Xiaomi Mi A2: A Great Budget Device

7 Oct

While browsing through Amazon one day, I came across a budget device that caught my eye. The spec sheet looked good, it was part of the Android One program, and was super cheap as smartphones go. I decided to order one, and have been using it for about a week now.

The Xiaomi Mi A2 features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chipset which delivers surprisingly good performance and fantastic battery life for the price. The model I purchased has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage which is more than enough for me, however there is also a model available with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

While the display is not an AMOLED or even OLED display, it still gets the job done. Colors are vibrant and look good, and even at full brightness I’ve still been able to pull at least 5 hours of screen on time out of this phone.

Usually with cheap or budget devices from Xiaomi there are major compromises made in the camera department. I’m happy to report that although the camera in the Mi A2 is not the best you’ll ever see, it does take some fantastic photos and has a great manual mode for those of you who like to get a little more out of your photos than the auto mode offers.

The Xiaomi Mi A2 is also a dual sim device. What’s interesting is that when I attempted to use my Freedom Mobile sim in it, it immediately went to roaming even though the spec sheet says it supports AWS bands, however if you use the code *#*#4636#*#* and select the appropriate banding for Freedom, it will join the network and work just fine.

Overall I’ve been super impressed with this device, and at $330 with free next day delivery, this phone is fantastic for anyone who wants a device that “just works”.

If you’d like to order one for yourself, you can order it here. This is not an affiliate link, and I do not make any money from Amazon.

Review: Motorola Moto G 2015

19 Jan

The 2015 edition of the Motorola Moto G comes with some awesome changes but also comes with a ton of caveats for us here in Canada. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Moto G 2015 Storage Space

In Canada, the only version of the Moto G 2015 that is available is the 8GB Model. We’re also lacking access to Moto Maker which is an online application that lets you really customize your Motorola Products which is incredibly annoying.

Having 8GB of storage does not imply usable. The usable storage is about 4GB once the OS takes its share.

Moto G 2015 RAM

Again being in Canada we only have the weaker version of this device available which is the model that comes equipped with 1GB of RAM and it really does show its weakness while using the device.

I’ve experienced constant stutters and slow downs entirely at random and depending on what it is you’re doing, you can crash this phone pretty easily. I was able to crash it by installing Instagram and Facebook Pages manager at the same time. This device truly struggles to keep up with Android and don’t even get me started when more than one app needs an update!

You essentially need to manually update each app one by one otherwise your phone will be completely unusable and will likely crash.

Moto G 2015 Camera

While the camera on the new Moto G is a 13 megapixel sensor, the image quality regardless of lighting is something that “will do in a pinch” but is not something that will produce photos that you’re going to want to share.

Even with HDR enabled the photos look washed out and extremely blurry. Indoor photos with decent lighting still end up looking like something you shot back in 2000 with one of those cheap digital cameras from China that hooked on to your keys. The camera is truly disappointing.

Keep in mind all of the photos above are taken in the same lighting conditions with no flash and HDR enabled. I found it truly difficult to get a photo that looked decent.

Summary

In the end, this is a “cheap” phone coming in at $240 off contract but still…. You figure if you’re going to put a 13MP sensor in this damn thing that it would be capable of taking a photo that doesn’t look like a VGA camera.

If you’re looking for a similarly designed phone, spend the extra $100 or so and get yourself a Moto X or Moto X Play depending on where you live.

I really want to love this phone, but I can’t.

Thoughts on the ZTE Axon

23 Dec

The Axon is a new premium device from manufacturer ZTE that is usually known for low cost Android devices. That being said, the Axon is far from being a budget Android device in the traditional sense.

The Axon is available exclusively from Fido here in Canada at $0 on a 2 year tab / contract and $400 outright and at that price point you may be thinking to yourself: “Another budget Android phone with crap hardware.” Right?? Right??

I’ve had the absolute pleasure of using this device for the last week or so and thought I would jot down some quick information that will show you just how much of a power house this device is for the price.

The Spec Sheet

CPU: Quad-core 2.3 GHz Krait 400

GPU: Adreno 330

Storage: 32GB (About 25GB Available)

Camera: 13 MP + 2MP (Dual camera), autofocus, dual-LED flash

Additional Features: Hi Fidelity Audio, Fast Battery Charging, 8MP front facing “Selfie” camera.

The Camera

I’ve been thoroughly impressed with some of the shots I’ve been able to get with this device simply sitting on auto without any manual adjustment. Here’s a small collection of photos I’ve taken.

The Battery

In my humble opinion ZTE has knocked it out of the park with this devices battery! It is by far the absolute longest lasting battery I’ve seen in an Android device.

ZTE_Axon_Battery_Life

As you can see in the screen grab above the battery was sitting at 47% after a full day of usage with the screen on over 50% of the time! I’ve never witnessed battery life this good in an Android device. Generally speaking, 2 hours of screen on time is the most I’ve been able to pull out of most newer Android devices.

The Bad

Every device has certain pain points that can frustrate the crap out of you. My biggest issue with the ZTE Axon is the custom UI they’ve squeezed into this device. While it may be running Android 5.1.1, the UI sometimes lags like you would not believe and even crashes sometimes. Thankfully this can be fixed with an update, but I do find the UI to be rather frustrating sometimes when it lags or crashes.

That’s about the only negative thing I can say about this phone. It’s a great deal for the price and packs some pretty awesome features and battery life.