Reviews

Meizu M6s Review: A refreshing sight among budget options

It’s a budget phone that doesn’t feel like one

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Meizu may not be a household name in the  smartphone market, but they’re one of the popular Chinese manufacturers that have the potential to go global. We reviewed the Meizu M6 last year, and we were okay with it as a budget phone. Just last January though, the company announced the M6s which is an update to the M6 but it brought in more than minor upgrades.

Here’s my review of the M6s, which will begin with its physical features.

It has a 5.7-inch HD+ 18:9 display

A taller display for a budget phone!

There’s no physical home button but there’s the pressure sensitive Halo

An on-screen button for navigating through the UI

On the right are the fingerprint reader and power button

A clever spot to place the fingerprint scanner

While on the left are the volume buttons and hybrid card slot

You can’t have two SIM cards without sacrificing extra storage.

It’s pretty crowded at the bottom with the micro-USB port, 3.5mm audio jack, loudspeaker, and main microphone

There’s also a couple of screws

Our unit comes with a bright blue aluminum unibody

Certainly striking and unique among budget phones

Lastly, it has a single 16-megapixel rear shooter

Accompanied by a dual-tone LED flash

Beautifully crafted aluminum unibody

The Meizu M6s has a well-crafted unibody even if it’s priced under US$ 200. Its exterior is made of cold aluminum and a smooth front glass. Since the phone already sports a tall 18:9 display, there’s no space for the usual physical home button. Like with other Android phones, Meizu opted to use on-screen navigation buttons but they also put in a pressure sensor to enable what they call Super mBack. It uses a single virtual button called Halo to perform multiple commands. The Halo can recognize changes in pressure when pressed, so it knows when to go back or go home.

Speaking of the display, it measures 5.7 inches with a resolution of 1440 x 720 pixels. That translates to a 282ppi pixel density which is pretty low by today’s standards. It’s not that obvious to the naked eye though. Overall quality is good with pleasing color reproduction and acceptable black levels.

Another adjustment done by Meizu is that they moved the fingerprint reader to the right side — not on the back like with other phones. This is a similar approach to what we previously saw on Xperia phones, but the M6s’ fingerprint reader doesn’t double as a power button. There’s a dedicated button for power/lock on the right while the volume rocker is on the left. The button placement is a bit confusing at times and I accidentally take screenshots whenever I pick up the phone.

A non-Samsung phone powered by a Samsung processor

Unlike other Chinese phone manufacturers’ budget offerings, the M6s is powered by an Exynos processor — not MediaTek. Mind you, it’s the first phone to have the latest Exynos 7872 six-core processor from Samsung. It also has an ample 3GB of memory and 32GB of storage. So, how does this translate to real-life usage?

The performance is comparable or even better than higher-priced phones powered by the popular Snapdragon 625 (e.g., ASUS ZenFone 3, Moto G5S Plus). Only cheaper phones from Xiaomi like the Redmi 5 Plus can compete specs- and price-wise. Helping the phone perform well is Meizu’s own Flyme OS 6 which is based on Android Nougat. Flyme OS has the same characteristics of other Chinese-made skins on top of Android with no app drawer and customized system apps.

When it comes to gaming, the Mali-G71 GPU bundled with the Exynos processor can take a beating but doesn’t feel like the best in its class. My all-time favorite Asphalt Xtreme is set to “XDPI” by default which is the game’s highest graphics setting while Rules of Survival runs smoothly most of the time. I also tried the new Tekken Mobile game but it’s not yet optimized, or maybe it’s too much for the phone.

The camera gets the job done

Another piece of Samsung DNA that’s on the M6s is found in the cameras. Meizu claims to use Samsung CMOS sensors for both the 16-megapixel rear shooter and 8-megapixel selfie camera. Both also have a pretty wide aperture of f/2.0 which should help take better photos in the dark. Realistically, the rear camera takes good photos under the sun as seen with the daylight samples. It’s a different story though when there’s minimal light available.

Selfies are okay with built-in beautification features which include some makeup filters. It’s a fun tool to have and perhaps the ladies can take advantage of the feature more. There’s not much to say about the cameras’ performance but they get the job done and will do justice to your social media feed.

Surprisingly long-lasting battery

With a 3000mAh capacity, I expected the phone to get me through my usual workday, but what I didn’t expect is that it can even go longer. Based on my real-world usage, a fully charged M6s was able to last for almost 20 straight hours. That includes more than four hours of screen time, constant internet connection via mobile data or Wi-Fi, and heavy use of social media apps.

If that’s not enough for you, the M6s has a persuasive battery saving feature that alerts when it’s already below 30 percent. A fast-charging brick is bundled in the box, so charging up the phone is quicker than usual — something other budget phones don’t offer.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for a budget phone that doesn’t feel like one, you have to check out the Meizu M6s. It’s a great phone all around with some limitations to keep the price low. With the M6s, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of an 18:9 display and premium build. The solid construction of the phone is already a good selling point for a budget offering, but the M6s offers more than just that.

The Meizu M6s comes in four different colors: silver, gold, black, and blue — which is the one I have for review. The version I have here retails for CNY 999 (US$ 160) in China which comes with 32GB of storage. There’s a 64GB version for CNY 1,199 (US$ 190) if you want more internal space. Local pricing outside China will depend per region.

Laptops

Lenovo Yoga C930 Review: It could have been the best

It’s just missing one thing…

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It was during IFA 2018 when Lenovo introduced their latest premium convertible for consumers — the Yoga C930. It doesn’t have a good name, but it does offer everything a Yoga should, especially in media consumption.

Notebooks with flipping displays, like the Yoga lineup, are not just designed for typing. Most manufacturers market their convertibles to be perfect for entertainment, yet they largely fail in one aspect where they should shine — audio.

When Lenovo introduced the Yoga C930 with the rotating soundbar and Dolby Atmos, I hoped that it was not just a marketing ploy. But, is it? Let me share my thoughts about Lenovo’s newest convertible.

No fuss design

The Yoga C930 has a metal shell with a familiar aesthetic from Lenovo. My unit has a dark finish that’s aptly named Iron Gray. If you want a lighter shade, Lenovo is also offering the notebook in Mica, which is close to white. Everything about the body of the Yoga C930 screams premium; nothing here looks cheap or ugly.

To make it more special, the sides and the hinge of the Yoga C930 have a brushed finish. It’s a minor touch, but it’s highly noticeable whenever you’re checking where you should plug your peripherals. I also think that it helps hide unsightly scratches and gives the notebook a bit of shine.

While we’re at it, the available ports on the Yoga C930 are generally okay. It’s got two Thunderbolt 3 ports that fully support PowerDelivery, DisplayPort, and USB 3.1 functions. Both Thunderbolt 3 ports employ 4x lanes for PCIe, so you can connect the Yoga C930 to an external GPU, which is good because this laptop doesn’t have a dedicated graphics unit.

Apart from a couple of versatile USB-C interfaces, there’s also a classic full-size USB that we all know and love. Thankfully, Lenovo knows that this is still a widely used port and bringing a dongle just to read a thumb drive is a hassle. The 3.5mm audio port is also available when you need to plug in a pair of wired headphones.

All of the ports on the Yoga C930 are on its left side, leaving the right with just the power button. There are no volume buttons, either.

While I appreciate that Lenovo provided both USB-A and USB-C ports, I was still hoping for more; another USB-C with PowerDelivery on the right and a full-size SD card reader would do. The Yoga C930 is slim, but it’s not ultra-slim like the fan-less MacBook which got away with having one port (or maybe two if you count the headphone jack).

The Yoga C930 has a fairly large 14-inch display (13.9 inches according to Lenovo), but with minimum side bezels. Since this is made for watching videos, the aspect ratio is still stuck at 16:9.

There are two resolutions available for the Lenovo C930: Full HD or Ultra HD. The one I have here is just the Full HD variant, but it still has the key feature: Dolby Vision. The best way to fully appreciate the display is to play an HDR or Dolby Vision-enabled title. You can find some on Netflix if you’re using the highest-tier plan.

The display gets bright enough to be used outdoors and really dim when you need it to. It’s vibrant and has deep blacks even if it’s only an LCD panel.

When watching a video, I prefer to use the Yoga C930 in Tent mode. It can also be used in Stand mode with the keyboard facing down, but for some reason, Lenovo didn’t put little rubber feet to protect the keyboard when placed on a surface. You have to be cautious where you place the notebook or you risk scratching it.

The integrated soundbar of the Yoga C930 is designed to always face the user. That’s another advantage of watching videos in Tent mode; the speaker is facing upwards. I get to hear the sound directly without any muffle. I must say, the Yoga C930 has one of the clearest speakers I’ve tried on a notebook. It gets really loud, too.

It even has Dolby Atmos to enhance it further, but it’s not as immersive as advertised. To be fair though, I get to hear the stereo effect better than on other notebooks.

The device is least useful (for me) when it’s in Tablet mode. The Yoga C930 is too heavy to be a tablet, plus the 16:9 aspect ratio makes it feel like I’m reading from a really tall magazine. But, this is where the built-in pen comes in handy. The integrated stylus makes it easy for doodlers to annotate on screen.

Fast but not incredible

Let’s talk about power. The Yoga C930 I have is powered by the latest 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor paired with 12GB DDR4 memory and a 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD. Configurations may vary in some regions, so the Yoga C930 in your stores might be more powerful or inferior.

There’s one thing that’s missing though, and it’s not an option anyone can get either: discrete graphics.

As mentioned, the Yoga C930 is not an ultraportable. It has nowhere near the portability of Dell’s XPS 13 or even Lenovo’s own Yoga Book. It’s big enough to house at least a modest NVIDIA GeForce MX150 — just like the latest ZenBook from ASUS.

My usage includes multiple tabs on Chrome, some slight editing on Photoshop, and hours of binge-watching on Netflix. I primarily used the notebook for typing and browsing, which are not heavy tasks.

So far, I had no major performance issues during my time with the Yoga C930. I didn’t bother to install games because it lacks discrete graphics.

Of course, the notebook runs Windows 10. I got the October 2018 update just last week, and it made the dark mode better. It matches the gray motif of the device.

It’s ideal for my own use

Putting all the technical specifications aside, the Yoga C930 has been a great companion.

Aside from the soundbar, I also fully appreciate the notebook’s keyboard. It’s not as great as the one on ThinkPads, but it’s good enough for me. It’s well-spaced and has a good amount of key travel.

The touchpad uses Microsoft Precision drivers and it fully supports all the gestures of Windows 10. It has a glass surface and picks up all the inputs. A responsive touchpad and a good keyboard is the combo I need for work.

There’s also something about the craftsmanship of the Yoga C930 that gives assurance that it’s a well-built device. Perhaps it’s the balance between weight and dimensions.

Lastly, the webcam has a physically cover — just like a ThinkPad’s. It’s nice to see nifty features of Lenovo’s business laptops on a consumer device. I don’t have to cover the webcam anymore with a piece of tape.

Great battery life

I am generally impressed with the longevity of the Yoga C930. Lenovo promises all-day battery life, but we all know that is somehow a stretch. Based on my usage, I get around eight to nine hours. I also experience about the same when watching Netflix non-stop.

It’ll not beat records, but I am always assured that even if I leave my charger at home, I know I can rely on the Yoga C930 to get me through a full day.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

You probably already think that this is my GadgetMatch, which I’ll not deny. I had a good time with the Yoga C930, despite its shortcomings. It’s a premium convertible that managed to meet my expectations. I’m hoping Lenovo will soon have an option with discrete graphics. For now, you can maximize the device by plugging in an external GPU.

The Yoga C930 has a starting price of US$ 1,399. It’s a bit pricier than I expected from its specs, but it’s a premium convertible that offers more versatility than regular laptops.

SEE ALSO: Lenovo IdeaPad 530S, 330S, 330: Which is right for you?

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Drones

DJI Mavic 2 Pro Review: 1 month in

Not a perfect drone, but…

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We won’t bore you with a rundown of its specs, but instead, we’ll give you the lowdown on DJI’s new drone — what works, what doesn’t, and what’s there to love. This is our DJI Mavic 2 Pro review.

 

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Reviews

Apple iPad Pro (2018) Review: Not just a laptop replacement

It can be so much more

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Apple’s new iPad Pro is more beautiful, more powerful, and more useful. In this review, we answer the question in everyone’s head: Can it replace your laptop?

To see the iPad Pro as merely a possible laptop replacement is an injustice to the purpose it serves. It’s already a given that this is a great tablet, but this is a pro device and is more than just that. Its premium price tag can be justified by what it can enable creative professionals, business people, and even journalists to accomplish.

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