Apple Watch Series 3 Review

Apple Watch Series 3 Review

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The headline feature of Apple Watch Series 3 is LTE connectivity
  • But the LTE model is not available in India
  • The new Apple Watch delivers improvements in overall performance

Apple announced its entry into the wearables market when it unveiled the Apple Watch a little over three years ago. At the launch event, Apple positioned the Watch as a bit of an all-in-one accessory that could be your comprehensive health and fitness device, but it was also designed to let you “connect and communicate directly from your wrist” using new “intimate ways” like the rather awkward Digital Touch. In many ways, the original Apple Watch tried to be too many things for too many people; a departure from most first-generation Apple products that typically have fewer features than the competition, but rely on execution and attention to detail to win customers over.

The product was largely well-reviewed, though many, including us, questioned whether most people actually need a smartwatch. While Apple has been silent on the number of units it has sold to date, the Apple Watch seems to be the best selling smartwatch by all accounts, with some even saying Apple is now the biggest watchmaker in the world.

Physically, the Apple Watch might not have changed much, but there’s no doubt that both Apple and the consumers now see the smartwatch as a fitness-focussed device, with everything else intended to complement those functions. Apple has admitted this has been in response to user feedback based on how people were actually using the Watch out in the wild.

Last year, Apple enhanced the fitness credentials of the Apple Watch by adding GPS and water resistance, making the Series 2 a better standalone companion for runners, while opening it up to use by swimmers. This year’s big update – called Apple Watch Series 3 – brings optional cellular connectivity, an altimeter, and a faster Apple S3 chip as well as more RAM, all of which pave the way for some cool new features. Note that the GPS + Cellular variant of the new Apple Watch isn’t available in India (yet) as it uses a built-in eSIM that doesn’t seem to be very popular with the Indian telcos. For this review, we received the non-cellular variant (or GPS, as Apple calls it) of the Apple Watch Series 3.

apple watch series 3 back Apple Watch

We noted in our review of the original Apple Watch that the 42mm model is rather chunky and something that will definitely be noticed on your wrist. We also predicted that this would improve as the Watch goes down the path of ‘thinner and lighter’ that’s almost inevitable for most Apple products. A little more two years later, we are still waiting for that evolution, since Apple has stuck to the same design language, and, in fact, the 42mm Stainless Steel Apple Watch Series 3 is marginally bigger and heavier than its counterpart from a couple of years ago.

As we mentioned earlier, since the original launch, Apple has managed to cram a GPS sensor, an LTE modem, and an altimeter into the Apple Watch, while also updating it with faster processors and more RAM, and making it water resistant. Given these additions, we are not surprised that the Apple Watch retains its ‘bulk’, though we believe that a new design might well arrive with the next iteration.

The new Watch is powered by Apple’s brand new S3 dual-core processor, which promises up to 70 percent more performance, and in our experience, the Watch delivered on this promise. Apps launch a lot faster than before, and switching between apps via the Dock no longer feels like a painful process. The speed benefits are especially evident when using Siri. While on our first-generation Apple Watch it wasn’t uncommon to have to wait a couple of seconds after saying ‘Hey Siri’, the newest Watch is ready to listen to your command almost instantly.

Processing the commands themselves isn’t that much faster, as we found in side-by-side comparisons with the original Watch, but the entire process definitely feels a lot more responsive, which can be the difference between people giving Siri a try one time and then forgetting about it, and them coming back to it every day. We found ourselves using Siri a lot more with the Series 3 Watch, be it for setting a quick reminder, or to check when Liverpool FC is playing next.

apple watch series 3 siri Apple Watch

Another big change with Siri is that it can now talk back to you, just like on the iPhone and iPad, which is great, as you no longer need to keep staring at the Watch to see its response. If you are not a fan of this feature, or if you don’t want others eavesdropping on your conversations with Siri, you can set it to speak only when you have your headphones on, or to take its cue from the silent mode on your Watch, via the Settings in the Watch app on your iPhone.

The Apple Watch Series 3 also includes an Apple-designed W2 wireless chip that claims to boost Wi-Fi speeds up to 85 percent, while making both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi communication up to 50 percent more power efficient. While it’s hard to test some of these claims, we did find that the Series 3 Watch did a better job at things like handling calls over Wi-Fi when we were away from our iPhone.

In our review of the Apple Watch Series 2, we pointed out that the lack of an altimeter was a problem for serious runners, as elevation changes during workouts couldn’t be recorded unless you carried your iPhone along. The Series 3 fixes that, with the addition of a barometric altimeter. Not only can your Watch now track elevation changes during a run, but your daily activity summary now also includes “Flights Climbed” data that is being sourced from the Watch itself. If it sounds like this feature isn’t exactly new, it’s because your Watch was earlier capable of reading this data from your paired iPhone, which has included a barometer since the iPhone 6.

We found the flights climbed data tracking to be fairly accurate, and our experience with GPS accuracy and the rest of the activity tracking and fitness-focussed features was pretty similar to what we’ve seen with previous Apple Watch variants. We encourage you to read our reviews of the original Apple Watchand the Series 2 if you are curious about the subject.

The Apple Watch Series 3 ships with watchOS 4, which we’ve covered elsewhere, but it does have a couple of features worth touching upon here. Instead of the ‘boring’ pop-ups that simply updated you on your activity for the day, the Watch now mixes things up by telling you whether you are making good progress compared to an average day, or if you are “usually further along” on most days. Towards the end of the day, it gives even more specific messages such as telling you that a brisk 11 minute walk will close all your rings, which can be pretty motivating. The animations that you see as a ‘reward’ for closing your ring(s) are now a lot more elaborate, something we came to appreciate.

watchOS 4 introduces new watch faces including the Siri watch face, Toy Story, and Kaleidoscope. You also get a redesigned Workout app and a new High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout type. Your Apple Watch (including Series 2) is now also able to automatically detect the kind of swimming stroke you used during a session. This lets you see a neat breakdown with the time and distance you spent alternating between different kinds of strokes; a touch that swimmers will really appreciate.

apple watch swimming Apple Watch

The watchOS 4.1 update also added the ability to stream music from the cloud via Apple Music directly on the Apple Watch. The feature works on both Wi-Fi and LTE variants of the Watch, but in our opinion, it would be a lot more useful on the latter.

We’d like to see watchOS open a little bit more and add support for third-party watch faces, similar to Android Wear. So far, Apple has done a good job of finding the right balance between adding features and optimising battery life, and one wonders if a future Apple Watch will have features like an (optional) always-on display.

Apple claims all-day battery life with the Series 3, and the Watch constantly topped that expectation during our review period. We easily got two days of life out of each full charge, with tons of notifications popping up on our Watch throughout the day, but with admittedly limited workout sessions, so we weren’t really using GPS for the most part. Our long-term experience with the Series 2 and the original Apple Watch shows that even after one and two years respectively, you should get at least one-day battery life without any problems even if you lead a more active lifestyle.

The process of untethering the Apple Watch from the iPhone started when the Series 2 added GPS functionality, and it continues with the Series 3 bringing in an altimeter and LTE, though the latter isn’t available in India yet. Starting at Rs. 29,900 for the 38mm model with Aluminium Case and Sport Band (the one pictured above is the Anthracite/ Black Nike Sport Band) and Rs. 31,900 for the 42mm equivalent, the Series 3 Apple Watch isn’t exactly cheap, but the launch prices are lower than that of the previous generation. As with earlier models, you will need to have an iPhone to set up and use the Apple Watch.

If you lead an active lifestyle and fitness-focussed features are the main attraction, the latest Apple Watch is a great pick. Apple also still officially sells the slightly less expensive (but slower) Series 1, but you would miss out on features like GPS, altimeter, water resistance, and Siri that talks, so you are better off buying the latest model if you can afford it.

Pros

  • Great battery life
  • Improved performance
  • Altimeter
  • watchOS 4 adds useful features

Cons

  • LTE version not available in India

Ratings

  • Design: 4
  • Performance: 4.5
  • Value for money: 4
  • Overall: 4.5

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Micromax Bharat 1 Review

Micromax Bharat 1 Review

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Bharat 1 runs on a custom version of Android
  • It comes preloaded with WhatsApp and Facebook Lite
  • It is a dual-SIM device and can be used with any network provider

A few months ago, the Jio Phone grabbed everyone’s attention for delivering smartphone-like capabilities at a feature-phone price. It triggered manufacturers to push down the prices of VoLTE-enabled devices.

One such product is the Bharat 1, which was launched by the Indian device maker Micromax in partnership with BSNL to take on the Jio Phone. Can it offer a competitive balance of cost and features? Read on, we have the answers.

 

Micromax Bharat 1 design

The Micromax Bharat 1 sports a 2.4-inch display and has a numeric keypad at the front. The display has a resolution of 240×320 pixels. Viewing angles aren’t good and colours appear washed out. There are two function buttons, a D-pad with a centre button, call and disconnect buttons, and the number pad. The buttons are made of plastic and have blue backlighting. The keys are hard to the touch but have a reassuring click. The earpiece doubles up as a loudspeaker. The phone also has a VGA selfie camera on the front and a 2-megapixel primary camera on the back.

The rear cover pops off to reveal a removable 2000mAh battery. Under that are two Micro-SIM slots and a dedicated microSD card slot. The Bharat 1 has a Micro-USB port and a 3.5mm headphone jack next to it. Like many other feature phones, it also has an LED torch on the top, which you toggle by pressing down on the D-pad’s centre button.

Micromax Bharat 1 Ports NDTV Micromax Bharat 1 Review

Micromax ships the Bharat 1 along with a hedaset and a charger with an attached Micro-USB cable. The charger is rated at 3.5W and takes over three hours to fully charge the phone’s battery. A detachable Micro-USB cable would have been helpful for transferring files to and from a computer.

Micromax Bharat 1 specifications and software

The specifications of the Bharat 1 look rather good for a Rs. 2,200 phone. It is powered by a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 205 processor and has 512MB of RAM. There is 4GB of internal storage, out of which you get around 2.13GB to use. Storage is expandable using the microSD slot, and cards of up to 128GB are supported. When connected to a computer the phone goes to storage mode by default, allowing you to transfer files easily.

Unlike the Jio Phone (Review) which has only one SIM slot, the Bharat 1 is a dual-SIM device. There is support for 4G and VoLTE but only on the first SIM. The SIM in the second slot is restricted to 2G/3G networks and there is no way to determine what speeds you are getting at any point. We found that the phone isn’t locked to any carrier and worked fine when we tested it with multiple SIM cards.

There is support for Wi-Fi, which can be used to access the internet without using mobile data. There is also support for Wi-Fi hotspot functionality and USB tethering. Bluetooth connectivity allows you to exchange files with other devices. There is no NFC. Surprisingly, you do get GPS, but there is no app to use it with.Micromax Bharat 1 Screenshots NDTV Micromax Bharat 1

Micromax told Gadgets 360 that the Bharat 1 runs on a customised version of Android. The company didn’t provide specific details and it isn’t stated clearly anywhere, but we saw a few hints that at least some apps, services and UI elements were designed for Android 4.4 KitKat, which is now several years old. There is a tiled menu instead of an app drawer. and everything is accessed using the D-pad to navigate and the centre button to select. Navigating through the menu is easy, and the function keys flanking the D-pad work as ‘option’ and ‘back’ buttons. Sadly, the four buttons of the D-pad itself aren’t mapped as shortcuts, which could have helped to launch apps quickly.

The Bharat 1 has preloaded icons for WhatsApp and Facebook Lite but these need to be downloaded before you can use them. T9 predictive input is enabled on the keyboard by default but you can switch between different input methods. The D-pad can be used to move a cursor around in several apps but it’s clunky. For example, WhatsApp doesn’t feel fully optimised for such phones. On the other hand we tried video calling on WhatsApp and we could carry on a conversation without any issues.

Micromax also offers a link to the YouTube website, a Web browser, music and video players, a file manager, and FM radio in terms of apps in the menu. There is a Fun app powered by Zenga TV that gives you access to live TV, videos and movies, but the content on offer is far less than what you get through Jio’s apps. Also, the screen isn’t suitable for watching content because of its size and poor viewing angles.

Considering that this phone runs Android, we did try to sideload a few apps but Micromax seems to have disabled app installations. There is no way to enable this, which means you can’t take full advantage of the Android operating system. Also, unlike the Jio Phone, there is no voice assistant and you do not have the option to connect to a TV to watch content.

Micromax Bharat 1 performance, cameras, and battery life

The Bharat 1’s hardware is extremely basic, and the underlying software isn’t as functional as Android on a smartphone, so we didn’t have very high expectations. The performance of the phone is average and we did see lag when doing things like dialing numbers and typing. Even at a normal pace, the dialer would fail to register a few digits at the beginning of a phone number. The pre-installed video player does not support all formats, but it could play an HD video file that we tested it with.

Micromax Bharat 1 Battery NDTV Micromax Bharat 1 Review

If you have used Android on a touchscreen, using it with a keypad might feel a little weird at first. However, first-time users of a smart feature phone like this should adapt to it fairly quickly.

The battery life on the Micromax Bharat 1 is quite good. With light use limited to a few calls and a few WhatsApp messages we could go on for over two days with some juice still left. Since there is no way of installing more apps, you can expect similar battery life. However, if you use the phone as a hotspot, especially with multiple devices, the battery does drain quite quickly. You can also use USB tethering to charge the device while sharing data.

Tap to see full-sized Micromax Bharat 1 photo samples

The Bharat 1’s rear camera does not have autofocus which is acceptable considering its price. We found the viewfinder to be laggy even during the day, and nearly unusable in low light. The app is basic, with the D-pad allowing you to switch modes and zoom. The app also lets you change white balance, and set the exposure level and a timer if required. There is location tagging which uses the GPS chip on the device.

The setting to switch between the rear and the selfie cameras is buried in the settings list; a quick toggle would’ve been more user-friendly. These cameras are barely functional and the output looks good only when viewed on the Bharat 1’s tiny display. Photos lack detail and most will end up blurry if you don’t stand perfectly still after clicking the shutter. We also saw chroma noise in most photos taken indoors. Both the front and rear cameras can record video at VGA (640×480) resolution but the output is sub-standard.

Verdict

If you want a low-cost phone for basic calling, Facebook and WhatsApp, then the Micromax Bharat 1 fits the bill. You will have to shell out Rs 2,200 for the Bharat 1 and you can use it with any network provider of your choice. The advantage of using BSNL is that you can use a special Rs 97 recharge pack which gives you unlimited calls and data only for the Bharat 1.

The Wi-Fi hotspot and USB tethering capabilities, and the fact that this phone has two SIM slots and isn’t locked to a single carrier, give it a slight edge over the Jio Phone. On the other hand, you don’t get as much entertainment content. However, Micromax seems to have limited the usability of Android by restricting the sideloading of apps. Since there is no Google Play store and no way of installing more apps, you have to live with what you get. If you are looking for your first smart feature phone or at a secondary backup device, the Bharat 1 should be able to keep you happy.

For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Micromax Bharat 1

Micromax Bharat 1

  • REVIEW
  • KEY SPECS
  • NEWS
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery Life
  • Camera
  • Value for Money
  • Good
  • WhatsApp and Facebook support
  • 4G and VoLTE
  • Dual SIM
  • Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Excellent battery life
  • Bad
  • Low-quality screen
  • Below average cameras
Also See
  • Micromax Bharat 2 (Champagne, 4GB)
    Rs.3,180
  • Micromax Bharat 2 (Gold, 4GB) – OFFER
    Rs.3,499
  • Micromax Bharat 2 Plus (Champagne, 8GB) – OFFER
    Rs.3,949

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Vivo V7 First Impressions

Vivo V7 First Impressions

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Vivo V7 is a smaller version of the previously launched Vivo V7+
  • The smartphone features a 5.7-inch FullView display with 18:9 aspect rati
  • It comes with a ‘Moonlight’ selfie flash and offers a face unlock feature

The Vivo V7, which was launched in India earlier this week, is a smaller and more affordable version of the V7+ which debuted back in September. The new Vivo smartphone retains most of the hardware of its predecessor, albeit a smaller screen, lower capacity battery, and half the onboard storage. Despite these cutbacks that make the V7 fit into the sub-Rs. 20,000 segment, features like the ‘Moonlight Glow’ flash for selfies, face unlock, and 18:9 display should be enough to give strong competition to the Honor 8, Xiaomi Mi Max 2, and Oppo F5. The handset also has a custom Funtouch OS skin on top of Android Nougat that delivers a unique experience. We have been able to spend some time with the Vivo V7 following its launch in India, and here are our first impressions.

First things first, the construction of the Vivo V7 is very similar to that of the V7+. There is a metal frame that bounds a glass panel on the front, and a metal-finished plastic casing on the back. The device is 7.9mm thick, 149.30mm tall and 72.80mm wide. These measurements make it a compact device that is easy to grip in an average-sized palm. Further, the mix-and-match of plastic, metal, and glass in its construction makes the weight of the Vivo V7 manageable, at 139g – significantly lighter than the 152g Oppo F5 and the 178g Samsung Galaxy On Max. If we compare the Vivo V7 with the Vivo V7+, the new model is 21g lighter but 0.2mm thicker than its predecessor. It is available in Champagne Gold and Matte Black.

The Vivo V7 continues the trend of taller screens and narrower borders, and so there is a 5.7-inch FullView IPS display with a resolution of 720 x 1440 pixels (HD+) and an 18:9 aspect ratio. This display is bright and easy to read. Viewing angles are also fair and colour reproduction is quite vivid. However, the HD+ resolution is relatively inferior in this segment that is filled with full-HD offerings.

vivo v7 front gadgets360 240617 180654 4735 Vivo V7  Vivo

Vivo V7 featuring a 5.7-inch FullView HD+ display

The screen of the Vivo V7 occupies most of its front face, with a screen-to-body ratio of 83.6 percent. This is the reason that there aren’t any physical or capacitive keys below it – pretty much the same as competing models. The display is protected by a 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass. Vivo has attached a screen protector on top of the scratch-resistant glass. Above the screen is a selfie camera sensor and an earpiece, whereas a pair of ambient light and proximity sensors and a notification LED are almost hidden under the jet black glass covering. Also, if you are afraid of accidental falls, the handset comes with a bundled TPU cover.

On the right side, the Vivo V7 has a volume rocker and a power button, while the left side has a three-card tray to hold a microSD card as well as two Nano-SIM cards. The bottom of the V7 has a 3.5mm jack, a primary microphone, a Micro-USB port and a loudspeaker grille. If you were looking for a USB Type-C port, you will be disappointed. The top has a secondary microphone for noise cancellation. On the back, there is a fingerprint scanner and the camera which protrudes a little and has a dual-LED flash.

vivo v7 back gadgets360 240717 180716 3910 Vivo V7  Vivo

Vivo V7 with a matte, metal-finish back panel

At the heart of the Vivo V7 is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 450, the same SoC that powers the Vivo V7+. It’s a 1.8GHz octa-core CPU with integrated Adreno 506 GPU. The Vivo V7 also has 4GB of RAM. Instead of the 64GB storage that was available on the V7+, you get 32GB which is expandable using a microSD card (up to 256GB).

Vivo has gone with Android 7.1 Nougat with its own Funtouch OS 3.2 skin. We did not experience any lag, and usage was quite smooth. The custom skin has a bunch of proprietary features. There is a game mode that claims to improve performance, and an App Clone feature that allows you to use two copies of an app with different accounts. The interface that comes preloaded with FuntouchOS also has tweaks like an iOS-style Control Center, and gestures that can work as navigation keys. You can use “smart motion” shortcuts to wake the screen with a slide upwards, or answer a call by bringing the device close to your ear. There is no official word on the release of an Android Oreo update.

vivo v7 interface gadgets360 240617 180636 6742 Vivo V7  Vivo

Vivo V7 with Funtouch OS 3.2

Coming to the camera, the Vivo V7 sports a 16-megapixel rear camera with an f/2.0 aperture lens that supports phase detection autofocus (PDAF) and an LED flash. On the front, there’s a 24-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 aperture lens. The camera app offers features such as face beauty, panorama, HDR, ultra-HD, portrait mode, and tons of filters. Also, there is an iOS-like Live Photos mode that creates short, animated clips. Face beauty offers preset options, namely buffing, skin tone, and whitening. The primary camera seemed to take well-detailed shots in our limited time with it. There was little noticeable noise even in low light. We did observe some signs of oversaturation while capturing selfies under bright light, though. The available LED Moonlight Glow flash can improve selfies in low light.

vivo v7 camera gadgets360 240617 180653 4283 Vivo V7  Vivo

Vivo V7 with a 16MP primary camera

The front camera of the Vivo V7 can be used to unlock the phone using facial recognition. The experience isn’t as smooth (or advanced) as Apple has implemented on the iPhone X. Lighting conditions impact the experience and face recognition won’t work in some instances. This is something that is common to most Android smartphones that have tried to implement this feature.

The Vivo V7 packs a 3,000mAh battery but doesn’t support fast charging. We’re reserving comment on battery performance till we can test it thoroughly in our full review.

Stay tuned to Gadgets 360 to catch our full review of the performance, features, cameras and battery life of the Vivo V7.

For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Vivo V7

Vivo V7

Rs.18,990
Buy
  • KEY SPECS
  • NEWS

Display

5.70-inch

Processor

1.8GHz octa-core

Front Camera

24-megapixel

Resolution

720×1440 pixels

RAM

4GB

OS

Android 7.1

Storage

32GB

Rear Camera

16-megapixel

Battery Capacity

3000mAh

BUY AT
  • Vivo V7 (Champagne Gold, 32GB, 4GB RAM) – OFFER
    Rs.18,990
  • Vivo V7 (Matte Black, 32GB, 4GB RAM) – OFFER
    Rs.18,990

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Samsung Exynos 9 Series 9810 SoC Launched, Based on 10nm FinFET Process

Samsung Exynos 9 Series 9810 SoC Launched, Based on 10nm FinFET Process

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Samsung unveils the Exynos 9 Series 9810 SoC
  • It is likely to debut on the company’s Galaxy S9
  • The chipset can be expected to feature on phones next year

Samsung has announced a new flagship mobile processor in the Exynos 9 series, built on the 10nm process. As is traditional with such unveils, it can be expected that the new new Exynos 9 Series 9810 SoC will be the processor powering the company’s next flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S9.

The Samsung Exynos 9810 packs the company’s third-generation custom CPU cores and also comes with an upgraded GPU. Samsung is also touting support for Gigabit LTE modem which can offer what Samsung calls industry’s first 6CA (carrier aggregation) support. Samsung says that the new Exynos 9 Series 9810 SoC has been built on second-generation 10nm process technology.

The Exynos 9 Series is said to be the company’s first processor chipset built on the 10-nanometre FinFET process technology.

The South Korean company earlier this year unveiled its premium application processor, the Exynos 9 Series 8895. Some of the highlights of the Exynos 9 Series 8895 processor were embedding of a Gigabit LTE modem that can support five carrier aggregation, or 5CA. It supports LTE Cat. 16 with download speeds of up to 1Gbps and upload speeds of up to 150Mbps (Cat. 13). The chipset was used in the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ as well as the company’s Galaxy Note 8 phablet.

Rumours have pointed to early next year launch of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC which could be seen as the competitor to the Exynos 9 Series 9810 SoC. The Snapdragon 845 SoC is said to be built on a new faster, more efficient 7nm fabrication process. Furthermore, the new Qualcomm SoC is also said to debut on the Galaxy S9 next year.

For Samsung’s upcoming flagships, the company is widely expected to retain Infinity Displays which allow the 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch screens to come with a relatively compact factor. The upcoming Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ smartphones are rumoured to use the same screen sizes as well as the same curved design first seen on the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]