Dedicated reviews of affordable technology including headphones, mice, monitors, printers and other peripherals for the budget user. And, once in a while, a pinch of random opinion.

Twitter winner!

Congratulations to @niallxcraics, the winner of our Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Watch out for our next giveaway towards the second week of November.
Follow now...

Showing posts with label smartphones. Show all posts
Showing posts with label smartphones. Show all posts

What you should get instead of an iPhone 11 (Xiaomi Mi 9)


The iPhone 11 costs a mammoth $700 and is widely regarded as more of a status symbol than a communications tool. In this post, we explore the opportunity costs of the $700 spent on the iPhone and see what we could use that money for. We start with picking the best affordable flagship out there and will then move on to the accessories that could be bought for the money saved by buying our featured phone.
Why buy a phone when you can get a Smartwatch and Headset too?

The Phone: Xiaomi Mi 9 (about $400)

Xiaomi Mi 9 is probably the best phone you can exchange your money for at the moment. It gives you an enormous bang for every single dollar or pound you pay for it. The phone is capable of using both 4G and 5G networks – providing blistering futuristic internet speeds. It runs the best of class Snapdragon 855 and packs 6 gigs of RAM, a combination which in term of pure performance outshines the best of most brands flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S10.

The Xaomi Mi 9
It has an AnTuTu rating of about 372 which is about 14% better than the S10. (which is at 326) You could play any game and use any app at the speed of light. The iPhone 11 itself is slightly better in terms of performance but from a lens of performance per dollar spend, it is not even in the game.
AnTuTu ratings of the iPhone 11, Mi 9 and Galaxy S10. Higher is better.
According to Android Authority, its battery capacity at 3300mAh is adequate, but not extraordinary. They are awed by the phone’s gorgeous screen, slick premium look and snappy UI response when using regular apps.  The phone’s 6.39-inch screen is made of AMOLED which gives it an infinite contrast ratio and superb visibility in sunlight. There is also a under-screen finger print reader. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 which reinforces drop damage resistance and extends the life of the phone in general.

It has three cameras at the back, a 4k-capable 48-megapixel Sony sensor as well as ones with telephoto and wide-angle lenses. The picture quality is arguably close, but obviously not better than those taken by the iPhone 11 and is significantly improved if the inbuilt camera app is ditched for the Google Photos app.

It has wireless charging up to 20 watts, which we don’t recommend using for two reasons – wireless charging in general is less power-efficient and wastes energy and the charger itself needs to be purchased separately, which eats into the affordable user’s wallet.

The slick premium look of the Mi 9's back
For all of these reasons, Kategat firmly believes that you are better off spending $400 on the Mi 9 rather than $300 extra for just the marginal benefits of the iPhone 11. Let’s now explore what we can do for the remaining $300.

As an alternative, consider the OnePlus 5T as an affordable but older flagship which you can get for even cheaper.

Get the Mi 9 from Amazon now

 

The Headset: Logitech H800 Bluetooth headset (under $100)

The next item we could buy is a headset to go with the phone. The H800 is an excellent headset in terms of quality and durability. It would go well with the Mi 9. The H800 features a sleek and elegant design with plenty of padding for comfort. It pairs with a phone via Bluetooth and also has a wireless receiver to be used for laptops without Bluetooth or if you don’t want to use Bluetooth. The mic is noise cancelling for a crisp calling experience and can also be retracted and tucked away out of sight.

The H800's small profile makes it an ideal companion for anyone on the go.
In terms of quality, it offers a modest frequency response suitable for all users outside of hobbies audiophiles. You get good base and average treble, however the most important part of the spectrum for calls – the mids – would be excellent for both the mic while recording and the headset while reproducing sound.  It offers between 5 and 7 hours of wireless use, suitable for most casual users. It has two other features which adds added convenience, buttons on the side allows you to answer calls and control music without reaching for your phone. A fold-able design means you can tuck it away in a small pouch when not used.

Learn more about other Logitech headsets below this price point.

Get the Logitech H800 from Amazon now.


Smartwatch: Amazfit Bip (under $100)

Yes, of course, we still can afford a smartwatch too. The Amazfit bip is certainly a unique watch primarily intended as a sports watch but could also be used as a casual watch. It has all of the core features a smartwatch would have: a heart rate monitor and an activity tracker with a pedometer and GPS/GLONASS. The watch has an enduring battery life of close to a month of use, and is water resistant too. You also get the traditional smartwatch notifications such as WhatsApp, Facebook messages and information on incoming calls. The Oynx black version goes well with the Mi 9 phone too.
The Amazfit Bip
With the Mi 9, the H800 and the Amazfit Bip, you now have a phone, a solid headset and a time-tested smartwatch, and yet we still have $100 to spend on anything else we wish for. What a deal indeed.
Packaging of the Amazfit Bip
Get the Amazfit Bip from Amazon now:



Image credits:

OnePlus 5T (2017) vs Huawei P30 lite (2019)


In our previous flagship vs midrange comparison, we looked at the LG G6 and the Redmi 7A. In this post we look at the older OnePlus 5T and compare it with the newer midrange Huawei P30 lite.

One Plus 5T (November 2017 – Older Flagship)
The OnePlus 5T is a flagship of a bygone era, with once powerful industry leading specifications. It has a powerful Snapdragon 835 – a champion just over a year and a half ago. It comes in a large, fancy box and even includes a magazine-like glossy guidebook. The phone has an anodised aluminium back that makes it stand-out a flagship. On the software side, it does run a commonplace Android 7.1.1 now two generations old (or does it? more on that later).
The OnePlus 5T -- Old but beautiful
It does support a wide variety of games and plays almost all of them without any lag thanks to its 835, Adreno 540 and the 6/8 GB of ram depending on the version. It sports a large 3,300 mAh battery that is juiced up through the means of high-speed 20W dash charging. The camera experience is fantastic and is renowned for its dual-camera based bokeh effects.

In terms of design it has a simple, yet powerfully elegant design with overt branding. It has a brilliant AMOLED display for vibrant colours and super deep blacks and in terms of security it has a fingerprint and face unlock that just works. The software experience is snappy and simplistic, oxygen OS is very close to the no frills stock Android experience.

Huawei P30 lite (April 2019 – Modern Midrange)
Let’s now compare these specs with the modern mid-ranger, the Huawei P30 lite.
The P30 light has an ever-so-slightly larger screen at 6.15”, but on the contrary only has an IPS LCD display. You might lose some of the colour vibrancy and those deep blacks. Both phones have a resolution close to the 1080p range. The 5T has a gorilla glass coating while you need to get your own tempered glass protection for the P30 lite.
Huawei P30 lite
On the performance side, it has a Kirin 710 CPU, a Mali-G51 MP4 GPU and 4/8 GB of ram. The SoC manufacturers are different so we might have to look up some benchmark results to compare them. The P30 lite gets an AnTuTu benchmark of about 138,000 while the OnePlus 5T get a 56.3% boost ending up with an AnTuTu score of 212,000. That is some solid performance, to power almost any game better than the P30 lite.

Let’s now look at software which is one area where the older flagship generally tends to fail. The P30 has the latest and greatest (as of now) Android 9.0, and the 5T has – yes, exactly the same, Android 9.0! This is a massive advantage for a phone that is almost two years old and could well be the game changer.

Let’s now look at the camera which both OnePlus and the Huawei P Series seems to prioritise. The OnePlus has two back cameras, one for main photos and one for portrait. The P30 lite also has main cameras for photos and portrait-mode (via a depth sensing camera) but in addition it also has an ultra-wide angle 13mm lens which is handy when you need to fit more people in a single picture. The P30 also has a superior 48MP main camera so images look much more sharp and crispier. The OnePlus camera must not be discounted though, it does take great images, especially with good lighting.

In term of font face design, the P30 does offer a newer look with a larger screen-to-bezel ratio. It also has a tear-drop design that was not mainstream during the OnePlus 5Ts time. The OnePlus 5T wins in the back design as the anodised aluminium gives a more premium build quality when compared to the glossy plastic-glass of the P30.

Here is the summary of both phones

5T Pros

  • Better display
  • 56% better performance
  • Latest OS
  • Can get at a lower price
  • Slightly faster charging

P30 lite Pros

  • Better camera set-up
  • Nothing much really…

Kategat recommends the OnePlus 5T over the P30 lite for anyone seeking an affordable phone, except in the rare case where you take more mobile pictures that you spend on your phone.

Image of the P30 lite by Kārlis Dambrāns from Flickr. Licensed under the CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

Used LG G6 vs New Redmi 7A


The LG G6 has been around since April 2017, while the Redmi 7A was launched in March this year (2019). Comparing them might not be a good idea at first glance, however there are avenues in which the phones are similar, and certain people do compare them.
Old LG G6 vs new Redmi 7A
Old LG G6 vs new Redmi 7A
The G6 can be got refurbished or in a like new condition for $150 (£120) and the Redmi 7A can be got for approximately the same price. The G6 rates about 150,000 on AnTuTu while the Redmi 7A puts out 80,000 on the benchmark. In terms of pure performance, the G6 is almost twice as fast as the Redmi 7A.

Like new or new
The question is whether users are willing to accept and use an older phone. A phone used for one year, could be used for another two as the phone lifecycle generally lasts at least three years. At a fixed under $150 budget, the G6 might be better for gaming than a shiny new phone. Games and apps would run twice as fast.

The pros of a G6
The LG G6 gives you a faster, but older Snapdragon 8 series processor (821) with a faster GPU (Adreno 5300). It has one GB more RAM (4 GB vs 3GB). It is also water resistant; the 7A is only “splash-proof”. It also has a 2k display (compared to a measly 720p of the 7A).

The pros of the 7A
The Redmi 7A comes with the newest operating system – Android 9.0, two generations ahead of the G6. It has a larger battery at 4000mAh. There is no other significant way the 7A beats the G6.
The older G6 clearly beats the 7A for anyone who uses gaming or any high-performance apps.

The 7A is good for users who want the latest version of Android and a shiny new phone. And considering most apps don’t require the latest version of Android anyway, the G6 is our choice for a under $150 budget.