Friday, 29 May 2015

Sony Xperia Z3+ and LG G4: Differently close

Thinking about upgrading your smartphone? LG and Sony have released a strong line-up of their flagship android mobiles, namely the LG G4 and Sony Xperia Z3+. If you’re confused about which one to splurge on, we have rounded up these two for a spec-to-spec comparative review so you can make a well-informed decision. Read on!
Beginning with the design of both the models, Sony’s Z3+ comes in dimensions of 146.3 x 71.9 x 6.9mm and weighs 144g whereas LG’s G4 is 148.9 x 76.1 x 9.8 mm and weighs 155g, making LG G4 slightly bigger looking and heavier too. LG G4 is available in two different back materials that is, real leather (black, brown, red) and plastic (grey, white) with curved edges, it has also opted to shift the control buttons to the back panel instead of the usual side panel. On the other hand, Sony’s Xperia Z3+ is comprised of a waterproof and dust-proof glass and aluminium frame with a rectangular shape and comes in four colors, including black, copper, white and aqua.

Moving on to display, LG G4 has a screen size of 5.5’’ with an IPS LCD and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection while the Sony Xperia Z3+ gives us the usual 5.2’’ IPS LCD display with scratch resistant screen technology and an oleophobic coating.  The LG G4 packs resolution of 2560 x 1440 that equals 538 ppi, which makes it one of the few phones to offer such high resolution and pixel density. Sony’s Z3+ has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 with a pixel density of 424ppi and makes use of their proprietary TRILUMINOS technology that produces bold and clear images. Given its larger display screen and considerably higher resolution, enhancing the quality of visual experience, LG G4 acquires a certain edge over Sony’s Z3+, which at least in screen size is not far behind.

Both models run on the Android OS, while LG G4 runs on v5.1, Sony’s Z3+ runs on v5.0. LG’s G4 is powered by a Hexa-core, Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 central processing unit, and clocks in 1.8 GHz’s of processing power with a 3GB RAM, Sony’s Z3+ runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 with Octa-Core and a 2.0 GHz processing power and an equal 3GB RAM. Therefore, at the chipset front, both the models are neck to neck.
Coming to the memory, both have 32 GB of internal memory, however LG G4 is expandable to a massive 2 TB of external memory, although how this would affect the performance and smoothness of the smartphone remains to be seen. On the other hand, Sony Xperia Z3+ is non expandable. Therefore, the choice could depend on individual requirement, although both the models provide same ready availability of memory.

Furthermore, while LG’s G4 has upped their rear camera to 16MP, which is impressive, Sony Xperia Z3+ takes a leap with 20.7MP rear camera, however, LG G4 makes it up in the front camera with 8MP, which in case of Sony Xperia Z3+ is 5MP. Both models provide optimal image stabilisation, two-tone LED flash. Our conclusion is that the Sony’s slightly stronger rear camera and waterproof technology may have provided it a leg up, but if you are looking for superior selfie LG G4 has an edge. On the battery front, LG’s G4 has a removable 3000mAh battery with Sony’s Xperia Z3+ close behind with a 2930mAh non-removable battery, which is almost comparable.

Therefore, while LG G4 has an edge in terms of offering better visual experience, a massive expandable memory, a superior front camera and a slightly more advanced operating system, Sony Xperia Z3+ tries to make up with a superior rear camera, water and dust proof glass and a relatively sleeker look. Considering that the two models are priced about the same, the cost tag may not be a deciding factor while making a choice between the two devices.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

HTC One M9 vs Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: How much extra is justified for resolution?

Samsung and HTC are two heavyweight players in the smartphone world that have consistently shown class and prowess through their products. It would be compelling to compare their smartphone models and do a spec-to-spec analysis to understand their capabilities and help potential customers make an informed decision while considering their products. Therefore, we have chosen Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge for a comparative review with HTC One M9.

HTC One M9 with dimensions such as 144.6x 69.7x9.61mm weighs 157g, while Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge with dimensions of 142.1x 70.1x 7.0mm weighs 132g, a significant 25g lesser than One M9. There is not much difference in the display screen size, where HTC’s One M9 is 5 inches long where as Samsung’s S6 Edge is 5.1 inches long. Also, One M9 is available in Full HD (1080p) and S6 Edge is available in Dual Edge Super AMOLED, which makes the touch-screens pretty much comparable too. However, after the weight, the major difference comes in resolution, where Samsung’s S6 Edge has a significant leg up with 2560x1440 pixels over HTC’s One M9 that has 1920x1080 pixels, promising a better picture quality. Moreover, both the devices come in multiple colors: S6 Edge is available in white pearl, black sapphire, gold platinum and green emerald, where One M9 is available in gray, silver and gold. The overall design, however, remains a matter of personal preference.
Both the smartphones are powered by 1.5GHz Octa-Core processors, but Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop where as HTC One M9 runs on HTC Sense 7.0 which happens to be HTC’s customized OS based on Android Lollipop, essentially comparable operating systems (OS). Also, both the devices operate on a 3GB RAM and have an internal storage of 32 GB, however, Samsung’s S6 Edge has no expandable memory where as HTC’s M9 has an expandable memory up to 2MB through microSD. HTC’s M9 also has an edge in terms of battery capacity 2840mAh over Samsung’s S6 Edge that comes with 2600mAh battery. As such, while performance of the two devices is comparable, HTC’s One M9 acquires an edge on two accounts i.e. external memory and battery capacity.

If we take a look at the additional features, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge has a 16MP primary (rear) camera with CMOS senor technology that detects and conveys information that constitutes an image and a 5MP secondary (front) camera. On the other hand, HTC One M9 has a 20MP primary camera with BSI sensor that adds more light quality to photographs and a 4 ultra-pixel front camera; apparently, ultra-pixels are capable of capturing around 200 percent more light. As such, HTC’s One M9 with higher pixels stands out at the primary camera front and also promises a better selfie given the ultra-pixel feature. Both the devices have Wi-Fi capabilities (802.11 a/g/b/n/ac), Bluetooth v4.10 and single SIM slot, and support only Nano-SIM. In terms of connectivity, both devices are available in 2G, 3G and 4G, depending on the market.

At the end, the key differentiator is the price. In the Kenyan market, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is priced around KSh85,000 where as HTC One M9 is priced around KSh69,000. With the availability of expandable memory, better cameras, higher battery capacity HTC One M9 seems to be worth its price. Considering that the design is largely a matter of individual preference, the relatively higher price of Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge seems to be on account of the device being lighter, thinner, and offering higher resolution. The Kenyan customers would have to consider whether it is worthwhile spending additional KSh16,000 for slightly superior resolution and sleeker look.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

ARCHOS’ Titanium may find it hard to beat Obi’s Racoon in Kenya

ARCHOS has been a global player in consumer electronics since 1988, but it got into the smartphone business in 2013. Obi Mobiles, led by John Sculley, former CEO of Pepsi Co and Apple, entered the smartphone market in mid 2014. That gives ARCHOS slight advantage of being relatively more established smartphone player, particularly in Africa, where Obi Mobiles just entered about two months back, starting with Kenya and Tanzania. Since the two companies have models in same specifications and price range, it makes them natural competitors. Therefore, we have picked up two moderately priced devices, ARCHOS’40b Titanium and Obi Mobiles’ Racoon S401, for our routine comparative review.

In spite of slightly larger physical dimensions, Obi’s Racoon S401 actually weighs lighter than ARCHOS’ 40b. With 126x64.7x10.5mm dimensions, Obi’s Racoon weighs 109g, where as with 125x61x8.5mm dimensions ARCHOS’ 40b weighs 115g. They both have 4.0inch display with a screen resolution of 480x800 pixels, which means about the same viewing experience. However, it is worth noting that Obi’s Racoon comes with a corrosion and wear-proof back cover, a slight advantage for Obi.

Furthermore, Obi’s Racoon runs on Android OS 4.4.2 (KitKat) whereas the Archos’ 40B runs on an older version of Android OS 4.2.2 JellyBean. The KitKat not only provides unparalleled interface experience but in comparison to JellyBean, it prioritizes automatically your favorite contacts, provides the Google Hangout app, and launches searches, sends texts, plays songs directly from the homescreen. Doing the legwork on the inside of both the models is the dual core MediaTek chipset with a 512 RAM, however, ARCHOS’ 40b clocks in a 1.3 GHz processor whereas Racoon S401 is slightly behind, with a 1GHz processor. Therefore, the trade off is between more advanced operating system and slightly more powerful processor.

Obi’s Racoon has 1500 mAh removable Li-ion battery and ARCHOS’ 40b Titanium has a 1400 mAh of the same. Both are on the lower side of the spectrum, but Obi’s Racoon has slight leg up here. Both the devices provide 5MP rear cameras, however, Obi’s Racoon has a leg up again with its 2MP front camera, while ARCHOS’ 40b comes with budget-level VGA camera at the front. In addition, both the models have 4GB internal memory with the option of a 32GB external memory limit.

On the whole, Obi Racoon S401 does have a leg up on various accounts including more advanced operating system, slightly higher battery capacity, superior front camera and the wear-proof back cover, besides being a bit lighter and smaller that is actually a matter of preference. However, the cost tag makes Racoon stand out clearly. With all these advantages Obi’s Racoon S401 is priced at around KSh 6500, where as ARCHOS’ 40b Titanium is marked at around KSh 9500. Well, that makes the decision-making lot easier.

OPPO’s Joy needs to watch Obi’s Wolverine in Africa

Riding on their significant success in the Middle Eastern markets in a short time, Obi Mobiles, led by former Pepsi Co and Apple CEO John Sculley, launched its eight smartphone-models in Kenya and Tanzania. African market already has established players like Huawei, Samsung, HTC, Tecno and OPPO, therefore it would be interesting to see how Obi manages to create its footprints in the region. At the end, it is the quality of the product that provides credibility. In this context, we have been comparing various Obi models with the competing models to examine the relative quality of the products. In the current review, we have put Obi’s Wolverine S501 up against OPPO’s Joy R1001, with the intention to help customers make a smart choice.
At the very outset we realize that there is visible different in the size and weight of the two devices. With physical dimensions of 124x63x9.9mm OPPO’s Joy comes out as a smaller device than Obi’s Wolverine with dimensions 144x73x9.6mm. On one hand, this difference in physical dimensions reflects in the weight of the devices, making Obi’s Wolverine (167gms) about 42gms heavier than OPPO’s Joy (125gms). On the other hand, it shows up in the size of the display screen, which is an inch smaller in case of OPPO’s Joy (4inch) than Obi’s Wolverine (5inch). However, in both cases the resolution is about the same; Obi’s Wolverine comes with 480x854 Pixels where as OPPO’s Joy with 480x800 Pixels. Therefore, the trade off is between a bigger and heavier device with a larger display and a relatively shorter and lighter device with an inch of smaller display. While both the devices come in black and white, Obi’s Wolverine has this unique leather-like texture at the back. 

At the performance level, OPPO’s Joy seems to lag behind as it comes with an operating system that runs on a slightly outdated Android 4.2 (ColorOS) compared to Obi’s Wolverine that runs on Android 4.4 KitKat. However, OPPO’s JOY takes a leg up over Obi’s Wolverine in terms of processor where JOY has a Cortex A7 1.3GHz dual-core processor while Wolverine has a MediaTek MTK6572 1.2GHz dual-core processor. But then JOY loses out on RAM with 512 MB RAM when Wolverine can boast of 1GB RAM. In terms of storage, both the devices have same internal memory of 4GB and an expandable memory upto 32 GB through microSD. While JOY (with 1700mAh) has a slight upper hand in terms of battery capacity over Wolverine (with 1500 mAh), a relatively advanced OS and larger RAM provide Obi’s Wolverine an edge over OPPO’s JOY. However, significant difference shows up again in the cameras; while both have the same 0.3MP front cameras, Wolverine comes with 5MP rear camera and Joy with 3MP.
In terms of Connectivity, both smartphones support Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n). But JOY additionally provides Wi-Fi Hotspot while Wolverine does not. Both devices provide 2 SIM card slots, but JOY has 1 Regular SIM card slot and 1 Micro SIM card Slot which means the consumer is forced to change their existing SIM card(s) to Regular or Micro. Wolverine on the other hand allows users to use either Regular or Micro SIM in the same slot. In terms of Wireless Networks both Wolverine and JOY are available only on 3G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz and WCDMA 2100 MHz. Additionally, Wolverine is also available on 3G: WCDMA 850 MHz.

In this context, we finally look at the prices in the Kenya market, where Obi’s Wolverine is priced at around KSh12,000 where as OPPO’s JOY is priced around KSh11,000, a difference of about KSh1000. Given several advantages of a wider screen-size, higher OS, bigger RAM, superior rear camera, and the ability to use any form of SIM (Micro or SIM) without any hindrance, Wolverine’s slightly higher price could be justified. However, a smart customer could make the deal even smarter by pushing for a better price bargain.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Huawei’s Honor under attack from Tecno’s Phantom

It is Huawei’s Honor 3C versus Tecno’s Phantom Z Mini 2 this time, and our focus remains on African smartphone market, particularly Kenya, where we have gone for the price match. The winner is somewhat clear but for little extra price that also brings in lot more. 

Design: Huawei Honor 3C is a simple but elegant device with dimensions reading 139.5x71.4x9.2mm. On the other hand, Tecno Phantom Z Mini 2 is a longer and slimmer handset with 145x70x6.6mm dimensions. 

Display: Both the devices come with 5inch display and resolution of 720x1280 pixels, however, main differentiator is the screen technology. While Huawei Honor 3C uses an IPS-LCD capacitive screen, Tecno Phantom Z Mini 2 uses an AMOLED IPS HD display, which offers better visual experience while viewing at angles and is more efficient in terms of energy consumption, contributing towards longer battery life.

Operating System (OS): Both devices run on an Android operating system v4.4.2, however, Tecno Phantom runs on customized Android user interface (UI) referred as Aliyun OS, which looks neat with icons well spaced, all on a black background. Therefore, on both the accounts i.e. operating system and processor, Tecno’s Phantom has a sure edge over Huawei’s Honor.

Processor: Both the devices run on a MediaTek chipset, however Huawei’s Honor 3C is powered by a Quad-Core, 1.3 GHz processor with 2GB RAM, where as Tecno’s Phantom Z Mini 2 is powered by Octa-Core 1.4 GHz processor with 2GB RAM. Although both devices are neck to neck in processing speed, they differ in the number of processor cores. In Quad-Core chips, each core can be put to work simultaneously on any given task, thus making it fast with fluid motions and camera performance, whereas Octa-Core chips have two sets of Quad-Core processors which split tasks between them according to the level of tasks (basic/advanced).

Internal memory: Huawei Honor 3C has 8GB of internal memory that is expandable externally to 32GB using microSD, however, Tecno Phantom Z Mini 2 provides 16GB memory capacity but without the option of any external storage. Therefore, the choice is between ready availability, where Tecno’s Phantom has an edge and possibility where Huawei’s got an advantage.  

Camera: Huawei’s Honor 3C comes with an 8MP primary camera and 5MP secondary camera, whereas Tecno’s Phantom Z Mini 2 has 13MP primary camera and 8MP secondary camera, which once again provides Tecno’s Phantom a sure leg up over Huawei’s Honor.

Battery capacity: Tecno Phantom Z Mini 2 comes with a Li-Ion 2420 mAh battery, where as Huawei Honor 3C closely follows with Li-Po 2300 mAh battery. The difference is small, but it once again provides Tecno’s Phantom a slight edge over Huawei’s Honor.  

Additional features: To the advantage of music lovers, Tecno has featured Dolby Digital Sound to its device that sets it apart from Huawei’s Honor. They have also provided another interesting feature called the “Inadvertently Mode” whereby the device automatically locks itself once it enters user’s pocket. Furthermore, the “Clear Motion” is said to enhance video playback. Moreover, Tecno comes with a free flip cover in the box.

Price: To get an indication, we looked at various e-commerce websites catering to Kenya market, where Huawei Honor 3C is available at around KSh19,000 whereas Tecno Phantom Z Mini 2 is priced at around 21,000. Considering the advantages Tecno’s Phantom comes with as compared to Huawei’s Honor on almost all the aforementioned counts, the price difference of about KSh2,000 may not necessarily be the deciding factor while making a choice.

Our recommendation is, if you are struggling to decide between these two devices, i.e. Tecno Phantom Z Mini 2 and Huawei Honor 3C, you may wish to consider paying little extra to get not only a better device but a device that comes with lot more too.

Sony Xperia Z2 can sure give HTC One M8 tough time in Africa

HTC and Sony are two high-end smartphone makers that have time and again asserted their dominance through their products. Needless to say, it would be interesting to put their smartphone models up against each other for a spec-to-spec match to make sense of their product strategies as well as inform potential customers to help make a considered choice. Therefore, we have picked up Sony Xperia Z2 and HTC One M8 for this comparative review.
The basic dimensions of both the devices are very close match. With 146.8x73.3x8.2mm, Sony Xperia Z2 weighs around 163gm, where as HTC One M8 with 146.36x70.6x9.35mm dimensions weighs around 160gm. The overall physical feel of holding the two devices in hand is about the same. Moreover, multiple colour variants in both the devices allow customers a greater choice in picking the right colour to make their style statement. Sony’s Xperia Z2 is available in black, purple and white colours, where as HTC’s One M8 is available in gunmetal grey, glacial silver and amber gold.

There is also not much difference in the display screen size as Sony Xperia Z2 has 5.2inch display where as HTC One M8 comes with 5inch display, meaning viewing space is about the same too. However, Xperia Z2 has a relatively more advanced Full HD Triluminos capacitative touchscreen where as One M8 has a Full HD 1080p capacitative touchscreen, which gives Xperia Z2 an edge for offering a superior quality of display.

There are slight variations on the front of performance indicators. Sony Xperia Z2 is powered by 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop, where as HTC One M8 is powered by 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat. In spite of slightly loosing out on processor, Sony’s Z2 acquires an edge over HTC’s M8 due to more advanced operating system. Nevertheless, it is possible to manually upgrade M8 to Android 5.0 Lollipop, if one is prepared to make an effort. Another critical difference is in RAM, where Sony’s Z2 comes with 3GB RAM while HTC’s M8 has 2GB RAM. Both the devices are available with a 16GB internal memory and an external memory expandable up to 128GB through microSD. As such, Sony Xperia Z2 has an edge over HTC One M8 due to more advanced processor and higher RAM, which influence the performance of the device.

This brings us to the additional features. Sony Xperia Z2 has an astonishing 20.7 mega-pixel rear camera with Optical Image Stabilization but a rather diminished 2.2 mega-pixel front camera. On the other hand, HTC One M8’s rear camera has a 2.0 ultra-pixel with 1/3-inch BSI CMOS sensor and a 5 mega-pixel front camera. The ultra-pixels are capable of capturing around 200 percent more light. In case of rear camera, Z2 stands out due to its superior mega-pixels but One M8’s ultra-pixel capability should put up an ideal fight in the battle for better primary camera. However, in case of front camera, HTC’s M8 has an edge over Sony’s Z2 giving users a better result in selfie quality.

Another critical differentiator is the battery capacity. While HTC’s One M8 has a battery capacity of decent 2300mAh, Sony’s Xperia Z2 comes with enormous 3200mAh capacity. Other than that both Z2 and M8 have Wi-Fi capabilities (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth v4.0, Wi-Fi Direct and only 1 SIM slot. If Sony Xperia Z2 users can use only Micro-SIM, HTC One M8 users too can use only Nano-SIM. At the connectivity front, HTC One M8 is available in 2G/2.5G - GSM/GPRS/EDGE, 3G - WCDMA and 4G - LTE, where as Sony Xperia Z2 is available on 2G‎ - GSM, 3G‎ -‎ HSDPA and 4G - LTE.

Finally, we also looked at the price tag in the African market. In Kenya, Sony Xperia Z2 is priced around KSh38,000 where as HTC One M8 stands at around KSh46,000. Considering that Sony Xperia Z2 comes with more advanced operating system, larger RAM and higher battery capacity, it does make HTC One M8 look over priced.

Obi’s black Wolverine can sure beat Huawei’s colourful Ascend

In our endeavour to provide smartphone users in Kenya with insights about various smartphone brands and models, we have this time picked up devices from two players, including an established player, Huawei, and a rather new entrant in the African smartphone market, Obi Mobiles. While the Chinese company Huawei has already carved out a name for itself in Africa, Obi Mobiles is trying to capture the attention of African smartphone users with its recently introduced smartphone range named after wild animals, the animal series. The models that we have picked for the comparative review are  Huawei’s Ascend Y530 and Obi’s Wolverine S501 for reasons that would become obvious the review progresses. 
In general, Huawei's Ascend Y530 stands out as a smaller and lighter device than Obi's Wolverine S501. While Wolverine is 144x73x9.6mm and weighs 167gm, Ascend is significantly shorter (132.5x67x9.3mm) and also weighs lighter (145gm). Also, Huawei’s device comes with 4.5 inch LCD auto-rotate (G-sensor) display where as Obi’s device has a 5 inch TFT IPS Screen with capacitive touch. Both the smartphones have a screen resolution of 480X854 pixels. The Ascend has its volume keys on the left side of the phone while as in Wolverine you have the feasibility of controlling volume through keys that are rightly placed on the back side of the phone, just below the camera. Furthermore, Huawei’s Ascend Y530 comes in red, yellow, black and white (plastic back) variants where as Obi’s Wolverine comes in impressive black, leather-like cover that protects the device from cracks and scratches. At this stage, the key distinguishing features include the display screen size, the location of the volume keys and the colour options.

When it comes to operating system (OS), Obi’s Wolverine S501, in sync with technology, runs on Google Android KitKat (4.4) that gives the smartphone an accelerated touch screen and superior performance while as Huawei’s Ascend Y530 lags behind as it runs on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean that is fading as the preferred choice of smartphone users. However, Ascend is powered by a Qualcomm SnapdragonTM Dual-Core 1.2GHz processor where as Wolverine by 1.2GHz Dual-Core Processor by MTK, which may give Ascend the advantage of popular perception. Furthermore, Ascend is equipped with 512MB RAM and an internal storage space of 4GB that can be expanded up to 32GB via MicroSD card. On the other hand, Wolverine comes with 1GB RAM and external memory support up to 32GB via a MicroSD card. At this stage, the key distinguishing features are a more advanced operating system and larger RAM.
To cater to users’ photography needs, Obi’s Wolverine sports a 5MP primary camera placed in the middle of the device and comes with a LED flash. It also has a 0.3MP secondary camera. Similarly, Huawei’s Ascend also comes with 5MP of primary camera in the back with a flash and 0.3MP of secondary camera. Furthermore, Obi’s Wolverine is equipped with a 3.7Li-on removable battery with 1500mAh capacity, where as Huawei’s Ascend carries a Li-on battery capacity of 1750mAh, which is advantage Ascend. However, Wolverine comes with two SIM slots, both 3G enabled, where as Ascend offers space for only one, mini SIM card. Both the phones serve the purpose by offering Bluetooth 4.0 version, WiFi and 2.0 USB slots. At this front, the distinguishing features are the battery capacity and SIM slots; if Huawei has a slight edge in battery capacity, Wolverine takes lead in terms of SIM slots.

In the spec-to-spec match Obi’s Wolverine does take lead on many important counts such as display screen size, operating system and RAM, double SIM option while slightly lagging in battery capacity. However, the biggest distinguishing point between Huawei’s Ascend Y530 and Obi’s Wolverine S501 is the the price tag that the two devices carry in Kenyan market. While Huawei’s Ascend is priced around KSh14,000, Obi’s Wolverine is a steal at little over KSh 9000, if one is ready to go with impressive black.