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Xiaomi Mi A2 [REVIEW]

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Xiaomi has added a second competitor to it’s Mi A series of smartphones. Both the Mi A1 and the Mi A2 are known for being extremely well balanced smartphones with great update support and just an enjoyable user experience all around, but the Mi A2 brings a few improvements and for some people, maybe a few downgrades over the older A1! Regardless of opinions, this phone is sure to leave it’s tracks in the history of Android smartphones. Let’s see what the fuss is about and clear the air!

 

Build Quality

This phone takes a lot of it’s design cues from the previous A1, including but not limited to: back material, fingerprint sensor position, USB port position, side buttons design and other things. Mi A2 actually omits the capacitive buttons from the A1 replacing them with a software navigation bar. It also has rounded screen corners, and a different camera position.

It feels pretty nice and heavy in hand, but some may find it’s size a bit overbearing. There are three hardware buttons on this phone and they feel really tactile. The click they make upon pressing is loud and the travel distance is good enough that you’ll know when you pressed them.

I only wish Xiaomi textured the power button. Mi A1 lacked the same thing, even though a textured power buttons makes it really easy to identify only by feel. The texture is especially useful if you’re fiddling around the phone in your pocket trying to change the volume.

 

Android OS

Interestingly enough, for a phone with such a great system we really have nothing new to say about it! It’s pretty much pure stock Android directly from Google which means zero bloat and great responsiveness. You can even disable most of the Google applications if you don’t plan on using them.

Only things non stock here are a few select applications from Xiaomi like the Camera and Mi Drop ones. Quick updates are one of the many benefits of having an Android One phone, so of course this phone has already been updated to Android 9 Pie. It lets you experience Android the Google way.

 

Performance

First, let’s get the benchmarks out of the way. On Antutu, this phone gets 134348 points, almost double from what Mi A1 got. On GeekBench it got 1643 points in single core test and 5049 on the multi core test. Finally, on the Renderscript test it got 5807 points. Now, how does this phone handle in real life use?

The interface has shown to be very fluid and the phone does feel pretty snappy, even when I was updating multiple applications. You will have no issue multitasking with common applications as this phone overcomes them without problem. Even though it gets double the points over it’s predecessor, it still doesn’t feel like a big upgrade. Regardless, the system is very smooth and I haven’t noticed any weird slowdowns.

When it comes to gaming, I ran PUBG Mobile to check how it performed. PUBG selected “Medium” graphics settings for the Mi A2 at hand, and it runs around 45FPS on the highest settings I could set. Unfortunately, it also stutters sometimes as this phone really isn’t made to be a high-end gaming device. It’ll perform just fine with lighter games like Candy Crush and Clash of Clans.

 

Screen

Although this *is* a pretty balanced phone spec-wise, the screen isn’t anything special to look at. You get a fairly common LTPS IPS panel which sadly prevents this phone from enjoying many benefits of OLED technology. The screen itself has no notches but it does have pretty curvy edges which, while obstructing the corners a bit, does look pretty snazzy.

More importantly, this phone’s screen has a FHD+ resolution of 1080 * 2160, which also means that the screen itself is of 18:9 aspect ratio. That aspect ratio is beneficial since this phone has a sizeable screen of almost 6 inches (specs say 5.99″)!

Brightness levels also aren’t anything to fawn over, it gets dim in the dark and it gets bright in the sun. Sunlight legibility is actually fairly decent for an IPS panel, probably owing to Xiaomi’s “Sunlight” feature which dynamically calibrates the screen’s contrast depending on the user’s environment. At night, the screen doesn’t get too dim so you should probably avoid reading any e-books or large texts on this thing.

 

Cameras

This is one of many dual-camera phones on the market today, but can it do anything special? Unfortunately, the camera setup on this phone is fairly uninteresting, having the second camera serving only as a depth detector for the bokeh effect. The second camera is actually used in low-light conditions as it is more sensitive, but realistically Xiaomi could just dispense with the bokeh functionality and only use the “high-sensitivity” camera.

The photos shot by the A2 are actually very good as both cameras have capable sensors inside. Bokeh effect used in portrait mode is very precise giving it the ability to produce realistic depth of field. Night shots some times may even turn out too bright, but that can easily be remedied by exposure compensation. Selfie shots are very sharp even in the dark since the A2 has a front facing flash, another good decision by Xiaomi.

I also applaud Xiaomi for a proper manual mode this time around! Precise white balance control, lots of shutter speeds including the extremes, ISO selection, manual focus and finally, sensor selection! Except the not-so-useful dual-camera setup, this phone checks a lot of boxes in this department.

Finally, when it comes to video we have 4k with 30FPS and 1080p with both 60FPS option and electronic image stabilization. EIS in this case actually does a good job of ironing out a lot of small bumps and shakes, so unless you really need the 4k resolution just use 1080p with EIS.

 

Audio Capabilities

When I tried to hook this phone up to my testing equipment, I was faced with an obstacle. This phone doesn’t really have a 3.5mm jack, instead you get a dongle allowing you to use the USB-C port for those ancient, non-wireless headphones.

This phone has proven okay in the audio department, having measured at just 0.005% total harmonic distortion, but also having an uneven frequency response and being less loud than average. That’s for the headphone users, the speaker is actually very loud! The low end is practically non-existent, but that’s normal for most phone speakers. The important thing is that you probably won’t miss that important call or alarm if you set the volume up high.

 

Battery

With Mi A2, battery was the victim of it’s exterior design. Since Xiaomi wanted to make the phone thinner, they had to reduce the size of the battery. This led to Mi A2 having a battery with only 3Ah!

Still, the results from real life usage aren’t all that bleak. This phone is said to have around four to five hours of SoT with regular usage. That translates to just about a day of battery life for most users.

When it comes to gaming, the battery level fell by 7% during the 20 minutes I played it. This means that with a full battery you could get up to 5 hours of playtime. This phablet could really use a bigger battery, but it works well enough if you aren’t that into mobile gaming.

 

Additional features

The GPS and the fingerprint reader work flawlessly, both being quick to do their job. Mi A2 is also equipped with an IR blaster allowing you to control TVs, air conditioning or pretty much any other household appliance that supports IR remote control.

The OTG system is also working perfectly, supporting external storage and giving it plenty of power to operate. The powerful USB C port can also be used to charge other phones or for powering things like a USB light!

Unfortunately, the Mi A2 lacks FM radio functionality even though the receiver hardware is there. There’s a chance Xiaomi will add the FM radio application in an update, but there was no official confirmation.

 

Closure

Xiaomi Mi A2 is a pretty well rounded mid-ranger from a reputable brand, but it’s mediocrity could pose a problem. The omission of the headphone jack, lack of FM radio, small-ish battery, average screen – these are all small drawbacks that are impacting this phone. Thankfully, these still aren’t deal breakers unless you have a fairly specific use case.

Xiaomi has tried to focus on the important things by giving this phone a good camera, good chipset and of course, a fresh and regularly-updated OS. If you agree with the choices Xiaomi made, then you’ll probably be well off getting this phone – if only for Android One!

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Phones

5 Reasons To Buy New Mi 10

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This week Xiaomi has presented new flagship smartphone models Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro. The presentation was in an unusual online format because of coronavirus in China. But the company prepared for it on a really high level making the video stream on different online platforms.

So, let’s talk about the new models and 5 reasons why you should change your smartphone to the new one Mi 10.

Reason 1 – Display

Mi 10 features really best 6.67 inches SuperAMOLED display with resolution 2340*1080 pixels. As you can see the frames are really small which creates the effect of total bezel-less display. The model has rounded edges, but all the display is protected with durable Corning Gorilla Glass.

Reason 2 – Top configuration

The model is equipped with a Snapdragon 865 eight-core processor. The performance was increased by up to 20 percent compared with the previous generation.

Reason 3 – Updated Memory

The model uses the LPDDR 5 memory standard which is high-tech and modern. Xiaomi is the second brand after Samsung who implements this decision into smartphones. Also, the model uses Wi-Fi 6 technology.

Reason 4 – Cool camera

The model has four camera sensors situated on the rear panel. The most powerful sensor is 108MP which is supplemented with one 13MP sensor and two sensors with 2MP resolution.

Thanks to the AI algorithms the user can work with original photo testing different effects.

Another interesting feature is text recognition. Sometimes when you should take a photo of documents or book pages the shadow of the smartphone can ruin the photo making some zones not visible for reading. But thanks for AI algorithms it’s not a problem anymore.

Reason 5 – A powerful battery

In order to keep the necessary level of performance, the model has a 4780 mAh battery. Thanks to the cooling system the model can be fully charged in 56 minutes. Moreover, it supports wireless charging.

The global launch date is currently unknown. So stay tuned.

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The Google Assistant-powered “Ambient Mode” is rolling out to OnePlus devices

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Photo: OnePlus Community

By partnering with Google, OnePlus is excited to bring the Google Assistant-powered “Ambient Mode” to your OnePlus device (available onOnePlus 3 and above).

Ambient Mode is a “proactive” Google Assistant experience that is available whenever the device is being charged. You can access proactive information and suggestions on weather, agenda, entertainment, reminders, and more. The feature can also be used to turn a phone into a digital photo frame or as the interface to control smart home devices, such as lights, or music players. Check out this video made by Google to learn more:

To opt-in this feature, please connect your OnePlus device to the charger, click the notification and follow the guidance to finish the setup process, or you can enable this feature in Google App Settings > Assistant > Devices (Phone). Please note that this is a staged rollout, which might take up to a week to a full release, your patience will be appreciated.

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Phones

10 things to know about Android 10

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Photo: Google

Android 10 is here! With this release, Google focused on making your everyday life easier with features powered by on-device machine learning, as well as supporting new technologies like Foldables and 5G. At the same time, with almost 50 changes related to privacy and security, Android 10 gives you greater protection, transparency, and control over your data. This builds on top of their ongoing commitment to provide industry-leading security and privacy protections on Android. Google also built new tools that empower people of all abilities, and help you find the right balance with technology.

Here are the 10 things you should know, centered on innovation, security and privacy and digital wellbeing:

Simpler, smarter, and more helpful

1. Smart Reply now suggests actions. So when someone sends you a message with an address or a YouTube video, you can open and navigate in Google Maps or open up the video in YouTube—no copying and pasting required. And Smart Reply now works across all your favorite messaging apps.

2. Come to the dark side… with Dark Theme. You can enable Dark Theme for your entire phone or for specific apps like Photos and Calendar. It’s easier on your eyes, and your phone battery too.

3. Take advantage of larger, edge-to-edge screens with the new gesture navigation. With simple swipes, you can go backwards, pull up the homescreen, and fluidly move between tasks. After switching, you won’t want to go back to visible buttons.

4. With a single tap, Live Caption will automatically caption videos, podcasts and audio messages across any app—even stuff you record yourself. Live Caption will become available this fall, starting with Pixel.

New privacy and security features put you in control

5. You can choose to only share location data with apps while you’re using them. You’ll also receive reminders when an app that you are not actively using is accessing your location, so you can decide whether or not to continue sharing.

6. In a new Privacy section under Settings, you’ll find important controls like Web & App Activity and Ad Settings in one place.

7. With Google Play system updates, important security and privacy fixes can now be sent to your phone from Google Play, in the same way your apps update. So you get these fixes as soon as they’re available, without having to wait for a full OS update.

Find the right balance with technology for you and your family

8. You have greater control over where and when notifications will alert you. Mark notifications as “Silent” and they won’t make noise or appear on your lockscreen, so you’re only alerted by notifications when you want to be.

9. Now Family Link is part of every device running Android 10, right in settings under Digital Wellbeing. Parents can use these tools to set digital ground rules like daily screen time limits, device bedtime, time limits on specific apps, and more. They can also review the apps children install on their devices, as well as their usage.

10. Want to be in the zone but not off the grid? Digital Wellbeing now brings you Focus mode. Select the apps you find distracting—such as email or the news—and silence them until you come out of Focus mode. Sign up for the Beta to try it.

There’s lots more in Android 10, including a new enterprise feature that lets you use different keyboards for your personal and work profiles, app timers for specific websites so you can balance your time on the web, new gender-inclusive emoji, and support for direct audio streaming to hearing aid devices.

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