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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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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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Phablets

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 [REVIEW]

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Released just a few months before we got it, the Redmi Note 7 is Xiaomi’s new phablet with a few interesting things hiding behind it’s regular looking shell. Latest Android Pie, fast mid-range chipset, bigger battery and a camera which claims to shoot 48MP photos! Given the price bracket, this is going to be a tough competition as there are many other contenders. Hopefully Xiaomi has made the right choices, so let’s go and find out together.

Build quality

First thing you may notice is that this phone is pretty much all glass. The glass is on the front as expected, but it’s also on the back and on the edges too presumably! This may not be good news for those wanting a sturdy and rugged phone, but who knows, this glass might be tougher than expected.

We have a pretty big camera dock on the back, a small droplet of a notch on top, and three very extruded and clicky buttons on the side. The USB-C port is located on the bottom of the phone in between the speaker and microphone holes. This phone feels relatively heavy in hand given it’s glass build, but that also means it’s a big fingerprint magnet and more prone to cracking.

Android OS

Since it’s a Xiaomi, the MIUI OS is to be expected. Redmi Note 7 comes with the latest MIUI 10 from Xiaomi claiming better visual integrity, improved speed and generally just more features. For the fans of Apple’s iOS, MIUI 10 draws lots of design cues from there whilst remaining very polished and fast. The transition animations are fluid and the phone shows no stutters or major hiccups in regular usage.

Given that it’s a heavily customized version of Android, some “bloatware” is to be expected. Unfortunately, most applications here can’t be disabled or uninstalled, including gmail, google chrome, and google photos. We hope you enjoy having two galleries on your phone for no reason. Thankfully, the system is aware of the notch and knows how to handle it, so there shouldn’t be any unremovable black bars while viewing photos and videos.

Performance

First come the benchmark scores. Antutu gave us 144181 points on their benchmark. Using GeekBench, we got 1626 points for single core test, 5540 points for multi core test and 5617 points in the RenderScript test. Compared to some recent phones we had on review, the Note 7 scores come in par with the Mi A2, and both of them score a lot lower than the Pocophone’s super fast flagship, the F1.

The user interface is smooth and browsing, task switching and watching videos is completely lag free. Jumping over into a graphically intense game gives you a hiccup here and there, but for the most part it was running relatively stable at around 30FPS or more at the highest settings I could set.

Screen

As most often seen in similarly priced phones, the display is a regular IPS LCD panel with 19.5:9 aspect ratio and a FHD+ resolution of 1080×2340. As per usual for IPS phone panels, the brightness levels are nothing special and the color reproduction is pleasant without being too saturated and intense.

Even though they tried to make the screen seem bigger with the notch, Xiaomi ultimately failed at that goal because of the very thick bezels this phone has. This is not necessarily a bad thing for those who prefer a bit of space around the screen for gripping, but it certainly makes the phone seem bulkier.

Cameras

Now here comes the interesting bit, the phone’s 48MP shooter. Right off the bat we’d like to point out that in order to get the best color quality and night-time sensitivity, you should shoot at 12MP because of the camera sensor’s quad bayer pixel arrangement. If however, you just want the sharpest photos of the biggest resolution, then switch the camera into the 48MP mode in the “Pro” section.

Speaking of the Pro section, this phone’s manual mode isn’t too special, but it still gives you control over focus, shutter speed and ISO. The controls aren’t too precise, but at least the shutter speed extends up to half a minute for those saucy long exposure shots. White balance control is unfortunately severely limited to only four rough presets, and there appears to be no RAW option either. Bummer. Really unfortunate too, since the Note 7 has a tendency to get the coloration wrong, making some photos look unnatural.

This camera does offer a night mode which is surprisingly good and gives you some really tasty shots in bad lighting conditions. Portrait mode also works correctly on both the front and back cameras which is pretty cool given that it’s doing the front camera depth sensing completely in software.

When it comes to videos, the stock camera application offers 1080p recording at 30FPS with EIS as the default. The stabilization is pretty good even though it trips up with shakier scenarios. You can also shoot in 60FPS with reduced stabilization or in slow motion 120FPS with no stabilization at all.

You be the judge of the image quality this phone produces, but I just have to say that the camera application could use some improvements in usability and configuration options. In it’s current state, it feels somehow limiting to use, and the lack of customizability doesn’t help it’s cause. All in all, the camera is competitive in this price range, but there’s a lot of room for improvement in the software department.

Audio Capabilities

I was excited to check how this phone performs in synthetic audio tests, but unfortunately I couldn’t do them because the phone’s output was just way too hot for my reference audio recorder, and lowering the volume introduced a lot of distortion into the signal for some reason.

Still, the powerful output will probably be a blessing to those with high impedance headphones and big cans in general. It sounds just as loud and juicy as my S9+, if not louder.

The speaker is also very loud and makes the phone’s glass body resonate in your hand. No distortion on the highest volumes too, so it sounds like everything is in order here. It doesn’t use the earpiece as a second loudspeaker so there’s no stereo options there, but the bottom firing speaker does it’s job adequately.

Battery

Given this phone’s slightly bigger battery and relatively efficient chipset, the battery life figures should turn out pretty good. Starting off with the Lab501 test, this phone had it’s battery drained by 4% during the 15 minutes of running the gaming sequence at maximum brightness. Playing PUBG Mobile for 15 minutes on maximum brightness drained the battery by 7% which means you should get roughly 3.5 hours of gameplay on a full charge.

Given the phone’s 4Ah of battery, these figures aren’t that good. I’d personally attribute it to the quite heavy MIUI running underneath since the Snapdragon 660 isn’t that power hungry, but we can’t know for sure. Thankfully, with the help of Android’s battery saving technologies, the battery should prove a lot better in regular day to day usage.

Additional features

This phone also has some interesting additional features. It’s good that it has FM radio for emergency situations and low coverage areas, but it also has an IR transmitter that can be used to control various appliances via the Mi Remote application. There are countless presets inside for various models, and with them I’ve managed to control both my air conditioners and my TV.

The fingerprint reader is very fast, unlike the GPS which had trouble locking in unless I was in an open space with perfectly clear skies. Your mileage may vary. Thankfully, the OTG support seems perfect which is not even that surprising these days. Mounting USB drives works, and it provides enough power too.

Closure

The Redmi Note 7 is a sleek device with an attractive price point for users who aren’t interested in dropping $1000 for a smartphone, but also want a device which will serve them well over time. The hardware specs should be future proof given the 6GB of RAM, 4000mAh battery, 48MP camera and the well established Snapdragon 660 chipset. For the price point of just around $230, some of it’s negative aspects can be easily overseen given that they could be fixed with a proper software patch from Xiaomi.

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