Archive for Hardware Reviews

As any Apple fan knows, the next generation of iPhone was launched in September followed shortly by the unveiling of the new operating system, the highly anticipated iOS 7. Better known as Innsbruck, the new iOS integrates a wide variety of changes and, thanks to the radical implementations announced by Apple, it will be quite different from the previous generations of iOS. Change is not always a bad thing and the innovative features officially announced to be part of the iOS 7 stand proof of that.

  1. A Lock Screen with better functionality

Say goodbye to that annoying Lock Screen that was neither fully awake, nor fully functional. The new Lock Screen that will come with the iOS 7 promises excellent functionality and quick access to the Control Center and Notification Center as well as a fast Camera access.

  1. Improved gestured-based controls

In all fairness, gesture controls have always been the most problematic part of managing an iPhone, especially since if you are not careful you risk having apps colliding and conflicting with each other. The iOS 7 continues Apple’s long history of gesture controls and pledges improved system-wide functionality.

  1. An innovative Control Center

iOS 7

The much awaited Control Center finally becomes a reality with the iOS 7. Simply swipe up from any screen of your device and gain fast access to the controls and the most commonly used applications. While it may seem a little weird for Android, BlackBerry or webOS users at first, the truth is that Apple’s Control Center is actually better thought-through than the double-click associated with the rest of the mobile platforms.

  1. A superior Notification Center

Granted, the first attempt to introduce a Notification Center for iPhone 5 was a fiasco. However, Apple appears to have learnt from its mistakes, as the new Notification Center has been stripped of several useless features and it was designed to present all the alerts users are actually interested in.

  1. Multitasking available for every app

While multitasking was always a strong point for the iOS, the new feature available with Innsbruck takes things one step further. To be more precise, Apple engineers have introduced some system-wide smarts that are finally able to perform at the superior standards Steve Jobs expected when he first introduced the concept in 2007. Moreover, according to Apple representatives, the multitasking feature has been optimized to provide excellent performance, while preserving battery life at the same time.

  1. Automatic photo filters

Considering that the next generation of iPhone has received a new camera, it was only natural that Apple’s team would also redesign the Camera app. And a fine job they did, as the iOS 7 offers a smarter way to organize your photos into several categories and quite an impressive social version of the Photo Stream.

  1. Completely rehashed Safari

Because the browser is basically the heart of the iPhone, it should not come as a surprise that Safari received the most extensive redesign. To put it simply, you can finally enjoy a unified search bar along with quick access buttons to new social features, a new tab interface, an improved reading list and the option to generate, store and fill passwords.

  1. Siri gets a new look

The new Siri is not only able answer your questions faster and check more sources, but it also has a more natural, easier to understand voice. In addition, the new assistant can perform a variety of new tasks, such as returning calls, controlling the iTunes Radio or playing voicemails for instance.

  1. Dynamic interface

In spite of what the critics might say, the interface redesign of the new iOS 7 is all below the surface. As the company announced, they developed a new physics and particle engine that can support the new OS and managed to turn the elements of the interface into objects, while providing support for direct manipulation at the same time.

  1. Find my iPhone is now addressing theft

‘Find my iPhone’ proved to be quite a useful feature time and time again, whenever you misplaced your phone under the sofa or in another room of the house. Now, it has been upgraded to serve as an anti-theft feature thanks to the activation lock that blocks your device if it happens to fall in the wrong hands.

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Overview

If you’re shopping for an attractive and smoothly running smartphone but can’t afford to break the bank for your newest gadget, then the new Sony Xperia SP is among the few decent mid-level handsets to consider. While it is entirely true that Sony doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel with the Xperia SP design, you shouldn’t interpret this as poor or ugly design. In fact, the latest marvel of Japanese technology is as much functional as it is aesthetic, thanks to its attractive molded aluminum curved, but smaller frame. But, there’s more to the Xperia SP than appearance, as you are about to find out.

Manufacturer

In all fairness, Sony is currently a name that needs no further presentation in the electronics, entertainment, gaming and the financial services industries. Even though the collaboration with Ericsson set the basis for a promising multinational mobile phone manufacturing company, it all went downhill with the launch of the first iPhone in 2007. Still, after suffering serious losses during the next three years, Sony is back on its feet and ready to plunge into the smartphone market.

A quick look at its main features

  • Comes in a very sleek frame design measuring approximately 131 x 67 x 10 millimeters and weighing 5.5 oz
  • Incorporates a 4.6 inches touchscreen, capable of 720p HD display
  • Includes an 8 megapixel camera and can stream 1080p videos
  • Has a dual-core processor of 1.7 GHz (the famous Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro), 1GB of RAM and the Adreno 320 graphics chip
  • Its basic storage capacity is of 8 GB, but it can be increased via a MicroSD card
  • Operates on Android 4.1.2 and includes some Sony UI features
  • Capable of 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi networking

Pros

The main highlight of the Xperia SP is its impressive 8 MP rear-facing camera. It is an outstanding feature able to shoot 3,264 x 2,448 pixels and that allows you to perform any action imaginable, from sweep panorama mode to on-the-fly picture effects. And, if you’re curious as to how Sony managed to incorporate this powerful camera into such a thin device, then the answer is the new Exmor RS sensor; needless to state, the 1080p HD display is impressive.

There have been numerous discussions regarding the limited storage space and the fact that out of 8 GB, you only get to use around 5.5 GB. However, Sony thought things through and integrated a MicroSD slot, a feature this phone can’t do without. Some users might even go so far as to say that without the MicroSD, this model would have been a real turnoff for Sony fans.

Critics will suggest that Sony stole the “tweaking the Android interface” idea from Samsung. However, even if they did – this is nothing but a rumor – the truth is that their Walkman app is considerably better looking and more intuitive than the basic Android music player. From organizing and cataloguing music to a significantly larger number of options, the manufacturers have really outdone themselves here. Given Sony’s background, it’s pretty clear that music plays a big part in the company’s history.

Cons

Unfortunately, the responsiveness and overall performance of the OS remain an issue for Sony. If the manufacturer would have consider including the necessary hardware to support the attractive interface and extra features, perhaps we would be looking at a top of the line mid-range smartphone. Still, a dual core 1.7 GHz is too little for what the Xperia can offer.

Reputation

True enough, Xperia’s strong points include the music app, camera and attractive design. However, the slow processor and the questionable battery life doesn’t put the new Sony smartphone among heavy users’ top preferences. Nevertheless, if you’re keen on owning a decent smartphone and don’t want to spend a lot of cash on it, the Xperia could be the perfect model for you.

In a nutshell

Looking beyond the limited storage space and occasional poor responsiveness, Xperia SP is not really that bad. Analyzing its features and design, you might even think that this is Sony’s first attempts to sit down at the grown-ups table and get noticed. All in all, if you’re on a budget, then the amazing camera and the range of connectivity make the Xperia SP a good investment.

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Oppo Find 5

Overview

If you are thinking of getting a new smartphone due to various reasons, we admit that purchasing one developed by a Chinese manufacturer is not exactly your first choice. We all heard the stories and some of us even witnessed first-hand the cheap replicas of known smartphones manufactured and sold in China. However, OPPO’s Find 5 is a completely different story and also very first device able to support an 1920 x 1080 screen resolution. Before we tell you more about this surprisingly good gadget, let’s learn a bit about the manufacturer.

Developer

While you can argue that any manufacturers’ attempt to go head to head against giants like Samsung or iPhone is similar to the scene when Don Quixote charges the windmills, OPPO is one ambitious brand, courageous enough to enter this battle. OPPO is a manufacturer best known in North America, Asia and Europe for their quality Blu-Ray players and other similar electronics. However, ever since their entry on the mobile market – back in 2008 – the company has managed to launch several interesting phones on the market, including the Find 5 with 5 inch display.

A quick look at its main features

  • Features OGS technology, an innovation that combines the colors and display with touch sensors for a more vivid, real feeling
  • Able to support 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • The 5 inch screen has an impressive 441 PPI staggering rate
  • The Find 5 is incredible slim and only measures 3.25 mm
  • Very light, the device weighs 165 g
  • Beautiful and elegant minimalistic design and a refined look
  • Includes a BurstMode option that permits you to take 100 photos in 5 seconds
  • Capable of an incredible 120 FPS video recording speed
  • Integrates an advanced 13 megapixels camera featuring CMOS technology
  • The dual LED flash allows you to take clear pictures regardless of the time of the day or location
  • The camera supports HDR hardware, includes numerous filters and has 4-layer coatings
  • Comes with a quad-core 1.5 GHz processor that guarantees higher speeds as well as better resource consumption of the device
  • Includes a powerful graphic processor, ideal for media and games
  • Find 5 integrates a revolutionary sound reproduction system, the famous Dirac HD Sound
  • The available wireless networks are WiFi and DLNA
  • Its space can be upgraded to 16/32 GB of internal storage

Pros

First off, it is necessary to mention that the device is not only built from top notch materials, but its overall appearance consisting of a smooth and impeccable slab of glass, metal and plastic stand out. Since we mentioned the materials, we also want to underline that even the box it is shipped in is top notch, which is more than you can say about the popular smartphone manufacturers. All in all, a clean, minimalistic design with a standard and intuitive button placement for enhanced user experience.

A further strong point of the new Find 5 is its incredible 1920 x 1080 resolution. Not only that, but OPPO has actually made sure the Find 5 comes with the highest quality panels available. While we bet any smartphone owner is excited to hear about the 1080p display, let’s not forget that the resolution is pretty standard with these devices and particularly with the latest models.

Lastly, if you decide to purchase this gadget, then you will be happy to learn that the manufacturer promised to include numerous software updates and make sure the OS works smoothly irrespective of the apps you install on the Find 5.

Cons

While it does include an incredible 13 megapixel camera and the sensor is of above average quality, unfortunately the software is missing all common features you are probably accustomed to.

Reputation

The obvious major setback of this amazing smartphone resides in the fact that not many people have actually heard of the company. This is why it is hard to discuss whether OPPO and Find 5 enjoy an overall positive or negative reputation in the smartphone community.

In a nutshell

Even though it does have some issues with the software backing up the camera, let’s not forget that OPPO promised to release a lot of updates to address any problems in the near future. In addition, Find 5 also comes with a great quality build and an impressive, crystal clear display, both features that are in our opinion enough reasons to check out the device.

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