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iBasso DC03 Portable DAC-Amplifier Review: Compact, Capable DAC


With many modern smartphones today lacking a 3.5mm headphone jack, it’s becoming difficult for audiophiles to use them as source devices for lossless wired listening. While many will be quick to suggest using a dedicated high-resolution audio player or a DAC-amplifier setup using a computer, these can be expensive. Fortunately, budding audiophiles on a budget do have some worthwhile options to consider, including good portable DAC-amplifiers such as the iBasso DC03.

Priced at Rs. 4,999, the iBasso DC03 is a compact but full-fledged DAC-amplifier, meant to be used with smartphones or computers. You can connect 3.5mm earphones or headphones to this device, which serves as a bridge between the source and output devices, just like the slightly more affordable Shanling UA1. Is the iBasso DC03 a good choice for your budget audiophile setup? Find out in this review.

ibasso dc03 review logo iBasso

The iBasso DC03 supports up to 32-bit / 384kHz resolution and DSD256x formats

 

iBasso DC03 design and specifications

Like the Shanling UA1, the iBasso DC03’s biggest asset is its size. The core device is just a small dongle with a cable attached that leads to a USB Type-C plug. Even if you attach the included USB Type-C to Type-A adapter, the DC03 is still a very small device and will easily fit in your pocket alongside your smartphone. It also weighs just 11g. The attached USB cable is clear and braided, while the DAC itself is completely metal with a reflective finish. The iBasso DC03 is also available in black, but I quite liked the silver of my review unit.

There’s really nothing much that a user has to do in order to use the iBasso DC03 – you just plug it into an Android smartphone with a USB Type-C port, and it’s ready to go (you might have to manually direct audio output to USB through the phone’s settings, though). If you want to connect the DC03 to a laptop or desktop computer, there’s the aforementioned USB Type-A adapter. I didn’t need to do any additional setup when using it with my MacBook Air or OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition; just plugging it in had it working.

While one side of the iBasso DC03 has the USB Type-C cable coming out of it, the other side has a 3.5mm headphone jack. You can thus use it as a way to plug your own wired headphones into a smartphone that doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack instead of using a basic conversion dongle, or to improve sound quality with superior digital-to-analogue conversion than most portable devices provide on their own.

Indeed, on paper, the iBasso DC03 is a very good DAC-amplifier, with dual Cirrus Logic CS43131 digital-analogue converter chips and support for up to DSD256x and 32-bit / 384kHz resolution audio files. The device has a rated frequency response range of 20-40,000Hz, and draws power for itself and the connected earphones or headphones through the USB connection.

ibasso dc03 review ports iBasso

The iBasso DC03 has a USB Type-C plug, but you can use the included adapter to connect to USB Type-A devices too

 

iBasso DC03 performance

Although a bit more expensive than the Shanling UA1 at Rs. 4,999, the iBasso DC03 is a bit more capable in terms of specifications. The device has dual Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC chips, which is impressive given its small size, and this results in more refinement and nuance in the output. Of course, you’ll need a good source device and high-quality audio, as well as decent earphones or headphones to complete the path, but the iBasso DC03 is forgiving when it comes to the quality of the other components in the chain.

I heard a noticeable improvement in detail over the Shanling UA1, as well as smoother, more consistent sound output across resolutions, file formats, and music genres. Furthermore, the iBasso DC03 is a bit more flexible in terms of the kind of headphones and earphones it can work with. While there’s no recommended impedance range, it should be able to easily drive most entry-level and mid-range headphones and earphones with ease.

You might even be able to get decent results out of some high-end open-back headphones, but this should be a limited use case rather than part of a regular setup. The size and connectivity of the iBasso DC03 means that it’s easy to use with smartphones and entry-level audiophile wired earphones such as the KZ ZSN Pro X or the Moondrop Spaceship, which I used this DAC-amplifier with for much of my review.

ibasso dc03 review chain iBasso

Although high-resolution audio brings out the best in the iBasso DC03, it’s flexible enough to work well with compressed audio as well

 

While the iBasso DC03 does provide a decent amplification boost, it isn’t quite as pronounced as with the Shanling UA1. However, the gain feels gentler and more refined, allowing for more detail with less of the typical shrillness that tends to sneak in with a big amplification increase.

Listening to a high-resolution version of Life On The Nickel by Foster The People, the iBasso DC03 and Moondrop Spaceship kept pace with the quick beats of the track, offering an excellent soundstage and beautifully detailed imaging. This level of detail was particularly noticeable in the faintest aspects in other tracks as well; the subtle synthesiser elements in State Of The Art by Gotye as well as the auto-tuned vocals were beautifully reproduced.

With the more expensive and much more capable Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear headphones, a high-resolution version of You Rock My World by Michael Jackson sounded driven, tight, and spacious, offering a refined level of aggression that brought out the best in the headphones. Where the iBasso DC03 outperforms competition in its price segment is its ability to suitably drive both budget and mid-range headphones and earphones equally well.

Verdict

The iBasso DC03 comes from a well-established line of products that have long been considered the best compact budget DAC-amplifiers you can buy, and it lives up to expectations. This is a capable DAC-amplifier that punches well above its weight, and is priced at a reasonable Rs. 4,999 in India. When paired with good headphones or earphones, the iBasso DC03 serves as an excellent bridge between source and output devices, adding detail, as well as subtle and careful gain.

While the Shanling UA1 is a fair bit more affordable than the iBasso DC03, the latter offers a bit more by way of detail and refinement, making it well worth the extra Rs. 1,000 for budding audiophiles. Combined with good budget earphones, the iBasso DC03 offers a better listening experience than most wireless audio products, with most high-resolution and compressed audio formats.

Price: Rs. 4,999

Ratings (out of 10):

Design: 9
Performance: 9
Value For Money: 8
Overall: 9

Pros:

  • Small, very easy to use
  • USB Type-C and Type-A connectivity
  • 32-bit / 384kHz, DSD256x support
  • Improves detail and gain in the sound considerably
  • Works well with budget and mid-range headphones and earphones

Cons:


Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss all things crypto with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting founder Alok Jain on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.



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Poco M3 Pro 5G Review: A Decent Starter 5G Smartphone


The Poco M3 Pro 5G has been getting a lot of press since it was announced earlier this month, and now that we’ve spent enough time with it, let’s see if it’s really worth the hype. Going by the name, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that it’s a more powerful version of the Poco M3, which it is in a few ways. However, in order to offer these upgrades while keeping the price under control, Poco has made some compromises too such as the removal of stereo speakers, and the use of a lower capacity battery.

The Poco M3 Pro 5G is currently the company’s most affordable 5G offering, and as I stated in my first impressions article, it competes directly with the Realme 8 5G and the Realme Narzo 30 Pro 5G — two other affordable 5G smartphones in India at the moment. The main appeals of the M3 Pro 5G are its design, high refresh rate display, and the MediaTek Dimensity 700 SoC. Is this phone worth the money? Let’s find out.

Poco M3 Pro 5G price and variants

The Poco M3 Pro’s base variant with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage is aimed directly at the Realme 8 5G, and both are priced at Rs. 13,999. The second variant, which is what I have for this review, has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and is priced at Rs. 15,999. This is less expensive than the Realme 8 5G’s top-end variant and even the base variant of the Realme Narzo 30 Pro 5G, however the latter offers much better features and performance.

poco m3 pro 5g review display gadgets360 ss

The Poco M3 Pro 5G has a 90Hz refresh rate display and a full-HD+ resolution

 

Poco M3 Pro 5G design

The back of the Poco M3 Pro 5G looks refreshingly new. The “switchblade” design, as Poco calls it, has a blacked-out portion on the upper left side of the body resembling the camera module design on Samsung’s Galaxy S21 series, while the rest has a gradient finish. The back panel and the frame are built of plastic, but they are glossy and attract fingerprints quite easily. I noticed some minor scuff marks over the week that I used this phone, so using the bundled case would be advisable.

The Poco M3 Pro 5G is not too thick at 8.92mm and doesn’t feel very heavy at 190g. Ergonomics are good, and the volume and power buttons have good tactile feedback. There is a headphone jack, and also an IR emitter for controlling infrared gadgets and appliances. The capacitive fingerprint sensor is integrated into the recessed power button on the right side of the frame.

The 6.5-inch full-HD+ display is sharp, with good colour reproduction. However, its maximum brightness could have been better. There is an ambient light sensor but this phone felt a bit sluggish at adapting the screen’s brightness to my surroundings, and I often had to increase or decrease it manually. The display has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for protection.

I quite like the overall design of the Poco M3 Pro. It’s less bulky than the Poco M3, which is a good thing.

poco m3 pro 5g review 5G logo gadgets360 www

The Poco M3 Pro 5G has a plastic frame and back, but is slimmer and lighter than the Poco M3

 

Poco M3 Pro 5G specifications and software

The Poco M3 Pro 5G uses the MediaTek Dimensity 700 SoC, which is very similar to the Dimensity 800U except for its lower clocked CPU cores and a slightly slower GPU. The RAM and storage used here are LPDDR4X and UFS 2.2 respectively. The M3 Pro 5G also has dual-band Wi-Fi ac, FM radio, Bluetooth 5.1, and a hybrid dual-SIM slot. The phone has a 5,000mAh battery with support for 18W fast charging.

The phone runs on MIUI 12.0.2 (at the time of this review), based on Android 11. When I first began using the phone, none of the stock apps misbehaved, but after a few days I started receiving plenty of spam in the form of notifications from apps such as the GetApps, Music, Mi Credit, etc. Some of these apps can be uninstalled, but for the others, there’s little that can be done.

Poco M3 Pro 5G performance and battery life

In everyday use, the Poco M3 Pro 5G was snappy and fuss-free. The 6GB RAM version that I tested handled multitasking very well, and the 90Hz screen refresh rate ensured smooth and fluid scrolling in apps as well as the interface. The Dimensity 700 SoC also put out good numbers in benchmarks, with the M3 Pro 5G scoring 3,27,355 points in AnTuTu, and 557 and 1,753 points in Geekbench’s single and multi-core tests respectively.

poco m3 pro 5g first impressions cover gadgets360 www

Performance of the Poco M3 Pro 5G is pretty decent in apps and games

 

Gaming performance was good too. Heavy titles such as Call of Duty: Mobile ran well, though the graphics quality was limited to Medium and the advanced options were disabled. The back of the Poco M3 Pro 5G did get warm after about 20 minutes of gaming but this was not too alarming. Video playback was good too, but the low brightness and reflective nature of the display meant that the viewing experience outdoors or under bright lights wasn’t great.

Despite its reduced battery capacity compared to the Poco M3, the M3 Pro 5G still managed to run for 16 hours and 42 minutes in our HD video loop test, which is good. The phone generally lasted for a day and half with regular use. Charging this phone wasn’t the quickest. The M3 Pro 5G could only charge at up to 18W, and took close to two full hours to fully charge from empty.

Poco M3 Pro 5Gcameras

The Poco M3 does not have an ultra-wide camera and I was hoping to see one on the more expensive Poco M3 Pro 5G. Sadly, this isn’t the case. In fact, the camera setup is very similar to that of the M3. You get an 8-megapixel camera in the front, and a 48-megapixel primary camera as well as two2-megapixel cameras at the back for macros and depth. The camera app offers the standard shooting modes such as Night, Pro, etc, and can record videos at up to 1080p.

Poco M3 Pro 5G main camera sample (tap to see full size)

Poco M3 Pro 5G Portrait mode camera sample (tap to see full size)

 

Landscapes shot in daylight looked good on the phone’s display but upon closer inspection, textures and the edges of objects lacked good definition and sharpness. Close-ups fared much better in this respect. Macro photos were usable but I didn’t find myself using that camera much. Portrait shots looked good, especially those of people or animals.

Image quality takes a turn for the worse in low light. The main camera struggled to reproduce details and texture quality, and there was noticeable grain too. Surprisingly, Night mode wasn’t of much help when it came to enhancing details.

Poco M3 Pro 5G Night mode camera sample (tap to see full size)

Poco M3 Pro 5G selfie camera sample (tap to see full size)

 

1080p videos are heavily cropped if stabilisation is enabled but the video quality was strictly average even under good light. Low-light videos were grainy and weren’t very usable. The front camera captured usable selfies during the day, but struggled with backlit shots and in low light.

Overall, I think Poco could have used better sensors for this ‘Pro’ model, or at least have given buyers an ultra-wide camera to set this phone apart from its sibling.

Verdict

The base variant of the Poco M3 Pro 5G is not too bad if you’re looking for a phone that will be ready to take on 5G networks when they arrive. However, the 6GB variant isn’t the best value for money, especially when you can get a more powerful 5G phone such as the Realme Narzo 30 Pro 5G for roughly the same price or less, if you consider ongoing discounts.

As I mentioned in my first impressions piece, if you’re not too fussed about 5G (and you shouldn’t be right now), phones such as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S and Redmi Note 10 Pro offer much better value with similar performance but way better features.



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Mi Watch Revolve Active First Impressions: Time to Get Active?


The Mi Watch Revolve was launched in September last year priced at Rs. 10,999, but it has recently received a price cut to Rs. 7,999. It did not have any voice assistant on board, and its features did not really help it stand out. Xiaomi has now launched a new product called the Mi Watch Revolve Active, and it brings Alexa support along with SpO2 tracking, which is a useful feature given the current pandemic situation. Has Xiaomi made a better wearable? And should you choose the Mi Watch Revolve Active over the previous model? I spend some time with this new watch to find out.

 

Mi Watch Revolve Active Price in India

The Mi Watch Revolve Active is priced at Rs. 9,999 in India. As an early bird offer, Xiaomi is offfering a Rs. 1000 discount which brings the price down to Rs. 8,999. The Mi Watch Revolve Active also has an HDFC Bank offer for Rs. 750, which takes the price down to Rs. 8,249. You do not get sizing options but it does come in Beige, Black, and Navy Blue, with matching straps.

The Mi Watch Revolve Active has a 1.39-inch AMOLED display, and given that it comes in only one dial size, this device might look big on your wrists if you have small hands. The display is crisp and it also has an always-on mode. I found the display brightness to be good enough, and this watch has an ambient light sensor that can tweak brightness automatically.

The watch body feels plasticky, but it is super light at just 32g (without straps). The watch is water resistant upto 5 ATM of pressure which should help it survive the rigours of daily use. There are two buttons on the right side of the watch case. The upper one brings up the app drawer on the watch’s display, while the second one is a shortcut for workout tracking. Both of them have good clicky feedback and you won’t be second-guessing an input. The left side is completely blank.

mi watch revolve active display Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active

The Mi Watch Revolve Active has two buttons on the case

 

Turn the watch around and you’ll see a bunch of sensors on the underside. These are for heart rate, SpO2, and stress tracking. It also has connectors for charging the battery. I had a Beige unit of the Mi Watch Revolve Active, which has a brown back.

This watch uses 22mm bands, and the one included in the box has quick release pins so you can pop it off without any tools. Xiaomi says it will offer different straps as accessories for the Mi Watch Revolve Active, and you should be able to swap them quite easily. The strap material is soft to the touch and has a textured finish. You get a regular pin buckle on the strap to secure it on your wrists. I found it a little hard to wear the watch because of this texture, but it also felt secure once in place.

You can pair the Mi Watch Revolve Active to a smartphone using the Xiaomi Wear app. This app is very easy to use and setting the watch up for use for the first time is a smooth process. Once paired, the app can be used to check different metrics that the watch records. You also need the app to sign in to Amazon to get Alexa working on the Mi Watch Revolve Active. I did use Alexa for a little while, and found functionality to be a little limited – more on that in the full review.

With the Xiaomi MI Watch Revolve Active, you will be able to track heart rate, sleep, SpO2, stress, and workouts. The Watch also has built-in GPS to track outdoor workouts, and a barometer to gauge pressure. The Mi Watch Revolve Active has a 420mAh battery, which Xiaomi claims can last for upto 14 days and be charged in less than two hours using the supplied charger.

mi watch revolve active sensors Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active First Impressions

The sensors on the underside of the Mi Watch Revolve Active

 

I found the watch interface to be quite similar to that of the Mi Watch Revolve, which I have reviewed earlier. This new watch was quick to wake its display when I raised my hand. Swiping down from the top shows the notifications from a paired smartphone, while swiping up from the homescreen brings up the quick toggles. Swiping left and right from the watch face shows different metrics such as heart rate, sleep time, and stress, among others.

The Mi Watch Revolve Active, as its name suggests, is a fitness-focused product. Xiaomi seems to have also managed to pack in all the essentials. So should the Mi Watch Revolve Active be the fitness watch of your choice? Stay tuned for the full review to find out.



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Loki Episode 3 Recap: Marvel Goes Mandalorian on Lamentis-1


Loki episode 3 — out now on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar — felt very much like an instalment of The Mandalorian. Some of that was down to the visuals, with the vast empty (albeit purple-hued) Lamentis-1, the deserted mining town and acres of loose gravel, akin to the landscapes that we regularly see on the Star Wars series that harkens close to the franchise’s Western roots. There’s also the matter of the guards we see checking tickets to the evacuation vessel on Lamentis-1, who are essentially Marvel’s version of Stormtroopers. And then there’s the setup of Loki episode 3 — Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) trying to escape a desperate situation — that can be repeated ad infinitum should Loki end up being an ongoing series.

All this has been enabled by Loki‘s gimmick of Sylvie using apocalyptic events to conceal her actions, which also results in a cliffhanger of sorts at the end of Loki episode 3 — it’s also quite short at 36 minutes that you may not have realised in all the hullaballoo until it abruptly ends. Sure, in big picture terms, Loki and Sylvie will be okay. But how will they get off Lamentis-1 now that the time-and-space travelling device TempPad is broken and the Ark spaceship has been destroyed?

Before all that, Loki episode 3 — titled “Lamentis”, directed by Kate Herron, and written by Ms. Marvel head writer Bisha K. Ali — opens by telling us about Sylvie’s plans that Loki was so interested in, back in Loki episode 2. We see Sylvie and Hunter C-20 (Sasha Lane) in comfortable Hawaiian clothes at a bar somewhere, chatting as if they have been friends for years. The sly Sylvie has questions for her though — how many people are guarding the Time Keepers, and how do I find the elevators (they are gold) — which puts C-20 off and makes her realise that she doesn’t actually know Sylvie. Loki episode 3 then reveals that Sylvie has “enchanted” C-20 and all this is happening inside her mind, sort of like on the astral plane, in Marvel terms.

Loki episode 3 then jumps to right where we left off with the Loki episode 2 cliffhanger, as Sylvie arrives in the Time Variance Authority to carry out her plan: kill the Time Keepers. That explains the major distraction she caused in Loki episode 2, which has taken away most of the TVA guards from their homebase. As Sylvie makes her way, she gets the jump on a TVA Hunter before realising her magic doesn’t work here. She then evaporates or knocks them out with their own weapons. Loki, who followed Sylvie through the time door in Loki episode 2, also arrives in TVA. He grabs his knives from the locker nearby and then confronts Sylvie. Their knife fight is interrupted by Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) before Loki saves them by teleporting away.

In Loki, Marvel’s Favourite Villain Does Workplace Comedy by Way of David Fincher

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Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Loki episode 3
Photo Credit: Disney/Marvel Studios

Sylvie is annoyed and immediately tries to jump back using the TemPad but discovers that it’s out of juice. She can’t use it anymore until it’s recharged. Loki takes it off her hands and hides it by using his magic, only for Sylvie to point out that he needs her to know how to recharge it. Meanwhile, they are stuck on this new purple-hued moon, which Loki episode 3 reveals to be Lamentis-1 in 2077. A nearby planet is about to crash into it and will kill all life on Lamentis-1. That makes sense, for all the places that Sylvie frequented were apocalypses, allowing her to hide herself from the TVA. Sylvie wants to kill Loki for stranding them, but he calms her down and proposes a truce.

As they make their way to a nearby mining town on Lamentis-1, Loki wonders why she doesn’t like being called Loki or Variant. Loki is not a name she identifies with anymore — that means it’s her given name anyway — and has since adopted the alias “Sylvie”, a name that has ties to the Loki mythology in the Marvel comics. But Sylvie was never a Loki variant in the comics. She also seems to have a very different background on Loki, though to be fair, Loki episode 3 tells us very little. But enchantment being her primary power does mean Sylvie could end up being called the Enchantress, as in the comics.

Loki and Sylvie arrive at a hut of sorts that might give them the power to recharge the TemPad. Sylvie opts for a more confrontational entrance which doesn’t work for her as the woman inside (Susan Gallagher) blows her away with a sonic weapon. Loki tries to be cleverer. He first talks her down and then transforms into her late husband — having seen a photo of them through the window — but the woman blows him off too. Her husband was never as sweet, she shouts at Loki. She asks what the two devils want from her, before pointing them to a train station at the edge of town that will take them to the Ark. But getting tickets won’t be easy, she notes. With a combination of each other’s magic though, they sneak onto the train.

Inside, they have the first heart-to-heart as they talk about their respective mothers, how they were adopted, and love. Loki talking about his mother gets to Sylvie, because she doesn’t remember hers. The conversation on Loki episode 3 then moves to past lovers — which confirms that Loki is bisexual, though it’s obliquely hinted at, not said. They then decide to rest, given they’ve got more disguising and stealing to do later. Sylvie wakes up to discover Loki without his guard-disguise and singing in Asgardian openly. He’s drunk. She notices a strange man leave the compartment, and she can tell that someone is going to show up. Loki thinks Sylvie is being paranoid, who points out that it’s thanks to the “omniscient fascists” — she means the TVA.

Loki Episode 1 Recap: Welcome to the Time Variance Authority

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Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Sophia Di Martino as Sylvie in Loki episode 3
Photo Credit: Disney/Marvel Studios

Sylvie’s concerns turn out to be real, as a bunch of guards show up to demand their tickets. The drunk Loki tries to conjure up tickets but fails, pushing the duo into a fight. It culminates with Loki being thrown out of the train, and Sylvie jumping after him because of the TemPad. She puts a knife to his throat, prompting Loki to bring out the hidden TemPad — it has broken. Sylvie reprimands him for being drunk, Loki says he’s hedonistic in response. She is also hedonistic, Sylvie protests, but never at the expense of the mission. What mission, Loki scoffs, you can’t beat the TVA. Sylvie is really angry at Loki though, lets out a scream, and then sits on a nearby dirt mound, dejected that they are going to die on Lamentis-1. Why don’t they try to get on the Ark and make sure it takes off, Loki wonders.

With a new plan in place, Loki and Sylvie begin the long walk to the Ark. Loki wants to know how her enchantment works. He’s told her so much but he doesn’t know anything about her. Sylvie terms it tactical advantage, but Loki protests that he wants to trust her. Pressed, Sylvie finally explains what enchantment entails — it’s really about how strong someone’s mind is — which leads to an accidental revelation. Before C-20 joined TVA, she was a regular person on Earth. That’s huge, more for Loki and the audience anyway, Sylvie just assumed he knew. Everyone in the TVA is a variant like them, which shines a new light on how we see Mobius (Owen Wilson), Ravonna, and the rest.

As Loki and Sylvie get to the Ark — the Loki episode 3 production design switches to include a lot of neon here — the spaceship is about to take off and Lamentis-1’s annihilation is imminent. Loki and Sylvie try to get through the guards, but it’s all to no avail as the Ark is hit by planetary debris and destroyed in front of them. Loki just stands there taken aback, while Sylvie walks away. Loki episode 3 leaves us on a cliffhanger (like the episode before it), as Bonnie Guitar’s “Dark Moon” plays over the credits.

Loki episode 3 is now streaming on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar. New episodes release every Wednesday around 12:30pm IST/ 12am PT.


Is Mi 11X the best phone under Rs. 35,000? We discussed this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Later (starting at 23:50), we jump over to the Marvel series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.



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iQoo 7 Legend Review: Almost an All-Rounder


At its India launch, the iQoo 7 Legend instantly made the more affordable iQoo 7 smartphone look slightly underpowered. For an additional Rs. 4,000 over the cost of its sibling, the Legend edition features a refreshing design, with accents and cues from BMW’s Motorsport cars, which give it a unique look and feel. And then there’s the spec sheet, which sounds impossible to deliver at this price point.

When we look at the competition, it’s only Xiaomi’s Mi 11X Pro (Review) that comes close in terms of specifications. It packs in the same Snapdragon 888 processor, but also has a 108-megapixel primary camera and a slightly bigger battery.

At just under Rs. 40,000, neither smartphone offers the complete premium package, as they both lack features such as wireless charging and an IP rating. But these phones are all about performance, design and camera quality, and with that in mind, we’re going to take a closer look at the iQoo 7 Legend because it is almost an all-rounder… with some minor shortfalls.

iQoo 7 Legend design

India is the only market that saw the launch of an iQoo 7 smartphone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 processor and slightly watered-down camera hardware. Globally, there’s just one model and it’s called the iQoo 7. This makes the iQoo 7 Legend more of a cosmetic variant in international markets.

iQoo 7 Legend back design ndtv iQoo7Legend  iQoo

The iQoo 7 Legend features an eye-catching design with a brushed-metal frame and a matte glass back

 

However, buyers in India have a better reason to go in for the BMW-inspired iQoo 7 Legend as it packs in the hardware of the international model, which is a lot better than what you get with the base iQoo 7 sold in India.

The iQoo 7 Legend looks quite clean, with a brushed metal frame and a matte-glass back. The metal frame is quite interesting because it features well-polished edges, cutouts, and indents that make it look and feel very premium. The power button on the right side has fine ridges and a blue accent that makes it stand out. The matte-glass back features red, black and blue racing stripes on a white surface that resembles the finish of a typical BMW M Motorsport racecar. Whether you are a fan of the brand or not, the colour combination does look unique. There are no options when it comes to the colour or finish of this phone.

iQoo 7 Legend right buttons ndtv iQoo7Legend  iQoo

The volume rocker and power button are located on the right side

 

The combination of metal and matte glass does keep fingerprints away, but it also is quite slippery, so I would recommend slipping on the included TPU case. With a 6.62-inch display, the phone did not feel overwhelming to hold given that it is just 8.7mm thin, but is moderately heavy at 210g.

The iQoo 7 Legend features stereo speakers. The primary speaker at the bottom sits next to the Type-C USB port, while the earpiece doubles as the second one, and is hidden in an almost invisible slit between the display glass and the metal frame.

iQoo 7 Legend specifications and software

The iQoo 7 Legend is available in two variants. The base 8GB RAM + 128GB storage variant is available at Rs. 39,990, and a 12GB RAM + 256GB storage option is priced at Rs. 43,990. This smartphone, just like the Xiaomi Mi 11X Pro, uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor and does not allow for expandable storage. It supports several 5G bands and offers dual 5G standby as well. It also has an in-display fingerprint reader, which worked reliably.

The phone has a 4,000mAh battery, which supports 66W charging speeds. There’s a 6.62-inch AMOLED display offering a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz and is HDR10+ certified. Connectivity options include Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6 (dual-band) and NFC.

iQoo 7 Legend software ndtv iQoo7Legend  iQoo

The iQoo 7 Legend runs Vivo’s Funtouch OS, which is based on Android 11

 

The iQoo 7 Legend runs Vivo’s Funtouch OS, which is based on Android 11. The software ran smoothly in everyday use, with no sign of lag or stutter, and felt quite fluid thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate display. Funtouch OS offers some unique customisation options such as the ability to change the animations for the unlock screen, face recognition, charging, USB insertion, and when putting the phone into standby and waking it.

There’s even a touch screen animation option, which adds customisable particle trails (hearts, circles, squares) whenever you interact with the notifications tray, home screen and app drawer. This feature did not appear to affect the use of native or third-party apps.

Preinstalled third-party bloatware includes Moj, Dailyhunt, PhonePe, Snapchat and Flipkart. These apps can be uninstalled if not needed. The V-Appstore will throw up a few promotional notifications every day, but these can be switched off in the app’s settings.

iQoo 7 Legend performance and battery life

The 6.62-inch FHD+ AMOLED display sports a 120Hz refresh rate. Touch sensitivity was spot on and I faced no issues when scrolling through apps or playing graphics-heavy games. I had no problems viewing the display in bright sunlight. The colours seemed natural, and sharpness at 394ppi was not a problem. iQoo claims that the 7 Legend’s display is HDR10+ certified. However, only the YouTube app offered HDR10 streaming; Netflix did not.

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The iQoo 7 Legend’s 6.62-inch AMOLED display is HDR10+ certified

 

Both speakers can get quite loud and sound very clear with balanced output, which makes them great for gaming, but also good for watching movies or listening to music.

In terms of benchmarks, the iQoo 7 Legend performed on par with other premium smartphones that feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor. It managed 8,23,003 in AnTuTu, as well as 1,138 and 3,668 in Geekbench’s single and multi-core tests.

Gaming performance was also quite solid. Call of Duty: Mobile performed flawlessly with no hint of lag at the highest settings possible. The phone did not warm up quickly either. Things only began to feel warm after about 40 minutes of intense gameplay, which is quite good. Asphalt 9: Legends ran impressively at High Quality with the 60fps mode enabled.

The iQoo 7 Legend features ‘4D Game Vibration’ using the phone’s dual linear vibration motor. This feature worked well when playing Asphalt 9: Legends, letting me feel the impact when my car landed and bumped into things, like the feedback you’d get from a game controller. However, I switched it off when playing Call of Duty: Mobile, as it became very distracting, especially the very jarring vibration whenever I got hit by a bullet.

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The bundled 66W charging adapter takes the iQoo 7 Legend from a dead battery to 100 per cent in 31 minutes

 

The 4,000mAh battery did fall a bit short of expectations and only lasted a day on a single charge. With an hour of gaming, a few phone calls, some photos, and frequently browsing through social media apps, the iQoo 7 Legend ran out of power by the end of the day. Switching the display’s refresh rate from 120Hz to Auto or 60Hz only extended battery life by an hour and a half or so. Our HD video loop battery test only lasted 13 hours and 3 minutes, which is quite low for a premium smartphone these days.

While this might be a dealbreaker for power users, iQoo has provided a very fast charging adapter in the box. The 66W charger can take the iQoo 7 Legend from a dead battery to a 100 per cent charge in just 31 minutes.

iQoo 7 Legend cameras

The iQoo 7 Legend features a triple rear camera setup, which includes a 48-megapixel f/1.79 primary camera, a 13-megapixel f/2.46 telephoto camera (with 2X optical zoom) and a 13-megapixel ultra-wide-angle f/2.2 camera. Selfie duties are carried out by a 16-megapixel f/2.0 camera. The camera interface is typical of what we have seen on Vivo and iQoo smartphones so far, with all important controls available at a single tap.

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The ultra-wide-angle camera has autofocus and does double duty as a macro camera

 

The camera modes can be customised depending on what you need. What annoyed me a bit about the camera interface is the Portrait mode. It seemed to be a bug in the software, but the aperture selection control was always set to f/16 when using the selfie camera. Taking a photo using this aperture setting meant that there was no depth effect at all. I had to manually set the aperture every single time I wanted to take a portrait selfie, which was quite frustrating.

iQoo 7 Legend daytime photo samples. Top to bottom: Ultra-wide, standard, 2X zoom (tap to see full size)

 

iQoo 7 Legend Portrait mode camera sample (tap to see full size)

 

Photos taken in daylight came out sharp with good dynamic range and good detail in the textures. No matter which camera I chose, the results were impressive. However, I did notice some purple fringing in the brighter areas of the frame when using the ultra-wide-angle camera. Portrait photos of friends and pets came out quite sharp, with good edge detection and great dynamic range. While the Portrait mode defaults to the 2X telephoto camera, I could also shoot using the main camera at 1X. Autofocus was quick with all three cameras.

iQoo 7 Legend close-up camera sample (tap to see full size)

 

The ultra-wide-angle camera on the iQoo 7 Legend also does double duty as a macro camera because it has autofocus. This meant that I could shoot objects as close as 2cm away. And with a 13-megapixel sensor, the results were impressive and loaded with detail.

iQoo 7 Legend Night Mode camera samples. Top: Wide (1X), bottom: Ultra-wide (0.5X) (tap to see full size)

 

In low light, the iQoo 7 Legend’s cameras held up quite well. The primary camera captured photos with low noise but fell a bit short on detail in the darker areas. The Night mode takes care of this and even brightens up photos a bit. The ultra-wide-angle camera also performed well when some light was available in the vicinity, but struggled with textures in dimly lit environments.

iQoo 7 Legend low-light selfie portrait camera sample (tap to see full-size image)

iQoo 7 Legend selfie portrait camera sample (tap to see full-size image)

 

Selfies came out clean and sharp in daylight with good dynamic range allowing the subject and background to be exposed correctly. In low light, details took quite a hit and the images looked flat. Night mode helped, provided there was an adequate source of light.

The quality of video recorded by this phone was quite good overall. The iQoo 7 Legend managed 1080p video at 30fps and 60fps well, with loads of detail and good stabilisation. 4K videos also showed plenty of detail and good stabilisation even when walking or panning. Videos recorded in low light looked quite good and had low noise, but I noticed a light shimmery effect when walking. While the ultra-wide camera managed decent quality in daylight and low light (though with some purple fringing), the lack of stabilisation resulted in really shaky footage.

Verdict

Given its hardware specifications and competitive price tag, the iQoo 7 Legend is quite hard to ignore in the premium smartphone segment. The only other smartphone that comes close in terms of raw power is Xiaomi’s Mi 11X Pro (Review). While the Mi 11X Pro has a 108-megapixel primary camera, it does not offer OIS, and charging is a bit slower at 33W.

The OnePlus 9R (Review) is also a good alternative. It may feature a slightly underpowered Snapdragon 870 processor, but is a good combination of performance and features in a package that is just 8.4mm thick.

The iQoo 7 Legend offers the Snapdragon 888 processor, a good 120Hz refresh rate OLED display and excellent build quality, plus cameras that perform quite well. It might fall short in terms of battery life, if you are a power user, but although the battery is relatively small, it sure charges quickly!




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Micromax AirFunk 1 Pro Review: Feature-Packed Earphones for Those on a Budget


Micromax has been making smartphones for a while, but only recently broke into the TWS market when it launched its In 2b (Review) smartphone. The company launched two pairs of true wireless earphones and I have with me the more expensive AirFunk 1 Pro, which is aimed at entry-level buyers. Priced at Rs. 2,499 it covers the basics in terms of audio quality and functionality, in a simple-looking package.

Micromax AirFunk 1 Pro design

The Micromax AirFunk 1 Pro is available in five colours: black, blue, white, yellow, and red. I received a white review unit, which has blue silicone ear tips (and two more pairs of tips in different sizes but the same colour are included in the package). Pulling the charging case out of the retail box, I noticed several scratch marks, as it wasn’t wrapped in plastic. The case has a glossy finish which attracts a lot of fingerprints, dust and pocket lint. The edges of the cover of the case are quite sharp and can pinch your fingers when closing it.

However, the case is easy to open and shut with one hand. What I loved about the pebble-shaped case is how small it is overall, which makes it easy to fit into the watch pocket of a regular pair of jeans. There’s a Type-C port at the bottom, and the case can stand upright with or without the earphones inside. There’s a single LED on the case which shows the state of the battery when it’s plugged into a charger.

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Micromax’s AirFunk 1 Pro’s charging case had some scratches right out of the box

 

The IP44 rated earpieces have bulbous heads which contain the drivers and electronics, and short, flattened stems at the other end. They have the same glossy finish as the case, with the same build quality including some sharp edges, although they don’t usually touch the wearer’s ear lobes, so this isn’t as much of a concern.

What annoyed me the most about the AirFunk 1 Pro’s design is the way the earpieces need to be placed in the charging case. They wind up positioned quite deep within the narrow opening, and their glossy finish makes the tops quite difficult to grip when you need to pull them out. In most cases I had to pinch the silicone ear tips to pull them out.

Since there’s no pairing button, pulling both earphones out of the case puts them into pairing mode. This (indicated by a blinking LED on each earpiece) remains active for about three minutes, provided they haven’t already been paired with another device. To pair them with a new source, simply pull both earphones out of the case and disconnect from the previous device, post which they will automatically enter pairing mode. Indeed, a simple button on the case would have made the pairing process a lot easier.

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Pulling the slippery earpieces out of the case can get annoying

 

Touch controls are simple. Double-tap the stem on either earpiece to pause or play music, and triple-tap the left or right one to skip to the previous or next track. Long-press on either earpiece to summon your paired phone’s voice assistant. A single tap on the left or right earpiece will lower or increase the volume respectively. All these gestures worked surprisingly well for a low-cost pair of true wireless earphones. There’s no companion app so there’s no way to customise the touch controls.

Micromax AirFunk 1 Pro specifications and battery life

The Micromax AirFunk 1 Pro has a single 13mm dynamic driver in each earpiece. There’s also a Qualcomm QCC3040 SoC in each one, which enables Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity. The earphones support the AAC, SBC, and Qualcomm aptX Bluetooth codecs. There’s also IP44 dust and water resistance for the earphones.

Micromax AirFunk 1 Pro case front ndtv MicromaxAirFunk1Pro  Micromax

Battery life is where the AirFunk 1 Pro earphones excel

 

Battery life on the Micromax AirFunk 1 Pro was impressive. With support for AAC, I had it connected to an iPhone most of the time and at times to an Android smartphone to test its support for aptX. I managed to get about 7 hours of usage from the earpieces, and the case can charge them fully about 4-5 times, bringing the total runtime to about 28-35 hours. That’s close to what Micromax claims. Charging the earphones was also quite quick, taking a little over an hour to fully charge the case with earphones inside.

Micromax AirFunk 1 Pro performance

Listening to Honeypie by JAWNY, it’s easy to tell that that soundstage is quite narrow and not as airy as it should be. Switching to something slower, such as Juice World’s Righteous, it becomes clear that the emphasis is on the bass frequencies, which is not surprising for a budget pair of earphones. Even so, vocals come out clearly, and aren’t repressed in any way. While bass frequencies come out nicely (although a bit muddy) the highs aren’t all that crisp. Overall, for its price, there’s little to complain about, but you can get a better, wider soundstage from the dual-driver setup on Xiaomi’s Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro (Review) which costs Rs. 2,999.

Gaming with these earphones was not a problem, and they kept up with all the action during my Call of Duty: Mobile deathmatch tournaments. There was also little to no audio lag when watching movies. In terms of range, the Micromax AirFunk 1 Pro did a decent job. Audio quality was clear till up to about 8.5m from the source device, and I could even go a bit farther provided there were no obstacles. However, if I passed through a door or moved so that a wall was in between, audio literally got cut off, and the earphones struggled to reconnect.

Micromax AirFunk 1 Pro earphones ndtv MicromaxAirFunk1Pro  Micromax

The Micromax AirFunk 1 Pro earphones offer good environmental noise canceling

 

Voices on calls were not crystal clear, but I never got any complaints about my own voice from people on the other end. This was quite surprising given that most TWS earphones in this price range don’t do such a good job. Environmental Noise Canceling (ENC) was good enough to suppress the noise around me, which included some hammering from a nearby construction site and a table fan behind me.

Audio performance aside, the AirFunk 1 Pro’s earpieces are quite small and very light at just 4g each. I could have them in my ears all day long and almost forget that I was wearing them. The earphones also have an IP44 rating which indicates they are somewhat protected against dust and splashes, so it’s fine to use them during a light drizzle or for sweaty workouts.

Verdict

The Micromax AirFunk 1 Pro was pretty good at the things that matter when using a pair of TWS earphones. Audio quality is decent at best, which is reasonable given its price. Voice quality is okay, with good noise suppression. However, battery life really impressed me, for the earpieces themselves as well as the charging case. Touch controls for volume are also nice to have.

What disappointed me the most was the overall build quality, with sharp edges on the case and the earphones as well. Priced at Rs. 2,499 in India, the AirFunk 1 Pro does offer good value for someone looking for a decent pair of entry-level TWS earphones on a tight budget. If you are willing to spend a bit more, Xiaomi’s Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro (Review) offer better sound and better build quality along with an easy pairing button.



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Samsung Galaxy M32 First Impressions: For Binge Watchers?


The Galaxy M32 is the latest addition to Samsung’s budget-focused M Series and it offers some interesting features. It boasts of a full-HD+ AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate, and a big 6,000mAh battery. It also runs the latest version of Samsung’s One UI on top of Android 11. I got my hands on the new Galaxy M32 and here are my first impressions.

 

The Galaxy M32 starts at Rs. 14,999 in India for its base variant, which has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The higher variant is priced at Rs 16,999 for 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. This smartphone is available in two colour options, Light Blue and Black. I have the base variant with me in Light Blue.

The Galaxy M32 is a big smartphone and is noticeably chunky. It measures 9.3mm in thickness and weighs 196g. Samsung has curved the sides of the frame to help mask the bulk and make it easier to hold. The frame is also curved at the top and the bottom which give it a neat look. At the top, the Galaxy M32 only has the secondary microphone, while the 3.5mm headphone jack, primary microphone, USB Type-C port, and loudspeaker are at the bottom.

galaxy m32 back gadgets360 Samsung Galaxy M32 First Impressions

The Galaxy M32 is chunky at 9.3mm thick, and weighs 196g

 

Samsung has gone for a side-mounted capacitive fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy M32. It is slightly recessed which makes it easy to find. It’s reachable, but the volume buttons are a bit too high, needing a stretch to reach. You only have the SIM tray on the left side. It has two Nano-SIM slots and a dedicated microSD slot for storage expansion.

At the back, I like how Samsung has flush-mounted the camera module in the top left corner. As a result, the phone rests flat on a table. The Galaxy M32 packs in a 64-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, a 2-megapixel macro camera, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The back panel is made of plastic and has a striped pattern.

The Galaxy M32 has a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with a full-HD+ resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate. Samsung also claims a peak brightness of 800 nits on this display in High Brightness mode, something I will test during the full review. The display has a dewdrop notch, which Samsung refers to as ‘Infinity-U’. The notch houses a 20-megapixel selfie shooter. Samsung has packed in a 6,000 mAh battery. This phone supports 25W fast charging but Samsung only ships a 15W charger in the box.

galaxy m32 camera gadgets360 Samsung Galaxy M32 First Impressions

The camera module on the Samsung Galaxy M32 sits flush on the back

 

Samsung has picked the MediaTek Helio G80 processor to power the Galaxy M32. I have the base variant with 4GB of RAM, and it has felt at ease handling regular day-to-day tasks in the short time I’ve been using it for so far. I will be running our full suite of benchmark tests on the Galaxy M32 to see how it fares, and will report on that in the full review.

The software experience felt very familiar, as Samsung uses One UI 3.1 on the Galaxy M32 running on top of Android 11. The phone did have a number of preinstalled apps, which was a little disappointing. During the setup process, it also suggested more apps for installation, and skipping that wasn’t easy.

With the Galaxy M32, Samsung is offering a big battery and an AMOLED display with a high refresh rate at a tempting price. Is this now the best set of features you can get for the price? I will be putting the Galaxy M32 through its paces in the full review, so stay tuned to Gadgets 360.



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Realme Narzo 30 5G first impressions: A Capable 5G Smartphone That is Priced Right


With smartphone manufacturers looking to woo buyers with 5G-enabled devices, we’re seeing this feature used as a differentiator at lower and lower price points. However, the easiest way to add 5G support without raising prices is to cut a few corners, and this appears to be the path that Realme has chosen with its latest smartphone, the Narzo 30 5G.

The Narzo 30 5G is the second smartphone in Realme’s Narzo series to offer 5G. It is also the most affordable 5G smartphone from Realme to date with a price tag of Rs. 15,999. Unlike the Narzo 20 series, which consisted of two models (Narzo 20 and Narzo 20 Pro), the Narzo 30 series now spans across the entry-level Narzo 30A (Review), the budget Narzo 30 (the 4G model), the Narzo 30 5G which we have with us today, and the Narzo 30 Pro 5G (Review).

Realme’s Narzo 30 5G is based on MediaTek’s Dimensity 700 processor, which has two high-performance 2.2GHz Cortex-A76 cores and six power-efficient 2.0GHz Cortex-A55 cores, while the graphics are handled by an integrated Mali-G57 GPU. The Narzo 30 5G is available in a single configuration with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, which is priced at Rs. 15,999. The phone offers expandable storage by up to 1TB using the dedicated microSD card slot. As for 5G, the Narzo 30 5G supports several bands (NSA: n77/78/41 + SA: n1/n28A/n41/n78) and also offers dual 5G standby on both SIMs.

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The Realme Narzo 30 5G weighs 185g and is 8.5mm thick

 

At 185g, the Narzo 30 5G feels light for a smartphone with a 5,000mAh battery. It’s also comfortable to hold with a proper grip thanks to the defined edges around the frame.

The Narzo 30 5G’s frame might look like it’s made out of metal, but it’s made of plastic. The shiny plastic back panel attracts dust and also picks up fingerprints. It also flexes when pressed down on. This smartphone is available in two colour options: Racing Silver and Racing Blue. The rear finish looks quite dynamic with a reflective off-centre stripe passing through the camera module.

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The Realme Narzo 5G’s frame and back panel are made of plastic

 

The display offers the biggest upgrade over the Narzo 20. The 6.5-inch screen on this new model sports an fHD+ resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate along with a 180Hz touch sampling rate, which should help when playing games. There is a single speaker that sits at the bottom, alongside the primary mic, the Type-C USB port, and the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Unlike the Narzo 20, which has a 6,000mAh battery and 18W charging, the Narzo 30 5G gets a 5,000mAh battery with support for 18W charging. This is a bit odd, but understandable.

Realme Narzo 30 5G back camera ndtv RealmeNarzo305G  Realme

There is a triple rear camera setup with a 48-megapixel primary camera

 

The triple-camera setup on the Narzo 30 5G includes a 48-megapixel f/1.8 aperture primary camera, a 2-megapixel B/W portrait camera and a 2-megapixel macro camera. The 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera from the Narzo 20 gets booted out, but the front-facing camera gets upgraded from an 8-megapixel sensor to a 16-megapixel one.

The Realme Narzo 30 5G will compete with the recently launched Poco M3 Pro 5G (Review), which offers similar specifications and the same Dimensity 700 processor, but is priced at Rs. 13,999 for the base 4GB RAM + 64GB storage variant. Another very similar smartphone is the Realme 8 5G. It offers nearly identical hardware but there are different combinations of RAM and storage. We will have to test the cameras and the performance of the Narzo 30 5G to get to an accurate conclusion about whether it makes better sense than the Poco M3 Pro 5G or the Realme 8 5G, so stay tuned for our full review, which should be out soon.




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Realme Narzo 30 Review: A Worthy Update to the Narzo 20?


Realme’s Narzo 20 was a decent budget smartphone for 2020, with a focus on delivering the basics at an affordable starting price of Rs. 10,499. As we observed in our review, it was bulky and featured a plastic unibody that did not look or feel premium. In terms of performance, it struggled a bit while running games. Now, in 2021, Realme has released a much-needed update. It’s priced a bit higher, starting from Rs. 12,499 (4GB RAM + 64GB storage), but offers much more than its predecessor, making it a good budget smartphone that’s focused on performance.

However, Realme has also announced the Narzo 30 5G (First Impressions), a different model altogether, which offers 5G connectivity, a better processor, a 90Hz refresh rate display, and a 5,000mAh battery in a slimmer package. It’s competitively priced at Rs. 15,999 and offers 6GB RAM along with 128GB of internal storage. So, which Narzo should you go for? Or are there better smartphones out there?

Realme Narzo 30 price and variants

The Realme Narzo 30 is available in two RAM and storage variants. The base variant offers 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, and is priced at Rs. 12,499, while the second variant offers 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and is priced at Rs. 14,499. The Realme Narzo 30 5G is available in only a single configuration with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and is priced at Rs 15,999. The price of the Narzo 30 5G seems understandable keeping in mind that it offers improved specs plus 5G support, but it comes very close to the price of the higher-end Narzo 30.

Realme Narzo 30 design

Realme’s Narzo 30 is a sharp contrast to the Narzo 20, which looked very basic. This new phone is offered in two finishes: Racing Silver and Racing Blue. We received a Racing Silver unit, and it looks quite premium. Both options have a shimmering off-centre strip passing through the camera module.

The Narzo 30’s frame and back panel are made of plastic. The glossy back gathers dust and picks up fingerprints easily. It flexes a bit when pressed down on, even with a little pressure. Still, the overall construction does feel quite good and the plastic does not creak. The phone feels a bit thick at 9.4mm but not too heavy at 192g. The seamless design from the display to the frame and to the back panel lends it a nice hand-feel. It’s comfortable to hold, offering a solid grip.

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The Realme Narzo 30 is not too heavy at 192g

 

There is a 3.5mm headphone jack at the bottom alongside the Type-C USB port, primary mic, and speaker. The volume buttons are on the left side, while the power button with its embedded fingerprint reader sits on the right.

One of the big changes to the Narzo 30 over the Narzo 20 is its screen. It’s still a 6.5-inch LCD panel but now has a 90Hz refresh rate and the resolution has been bumped up from HD+ on the Narzo 20 to full-HD+.

Realme Narzo 30 specifications and software

The Realme Narzo 30 uses MediaTek’s gaming-oriented Helio G95 processor, which has two high-performance 2.05GHz Cortex-A76 cores and six power-efficient 2.0GHz Cortex-A55 cores. Graphics are handled by an integrated Mali-G76 GPU clocked at 900MHz. The phone has either 4GB or 6GB of LPDDR4x RAM and 64GB or 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage depending on which variant you choose, along with microSD card storage expansion up to 256GB. Connectivity options include dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5, and NFC.

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The Realme Narzo 30 runs Realme UI 2.0, which is based on Android 11

 

The Narzo 30 runs on Realme UI 2.0, which is based on Android 11. The software lets you customise icon shapes, system colours, fonts, and even the shapes of the notifications tray icons. There were a few third-party apps like Amazon, Snapchat, Facebook, and Soloop preinstalled on my review unit, but these did not interfere with my day-to-day use unless I used them. There were also several Realme-branded apps such as DocVault, Community, HeyFun, Realme Link, and Realme store. Some of these could be uninstalled, but not all. Save for the Theme Store, most of them did not throw up any promotional notifications.

Realme Narzo 30 performance and battery life

The MediaTek Helio G95 processor handled the OS quite well with no lag or stuttering in daily use. Apps opened and closed in an instant, and multi-tasking was not a problem on the 6GB RAM variant that I tested, with most apps remaining in memory for a while. The Narzo 30 fared well even in terms of benchmarks, managing 3,56,846 points in AnTuTu, and 532 and 1,700 in Geekbench’s single and multi-core tests respectively.

Gaming on the Narzo 30 was smooth and lag-free, but this phone does heat up when stressed. Call of Duty: Mobile ran smoothly at the default High graphics and frame rate settings. The phone remained cool while playing the game at these default settings but changing the graphics to Very High made it heat up quickly. Asphalt 9: Legends was not available for download. I tried the new Space Marshals 3, which looked stunning on the Narzo 30’s screen. With the detail level set to Medium (default) the phone ran quite hot. Switching the setting to Low took care of the heat.

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The Realme Narzo 30 charges quickly, going from zero to a 100 percent in little over an hour

 

The Narzo 30 has a 5,000mAh battery, and it easily lasted me through a day and a half during the review period. My usage included browsing through social media apps, email, Slack, a few photos, an hour of gaming, and an hour of video streaming. The bundled 30W adapter made for quick charging, with the Narzo 30’s battery level reaching 55 per cent in 30 minutes, 99 per cent in 60 minutes and a full charge in 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Realme Narzo 30 cameras

The Realme Narzo 30 features a triple rear camera setup, which includes a 48-megapixel f/1.8 primary camera, a 2-megapixel monochrome camera, and a 2-megapixel macro camera. Selfie duties are handled by a 16-megapixel f/2.1 camera. The camera interface is quite intuitive with important controls located just a tap away. Other options such as setting the timer and selecting the frame are a level deeper in a slide-out tray. One detail to note about the camera setup is that only two cameras out of the three are accessible to the user – the monochrome camera is only activated in Portrait mode to calculate depth.

Realme Narzo 30 back camera ndtv RealmeNarzo30  Realme

The Realme Narzo 30 offers a triple, rear camera setup with a 48-megapixel primary sensor

 

Photos taken in daylight came out crisp and saturated with good dynamic range and detail in the darker areas of the frame. At 2X digital zoom, this phone also captured decent photos, but with less detail. Photos taken at 3X digital zoom were not usable and looked like oil paintings. The 2-megapixel macro camera captured average photos with passable detail but inaccurate colour. It’s fixed-focus, making it incredibly difficult to focus on an object if you have shaky hands.

Realme Narzo 30 daytime photo samples. Top to bottom: Standard, 2X digital zoom, 3X digital zoom (tap to see full size)

 

Photos captured using the Portrait mode with the rear camera came out sharp and clear, with plenty of detail in the day, but average edge detection. The 16-megapixel front-facing camera shot decent selfies, but again with below-average edge-detection in Portrait mode.

Realme Narzo 30 low-light camera samples. Top: Auto mode, bottom: Night mode (tap to see full size)

 

In low light, the rear camera struggled to focus when taking regular photos and when using the Portrait mode. The same can be said about landscape photos, which came out quite murky and loaded with noise. Night mode improves the level of detail and brightens up the scene, but with mixed results, and quality is heavily dependent on the light available in the vicinity.

Videos captured in daylight at 1080p looked oversharpened, lacked detail but showed decent stabilisation. Videos at 4K came out looking better, with good detail, but were very shaky as they lacked any stabilisation. In low light, videos recorded at 1080p came out loaded with noise and were mostly unusable. Switching to 4K showed much better detail but there was still plenty of noise.

Verdict

The decision whether to purchase a Narzo 30 or a Narzo 30 5G boils down to your budget and requirements. This is a smartphone market that’s filled with interesting alternatives from other companies as well, and with 5G networks yet to go live, you might choose to prioritise cost savings or other features. If you still desire a future-proof smartphone, then the obvious choice between the two new Narzo 30s is the Narzo 30 5G.

If you are on a tight budget and 5G isn’t a priority, then the Realme Narzo 30 (prices starting at Rs 12,499) is a good budget smartphone that offers a great everyday usage experience, mid-level gaming performance, decent photos and videos in daylight, and good battery life. However, Xiaomi’s Redmi 10S (Review) offers an additional 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera, a Super AMOLED display, 33W charging, stereo speakers, and an IP53 dust and water resistance rating for only an additional Rs. 500. As a package, the Redmi 10S would make better sense for many people.

If you are willing to shell out an additional Rs. 1,500, Poco’s M3 Pro 5G (Review) priced at Rs. 13,999 is also a better choice. You get a future-proof smartphone with hardware like the Narzo 30 5G, but with 4GB RAM and 64GB of internal storage.




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Infinix Note 10 Pro First Impressions: Noteworthy?


Infinix launched the Note 10 Pro and the Note 10 earlier this month, to cater to the sub-Rs.15,000 and sub-Rs. 20,000 segments respectively in India. Infinix offers some interesting specifications on the Note 10 Pro, such as a MediaTek Helio G95 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a big 6.95-inch display with a 90Hz refresh rate. I got to spend some time with the Infinix Note 10 Pro and here are my first impressions.

Let’s start by talking about the price of the Infinix Hot 10 Pro in India. The Note 10 Pro is available only in a single configuration, with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and it is priced at Rs. 16,999. You can select between 7 Degree Purple, 95 Degree Black, and Nordic Secret colour finishes. I had the phone in Nordic Secret.

Infinix Note 10 Pro back gadgets360 Infinix Note 10 Pro First Impressions

The Infinix Note 10 Pro is huge, and one-handed usage is impossible

 

The first thing that caught my attention was the sheer size of the Infinix Note 10 Pro. At 6.95 inches, the display is huge and is good for watching content when held in landscape mode. A downside is that reaching the top of the display with a thumb when holding this phone in the same hand is impossible. This display has a full-HD+ resolution along with a 90Hz refresh rate and a 180Hz touch-sampling rate. It also has a camera hole in the top-centre with a 16-megapixel selfie shooter. The earpiece is quite slim and is barely noticeable.

The frame of the Infinix Note 10 Pro is made out of plastic and is curved along the sides making it comfortable to hold. The top and the bottom are flat. The Note 10 Pro has a 3.5mm headphone jack, primary microphone, USB Type-C port, and loudspeaker at the bottom, while the top is completely blank.

Infinix has opted for a side-mounted fingerprint scanner which is becoming the norm in this price segment. The placement is slightly higher than I would’ve liked. The volume buttons are above the fingerprint scanner on the right and needed me to stretch my thumb to reach them. There are no buttons on the left side of the frame, only the SIM tray. There are two Nano-SIM slots and a dedicated microSD card slot for storage expansion.

Infinix Note 10 Pro camera module gadgets360 Infinix Note 10 Pro First Impressions

The quad-camera module on the Infinix Note 10 Pro protrudes quite a bit

 

The Infinix Note 10 Pro measures 8.7m in thickness and weighs 207g. The back panel is flat but curves slightly on the sides to make the smartphone comfortable to hold. The camera module in the top left corner has a two-step design. There are four cameras: a 64-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera that’s also capable of macro photography, a 2-megapixel depth sensor, and a 2-megapixel black & white sensor. The camera module is big and protrudes quite a bit. Infinix has packed in a 5,000mAh battery and supplies a 33W charger in the box. You also get a case with this phone.

The Note 10 Pro is powered by the MediaTek Helio G95 processor, with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Infinix could have offered a lower RAM and storage option to position the Note 10 Pro in the sub-Rs. 15,000 price segment but instead you can consider the Note 10 if that’s your budget limit. This smartphone runs XOS 7.6 based on Android 11 and there’s a fair bit of customisation. My unit had the March Android security patch, which is slightly dated at this point. The Infinix Note 10 Pro also comes with a number of preinstalled apps, and some of them did push notifications while felt annoying.

If you are looking for a smartphone with a huge display, the Infinix Note 10 Pro will definitely fit that criteria. So how good is it as a package? Should you pick this phone over popular models from Xiaomi, Realme, and Poco in this price range? Stay tuned for our full review to find out.



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