Tag Archives: part 1

Apple iPhone 7 Plus – Camera Review – Part 1

So how good is the camera on the Apple iPhone 7 Plus? Is it worth upgrading just for the camera on the Apple iPhone 7 Plus? What’s my view versus the Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge and Note 7? Read on for all the answers …

Firstly, let’s take a look at the photos I have snapped with the iPhone 7 Plus in a multitude of conditions. As before, if you want to view the original photo, click on it, select original or full size.

Low Light Conditions

Around Princetown at Night - Low Light Photography from the Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Around Princetown at Night - Low Light Photography from the Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Around Princetown at Night - Low Light Photography from the Apple iPhone 7 Plus

So the above 3 photos are a selection of photos testing the low light capabilities. The second shot uses the telephoto lens. Shortly after snapping the above church shots, darkness really started to set in. At this point, when I selected the 2x zoom for the telephoto lens, the iPhone actually decided to override my choice and used the wide angle lens. It did this as it knew the f/1.8 of the wide angle lens would produce a better result, even though it was using digital zoom. The results from the digitally zoomed photos were still excellent. At the end of the article is a link to the flickr album set where you can view more photos from all of the scenes shown.

Just to up the ante, I used a third party app, nightcap pro that allows awesome night shots, light trails, stars, meteors and more. This is the beauty of iOS with the wide selection of third party camera apps on offer that push the boundaries of what is possible with the camera. There are some exciting options in development too which I am testing.

The low light photos from the iPhone 7 Plus are excellent. When I tried this test with the Samsung S7, the white balance was all over the place. The S7/S7E/Note 7 can produce sharper shots in low light compared to the iPhone 7 and with less noise, but I actually prefer the iPhone photos as they are better balanced overall.

Daylight Conditions

Okehampton Castle ruins #iphone7plus

Okehampton Castle ruins #iphone7plus

The photos above are shot into the sun as is the photo below. The two photos above show the results with the wide angle lens and then the telephoto lens. The 2 x optical zoom on the telephoto lens makes a huge difference and I love the option to use this lens as the quality is so much better than using digital zoom.

Okehampton Castle ruins #iphone7plus

One of my favourite type of shots is shooting into the sun, with the sun caught between the tree branches. I was pleased with the result here.

All Saints Church #Okehampton #iphone7plus

Above is another great shot from the iPhone. Nicely balanced but based on my time with the S7/S7E/Note 7 I do think the dynamic range from these Samsung phones is better. However, the final post processed from the iPhone appears in my mind to be more realistic and natural. The Samsung post processing goes for a heavier saturated and contrasted shot.

Flowers & Close Up

Flowers & Fruit #iphone7plus using the wide and telephoto lenses

The above shot is just using the normal wide angle mode. The new portrait mode is in beta, so I won’t be testing this until it is out of beta. However, from results shown over the internet from other people, used correctly, the portrait mode is fantastic and makes the 7 Plus even more compelling.

Flowers & Fruit #iphone7plus using the wide and telephoto lenses

Now just be switching the the telephoto lens, the berries become even more appetising.

Flowers & Fruit #iphone7plus using the wide and telephoto lenses

Flowers & Fruit #iphone7plus using the wide and telephoto lenses

The above shots are with the wide and then the telephoto lens. Again you can see the difference the telephoto lens makes to getting closer to the flower.

Flowers & Fruit #iphone7plus using the wide and telephoto lenses

Above, another shot with the telephoto lens.

Action Shots

In the 3 shots below of my labradors, it is worth noting the weather conditions were not the best for this type of action shot. The UK weather at the moment is dreadful. After taking these photos, Dartmoor had 33.4mm of rain in 4 hours. So not only was it overcast when snapping these, there was also a light mist too.

Happy dogs playing on Dartmoor- George , Fury and Tiggy in hot pursuit #iphone7plus

Happy dogs playing on Dartmoor- George , Fury and Tiggy in hot pursuit #iphone7plus

Happy dogs playing on Dartmoor- George , Fury and Tiggy in hot pursuit #iphone7plus

What you will see from the above 3 photos, which have all been marginally cropped to a 16:9 format, are some good photos considering the weather conditions. The iPhone 7 Plus was able to capture my dogs running extremely fast.

Happy dogs playing on Dartmoor- George , Fury and Tiggy in hot pursuit #iphone7plus

The above shot if you look closely has spots of mud on the photo. This was caused my Fury (black labrador) running so fast through the mud, that she was kicking it up as she went along 🙂

So how do these action photos compare to the Samsung S7/S7E/Note 7? Well the Samsung phones have a slightly faster focus system, meaning more of the action sequences would have been snapped in focus. The Samsung faster focus system has benefits across all types of shooting photos as well. However, once again I prefer the post processing from the iPhone 7 Plus. It did a better job distinguishing my dogs and their 3 different colours, light, brown and black. Same story as all the other shots really, I prefer the post processing from Apple. But like everything in life, there are pros and cons with each choice of phone.

Shooting in RAW

I took several shots in RAW using ProCam 4 and Adobe Lightroom for iOS. Editing on the iPhone 7 Plus using snapseed and Lightroom showed how much more data the iPhone 7 Plus captured using RAW. For a special show I would always take on in RAW as well as using the standard camera app. There are 3 samples shots from RAW in my Flickr Album. Link at the bottom of the article.

Final Verdict

The Apple iPhone 7 Plus camera is a marked improvement from the iPhone 6 Plus. The 2 x optical zoom of the telephoto lens opens up many more options to photography without the need of carrying add on lenses. The new portrait mode is another benefit. Third party developers are already looking to add their software prowess to stretch the boundaries even further.

The telephoto lens is usable is all shooting modes too ie video, time lapse, panorama and more.

Compared to the Samsung S7/S7E/Note 7 it boils down to 2 key differences. Maybe 3. First is the fast focusing system from Samsung is faster than the iPhone 7 Plus. This will produce benefits in certain scenarios. The Samsung phones post processing leans more to a heavier saturated and contrasted shot. In certain scenarios these will make photos pop on the screen to stand out even more. However, so far I am preferring the more natural, realistic post processing coming out of the iPhone 7 Plus. This is a personal opinion/choice. Should you move from a Samsung S7/S7E/Note 7 to the iPhone 7 Plus? Personally, you really need to get a grip if you are even thinking about this! A phone is not just about the camera, it is about everything else. The phones are different, each has pros and cons. When it comes to very low light/night shots the Samsung phones have the slight edge using the default camera app. However, switch to a number of impressive iOS third party apps, and the advantage switches to iOS. Once again pros and cons.

Overall, I am very pleased with the camera results on the iPhone 7 Plus. Add this to everything else on offer and its a compelling device.

Part 2 will focus of video and will be live in due course.

Useful Links
My Apple iPhone 7 Plus Flickr Album
Apple iPhone 7 / 7 Plus Cases on Amazon
Apple iPhone 7 / 7 Plus Screen Protectors on Amazon

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Apple iPhone 6S vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – Camera Shootout – Part 1 

The million dollar question. Just how good is the camera on the new Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge? If you want to read my first impressions, that comes tomorrow. 

And how does it compare to the Apple iPhone 6S Plus?

So for part 1 of my camera comparison, all shots were hand held. Each shot is the first shot except in a few cases where I needed a second shot for the red berries. It was a dull rainy day with mist. 

At the end of the article, I have provided a link to the originals. You will notice that despite both phones having 12mp cameras the file size of each photo is a lot larger on the S7 Edge. 

The sequence is iPhone 6S Plus first then the S7 Edge photo. 

So below is the shot from the iPhone. 

 
 Next up the same shot from the S7 Edge. 
  
The differences between these two shots are minimal and most people would be content with either although the S7 is brighter. 

So let’s start again with another shot from the iPhone. 

  
And now the same shot from the S7 Edge. The S7 looks more saturated but again is brighter and has more detail. 

  
Back to the iPhone. A close up of a tap. Looks ok. 

  

Well it looks ok until you see the shot from the S7 Edge. To emphasise the level of detail I have included a crop as well from the S7 Edge. 

  
And now for the crop from the S7 Edge of the tap. 

  

Ok let’s go back to the iPhone. Some red berries. I had to take several shots to get the one below. 

  
So how did the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge perform? Much better. 

  
And to emphasise the difference in quality I took a crop from the iPhone. See below. 

  
So now let’s look at the crop from the S7 Edge. See below. So much better. I couldn’t dream of getting anything close like this shot below from the iPhone despite my best efforts. 

  
Another photo from the iPhone 6S Plus. Looks like a reasonable shot. 

  
And now from the S7 Edge. See below. Again the level of detail from the S7 is better. 

  
Remember these are real life photos, not staged shots. These are photos you could end up taking. 

So back to the iPhone 6S Plus. Again the photo looks good but it’s not on par with the S7 Edge. 

  
Below is the S7 Edge photo. I have noticed with this shot that it’s heavily sharpened probably too much for my liking. This could be resolved shooting in raw and then post processing it yourself. 

  
And finally, just to highlight the quality from the S7 Edge again. My dog Tiggy was moving around at home in lowish lighting. Here’s a crop of her face. 

  
I have to say that based on my preliminary tests, if you want a camera that takes good photos in all conditions, the S7 Edge really does a great job. 

Not only that, it’s focus speed is near instant. This means kids and pets will be so much easier to snap in focus quality shots. 

I have plenty more content on the S7 Edge, it’s camera , audio and more. I will also be pitting it against the LG G5. 

And one last thing. Remember there’s more to a phone than just its camera 🙂

Apple iPhone 6S Plus – Photography Special – Video and Photos – Part 1

Today I will be looking at some photography options with the iPhone 6S Plus that I have achieved so far. I will also list the apps I use as well. Many of these apps are available on android too. All the photos shown are available to view full size if you click on the photo. Where possible, when I have mentioned any accessories I have made them active links to Amazon.

First up is the problem you get when shooting buildings and the walls aren’t straight. Now the best solution for this is something like Adobe Lightroom 6. See how the walls of the church are slightly warped.

Straightening the building using iOS -

Now using an app called SKRWT, you can fix this and make it look a lot better.

Straightening the building using iOS -

Now what about shooting in RAW format. The default camera app on the iPhone does not permit this. But I use Camera+ which has so many features both from shooting to editing, it really is a great app. It also has 3D Touch enabled. So below is a macro shot in RAW. Note the file size is up to 7 x larger than normal shots. If you view the full size version of the berries the amount of detail is huge.

Wow Red berry fruit #rawformat #unedited #iphone6splus #macro

Again using Camera+ macro mode you can get really close up. So the flower shot first, then the macro.

Pink Pink Macro Flowers #macro #unedited #iphone6splus

Pink Pink Macro Flowers #macro #unedited #iphone6splus

What about using something like an Olloclip lens attachment for macro. This is what you get. Notice the bokek.

Wild Thing #macro #unedited #setof4 #iphone6splus

The Olloclip 4 in 1 does wide, fisheye and 2 levels of macro. I also have the Olloclip Macro Pro kit. Whilst these lenses are fun, the quality is poor. They are best used for macro if anything at all. First you can’t use a case or screen protector, and the photos goes soft on the edges. But they are great fun. Below was a photo taken in fisheye mode and then straightened using SKRWT. More info , click here Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens

Exeter High Street - Fish Eye #olloclip #iphone6splus

The Olloclip softens the photos too much in wide mode on the edges. FYI the version for the iPhone 6/6 Plus according to Olloclip works with the new 6S and 6S Plus. Details on Amazon Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens

My recommendation is to use Camera+ for macros with a small tripod. For wide shots use the standard pano mode. You can get photos like this. For this shot below I only took half a panorama as it was not necessary to move across the whole screen. Sometimes 3 or 4 frames are just enough.

Believer Forest #panoramic #iphone6splus

However, sometimes the full panoramic is ideal and this is where the iPhone works really well.

Stunning Panorama over Dartmoor #iPhone6SPlus

In terms of apps, I use the default Photos app. The editing is non destructive. From within the Photos app editing I can access my following apps – afterlight, adobe photoshop express, camera+ and diptic. Also in the Photos app I can import a photo into VSCO Cam or use an app called ViewExif to view the exif details. So apart from the apps mentioned I also have installed Slow Shutter, Flickr, Playmemories, Photogene, Color Splash Pro, Snapseed, Nightcap Pro, Cameratamo, Phoster, Camera360 and Waterlogue.

I do use Live Photos and really like it. Sadly at the moment, I can’t share this with any of apps or services other than within the Apple eco system. I hope this changes soon. However, I do turn it off when I know the shot will make no difference with Live Photos enabled. But it does make moving through the camera roll a bit exciting.

iMovie is used to finish off videos and add photos if needed.Talking about video the video capture is absolutely stunning. 4K, 1080p and other modes like timelapse work so well. I have created a few videos. Ignore the iMovie editing on the timelapse video at the start, that was my fault cutting a frame too agressively at the very beginning. So first up a 4K recorded clip, in 1080p and then a timelapse.

First up time lapse mode. For the 360 degree movement I use Veho VCC-360
on my tripod. My phone is attached to the Veho using a ShoulderPod S1 Grip
.

Then 4K video with a sweep at the end of the view from the summit of Staple Tor. This had no post processing in iMovie.

The best accessory I have used with all my phones is the ShoulderPod S1 Grip as this is the most rock solid way to attach your phone to a tripod!

Anyway that is all for Part 1. If you have any tips or apps or any accessories you like using please leave a comment.

IFA 2015 – Show Report – Part 1

Over the next few weeks I will be writing small posts, detailing gadgets that I found interesting at IFA 2015. I have a huge amount of content!

Until you have visited IFA, I think it is difficult to comprehend just how “huge” the exhibition is. In fact its so huge its beyond huge! But then there were around 4,000+ exhibitors from the smartphones to the smart fridges, window cleaners, 8K TV’s , 3D TV display longer than your living room (unless you are the Queen) and so much more. In fact, IFA covers all electronics imaginable.

Below is the 3D 4K Ultra experience from LG. Wearing the 3D glasses provided a superb 3D experience with objects going around your head and all over the place.

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LG had a very impressive range of TV’s on display covering a multitude of sizes and resolutions. Even an 8K TV. The LG G4 was being flaunted heavily along with other variants of the G4, include the G4 Note. Sadly this a 1gb ram, 8gb storage with a low processor, but with a stylus. Seems like nobody wants to take on Samsung’s Note 5.

I had planned to cover several press conferences on my first day at IFA, but missed the second press conference as it took 90 mins to get from one end of IFA to the other. You need 2 days of walking non stop from 10am to 5pm to see all the exhibitors. If you actually want to stop and look at the products, then add another day.

At the Audio Technics stand was their new portable headphone DAC Amp, the PHA100 connected with the Pono player, which looked odd being triangular. No wonder sales have been lacklustre. Audio Technica also had their full range of headphones and other hardware on display.

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Cars were seen all over the place too, with Android Auto, and other related products. Kenwood was promoting its powerful in car head units for example.

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With smartphones starting to plateau, it was clear from IFA that all companies are looking at other options to rake in the money. The big push seemed to be the Internet of Things or Connected Home.

More tomorrow.

Huawei P8 – First Impressions and Specifications

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Welcome to my first impressions of the Huawei P8 that I received yesterday.

The official specifications are –

– Display 5.2-inch (1920 x 1080); 424ppi
– Processor Hisilicon Kirin 930; 8-core 64-bit; 2.0 GHz
– Operating system Android 5.0 Lollipop
– Storage 16GB on-board
– RAM 3GB
– Network GRA_L09: TDD LTE: B40 FDD LTE: B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B7/B8/B12/B17/B18/B19/B20/B25/B26/B28 UMTS: 800(B6,Japan)/800(B19,Japan)/850/900/1700/1900/2100MHz GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
GRA_UL00: TDD LTE: B38/B39/B40/B41 (2555MHz~2655MHz) FDD LTE:B1/B3/B4/B7 UMTS: 850/900/1700/1900/2100MHz(B8/B5/B4/B2/B1) GSM : Main card: 850/900/1800/1900MHz; Second card: 850/900/1800/1900MHz
– Rear camera 13MP with OIS, 1080p video, 4-color RGBW sensor
– Front camera 8MP
– Dimensions 144.9mm x 72.1mm x 6.4mm
– Weight 144g
– Colours Mystic Champagne, Titanium Grey, Gold, Carbon Black
– GPS GPS/A-GPS/Glonass/BDS(BeiDou Navigation Satellite System)
– Connectivity 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, microUSB
– Sensors G-sensor; Gyroscope sensor; Ambient Light sensor; Proximity sensor; Compass, Accelerometer
– UI EMUI 3.1
– Battery 2680 mAh

My first impressions started from opening the box and admiring the beautiful unibody design. Just check out the photos of the unboxing and the phone itself. I will be writing my full review in due course, but if you do have any questions, please let me know.

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Hopefully you noticed the box presentation. The Huawei P8 is thin, very thin, and to highlight this point, you have to pull the phone out of the box from the side. All the contents were neatly packaged too.

I asked my wife of her views of the P8 and she also agreed with me that it looked beautiful.

If you would like to get an idea of how the camera performs, please look at my other post with some camera shots from the P8. Click here https://gavinsgadgets.com/2015/06/26/huawei-p8-camera-shots/

If you have any questions, please let me know so I can incorporate the answers in my review.

HTC One M9 – Master Review

Welcome to my review of the HTC One M9.

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First let’s look at the hardware. Whether you like the two tone silver and gold finish is a personal decision but I do adore the two tone finish. Naturally other finish options are available too. In terms of grip, the One M9 is easier to hold on to than last years One M8. The One M8 was the first phone to slide out of my hand and fall to the ground.

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In terms of button layout, the power button is now in the side instead of being on the top as was the case with the One M8. This is a much better position but I do occasionally catch the power button when picking up the M9 off the table.

Overall, I really like the new small changes HTC made to the M8 to create the M9. Before we delve deeper into the phone, let’s take a look at the specifications.

The official specifications are –

– Size 144.6 x 69.7 x 9.61 mm
– CPU Speed Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 810, octa core 64-bit, 4 x 2.0GHz + 4 x 1.5GHz
– Memory ROM: 32GB / RAM: 3GB, Extended memory: microSD™ up to 2 TB
– Sensors Ambient light, Proximity, Accelerometer,Compass, Gyro, Magnetic, Sensor Hub
– Camera Main camera: 20MP with sapphire cover lens, auto-focus, BSI sensor, f/2.2, 27.8mm lens, 4K video recording, Front camera: HTC UltraPixel™, BSI sensor, f/2.0, 26.8mm lens, 1080p video recording
– Dual-tone metal unibody – other finishes available
– Extras – Themes ,HTC Sense™ Home,One Gallery ,Photo Editor
– Weight 157g
– Platform Android Lollipop HTC Sense™
– Network 2G/2.5G – GSM/GPRS/EDGE:850/900/1800/1900 MHz, 3G UMTS: 850/900/1900/2100 MHz,4G LTE:FDD: Bands 1,3,5,7,8,20,28
– Connectivity NFC, Bluetooth® 4.1 Wi-Fi®: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 & 5 GHz),DLNA® HDMI MHL 3.0,CIR
– 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, micro-USB 2.0 (5-pin) port, FM Radio with RDS
– Multimedia Audio supported formats:Playback: .aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma, .flac, .ac3, .ec3, .eac3,Recording: .aac Video supported formats:Playback: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv, .avi, .mkv
Recording: .mp4
– Display 5.0 inch, Full HD 1080p
– SIM Card Type nano SIM
– GPS Internal GPS antenna + GLONASS
– Sound HTC BoomSound™ with Dolby Audio™
-Battery Capacity: 2840 mAh Talk time: Up to 25.4 hours for 2G/ 21.7 hours for 3G Standby time: Up to 391 hours for 2G/ 402hours for 3G
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In terms of Sense UI, see the screen shots of what is included. HTC’s Sense UI is one of the best android experiences and a joy to use. The skin is consistent throughout the phone and that also makes it easier to flow from one activity to another.
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This year HTC have added location aware services in Blinkfeed eg. a recommending a restaurant near your current location and there is a widget that is supposed to provide the apps you need at the time of day you require them. In addition, there is a folder of app suggestions. These new options are somewhat hit and miss and maybe over time they will improve. Blinkfeed is one of my favourite home screen widgets providing news I want to read on the topics I have selected, updates on my social media, location based information and local device information. Just going back to the skin, theming is now included. You can point the camera at anything eg a shirt or an object, and the One M9 will use the colours from the shirt or object to create a new theme. I had a lot of fun with this mode.
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Audio is HTC’s claim to fame and the One M9 does not disappoint. Amazing quality sound from the front facing stereo speakers and awesome headphone output both in terms of quality and volume level too. Better than my Samsung Note 4 I might add. USB Audio is supported too. A FM Radio is included with RDS. The M9 speakers now feature Dolby Surround Sound but let’s get realistic. The speakers are tiny so don’t expect miracles. However, I would repeat that it is by far one of the best quality loudspeaker experiences on a phone and if you watch movies, YouTube or anything with sound the experience provided by better speakers is second to none. Add to the fact there is a FM Radio with RDS too, something not found on any Samsung or iPhone, and this completes a rather good audio experience.

Other hardware inclusions are a decent infra red blaster with good software provided to control your TV and more. You might think having an IR Blaster on your phone is pointless, but I won’t keep a phone unless it has this feature. With the IR Blaster you can control your TV, DVD, Apple TV box and so much more.

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Camera/photo editing/Zoe and Video Highlights. Below are screen shots of the various apps and options.  Plenty of editing and sharing options for your photos and social media.  The camera app is one of my favourite camera apps. I find the options, settings and controls ideally positioned for taking photos and making any small adjustments on the fly. Another factor, and one which is very important to note, is speed of response when tapping the screen. The M9 is zippy fast, holding shutter for burst shots is instant practically so you won’t miss the moment.

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HTC are due to release an update to the camera app to allow RAW photos. This is a good move allowing Photoshop users to extract and create the best possible final product. With the One M9, HTC changed the 4mp UltraPixel found on the One M8 to a 20mp lens. The good news is the 4mp Ultrapixel lens from the One M8 got moved to the front for high quality selfies and in my testing this arrangement works just fine. So over to the rear, how does this fair in use. Let’s look at some camera shots.

HTC One M9 Camera shots - a selection of photos from the M9.

And then cropping in on the above photo, you get this.

HTC One M9 Camera shots - a selection of photos from the M9.

HTC One M9 Camera shots - a selection of photos from the M9.

And a crop of the above to highlight the detail.

HTC One M9 Camera shots - a selection of photos from the M9.

HTC One M9 Camera shots - a selection of photos from the M9.

HTC One M9 Camera shots - a selection of photos from the M9.

HTC One M9 Camera shots - a selection of photos from the M9.

HTC One M9 Camera shots - a selection of photos from the M9.

And a crop of the shot above.

HTC One M9 Camera shots - a selection of photos from the M9.

HTC One M9 Camera shots - a selection of photos from the M9.

Really accurate representation of the colours captured by the M9.

HTC One M9 Camera shots - a selection of photos from the M9.

And this is my all time favourite shot I have taken of Dartmoor Prison. I prefer this over all the other phones that I have used to snap this shot.

HTC One M9 Camera shots - a selection of photos from the M9.

HTC One M9 Camera shots - a selection of photos from the M9.

HTC One M9 Camera shots - a selection of photos from the M9.

The shot below is an edit using the Gallery app and one of its effects. Love what it did to the original shot.

HTC One M9 Camera shots - a selection of photos from the M9.

In my opinion the photos are good in good daylight, macro control was much better than expected, and really excelled at times. A few shots suffered from over exposure issues along with some poor dynamic range at times and some of the colours on a few shots were inaccurate. However, just by using some of the manual controls and saving them as a new camera mode, and using this new mode along with some of the included options and it is not too difficult to take a decent shot. With all the updates and RAW coming, it could be quite ironic if HTC had the last laugh on camera quality! As there is no optical image stabilisation camera shake and consequently blurring of photos is more likely to happen, and more often especially as the level of lighting drops. And that moves me on to low light shots which were poor until you take it out of auto mode, switch to manual and change the ISO yourself. Low lights shots were the One M9’s weakness. These can be further improved by the use of a tripod and using manual controls but when the competition doesn’t need to do this why should you need to on the One M9. And who carries a tripod with them! To be honest it not all doom and gloom. You can use the front 4mp Ultrapixel lens for low light shots! However, I do feel that the camera is an improvement over last years One M8. I was comparing my One M8 photos to the One M9 and could see overall I was getting better shots. See end of article for links to my Flickr One M8 and One M9 photo albums. Further software updates are scheduled and this should continue to improve the camera. At the end of the day, after you use HTC’s photo editing app which has loads of options, see below, and then upload to Twitter or Facebook, I don’t think anyone is going to be any the wiser as to which phone took that shot. I also think using third party photo editing apps like Camera360, Adobe Photoshop Express, Snapseed and VSCO Cam will make any photo looks fabulous and in turn hide any flaws. Plus, the controls that HTC’s camera app provides really allows for some creative photography. HTC’s Gallery app also produces video highlights of an event automatically from your photos and video snapped, which you can tweak too with one of several included effects/music.

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As this is created automatically, it makes magical memories to share and look back on afterwards. Last Christmas, at a large family gathering, I ended up showing a number of video highlights from the One M8 and One M7 that I had created and saved, and it was the highlight of the evening. Memories are precious!

Battery and heat. The new Snapdragon 810 is meant to be a faster processor with better battery life. It’s definitely faster at times. But better battery life. Not so sure on that but I did manage a days usage out of the phone. Fortunately, there are 2 different power saving modes, one of which is an aggressive ultra power saving option. I did notice a correlation between the phone getting warm and the battery level dropping faster. Thermal throttling is being used here which only becomes more noticeable during intensive gaming. The One M9 does support Quick Charging 2 but HTC did not include a quick charger in the box which is disappointing. Using a quick charger and the phone at the same time, produced more heat on the rear of the phone than expected, too much for my liking.

So what’s my overall verdict. If you are after a taste of the HTC experience which includes one of the best audio experiences, Sense UI skin and theming, extensive photo editing/video highlights on the fly, a comprehensive camera app which produces good camera shots from the rear and front cameras, all packaged in a lovely two toned body, then its a match made in heaven.

However, one cannot ignore the competition and their offerings. This year HTC really has a battle on their hands with new phones from Samsung, Honor, Sony, LG, Apple and others. And last but not least, HTC’s own One M8 is a decent challenger to the One M9.

Links –

My HTC One M9 Flickr Album – https://www.flickr.com/photos/gavinfabl100/sets/72157651403658570/

My HTC One M8 Flickr Album – https://www.flickr.com/photos/gavinfabl100/sets/72157643265004874/

My HTC One M7 Flickr album – https://www.flickr.com/photos/gavinfabl100/sets/72157644039700054/

Honor Holly – Review – Part 1

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Welcome to my review of the Honor Holly.

The Honor Holly is budget priced phone but as you will see, it comes with some midrange features. So lets have a look at the hardware. The back of the phone is white, and lifting the battery cover off reveals it is a dual sim phone with a micro SD slot too for cards up to 32gb. The battery is removable and therefore also user replaceable too.

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The official specifications of the Honor Holly are –

– 5 inch IPS 720p screen
– Quad Core CPU MT6582 1.3GHz
– 16gb Storage
– 1gb ram
– Android 4.4.2 with Emotion UI
– 8MP rear & 2MP front cameras, both BSI and with F/2.0, panoramic mode, beauty mode, HDR mode, continuous shot, scene mode and video stabilizer
– Battery 2,000maH
– Dimensions – 142.2 x 72.3 x 9.4
– Removable battery
– Dual sim, plus micro sd up to 32gb
– 48 hours battery life

The Emotion UI skin provides a clean look as without the app drawer.
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As you can see there are a few extra apps included in the Honor Holly to add to the experience. Also included is WPS Office by Kingsoft Office Software, Facebook and Twitter. In the pull down settings, cast screen is included automatically as is the sound profiles (4 options). The phone comes with 16gb storage of which just over 12gb is available.

Whilst the phone is 720p in resolution, this did not impact my enjoyment as the device had good viewing angles and had a high brightness level. Battery life is stated at 48 hours and in my usage I managed close to that figure. In terms of benchmarking AnTuTu scored 18,995 and Geekbench 3, 352 for Single Core and 1156 for Multi Core. I have said I don’t personally care for these types of scoring as they often don’t translate in to real life usage. I have found the Honor Holly to be snappy to use and quick opening applications.

So far it has been a positive experience.

Tomorrow I will cover off the audio and camera and in the meantime, if you have any questions, please let me know.

Yotaphone 2 – Review – Part 1

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Good morning or evening or afternoon everyone, depending on which part of the world you are reading this from. This is my first part of the Yotaphone 2 Smartphone review. If you look at the photos of the Yotaphone 2 it is a decent sized phone, solid and comfortable to hold.

But before I delve deep in to the phone review, lets take a look at the specifications.

The technical specifications of the Yotaphone 2 (model YD-201) are –

-OS: Android™ 4.4.3
-CPU: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 801 2.2 GHz quad-core
-Form Factor: Monoblock with full touch capacitive screens on the front and back
-Dimensions: 144.9 x 69.4 x 8.95mm
-Weight: 145g
-Screen: 5”AMOLED Full HD 1920×1080,16M colours,full capacitive touch,442ppi,Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3
-Always-on Display: 4.7” Electronic Paper Display 960×540,16-level gray scale,full capacitive touch, 235ppi, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
-Network: GSM/EGPRS 850,900,1800,1900 MHz, WCDMA,DC HSDPA (rel. 8,cat.24), HSUPA(rel.7, cat7) bands 1 (diversity),2, 5 and 8, LTE (rel. 9,cat 4) bands 3, 7 and 20, VoLTE
-Memory/Storage: 2GB RAM,32GB eMMC
-CAMERA: Main: 8MP AF,LED Flash ,Front: 2.1MP
-Sensors: Accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, proximity sensor, amibient light sensor
-Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac ,Wi-Fi Direct®, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast®
-MicroUSB 2.0 (SlimPort®)
-Bluetooth® 4.0 ,Bluetooth profiles: Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP), Audio/Video Remote
Control Profile (AVRCP), Device ID Profile (DID), File Transfer Profile (FTP), HID over GATT Profile (HOGP), Human InterfaceDevice Profile (HID), Headset Profile (HSP), Message Access Profile(MAP),Object Push Profile (OPP), Personal Area Networking Profile (PAN),Phone Book Access Profile (PBAP),Scan Parameters Profile (SCPP), Serial Port Profile (SPP)
-NFC
-GPS: A-GPS,A-GLONASS, BeiDou
-Nano-SIM
-VIDEO: Full HD 1080p 30fps
-Video formats/codecs: H.263,H.264 AVC,MPEG-4 SP,VP8. Supported file types/container formats: 3GPP (.3gp), MPEG-4(.mp4),MPEG-TS(.ts),WebM(.webm),Matroska(.mkv).
-Audio: 3.5mm AV connector,FM radio
-Audio formats/codecs: AAC LC, HE-AACv1 (AAC+),HE-AACv2(enhanced AAC+),AAC ELD,AMR-NB, AMR-WB, FLAC, MP3,MIDI,Vorbis,PCM/WAVE.Supported files types/container formats:3GPP(.3gp),MPEG-4(.mp4,.m4a), ADTS raw AAC (.aac), MPEG-TS (.ts), 3GPP(.3gp),FLAC (.flac),MP3(.mp3),MIDI Type 0 and 1 (.mid,.xmf,.mxmf), RTTTL/RTX(.rktl,.rtx), OTA(.ota),iMelody(.imy),Ogg(.ogg),Matroska(.mka),WAVE(.wav)
-Battery: 2500mAh built-in battery
-Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 2.0
-Wireless charging
-Operating Times:
Stand-by 2G, mobile data off up to 16.5 days(397 hours)
Stand-by 3G, mobile data off up to 17 days (406 hours)
Talk Time 2G, up to 41.8 hours 3G up to 26.0 hours
Talk Time audio call over Skype or LTE) up to 13.7 hours, video call over Skype or LTE up to 1.8 hours
Reading with Yota Reader on 3G up to 109.3 hours
Video streaming playback on LTE up to 5.5 hours , via WiFi up to 5.8 hours
Audio playback via headset: up to 92.0 hours and via loudspeaker up to 62.4 hours
Web browsing LTE up to 4.5 hours or 4.4 hours via WiFi

I do suggest you have a look at all the specifications as I was surprised by some of them. First up this is a 5 inch Amoled 1080p 442 ppi screen on the front and a 4.7 inch E Ink screen on the rear. Wireless charging is included along with Qualcomm Quick Charge 2. It also has a Snapdragon 801 processor and 32gb storage of which about 24gb is available. The Yotaphone runs a near stock Android experience with the addition of the following apps and games: 2048, ABBYY Lingvo, Checkers, Chess, LitRes (for adding ebooks), Movie Studio, OfficeSuite 8, Sudoku, Tutorial, Twitter, Yota Reader, YotaHub, YotaRss and YotaEnergy. The rear 8mp camera is simple to use but in early testing seems fairly reasonable. I will cover the audio and camera with camera samples in a dedicated review section. Other aspects on the specifications worth noting are that it has LTE, WiFi Direct, Miracast and the USB 2 port is also a SlimPort.

So what is the phone like to hold. Comfortable. It is gently curved on the edges but also narrow. The power and volume controls are on the right edge making it for easy reach. The headphone socket is on the top and micro usb port on the bottom along with the loudspeaker grills. In fact everything is in the correct place for easy operation.

Part of the unique selling point of the Yotaphone 2 is the E-Ink display on the rear. Yotaphone have done a good job implementing the usage of this panel with some bespoke software and panels. One of the benefits of using the E-ink display is the battery consumption is significantly less or is supposed to be. In my usage, I am achieving 2 days real life from one charge. But in my mind improved battery life is not just what it is all about. I love the always on display with a full 4.7 inch screen displaying the time, notifications and other information as I have customised via the YotaHub. The YotaHub provides up to 5 different panels (screens) for the rear that are customisable. By having an always on screen I have reduced the amount of times I have picked up the phone and checked what was happening in my world. Then there is the reduced eye strain of using an E-Ink display!

Other uses of the screen are as an ebook reader. In theory you could go away on a weeks holiday, put phone in flight mode, and read your book for the entire week on one battery charge. But another function or bonus is readability in bright sunlight. It is incredible. So following maps, reading the screen and more is a breeze. However, at night, you will either need a light or have to switch to the amoled 5 inch screen. When your battery is about to end, you can take a snapshot of the screen and leave that as the display. The E-ink screen will keep that vital information always on its display irrespective if the battery has died. Ideal if you needed a flight pass to scan at the airport, as a flat battery with the Yotaphone would not be an issue. Obviously when using the E-ink display is not as nippy as using the front side. But that clearly is the compromise.

Another neat trick with this phone is the volume controls actually hide the nano sim tray. So neat. You actually eject the tray with the buttons attached. At first, I was wondering where on earth is the sim tray!

Anyway, tomorrow I will try and cover off more of the software tricks and other findings. So far the Yotaphone 2 is seriously cool and one of the most fascinating phones I have ever reviewed so far.

Acer Jade S55 – Smartphone Review

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Look above at the photos. What you have is a slim svelte looking device. One of the first things I do with any new phone is pass it over to my wife and ask for her opinion. My wife has no real interest in technology but her first words were “this looks nice and feels comfortable in the hand”.

The official specifications are –

– Processor – MediaTek Octa-core 1.50 GHz
– Screen – 5″ 1280 x 720p
– Camera – 13 Megapixel (Rear Camera) with flash f/1.8, 5 Megapixel (Front Camera)
– RAM – 2 GB RAM
– Storage – 16gb (12gb usable)
– Sensors – Accelerometer, Ambient Light Sensor, Proximity Sensor, eCompass
– Nano sim x 2 (sim 2 can be up to 32gb micro sd card or nano sim)
– FM Radio included
– Android KitKat 4.4
– Radios – EDGE, GPRS,HSPA+,LTE
– Bluetooth – Bluetooth 4.0
– Wireless LAN
– NFC not included
– Battery Talk Time 6 Hour
– Battery Standby Time 250 Hour
– Physical Characteristics Colour Black
– Dimensions – Height 143mm,Width 69 mm, Depth 7.8 mm
– Weight 104g
– In the box – AC Adaptor, USB Cable,HeadSet,Quick Start Guide

The Acer Jade S comes with LTE at a top speed of 150Mbps, its 7.78mm thick, Gorilla Glass 3 and a 13mp f/1.8 rear camera. I actually weighed the phone as it felt really light and at 104g the scales proved that point spot on. Because of its curve the phone looks even thinner than 7.78mm. It fits completely inside my front shirt work pocket which is a bonus. This is also the dual sim. It can either take 2 nano sims or one sim and up to a 32gb micro sd card.

So after a good charge, I powered on the phone. First there was a 50mb software update to improve the camera and some bug fixes. Always a good sign. The next step was asking whether I wanted to use the phone internet connection via wifi or wifi and mobile data. Ideal if this was a Pay As You Go phone. I was then asked to sign into my wireless internet, Google account and offered to create an ACER BYOC account. What is BYOC. Bring Your Own Cloud. More about this over the upcoming days. I will also cover what other apps are added by Acer, but lets put it another way, of the 16gb, 12gb was free and that was after all the Google apps got updated. That translates into hardly any bloatware. There was only one web browser, Chrome and only one music player and that was Google Play Music.

I have in my other post today attached some photo samples. At the same time as reviewing the Acer Liquid Jade I am also reviewing the Acer Liquid Leap Smartband. Over the next few days I will be covering off the overall phone contents, camera, audio and finally concluding my views.

In the usual format, if you have any questions, please ask.

Amazon Fire Phone – First Impressions

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On Wednesday, Amazon reduced the Fire Phone right down to ÂŁ99. Across twitter and many forums many opinions raged as to whether it was worth it or not. Well, here are all the orders Amazon received. So clearly a lot of people thought it was worth of shot.

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My first chance to use the Amazon Fire Phone was last night. I opened the box and realised that the phone needed a charge as the battery was at 36%. Once it reached 100%, I turned it on and was presented with a video that explained clearly all its main features and how to use the gestures, along with practising them too. Simple idea but genius.

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The phone’s hardware feels good in the hand and comfy to hold. But it does seem to pick up fingerprints. The screen is excellent. So a short while later I realised a software update was waiting. This was date 26th August 2014. So this got installed and from there I started to explore the phone further.

The next step afte the video was logging in to twitter and facebook, this is not mandatory. Then I setup my Google account for email, contacts and calendar. Then I explored further. I had heard the headphone audio was outstanding and I can confirm that the sound output via the headphone jack is possibly the best I have ever heard from any smartphone. However, I can not find any sound equaliser. Camera. I have done some limited testing but it appears the camera takes good shots but its operation is both excellent and then at times weird. Again I need more time to explore this feature.

Now I know some of you are screaming “it does not have Google apps or the Google Play store” . Well, I can shout back just as loudly. So what! For most people the world does not evolve around Google. So long as the apps you need are available on the Amazon app store then all is fine. If you are heavily invested in to the Google Play store then this phone is not necessarily for you, but those starting fairly new to the world, or perhaps are invested in the Kindle Tablet eco system, then on paper all should be ok. However, I need more time to assess everything.

Fire OS. Now my thoughts on the Fire OS and its skin and for another day. I will add that I am pleased I bought this phone. Whilst I can see potential areas where it is not perfect, I think I can see what Amazon might have been trying to do. Anyway, more soon when I have had a week or so with it.

One thing I did want to test was the Mayday help button. Video support call worked just fine with on screen guidance. This really was the ultimate support call and shows up so many other companies who provide a poor after sales service.

And don’t forget to “fire” off any questions.

And here are some photos from the Fire Phone. What I have found is that it is able to capture a wider field of view than several other smartphones.

Church of St Michael & All Angels,  Princetown #Dartmoor #AmazonFirePhone

Church of St Michael & All Angels,  Princetown #Dartmoor #AmazonFirePhone