What a laptop can be – HP Spectre x360 15″ review

Overview

According to Wikipedia, HP was the biggest PC vendor in 2017 with a 20.8% market share. The test unit of Spectre x360 15” is probably much higher-end than an average laptop the company sells but it represents pretty much the best they have to offer. The exact model I’m testing is 15-bl102no. It has a 15,6” 4K 2160p IPS display, Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, Nvidia GeForce MX150, 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB NVMe SSD.

The laptop is meant for enthusiast users that need to do some productive work but keep moving while doing so. The laptop doesn’t come with a Pro Windows, and HP has a separate Spectre Pro lineup for business users. There’s a Spectre x360 13” version as well but it can’t be fitted with discrete graphics card and the 13” 4K display is even more overkill than in the 15” model I have here.

The only store that currently lists the laptop in the exact same configuration, has it priced at 2000€ but similar versions are listed at around 1800€. The Spectre is a jewel kind of a laptop but at this price range, the laptop also needs to perform well, have a great display and a solid battery life.

For the rest of the review, I’ll name the 15” Spectre x360 as just Spectre. I’ll mention 13” or similar if I’m talking about a different device than the actual review unit.

Design

Visual appearance of the Spectre is one of its key features. As the lid is closed, the laptop is quite understated. The sides of the review unit reveal a bit of its fanciness on the sides with the polished copper color. The hinge design is one beautiful feature with its curves and the new simplified HP logo is subtle enough for this kind of premium device.

As the lid is opened, the main features are revealed. The 15” 4K display has slim bezels on the sides but the bottom bezel is large to lift the display up a little bit and improve the user experience. The top bezel is quite typical for laptops but this one actually packs some important features on that bezel.

The keyboard is quite typical compact keyboard in a space that could have hosted a numpad as well. Although as this Spectre isn’t meant for business use, the B&O tuned speakers around the keyboard are probably more important feature than the numpad would have been. The touchpad is very wide but not too tall.

Overall, the design of the Spectre is an interesting mix of design-first and function-first thinking. A typical laptop customer probably sees the design as too dominant feature of this laptop but the Spectre also is out of the price range of a typical customer. Personally, I feel that the design represents the laptop’s potential quite well. It looks precious but subtle at the same time.

Look and feel

The HP Spectre is meant to be used. All the materials are premium and carefully selected. The display turns into the tablet mode very easily and without any squeaking or sounds. The hinge design is beautiful to look at. Especially in the copper color.

The display glass is reflective due to the touch functionality, but it has some anti-reflective coding that helps in bright scenarios. The oleophobic coating on the display is similar to many smartphones. It lets fingers to slide easily on the glass but the oleophobic part of it is quite bad. The display is full of fingerprints very quickly.

Using the Spectre in daily life feels premium. The laptop is cool to touch, and feels rigid when carrying it around. It is also kind of heavy for its size at 2 kilograms.

Specifications

The Spectre really is equipped with the best hardware that is possible to be packed inside this chassis. The CPU is a 15W 4 core 8 thread Intel Core i7-8550U with 1.8GHz base frequency and 4.0GHz max boost. Although the test unit claims to have a 2.0GHz base frequency, the official spec is 1.8GHz. This doesn’t matter too much because the CPU is almost always boosting over the base frequency anyway. The CPU is manufactured on the 14nm Kaby Lake refresh process and has 8MB of L3 cache. There’s also an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU on board.

The test unit has two 8 GB 2400 MHz DDR4 SODIMMs for a total of 16 GB of RAM. The CPU and motherboard support maximum of 32 GB and the RAM sticks are user accessible under a couple of screws. The 512 GB NVMe SSD is made by Toshiba and the actual model can be found by Googling ‘THNSN5512GPUK’.

The Nvidia GeForce MX150 is an ultrabook oriented version of GT 1030. It uses the Pascal architecture, has 384 Cuda cores, 2 GB of GDDR5 memory and runs at up to 1911 MHz according to a little test.

Display

The display is a 15,6” UHD BV LED touchscreen that is by my understanding an IPS display. It has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 which in the size 15,6” means 282DPI. There’s no official claim on Adobe RGB color reproduction but the colors look quite correct to my eyes without any actual equipment to prove it.

However, the display has some amazing light bleed from every corner. Viewing black images on dark environment reveals the grey blacks of an IPS display and the massive light bleeding. I haven’t been in touch with HP support, but I believe this could be a reason to replace the unit if it bothered me.

Performance

The Spectre has some serious hardware under the hood which means that it flies through typical benchmarks. However, I was able to completely jam the machine while running some graphically intensive tests like 3DMark Time Spy.

The test suite was quite large for an ultrabook review, and the benchmarks were driven 3 to 5 times each. The following screenshots are the best results. I’ll include the results in the text as well for those who can’t or won’t load the images.

Disclaimer: The Spectre is running on an Insider preview version on Windows 10. That does affect the results and the reproduction of the results.

Cinebench R15 tests the CPU’s single- and multi-core performance. Multi-core result is 538 cb and single core is 169 cb. For comparison, the full desktop 6700K on stock clocks scored 931/182.

Geekbench scrores were 4922 for single-core and 14119 for the multi-core test.

PCMark 10 score was 4043 with sub scores of 8086 (Essentials), 6201 (Productivity) and 3578 (Digital Content Creation).

CrystalDiskMark results for sequential read and write were 1653.1 MB/s and 607 MB/s

Unigine Heaven benchmark returned 28.4 FPS and 716 points on 1080p high DX11.

Sunspider score on Chrome was 240.5 ms.

Octane score on Chrome was 40365.

 

Here are also screenshots of CPU-Z and Open Hardware Monitor.

 

Day-to-day performance

Daily performance has been snappy with the NVMe SSD and 16GB of RAM. The CPU also boosts very high when browsing the web or doing some productive work on Adobe CC. On short time load, the machine is extremely quick.

However, gaming or video rendering on this machine could be a relatively bad experience. The CPU isn’t meant to stay cool under full load for a long time. The cooling fans are loud, and the fan curves are set up such a way that the CPU package gets really hot before the fans really kick off.

The performance is very good for a casual user in most situations. Of course, a laptop is not the ideal machine for hardcore video editing anyway, so I’m not too concerned on that. Some older games and less GPU intensive titles are also very playable on 1080p resolution.

After a two hour session of a CPU intensive Hearts of Iron IV in 1080p, the CPU was running at only 1.7 GHz because of the thermals. Lifting the bottom of the laptop off the surface helps somewhat.

Battery life and charging

The Spectre has an 79 Wh battery with a 90-watt USB type-C charger. Battery life is surprisingly good. The laptop easily lasts an 8-hour work day with high screen brightness and somewhat demanding workload. Usually after a day of using the Spectre on battery power only, I’ve had more than 50% left on the 6 cells it has. The charger is also very quick, and it can also charge a modern Android smartphone with the type-C connector.

Other Hardware

Keyboard and trackpad are pretty much the opposite of each other. The trackpad is wide but not tall enough. It’s usable in most circumstances but for example the right click is so far on the right that it’s hard to reach sometimes. The trackpad uses Synaptics drivers, not Windows drivers. That’s important for those who use Windows’ trackpad gestures.

The keyboard on the other hand is very good to type on. The keys have a decent travel and even somewhat noticeable activation point. After a couple of minutes, I was already happy typing longer texts on the Spectre.

In some markets, the Spectre comes with an HP Active Pen. It is a brilliant addition to the control methods of a laptop. It can be used to navigate the OS but Windows Ink is actually very good software for those who like to draw some little sketches or take hand written notes. The pen is capable of doing some real work as well. It recognizes 2048 pressure levels, has two programmable buttons and lasts for months with the one AAAA-battery. One thing missing is the angle detection.

The speakers are tuned by B&O but they sound quite tinny. One would think that it would be possible to add better speakers on such an expensive laptop and such a big space around the keyboard. But there must be a good reason for this because one would also think that B&O name wasn’t used if they hadn’t at least tried their best.

The Webcam takes Full HD videos at least in theory. The image is very noisy even in very good lighting but it gets the job done in Skype video calls. The microphone on the other hand is decent. My voice was very clear through it even if I sounded a bit tinny.

I/O

After seeing what Apple’s example has done to smartphone market, it’s a welcome surprise to see that the HP Spectre has a decent selection of I/O ports despite its thickness. The Spectre has two type-C ports on the right side of the laptop. Both support charging but only one is Thunderbolt 3 capable. On the left side are one type-A USB port, a headphone jack and a full-size SD card reader.

The power button is on the left side of the laptop and the volume rocker is placed on the right side. Both sides of the laptop have holes for the exit fans.

Windows and HP stuff

The Spectre comes with an HP spiced version of Windows 10 Home. HP has added its usual software suite. HP support assistant is easy way to keep drivers and firmware up to date. Otherwise, the software is the same all over again. Pre-installed Candy Crush Saga and typical pushing of Microsoft’s own apps is something Windows users are familiar with at this point.

Windows Hello

Windows Hello is an easy way to unlock the laptop for those who are not worried about their privacy on a level that they would have taped off their webcam. The Spectre has two IR blasters that recognized my face quickly in most circumstances. However, in low light and bright sunshine, it couldn’t recognize me at all. I wish this model had the fingerprint scanner for those situations like its smaller sibling, the 13” Spectre has. Some 15″ models also have a fingerprint scanner on the side.

Test notes

Don’t ever put Insider Preview on a review laptop ever again. Weekly or daily updates are changing the performance of the laptop so drastically that benchmarking the thing was a challenge to say the least.

Summary

The HP Spectre x360 15″ is a marginal product. It won’t be bought in masses by companies because it’s a consumer machine, not a business laptop. Most customers are shopping for a PC of under $500 and if they have $2000 to spend, they’ll blindfoldedly go and buy a Mac.

The Spectre is a way to show what Windows PC’s are capable of. All this technology will be dropping to the biggest selling laptops eventually. The Spectre is a brilliant showcase.

Huawei launches P20 Pro with 40 megapixel camera

Huawei tries to breath new life to the stagnant smartphone market with the new P20 Pro. It uses AI to stitch together images from three different sensors.

As the smartphone market is getting less and less interesting with iterative updates, the Huawei P20 Pro is a welcome exception. Huawei launched a full lineup of P20 devices at Paris but the Pro model is easily the most interesting.

The Huawei P20 Pro is a glass and metal sandwich with a 6.1″ 18.7:9 2240 x 1080 resolution notched OLED display. It has the Huawei’s in house Kirin 970 chip, 6 GB of RAM,  128 GB of storage and a 4000 mAh battery. On the camera side though, things get more interesting. The front 24 megapixel camera is placed in the notch and on the flip side, there are 3 cameras.

The main camera, on the middle, has a massive 1/1.7″ 40 megapixel sensor for nearly Pureview-like resolution. The top camera has an 8 megapixel sensor with a 3x telephoto lens. The bottom camera has a 20 megapixel sensor with a monochrome lens. To turn this massive amount of data to a beautiful image in all conditions, Huawei is using AI. The monochrome lens lets in more light in dark situations, so the AI can for example take the colors from the main camera, and the details from the monochrome sensor.

Like said, this camera setup is like the Pureview of 2018. We are hoping to see more of innovation like this in the future to keep the smartphone market evolving. The notches are not good marketing pointers.

Speaking of notches and Huawei, they actually made their notch a marketing point. They compared it to the iPhone X notch and said that their smaller notch is better because the user can see more notification icons. I’d say that every notch is a notch, and should be got rid of.

The other two P20 models are the regular P20 and the P20 Lite. The P20 has a smaller 5.8″ LCD display with the same 2240 x 1080 resolution, 4 GB of RAM and the battery is 3400 mAh in capacity. The front facing camera is the same 24 megapixel unit but on the rear, there are only two cameras, a 12 MP main camera and a 20 MP monochrome one. Rest of the specs are the same.

The Lite has a Kirin 659 chip, 5.8″ IPS display with the same resolution, 16 and 2 megapixel cameras, 3000 mAh battery, 4 GB of RAM and 64 or 128 GB of storage.

Innovation is good for the smartphone market. We have heard some rumors about a Nokia phone with an impressive camera setup. Hopefully we are getting some real facts of it soon. Of course, other manufacturers are allowed to innovate too. It just turns out that some are too busy removing features.

Note8 review: super premium Android


It’s the time of the year that all the iPhone and Note reviews are taking the world by storm. I’m a Nexus user but this year I have used iPhones, cheap Nokias and now, my most expensive phone ever a Galaxy Note8. Time for a recap.

Samsung revamped their flagship lineup with the longer Infinity Display that makes everything else look outdated. The curved bezel-less display is the one to beat at the moment. Samsung has also stepped up their game with the build quality since they last visited my daily driver treatment. Starting from the Galaxy S6, Samsung has been crushing the build quality game with glass and metal sandwich that allows features like wireless charging in an absolutely beautiful body. The Note8 is the first Samsung to rock a dual camera setup. Also onboard, is the S-Pen, an iconic Note feature for precise control over the huge screen. This should be the ultimate smartphone of 2017.

Starting from the packaging, Samsung really wants this to be a Premium device. Included in the box are USB on-the-go adapter, type-C to micro-USB adapter, S-Pen replacement tips, premiumish AKG earbuds and a surprisingly low-amp charger. I would personally appreciate a case of some sort as at least now, the 3rd party cases are very poorly available in Europe, and even the Samsung’s own high-priced cases are out of stock everywhere. The rear glass needs protection for sure. The Gorilla Glass 5 is a tiny bit softer than the Gorilla Glass 4 and at least the 4 is very easy to get scratched by just laying it down to a wrong place with any kind of stone or sand nearby.

Physical features are brilliant. We have the 3.5mm headphone jack down at the bottom next to the USB type-C charging port, a mono speaker and the S-Pen silo. On the top, is the dual nano-SIM or one nano-SIM and a microSD slot. Buttons are great but there’s one too much of them. Luckily the single press feature of the Bixby button can now easily be disabled. The home button is now virtual but thanks to the pressure sensitive display, it’s available even when the screen is off or the navigation bar is hidden.

At this point, I decided to keep this review a bit shorter, and get to the critic part of the review. Continuing with the navigation bar. Why would anyone want to hide it on this long display? Samsung hasn’t made the navigation bar transparent or even match the color to the content. There are only a few lame options. Continuing with the software, the device maintenance is, to be honest, annoying. The darn thing wants to shut down apps I use. One day I took almost 900 photos and in the evening, I uploaded them to my Google Photos and OneDrive. Samsung software just shut them down for consuming too much power. Thanks. Also, the device maintenance always reminds me in the notification bar because it wants to disable my Freedome VPN. There is always an orange number on the settings button to show the number of the so-called problems.

The weirdest thing is the amount of Samsung bloatware. If Google already provides apps for everything, why does Samsung waste resources to thing like browser, calendar, calculator, clock, app store, SMS-app, phone, email app and so on and so on. A Nexus user just didn’t settle. I tried to setup my Action Launcher and disabling a bunch of Samsung bloat but no, I’m going back to the Nexus once again.

I’m not saying the Note8 is a bad phone, I just didn’t get used to it. This is a $1000 phone, I shouldn’t get used to it, it should be perfect. The display for example, is stunning. Of course, I turned on the maximum resolution and upped the brightness to a reasonable level and what can I say, can display be better? Blacks are black, colors are either oversaturated or accurate depending on your choice. The max brightness is so high that some would even consider throwing in a Note7 joke here.

The camera is great. I wouldn’t take 900 photos one day, if the camera wasn’t great. Shutter lag is minimal, portrait mode works fine, videos are brilliant. There’s just something missing. The images are a bit soft to my liking but very comparable to the iPhone 7 I have in my other pocket. In low light, at least with the current software, the Note8 seems to make everything washed out. While my Nexus 6P and the iPhone can find black from a very dark scene, the Note produces quite grey result. The front facing camera is decent, nothing groundbreaking here.

Not able to add iPhone’s photo here because of the file type. You can check the low light comparison at my Instagram or Twitter.

Nothing groundbreaking under the hood either. The Note8 packs the same SoC the S8/+ had. There’s 2 gigs more RAM thought, making it to a total of 6 gigabytes. In some scenarios this is noticeable. For example, I have never had to reload my Chrome tabs. Even after a lot of cameraing, photo editing, Twitter, Instagram and so on, when I get back to Chrome, all my ten tabs are still there, ready to go. Being Samsung though, that’s not consistent. For example, leaving Instagram to send a message in Messenger, the Instagram sometimes randomly reloads and loses the place I was. Optimization issue probably.

The Note lineup used to be great for power users, content creators and consumers, and road warriors. However, after last year’s catastrophe, the Note8’s battery is relatively small in capacity. The 3300 mAh package didn’t make it through the day too often. The display is very power hungry, and all the Samsung features use power in the background. Those days I made I to the bed time with one charge, there were 10-20% left and 2.5 hours of screen-on-time. Keep in mind that I’m in Finland and no phone has ever lasted more than 3,5 hours SoT in my testing. Could have something to do with the cellular thingies.

LTE speeds here in Finland are quite decent

 

One more interesting note, I have all three phones on my desk at home connected to my WiFi. When I get a notification, email, YouTube, whatever, the iPhone wakes like 10 seconds before the Nexus. Samsung is probably trying to save some juice with the update frequency as the Note8 gets the same notifications another 10 seconds later.

In the Android smartphone market, manufacturers do different things to differentiate themselves from the mass. Lately, the newest trend is super premium class of smartphones on top of the normal flagship lineup. Note8 is Samsung’s super premium phone coming in at $1000. Note lineup used to be something else. For some reason, Samsung thinks it can charge a $1000 for a phone that really only has the best display on the market. Everything else is just a little bit of meh. But I bought one, now Samsung thinks it’s okay to price a phone at $1000. Personally, I think that Samsung had a better change to outsell Apple by lowering their prices, not by following iPhone pricing.

iPhone 7 quick review: an Android user’s perspective

The Apple iPhone 7 has gone through my demanding tests. Here’s what an Android user found out.

I’ve been trying to get used to my new iPhone for a few weeks now, and the experience has been quite mixed. First there is the price. Because of the outrageous price, I had to get the smaller non-Plus model with tiny 4,7” LCD. The display is bright and accurate but lacks the deep blacks of AMOLED and crispness of the modern high-resolution displays. Also, the battery life is very mediocre as the battery capacity is only 1960mAh or 7.45Wh.

Besides the display, the thing the users touch the most is the new solid-state home button. It doesn’t move but feels like it does. Navigating the iOS is difficult for Android users. That’s because of the lack of a back button. Apple generously offers us the option to double tap the home button to bring down the app to reach the inconveniently placed top-left back key of most apps.

One positive thing at this point, the Taptic Engine is amazing. It should be implemented to every new device for now on. It delicately taps my hand when I’m for example updating a feed or pulling down the notification shade. I’ve started changing my alarm time every night just to feel the perfectly executed ticking while scrolling through the minutes. Most Android phones have a vibrate engine that’s loud but lacks the actual vibrate. The Taptic Engine on the iPhone 7 is just the opposite. You certainly can feel the phone vibrating but can’t hear anything.

For existing iPhone users, the iPhone 7 design is easy to get used to. It’s exactly the same as iPhone 6 and 6S with stealthier antenna lines and different accent around the protruding camera. Even most of the iPhone 6 and 6S cases fit on the 7. One thing experienced iPhone users might miss is charging and listening to music at the same time. Fortunately, the charger is still the same 5 watts 1 amp one that barely gets the battery percentage going up, so the loss isn’t too big. Maybe 2017 is the year of charging for Apple as the upcoming Anniversary Edition and 7S/Plus are rumored to get wireless charging, maybe even fast charging.

Oh, did I go through all the negative stuff first? Maybe, but let’s talk about some good stuff. Updates. Whereas Google thinks that two years is enough updates for a flagship phone, Apple seems to update their phones for 4 to 5 years. The iPhone 5S from 2013 will get the iOS 11 update this fall. That’s impossible in the Android universe.

At the same time, the support works brilliantly. As a Nexus owner, I have had to make a call request for the support for a couple of times. Now, I just sent an email to Apple and the next day they answered. It was a problem with my bank and the credit card I tried to add to my Apple ID. The bank told me to contact Apple and I was genuinely surprised as they solved the problem with just a few emails. Superb customer service by Apple in that case.

The camera. The iPhone 7 is brilliant at cameraing. Slo-mo, OIS, live photos, Apple just doesn’t add features to the camera app. They also make the features much better than others. Slo-mo is brilliant. Android users can say what they want about the bitrate and other stuff but the fact is that slo-mo from an iPhone looks better than from an Android phone. The same can’t be said about still photos. After Google made changes to their camera app, the Pixel and the Nexus 6P have been unbeatable on the still side. My Nexus 6P still beats the iPhone 7 in a blind test I organized for my friends.

I am a full time Google user. Pretty much all the things I do are connected to Google somehow. For the basics, I use Maps, YouTube and Gmail. I also have all my notes at Google Keep. I use Google Photos as my photo and video cloud and I even use Allo sometimes. Trying to do all these things with an iPhone was surprisingly easy. Some problems I faced were some weird backup issues with Google Photos and the lack of features in the GBoard. However, I was really surprised by the overall compatibility.

Let’s jump to the conclusionish part of the quick review then. What’s it like to live in the iOS world? The start was difficult. Everything has to be changed from the settings, like camera settings and WiFi. Later, when everything is set up, one can appreciate the decision as all the unnecessary buttons are hidden in the settings app. The back button is completely unacceptable, and I’m playing the Steve-card for three things here. First, the back button with the larger displays. It’s unreachable and stupid. Just move it down or use the Touch ID swipe instead. Second, the protruding camera lens. “That doesn’t look like Apple.” Third, the lack of a headphone jack. Apple revolutionized the music industry, smartphone industry, app industry and now they are revolutionizing the cashing in industry by using only one proprietary port that provides royalty fees to the company. Steve would not have done this yet.

After the Steve-cards, let’s play some jokers. I’m using the iOS 11 beta. The new control center is much better than the old one. Simpler, yet more useful. The notification shade is weird. Sometimes it can be swiped up, sometimes only the home button works. The worst thing though is the network connection. It’s just bad. I’ve tried several WiFis and two different wireless carriers but the iPhone just can’t keep me connected. I really hope it’s a beta feature, not a hardware issue.

Overall, I can see why people love their iPhones. *Switching the SIM back to the Nexus 6P*

Nokia 3 review: Welcome back Nokia!

When a tech geek switches from a flagship smartphone to a $150 Android phone, the change could cause desperation and sadness. Let’s find out what feelings the new Nokia 3 causes.

A week ago, I switched my main SIM-card from my Nexus 6P to a Nokia 3 Android smartphone. I downloaded all the apps I use and added all the accounts I need to make the Nokia 3 my daily driver for a week. The first boot took 3 minutes and I already started to feel desperate. However, after smashing the quad core Mediatek MT6737 with all the installations and usual first boot stuff, the performance started to settle to a usable level.

Using the Nokia 3 is very familiar to a Nexus user. All the new Nokias use almost stock build of Android 7.0 and they are confirmed to get the upcoming Android 8 update that I’m already running on my Nexus as a beta release.

Once all the options have been set up correctly, I started to wonder about the build quality. As it says in the box, the Nokia 3 should have an aluminum frame. Unfortunately, the paint on my black model feels very plasticky. It almost never feels cold to the touch. Also, the back panel keeps plasticky noise, not least because it is made out of plastic. The buttons feel clicky, and according to my material detecting thumb, are made of metal. Other noticeable physical features are the non-protruding camera lens, headphone jack on the top and micro-USB charging port and single speaker at the bottom. One microphone is at the top and another at the bottom. HMD Global has placed a Nokia logo at the top right of the Gorilla Glass covered front panel, another at back and their address at Espoo Finland also at the plastic back panel. The capacitive Android navigation buttons are placed below the display under the glass.

That leads us to the first elephant in the room, the missing fingerprint scanner. Nokia 5 and 6 both have a fingerprint scanner integrated to the home button. The Nokia 3 doesn’t. This is one feature that is missed at the $150 category. Luckily the power button is just where my thumb comfortably sits and the 5” display easily allows drawing the lock pattern one handed. Speaking of the power button, this is the first phone I’ve tested which allows me to take a screenshot with just one finger. The volume rocker is placed on top of the power button and just close enough.

The display. Well, it’s bad. I mean compared to the brilliant high-resolution AMOLED panels I’ve been using lately. The 5” 720p IPS LCD panel is grainy and washed out. Colors and contrast are just average. Touch sensitivity, not sure about that one. Is it just lag caused by the entry level SoC or is the display slower than my thumbs. Especially often this happens with the outermost keys like A and backspace. I just can’t type as fast as I do on my Nexus. Although, it’s not just this Nokia, I had the same issue with the OnePlus 3T last winter.

A big part of my smartphone usage is YouTube. Obviously, I tested that then. Speaker quality is decent and volume range suits most situations. The display is very average as said, and one quite annoying thing is the fact that the YouTube app automatically selects 144 or 240p resolution regardless of the network speed. Then the 720p needs to be manually selected.

The lag is present with this device. Pressing the home button sometimes causes the Google Assistant to pop up. Also, the GBoard sometimes records the same keypress two or three times. This causes some quite funny typos. What makes the experience bearable it that the lag usually shows in the same situations and I’ve already learned to expect it. When typing on Facebook Messenger and getting a notification on WhatsApp, the keyboard usually takes the next key three times. The other way around I get just two of the same letters. Also, switching from YouTube app to camera and back can take 10 seconds and usually the YouTube app reloads forgetting the video that I was watching. This is probably due to the 2GB of RAM.

I’d like to talk about something positive at this point. Battery life is just magnificent. Last full charge I got 3 hours of screen on time over 24 hours and even had 38% of juice left after that. Compared to my Nexus with last stable build I used, 2.5 hours and 20%. The Mediatek SoC just sips through the 2650mAh battery. Also, the 720p display saves a lot of power. During this, admittedly short test period, I’ve had 15-40% of battery left in the evening. Not once have I run out of juice before the end of the day.

The 5W charger included in the box is slow but I was able to speed the charging up by using some leftover 2 amp Samsung charger. Note that the Nokia 3 has micro-USB charging port, not a Type-C one. This is quite weird choice as the Type-C has pretty much overthrown the old connector in new releases. Probably a cost-cutting choice.

One area, where the flagship phones really stretch their legs is camera quality. The Nokia 3’s main camera is very average. Sometimes even bad. In the optimal conditions, the main camera is capable of producing decent images with HDR on. The front facer does its job way better than the main camera. Especially with HDR on. Selfies are actually quite decent. Of course, I’m spoiled by my Nexus 6P and Google’s magical camera software. Video quality is pretty much what one could expect. Maybe a bit better than the still quality. Of course, there is no OIS to stabilize the videos but focus seems to be better than in stills.

Nokia 3 is not a bad smartphone. In fact, it’s brilliant. I can’t imagine any of the custom UI devices at same price point being even remotely as capable smartphones. Using the stock Android is a genius move by HMD Global. Why spend resources making software if Google already provides such a good one. Other manufacturers are using old Android versions and sluggish custom UIs as the new Nokias bring the relatively quick and responsive stock Android experience.

However, don’t expect too quick of a return to the business market as the stock Android still doesn’t have a mobile device management program. Samsung and Apple will then keep their lead at business market. Hopefully Google changes this in the future so that the last companies using Lumias get to keep the same logo in their devices.

Nokia is rumored to launch a whole bunch of new Android phones this year. If that’s true, Nokia’s lineup going forwards looks absolutely fantastic. Nokia 3310, 3, 5 and 6 might get bigger brothers later in the year and HMD Global will bring the stock Android to all price brackets. Finally, some competition in the Moto-zone.

All in all, the Nokia 3 is very capable cheap smartphone. I can see it having its place in numerous pockets around the world, especially in countries where the Nokia name is still famous. The Nokia 3 is now the phone I suggest for the people who want a cheap smartphone. At this price point, there hasn’t been much of a traffic on my suggestion lists. Now, the stock Android is there and hopefully to stay.

So, did I survive the week? Yes, easily. But of course, I’ll switch back to my Nexus and wait for the upcoming Pixel 2 to really replace my Nexus. Display and cameras are the main reasons, fingerprint scanner and performance coming close behind. I have been spoiled by the flagships.

Welcome back Nokia! Hope you will succeed!

As a postscript, unfortunately, I must return to the weaker things, Nokia support. I discovered an annoying software bug in my Nokia 3 during the testing. However, Nokia doesn’t have any channels to submit a bug report. I tried their support chat app but they just politely asked me to get in touch with service because it’s a hardware issue. In their support website, Nokia doesn’t even have the Nokia 3 listed just yet, so no support there. The community forums are also still under construction. This will hopefully and probably change in the future.

LG G6 released

g6-screenshot

The MWC 2017 is live and LG is the one to open the game with the G6. 

As expected, LG is the first to adopt the 2017 trend to make longer displays. The LG G6 has 2880 x 1440p display with 18:9 aspect ratio, glass and metal design and no camera bump.

The 5.7″ display has rounded corners and uses IPS LCD technology. It also supports Dolby Vision and  HDR 10 technologies. Under the hood, the 3300 mAh battery provides juice to the Snapdragon 821 SoC, 4 GB of RAM and 32 or 64 GB of storage. The body is IP68 certified against water and dust. The physical size is 148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm and 163g which LG claims is normal for a 5.2″ phone.

The rear cameras have 13MP sensors, one with 125° lens and F2.4 aperture and the other with 71° lens, F1.8 aperture and OIS. The front facer is 5 megapixels with F2.2 and 100° lens.

Google finally releases the Android Wear 2.0 along with new LG Watches

watch-sport-and-style

The long awaited Android Wear 2.0 update is finally here. The LG Watch Sport and Style are the first devices to launch with it. 

The Android Wear 2.0 update is the first major update since the launch of the OS. It brings many new features and promises to make the most of every minute. Possibly the biggest new feature is the new way to use apps. There is now a Play Store app for the watch and the apps are installed directly to the watch. That means way better app experience for the iPhone users.

The watch faces also get new features. They now bring more information and actions from apps. The Google Fit can now – finally – really track your pace, calories, distance and heart rate. The messaging has been improved drastically as the new Android Wear 2.0 brings keyboard, handwriting, emoji drawing and Smart Reply alongside the voice dictating. Google Assistant is also built into the OS as is Android Pay.

The new LG Watch Sport and Style are the first devices to launch with Android Wear 2.0. The Sport variant is the more high-end one with a larger 1.38″ P-OLED display, 768 MB of RAM, 430 mAh battery and IP68 certification.

The Style has a 1.2″ P-OLED display, 512 MB of RAM, 240 mAh battery and IP67 protection. Both watches are made out of metal and have Snapdragon Wear 2100 SoC, 4 GB of Storage and a bunch of sensors. Although, the Style doesn’t get the heart rate sensor.

The LG Watch Sport is priced at $349 and Style at $249. Sales will start on 10 February in the US.

The Android Wear 2.0 will be available for the supported watches in the coming weeks.

Current watches getting Android Wear 2.0 include: ASUS ZenWatch 2 & 3, Casio Smart Outdoor Watch, Casio PRO TREK Smart, Fossil Q Founder, Fossil Q Marshal, Fossil Q Wander, Huawei Watch, LG G Watch R, LG Watch Urbane & 2nd Edition LTE, Michael Kors Access Smartwatches, Moto 360 2nd Gen, Moto 360 for Women, Moto 360 Sport, New Balance RunIQ, Nixon Mission, Polar M600 and TAG Heuer Connected.

Source: Google