Category / Mobile Phone
Throughout the years I’ve had the chance to own quite a number of mobile phones, and gotten my hands to try on even more. The one feature that has always interests me is the camera.
Ever since I had my very first “camera phone”, the next phone I looked at has always been the one with a superior camera. So when I had a chance to give the Huawei P9 a test drive, I was pretty excited.
Huawei P9, sleek design, USB C, Leica dual lenses
You see, the P9 isn’t just any regular Android phone with a camera. It is the first that comes with a dual-camera sensor designed by Leica. For the uninitiated, Leica makes the most legendary cameras & lenses and almost every photographer would love to own a Leica in their arsenal, including myself. By having Huawei tapping into over 100 years of Leica photography expertise to design & optimize, the expectation of its performance is rather high.
The dual sensor set up at the rear is rather unique, one to pick up RGB (color) information, while the other monochrome (B&W) sensor picks up details. Information from both sensors are then combined using Leica’s merging algorithm to create an output that has the best of both worlds.
swiping left, right, or bottom up on camera reveals different options
That is the technical aspect of the camera, two 12 megapixel sensors working together, but what really impressed me more was the user interface of the camera.
Most Android phones utilizes very simple camera UI, with some having a few modes or features accessible in the menu. What Huawei has done with P9’s camera UI is very sleek. Swiping left, right, up, and down reveals different sets of features/short cuts that allows anyone to take pictures just the way they want without having to fiddle with different settings which may require in depth photography knowledge.
film/filter mode, and pro mode
Swiping to the right brings out the different shooting modes, such as monochrome, night shot, HDR, video, slow-mo, time lapse, and even Huawei’s signature “light painting”.
Swiping left shows the different camera settings, including adjustments for resolution, photo grid, GPS tag, different film modes, and so forth.
Bottom up brings out the PRO mode. This is a feature every serious photographer would appreciate. Here you can adjust shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, and even focusing mode. These are features that used to only available on a semi-pro SLR set up.
On top of the camera UI screen have yet a few more short cuts allowing access to wide aperture effect (my favorite), flash settings, slow-mo video, and swapping for front camera.
wide aperture effect is one of my favorites
works very well in low light condition too
In all, these make for very fast operation in getting to what you want the camera to do. There’s no fiddling with multiple levels within the menu to adjust one setting. Everything is available within a swipe and a click or two, to me this is the strongest point of the phone, one which I learned to really appreciate.
Impact B&W mode is great for street photography
The photo quality from limited shots I took were pretty good, my favorite features of the camera were the “impact monochrome” and the “wide aperture” mode. The monochrome is very useful taking street photography while the latter allows simulated “bokeh” effect that can make a subject really standout in a photo, similar to one taken with expensive fast professional lenses on an SLR.
close up shots are very good too
Since this is actually a phone and not just a camera, several other important specification you may be interested in are as follow:
- Screen: 5.2″ 1080 x 1920 pixels
- RAM: 4 GB
- Battery: 3000 mAh, fast charging
- OS: Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow)
- CPU: Quad-core 2.5 GHz Cortex-A72 & quad-core 1.8 GHz Cortex-A53
- Storage: 32 GB, microSD slot
- Connectivity: USB-C, NFC, GPS, Bluetooth 4.2, Wifi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- Sensors: fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Like many people, I had my hands on the much anticipated Samsung Galaxy S4 during the Malaysian launch at the end of April, 2013. The arguably the most sophisticated Android phone to date looked sleek and felt responsive the few minutes I got to play with it, but you can’t really do a phone review without living with it for a while.
Samsung Galaxy S4 – Life Companion
Couple weeks ago, I had the chance to take home a Galaxy S4 for a week long review, and this is what I think about the gadget.
First, the few highlighted hardware specifications:
- 5″ Full HD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080)
- 1.6 Ghz Octo-core
- 2 GB RAM
- Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
- 13 MP rear and 2 MP front cameras
- 2600 mAh battery
- infrared transmitter
In terms of look, the S4 doesn’t stray far from its predecessor. The dimensions of S4 are almost identical (with S4 being slightly thinner), and with the bigger 5″ screen compared to S3’s 4.8″, the bezel of S4 is much thinner. It is an evolution for the better in terms of look and feel.
Story Album, Walking Mate, Samsung Hub
There are several in-house applications and features that are bundled with Samsung Android devices, most of which aren’t available on other phones. I want to talk about a few of them here.
This application is pretty smart. After you capture pictures from certain place/time, the phone will automatically prompt for a creation of a story album. It’s a little bit like auto generated slideshow for your photos where you can add text descriptions and such, all done in minimal time. Pretty nifty.
from a motorcycle shop – back lit
This is an application that tracks your calorie intake and output via Walking Mate, Exercise Mate, and Food Tracker. The program utilizes the phone’s G sensor as a pedometer, and will also differentiate steps you take going upstairs from those on flat surface. It’s pretty neat and a helpful for those who want to stay active. An armband is useful with this.
Essentially, S Health is a little bit like a cross between Endomondo and Jawbone Up.
Camera on the Galaxy S4 – colors & smoke
The built in translation service on S4 knows 9 different languages so far – Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and English. The speech-to-text-translate-text-to-speech cycle worked better than I anticipated, I believe you can really use this service as a simple translation tool while travelling, but don’t expect to have a philosophical discussion with your Korean friend in Spanish just yet.
typical 1 Malaysia breakfast with toast, half boiled eggs, coffee – food shot
Noticed that infrared transmitter in the specification sheet? Instead of having just a basic remote control function for your living room entertainment systems and TVs, WatchOn is a full fledge application that’s designed to work with your Astro satellite or fiber TV service.
The app synchronizes with Astro’s program list and allow for notifications and remote control of your TV, Astro receiver/PVR, and even audio system all at the same time. You can also customize and show only the classification of TV programmes you’re interested in, such as Sports or Movies.
It is really very, very neat.
Galaxy S4’s Air View function is pretty neat
Air View and Air Gesture:
Air View and Air Gesture are functions on the phone that allows you certain controls by merely getting close to the phone and without really touching it. For example, hover your finger over the photo album will magnify the picture directly beneath, and doing the same on messages or emails will pop up a summary.
I find that the air view works great on email/messaging & contact list very well, but the feature isn’t taken advantage by every application yet, it should get better as more programs take advantage of this.
both camera at the same time – dual shot
For me personally, camera is perhaps the most important feature on a mobile phone. I use it extensively for snapping photos (mostly food, obviously) and upload them to my instagram, facebook, and this blog.
The camera on Samsung Galaxy S4 did not disappoint. I usually leave it on full auto mode and let the software do the rest. Every photo except those that shows the S4 and screenshots are taken with the phone and I’m rather happy with the results, color reproduction is especially awesome.
The photos aren’t edited or altered in any way except for resizing. Operation is fast, and picture quality is better than compact cameras I’ve owned.
panoramic shots made easy
The panoramic shooting, burst mode, face detection, anti-shake, best photo, best face, and dual shot are among the extra features that comes with the camera application. There’s also an image editing program that’s shipped with the Galaxy S4 for quick in-phone editing as well.
Over the week long testing period, I came to really liking the Galaxy S4. Props to Samsung for always pushing the envelop and came up with this brilliant gadget. Now why didn’t I get to keep it?
And finally it’s here, arguably the most anticipated mobile phone launch of the year – Samsung Galaxy S4 is now officially available in Malaysia at all major telcos. I was there at the launch last Saturday to catch a glimpse of the gadget at Celcom Blue Cube, Sunway Pyramid and the Samsung store at Lowyat Plaza.
great fanfare at Samsung Galaxy S4 launch, Sunway Pyramid
The launch was a huge fanfare, there were clowns, jokers, jesters, people in stilts, drummers, dancers, magicians, singers, and there were balloons, ice creams, music, and everything that you could imagine. I’ve never seen Sunway Pyramid so alive especially at 9:30 in the morning on a Saturday.
There were a huge line of people queuing up to be the first Galaxy S4 customers. Celcom’s plan for the new phone was as low as RM 1,338 and there’s a “Spin the wheel” game to reduce another RM 200 to RM 750. What a deal.
I sneaked into Blue Cube to get my hands on the S4 before everyone else
Having worn a blue shirt and holding a camera has its upsides, we were allowed to get into the shop to play with Galaxy S4 before everyone else has the chance.
At the first impression, I thought the phone was bigger, but holding it up confirmed that while the 5″ Full-HD display is indeed larger, the overall phone dimension remains to be about the same as it’s older sibling, the Samsung Galaxy S3. Pixel density is much higher and I must say that the Super AMOLED display is indeed gorgeous.
color me fancy, multicolor S4 backs? with Lydia, Nana, and Ashley
I expected that with the Exynos 5 Octa (Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A15 & quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7), the phone should be very fast, and it certainly did not disappoint on that front. Swipe, pinch, zoom, and operating pretty much any application I tried without any visible lag.
While processing power is great, it also comes with a bigger 2600 mAh battery to keep the juice flowing as well.
the much anticipated Samsung Galaxy S4, now available at major telcos in Malaysia
I hoped to try the S Translator but it was perhaps a bit too noisy at the event, and with the phone yet to set up with 3G etc, so we didn’t get to try that. The Air View/Air Gesture seems to work well, though I should have brought my riding gloves with to fully test its effectiveness.
Redmummy & Moudini the Magician, Nazwan of beautifulnara
One of the fun features that comes with Galaxy S4 is the ability to use both the front and rear cameras at the same time. I thought that’s a gimmick at first, but after testing it I find myself really liking the way it is implemented.
Basically when you take picture of a place/scene, you can simultaneously snap a photo of yourself encased at a corner like a “stamp”. I think it gives the photo a sort of post-card feel and is great for documenting your travel. Less of those awkward “selfies” if you ask me.
Hope to get my hands on the phone for a more extensive review soon. In the mean time, Samsung Galaxy S4 is available now at RM 2,199. Do check out www.samsung.com/my for more.
Like many Malaysians, traveling is one of my hobbies. I spent some time in the States, and so far have also traveled to Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia.
with Dr. Foo & Dr. Melissa at Manila for Operation Smile
When traveling, I particularly love to explore local foods catered to the locals. This usually means stalls by the side of the road or restaurants that doesn’t have an English language menu.
Thus over the years, I’ve mastered some sort of hand signals that usually involves pointing to some type of ingredients or dishes that other clients are eating, follow by the signaling #1, and then point at myself. While this usually works quite well, I’m unable to customize the dish or ask any further questions, not to mention not knowing how much the meal will cost me.
Enter S Translator that comes with the new Samsung Galaxy S4. The device translates up to 8 languages WITHOUT requiring an internet connection, and it can do it by voice too!
This is like babel fish in your pocket (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy anyone?) and will certainly be the most useful feature ever when I travel. Stuff of science fictions, available now!
This is my transportation of choice lately, the Aprilia Shiver 750 middle weight naked bike that I procured not very long ago. I’ve been riding it to work most of the days and even took it up for a trip to Penang for “Cheng Beng”.
Riding certainly carries a higher risk, and thus I make it a point to wear proper protection gears at all time. A mesh jacket with armor proper fitting full-face helmet, riding boots, and of course, a pair of gloves.
And my friend, I can’t tell you how often I wish that my phone’s touch screen can work while I have my gloves on.
Well, the new Samsung Galaxy S4 can, and that brings us to today’s topic – the little things in life that can be solved by the new Galaxy S4.
The Air View and Air Gesture functions will be one that’s very neat! Motioning the device to accept calls while the phone is mounted on my bike’s handle bar (with bluetooth headset) without having to remove my gloves will be a godsend. Hovering over emails to get a preview of the content will be way cool as well.
Watching cooking video while cooking is finally practical with with the Smart Pause feature. How many times do you wish you can pause the video while chopping/stirring at the kitchen without touching the screen? When you look away, the video stops, this is a function I can certainly appreciate.
S Voice Drive is supposed to be a way for you to be able to make calls, find directions and such while driving by interacting with the phone via voice. While this certainly works when you’re driving (and keep both hands on steering wheel), I think motorcyclists can certainly benefits from this especially as a navigation device. Can’t wait to test this out myself.
For the lazy (or the really sleepy), Smart Scroll lets you scroll by just tilting the screen from side to side. This could be a neat little feature that I’ll just have to try to see how useful it is.
S4 is coming soon, I need to get my hands on one and see how well these features work. Can’t wait.