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Xiaomi Huami Amazfit Stratos [REVIEW]

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A smartwatch, useful device or a short-lived fad made to suck money out of consumers’ pockets? Today we’re looking at Xiaomi Huami Amazfit Stratos, smartwatch made by two companies. With a relatively low price of $190 and a heap of useful functions, we’re looking at an interesting option for people who aren’t ready to put their savings into something they might not even need.

Build quality and buttons

This smartwatch is very well build with a chrome edge and the rest of the body in carbon fiber. Buttons are made out of stainless steel and the center button is additionally textured for easier identification. Pushing them feels great and the click is hard and defined. The screen is also protected by tempered glass, one of basic things on a watch that I’m glad Xiaomi/Huami didn’t forget. A lot of smartwatches tend to be a bit on the heavy side, but Stratos has no problems with it considering it weighs only 60g. With such weight, it feels like any other watch on your wrist. One negative thing I have to attribute to it is it’s silicone strap. Despite being comfortable on your skin, it looks cheap and out of place on such a premium looking smartwatch. I hope that silicone is tougher than it looks because this watch needs to withstand various vibrations, rapid changes in temperature and the effects of water and sea. I know what you’re asking yourself so I’ll tell you right away – yes, this smartwatch is waterproof up to 50m! Because of that, Xiaomi/Huami have sacrificed both a microphone and a speaker on this smartwatch. Still, since it’s fitness oriented – it seems like a reasonable enough decision.

Operating system and features

Now we come to the interesting thing about every smartwatch, it’s operating system. The OS is a connector between bare metal hardware and the user which makes it an important element of some device’s user experience. Xiaomi/Huami have decided to use their proprietary OS on this device and we don’t have much information about things under it’s hood. Some things allude that their OS was based on Android, but we’re sure that it’s not compatible with Android Wear (Wear OS). This smartwatch has 14 different watchfaces, and almost every one of those can be customized to boot. It also supports 13 different sports where this watch measures, in real time, you heart rate, speed of movement, calorie consumption, your position (by GPS) and other things you’d expect out of a fitness tracker. Since it has a hardware pedometer installed, while turned on this smartwatch also counts your steps. Of course, beyond sport and fitness this watch can play music from it’s internal memory to your bluetooth headphones, give you weather reports, analyze your sleep schedule and it also has a compass! All of this is synchronized with the Amazfit application over bluetooth. I can’t say the application is advanced, but it’s not rudimentary either. Most of the settings you can adjust inside your smartwatch, but for example, changing the order of it’s widgets is done from the application. Amazfit Watch application will probably be of most use to you as an easy way to glance over the statistics that the watch has collected.

Of course, it’s not all fun and games when it comes to this OS. User interface is pretty confusing, after multiple days of usage I still sometimes press the wrong button or swipe in the wrong direction. The power button only wakes the watch but when you press it again, instead of putting the watch to standby, it changes a page. In order to read the notifications, you must first wake the watch and then swipe up (instead of having such an important function be bound to one of the buttons). Tap to wake works sometimes, only if you tap the screen twice in the precise interval that the smartwatch likes. Activation on raise works, but it’s a bit too sensitive. While I’m lying in the bed, it’s prone to waking itself up randomly when I’m moving my hands about. There are some more minor hiccups that an astute user will notice. With such imperfections in the user interface, The OS also has some minor stuttering issues. Changing the watch face has known to put my Stratos out of order for up to 20 seconds. With that, it also has a lot of microstutters in the system and moments where you don’t know if your watch didn’t recognize the input or it did and is just processing something.

Battery

Xiaomi/Huami claim that the watch can work up to 5 days if you use it every day for 30 minutes and get 200 notifications. When you buy this watch, I wouldn’t recommend you to align your expectations by this claim. This smartwatch has a pretty miserable 280mAh battery and that’s why small changes in usage patterns can mean huge differences in battery life. With my usage of this smartwatch, it could work for two to four days depending on how often I bike and use it’s other functions. Xiaomi/Huami claim that you can stretch this battery up to a week, but with that kind of usage this stops being a smartwatch. In the end, despite the technically small battery – it lasts long enough that I didn’t fear killing it while out and about. Battery can be charged in 2 to 3 hours so there’s no problem with that, only maybe if you have a problem with removing you wristwatch a bit more often than your old Casio.

Screen

Screen on this smartwatch can be bo th good and bad depending on what you’re looking for. Viewing angles aren’t that great which can cause a problem if you want to look up some stats while you’re training. Colors aren’t much better, though. They are desaturated, and the situation just gets worse when you turn on the bluish backlight which cools down the whole picture. Of course, that can be forgiven since we won’t be watching movies on our smartwatch, that’s for the kids of the next generation. Despite me ragging on the screen, I have to say that it looks absolutely gorgeous in sunlight! Owing to it’s smart design, the sun is the backlight for the screen during the day! Because of that, you can see everything clear and sharp!

Conclusion

I’ll say it right away, despite a lot of hiccups in the system and user interface – me and this watch clicked right away. I personally wouldn’t buy it because I don’t need it’s countless fitness functions, but it showed me that smartwatch technology may not be heading head first into a wall. This watch is perfect for someone who’s physically active and wants a nice smartwatch without breaking the bank. If you don’t plan on using the fitness functionality of this watch, you may want to consider something else since fitness is the area where this smartwatch shines.

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Reviews

Review: ZMI Reason ONE

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ZMI Reason ONE — a new smart alarm clock by Xiaomi Ecosystem partner — ZMI. This is the first smart alarm clock by the Chinese brand. The company’s assortment includes power banks, chargers and other gadgets for smartphones.

The design and functionality of the alarm clock are similar to the Xiaomi AI smart alarm clock. One of the main differences is the voice assistant. The alarm clock by Xiaomi supports Xiao AI suitable for Chinese customers. ZMi Reason ONE supports Alexa, which greatly simplifies the use of the device in Europe, USA, and other English-speaking countries.

DESIGN

The model has a compact rectangular shape (12×6×2 cm). It is made of matte black ABS-plastic.

The front panel is occupied by black monochrome screen. Despite the compact dimensions of the alarm clock, the screen is large enough. Therefore, the numbers and letters on the display are clearly visible even from a distance.

On the top, there is a touch button, which is responsible for voice control activation and microphone status.

On the rear panel, there is a speaker, a Micro-USB port (for charging) as well as a button for resetting to factory settings.

FUNCTIONS

The display shows the time, date, alarm status, timer, and WiFi connection. When the voice assistant is activated, the display shows two circles, which look like “eyes”.

ZMi Reason Clock supports the Alexa voice assistant. You can ask the weather, find out the news, time, ask to turn on the music or set an alarm/timer, add smth to a shopping list and even find out the currency exchange rate.

The ringtone of the alarm clock is also easy to change. There are about 30 melodies to choose from the menu.

The alarm clock can also be a portable speaker. The model supports popular music streaming services like Amazon Music, Audible, iHeartRadio, and others.

If you have devices that support Alexa, then you can control them using ZMI Reason One. In order to do this, you need to install a special application and synchronize the devices with each other.

The price for such a smart alarm clock is ridiculously low — only $ 20. Sounds cool, doesn’t it?

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Phones

Sharp Aquos C10 [REVIEW]

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The Sharp C10 review has finally arrived! Sharp is a Japanese brand that mostly covers its market in Japan, but has recently started to turn its marketing to other areas of the world. So yes, Japan is not only popular for Hentai and awesome cars industry but they also get involved in the smartphone industry. Sharp is probably best known for their TVs or kitchen appliances to some, but they are fairly old players in the smartphone game, making phones like the Aquos Crystal back in 2014. Let’s jump back to the C10 and look at all the interesting bits this smartphone hides.

Build quality

Because of it’s non standard aspect ratio, this phone brings some quite interesting looks with it. It’s a bit shorter and wider than what we’re used to, with a droplet styled notch on the top and glossy plastic back. The USB-C jack lies on the bottom between the speaker and microphone grilles, but unfortunately there is no 3.5mm audio jack on the top which is a huge disappointment. Finally, the very clicky three buttons are positioned on the right side and are pretty easy to reach due to the phone’s size.

The phone itself is fairly light in hand, but it still feels relatively sturdy and rigid. It is claimed to have gorilla Glass protection for the screen, but it’s unknown which version of it exactly. Also, Sharp have decided to put the fingerprint reader on the front, so you get a small recession under the screen where the fingerprint sensor resides. The phone itself is not too thick either, so it’s a real pleasure to handle all in all.

Android OS

The OS on this thing is actually pretty light with little to no bloat! It’s Android 8.0 Oreo with a few tweaks to the settings application, task switcher, and the system UI to handle the notch and to distinguish it from other Android phones. Notch handling is done on a per-app basis which means that most applications probably won’t support it. I’ve found that only the stock gallery seems to make use of it, while Youtube cuts off the whole top. You can also disable most of the Google applications if you don’t use them, that’ll get you some extra RAM space if you need it. The situation here is fine although they should work on the visual integrity a bit in the future updates.

Performance

This phone gets 89296 points on Antutu which is not that great for a mid range device. Compared to the Mi A2 which gets 134348 points, performance of the C10 seems pretty bad, but it’s not all that bleak. In Geekbench it gets 883 for the single core test, 4239 for the multi core test and 3702 for the renderscript test. Synthetic benchmarks obviously don’t tell the full story as this device multitasks fairly fast and handles Chrome just fine for day to day web browsing. PUBG Mobile locks the graphics settings to low and even then it stutters here and there, so obviously don’t pick this phone if you’re looking for raw gaming performance. Even then, playing on it’s relatively small screen won’t be too comfortable of an experience. Regarding screens…

Screen

In a mid range phone like this, a screen usually won’t be too interesting of a subject. C10’s screen has some very rounded corners on the top including the notch, while the bottom just has regular, hard corners. You do get a relatively nice FHD+ IPS panel with a resolution of 1080×2040. Colors pop pretty nicely at higher brightness settings, and speaking of brightness this phone handles it pretty well. Lowest brightness doesn’t go too low, but highest brightness is thankfully high enough for outside use.

Cameras

I have to say, this phone has quite an interesting thing going on with the camera. Unfortunately, the second camera is only used for depth detection in portrait mode so I think it’s a bit of an useless addition, but the camera application itself is pretty feature packed. I’m happy to say that it also has a full featured manual mode with only the RAW option missing. The photos it takes on auto mode are lifelike, vibrant and just very pleasant in general. Given it’s wide aperture, it’s also pretty competitive at night, but only with still shots. Portrait mode gets you some pretty strong depth blur, but it’s inaccurate as well so use it in moderation.

Switching over to video, the mild disappointment starts. No stabilization options at all, nor any slow motion modes available. Thankfully it does have 4K, but I don’t think most people will find it very useful. Some EIS would go a long way here. All in all, it’s a pretty competent camera in the price range with some nice software features like the picture-in-picture mode, but the second camera is a bit of a waste, and the addition of EIS would be extremely beneficial.

Audio Capabilities

Testing the audio output on this phone yielded some fairly average results. Doing the tests with the headphones connected, we can see that the frequency response loses it’s linearity and some distortion shows up on the low end. The stereo crosstalk also jumps up by almost 40dB with the headphones connected. These tests are done with a 55ohm set of on-ear headphones so results may vary with different loads. The audio output thankfully does get comfortably loud so it does seem to have enough power.

Similar situation for the speaker which gets relatively loud, but it carries some distortion along with it. Nothing tragic but you’ll hear when you’re pushing it. The plastic case doesn’t resonate with the speaker that much so it doesn’t help the tinny feel of the sound. For such a budget phone, I really didn’t expect anything extraordinary from the loudspeaker so I wouldn’t call it a disappointment by any means.

Battery

Running the Lab501 gaming test on maximum brightness for 15 minutes drained the battery by 5%. Playing PUBG mobile under the same testing conditions for the same amount of time drained the battery by 10%. So with a full battery, you could game on this phone for about 10 hours.

That’s surprisingly good given the relatively small 2700mAh battery inside C10. It’s standby times are even better since the phone shows little drain during the night and could probably last over a week if used sporadically. Suffice to say, I’m pleasantly surprised!

Additional features

When it comes to additional features, this phone doesn’t pack any surprises. Unfortunately, Sharp has even omitted an FM radio receiver software even though the hardware supports it. There’s no FM radio application to be found anywhere! The fingerprint reader usually unlocks on the second try, but the results can vary and it’s pretty fast when it works.

GPS also hasn’t been proven too spectacular as it took a while to get my location acquired, but it works all right once it locks on the satellites. Finally, there’s full OTG functionality here so you can plug in flash drives and all kinds of other peripherals into your phone. No problem!

Closure

The Sharp C10 is an interesting budget phone with a pretty stern and business-like design. Even though the performance might not be the selling point here, you trade it in for a very respectable camera which I’d say is the highlight of this phone. Unfortunately some bad decisions were made, for example the removal of the 3.5mm jack and the lackluster notch handling, but all in all it could be way worse. In the end, all that matters is preference – what do you want out of your phone and what are you willing to sacrifice.

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Reviews

Xiaomi Mi 9 Review

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Xiaomi’s flagship smartphone, Mi 9, has some awesome characteristics like design, powerful processor, and a great camera. Wanna know more about it? Stick around. I’ll tell you all about it.

First Impressions

If we ignore aluminum frame for a moment, It can be said it is made entirely out of glass: the front panel is made of Gorilla Glass 6, and the back panel is Gorilla Glass 5. This model has a shiny blue gradient color, and there are two more color options: black and violet. There’s also a Transparent Edition that pushes price tag way beyond $500.

The glass gives the phone absolutely stunning look, but it also makes it prone to scratches and fingerprints. I recommend using silicon case that comes in the box, or some other type of protection you can buy online.

Mi 9 is Xiaomi’s first phone with a dedicated AI button. Just press it and Google Assistant will instantly pop-up, giving you the most relevant information based on your online behavior. You can reassign it as I did. I’m using it to open the rear camera.

Screen

Mi 9 has a real jewel on the front: a 6,39 inch Full HD Super AMOLED screen. The best screen on any Xiaomi device so far has great readability under the sun and it’s significantly better than LCD panels used on previous Xiaomi flagships. Above the screen is a 20-megapixel camera in a tiny waterdrop notch, and above that is a speaker. There’s even more on top of that: sensors and a LED notification light, hidden from your eyes.

Great things are coming in waves with Mi 9 because under the screen is a fingerprint sensor, lightly illuminated so you can always know where to press to unlock the phone. Let’s not forget Always-on colour display or Ambient Light, Xiaomi’s name for this very usable feature.

Hardware, benchmark

Xiaomi Mi 9 is the first smartphone with Snapdragon 855, the most powerful chipset in the world. It runs like a grinder trough games and apps so if you’re looking for a gaming phone, Mi 9 is something to seriously consider.

The phone in my hands has 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. Other flagships have at least double storage capacity, but this was a way to keep the device affordable to a much wider market segment. Xiaomi rightly estimated that 64 GB is enough for most users. After all, there is also a 128 GB version available.

At the bottom is a single loudspeaker with enough firepower to flawlessly reproduce music or gaming sounds. It is not a stereo speaker, though.

Camera

Camera quality has become an essential feature for many customers, and Xiaomi Mi 9 has really a great one to offer. Wait, not one but three! The main camera has 48 megapixels, second is 12-megapixel telephoto snapper and the last one is a 16-megapixel ultrawide sensor. Image quality is great with plenty of details.

If you’re looking for a smartphone that will give you a perfect photo in a way to simply get it out of your pocket and make a snap, Mi 9 is an obvious choice.

Software

Xiaomi Mi 9 runs the latest MIUI 10 on top of Android 9. It follows the same logic just like any other MIUI system before, with some nice new features like moving trough system with gestures. I’m using Xiaomi phones for years and this is the most polished and user-friendly MIUI by now. The system-wide dark mode is a nice feature, and there’s also a Second Space. That’s a part of a memory protected by password, where you can put all the apps and other content you don’t want others to see.

Battery

The Battery on Mi 9 has 3.300 mAh, which is slightly smaller than last year’s Mi 8. Although it is not as big as batteries on other flagship devices or even Xiaomi’s own Redmi Note series, it is capable of reaching the end of a day on a single charge. Things get interesting when it comes to the way the Mi 9 charges.

It supports wireless charging, something Mi 8 didn’t have. Xiaomi just recently hopped in a wireless charging train, but it did it with style: Xiaomi Mi 9 has the fastest wireless charging among all the smartphones, capable of reaching full capacity in just an hour.

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Verdict

Xiaomi knows how to hit a bullseye: it offered a handset with an insanely powerful processor coupled with enough of RAM to easily broke every app in pieces. Camera quality is astonishing, just as the design of the device. There’s also a big shiny screen for awesome gaming and multimedia experience. With price as low as $322,99, Xiaomi Mi 9 is not only an impressive flagship smartphone but also the best-buy option for anyone who’s looking for performance and top image quality. Stay tuned for more videos and don’t forget to subscribe!

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