Review: THL T7 Smartphone 4800mAh Powerful 4G

Introduction

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I was offered this phone to review, given it’s price tag and specifications, it seemed a little odd. From what was advertised, it seemed to pack in a lot for such a low cost. The question is, does it match what is on offer?

Manufactures Description

  • 4800mAh POWERFUL BATTERY: It is a big challenge for techniques and technology to have 4800mAh big battery in only 9.1mm thinness phone, but we finally achieved both in THL T7
  • FASTER 4G LTE NETWORK: Provide fast web connection for downloading apps, streaming content and staying connected with social media
  • EFFECTIVE UNLOCKING METHOD: The fingerprint technology has 360 degree accuracy, which means that the user doesn’t have to bother about what position the finger should have when it touches the sensor. Gently press your finger on the sensor and your fingerprint will activate the phone and unlock it. Up to 5 fingerprints can be saved. Supports unlocking of homescreen.
  • 5.5” HD IPS SCREEN: The 5.5” HD screen with IPS material has excellent color reversal conversion performance, so not matter from which angle viewing, you can enjoy the bright,saturated, nature screen

Pro’s

  • Well designed
  • Premium feel
  • Good quality screen
  • Snappy response

Con’s

  • Made for lefties?
  • Average camera

Design

So let’s talk about the design and build quality first. The first thing that struck me about the THL T7 was the size. It’s a nice big screen, but there isn’t too much wasted space. The screen is extremely close to the edges, and the top and bottom of the device aren’t overly large. This has enabled them to keep the phone from becoming too big, but it is still worth noting, this is a big phone, it is a 5.5 inch display after all.

The build quality is much better than expected, and when compared to other devices in this price bracket it’s top class. The phone has a solid feeling metal frame that looks and feels great. On the back you’ll find a plastic casing which feels metallic at first touch, the camera at the top with a flash, and the finger print sensor just beneath, and finally a small speaker grill on the bottom of the rear casing.

There is a dual sim set up for those who need it, but if you don’t need multiple sims, then the second sim slot doubles up as a MicroSD slot. This is great for users who want more memory.

The only thing that I found a bit odd is that the lock/power key is on the left of the phone. It’s not a huge issue, but it definitely feels like a phone built for lefties.

Functionality

The phone is a speedy little beast. I found pretty much all apps loaded quickly and that switching between menu’s was seamless. The hardware inside of this phone really handles everything, giving a smooth experience throughout.

It’s also worth noting that there was a software update available straight out of the box, so once you’ve got the phone connected to the internet you might want to do this.

One thing that really let the phone down, especially how good it is in pretty much every area, was the camera. Capturing photos is extremely slow, so slow in fact that I could never get anything more than a blurred shot of something that moved. Even taking a completely still photo gave average results, which is a real shame given the camera specs. I’m not really sure what it is that causes the lower quality, software or hardware, but no matter what I did with the settings, photo quality was average at best.

On the plus side, the video quality I captured was good. I managed to get some good looking video which made up for the lacking camera quality when it came to stills.

Battery life on this is good. The phone packs in a large battery, but given the screen size and spec, it needs it. From what I found, I got between 4-5 hours of screen on time out of the phone which was easily enough to last a full day. This included checking emails, surfing the web, using whatsapp, keeping my Twitter account updated, and a few calls.

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Conclusion

So, the real question is, should you consider this phone? The short answer is yes. For the price you can’t go wrong. It’s powerful and has a great looking screen with awesome build quality. Yes, the camera is a little lacking, but for the price it’s not actually bad, just not what I was hoping for considering how good everything else is on this device.

It’s a very reasonable price for a pretty great bit of kit. Definitely worth checking out!

Review: Microsoft Lumia 950

Likes
• Light weight
• Lightning fast
• Awesome camera
• Dedicated camera button

Dislikes
• Random key presses
• Reboots
• Average battery

Introduction

So I finally have it, my Lumia 950. With the arrival of Microsoft’s first flagship handset, running their latest mobile operating system, things could really shape up and get interesting. The real question is, can Microsoft’s latest device hold its ground, especially when the competition is already fierce?

In all honesty, if you’d have told me 6 months ago that I’d be using a Windows device as my daily driver, I’d have laughed myself to death. I hated Windows 8 and disliked Windows Mobile just as much. The whole thing just seemed to be a mess, but after trying the Insider version of Windows 10 Mobile, my ice cold heart started to melt. A few months later and I’m wielding a Lumia 950.

So, let’s take a look at my thoughts and impressions.

Look and Feel

The first thing you’ll notice about the Lumia 950 is how nondescript it looks. A plain black slab with rounded corners. There’s no metal, but I don’t mind, the plastic shell feels durable with its matte finish, and it’s replaceable. On the rear of the device you’ll find a silver windows logo, camera hump, and triple LED flash. At the top is a single 3.5mm headphone jack, then left side has nothing, the bottom has a USB C port, and then the right side has volume rocker, power/lock button, and a camera key!

So all in all, it’s pretty plain, but it looks smart. The Lumia 950 resembles something I’d expect to see if the HTC HD7 and the Samsung Galaxy S2 had a baby. It feels light weight and comfortable to hold, and as I mentioned above, the back is replaceable and there are already some awesome looking rear cases hitting the market. Check out the Mozo shells as an example.

The display! Oh it’s gorgeous. It’s bright and the viewing angles are insane. This is one of the best displays I’ve seen. The quality is absolutely fantastic. I always hear people talk about the quality of blacks on the screen, and until using the Lumia 950 I hadn’t really paid any attention. In the dark the blacks blend in completely, leaving nothing but the colours on the display. It makes for a pretty interesting illusion when you’ve just got a Windows logo hovering above your hand when the phone boots up in the dark. Out of all the displays I’ve seen on a phone, this has to be the best I’ve seen.

Camera

The Lumia range have always been known for their fantastic camera’s and the Lumia 950 is no exception. The device is capable of capturing amazing photos with very little effort, but if you’re into playing with camera settings then you’re in luck!

There are a range of settings that you can customise, allowing for better manual shots to be captured. Also, for those who really seek quality, you can capture in both JPEG and DNG formats.

When using the Lumia 950’s camera I was impressed by how well the automatic settings worked. The auto focus was pretty good at finding it’s target, and macro photography works well with this device. I’ve used plenty of mobile phone cameras and when it came to close up shots they always seemed to struggle at close range, the Lumia 950 however performs great here.

The addition of the camera shutter key is a welcome one. It not only allows you to load the camera quickly just by clicking the button, but it also allows for better photography. You can hold the phone in a more natural position which will help minimise shake, and just click the button, there’s no need to try and get your finger on the screen. There are also two levels to the camera shutter key, a light press will focus the camera, and a second harder press will capture the photo.

The camera performs well in low light situations, with images coming out with very little noise compared to other smartphones (I’m looking at you Xperia Z5!) and for those truly dark situations you have a triple LED flash. Now, like most phone camera flashes this one isn’t great, with a tendency to light things up too much, draining colour from the subject, but it does perform better than most others. I would have preferred a Xenon flash like the Lumia 1020 had, but then I also like not having a huge camera hump.

I love playing with cameras, and the Lumia 950’s is a pleasure to use. From my experience it blows the competition out of the water, even the Xperia Z5 range.

Windows 10

I think it’s safe to say that regardless of the hardware Microsoft threw at their latest handset, unless they got the operating system sorted then it was destined to be a sinker. So how is it? A pleasure to use is the answer!

There’s something great about the simplistic look of my home screen. It’s easy to navigate to every app or service I use on a regular basis and the home screen doesn’t feel crowded despite having almost every app I use pinned to it. Love them or hate them, Live Tiles are back, and for the first time ever I find myself preferring this over the competition. My folders are organised, becoming one big live tile, for example, all of my office applications are in one folder, with the Live Tile cycling what is on display so I can see all the apps in the folder at a quick glance.

Windows 10 is lightning fast, with apps opening quickly and multi tasking working like a dream. The settings menu’s have been cleaned up, making individual options a lot easier to find now, unlike previous iterations in which it was sometimes impossible to find a setting you needed.

The Action Centre has also been improved, resembling Windows 10’s desktop counterpart. Pull down from the top and you’ll see your notifications, and just above these you’ll find your 4 most commonly used settings. Hit the expand button and you’ll find more quick settings, enabling you to toggle features quickly without digging deeper. These quick settings can be customised, allowing the user to chose which quick options you can add to your Action Centre.

As is always the case with Windows Mobile, the Lumia 950 comes with a host of Office Applications. We’ve got Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook. These apps have all been massively improved and are a pleasure to use, even on the smaller screen. Outlook allows you to pin your individual email accounts to your home screen, letting you get to the email account you want faster, rather than having to fish through the app. Of course, these apps all become even better when you hook your Lumia 950 up to a monitor and use Continuum (More on that later)

So, it all seems pretty great right? Well, just remember that Windows 10 Mobile has literally only just launched for consumers, so you will find issues. So far my phone has rebooted every couple of hours (although this seems to have stopped since a software update last night) and certain apps seem to go a little mad, or just not work properly (I’m looking at you Groove Music!). I’m sure there will be updates landing quickly, but it’s worth taking into consideration that you will face issues during this early stage.

Despite these issues, the overall feel of the operating system is great. I absolutely love it. Is it for everyone? Probably not, but if you want something that looks and feels professional, is productive and easy to navigate, then Windows 10 Mobile is worth a look.

Windows Hello and Continuum

Windows Hello is perhaps my favourite feature of my Lumia 950. There’s just something fun about lifting my phone up and having it scan my eye to unlock! I mean, who wouldn’t have fun with that?

Once I got over the gimmick I found myself impressed by how accurate the scanner is. You can train it multiple times in the settings, which obviously helps increase accuracy. Windows Hello works in darker conditions, it works at arms length or right next to my eye, and it works at angles so you don’t need to stand like a statue, you can just unlock your phone naturally. If you switch between wearing glasses, then have no fear, Windows Hello recognises my eye with or without my glasses.

Now, there are two big problems with Windows Hello. The first is that it makes me unlock my phone like Derek Zoolander, I always seem to stop and strike a pose. Hopefully this will end soon! The other issue is that almost everyone who has seen me use this feature has immediately asked “What happens if you lose both of your eyes?”, this is normally followed by me being given some pretty insane hypothetical situations that I have to come up with solutions for.

When Microsoft announced the Lumia 950 they also revealed Continuum. This made me weak at the knees, and seeing it in action still has me really excited. As I mentioned above there are plenty of productivity apps and once they’re loaded up in Continuum they look just like their desktop counter parts. This is quite frankly awesome!

It’s in the early stages right now and doesn’t allow for multiple apps to run in windowed mode which is a shame, but hopefully with future updates Continuum will become even more similar to the Windows 10 desktop we are all becoming used to.

One thing that I feel is worth mentioning is that Continuum works with pretty much all forms of display adapters, both wired and wireless. I originally thought it would only work with Microsoft’s Display Dock, but then I paired my 950 with my Amazon Fire TV and BAM! Continuum worked. You can load Continuum with Miricast devices, standard HDMI adapters, basically anything that will pair your phone with a display. Pretty handy.

I won’t go into a massive amount of detail regarding Continuum as it deserves it’s own article, and also I need to spend more time with it before I can form any more opinions.

The App Gap

Whenever anyone talks about Windows Mobile, the ‘App Gap’ always seems to get thrown in there. Now, let’s be honest, there is a lack in applications for Windows mobile, but with universal apps working across all Windows 10 devices, it looks like the future could get brighter. For me, the app issue isn’t a big one. Everything I need and use on my phone I can download, with only a few apps that I’d like missing from the store.

However, there is one huge and glaring issue, and that’s maps! Here Drive is no longer the default sat nav app, which is understandable, but what really breaks my heart is that the application is no longer available to download. This wouldn’t be an issue, but Microsoft’s own maps app just isn’t as good.

Oh well! Things will get better, especially with universal apps, and to be honest there are already plenty of apps available.

Battery

One thing that I loved about my Lumia 640 was the battery. I was getting about 3 days of usage so I was hoping that the Lumia 950 might deliver similar results. Sadly it doesn’t, in fact, it’s one of the let downs on this device. Now, it’s not bad by any means, I get at least a solid day, we are talking at least 24 hours, but I wouldn’t like to try and get all the way through the second day without a charge.

One of the benefits is how fast this device charges. I plugged it in for about half an hour and came back to find the battery had almost completely charged from practically being flat. Now that’s impressive, I only wish the battery lasted a little longer, but it’s certainly not below average so it will do!

Conclusion

Well, that’s a brief overview of my thoughts on the Lumia 950. I absolutely love it and I can’t wait to see what comes with future updates to the software. This isn’t a phone for everyone, and probably shouldn’t be one that users who absolutely love their applications should get just yet, but this is definitely worth keeping an eye on. If Microsoft can deliver on their promises to get more apps onto their platform then they stand a very real chance of gaining market share in the mobile sector.

My only concern is how poorly Microsoft have handled the launch of the Lumia 950 and 950 XL. They confused potential buyers with where and who they could buy the phone from, there was also a lack of launch date and a huge delay between announcement and actual launch. To top it off, in the UK right now this device is still pretty much vapourware. It’s almost impossible to find in any stores which makes adoption… Well… Impossible! Fingers crossed Microsoft will pull their fingers out and give this device the support it deserves.

So, would I recommend this phone? Yes! Absolutely. I will be using this phone as my personal device and would put this head and shoulders above the competition in so many departments. It feels great and the camera is superb. If you’re a fan of the Windows ecosystem then this could be your next mobile purchase.

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Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

Introduction

The Nokia Lumia 1020, a beast of a handset wielding a monster of a camera. Some would say it’s crippled by its operating system, whereas some truly enjoy the Windows Phone ecosystem. I decided to give it a try, taking the phone for a spin and giving Windows Phone a chance on a high end handset. So what did I think?

Look and Feel

The Lumia 1020 is a big phone, but it feels nice in the hand. It has curved edges with no horrid sharp corners like some phones have, making it much more comfortable. The polycarbonate shell looks fantastic and promises to keep your phone looking smart throughout it’s life.

Despite Nokia getting the curves and the look right, the phone is chunky. One major area that makes this device uncomfortable to hold is the camera lens. Granted, its one of the phones best features, but it comes at a cost, sticking out of the back of the phone and making it awkward to hold in one hand.

Camera

There’s a lot to say about the camera on the Lumia 1020, but I can sum it all up with just one word, wow. This device takes the best pictures I have taken on any smartphone currently on the market. The picture quality is absolutely outstanding and the range of shooting features really is impressive.

The biggest thing for me that really stood out is the xenon flash. There are no situations where it’s too dark to take a picture with the Lumia, the flash helping to capture brilliant photos even in extremely low light conditions. The pictures aren’t void of life, or washed out like they are with a standard LED, and this feature has really come in handy.

Battery

Here’s where things take a turn for the worst. I’m used to smartphones and their tendency to drink battery, however the Lumia may as well be a landline phone! At best I’m lucky if I can squeeze 12 hours from my device, and that’s with relatively low usage. For anyone who needs a phone to last the day then look elsewhere, or at least stock up on battery packs.

What I liked

There are a few things that really impressed me. Obvious the camera is right up there, but the Nokia Here Drive feature offered amazing sat nav. It has a whole host of features and hands down blew every other devices built in GPS out of the water.

What I disliked

The battery! This is by far the most disappointing aspect of the Lumia 1020, ruining an otherwise great phone. I’ve tried all sorts, lowing my brightness settings, turning off most of my wireless functions, but no matter what I do, the battery is just poor.

Conclusion

So I thought I would hate this phone, only enjoying the camera, but oddly I’ve found myself growing very attached. The camera is great and I’ve even grown to like windows phone, something I never thought would happen.

The major things people need to consider when deciding if you want this device is the size and the battery. Phones are getting bigger, but they are also getting slimmer. The Lumia is big and relatively fat. The battery will most likely be a deal breaker for most people. Luckily I work with chargers all around me, but if I didn’t have constant access to the mains then I don’t think I could put up with this phone despite how much I love everything else about it.

If camera and price are at the top of your list, then give this device some consideration. If portability and battery are at the top, then turn away now.

Blackberry Q10 Review

Introduction

The Blackberry Q10 is the latest flagship qwerty device from the declining Canadian manufacture. It’s their premium model, the go to for business phones. So how well does it stand up against the competition and can it deliver something that other manufactures are missing?

Look and Feel

The first thing that struck me about the Blackberry Q10 is how well it is made. It feels premium and looks great. It has a good weight about it and feels durable, unlike some of the plastic competition out there. The textured back cover adds a little extra grip while also looking the part, with a carbon fibre look to it.

The main feature of this phone, its qwerty keypad, feels and responds excellently. I didn’t realise how much I missed using a hardware keyboard until I took the Blackberry Q10 for a spin. The keys are large and well spaced and the whole thing just fits nicely with the OS, especially when used as a business device.

User Interface

The operating systems is pretty good. I’ve only seen little short sharp bursts of Blackberrys own OS in action, playing with it for small amounts of time. This was the first time that I gave the OS any true attention and I must admit I’m impressed.

I love the multi tasking on the device and the gesture controls. You have your application panels, and when you finish with an app they will appear as tiles on your main screen, giving you the option to close them once you no longer need them. Having my open apps visible made me close them down when I was done with them, helping me to save battery where possible.

Gesture control works pretty well, swipe up to minimise an app and return to your main menu, really simple, effective, and above all, easy to use.

The operating system just worked, and it worked nicely. It’s main downfall… apps… or lack of. I loaded up the Blackberry application store and punched in the name of my two most commonly used apps to find neither were available. Now i understand you can side-load Android apps but for the average consumer this isn’t going to be overly appealing.

Battery

For a smartphone the Blackberry Q10 came out above average for its battery. I got a solid two to three days worth of juice out of this device and that’s with some good solid usage. It’s not quite as good as some of the Blackberrys we’ve seen before in terms of battery but it’s hand down better than the competition.

What I liked

I loved the keyboard. As I said before I didn’t realise how much I’d missed a hardware keyboard but using the Blackberry Q10 has reminded me how nice a physical keyboard on a smartphone can be.

What I disliked

Lack of applications has to be my biggest gripe with the phone. Why Blackberry haven’t started funding developers is beyond me. They are too reliant on the fact that this will be used as a business phone, or that people will just instal Android apps, but in reality neither is true.

Conclusion

My time spent with the Blackberry Q10 has left me with mixed feelings. It is a good solid device with a fantastic operating system, but the lack of application support leaves the device with an uncertain future.

I honestly thought I would hate the phone but I’m more than a little impressed. I would quite happily have this as my personal device. If applications aren’t overly important to you and battery life, combined with a fantastic keyboard are at the top of your list then this could be the device for you.

After my experience I wouldn’t write Blackberry off just yet. If they can work some magic and get developers on board, then there maybe some life left.