasks. But if you feel gimped with 4 gigs of ram, there is a 6GB option available as well. Gaming performance is great but not the best when compared to something such as a Xiaomi Mi6 or Mi Note 3 within the range, because the Mali GPU in the phone doesn’t do much good against the Adreno from Snapdragon chipsets.

Design and display

The F7 isn’t the most premium phone on earth, but it’s a phone that feels well built, which is fine as it is a mid-ranger. The weight is perfect, as it isn’t too heavy nor does it feel as flimsy as a plastic phone. One terrible decision Oppo decided to take was to choose plastic with a glossy rear to illuminate its back. It’s a solution to imitate flagship devices with glass backs, but ultimately the phone becomes a fingerprint magnet. Dread from it, run from it, smudges always follow.

The phone still uses the Micro USB port which you always get wrong on the first try while trying to plug in your phone in the dark. The snappy, functional fingerprint scanner is around the back. Take a look at the bottom and, behold, a 2018 smartphone with a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The 19:9 display with 1080p is a great experience, as it feels amazing for media consumption and gaming. If you want even more screen real estate, then feel free to hide the software navigation buttons and use gestures for navigation; a desperate attempt by Oppo trying to imitate iPhones again. Old habits die hard.

Software and functionality

ColorOS is quite a bit bulky when compared to stock android. It takes a while to get used to and there aren’t really any difference under the hood when you change the theme from the theme store. Oppo’s way of dealing with convenience doesn’t make sense however. They use a keyboard called “Oppo Secure Keyboard” layered on top of the Gboard and claims to protect keystrokes from being tracked. Let me rephrase that sentence, they use a terribly heavy feature (that nobody asked for in the first place) in place of a function that can easily be used from a lighter alternative. And that sentence describes the software side of the phone entirely.

However, the Helios P60 helps in the software department. Face Unlock is a gimmicky feature to some android users, but it works quite fast. A dedicated AI chip in the SoC helps with delays previously faced from fingerprint scanning and face unlock; along with real time HDR in taking photos.

Endurance

With a respectable 3400mAh battery, the Oppo offers a full day of heavy and moderate usage, with little charge left at the end of the day. The efficient chip-set helps in this regard, putting it a class above competitors from Huawei (P20 Lite) and Vivo (Vivo V9). What the F7 lacks however, is fast charging tech. It takes around two hours to top up the battery from 5%.

Camera

As usual, the camera is the only thing the Oppo excels in. Boasting a 25 megapixel camera with f/2.5 aperture in the front and a 16 megapixel camera with f/1.8 aperture in the back, the device takes great pictures. Oppo’s main point of marketing is the AI Beauty feature. In most cases, the beautification is probably for the better but the beautification doesn’t go away entirely when you turn the mode off. The bokeh feature has been around for a while, and it finally feels that mobile phone manufacturers pulled it off, thanks to AI being at work. There are some AR features that were fun, but the available ones were pretty conventional and uninspiring.

The rear camera is brilliant as well. In an era of dual camera focusing on taking cool macro shots with blurred backgrounds, the Oppo takes a different route. Surely enough, the phone doesn’t offer amazing shots like Samsung Galaxy S9 or iPhone X, but the colors seem natural in well lit conditions. The sensor tends to overexpose a bit under low light conditions however. For macro shots, the camera feels brilliant, detecting edges and objects properly.

The best part about the camera app is the Expert mode. In this, you can adjust shutter speed, ISO, exposure etc. Disappointingly, the phone doesn’t offer 4K recording, a commonplace feature in this price range.

Conclusion and brief comparisons

The F7 isn’t a terrible phone by any means, but there are better options in the price range. Its mainstream competitors however, aren’t doing much good.

The Vivo V9 with a smaller battery and inferior camera is probably the worst in this price range, but the V9’s edge is in offering a lighter user interface experience and fast charge tech. Buying the V9 with 30,000BDT and getting a Snapdragon 626 is a disappointment to say the least.

Huawei recently entered this segment with the Huawei P20 Lite. Sure, the phone looks stunning and arguably prettier than the F7, but the Kirin 659 is dated. The GPU is worse as well. Storage system on the Oppo is UFS 2.1 whereas the P20 lite uses eMMc for storage. However, the build quality is a bit better, and dual cameras are better in some aspects. The P20 Lite also has fast charging tech with a USB C port.

The F7 is a good phone, but do pick it up when the price is a bit more tolerable. It nails almost everything down, and should be a pretty capable driver for any average user.