HUAWEI P30 PRO
Price: Rs 71,990 onwards
Huawei’s return to form has a new flagship at its helm in the P30 Pro. Armed with a ‘neighbours’ envy’ arsenal of an unmatched camera setup, slick design and a stellar battery, the P30 Pro stacks up strongly against the Samsung S10 series and is my pick for the current mobile photography champ. Your move, Google.
About that downright crazy camera setup. Huawei has kitted the P30 Pro with a periscope-like telephoto lens setup, which enables true 5x optical zoom and coupled with the main 40MP image sensor, a largely lossless hybrid 10x zoom… and an insane 50x digital zoom — the mind boggles when you see what the full-stretch zoom can pull off, albeit with steady hands! But that isn’t all — the new sensor collects 40 per cent more light for added detail in low-light shots, which bests the low-light shots from the Pixel’s Night Sight mode, an achievement by itself! Plus there’s the ultra-wide angle 20MP shooter for landscapes and a brilliant super macro mode — all in all, the P30 Pro truly blazes a new trail. The rest of the package — a striking white-to-blue pearlescent ‘Breathing Crystal’ finish, the flagship Kirin 980 chip with 8GB/ 256GB and GPU Turbo 3.0 gaming performance boosts — all are flagship-grade and the P30 delivers strongly. With the 4,200mAh battery, reverse wireless charging and 40W fast charging, the P30 Pro is the Duracell bunny of premium flagship devices.
For the bleeding edge tech on offer, the 2,340×1,080 pixels resolution display sticks out like a bit of a sore thumb. Single bottom-edge speaker, so no stereo separation. EMUI 9.1 interface in need of an overhaul, looks dated.
REALME 3 PRO
Price: Rs 13,999 onwards
Watch out Xiaomi — the ‘Pro’ avatar of the Realme 3 has Redmi Note 7 Pro in its crosshairs and it packs in oodles of firepower at a competitive price. For those looking at a gaming phone with exceptional battery life on a budget, look no further.
Coming in at exactly the same price points for the 4/64 and 6/128 variants as the Note 7 Pro, the Realme 3 Pro is the first in the segment to feature the updated Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 chipset. Everyday performance is similar, but the 710 edges ahead with its superior graphics performance courtesy the Adreno 616 graphics. Stutter-free PUBG sessions (on high graphics, no less) guaranteed! The 710, with its more power-efficient
10-nanometre design, takes the 4,044mAh battery well into the two-day territory. Charging is fast too, with the bundled VOOC 3.0 20W charger taking the 3 Pro from zero to 50 per cent in 30 minutes (70 minutes for a full charge). Even the software — Oppo’s ColorOS 6.0 (based on Android 9.0 Pie) — is visually refreshed and less of an iOS clone than before, and gives the phone a modern look befitting its hardware specs.
Compared to the Note 7 Pro’s glass-metal design, the plastic gradient panel of the Realme 3 Pro, albeit elegant and understated, doesn’t come off as quite so premium. The cameras turn out good results in good lighting conditions, but details are missing in low-light shots, and the large sensor of the Note 7 Pro or the Galaxy M30 with its wide-angle camera are more versatile shooters. Single speaker and choice of micro-USB port is a let-down.
APPLE iPAD MinI
Price: Rs 34,900 onwards
Fans of the iPad mini form factor had little to cheer for the past four years with Apple focusing its tablet efforts on the larger Pro variants and showing little love to its most petite tablet. But it’s back, and how! It’s all at once a blast from the past and a taste of the best tech in iPads today, and has no rivals in its size segment.
It may look the same as the iPad mini of four years ago, thick bezels and all, but peep under the hood and the fifth-generation iPad mini packs in the same processing firepower as the current iPhones. With the A12 Bionic chip’s gains in processing, graphics and AR departments, Apple has made no compromises with the iPad mini, a decision that will keep the tablet relevant (and updated) for years after you make the purchase. All-round improvements abound — in particular gaming and augmented reality apps — and the much-loved form factor allows you to take it pretty much everywhere. And then there’s the improved high-resolution 7.9-inch retina display, with wider colour support and True Tone ambient light adjustments. And the ability to use the first-generation Apple Pencil for drawing, note taking and precision control in photo/video editing apps.
Design looks dated, and the TouchID fingerprint sensor, while snappy, is from an era gone by. Apple Pencil support is great, but the 7.9-inch canvas isn’t a lot to work with for a lot of content creation apps. And yes, the first-generation Pencil is still charged by plugging into the mini’s Lightning port, a design decision that still confounds me to this day.
DYSON PURE HOT+COOL
Price: Rs 54,900
The winters may be a distant memory now, but if you’re investing in an air purifier, you would do well to consider the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool. The latest in Dyson’s lineup of air purifiers, the Pure Hot+Cool not only pushes out clean air but can heat up a room as well, enabling year-round use.
Dyson products are instantly recognisable thanks to their striking design and the Pure Hot+Cool is no different — with its classic bladeless loop design and metallic finish, it looks like a mildly stunted version of the other tower models without losing any of the effectiveness of the taller siblings. Unlike regular electric heaters, which heat a patch of room directly in front of the machine, the Dyson evenly blows the warm air across the room, as much as 10m across. With the ability to tilt up and down and swivel 350-degrees to direct the airflow across the room, the air purifier is versatile and easy to use, requiring only a quick setup process via the app. Regular control is via the app or the included remote, and a handy on-device display shows you temperature, humidity and air quality levels. Air filtration is top-notch, with the device’s nine sensors constantly evaluating air quality for particles up to 0.1 micron small, and then running the air through the HEPA and activated carbon filters before pushing it out through the loop.
Pricey, but you’re getting the smartest and most technologically advanced air purifier for the money.
SAMSUNG GALAXY A70
Price: Rs 28,990
Samsung’s got a fresh lease of life in the mid-range with the rejuvenated A-series finally giving the brand a set of devices one can recommend, devices that often offer features found in more expensive flagships. And so it is with the A70, with its large Super AMOLED display, in-display fingerprint sensor, triple rear cameras, and support for Samsung Pay coming in at half the price of its S-series flagships. The competition is fierce in this segment in which it launches, but the A70 is a device worth considering.
It echoes the design language of its A-series siblings, with the iridescent gradient effect on its glass-like plastic rear panel, the curved metal rim around the sides and the bezel-less waterdrop display on the front. The curved rear panel makes the A70 comfortable to hold, crucial for a phone as tall and broad as this one. Ergonomics are good and the device is lightweight. The 6.7-inch display is aimed at media junkies, with the expansive and immersive Super AMOLED panel showing off punchy colours and great viewing angles, excellent for movies and gaming. The triple camera setup delivers good results in daylight, and the 960fps slow-motion videos are a treat to watch, but low-light results are mediocre at best. True Samsung Pay, with magnetic secure transmission (MST) support, is seen for the first time outside of the top-end S-series, which is a big bonus. The 4,500mAh battery and 25W fast charging round off what is an otherwise sorted and well thought through package.
The choice of a Snapdragon 675 chip (with 6GB/128GB of memory/storage) is a tad underwhelming at this price point — no complaints for day-to-day use from this reliable performer, but high settings on PUBG will give it some pause. The ultra-glossy back is a scratch/scuff magnet. In-screen fingerprint scanner is slow, use face unlock instead. Bottom firing speaker is barely audible.
AMAZON KINDLE 2019
Price: Rs 7,999
Over the past few years, one had to recommend the pricier Kindle Paperwhite since the entry-level Kindle lacked lighting on the display. The 10th generation Kindle changes that — the four-LED setup lets you pick from 24 levels of brightness and use the Kindle all day (and night).
The big leap forward is the screen lighting, but the rest is instantly familiar if you’ve used a Kindle previously. There’s six-inch, anti-glare e-ink display that is meant for doing one thing and one thing alone — making book reading a comfortable experience. Battery life is a standard two-four weeks based on your usage, and there’s Bluetooth connectivity to have your books read out loud. And, of course, you have access to the biggest e-book catalogue on the planet. The weight of the device is evenly distributed, making the Kindle easy to hold for extended sessions.
Still uses micro-USB port instead of the newer USB-C standard. A warmer screen tone would benefit night-time reading. The single 4GB storage option may limit the most avid readers, who might also prefer to spend a bit extra for the Paperwhite’s sharper display and waterproofing.
Tushar Kanwar is a tech columnist and commentator. Follow him on Twitter @2shar. Mail your tech queries to [email protected]