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Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini – small and fierce

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The Samsung Galaxy S3 is a run-away success, and now Samsung has extended its range with the S3 Mini. Is it just a smaller version of the S3? LIRON SEGEV, AKA the Techie Guy, finds out.

The S3 Mini looks identical to its larger S3 brother. You have to look closely to realise it is a smaller phone it even has the same high end marble white chassis the S3 has.

But, in your hand you will notice that it is indeed smaller as it measures in at 121.55 x 63 x 9.85 mm, and weighs 111.5 grams.

It is small enough that your fingers don’t have to do that hop-skip-and-jump to get to various sides of the screen that we have become accustomed to.

The perimeter layout is as we have come to expect from Samsung phones. It has the MicroUSB slot at the bottom and the same Home button and the soft Back & Menu buttons. On the right is the Power button, on the top is the headphone jack and on the left is a Volume rocker. The microSD slot is under the battery (so no popping that SD card in and out without switching the phone off first).

The Galaxy Mini is powered by a dual core 1GHz CPU and comes pre-installed with the Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean operating system.

Turn the phone over, and behind the cover is the removable battery. This might seem trivial, but its becoming more important as people have stated to carry two batteries if they know they will have a busy day on their phone. The Samsung Mini uses a standard SIM not a microSIM or nanoSIM used in most other new phones.

Getting around the phone

The Jelly Bean operating system is day to use and the 4.0‚” WVGA Super AMOLED screen is bright enough to see in daylight. Swipe down from the top and the Drawer opens with access to settings, network options, GPS, Bluetooth and a range of other configuration options.

To make a phone call, tap on the Phone Icon and the dialer opens up where you can access your contacts or start dialing.

Start typing the number you want to call and it instantly starts to make suggestions of all the contacts that have those numbers.

Finally, Samsung has not forgotten to include the ‚”turn the phone over to reject an incoming call‚” feature.

Using the Internet

These days, using the Internet is just as important (if not more) as making a call. The Galaxy S3 mini has all the connectivity you could want: HSPA 14.4/5.76 900/1900/2100 and EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900. It also connects to WiFi so no costs are incurred for those big downloads.

Because the Galaxy S3 Mini uses an Android operating system, you are able to install Chrome. Chrome logs into your Google account and instantly gives you access to your Google bookmarks, history and saved pages – letting you browse them offline.

The Camera

What self respecting Mobile Ninja doesn’t use their phone to share with the world everything they see?

The Galaxy S3 Mini has two cameras. A 5MP with LED Flash at the back and a VGA camera in the front.

It comes with most of the settings that the S3 has including Buddy photos share and Smile shot.

The quality of the pics are not on S3 8 MP scale, but are not bad at all. I especially like the fact tat you can place the focus on a particular part of the screen and not just the middle and the flash really does its job well.

Yes there are contrast issues between light and dark and some will find it an irritation, but for what I need and for what most people need on a day to day basis, this is perfect.

How’s the sound?

I downloaded my music collection onto the S3 Mini which was transferred with Kies with no problem. As soon as I plugged my headphones in, I noticed that the notification bar pops open with all the pre-installed media related apps including Music Player, Video Player, Video Hub, FM Radio, YouTube. This is pretty cool as you can instantly access these from one location.

Video Playback

The S3 Mini has the same features for video playback at the S3 which is just brilliant.

I always liked the pop-up player that you can view any video clip and overlay that on top of anything else that you are working with without missing a single second.

The Battery Power

With all these cool features, I was surprised to see that I managed to last an entire day of heavy usage. The main drain of the battery is usually the display assuming that since the screen is smaller along with Samsung’s battery-saving techniques, these all helps to keep the phone going.

Even when playing high intensity graphic games, the Galaxy S3 Mini just kept on going.

So in Summary

If you like the look and feel of the original Galaxy S3, then you will love the design and feel of the Galaxy S3 Mini.

The phone easily slips into your shirt pocket and you are are able to handle fully with one hand.

The Galaxy S III Mini is available at recommended retail prices starting at R3 999 for the 8GB version. It is also available on the Cell C website on contract for R279 pm over two years.

* Liron Segev is also known as The Techie Guy. You can read his blog at www.thetechieguy.com or follow him on Twitter on @Liron_Segev

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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Nokia 7.2: The sweet-spot for mid-range smartphones

Nokia has hit one of the best quality-to-price ratios with the Nokia 7.2. BRYAN TURNER tested the device.

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Cameras are often the main factor in selecting a smartphone today. Nokia is no stranger to the high-end camera smartphone market, and its legacy shows with the latest Nokia 7.2.

In many aspects, the device looks and feels like an expensive flagship, yet it carries a mid-range R6000 price tag. From its vivid PureDisplay technology to an ultra-wide camera lens, it’s quite something to experience this device – especially knowing the price.

Before powering it on, one notices the sleek design. The front features a large, 6.3” screen, with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. Like many phones nowadays, it features a notch, but it is smaller than the usual earpiece-and-camera notch. Instead, it features a small notch for the front camera only. It hides the front earpiece away in a slim cutout, just under the outer frame. While it’s not the highest screen-to-body (STB) ratio, it has a pretty slim bezel with an 83.34% STB ratio. It loses some of this to an elegant chin on the bottom that shows the Nokia logo. This is all protected by a Gorilla glass certification, which makes it a little more difficult to shatter on an impact.

It’s encased by a Polycarbonate composite outer frame, which seems metal-like but will withstand more knocks than an aluminium frame. On the right side, it features a volume rocker and a power button and, on the left side, a Google Assistant button, which starts listening for commands when pressed. Above the button is the SIM and SD card tray. On the top, it houses a very welcome 3.5mm headphone jack. On the bottom, it has a speaker grille and a USB Type-C port. Overall, the positioning of the buttons takes some getting used to because the Assistant button and power button are similarly sized, and many smartphones place the lock button on the opposite side of the volume rocker.

The back features a frosted Gorilla glass panel, like the front. The frosted design is quite understated and yet another elegant design feature of the device. A fingerprint sensor sits in the middle and, towards the top, the device has a circular camera bump, not too different from the Huawei Mate 30 series. The bump features two lenses, a depth sensor, and a flash. The camera system has been made in partnership with Zeiss optics to produce high-quality photography.

The back of the Nokia 7.2, showing off the 3 camera array

When powering on the device, one is greeted with the Android One logo, which is Nokia’s promise that its users will always be among the first to get the latest Android security and feature updates. This is one of the defining purchase points for users looking to get this device, as it features the purest, unedited version of Android available.

This, in turn, allows the device to run the latest software by Google that enables the device to get better over time. This is done by using Google’s Artificial Intelligence engine, which learns how one uses the device and optimises apps and services accordingly. That translates to the phone’s battery life actually extending over time, instead of deteriorating like other smartphones that are weighed down by battery hungry apps. The concept was pioneered by Huawei in the Mate 9.

The rear camera is excellent for snapping pictures and features a 48MP Sony sensor for accurate colour reproduction. This puts the device in the league of the Google Pixel and Apple iPhone devices, which also use Sony sensors. By default, the device is set to take pictures at 12MP, which is what makes the photos look great, as it blends 4 pixels into one for a high level of sharpness and colour accuracy, but users can bump up the resolution to the full 48MP if they want to zoom in a bit more.

The 8MP wide-angle lens spans 118-degrees, and proves extremely useful for getting everyone in the shot. It also features some great colour accuracy. The 5MP depth-sensing lens is purely for the portrait mode, which adds a blur effect to the background of the photo. It features a 20MP selfie camera, which also provides excellent sharpness and a portrait mode.

Picture taken with the Nokia 7.2 in Pro mode

The most impressive part of this system is the Pro camera setting, which can help take photos from excellent to extraordinary. We managed to get some excellent low light photography by adjusting the shutter speed, ISO, and exposure. The setting is pretty easy to use and it’s worth it for users to learn how it works.

The PureDisplay also helps make photos and video look great. The 7.2’s PureDisplay has a 2160 x 1080 resolution, at 401 pixels per inch (ppi). It also makes use of HDR10 and covers 96% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut, which makes the colours very vibrant. Some of these display features are not even found in some high-end phones on the market, so it’s very surprising that this tech is in a mid-range device.

At this price, there is one drawback: the processor. It houses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, which is neither bad nor good. It performs well in many situations, but begins to stutter on heavier graphical applications like Fortnite and PUBG Mobile. That said, all other applications of the device work perfectly, and multi-tasking is very fluid between regular apps.

At a recommended selling price of R6,000, the Nokia 7.2 is one of the most feature rich and aesthetically pleasing devices available in this price range.

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Asus ZenBook Pro Duo reimagines dual screens

Asus’s ZenBook Pro Duo implements the dual-screen concept very differently: instead of side-by-side, the extra screen sits beneath the main screen. BRYAN TURNER tried out the laptop.

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Asus’s strong ZenBook line, aimed at creatives, has added a powerful laptop to the game: the dual-screen ZenBook Pro Duo. This machine shows some of the most thoughtful design on the market, including a new type of dual-screen layout that makes a lot of sense. 

When closed it looks like any other laptop and has a concentric circle design etched into aluminium. The laptop feels sturdy on the base as well as the screen, and looks like it could withstand a drop. It’s 24mm thick and weighs around 2.5kg, so it seems pretty thick until one looks at the internals of this machine. 

We had the Intel Core i7-9750H processor configuration but can come with an Intel Core i9-9980HK configuration. Both configurations come with Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, with 6GB of GDDR6 VRAM. This makes this laptop more of a high-performance desktop with laptop features rather than a high-performance laptop. 

When opening up this computer, we were greeted with a large 15.6” 4K (3840×2160) OLED panel and another 14” (3840 x 1100) 4K UHD display below that, called the ScreenPad Plus. Both screens are touchscreens, 100% DCI-P3, and are brighter than most laptops. As a result, the keyboard and trackpad have been shifted below the second screen. The lowered keyboard takes some getting used to, but is totally worth it for the second display.

The ScreenPad Plus comes with a set of its own apps, including Spotify, handwriting mode, and a few other quick settings. It comes with a stylus called the Asus Pen, which allows for 1024 pressure levels and rejects one’s palm, making it very useful for apps like Adobe Illustrator. The top screen supports that pen too, but writing feels far more natural on the ScreenPad Plus.

An ErgoLift hinge raises the computer up at an angle, to make the lowered keyboard more comfortable to type on, as well as aid the cooling system. It’s at a small 4.5 degrees tilt with this hinge that makes a huge difference in typing comfort.

On the left side, a USB-A port, a regular size HDMI 2.0 port and a proprietary charging jack. On the right side, it features a USB-A 3.1 port, Thunderbolt 3, and a 3.5mm audio jack. Both sides feature air outlet ports. 

We tested Rise of the Tomb Raider at 1080p, with the RTX 2060, and set the game to its highest preset graphics settings. The game’s frame counter was used. It hovered between 70 and 75 frames per second (fps) with 10 minutes of gameplay, which is really good compared to most desktop computers. 

The processor is a 6-Core 9th Generation Intel Core i7 CPU (i7-9750H), which provides snappy performance. We noted a start-up time from shutdown to desktop around 7 seconds. This was made possible by a combination of the fast processor and solid-state drive in the computer. This also makes opening programmes lightning fast.

Now for the trackpad. The off-centre trackpad placement feels a bit weird, even though we know why it’s placed that way. We found ourselves using an external mouse and using it in a very handy NumPad mode. The trackpad is extremely precise otherwise. 

The laptop’s battery is 71 Wh, which may seem large, but it needs to power two big screens and heavy processors. As a result, it’s difficult to get more than 6 hours of productivity out of the machine. We played Rise of the Tomb Raider with both screens on for about 1 hour before we needed to charge it. 

It will be available for about R48,000 (depending on when one buys it) in the Intel Core i7, 512GB SSD, and 16GB RAM configuration, putting it up there with the high-performance laptops in terms of price.

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