2019 was arguably insignificant for the smartphone industry. Sure, sales grew, more phones were launched and so on, but as reviewers, we struggled to see real innovation. And we don’t see 2020 to be that different.
Having said that, 2019 did lay the groundwork for future improvements in smartphones, and that is what gets us excited about the phones we’ll see in 2020. Here’s what we are looking forward to:
Google Pixel 4a
Google didn’t bring the Pixel 4 and the Pixel 4XL to India, primarily because of the radar-based motion-sensing feature, a.k.a Project Soli. They will probably remove it entirely or deactivate it for the Pixel 4a if they are bringing it here. Also, given that the Pixel 3a was a more affordable Pixel, the Pixel 4a should be the same for this year’s version, and that makes sense for India.
If the leaked renders are anything to go by, the Google Pixel 4a is going to be everything the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL had and then some. There should be a punch-hole selfie camera in the front, which technically means more screen real estate, but the top and chin bezels don’t seem to have been reduced either, so we will have to wait and see. There’s also the square camera module on the back along with a fingerprint scanner and the bright power button on the side.
The Pixel 4 and the Pixel 4XL had the square camera module too so we are expecting pretty much the same camera setup on the 4a, slight differences in how images are processed. Given the price cut, Google will have to reduce costs somewhere after all.
Pixel’s photography chops have been above question, however, the Pixel 4 series did not fare too well when it came to reviews.
Apple absolutely killed it with the Apple iPhone 11 and the iPhone 11 Pro. The company had lost its camera supremacy over Android for the past few years, but it returned to the helm in 2019. The battery life has also been significantly improved, another thing iPhones have not been known for.
Frankly, there was very little one could fault with the phones Apple launched in 2019, except the price. But complaining about Apple products being expensive is so last season, so let’s not.
Given all this, we can’t wait to see what else Apple adds to the iPhone 12.
In all probability, Apple will be launching a few other phones, like a successor to the iPhone SE, and the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro is on our radar alongside the new iteration of the iPhone SE. The latter will (hopefully) bring an affordable iPhone into the market, which, much like a cheaper Pixel will be much appreciated.
Apple brought down the price of the iPhone XR earlier this year, which helped push the smartphone to become one of Apple’s best selling products ever, according to reports. If Apple sticks to this strategy in 2020 too, that will be something to look forward to.
The only reason my first smartphones was a Sony was because the Moto Razr wasn’t available in the colour I wanted. This time, however, I totally intend to get my hands on the new iteration.
Motorola is bringing back that iconic phone as the new foldable Razr. This is going to be the first foldable offering from the house of Motorola and besides the immense nostalgia factor attached to it, the new form factor indeed looks interesting.
Perhaps most significantly, the new Razr doesn’t look as bulky as the other foldable phones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold or the Huawei Mate X (speaking of which, we should see a new Mate X hit the markets in 2020) – it should be sleek, easier in the hand and, Motorola is confident enough to tell people it doesn’t come with a million tips on how to use it…*cough* Samsung *cough*.
Motorola has already pushed the launch date back to meet demands. Clearly there is a lot riding on this smartphone and we are quite excited.
Samsung Galaxy Fold 2
Samsung screwed up with the Samsung Galaxy Fold this year. Sure, it sold MANY units, I mean enough units for the company to think its foldable offering did well enough for them to plan a Fold 2 for 2020.
Rumour has it that the Fold 2 is going to come with an ultra-thin glass cover that will replace the plastic cover Samsung used on the Fold we saw this year. This should make the display flatter and with lesser wrinkles.
Samsung is also supposed to adopt a clamshell design, much like the foldable Razr. And it is apparently going to be cheaper too. If you haven’t caught on already, lower prices excite us!
Xiaomi Mi Note 10
108-megapixel camera. Enough said!
The Mi Note 10 is probably going to be one of the most expensive phones from Xiaomi’s stables that we have seen so far (it might be priced around Rs 47,000) and is going to come with a penta-camera setup, consisting of a primary 108 MP camera, a 20 MP ultra-wide-angle camera, 12 MP telephoto sensor, a secondary 5 MP telephoto sensor, and finally a 2 MP macro camera.
Xiaomi is going to be the first of the lot to get a 108MP sensor on the back, because the smartphone is supposed to launch in January. One race won, at least.
And going by its record, the Mi Note 10 should have pretty much everything and the kitchen sink thrown at it, including a 5,260mAh battery, 30W fast charging support and more.
OnePlus Buds Pro review: The cheaper AirPods Pro rival you always wanted
OnePlus Buds Pro is the company’s most premium truly wireless earbuds offering in India. While it sports a design that may remind you of the AirPods Pro, it comes with a price tag that is way less than Apple’s TWS.
On paper, the OnePlus Buds Pro packs plenty of features, including adaptive noise cancellation, Warp Charge support, water-resistant certification, wireless charging support, and all that at Rs 9,990.
OnePlus Buds Pro is a product that the company has unveiled after making in-roads in the budget TWS category. OnePlus has been among the top five TWS brands for several quarters now and seems to have realised that a great package mixed with aggressive pricing is a combo that can work well in India.
In Q1 2021, OnePlus stood second with its Buds Z TWS as the best-selling model in the country, as per Counterpoint. In the second quarter as well, OnePlus Buds Z was again the top-selling TWS for the brand, helping it retain the second spot in the TWS category with a 12 per cent market share. According to the Counterpoint report, OnePlus was just behind boAt and ahead of Realme, Noise, and pTron, some of the other popular TWS brands in the country.
In my opinion, the company’s “Never Settle” tagline suits its TWS portfolio best. There’s a lot that rides on the OnePlus Buds Pro. So, long question short, is the OnePlus Buds Pro worth your money? India Today Tech tries to answer that in the review.
OnePlus Buds Pro review: Impressive build
OnePlus Buds Pro sports an interesting design, something that you will notice the moment you take the earbuds out of the case. It features a glossy finish on the stem, while a matte texture can be seen on the head. Elegant is the word to describe how good OnePlus Buds Pro looks.
The OnePlus Buds Pro has been launched in two colours – Glossy White and Matte Black, which I received for review. In my opinion, the Matte Black colour option looks classy. While the Glossy White will look more royal, I’m not sure how far the shine on the earbuds will remain. Additionally, the glossy finish on the stem of the White colour Buds Pro looks like a Chrome treatment we see on cars these days.
The black charging case has a matte finish with OnePlus branding on the top. It’s a more flat-ish design than other charging cases we see with the upright placement of buds. Going by the overall rectangular, boxy charging case design may remind you of a ring box. But overall, I liked the compact case design, it’s pocket friendly, and the magnets are strong enough to hold the lid close.
The hinge looks okay and should last a few years of regular use easily. However, the earbuds are placed in the charging case quite differently. Unlike AirPods Pro, you can’t just push the buds into the case. Instead, there are Pogo pins on the case that charge the buds, and I like the placement. Initially, it took me a few attempts to learn the exact way to place the earbuds inside the Buds Pro case. Basically, the earbuds lie down on the charging case instead of vertical placement. The charging case packs a 520mAh battery and weighs around 50 grams.
Unlike other TWS devices, the OnePlus Buds Pro places the button used for pairing purposes inside the box, which is a neat placement. Inside the charging case, OnePlus has again used a matte finish that looks in sync with the exterior design.
Each earbud weighs just 4.35 grams and is a treat to use every day, thanks to a comfortable and snug fit. I like the Buds Pro’s ergonomic design, which is comfortable for long calls or extended music sessions. You can also run the fit test on the OnePlus Buds app, which you can find integrated on the OnePlus devices—more on that in our performance section.
The company offers three sizes of silicone ear tips in the retail box, which is standard for most TWS available in India. Another thing that differentiates the OnePlus Buds Pro from the rest of the crowd is it doesn’t include gesture controls like most in the TWS segment. OnePlus enables squeeze (or pinch is what OnePlus refers to) the stem to do various things like play or pause music, switch ANC modes or even choose the next or previous track.
Overall, the earbuds with dual-tone look stunning and offer a comfortable fit for the music listening experience. Talking about the retail package, the OnePlus Buds Pro ships in a minimalist box. You get a charging cable, silicone tips, user manual, and warranty card in the box apart from the Buds Pro.
OnePlus Buds Pro review: Wonderful app experience
Unlike before, the true wireless earphones now come with proper software support in the form of a companion app. The Buds Pro can be controlled via the integrated OnePlus Buds app on OnePlus devices. For non-OnePlus devices, the company recommends downloading the HeyMelody app, available for Android and iOS users.
Surprisingly, OnePlus Buds Pro ditches Google Fast Pair in favour of the company’s own OnePlus Fast Pair, which works well with OnePlus, Android and iPhone devices.
Right from pairing your smartphone with the OnePlus Buds Pro to controlling various functions via the app, it’s a smooth experience all around.
I have to admit that the OnePlus team has added some refinements that make the mobile app more than just a companion app for the Buds Pro. To start with, users can run an Earbud fit test to see how well the earbuds fit in the ear canals. This is also the test that can help you decide what silicone ear tip suits you best.
The next is a Personalised sound boost test that OnePlus calls the OnePlus Audio ID. The company decides what kind of hearing enhancement solution is needed for the user based on their hearing ability. The test is a 3-minute long one and plays a series of beeps at different frequencies to determine the hearing ability on both sides.
OnePlus has also added a special Zen Mode Air feature, which plays white noise tunes to soothe the user. You can choose between Warm Sunrise, Meditation, Summer seashore, Nighttime camping, and Iceland. The Medication and Iceland were my favourites and helped me focus when there was a lot of ambient noise around. However, users should note that the Zen Mode Air on Buds Pro and Zen Mode on the OnePlus devices aren’t the same.
OnePlus also markets the Dolby Atmos support on the Buds Pro. However, it’s worth noting that this is a feature that has to do a lot with the connected device. So, if you’re using any OnePlus 7 to 9 devices, you will get the Dolby Atmos experience on the Buds Pro. What this means is if you’re using any device that doesn’t come with Dolby Atmos, then remember that the earbuds do not support it.
The mobile app packs so many features that I was slightly disappointed with the fact that OnePlus gave the equaliser setting a miss. While offering personalised hearing enhancement is fine, a custom equaliser would have been a great addition.
OnePlus Buds Pro review: The satisfying bass and overall performance
Coming to performance, the OnePlus Buds Pro offer excellent audio quality. There’s clarity, and the buds offer extremely powerful bass output. Purely in terms of bass output, the OnePlus Buds Pro beats the Apple AirPods Pro hands down.
The high and mid-range are balanced while the vocals are clear. However, during the review, I did feel that the tremendous powerful bass output overshadows some music. Unfortunately, there’s no way we can lower down the bass level, and that’s what could have been taken care of by a custom equaliser setting in the mobile app.
I could feel that the OnePlus Buds Pro fails to do justice with certain tracks, like the famous Time music track from Hans Zimmer’s Inception movie album has lows in the first few minutes where the bass almost kills the lows. But then I also love how well Buds Pro handled balanced music, so Maroon 5’s Memories track has depth, and I could hear small details clearly. Earbuds come with 11mm dynamic drivers.
The ANC works well, and users can choose between three modes of noise cancellation – regular, Smart, and Max. The Smart is the default out-of-the-box option.
While I could feel the difference between the regular and Smart modes, there’s hardly any difference between the Smart and Max options in noise cancellation.
I liked the Smart noise cancellation mode that blocked most of the ambient noise, though it allowed me to hear my family members talking in the same room, though it felt like they were somewhere on a call and not in the same room.
The regular mode on the OnePlus Buds Pro is good enough if you want to block out fan noise, your laptop fan noise, and other minor distractions while listening to music or watching anything on your phone. There are also options for turning noise cancellation off or activating transparency mode to hear noise in the background.
Coming to the next big use of TWS, calls. The OnePlus Buds Pro pack an underwhelming microphone as I could hear people complaining about my voice cracking or noticeable muddiness during the calls. I tried calls on Airtel and Jio with voice over Wi-Fi enabled and noticed this issue over calls. This tells me that the microphone could have been better, or the team at OnePlus could have added some refinements to calls.
The company also claims that the OnePlus Buds Pro comes with a Gaming mode that reduces the latency to 94ms. While I couldn’t test the claimed limit, I noticed reduced latency during gaming on the OnePlus 9.
Talking about connection, the OnePlus Buds Pro did hold up nicely, and I didn’t notice any random cut off or battery down situations. This was constant across OnePlus, Android and iPhone devices.
The company has also set a benchmark for the rest of the companies by offering a water-resistant rating to both earbuds and the case. The earbuds are IP55 certified for water and sweat resistance, while the charging case comes with IPX4 water resistance.
Unlike other TWS options on the market, the OnePlus Buds Pro come with force sensors. For those unaware, force sensors are available on AirPods Pro as well. The OnePlus Buds Pro can play or pause a song by pinching the earbuds’ handle once. Users can move to the next track by pinching the earbud’s handle twice and similarly, pinch thrice for the previous track. To switch to the noise cancellation mode, you can pinch the earbud’s handle for a second. You can also reject calls using pinch gestures on the OnePlus Buds Pro. Pinch the earbud’s handle twice to reject a call while listening to music or wake the voice assistant by pinching the earbud’s handle thrice. You can also enter Zen Mode Air mode by pinching and holding the earbud’s handle for 3 seconds to play the default white noise.
Coming to the battery life, the OnePlus Buds Pro is claimed to offer up to 5 hours of battery life with ANC on, which extends up to 23 hours with the charging case, as per OnePlus. With ANC off, the company claims up to 31 hours of music playback with a charging case. It also supports fast charging, which is claimed to offer up to 10 hours of playtime with 10 minutes of charge. During our testing, the earbuds could play continuous music on a single charge for up to 3.5 hours with ANC on, while this extends up to 4.5 hours with ANC off. We couldn’t test the battery life with the charging case. But, the battery life on the OnePlus Buds Pro with a single charge is impressive.
OnePlus Buds Pro review: Worth your money?
Yes, the OnePlus Buds Pro gets plenty of things that go in its favour. First, the design is interesting, with a mix of a glossy and matte finish. Second, the OnePlus Buds Pro sound really good. Third, there are no noticeable issues with the performance, and in fact, ANC works well too.
At Rs 9,990, the OnePlus Buds Pro cannot be called a super-premium offering, especially when compared to the likes of Apple AirPods Pro, which come for almost double the price of Buds Pro. And, in fact, at its price, it is among a handful of TWS that offer a massive features list. Moreover, the OnePlus Buds UI for OnePlus users and the HeyMelody app for non-OnePlus users are baked well, which means you will have a good time with the earbuds. If you’re a bass head and are always on the lookout for a better bass output, then the OnePlus Buds Pro are for you.
It comes with water-resistant certification, which is a great addition and feels like a value proposition. We, however, wish that OnePlus included an equaliser setting that could have enhanced the overall user experience. In addition, the call quality of the OnePlus Buds Pro is average, so do not expect a lot on that part.
Overall, if you’re on the lookout for a TWS under Rs 10,000, then the OnePlus Buds Pro is now our top recommendation.
Source: India Today
Realme India CEO has confirmed that Realme GT Series will replace the X series
Realme is all set to launch the new Realme GT series. The GT series is launching in India on August 18. And right ahead of the official launch, Realme India CEO Madhav Seth has confirmed that the brand’s Realme X series will be replaced by the GT series.
“The X will be replaced by the GT; so the GT is the new X”, Madhav Seth confirmed to TechRadar. This means no new phones will be launched in the Realme X series going forward. The X series has reached its end of line and the GT series will get bring the upper-midrange phones to the market now.
Realme X series had some really good phones under its name. Devices like the Realme X2 Pro, Realme X7 Pro, etc. stood out the most from the series. As for the GT series, the company is bringing the Realme GT 5G and the Realme GT Master Edition to India next week. It will be interesting to see the kind of devices we’ll get under the new series.
The Realme GT 5G will bring a 6.43-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED panel with support for up to a 120Hz refresh rate. We should also be seeing the Snapdragon 888 5G chip at work along with up to 12GB LPDDR5 RAM. The Realme GT 5G will also pack a 4,500mAh battery inside with support for up to 65W fast-charging. The phone will offer Dual-5G mode, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, GPS, 3.5mm headphone jack, and USB Type-C port for charging. Realme GT 5G will also have a triple-camera setup at the back whereas, on the front, it’ll house a 16MP selfie camera.
REALME GT 5G PRICING & AVAILABILITY
Realme GT 5G was launched in China back in the month of March. The device starts at CNY 2,799 which is roughly Rs 31,450 for the 8GB + 128GB variant. It will be interesting to see how much the device will cost here in India when it’s officially launched next week. The company will also be launching its first laptop alongside the new phones on August 18.
Mi Pad 5 Series Accessories, Retail Box Teased; Key Specifications Tipped via Geekbench
Mi Pad 5 series is nearing its launch scheduled for Tuesday, August 10 and Xiaomi has now teased its keyboard accessory and retail boxes — different for the vanilla Mi Pad 5 and the Mi Pad 5 Pro. Additionally, the Mi Pad 5 tablet has also been spotted on the benchmarking website Geekbench. The listing hints that the soon-to-be-launched Xiaomi tablet may be powered by a Snapdragon 870 SoC. The high-end tablet series from the Chinese tech giant is expected to have three models.
Xiaomi teased the keyboard cover for the Mi Pad 5 through a post on Weibo. The teaser image only shows part of the keyboard that appears to have a leather finish. The image also shows the rounded edges of the display of the Mi Pad 5. Not much else is known about the keypad accessory as of now.
In another post on Weibo, the Chinese tech giant showcased the shipping boxes of the Mi Pad 5 and Mi Pad 5 Pro. Both boxes appear to be slim, indicating the possibility that the soon-to-be-launched tablets may not be shipped with a bundled charger. Additionally, the teaser image shows that the vanilla Mi Pad 5 may come in a white coloured box while the Mi Pad 5 Pro may come in a black coloured box.
A separate post on Weibo by a tipster (@WHYLAB) suggests that the Mi Pad 5 Pro will come with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support, further indicating that the Mi Pad 5 Pro will be a flagship tablet from Xiaomi.
Mi Pad 5 specifications (expected)
The upcoming Xiaomi tablet has been spotted in multiple entries on the benchmarking website Geekbench. The listings suggest some of the key highlights of the Mi Pad 5 tablet. The tablet spotted with the model number M2105K81AC — associated with the Mi Pad 5 — is listed with an octa-core 1.80GHz processor. The listing suggests that the Mi Pad 5 may be powered by the Snapdragon 870 SoC — as also indicated by a Chinese certification site — paired with an Adreno 650 GPU. The performance scores for the tablet range from 997 to 1,008 points for single-core and 3,181 to 3,334 points for multi-core tests.
The tablet series was earlier teased to support a stylus, said to be called Xiaomi Smart Pen. Xiaomi is expected to launch a total of three Mi Pad 5 models — the vanilla Mi Pad 5, the Mi Pad 5 Pro, and the Mi Pad 5 Lite. The Mi Pad 5 Lite has been tipped to come with a Snapdragon 860 SoC, a 10.95-inch 2K display with a 120Hz refresh rate, and a 12-megapixel main camera. The other two models may come with Snapdragon 870 SoCs. All three models are said to come with 2K high refresh rate displays. The Mi Pad 5 Pro will likely have 5G support as well.
Enter your email address to get latest updates