Airtel Takes on Jio Phone With Karbonn A1 Indian, A41 Power Smartphones: Price, Offer Details
Airtel Takes on Jio Phone With Karbonn A1 Indian, A41 Power Smartphones: Price, Offer Details
Jio Phone is a looming threat for both phone makers and telecom operators, despite its pre-booking sale opening only once since it was unveiled in July. It came as no surprise to anyone that to counter Jio Phone, Airtel partnered with Karbonn and then Celkon to subsidise the effective cost of low-end Android smartphones under its 'Mera Pehla Smartphone' initiative. The latest handsets to join the Airtel programme are Karbonn A1 Indian and Karbonn A41 Power. Of course, Airtel isn't the only telco to take the subsidy route to beat Jio Phone, as Vodafone tied up with Micromax to launch Bharat-2 Ultra, and BSNL also jumped into the fray with its Micromax Bharat-1 4G feature phone.
Announcing the new Airtel phones, the company's Director of Consumer Business and CMO Raj Pudipeddi said, "We are delighted to deepen our partnership with Karbonn to fulfill the smartphone aspirations of India. We saw very strong demand for our first offer under the 'Mera Pehla Smartphone' initiative, which validates the broad appeal of this innovative proposition. We are also delighted to have Amazon on board as a partner in this exciting journey and look forward to working closely with them."
Pardeep Jain, MD, Karbonn Mobiles said, "We are delighted to partner with Airtel. The immense response that we got for us our offer with Airtel helped us add 70 percent new feature phone users to our existing portfolio."

Karbonn A1 Indian and A41 Power price

Karbonn A1 Indian and A41 Power will be available at an effective price of Rs. 1,799 and Rs. 1,849 respectively. The two Airtel phones come with MRP of Rs. 4,390 and Rs. 4,290, respectively. Interested consumers will have to make a down payment of Rs. 3,299 for the Karbonn A1 Indian and a down payment of Rs. 3,349 for the A41 Power. The telco clarifies that customers will have to make 36 continuous monthly recharges minimum value of Rs. 169. This will make customers eligible to get a cash refund of Rs. 500 after 18 months and another Rs. 1,000 after 36 months, taking the total cash benefit to Rs 1500.
Airtel has also offered a choice to customers if they do not wish to recharge with Rs. 169 bundled plan with the Karbonn A1 Indian and A41 Power phones. The company says customers can do recharges of any denomination and validity as per individual requirements. However, to claim the cash refund benefit, recharges worth Rs. 3,000 must be done within the first 18 months which will make them eligible to claim the first refund instalment of Rs. 500, and another Rs. 3,000 over the next 18 months to claim the second refund instalment of Rs. 1,000).
As for the Airtel phones' availability, the new Karbonn 4G phones will be available via Amazon India starting next week. Taking a dig at Reliance, Airtel notes, "The ownership of the smartphone is completely with the customer and there is no need to return the device to Airtel/Karbonn at any point to claim the cash benefit."

Karbonn A1 Indian and A41 Power specifications

Both the Airtel phones come with identical specifications such as 4-inch WVGA display, run on Android 7.0 Nougat, pack 1GB of RAM, 8GB inbuilt storage, dual-SIM support, and 4G with VoLTE support. Talking about the differences, the A1 Indian is powered by a 1.1GHz quad-core processor and packs a 1500mAh battery while the A41 Power has a 1.3GHz quad-core processor and packs 2300mAh battery. The former sports 3.2-megapixel rear camera and 2-megapixel front camera, and the latter a 2-megapixel rear and a 0.3-megapixel front camera.
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Samsung Galaxy A5, Galaxy A7 (2018) Spotted on Wi-Fi Certification Site, Following US FCC Debut

 Samsung Galaxy A5, Galaxy A7 (2018) Spotted on Wi-Fi Certification Site, Following US FCC Debut
After taking the trend of bezel-less flagships to new levels with the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 models, Samsung is now seemingly working on the next-generation of its Galaxy A series that would include fresh Galaxy A3, Galaxy A5, and Galaxy A7. But ahead of any formal confirmation, the Galaxy A5 (2018) and the Galaxy A7 (2018) has been spotted online for Wi-Fi and FCC certification. Both the new smartphones had also received formal support pages earlier this week.
The certificates of the Galaxy A5 (2018) and the Galaxy A7 (2018) provided by the Wi-Fi Alliance confirmthe presence of Android 7.1 Nougat. The devices are also appeared to have dual-band, 2.4GHz and 5GHz, Wi-Fi support with 802.11 a/b/g/ac specifications. Also, the Galaxy A7 (2017), which is likely to be the most superior model in the series, is documented with Wi-Fi Direct support and an additional 802.11n specification to use most of the available hotspots globally.
As technology blog MobileXpose reports, the Galaxy A5 (2018) received the certification of the National Radio Research Institute and reached the FCC earlier this week. SamMobile reveals that the Galaxy A7 (2018) went through the FCC last week.
Separately, Samsung on its South Korea and Russia support pages respectively revealed the existence of the two handsets, referring to the Galaxy A5 (2018) with the SM-A530N model name, and the Galaxy A7 (2018) with the SM-A730F model name. The formal support pages didn't reveal any details about the handsets.
Nevertheless, the Galaxy A5 (2018) is rumoured to have a 5.5-inch full HD+ display with 1080 x 2160 pixels resolution and minimal bezels. The smartphone is also reported to have an Exynos 7885 chipset, paired with 4GB of RAM.
In October, a Geekbench listing had emerged detailing the Galaxy A7 (2018). That listing hinted Android Nougat on the next-generation Galaxy A7 alongside an octa-core Exynos 7885 processor at a clock speed of 1.59GHz and 6GB of RAM. Moreover, some leaked renders suggested a bezel-less display on the Galaxy A7 (2018) and a dedicated Bixby Voice button.
Considering the latest certifications and the recent leaks, the Galaxy A5 (2018) and the Galaxy A7 (2018) are likely to be unveiled sometime in the coming future. Samsung would host a press conference at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January to announce the new Galaxy A series. Meanwhile, we can anticipate some more details through rumours and leaks.
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iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus Review

 iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus Review
It’s not very often that two new iPhone models are upstaged at their own launch, but that’s exactly what happened at Apple’s September event this year. The iPhone X was the star of the show, the cool new kid everyone wanted to hang out with, while the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus were relegated to the role of the designated driver - boring, reliable, the one you know will be there once you are done partying with your new friends.
That was certainly the case at the hands-on area post the launch event at the Steve Jobs Theatre, where everyone stood in line just to spend some time with the iPhone X, while most iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus units waited for an audience. But as quickly as it came, the cool new thing was gone, not to be seen again until November. Having seen the one with the X-factor, it seems not everyone is excited at that prospect of getting reunited with their ‘boring’ old friends.

If there’s one thing that being in your 30s teaches you, it’s that ‘boring’ has a lot going for it. You learn to value familiarity over the latest trend and appreciate the reliability that comes with the tried and tested. Have doubts about Face ID on the iPhone X? Touch ID on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus works great as always. Can’t get your head around the ‘notch’? No such thing on the 'standard' models. It’s this familiarity and reliability that these two models hope to appeal to, though Apple wouldn’t want the ‘boring’ tag anywhere near the duo, even if we frequently use the word as a compliment.
Let’s forget about the iPhone X for a bit and see how the other two new iPhone models fare in a world where their sibling doesn’t exist. Are they compelling enough upgrades in their own right? Let’s find out.

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus design and display

From the front, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are practically indistinguishable from their predecessors. Virtually everyone we showed our review units to opened with “Oh, it looks just like the [iPhone] 7” before we asked them to turn them around and look at the all-glass backs. That’s right, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are all-glass on the front and the back, a throwback to the design last seen in the iPhone 4S. Apple says it has used “the most durable glass ever in a smartphone”, a claim that millions will no doubt put to the test in everyday life in the days to come.
During the couple of weeks that we’ve spent with these phones, we - accidentally, we promise - managed to drop them once each. First, the iPhone 8, face down, from a coffee table, and then the iPhone 8 Plus from a height of about four feet. While the iPhone 8 escaped unhurt, its bigger sibling landed on tiles on one of its corners and had a little abrasion to show for it afterwards - a stark reminder as to why most people choose to cover their precious phones in cases. While on the subject, though the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are marginally bigger than their predecessors, we had no problem fitting our Apple leather cases from the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus onto them. Most existing third-party cases designed for the older iPhone models should fit just fine as well.
At 148 grams, the iPhone 8 is the heaviest non-Plus iPhone to date, while the iPhone 8 Plus crosses the 200g mark. The extra weight would be noticeable if you used an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus without a case, but if you are someone who changes your case quite often, you are probably used to the overall weight fluctuating slightly and are unlikely to notice these differences. Still, it’s interesting to see a company obsessed with ‘thin and light’ move in the opposite direction with two of its marquee products.
If showing the world you have the latest and greatest iPhone (we told you to forget about the iPhone X, remember?) is important to you, hiding your iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus in a non-transparent case would not be the best idea. As we said earlier, the front is virtually identical to that of the previous generation iPhone models, so the only visible difference is in the back. From five (not counting the Product Red) colour options in the previous generation - Rose Gold, Gold, Silver, Black, and Jet Black - we are down to three - Gold, Silver, and Space Grey.
iPhone 8 8 plus back iPhone 8 Plus ColoursiPhone 8 (left) and iPhone 8 Plus in Silver and Gold colours respectively

The Gold finish on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus looks like an amalgamation of the Rose Gold and Gold colours seen previously. Silver is essentially white, and Space Grey is black. The latter is the only option that’s black on the front, while the other two have white bezels, like in previous years. Colours are largely a personal choice, though we have to say we will miss the Jet Black finish, despite its well-documented tendency to get scuffed up.
The nearly-all-glass body means that all iPhone models offer excellent grip, and are unlikely to slip out of your hands. In the two weeks that we spent with the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, we didn’t see any scratches or scuff marks resulting from being put into and taken out of pockets, or being stored with other objects in our bag.
In the box you get Lightning EarPods, a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter, a USB Type-A to Lightning cable, and a 5W charger (more on this later), apart from the phone itself, and some literature. There’s no Type-C to Lightning cable, which means you cannot directly connect Apple’s flagship phone to its flagship laptops without buying additional cables or dongles from Apple or third parties.
There’s no change in the size of the displays on the iPhone 8 or the iPhone 8 Plus compared to their predecessors, and, indeed, the screens have the same resolution, brightness, and contrast ratios as well. OLED and HDR support are reserved for the iPhone X, so the only improvement here is the addition of True Tone functionality.
iphone 8 true tone iPhone 8 True ToneSpot the difference: iPhone 8 (right) with True Tone enabled, alongside iPhone 7

According to Apple, True Tone technology “uses an advanced four‑channel ambient light sensor to subtly adjust the white balance onscreen to match the colour temperature of the light around you.” If that sounds like a load of jargon, we are here to help. In simple terms, like recent iPad Pro models, additional sensors present in the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus can detect the quality of light around you, and the phone can tweak the display’s white balance to match. This is designed to reduce eye strain and make objects on screen look “as natural as on a printed page”.
In terms of real-world experience, perhaps the most significant word in the previous paragraph is “subtly”. The presence of True Tone - a setting that is turned on by default, but can be switched off if you really care about colour accuracy - is unlikely to be noticed by most users. The effect is nowhere as dramatic as turning on Night Shift, which alters the tone of the display and cuts blue light emission to reduce eye strain in a very visible way, and was introduced in iOS 9.3. Most users probably even won’t notice (which, as Apple will tell you, is a good thing) True Tone’s impact until they see their phone side by side with one that doesn’t have the setting enabled.
You will no longer find the Auto-Brightness option under Display settings. Turned on by default, this option is instead available under Display Accommodations in Accessibility settings, a hint by Apple that most users shouldn't bother toggling it on an everyday basis. iOS 11 even warns you that turning auto brightness off may have an impact on battery life.
iOS 11 display settings iOS 11 display settingsThe auto-brightness toggle (right) is now found under Accessibility options


iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus performance and software

While the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus might not look very different from the outside, there are big changes on the inside. All three new iPhone models - okay, we promise no reminders that the iPhone X exists after this - are powered by Apple’s brand new A11 Bionic chip. In our review of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus we noted how Apple has established itself as a leader in the mobile SoC space, and how both phones were streets ahead of the competition in terms of raw performance at the time of their release. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus continue this tradition, and in some ways kick things up a notch higher.
The Apple A10 Fusion inside the previous-generation iPhone models was a quad-core chip with two high-performance cores and two energy-efficient ones, but only one pair could be active at a time. The A11 Bionic, on the other hand, has six cores - four efficient cores that are up to 70 percent faster than ones on the A10, and two performance cores that are up to 25 percent faster - making it Apple’s first hexa-core chip. More importantly, the A11 is capable of running all six at the same time.
This means the Apple A11 Bionic absolutely smokes the opposition, especially when it comes to multi-threaded tasks that can scale to multiple cores. In the Geekbench multi-core test, for example, the iPhone 8 Plus scored more than 55 percent higher than the OnePlus 5, the phone that had scored the highest before now, and around 75 percent higher than the iPhone 7 Plus. In fact, its Geekbench multi-core score of 10,386 is higher than that of many laptops out there.
iPhone 8 family iPhone 8 iPhone 8 Plus
For the first time, an iOS device features an Apple-designed GPU. Given the CPU performance lead that Apple established with the A-series by moving chip design in-house, we’ll be closely watching what the company has to offer in this department. The A11 Bionic features a new Apple‑designed three‑core integrated GPU that delivers a ‘paltry’ 30 percent performance gain over the A10 Fusion.
All this power means that the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus can handle everything you throw at them with ease. Everyday tasks are smooth, and everything feels really snappy, especially on the smaller iPhone. We experienced a few niggles during the initial days of our review period, but the iOS 11.0.1 update seems to have addressed all of them. We’ve covered iOS 11 in depth elsewhere on Gadgets 360, so we won’t repeat ourselves here, but talk about a couple of other interesting new features instead.
Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice when setting up your new iPhone is that you now have the option to use Quick Start to, well, quickly set up your device. Just hold your new iPhone (or iPad running iOS 11) next to another recent iOS device, and after ‘pairing’ the two, some of your settings like your Apple ID are automatically transferred to the new one. It will also ‘inherit’ your old device’s passcode. Remember that this step just copies some of the settings from the old device to the new one - you still get to choose whether you want to restore apps and data from an iCloud/ iTunes backup or set this device up as new. In our experience, Quick Start saved a couple of steps during the setup process, and the post-restore experience wasn’t that different compared to a ‘regular’ restore from an iCloud backup. We still had to enter passwords and set up email accounts, etc, in third-party apps.
While older iOS devices do support ARKit - Apple’s framework for augmented reality games and apps - the latest iPhone models truly shine when it comes to bridging the digital and physical worlds. Apple says the cameras on the new iPhone models are “individually calibrated” with new gyroscopes and accelerometers to enable more accurate motion tracking than the older iPhone models. The A11 Bionic chip is faster at things like world tracking and scene recognition, and the new image signal processor (ISP) is capable of real-time lighting estimation when using AR apps.
arkit iPhone8 iPhone 8 ARKitWith ARKit, anyone can have a dragon as a pet

Sadly, iOS 11 does little to improve the experience of using first-party apps in India: Apple Maps is still practically useless here and doesn’t even have basic navigation features, even as Apple is adding lane guidance and more in other regions. This means other apps’ features like Calendar’s ‘time to leave’ alerts for meetings don’t work either. There’s also no sign of Apple Pay, even as rival Samsung’s payment service can be used at virtually every point of sale in the country.
Though Apple doesn’t officially state the amount of RAM that iOS devices ship with, third-party teardowns and benchmark apps have revealed that the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus have 2GB and 3GB of RAM respectively, figures that are identical to those of their predecessors. What is new, and a welcome change, is the amount of storage that you get on the base model.
You now get 64GB of storage on the entry-level iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus (compared to 32GB earlier), and the only step up is to 256GB. What this means is that not only has Apple reduced the number of colours the latest iPhone models are available in from five (ignoring Product Red) to three, but the number of storage variants has also gone down from three to two, reducing the total number of SKUs across the lineup from a whopping 30 (5x3x2) to a more manageable 12 (3x2x2).
The entry price of the flagship iPhone lineup has gone up as well - $50 in the US and Rs. 4,000 if you compare the iPhone 8’s launch price with that of the equivalent iPhone 7 a year ago, though it’s worth reminding our readers that MRP of the 32GB iPhone 7 was reduced to Rs. 56,100 after launch, so in a way the Rs. 64,000 price tag of the 64GB iPhone 8 is Rs. 8,000 higher than that of its predecessor. Apple says the increase was necessary as its input costs have gone up, a claim that may have some merit as global RAM and flash storage prices have been on the rise recently. Rival Samsung has also launched its flagship smartphones at higher price points this year, so Apple is certainly not alone in this regard.
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus both had stereo speakers, as do the new models. Apple says the new speakers are up to 25 percent louder and deliver deeper bass, a claim we found to be true during our testing. Like their predecessors, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are IP67 rated for water and dust resistance, which means they can be submerged in depths of 1 metre or less for up to 30 minutes, though, like before, Apple’s warranty won’t cover liquid damage.

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus battery life and wireless charging

The glass back of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus is not just a design element, it enables an important feature: wireless charging. Apple has adopted the Qi industry standard of wireless charging, which means that though the new iPhone models don’t ship with a wireless charger, you can pick up one of the many third-party Qi-compatible ones out there. The likes of Samsung have supported this standard for a while, so we finally live in a world where the same charger can top up both your iPhone 8 and Galaxy Note 8.
If you are new to the world of wireless charging, you need to remember a couple of points: first, it’s not really ‘wireless’. Most wireless charging mechanisms involve a plate of some sort where you can just place your phone and have it begin charging without plugging in any wires, but the plate itself needs to be connected to an outlet via a wire or an adapter. Second, though there have been improvements in the technology recently, wireless charging is still painfully slow.
iPhone 8 wireless charging iPhone 8 Wireless Charging BelkinLook ma, no wires! Err... not quite.

Apple gave us a 7.5W Belkin wireless charger to test this feature on the new iPhone models with, and it took 24 minutes to move the battery on the iPhone 8 Plus from 20 percent to 30 percent. Apple’s bundled 5W wired adapter charged the same phone from 20 percent to 36 percent in the same time. iPhone models have supported faster charging - using an iPad’s 10W charger, for example - for a while, so it’s baffling why Apple continues to ship such a low-power charger in the box.
The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus support even faster charging using USB Type-C, but you will need to buy an expensive power adapter that is compatible with the USB Type-C Power Delivery specification and a Type-C to Lightning cable just to use this feature. If you already have a current (or previous generation) Apple MacBook, you can use its charger, but you will still need to buy the cable. Using our MacBook Pro’s 78W charger and a third-party Type-C to Lightning cable, we could top up the battery in our iPhone 8 Plus from 20 percent to 51 percent in the same 24 minutes. Having said that, forking out nearly Rs. 70,000 on a phone and then being expected to spend even more to enable what should be standard functionality is classic Apple up-selling that rightly upsets many.
In terms of battery life, the experience using the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus was similar to that with their predecessors: the former will just about manage a day of use if you don’t do a lot of heavy lifting, while the latter will easily get through a day with some juice to spare. In our HD video loop test, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus clocked nearly 8.5 hours and 9.5 hours respectively.

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus cameras

Camera performance is an area where smartphones have made arguably the biggest improvements in the decade since the original iPhone was launched. From tiny, grainy images in which we could barely recognise ourselves to ones that can be printed on a billboard, and movies that see a theatrical release, the phone camera has come a long way in a relatively short period of time.
For most of this journey, Apple has enjoyed the status of having the best camera phone out there, and the company has taken a lot of pride in calling the iPhone the most popular camera in the world. But as we’ve noted in our recent iPhone reviews, this hasn’t necessarily been true for the last couple of generations. SamsungHTC, and Google (with the HTC-made Pixel) have caught up with - and in some scenarios even surpassed - the iPhone’s camera performance, which means the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will need to really up their game to regain the crown. With tight control of hardware as well as software, Apple seems to have done just that.
While the camera specifications remain the same in terms of megapixel counts and aperture sizes, Apple says the 12-megapixel primary camera has a larger and faster sensor, a new colour filter, and deeper pixels. As noted earlier, the A11 Bionic chip includes a brand new Apple-designed image signal processor, which, among other things, aims to provide faster autofocus in low light and better HDR photos.
Tap to see full-sized iPhone 8 camera samples

All this is backed by enhancements at the OS level. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus support the new High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF) and High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) container for storing photos and videos respectively, which, Apple says, reduce the amount of space taken by your media by up to 50 percent. This, obviously, means you can save more photos and videos on your device and in the cloud. HEVC also enables new capabilities like shooting 4K video at 60fps and 1080p at 240fps.
If you set up an iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus as a new device, they will save media in the new formats by default. Technically, HEIF is a new file format, and your images are no longer stored as JPGs on the phone. But for the most part, you don’t need to worry about this. When you share photos and videos using others using apps like Facebook, they will automatically be converted to JPG or H.264 respectively, so everyone can see them. If you want, you can have your phone use JPG/ H.264 by default by going to Settings > Camera > Formats and choosing Most Compatible, though you will miss out on the space savings and the ability to shoot 4K/60fps and 1080p/240fps. If you restore your iPhone from an iOS 10 backup, it might have the Most Compatible option selected by default, which means you will not see the additional video shooting modes. You can safely switch to High Efficiency without any problems if you so desire (we recommend that you do).
With all that work put in, how do the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus fare in terms of camera performance in the real world? In daylight, we noticed that the new iPhone models capture the most accurate colours and more details than the likes of the Galaxy Note 8 and HTC U11. In macro shots, again the phones had the best-in-class colour reproduction, but the amount of detail captured was just a fraction less than the HTC U11.
Tap to see full-sized iPhone 8 Plus camera samples

Low-light performance is greatly improved compared to that of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and with good reason. This is one area in which Apple had fallen considerably behind its competitors. While the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus still don’t quite capture as much detail as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and HTC U11 in low-light conditions, their sensors still manage to do a lot better than before. At times, noise is visible when you zoom in, but most people will be perfectly happy with the results.
Overall, we believe the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are now at par with the likes of the HTC U11 and Galaxy Note 8, but not significantly better than either in any one aspect of still photography other than capturing the most accurate colours (which obviously matters a lot). The camera performance of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus is identical, though the latter obviously has the ability to use up to 2x optical zoom thanks to the additional telephoto lens.
The headline camera feature of the iPhone 7 Plus was its Portrait Mode, which was enabled in a software update that shipped after the phone’s launch. The iPhone 8 Plus retains and greatly improves on this feature, and some of the portraits that we shot with it were just stunning. “DSLR-like” is a marketing phrase often used by companies to sell their phones, but in this case, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration.
A new feature called Portrait Lighting lets you tweak the light on your face and in the background after you’ve taken a portrait or in real time while composing your frame, but with mixed results. Like the original Portrait Mode, how it performs dependson a lot on the background, the subject, and the lighting in the frame. Apple is labelling this feature as ‘beta’ and just like Portrait Mode, it should get better in the future thanks to machine learning.
iPhone 8 plus portait mode iPhoneThe Portrait Lighting feature in action

The iPhone was already our favourite phone for shooting videos with, and the addition of 4K/ 60fps and 1080/ 240fps means that its video capabilities are unmatched. If you shoot a lot of videos with your phone, you don’t need to look beyond the iPhone 8/ iPhone 8 Plus, with the latter supporting 2x optical zoom in video mode as well. We are not into selfies but if you are, the front camera on the new iPhone models packs enough punch to keep you happy.
We believe that the best photos are taken with the flash turned off, but we realise most people leave it on the default ‘auto’ option, which means it inevitably triggers in low-light conditions. Apple says the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are fitted with “a new quad LED True Tone Flash with Slow Sync” and we tested it against other top-end phones. In our tests, we found that although Apple’s flash did not shine the brightest, it did provide the most uniform lighting given the right conditions, without flooding a particular object or spot with light. Apple’s implementation of the ‘selfie flash’ where the screen becomes the flash also came out trumps during our tests.
There are some changes to the Camera app as well. You can no longer toggle HDR from within the app - it’s set to Auto by default (and is designed to kick in when the ISP feels it’s needed), but you do have the option to turn it off completely by going to Settings > Camera. Apple has also added some new filters to the app for post (and live) processing of photos, if third-party apps like Instagram are not your thing.
Still here? Good, let’s wrap this thing up. Though many have argued that the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus feel like ’S’ upgrades, our experience shows that in many ways they offer more improvements than the jump from the iPhone 6s to iPhone 7 cycle. The camera enhancements are significant, bringing Apple back at the same level as the best in the business in some scenarios, while maintaining, or even extending, its lead in others.
The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are priced at Rs. 64,000 and Rs. 73,000 respectively for the 64GB variants, with a Rs. 13,000 premium on both if you wish to get the 256GB variants. Though there are a couple of other options in this price bracket, the only other phones worth considering at this price point are Samsung’s flagships Galaxy S8+ and Galaxy Note 8 or the Galaxy S8 and the HTC U11, which are marginally cheaper. If you don’t care about the OS, you could pick any one of these devices and safely call yourself the owner of the best smartphone in the world - software and the Note’s S-Pen aside, there’s very little to choose between these phones.
In a world where you can buy a smartphone that’s pretty good on all counts for about a quarter of these prices, we believe flagship smartphones continue to offer an experience that’s unmatched, though the number of people who really need this kind of refinement needs to be examined.
If you already have an iPhone and money is no object, you could upgrade to the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus and be extremely happy, but you’d probably want to wait for the iPhone X for even greater bragging rights. Sadly, we don’t know a lot of people for whom money is not a factor when making buying decisions.
The cameras would be the best reason for owners of recent iPhone models to upgrade, and the A11 Bionic chip and wireless charging are welcome additions. However, if you have an iPhone 7 (Plus) or even an iPhone 6s (Plus), you have a phone that’s already fast enough for most tasks. Yes, the newest iPhone models will have an edge when it comes to running ARKit apps, but there are no “must-have” uses cases for AR right now. Wireless charging is a convenience that will one day be fast enough to be practical for all occasions, but that day isn’t here yet. And if you really want, there are ways and means of getting it to work with your existing iPhone as well, like by getting a case that supports wireless charging.
If you already have an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, you can probably skip the iPhone 8 line (unless having the latest and greatest camera is really important to you), and wait to see what Apple does with its lineup next year: maybe the X design language and features will become available at a more accessible price? We’d give the same advice to iPhone 6s line owners who are happy with their phone - if it ain’t broke, don’t go broke buying an upgrade just for the sake of it. But if you have a previous-generation iPhone that’s starting to feel long in the tooth, you will experience significant gains in all departments by upgrading to the new iPhone models.
So who are the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus for, especially in the real world where the prospect of the iPhone X looms large? If you have absolutely no interest in the iPhone X’s design, if you can’t get your head around the idea of the ‘notch’, or can’t afford the phone’s crazy price tag, then you can safely consider its siblings without thinking that you are ‘settling’ for an inferior phone. Yes, you will miss out on what looks like a gorgeous OLED display and other additions like optical image stabilisation on the telephoto lens, but there are plenty of question marks around the iPhone X right now - is Face ID good enough to replace Touch ID? How will the ‘notch’ be incorporated into your favourite applications?
We won’t have answers to these questions until we get the chance to test the iPhone X closer to its release in November. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus might seem ‘boring’ in comparison, but with their improved cameras, A11 Bionic chip, wireless charging, and a whole lot more, either one of them could happily be your designated driver for the next couple of years - or until your head is turned by the new ‘X’ in town.
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Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL First Impressions

  Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL First Impressions

Killing off the Nexus lineup was a bitter pill to swallow for many Android fans, but in place of that, we got the Pixel series - two no-nonsense flagship smartphones that improved vastly upon the Nexus series' biggest shortcomings, build quality and camera performance. We found the Pixel XL to be an excellent Android device when we tested it. However, the Pixel phones have seen their fair share of issues, ever since their launch last October. These included a freezing camera , trouble with Bluetooth pairing, reports of spotty LTE connectivity and even audio distortion problems. The last of those turned out to be a hardware issue and the only fix was to get a replacement unit.
It's issues like these that made us wonder whether Google was committed to hardware, or whether this was yet another expensive experiment. As it turns out, the company is indeed serious enough to acquire a large part of HTC's smartphone operations.
This brings us to the brand new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, phones designed and built under Google's supervision. This new generation of flagships will take on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8 series, Galaxy Note 8, Apple's iPhone X and 8 series, and LG's V30. Oh, and let's not forget Sony's new Xperia XZ1 either. So, are they any good? We got to spend some time with both of them at the company's hardware event in San Francisco, and here's what we thought.
The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL share many core features and and specifications, just like their predecessors, so lets get that out of the way first. Both phones are powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 SoC and have 4GB of RAM with either 64GB or 128GB of storage. You can't expand storage, just like with the original Pixels. They do have IP67 ratings for dust and water resistance, as well as stereo speakers, which brings them up to speed with the rest of today's flagships. Both feature aluminium unibodies, with fingerprint sensors on the back. Both also run on Android 8 Oreo and updates are guaranteed for a long time. There's a new feature called Active Edge, which works similarly to the 'squeeze' gesture on the HTC U11, and is set to trigger Google Assistant.
After using both phones for a while, we think its safe to conclude that the Pixel 2 is designed for more practical, everyday use while the XL version is for those who want to show off. That's because the Pixel 2 has a standard 16:9 full-HD screen whereas the XL boasts of a trendier 18:9 QHD+ panel. The Pixel 2 is easier to grip in your hand and feels really light. Its 5-inch full-HD OLED panel produces nicely saturated colours. On the other hand, the Pixel 2 XL features a 6-inch pOLED display, which is how Google is able to curve it around the edges of the device. This one produces equally good colours and saturation.
google pixel 2 pixel 2 xl back gadgets360 054117 134120 5127 Google Pixel 2 Pixel 2 XL
Since they are both OLED panels, there's an always-on display feature along with something called Now Playing, which taps into Google's AI capabilities to try to identify songs playing in the background, and you don't even need an Internet connection. We're told that Google stores an on-device library of tens of thousands of songs that are most likely to trend in your region, and this list is updated regularly. When we asked Google representatives how much storage space this database requires, we weren't given a specific number but only told "very, very little."
Button placement is comfortable on both phones, although reaching all of them requires a bit of shuffling your fingers on the XL. There's only a USB Type-C port at the bottom and a SIM tray on the left of each phone. There are no headphone sockets, which might disappoint some. However, Mario Queiroz, VP, Product Management, Hardware and Brian Rakowski, President, Android Platform, explained to Gadgets 360 that this was a long-term decision based on where smartphone design is headed. In order to fit in the larger displays and stereo speakers, and optimise battery size and antenna placement, the 3.5mm sockets had to go.
The software on new models is also tweaked a bit with a new homescreen. At the top, you'll see a snippet of your daily schedule, with reminders and appointments pulled from your calendar. The Google Search box has been moved to the bottom, where it's within easier reach of your thumb. It also stays in place as you swipe between homescreens. Google Assistant will be getting a lot more routines, which means you can program a set of tasks for it to perform automatically with a single trigger.
The Google Pixel and Pixel XL had one of last year's best smartphone cameras, and that continues with the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. In fact, these new phones have achieved a DxOMark score of 98, which beats the previously reigning iPhone 8 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, which were tied at 94 points. That's a big jump, even compared to the original Pixels. Google managed this by breaking convention and sticking to a single camera. Rakowski told us that it's the combination of hardware and AI or machine learning, that has helped the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL achieve this feat. Both phones have 12.2-megapixel sensors with wide f/1.8 apertures and Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS). During video recording, the phone uses a combination of OIS and EIS (electronic) to achieve more stability. While we didn't get a chance to try out how well this actually works outdoors, we did find that it only supports 4K at 30fps for now, which is a step behind the iPhone 8 which does 4K at 60fps.

Google Pixel 2 XL camera samples: Standard mode (top), Portrait mode (middle), Portrait selfie (bottom)
We did try out the single-camera portrait mode, which works with both the front and rear cameras. According to Google, machine learning is used in combination with the dual-pixel sensor to create a depth map and isolate subjects from their backgrounds. The result is pretty impressive when you consider that there's no secondary camera. We couldn't test out the camera too much but we'll be sure to put it through the ringer in our full review.
All of Google's new hardware announcements at its event were essentially a showcase of its prowess combining hardware, software and machine learning, with Google Assistant at the heart of it all. As CEO Sundar Pichai reiterated at the start of the keynote, we're all moving from a mobile-first world to an AI-first world, and Google is focusing on its ability to harness this. The new Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are not the flashiest of smartphones to hit the market this year, but the company believes that they will set a new standard for user experiences which will be hard for anyone to match.
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In India, you'll be able to buy the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL from November onwards. Prices start at Rs. 61,000 for the 64GB Pixel 2 and Rs. 73,000 for the 64GB Pixel 2 XL, which makes them quite expensive. In a market dominated by Samsung and Apple, Google could have a tough fight ahead of it, especially considering that the first generation of Pixels didn't exactly fly off shelves. Queiroz told Gadgets 360, "We learnt quite a bit with the first Pixel in India and one of the things we're doing is increasing our marketing investment, really to explain the product. We've expanded the channel and from a go-to-market perspective, we'll be much more present this year compared to last year." Rick Osterloh, SVP Hardware at Google, added, "Our focus was online last year. People tend to not buy such premium products [online] so if people can see the device and experience it, it will help quite a bit."
This does mean that Google will be exploring the offline channel as well, which would partially explain the nearly Rs. 20,000 premium in India compared to the US pricing. Whether or not this will work out in Google's favour remains to be seen. The new phones look promising but we'll know for sure how they stand up against Apple and Samsung's top-end offerings only after we conduct our full review, which is coming up soon.
Disclosure: Google sponsored the correspondent's flights and hotel for the event in San Francisco.
We discussed the impact of Google Pixel 2 and its big hardware ecosystem India on our weekly technology podcast Orbital, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS or just listen to this episode by hitting the play button below.
For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on TwitterFacebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Zopo Speed X Review

 Zopo Speed X Review

Zopo Mobiles has been making budget smartphones for the Indian market for quite some time now. The company has three series in its portfolio, namely Speed, Flash, and Color. The Speed series is home Zopo's flagship devices, which have more powerful components and better cameras, all while staying within a reasonable budget. The Zopo Speed X is one of the latest additions to the Speed series, and its highlight is dual rear cameras. This makes it one of the few phones with this feature to cost less than Rs. 10,000, but is it your best bet? We put it through our tests.

Zopo Speed X design

Zopo's Speed series models usually have metal unibodies but the Speed X doesn’t completely fit that mould. It has only a metal backplate, with plastic caps at the top and the bottom. Even the band surrounding the phone feels plasticky to the touch. The end caps don’t sit flush with the metal backplate and you can feel raised edges when you run your fingers over it. Zopo has placed the fingerprint scanner at the back along with the dual cameras and LED flash. Its location is easy to reach when holding the phone.
The Speed X is available in Royale Gold, Orchid Gold, Space Grey and Charcoal Black, and we prefer the latter. The front of the phone is dominated by a 5-inch full HD IPS display with non-backlit capacitive touch buttons below it. Above the display are a 13-megapixel selfie camera, the earpiece, and the selfie flash. This soft LED flash is yet another Speed X feature that is not very common at this price range.
Zopo Speed X inHand NDTV Zopo Speed X Review
The relatively small footprint of the Speed X makes it easy to use in one hand. While the positioning of the power button is good, the volume rocker requires you to stretch your thumb out. These buttons offer decent feedback, however it can be hard at times to distinguish between them based on touch. The hybrid dual-SIM tray is positioned on the left and needs a pin to be ejected. You'll have to choose between a second SIM and expandable storage.
Zopo has positioned the speaker grill, the 3.5mm headphone socket, and the Micro-USB port at the bottom. At 131g, the phone is quite light and measures 8.1mm in thickness. It houses a 2680mAh Li-Po battery. While Zopo hasn’t specified any type of protection for the screen, the Speed X ships with a pre-applied screen protector. In the box, you also get a pair of headphones and a Micro-USB charger.

Zopo Speed X specifications and software

One look at the spec sheet reveals some interesting firsts for a phone at this price point. The dual camera setup at the back comprises of a 13-megapixel primary sensor and an additional 2-megapixel sensor used to capture depth. The display resolution is full-HD resolution, and at 5 inches, the density works out to 441ppi. The IPS panel manages decent colour reproduction and has good viewing angles. You do have the option to change the colour output to a "vivid" setting.
Zopo Speed X DualCamera NDTV Zopo Speed X Review
Zopo has picked the MediaTek 6753 octa-core processor clocked at 1.3GHz to power the Speed X, along with 3GB of RAM. This processor has been around for a while and it shows its age. There is 32GB of internal storage out of which a little less than 25GB is available to the user. You can use a microSD card but you’ll need to sacrifice the second SIM. There's also Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n , GPS, and support for 4G and VoLTE on both SIMs, though only one can use 4G at any given time.
The Speed X runs on stock Android Nougat with no custom UI skin. The company has integrated a few gestures that require you to wave a hand across the top of the phone. You can change songs, take photos, scroll through photos in the gallery, and answer calls. Gesture recognition did not work as described most of the time, and this felt more gimmicky than useful.
While an Android purist will like the stock approach, not many will appreciate the bloatware that comes preinstalled. You get trial versions of Perry and World Racing Challenge 3D which are good for three sessions after which you are required to buy them. DailyHunt, a news app is quite spammy. Niki is a personal chat assistant that we didn’t find very useful. Quick Touch, an app that replicates the iOS Assistive Touch shortcuts, also comes preinstalled and while it is useful to some extent, we couldn’t find a way to get rid of it other than force-closing the app. Thankfully, you can uninstall all of these to free up space on the phone.

Zopo Speed X performance, battery life, and camera

Unfortunately, the spec sheet does not translate into good real-world usage. Stock Android and 3GB of RAM do help with multitasking but the processor feels out of place. Zopo had used the same combination for its Zopo Flash X Plus (Review) and the Speed X faces similar problems. It runs hot and isn’t very power efficient. Heavy apps and games did make the temperature of the phone rise fairly quickly. We saw abnormal battery drain during heavy operations, and the battery capacity being lower than average doesn’t help. Even in our standard HD video loop test, the phone could only manage 6 hours and 4 minutes which is one of the lowest scores we have recorded in a long time. If you watch a lot of videos on your phone, this one isn't well suited for you.
Zopo Speed X SIM Tray NDTV Zopo Speed X Review
In terms of benchmarks, the MediaTek processor manages some decent scores. It clocked 38,415 in AnTuTu, and 624 and 2380 respectively in Geekbench's single-core and multi-core tests. Graphics performance is weak, and this phone could only manage 12fps in GFXBench. These scores are lower than those of the competition, putting the Speed X at a disadvantage. The fingerprint scanner at the back is fairly accurate while scanning and is quick to unlock the phone. However, the animation while locking the phone is slow and we found ourselves tapping the power button multiple times, occasionally triggering the panic button sequence. You can disable the panic-button if you want.
The camera app on the Zopo Speed X is quite basic and there are limited options to choose from. You get quick toggles for HDR and the flash, and you can select between normal, bokeh, and panorama modes. There are also lot of filters. We saw that the camera app starts up in the last-used mode instead of normal mode by defualt. The phone also warms up quickly when using the camera app which is disappointing.
Photos taken with the Zopo Speed X did not look as vibrant as we expected. Switching on HDR mode didn’t help much, and in fact introduced motion blur and ghosting in photos. Landscapes lacked detail and we observed a bit of purple fringing. The bokeh mode struggles to deliver the output it promises and there is considerable lag in the viewfinder in this mode. We also had to tap the screen multiple times to get the app to focus on what we wanted. It will work well enough with macros and portraits but you’ll need to have a still subject and good lighting to get a usable result.
Tap to see full-sized Zopo Speed X camera samples
Selfies are decent and have a good amount of detail. The front-facing selfie flash is a good addition and does help in low-light conditions. Video recording maxes out at 1080p for the rear camera and 720p for the selfie camera. Light metering while recording is slow for the rear camera and non-existent for the selfie camera.


The Zopo Speed X has a lot of interesting features considering its price, most notably the dual camera setup and the selfie flash. It runs on stock Android Nougat with a few apps preinstalled. The compact size makes it easy to hold, and the pixel-dense display is good to look at.
Sadly, the specifications don’t translate into good real-world performance. The processor is outdated and warms up instantly when under stress. The dual cameras do not necessarily deliver better photos. Battery life is below average and you will need to carry a charger with you at all times. If you are in the market for a new smartphone, you can safely skip this one and instead check out our list of the best phones under Rs. 10,000.
For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on TwitterFacebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.