Monthly Archives: December 2018

Android

ZTE Blade Max View review

After some time on the sidelines, Chinese manufacturer ZTE is back in the US. Staging a comeback of sorts, the phone maker has seen its fair share of troubles after running afoul of the government for doing business with Iran. With that in the rear view mirror, and a promise to keep things on the up-and-up, ZTE is ready to tackle the unlocked market again in the United States.

One of its first efforts as it dips its toes in the water, is the Blade Max View, an inexpensive phone that work on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon networks. Had things gone differently in the past, we’d probably have seen this one paired with one more of those carriers or their respective prepaid brands.

As often is the case with ZTE, the Blade Max View is a low-cost alternative to brands like Motorola and Samsung. For US consumer it’s in the same wheelhouse as Blu and Alcatel.

What is the Blade Max View?

The Blade Max View is a big phone, offering up a 6-inch display with a 2:1 aspect ratio. It’s tall and narrow and fits the hand quite well. Its overall footprint it not unlike the Samsung Galaxy Note 9; however, its build materials are far below that of the tier-one counterpart.

The phone isn’t exactly glamorous, but doesn’t quite tread into the space where we’d call it “boring”. It’s slim, black, and is comprised of metal and plastic. The rear employs a matte finish with chrome accents that sparkle in just the right lighting. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass so it will take on pocket and purse scuffs without breaking a sweat.

We noticed early on that the matte finish is prone to pick up fingerprints, smears, and smudges. Not only that, but they don’t wipe away as easily as they might were it made of glass. There’s no wiping this against your pant leg or sleeve to clean things up. It’s really unsightly stuff.

Tall, at nearly 6.5-inches, the Blade Max View sits in your hand better than we expected. Moreover, it’s a little bit lighter than anticipated, so we were pleasantly surprised at how well it works in one hand — even with smaller fingers.

First Impressions

Fresh out of the box we like to give our phones a once-over to check for any imperfections or things that don’t look right. It’s also here where we’ll squeeze, press, tap, and blindly listen and get a true feel for the device.

We found the glass and metal to be solid and strong, but the plastic around back was a slightly different story. Pressing on it and applying some slight pressure in the bottom middle we were reminded of phones from a few years back — just before the industry adopted what’s commonly referred to as “premium” materials. Sadly, this is how we added all the fingerprints and smears.

If anything, the phone feels a smidge cheaper than most others of the day. For lack of a better description, it feels like an entry-level prepaid phone. But, given the $200 price tag, it sits just fine with us.

Design and Build

Although the 6-inch display counts for most of the front side of the Blade Max View, there’s a slight bit of space above and below. The selfie camera and sensors are tucked away neatly and are hardly visible. The bezels to the sides are acceptable and do not distract.

As for buttons, the power and volume are found on the right edge. Each has a decent amount of travel and feedback and signal to the user that they’ve been pressed. Instead of a toggle or rocker, ZTE opted for separate buttons for volume up and down.

The SIM card and memory card slot are on the upper left hand side. At the top edge you’ll locate the 3.5mm headphone jack while down below is the USB-C port.

Around back the fingerprint reader is found fairly high up the panel. The dual-camera setup is just above the reader and is ever so slightly raised.

The 6-inch screen has a 2,160 x 1,080 resolution with a 2:1 aspect ratio. The LCD panel delivers sharp and vibrant colors with accurate tones and a modest amount of brightness; things look great indoor and outdoors. Considering the cost of the phone, we were impressed with the display size and overall picture.

The ZTE Blade Max View has an incredible battery tucked inside, giving us some 4,000mAh worth of power. That’s a lot more than most phones at this price and is on par with some flagship models from more prominent US players.

This is the sort of phone that doesn’t make lofty promises. It’s not geared toward gamers and heavy users. Instead, it’s an excellent option for less-demanding consumers who don’t care so much about how a phone looks or performs just as long as it works when needed. To that end, the Blade Max View does that for days at a time. The 4,000mAh battery routinely had power left over at the end of two days.

While other phones now employ Quick Charge 3.0 and wireless charging, this one offers Quick Charge 2.0. Spend 15 minutes plugged into the wall and you’ll get around 15 percent of life but it somewhat slows after that. It’s certainly slow by comparison but on it’s own works just fine. Besides, most people are plugging in at night. And, again, we’re dealing with a generous capacity.

Software

In a rather interesting, and somewhat befuddling move, the Blade Max View runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat. It’s a straightforward, nearly untouched version of the software, but it’s certainly behind the times.

Included in the suite of apps is your standard fare of Google titles as well as a handful of other helpful apps. Our review unit came with a web browser, file manager, email client, music player, sound recorder, and video player. There is some overlap, of course with Chrome, Google Play Music, and Gmail. There’s also an FM radio app but it only works when headphones (not included) are plugged in.

Reportedly, the Blade Max View will receive an update to Android 8 Oreo before the year ends, so that’s a positive sign. Would 9 Pie be appreciated? Sure, but that’s not at all what we expected in a $200 phone. As long as security updates and important bug fixes are pushed out, we think the target demographic will not care about the OS.

ZTE does offer a decent amount of personalizing and customization. Users can swap the button configuration, adjust font and icon sizes, and tweak a few other small settings. These aren’t presented at the time of setup and aren’t hard to find, if you feel so inclined.

Camera

The camera experience is okay and borders the line of acceptable and nearly acceptable. To be transparent, we use much pricier and more robust phones as our daily driver and the camera is one area where things are noticeable. Going from a Pixel 2 to this is quite a step down.

Getting to the camera isn’t a streamlined process — it’s at least a two-step process no matter where you are in the phone. You can get to it from the lock screen but you need to press the power button and then swipe from the bottom corner.

We’d really like to see a double-tap of the power button to open, or a flick- the-wrist action like Motorola. About half of what we shoot on our phones tends to be spur of the moment stuff and we prefer not “thinking” before snapping.

There are a variety of shooting modes including photo, video, portrait, and bokeh. The latter two are fairly similar while the former is more for people while the latter is for objects. Nothing spectacular happens in any of these modes however we’ve seen more expensive phones shoot worse.

In the camera mode you’ll find secondary settings for time lapse, panoramic, manual, and mono. As expected, the manual mode gives you control over white balance, exposure, and ISO. Unfortunately, shutter speed and focus controls are not present.

Mono mode is interesting and doesn’t strictly deliver monochrome results. It’s possible to adjust a dial to retain a specific color and to varying degrees.

The main camera has a 16-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/2.0 while the 2-megapixel camera captures depth and contrast. In theory this produces an admirable result. Sadly, it doesn’t.

Generally speaking, when the pictures aren’t what we’d term as acceptable, we found color, exposure, and focus to be lacking. Unless you are in an ideal setting, chances are good you’ll get grain or a soft image.

Performance

The Blade Max View is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor with 3GB RAM. It’s adequate for most tasks and represents the price point well. Do not ask it to do much more than your standard daily tasks, though, as it’s not optimized for gaming.

What are the differences in Snapdragon processors?

In terms of the target user base, the phone has what it takes to handle duties. It’s not a fancy, powerful, or overly ambitious phone but that doesn’t matter much. There is a huge market full of people who will be fine with such an experience.

Conclusion

We’ve entered into a period where there’s a sizable gap in adoption between the entry-level phone and high-end flagship experience. There’s always been a divide in hardware, of course, but it seems now that users tend to gravitate to one of the extremes more so than in years past.

The ZTE Blade Max View finds itself on the lower end of things, in both specifications and price tag. It’s a great option for parents looking to save money on purchasing multiple devices. There’s plenty here to satisfy casual users.

The ZTE Blade Max View makes sense as a phone that’s paired to a particular carrier, such as Verizon. The brand is often found at prepaid providers and this would be right at home for a Boost or Metro customer.

Sold on its own, it requires a touch savvier shopper and we suspect that such a person would compare this to other models in its range.

As much as we appreciate what is put forth here, this area of the smartphone space belongs to Motorola and its G and E series of phones. It is still the leader when it comes to affordably priced unlocked phones with great performance.

The phone ticks a couple of boxes that are often important to buyers: big screen and long-lasting battery. These are primary reasons to consider a handset for a lot of people and, to that end, the Blade Max View will not disappoint.

 

On the other hand, a lot is made today about picture quality on phones. The bar keeps raising and we expect more from our mobile devices. If you’re primarily shopping because you want a nice camera in your pocket, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

We would have really liked to see Android 8 installed out of the gate, but a timely update essentially nullifies this complaint. Let’s hope that ZTE handles patches and security updates in a respectable and consistent manner.

Lastly, we’d like to remind of the first thing we noticed about this phone. You are going to smudge the back and it’s going to be nearly impossible to clean. It’s ugly. There’s no way around it and you’d be wise to get it into a protective case as quickly as possible.

The Blade Max View can be purchased for $170 through ZTE’s website as part of what appears to be a limited time promotion. That’s a great price point and we’d like to see it stick around. At this cost it goes from being just another device to consider to something more appealing and even borders on a “steal”.

Android

[TA Deals] Get up to 3TB of lifetime cloud backup through Degoo for cheap

We’re featuring Degoo Premium as our deal of the day on Talk Android Deals. Why are you saving everything on your computer or on your phone? Take advantage of what cloud storage does for you, but don’t pay a fortune to do so. Cloud storage is reliable and safe. And right now you can get […]

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Android

This 2-in-1 Smart Plug works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home, just $20

If you’ve ever thought about smartening up your home, but don’t quite know where to start, we’ve got a suggestion. Dip your toes into the connected home waters by making your wall outlets smart.

The 2-in-1 Smart Plug from Syncwire is currently offered for just $20 through the AndroidGuys Deals Store and is the perfect starter accessory. In essence, it turns one wall outlet into two, and gives them new levels of control.

Once you’ve got this in place you can use your voice to turn off the Christmas tree. Or, set it up to automatically turn off the plug that your lamp uses. It’s controlled by an app or through voice using Amazon Alexa or Google Home. What’s more, you can also set it up with IFTTT and create rules.

The possibilities are seemingly endless when it comes to using smart plugs. Not only can you do fun, interesting, and convenient things, but you can also help cut down on your electric bill, too.

Syncwire 2-in-1 Smart Plug

  • Control multiple devices in a confined area via remote or voice control using the Smart Life app or Alexa or Google Assistant devices
  • Use individually or in groups
  • Create a schedule to automatically turn your appliances on & off to better manage energy
  • Create a group to control multiple devices w/ a single button
  • Share the plug w/ family & friends via app
  • Set up fast w/ your WiFi network — no subscription or hub required
  • Stack in a single outlet without blocking another thanks to the sleek, compact design

One of the best parts about the 2-in-1 Smart Plug is that you can stack it on a standard wall outlet. This turns your two old-fashioned plugs into four, independently operating and smart plugs.


See Also


Where to Buy

You can purchase the Syncwire 2-in-1 Smart Plug for $19.99 from the AndroidGuys Deals Store. Or, get an even better deal and grab two of them for just $37.99!

Save even more!

In addition to the savings above, when you buy through AndroidGuys Deals, for every $25 spent, you get $1 credit added to your account. What’s more, should you refer the deal via social media or an email that results in a purchase, you’ll earn $10 credit in your account.

Shop AndroidGuys!

If this is your first time buying, then you are also eligible for a further 10% discount when you subscribe for email updates.

How about a freebie?

Not looking to spend any money today? That’s alright, we understand. Why not visit the AndroidGuys section for freebies and take something anyhow? Go ahead, grab two!

Android

LG V40 ThinQ review: Most underrated phone of the year

LG has had a pretty strange flagship phone strategy lately, with near constant releases and a blurred line between their G and V series of devices. Just this past year we’ve seen multiple flagship devices that are barely differentiated at all, and with the V30 dropping the secondary display it’s pretty much just a slightly […]

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Android

TomTop is selling the FeiyuTech WG2X action camera gimbal for just $154

A gimbal is a videography accessory that helps you stabilize the camera when shooting still videos and pictures in the outdoors.

Whether you’re shooting for commercial purposes or you just want quality personal videos, having a camera gimbal is truly a lifesaver. Perhaps you’re looking for one as we speak. If that’s the case, then you should know that online retailer TomTop has the FeiyuTech WG2X 3 Axis wearable action camera gimbal on sale.

While the product is already discounted from $244.51 to $169.00, you can get an additional $15 off. Use the coupon code WG2XCM at checkout to take advantage of the final price of $154.00.

Have a GoPro Hero? Pair it with this gimbal!

The gimbal on sale is compatible with a number of action cameras including the GoPro Hero 7,6,5 and 4, as well as the Xiaomi Yi 4K and other similar products.

It’s perfect to use when you’re trying to film action scenes of someone skateboarding, cycling, skiing, racing, speedboating and more. The product is made for active individuals who love to challenge themselves and others.

The videography accessory comes with a base designed to provide all-around stabilization. The FeiyuTech platform offers 2000/s real-time calibration to deliver stable shooting in any scenario.

Its lightweight brushless motor together with anti-shake calculation work to maintain the high torque, advanced power and low power consumption. Users can take advantage of 2.5 hours of power which is enough to record a World Cup match.

The gimbal is made of light yet strong composite materials, and its body weighs just 238g. This makes it quite portable, so users can take it with them anywhere.

The product ships with a session mount, retaining screws, 1/2-inch T-head connector, micro USB cable and a mini tripod. Note that the GoPro camera is not included.

The gimbal is waiting for you at TomTop. Don’t forget to use the discount code above when checking out, if you want to get it for just $154. Note that US costumers are eligible for free shipping (standard shipping).

Buy the FeiyuTech WG2X 3 Axis wearable action camera gimbal

Android

YouTube Rewind 2018 is now the most disliked video ever

Google dropped YouTube Rewind 2018 less than a week ago as a look back at the year in YouTube videos, and the internet really did not take it well. It look literally 6 days for the 8-minute video to become the most disliked video in YouTube history, beating out Justin Bieber’s Baby music video, and with a significantly higher […]

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Android

NVIDIA Shield picks up Amazon Music, 5.1 YouTube, and some holiday discounts

The NVIDIA Shield is easily our favorite media streaming box, and it just keeps getting better. NVIDIA has announced that the box is receiving its latest software update that brings a few new apps and features, and it’s getting a holiday discount to boot. Shield Experience 7.2 is already rolling out and adds Amazon Music […]

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Android

Vivo Go debuts as Blu’s first phone with Android 9 Pie (Go edition)

Squeezing out one final model before the end of 2018, smartphone maker Blu is back with another new handset. This time we’re looking at the Vivo Go, the company’s first to launch with Android 9 Pie (Go edition).

Priced just $80, the Vivo Go is an unlocked phone that works with T-Mobile, AT&T, and their respective prepaid brands. For instance, if you’re a subscriber on Cricket, Metro, or Straight Talk, you’ll be able to use the new device.

What does one get for that sort of money? A fairly impressive set of hardware, actually. It won’t set any benchmark records by any stretch, but it’s enough for first-time smartphone buyers. That’s the exact demographic for an Android 9 Pie Go edition phone.

The Vivo Go has a 6-inch display at 720 x 1440 pixels with a 2:1 aspect ratio and curved glass. Internally, there’s a 1.5GHz quad-core MediaTek processor, 1GB RAM, and 16GB of storage space. Should more room be needed, a microSD card slot allows for up to 64GB of media.

In terms of cameras, the phone has an dual configuration of 8-megapixel and VGA shooter on the back; a 5-megapixel sensor is found around front. A fingerprint reader is located on the rear of the handset. The Vivo Go has metallic plating finish on the battery cover and a mirror finish on the middle housing.

The Vivo Go carries a retail price of $79.99 at Amazon.

Android

After arrest, Huawei CFO now out on bail

Earlier this month Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada pursuant to an arrest warrant issued by the U.S. government. Meng was accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran by tricking banks into helping Huawei do business with Iran. This is not the first time a Chinese company has run afoul of U.S. sanctions […]

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Android

MediaTek’s new mid-range Helio P90 chip puts a focus on AI

Low-cost chipmaker, MediaTek today unveiled the Helio P90 platform, which according to the company can rival most premium chips out there.

Mind you, this is not a 5G-capable chip, but still, one that brings plenty to the table, as we will see in what follows.

MediaTek new processor is an octa-core affair that comes equipped with two Cortex-A75 cores running at 2.2GHz for tasks requiring power and six Cortex-A55 efficient cores running at 2GHz. MediaTek relies on its new CorePilot technology to ensure processing its done in the most efficient way possible across the eight cores.

The chip is made using a 12nm process and arrives with a PowerVR GM 9446 GPU on board which is said to offer a 50% boost in performance compared to the Helio P70.

AI is all the rage right now and MediaTek knows it

But where the new Helio P90 provides a substantial upgrade is in the AI capabilities department. The processor features a multi-core AI processing unit (APU) to offer four times the AI performance than its predecessors, the P60 and P70. The main purpose of the APU is be to enable high-quality photography on more affordable phones.

According to MediaTek, The P90 comes with support for a 48MP camera, or a dual setup of 24MP+16MP. What’s more, the chipset offers 480fps slow-motion video shooting at 16MP and is compatible with Google Lens.

What’s more, the Helio P90 comes with support for SIM dual VoLTE 5G LTE WorldMode with fast Cat-12 (DL) / Cat-13 (UL) 4G LTE modem.

MediaTek notes that we should see the first devices powered by the Helio P90 make a debut starting Q1 2019. And some of these smartphones might even make it on the US market, or at least the company hopes they will. But we’ll have to wait and see whether MediaTek’s new platform can do anything to dislodge Qualcomm, who is the dominant player in the country.