Nokia 5610 XpressMusic Mobile Review – Nokia Aims For The Walkman Phones

Music players in phones have, since the introduction of the Motorola ROKR, become a standard feature across the board. What used to be something that differentiated one phone and manufacturer from another is now a feature that every phone put on the market (other than those that are “free phones if you sign up for a contract”) seems to have.

Attempting to differentiate on your music player has, for the longest time, been akin to trying to differentiate your automobile based on the stylishness of your cup holders. With their 5610 slider-form factor mobile phone, Nokia manages to differentiate on the integration of the music player with the rest of the phone.

The key to this is a set of functions called the Navislide, which is used to control the musical functions of the phone with a single thumb-flick on the controls – the Nokia 5610’s entire keypad is rather well designed, with the keys giving lots of good tactile feedback and a quick response curve. With the overall construction of the device, the entire package is nicely built – fits in the hand, can be used one handed easily, and it’s nicely solid.

But back to the Navislide – if you’ve ever used an iPod thumb-wheel, the Navislide is like falling off a log. It’s straightforward, and adjustable, and remarkably easy to use. Rock it left to use the music player, rock it right to use the built in FM radio, rock it up for the next track or station, or down for the previous one. It’s a remarkably easy device to get used to.

That slider bar is also quite handy when using the menus for the other functions on the phone. First a note on the screen: It’s a simple truism of how much these devices have matured as the market has grown; this screen would have been considered stunning and high end two years ago; it’s crisp, bright and easy to read; the screen is QVA resolution, and quite good enough for watching video. (Indeed, the mobile has a small VGA camera for doing video telephone calls.)

The menu system is well laid out, with four configuration options available, and it’s clear that Nokia is leveraging their development efforts into the System 40 operating systems well. The D-pad is fully user configurable, and gives you plenty of options for using the phone fluidly and easily.

As a phone, it’s a full GSM/HSDPA 3G network phone, and can have its firmware updated wirelessly, no need to hook it up to a desktop computer. Its inboard contact system can store 2000 contacts, and there’s full cut and paste between all applications on the phone. (In earnest, once you’ve used cut and paste on a phone, the next question is “Why did this take so long to get implemented…”)

Lastly, the 5610 has an excellent 3.2 megapixel camera with an integrated LED flash and decent autof ocus. While it’s not going to make you give up your dedicated digital camera as a photography tool, it’s more than adequate (and borderline overkill) for something to take quick snapshots. Again, Nokia’s attention to the user interface makes the camera a dream to use.

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Another Phablet Review: The Apple iPhone 6S Plus Vs Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5

Two super-smartphones have placed themselves into the phablet market, and today we compare the most important features and specifications to help you decide.

Design

Both devices are very similar in size, and both are enlarged versions of their predecessors. Very similar to the 6 Plus, the iPhone 6S Plus hangs onto its sleek aluminium design with curved edges and an upgraded, stronger cover-glass. This model fits well in the hand, but is significalty heavier than the iPhone 6 as a result of its size (the 6S weighs at 192g).

The Note 5 is considered even more comfortable than the Note 4, shaving off inches from its design and putting curved edges onto the back of the phone instead. This makes it easier to hold, and the aluminium frame provides strength and a sleeker look. Lighter than the iPhone 6S Plus, this model weights at 171g. While the 6S Plus is actually larger in size, the Note 5 has a better screen-to-body ratio, with a larger 5.7-inch screen (compared to Apple’s 5.5-inches). This leads us on to the next feature comparison.

Screen

It’s nice to have competition between a very important feature, with both models using different screen technologies. Apple sticks to an IPS LCD and Samsung use its famous AMOLED display. As a result, the Note 5 offers a higher 2,560 x 1,440 pixel resolution, making it much sharper with more vibrant colours that are great for viewing images and video. However, the iPhone 6S Plus comes with Apple’s new 3D Touch technology. This is a pressure-sensitive feature of the screen that reacts depending on user finger pressure. For those not caring about 3D touch, the Samsung is the clear screen winner this time.

Performance

However many apps you have open, whether its gaming, media recording, browsing and other intensive applications, these two powerhouses can handle it.

Inside Samsung’s Note 5 is a 64-bit Exynos 7420 chipset, backed up by 4GB of RAM and a Mali T760 GPU. It’s a clear top-quality performance set-up. On the iPhone 6S Plus, you’ve got Apple’s latest A9 64-bit chip and 2GB of RAM. It’s great to know Apple have finally upgraded internal RAM this time as a means to compete. This means smoother performance and less crashing.

It’s important to understand that these numbers only have meaning when put under tests. Several performance tests show that the iPhone 6S Plus often beats the Note 5 when carrying out common tasks, such as opening mail attachments or power-heavy apps with others already running in the background.

Cameras

The iPhone 6S Plus delivers a brand new 12-megapixel camera sensor, while the Note 5 boasts the same 16-megapixel camera that the Galaxy S6 offers. With both devices, results are sharp, with accurate colours and fantastic contrast. Low light situations is where smartphone cameras do not impress us, but this time both manufacturers have come out on top.

The actual camera app offers more customisation through Samsung’s device, such as HDR mode. Apple tend to keep things quick and simple, so it lacks the more professional camera options seen with the Note 5.

However, Apple has also introduced Live Photos, allowing the user to capture a couple of seconds’ worth of footage either side of your snap. You can then 3D Touch on the picture and it’ll play the scene back to you.

Both devices of course support 4K video recording and editing, so there is no clear winner here. Google search photo comparisons for these devices and results can speak for themselves depending on what you’re looking for.

Battery Life

It’s important to care about this feature. Opting for a powerful device in theory is logical, but if its power source can’t support the system well, then you’ll be next to a mains plug more often than you think.

Specification-wise, the Note 5 holds a larger 3,000 mAh capacity battery, while the 6S Plus carries a smaller-than-its-predecessor 2,750 mAh. However, Apple’s new chip and improved efficiency makes the device last as long as the 6 Plus.

Both phones can last the day and, if used wisely, into the next. The Note 5 does offer a more useful power-saving mode, allowing you to save those extra hours just when you need it. It also beats the iPhone with a wireless charging option and support for fast charging. Both handy if you need a quick power-up.

Price

Both devices are placed at the very premium end of the price scale, so you won’t be interested if you’re looking for an “affordable” smartphone. The Note 5 is slightly cheaper in price when comparing storage capacities, but your decision should be based on testing both out and seeing which operating system suits you best as their specifications are very similar. Always compare the latest contracts from all networks and retailers to help you both save money and find the perfect allowance package.

HTC One M9 Review

Last year, HTC gave us one of the best smartphones ever made, it was beautiful, stylish, had great performance, mature, clear software and people welcomed this phone with open arms.

This year, HTC made a somewhat peculiar decision that left some of us a bit confused. Basically, The HTC One M9 tries to replace the things that didn’t quite work on M9 while retaining and refining everything that made the M8 such a great phone, but the end product doesn’t seem to be much different than the previous model.

This may not be a bad thing, in another time… but since 2015 is such a great year for phones, full of innovations and such fiercely competitive market, we wonder if HTC M9 has what it needs to go against the likes of Galaxy S6, iPhone 6 or LG G4.

Design

As expected, HTC has great attention to detail. The HTC One M9 has a refined, elegant design, with an angular body, a high quality matte finish on the metal case (doesn’t retain fingerprints) and now featuring a single metal piece that is placed with the precision of watchmakers into the rear casing.

The M9 is obviously smaller than the M8 (easier to use one-handed), but a bit bulkier (2.8×0.4×5.7 inches) and heavier (5.28 oz). Still, the phone is very well balanced, the soft matte finish makes it less slippery, feels softer in hand and it is easier to handle thanks to the sharp rear line.

Also, the phone features a scratch resistant coating.

Some changes made from the M8 is the now square shaped camera and that the power button no longer rests on the top of the phone. Instead it is now placed on the right side, below the volume controller and the microSD slot (yes, it has a microSD slot!). Also, the phone features a microUSB and 3.5 mm jack that rest on the bottom of the phone.

The problem is that all the buttons look and feel the same and the volume controller and power buttons are too close together so it’s easy to miss the right button.

The model comes into some interesting variants: silver on gold, gunmetal grey, gold on pink and gold on gold.

Audio is provided by the front facing BoomSound stereo speakers (with Dolby optimization) that we consider to be the best speakers on smartphones to date.

Note: You can use the M9 as a remote controller for your TV.

Samsung Galaxy S6 is thinner and has a similar design, as both phones feature glass and metal casing, but we felt that the HTC M9 design is better looking and a lot more attention to detail was involved.

Display

The M9 features a 5-inch Super AMOLED LCD 3 display with a resolution of 1920x1080p, a 16:9 aspect ratio and a pixel density of 441ppi.

Is 1980x1080p enough? Or would have been better a 2k resolution screen? Well, a 2k resolution is always a nice addition (though a battery drainer), but the human eye can hardly distinguish between the two on a 5-inch screen and with a 441 pixel density, this phone is sharper than the iPhone 6.

Overall, the display featured rich, natural and accurate colours, with decent black levels and reasonable contrast. Under direct sunlight, the display remained visible (with a small amount of reflections).

When watching a movie, the dark scenes looked deep and remained detailed.

While the display looks reasonably good (not much different than the M8), it was not as bright or vivid as the competition in the same price range.

Performance

HTC One M9 sports a 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset (4 cores clocked at 2.0GHz and 4 at 1.5GHz), backed by 3GB RAM, 32GB native storage and up to 128GB external storage available through the microSD.

Thanks to this setup, the phone is potent enough to play more high-end games (Asphalt 8 or Assassin’s Creed: Pirates), run apps smoothly and even Adobe Photoshop without any lag.

Because of the Android Lollipop, the phone does lag on multitasking the first time it is launched, the rest of the time, we had absolutely no problem.

Does the HTC One M9 suffer from overheating? Not quite. The phone does get warm and thanks to the metal body it may seem more than it really is. The maximum we were able to reach was about 100 degrees F and that from running Asphalt 8, which is better than a lot of other phones.

Software

HTC One M9 features the new version of HTC Sense (on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop), the Sense 7. Like the Sense 6, the (somewhat) new UI is still as great as its predecessor.

Still, there is a reasonable amount of non-removable apps, but unlike ASUS Zenfone’s UI, most of these apps are actually useful. Take for example the Cloudex (pulls all images into one folder), the Peel Smart Remote, BlinkFeed or Kid Mode.

Some improved features are the Android’s interruption system, the volume control is handled better (set a proper volume before opening a noisy app or game) and there is the new themes app. You can add custom themes, you can configure colours, styles, fonts and more.

Also, there is the Sense Home: apps are set through three categories – home, work, out – and populate accordingly.

The Sense 7 is fast, stable, responsive and arguably the best UI you can get, not considering the stock version of Android Lollipop.

Camera

The M9 has a 20.7 megapixel sensor with f/2.0 lens. In daylight, the M9 captures some really great photos, macros and close-ups are sharp, colours are saturated and automatic white balance is great.

One minus is the lack of optical image stabilisation that translates into not-as-good-as-it-could-have-been low-light photos.

Another unpopular decision HTC has made is to remove graininess. At first you would think this is a good idea, but what it does is to remove some detail from photos. Take iPhone 6 for example: photos do have a fair amount of grain, but it maintains a great amount of detail.

Also comparing to iPhone 6, we can see that whites could have been whiter and blacks, deeper.

A great addition (through an update) is the updated camera app that adds support for RAW image files. More about the camera app is that it’s easy to use, reasonably fast and allows a large amount of customization.

If the rear camera could have been better, the 4-megapixel UltraPixel front camera (previously the rear camera of M8) is one of the best front cameras to date. It is great for low-light selfies and overall was able to capture some of the best photos taken with a front-facing camera.

Note: HTC One M9 can shoot 4k videos with 120fps slow-motion mode.

When conditions are right, the M9 can capture some great, memorable photos and although not on par with what iPhone 6 or Galaxy S6 can offer, the cameras are still good enough for the average consumer.

Battery Life

The non-removable 2840 mAh battery will get you through a day on medium to high usage. But on very heavy, extensive use, the battery only reached about 4 hours.

The M9 takes advantage the Quick Charge 2 Technology.

Conclusion

A great feature is the M9’s warranty. You get a one time replacement if your phones gets damaged and yes, it includes accidental damage as well.

In the past, HTC models were always ahead of the competition, but this year its flagship phone doesn’t seem to be as good as other phones offered from competition.

Don’t get us wrong, the HTC One M9 is a great phone, it features a gorgeous design (one of the best to date), a good performance and awesome sound, but the camera still seems to be the Achilles’ heel for HTC.

We expect some great innovations in the future from HTC (as it has done before), but in the meantime, Samsung Galaxy S6 seems to remain the king.

Note: There are rumours that HTC plans to release better, improved versions on M9 in the near future.

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