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Samsung revamped their flagship lineup with the longer Infinity Display that makes everything else look outdated.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


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


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

DRM is good, blocking hardware bad


There’s no denying that DRM is good and needed. But how did it become Microsoft’s and Intel’s cashing playground?

Digital rights management (DRM) is a generic term for technologies that control one’s access to content. After years of hard fight, it looks like the pirate side has won. They have the content and they have the ways to share it. Something needs to be done so that the content creators get their bread to the table and it looks like Microsoft and Intel (AMD) have it figured out.

They have decided that there will be a hardware and software wall between us, the viewers and the content. For example Netflix 4K. To watch 4K videos from Netflix, you need Windows 10, Edge browser and a Kaby Lake 7th generation Intel CPU. Absolutely ridiculous.

They claim that it’s because of the H.265 10-bit decoder built into the Kaby Lake processors. Skylake only has 8-bit decoder which hasn’t got the performance. That’s horse s**t. Why did the Skylake have it then, if it can’t be used?

My PC runs games at 4K 60fps. I have a 4K display and a GTX 1080 that has the H.265 10-decoder, why isn’t that compatible? I’ll tell you why.


The monopoly companies like Intel and Microsoft are just cashing in without thinking about the future. Peeing into the customer’s morning cereal is never a good thing.

Intel even changed the chipset from Skylake to Kaby Lake to force customers to buy the new Z270 motherboards and that way, a new Windows 10 licence from Microsoft. Luckily, most of the Z170 boards can be updated to support Kaby Lake.

That still leaves the cost of the CPU. The Kaby Lake chips have better thermal solution than Skylake and because of that, they can clock higher. That’s the difference. Why would anyone with an Ivy Bridge or newer upgrade? The performance gains are minimal and the retail value of the old one has collapsed.

Why didn’t Intel just draw the line between Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge? They say it’s the hardware decoder. Why is there the software wall with Windows 10 and Edge then? Why don’t just ask the Windows OS to check if you have an Ivy Bridge or newer? Why can’t you just check with the Windows that the user is not running any recording software and just freaking show the content?

The Microsoft’s and Intel’s answer is hardware. It’s a hardware decoder that can decode the encoded stream so that the content can’t be captured. And how does this prevent the pirates from capturing the content from the video cable? And why is the Edge browser needed then?

Money is the real answer.

Taking a commonly known issue and turning it into a short term profit, that’s what Microsoft and Intel are doing here.

Don’t forget that the same restrictions apply to the UHD Blu-ray. The disks that the new version of XBOX One can run with an ancient AMD CPU. It’s not a hardware problem, it a problem with selfishness.

Will the next iPhone be fully wireless?


The leaked invitation for the 2017 Apple event suggests wireless charging. Of course the image can be fake. 

However, could the iPhone 7s, 8 or 10 be fully wireless? Last year, Apple showed the world that it’s willing to make its customers life difficult by removing ports. The MacBook Pro removed all the usual ports like MagSafe, USB type-A and SD card reader and added a couple of USB type-C ports. The new MacBook Pro still carries the Pro add-on despite losing all the Pro it had.

Later in the year, Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone. This way they were able to make it water resistant and sell more Lighting headphones. The sound was supposed to be better and some fanboys and audiophiles can definitely hear the difference when closed into a noise free bunker. Everybody still listens the normal quality streamed music, not the fancy high bitrate stuff.

Now that everyone has a Lighting cable, it’s time to make the iPhone completely wireless by removing the charging port, creating a new wireless charging standard and forcing everybody to buy a few new chargers. That would be so typical post-Jobs Apple.

Making the iPhone cable free would mean that the data cable is also gone. This could be justified by safety, as there would no longer be a way to the storage via USB. All data transfers would be wireless. No more movie downloads from iTunes via USB-cable.

And imagine what that would mean to our charging habits. If the phone has to stay on top of a charging pad for hours because of  the slow amps. How would Apple get around that?

I’ll tell you how, with a cable. They’ll just add a wireless charging pad with magnets at the end of the cable instead of a Lightning jack. That way you can keep using the phone while charging and that way its way different from the others for Apple to patent it.

Of course they will make their own standard. What did you think? Apple is the only company so selfish that they make their own everything. Can’t use USB, can’t use 3.5mm headphones, now can’t use existing wireless charging standards. Now the other manufacturers need to buy Apple’s wireless charging standard because they have patented magnets and others can’t use their wireless charging phones while charging.

There are just too many 3rd party Lighting cables. This time Apple will make sure that the phone only accepts the real Apple $89 wireless charger. Just add wireless tag of some sort that confirms it’s the real deal. They will make some serious cash with that.

Aside the wireless charging, what phenomenal new innovations will the next iPhone bring? Well, OLED display. Finally the Apple users can enjoy the black that’s actually black. The phone can be made thinner because the individual pixels light themselves up and don’t need the backlight module. Also, the display might be curved, never seen that before either.

With all these innovations, Apple is probably going to make what Samsung did with the Note 7… no no not that… the order number skipping thing. The next iPhone is called iPhone 10. Because it’s 2017, the 10th anniversary of the iPhone of course. And don’t forget the price, it’ll obviously go up.