ASUS is bringing premium smart phone experience at an affordable price with its latest range of ZenFone smart phones. Available in 3 sizes – 4″, 5″ and 6″, the new ZenFone series are powered by Intel’s Atom processor and offers Dual-SIM connectivity. In terms of Malaysian pricing, the ZenFone is priced from RM299 for the ZenFone 4 and it goes up to RM599 for the ZenFone 5 and RM899 for the ZenFone 6.
The highest end ZenFone 6 features a HD 720p 6″ IPS display and runs on a 2GHz Dual-Core Intel Atom Z2580 processor with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. With Intel’s frugal power management, the non-removable 3,230mAh battery should provide more than a day’s worth of usage. The next model is the ZenFone 5″ which maintains the same HD 720p display resolution but comes in a smaller 5″ dimension. It gets a lower but capable 1.6GHz Dual-Core Intel Atom processor with 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage and comes with a 2,025mAh battery. For taking pictures, both ZenFone 6 and ZenFone 5 comes with ASUS PixelMaster camera of 13MP and 8MP sensor respectively. You can check out its amazing low-light capabilities over here.
For those on the budget, the ZenFone 4 offers a lot at a small price. It gets a 4″ WVGA display and runs on a 1.2GHz Dual-Core Intel Atom Processor with 1GB of RAM and it also gets 8GB of storage. It settles for a moderate 5MP main camera but it is capable of shooting Full HD videos. Powering the device is a smaller 1,200mAh battery which is removable. The display for all ZenFone models are toughen with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and out of the box it is running on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.
In the hands, the ZenFone is comfortable to hold thanks to its curved back. The device feels slimmer as the sides feel slimmer including the top and bottom edges that slopes downwards. The ZenFone comes in a variety of back cover colours and textures which are removable. The white colour units have a ceramic feel to it while the dark Black colour covers have a nice matte finish. At the bottom, ASUS has added a nice touch of incorporating a circular diamond cut design which gives a nice reflection under the light. The ZenFone uses the typical 3-button Android capacitive buttons but it doesn’t seem to be illuminated.
UPDATE: We’ve added a video demonstrating the ZenFone’s PixelMaster camera features after the break.
Low light situations are always a challenge for any camera especially when you’re shooting with a smartphone. While manufacturers have come up with a number of solutions to improve smartphone performance when taking pictures in low light conditions, not many are as impressive as ASUS’ PixelMaster technology found on the newly launched ZenFone smart phones.
ASUS’ approach is novel as it uses nearby pixels to capture more light in low light conditions. This results is a claimed 400% increase in brightness with less noise. The trade-off of this improvement is you are not able to shoot in full resolution. For example, the 13MP camera on the ZenFone 6 can only produce 3MP images with PixelMaster Low Light mode enabled while the 8MP camera on the ZenFone 5 can shoot a maximum resolution of 2MP.
Even so, the difference between a picture taken with and without PixelMaster is like day and night, and also, it helps if you have really steady hands.
Check out our hands-on with the PixelMaster camera features after the break.
ASUS today has officially launched its trio of ZenFone smart phones for South East Asia. It comes in 3 models – ZenFone 4, ZenFone 5 and ZenFone 6 and the number denominates the screen size in inches. All three are powered by Intel’s Atom processor and comes with Dual-SIM slots and 3G DC-HSPA+ support up to 42Mbps.
Starting with the ZenFone 6, it features a 6″ HD 720p display and runs on a 2GHz Dual-Core Intel Z2580 processor with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. It gets a 13MP PixelMaster Camera at the back while the front facing camera comes with a 2MP shooter. The battery on the ZenFone 6 is a 3,230mAh which boast almost 30 hours of talk time and over 10 hours of Full HD video playback.
Next is the ZenFone 5 which comes with a smaller 5″ HD 720p display and under the hood is a 1.6GHz Z2560 Intel Atom processor with 1GB of RAM. It also gets 8GB of storage, a 8MP PixelMaster camera and a 2MP front facing shooter. The battery is slightly smaller at 2,050mAh capacity.
The most affordable of the three is the ZenFone 4 which packs a 4″ WVGA display and a rather decent Intel 1.2GHz Z2520 processsor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. For taking pictures it has a 5MP camera which surprisingly is capable of shooting Full HD videos. At the front, it gets a standard VGA camera and it is powered with a smaller 1,200mAh battery.
All three models have microSD slots for expansion which can be accessed under its removable shell. The battery on all ZenFones are non replaceable except for the ZenFone 4.
For the ZenFone 5 an ZenFone 6, the PixelMaster camera boast a low light mode that increases brightness up to 400%. While HTC comes with its UltraPixel camera technology that offers larger pixel size, the PixelMaster low light feature combines its nearby pixels to receive more light. As a result, the camera produces brighter images with less noise but obviously the trade-off would be lower resolution images. On the ZenFone 6, the 13MP shooter takes 3MP images in low light mode while the ZenFone 5′s 8MP camera takes the same mode at 2MP resolution. The result is pretty impressive.
During the launch, ASUS revealed the Indonesian pricing at IDR 1,099,000 (ZenFone 4), IDR 2,099,000 (ZenFone 5) and IDR 3,099,000 (ZenFone6). For Malaysia, the earlier spotted pricing reveals quite an affordable offering below RM1,000. The entry level ZenFone 4 is priced at RM299 while its bigger ZenFone 5 is priced at RM599. The top end ZenFone 6 meanwhile carries the price tag of RM899. ASUS hasn’t indicate exact availability dates in Malaysia but it should be within the coming weeks.
Head after the break for additional shots taken from the ZenFone launch event in Jakarta.
After having dismantled the Gear 2 smart watch, the guys at iFixit have turned their attention to the Samsung Gear Fit which comes with a curved touch screen AMOLED display. Compared to the Gear 2 smart watch, the Gear Fit is designed towards fitness with a heart rate sensor but lacks a camera and IR blaster. It also gets water and dust resistance of IP67 while the battery is said to last longer up to 4 days.
To disassemble the Gear Fit, the curved display must be removed first with a bit of heating and prying. When taken out, the internals are actually attached to the display as a single piece. Fortunately it uses a couple of ribbon cable connectors which can be removed without much effort. The battery is found to be curved as well and it is held in place underneath the motherboard separated by a small metal strip.
Overall, it is slightly challenging to dismantle than the Gear 2 smart watch with a repairability rating of 6/10. While it is easy to be taken apart, its switches, antenna and vibrator are soldered onto the board, making it hard to replace if something goes wrong. Check out the step by step tear down process after the break.
The HTC One (M7) might be last year’s flagship device but the guys at HTC are still continuing to push their latest software upgrades for it. The latest HTC One M8 which runs on the latest Android 4.4.2 KitKat is skinned with their newer Sense 6.0, which offers a couple of refreshed UI features and touches.
HTC US President, Jason Mackenzie had tweeted that US and Canadian users should expect the latest Sense 6 to hit their current HTC One devices by end of May. While he didn’t mention when will the rest of the international units are getting it, it is likely to be rolled out within a few months.
So far HTC has been quite active in rolling out software updates for their flagship devices. Last year’s HTC One (M7) was launched with Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and we saw a couple of incremental updates bringing it to the newer Android 4.2.2, Android 4.3 and most recently Android 4.4.2 KitKat a few months ago.
Since the previous One is running on Qualcomm’s chipset, hopefully we get to see longer software support than the previous HTC One X. The One X’s lack of software updates was blamed on its Nvidia Tegra 3 processor’s limited support for new software updates.
The new Windows Phone 8.1 introduces a new voice assistant called Cortana. To find out how does it compare in handling day to day voice commands, WPCentral has done a simple shootout against Siri and Google Now. The Siri unit was running on the current iPhone 5S while Google Now was tested using the Moto X.
Overall there’s no clear winner but Cortana seems to be performing quite well despite being an early beta. Not bad considering the other 2 have been established for quite some time now. So far the key advantages of Cortana is the ease of doing a Foursquare check in and toggle settings by voice. Other than that, any unknown commands will generally lead to Search, including request to open specific websites.
Watch the video after the break.
The Samsung Galaxy K which is also rumoured as the Galaxy S5 Zoom is set to be launched on 29th of April in Singapore. The invite which says “Kapture the Moment” is a strong indication of the new model which is a smart phone with dedicated photography duties.
The new photography centric smart phone is speculated to come with a bigger 20MP sensor and 10X Optical Zoom lens. Over at the front, it gets a larger 4.8″ HD 720p display and underneath it runs on a Hexa-Core processor mated to 2GB of RAM.
An early picture of the Galaxy K had been leaked, revealing a flatter back design. This is an improvement over its the current Galaxy S4 Zoom which comes with a protruding zoom lens. Like the current Galaxy smart phones, the back is layered with a faux leather pattern design.
Is the Galaxy K capable of giving the Lumia 1520 some serious competition? We’ll find out in 2 weeks time.
|Android, Mobile Devices, Mobile OS, Samsung|
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The Motorola Moto X is available in Malaysia with a price tag of RM1,499. This is RM100 more than its earlier teased price. The stocks are arriving today at retailer IMCC and these are original units distributed by Brightstar.
To recap, the Moto X is the bigger brother of the affordable Moto G which comes with a larger 4.7″ AMOLED display that does 720p HD resolution and runs on a Dual-Core 1.7GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor with 2GB of RAM. On-board it gets 16GB of on-board storage without memory expansion slots.
It also comes with a 10MP main camera and a 2MP front facing unit while powering the device is a 2,200mAh non-removable battery. The Moto X also supports 4G LTE and uses Nano-SIM which is similar to the iPhone 5/5S and Nokia Lumia 1520.
We won’t get as much customisation as the folks in the US and it comes with choice of black and white colours. While the software runs on stock Android 4.4 KitKat operating system, the Moto X comes with a couple of unique features such as Active Display which displays notifications with minimal power consumption on its AMOLED screen. The Touchless control also lets you make phone calls or perform a search using your voice without touching the device.
The HTC One M8 has the best smart phone body construction but it is pricier than its direct rivals. If they plan to fight off the Galaxy S5 and even the Oppo Find 7 in terms of price, they would need to come out with an affordable solution. Now HTC is reported to be making a cheaper and plastic based version of its latest flagship which could be released as early as next month.
Word has it that the plastic version would be priced around 3,000 Chinese Yuan (RM1,566) which is a drastic price difference from its current aluminium clad HTC One M8 that carries a 5,299 Yuan (RM2,767) price tag in China. Availability and spec details are very limited at the moment and we are not sure if this would make it to international markets.
In terms of naming, we doubt they would use the “One” branding which is synonymous to premium aluminium design. However this could be as a replacement model for the current HTC Butterfly S. Last year, the Butterfly S serves as an alternative to its flagship model with a micro SD slot, faster 1.9GHz processor, larger 5″ Full HD display, bigger 3,200mAh battery while featuring the same Ultrapixel camera and Boom Sound stereo speakers. When it was released, the Butterfly S was priced at RM100 more than the HTC One. Somehow the upgraded hardware isn’t enough to justify the extra premium over the better built HTC One.
Will a plastic HTC One M8 push more sales for the struggling smart phone maker? It all depends on price and positioning. Competition is getting stiff and we have Chinese manufacturers including Oppo releasing high-end devices at affordable prices. At the same time, they would need to find differentiation to avoid cannibalising their own flagship model.
The Sony Xperia Z2 tablet which is the world’s lightest and thinnest full size tablet is now available in Malaysia. The WiFi only model is priced at RM1,999 while the WiFi + 4G LTE unit is priced at RM2,299. In terms of pricing, it is quite a huge jump compared to last year’s Xperia Tablet Z that’s priced at RM1,499 for WiFi and RM1,999 for WiFi + 4G connectivity.
To recap on the specs, the Xperia Z2 Tablet comes with a full size 10.1″ Full HD Triluminos display and runs on a 2.3GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon 801 processor with 3GB of RAM which is similar to its Xperia Z2 smart phone. Imaging is handled by a 8.1MP main and 2.2MP front facing camera which is capable of shooting Full HD videos. Dimension wise, the Xperia Z2 tablet is even slimmer and lighter than the previous model at just 6.4mm thick and weighing just 426 grams for the WiFi unit while the 4G LTE version tips the scale slightly at 439 grams.
It also gets water and dust resistance rated at IP58, allowing it to be submerged under water up to 1.5 metres for 30 minutes. Like the Xperia Z2 smart phone, the tablet also gets Digital Noise Cancellation but it requires the optional headset that’s not included in the box.
If you’re interested, you can head over to Sony’s Xperia Z2 Tablet page on their Online Store.
Next question would be when will Sony release their Xperia Z2 flagship smart phone in Malaysia? In the recent regional launch, they have targeted to roll out their new devices by April. If you can’t wait, some online retailers are selling grey-imported units of the Xperia Z2 at RM2,499.
In the mean time, do check out our hands-on with the Xperia Z2 Tablet after the break.