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Best Last-Generation Smartphones That Are Still Worth Getting in 2020

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Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro

While it is always a good idea to get the shiniest, newest gadget you can buy on the market, the last-generation devices aren’t that bad at all. In fact, if you think about flagship smartphones, these mobile devices should last you at least 2 or 3 years without any problems.

That being said, you can save a lot of money when you look for last-generation models as opposed to the new ones, so if you are looking for affordable last-generation smartphones, you are in the right article.

Today, I am going to be talking about the best last-generation smartphones that are still worth getting in 2020.

Best Last-Generation Smartphones

1.Huawei P30 

Price: $350-$400

Huawei P30 

The Huawei P30 is a great phone not only for photography but also for gaming as well. It comes equipped with the company’s last-generation flagship SoC in the form of the Kirin 980.

Its display is actually pretty good for most people. You get a 6.1-inch OLED screen that is HDR10 compatible with a resolution of 2340 x 1080.

People that still want to use a microSD card will be happy to know that this one also supports it but only up to 256GB. If you do intend to use an external memory card, you will have to use the other SIM card slot in the tray.

But, the main feature of this smartphone is the camera array. You get a 40-megapixel main shooter with laser autofocus and PDAF, and it is accompanied by an 8-megapixel telephoto lens, as well as a 16-megapixel ultrawide sensor.

The reason why it has pretty good cameras is that the phone uses lenses from Leica which is a renowned brand in the camera industry. So, if you are the type of person that wants a phone that they can rely on to capture stunning images, the Huawei P30 is the one to get.

It is currently being offered as low as $350 up to $400 which is a definite steal.

2.OnePlus 7T

Price: $399

OnePlus 7T

 

OnePlus is one of the first companies to ever create a mainstream smartphone that has a high refresh rate screen.

The OnePlus 7T is an improved version of the vanilla OnePlus 7 and with it comes slightly better specs and that fluid 90Hz display.

You get a 6.55-inch AMOLED screen that has a resolution of 2400 x 1080 and is HDR10+ compliant. That means that watching HDR content from Netflix, for example, would provide you with a stunning visual experience.

A lot of people love OxygenOS which is the company’s own take on the Android theme, so if you want a simple interface that you can easily navigate through, this is the one to get.

The phone is no slouch at all when it comes to the performance department. You get a device that is packed with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ processor and the Adreno 640 GPU. It is safe to say that playing any Android game out there is possible with the 7T.

Although this one doesn’t have expandable storage, you do have the option to get the 128GB or the 256GB variant. In addition, you are getting UFS 3.0 storage which is quite fast in both read and write performance so opening and transferring files to and from your phone will be almost instantaneous.

Even though its cameras are middling at best when compared to the likes of the Google Pixel 3 XL, You do get a 48-megapixel shooter, along with an ultra-wide and telephoto lens to complement it.

Of course, this device charges quickly thanks to the included 30-watt warp charger. This thing can top up the phone in under 60 minutes which is really nice.

As a standalone product (meaning, no carrier service), you can get the OnePlus 7T for just $399 at the time of writing.

3.Asus Zenfone 6

Price: $450

Asus Zenfone 6

In 2019, most of the phones that you can find on the market all sport bezel-less displays without any camera on the screen. Well, the selfie camera is actually retractable and usually resides at the top portion of the phone, albeit tucked away in its space.

There have been many concerns about the retracting feature of such devices and so Asus wants to alleviate those concerns by also offering a phone with a bezel-less display with an interesting take on cameras.

Instead of having an actual selfie camera, Asus has made it a point to make the back cameras be the front cameras as well. To do that, you get an interesting motorized mechanism that allows you to use the cameras on the back of the phone and situate it to the front just by tapping the appropriate icon.

So, its 48-megapixel main camera lens and its 13-megapixel ultra-wide sensor can be used as a selfie camera as well which is pretty unique. In fact, it is the only phone in the wild that uses this kind of mechanism, so I’d have to give props to Asus for thinking about a unique take on the motorized camera mechanism.

Well, aside from its interesting take on cameras, you get a 6.4-inch IPS LCD display that is HDR10 compatible and has a resolution of 2340 x 1080. Although its screen is not as good as the other phones on this list, it still provides a somewhat good viewing experience nonetheless.

Its processing package is pretty good as well. You get a past flagship SoC in the form of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip and the Adreno 640 GPU.

You get to choose between 128GB/6GB RAM or 256GB/8GB variants, though keep in mind that it only uses the last-generation UFS 2.1 storage which is a bit slower than today’s flagships.

Although what the company did was admirable, there are some issues that might deter you from getting this device.

For one, its ‘fast’ 18-watt charger is quite slow by today’s standards. And second, its screen is an IPS display. It would have been nice if it had an AMOLED panel.

But hey, the issues are by no means a bummer because this is still quite a competitive phone in this day and age.

4.Samsung Galaxy S10

Price: $450

Samsung Galaxy S10

Who would have thought that Samsung’s previous flagships can go as low as $450 dollars? That’s right, if you are looking for one of the best phones under $500, last year’s Samsung Galaxy S10 is worth getting right now.

For those of you who do not know, Samsung’s flagship devices are always considered as one of the best. It usually has a pretty good display (sometimes even class-leading) and it has cameras that can somewhat rival what Google has to offer in its own smartphone lineup.

The base version of the S10 has a 6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED display which has an always-on feature, is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 6, and has a resolution of 3040 x 1440. That’s right, its 1440p resolution just makes any content that you see with this device will be crisp and amazing.

Even though it comes with Android 9 out of the box, you should receive a notification that will prompt you to download the latest version of Android. It still remains to be seen if the company would support Android 11 with its year-old flagship but it would be interesting if it does so.

When it comes to performance, you get two options. You either get a version that has the Exynos chip or one that comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC. If you live in the US, you should be getting the latter while in other parts of the country, you could be getting either of them.

Storage is plenty as you can have the choice of getting a 128GB phone with the option to expand the storage at a later date thanks to its microSD card support.

The S10’s cameras are pretty good and it ranks a bit lower than the Google Pixel devices.

Seriously, with a vivid screen and a performance package that can handle any application out there, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is quite an appealing phone to get in 2020.

5.Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro

Price: $350

Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro

If I were to tell you that you can buy a 2019 flagship device for under $400, you might laugh at me, but that is actually true with the last phone on the list.

The Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro has been available worldwide since August 21 of last year and this phone is nothing short of spectacular.

First are the aesthetics. When you look at the device, it gives off that premium look and feel and that is what you should be feeling when you are holding an expensive device.

You get a 6.39-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2340 x 1080 and while it can play HDR content, it doesn’t support HDR10+.

You also get a flagship processor in the form of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 and you get to choose between three storage variants: 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB. I would be getting the 128GB or 256GB version though as this phone doesn’t have expandable storage.

Its motorized pop-up selfie camera allows you to have more screen real estate, which is why plenty of people love this as a media-consumption phone.

Speaking of cameras, you get a 48-megapixel main shooter that is complemented with an 8-megapixel telephoto lens and a 13-megapixel ultra-wide sensor.

The quality of the camera is a middling performer but it is still pretty good compared to mid-range phones, for example.

Its 4,000 mAh battery should last you a whole day and if you need to charge this thing, you get a Qualcomm 4.0+, 27-watt charger included in the box.

Conclusion

As a consumer, you should be okay with the idea of buying last year’s flagship devices. They are equipped with top of the line specs at the time which means that you can use it without any issues for at least 3 years.

The phones on this list are priced just right and the prices have been discounted quite significantly from the original.

So, if you are looking for an affordable smartphone with flagship specs, just refer to this list and you won’t be disappointed.

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Google Nest Audio vs Amazon Echo- The Battle of the New ‘Smart’ Speakers

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Google Nest Audio vs Amazon Echo

Smart home speakers are not as popular as mobile phones, but in my opinion, it actually should be.

You see, companies are slowly rolling out smart home devices so that your life will be so much easier given the convenience of having them.

That being said, I am going to be talking about the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo speakers because they are the ones that are at the forefront when it comes to smart home speakers. Which of these should you choose? Read on to find out!

Design

For those of you who do not know, Google Nest Audio is actually the Google Home speakers that were released just about a year ago. It seems that Google wanted to use a new moniker to denote that this particular thing can ‘nest’ your other smart home devices.

The Amazon Echo, on the other hand, refers to the medium-sized Bluetooth speaker that the largest online retailer sells. The company is set to release a new version of this device soon, so it would be interesting to see how well it performs.

Even though the new version of the Amazon Echo hasn’t arrived at our doorstep yet for an official review, this is not to say that we can somehow speculate what it can offer, especially considering that the company has provided us with some really good information about it.

With all of those out of the way, let’s talk more about the design first. The Google Nest Audio takes on a more cylindrical approach in that the speaker itself has a higher height than the Amazon Echo.

For that reason, you are getting a 75mm woofer and a single 19mm tweeter. Google touts the Google Nest Audio as a better sound solution compared to its original Google Home Speaker because of the changes.

On the other hand, the Amazon Echo, in my opinion, has better sound quality. That is thanks to its two 20mm tweeters and a huge 76.2mm woofer. Its design is more spherical but I am pleased (and surprised) that Amazon was able to include two tweeters on its Bluetooth speaker implementation.

At the base of the Amazon Echo is a blue light ring that changes the way it emits light depending on the current usage.

Both of these Bluetooth speakers are offered in various colors so you have different options to choose from.

Sound Quality

Amazon Echo

If you look at the design of both speakers, you could make a case that the Amazon Echo wins this round when it comes to pure sound quality. Its two tweeters compared to the single tweeter on the Google Nest Audio, provides it with a much better chance of delivering mid-high sound frequencies.

This is not to discount the fact that Google has some tricks up its sleeves because its AI technology is smart enough to adjust the sound quality on the fly when needed.

Both of the speakers have an adaptive sound feature wherein if it detects that the ambient noise is loud enough, it increases the volume of whatever content you are consuming at that moment to compensate. This is using both of the speakers’ microphones. The volume should normalize to the last known level after it detects that the ambient sound has quieted down.

Of course, this is only my opinion after looking at the spec sheet because I will have to get my hands on these things before I can give my honest opinion. But, my initial assessment would be that the Amazon Echo delivers better sound compared to the Google Nest Audio.

Smart Features

Google Nest Audio

To be able to provide you with ‘smart’ features, both the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo are equipped with processors that can handle just that.

The Google Nest Audio comes with the company’s TeraOPS A53 processor which is a quad-core chip that boasts of better performance compared to the company’s previous Bluetooth speakers.

On the other hand, Amazon’s own speaker is equipped with the AZ1 Neural Edge processor that, according to the company, should be more responsive to voice commands compared to previous versions.

It is hard to say who wins this round. You see, Amazon has Zigbee hub integration which means that your connected smart home devices have better compatibility with the said speaker because of this.

However, we all know that Google’s AI technology is so advanced (and even more accurate) than Alexa, so it could potentially provide you with better features overall compared to Amazon’s Bluetooth speaker.

Of course, I cannot truly say which one wins this round until I get to review these wireless audio solutions. In that case, stay tuned for more.

Availability

The Google Nest Audio will be available on October 5, while the Amazon Echo will not be released until later this month (October 22). That being said, both of these speakers will retail for $99.99, so stay tuned for our official product reviews to help you know which one you should ultimately choose for yourself.

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Apple iPad 8th Generation Review- An Iterative Upgrade

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Apple iPad 8th Generation Review

When it comes to ease of use and convenience, people like getting Apple’s products because of its more streamlined approach to everything. Sure, there is a lot to tinker on Android but that is also precisely the reason why the user experience, at least for the layman, is not as great.

That being said, the 8th generation iPad was just released after the new iOS 14 update was launched. But, if you already have a 6th or 7th generation iPad, should you upgrade to the new one?

Design

Apple iPad 8th Generation Review 2020

There is this saying that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well, although I would have liked to say that here, I just don’t think that that approach applies here.

You see, the design of the 8th generation iPad is identical to its predecessor. As in everything about its aesthetics are similar which means that if you want to imagine what the new iPad looks like, all you have to do is look at the 7th gen variant.

Like all things, it can be a good thing or a bad thing. It is a good thing because that familiar design should feel right at home, especially for people that already own an iPad. It is bad because, in this day and age, more and more mobile devices have slimmer bezels and the new iPad still has those atrociously huge ones.

Don’t get me wrong, there are practical uses to having large bezels as it allows you to hold the tablet better when using it in landscape mode, but if you are watching online content, you can’t help but be bothered by the huge sides.

There are two versions of the 8th generation iPad and that is one with WiFi only and the other one having LTE. Its dimensions are 9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29. The only difference between the WiFi and the LTE versions is that the latter is a bit heavier at 495 grams compared to the 490 grams of the former.

Thankfully, Apple didn’t remove the headphone jack but if you are going to utilize its built-in speakers, you are better off using a good Bluetooth speaker instead.

Display

Apple iPad 8th Gen

The 8th generation iPad has a 10.2-inch Retina Display with a resolution of 2160 x 1620 and 264 pixels per inch or PPI. It has a good peak brightness at 500 nits, though you can still experience some problems when you are outside and the sun is shining brightly.

You can utilize the Apple Pencil on this device and it is also quite accurate as well (just keep in mind that it is sold separately).

What I love about iPads, in general, is that their displays provide you with crisp and clear details. Whether you are working on your documents or perhaps watching your favorite movies and TV shows, they do not disappoint.

Specs and Performance

  • CPU: A12 Bionic
  • GPU: Apple GPU (4-core graphics)
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32GB/128GB
  • Display: 10.2-inch Retina IPS LCD Display, 2160 x 1620, 4:3 aspect ratio, 500 nits brightness, 264 PPI
  • OS: iPadOS 14
  • Cameras: 8-megapixel (back), 1.2-megapixel (front)
  • Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 AC, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Battery: 32.4 Wh

So, if the 8th generation iPad has an identical design to its predecessor, what has changed here? Well, I am glad you asked. The only notable difference here is that the new model comes with the A12 Bionic chip and that’s pretty much it.

While you could be unhappy with the change, the new CPU actually beats its predecessor by a lot. By using Geekbench 5, single-core scores are about 60% higher than the 7th gen iPad and about 100% better in multi-core tasks than the previous model.

Granted that the said benchmark is relatively old, you couldn’t argue that the new processor is indeed way better than its predecessor.

Even when you are just using the tablet the way it should be used, you can really tell the difference. This is more evident if you are going to play some games

Now, do not worry about the 3GB of RAM because the iOS ecosystem is quite streamlined and efficient that you normally wouldn’t need more than that.

It should also go without saying that the included cameras are just there for show and they do not really do anything special, so I don’t think that covering them is warranted here.

Apple iPad 8th Gen Review

Verdict

Sure, the new 8th generation iPad doesn’t bring a lot to the table, but its new processor is leaps and bounds better than its predecessor. Does that justify buying the new one? Probably not, especially if you already own the 7th generation model.

However, if you own an older iPad and you want better performance across the board, then you could probably spend your money to get one.

My gripe here is that there are only two storage options to choose from. You can get the 32GB variant for only $329 but in this day and age, 32GB is not a lot of storage space.

If you want more storage, you will need to spend an additional $100 premium just to get the 128GB model. In fact, I would go on to say that you should be buying this particular model compared to the 32GB variant. I just don’t like that the company is gouging you another $100 ($429 in total) just to get one.

The 8th generation iPad is disappointing in a lot of ways and its only redeeming quality is its new processor. It would have been nice if there is a redesign or that the lightning cable is changed to USB-C, but there is just not a lot of things to talk about here.

Therefore, I should say that the 8th generation iPad is just an iterative upgrade. Whether you want to buy it or not is entirely up to you.

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Amazon Echo Studio Review- The Bigger ‘Echo’ Speaker That Competes

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Amazon Echo Studio Review

Amazon, the biggest online retailer in the world, has created its own AI implementation in the form of the Amazon Alexa.

It is actually quite polished and it can go against Apple’s Siri and Google’s own AI. That being said, the company has released some ‘Echo’ speakers that not only act as Bluetooth audio devices but as smart devices as well.

Today, I am going to be reviewing the Amazon Echo Studio. Does this thing really have what it takes to compete with the others?

Design

One of the biggest criticisms of Amazon’s Echo speakers of the past is that although its smart features are okay, their sound output leaves much to be desired. As a way of addressing the issue, Amazon has built the Echo Studio.

The Amazon Echo Studio is pretty big. It is 8 inches in height and 7 inches wide so this is indeed a pretty hefty audio solution. In fact, I would go on to say that this is one of the biggest Bluetooth speakers on the market.

Its design is pretty much akin to the Amazon Echo speakers of old. You get a fabric mesh design that encapsulates the speaker itself with all of its button controls situated at the top of the device.

You also get a blue ring light that will pretty much add to the aesthetic appeal of the unit. The microphone is also placed at the top and it is always on ‘listening mode’ so that whenever you want to interact with Alexa, it can do so at a moment’s notice.

Although you cannot see it, the Amazon Echo Studio is actually powered by a subwoofer, a tweeter, and four mid-range speakers that are mounted at the top and the sides. This thing is a beast as it can output 330 watts of power when needed, which is ample enough even for home cinema setups.

Audio Performance

Amazon Echo Studio Review 2020

The Amazon Echo Studio is quite a powerful Bluetooth speaker. No matter what genre of content you’d like to consume, this thing can output the necessary sound to make your viewing experience more immersive.

I am usually keen on an audio solution’s performance when it comes to playing music and I am happy with the Echo Studio’s prowess.

Although it favors the lower frequencies more than the mids and the highs, it does so without drowning the latter two, which is something that you normally do not see on large Bluetooth speakers.

An interesting feature that the Amazon Echo Studio has is its support for 3D Audio. You will need to sign in to your Amazon Music HD account before you can get a hold of this feature and it is the only platform that supports the Echo Studio’s 3D Audio. Amazon did mention that it will hand out support for other streaming platforms at a later date though.

So, how is the speaker’s performance on that front? Well, I am not really sure what to think about it as I have mixed feelings about the said feature.

3D audio is meant to provide a more immersive listening experience but I can hardly tell the difference between traditional Hi-Res audio and this one.

I guess you could say that for tracks that have a more melodic tone that you can discern a 3D audio-enabled track from a regular track, but other than that, non-audiophiles can hardly tell the difference.

To be fair, the said feature is still not polished yet, so expect it to improve in the years to come.

The Amazon Echo Studio also has seamless integration with the Amazon Fire TV Stick, though it does support all other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu as well.

You are also given the option to link up another Amazon Echo Studio speaker so that you can have them work in tandem to provide you with even better sound. I do not have a second unit though, so I cannot really tell anything about this. But, the feature is there if you want to get another unit.

Features

Amazon Echo Studio

Aside from 3D audio, the Echo Studio also acts as a control hub for your smart devices. You can use Alexa to turn off your lights at a specific time of the night or you can have it play your favorite track if you want. The possibilities are endless.

Do keep in mind that while it should support most of the smart home devices that you can buy on the market, there are some products that do not play ball. 

For instance, some smart locks can only be supported using Apple’s Siri, so you cannot control that using this device.

You can also link up a second Echo Studio speaker if you have one and you can use both of them to provide you with an even more powerful and more immersive listening experience.

You can control the speaker’s features by manually tapping on the buttons at the top of the device or by downloading its companion app.

Conclusion

Amazon has finally solved the issue of the Amazon Echo speakers of the past by giving you a relatively large speaker that can do a lot of things.

The Amazon Echo Studio has support for 3D audio, but you will need to have an Amazon Music HD account to get a hold of the said feature.

You can also use the speaker to control your smart home devices which is pretty nice. The microphone is always on listening mode so that you can call Alexa’s attention at a moment’s notice.

Normally, I would expect a product like this to cost more than $300, but the Amazon Echo Studio actually costs just $199. I guess getting another one is not too far out of the equation, eh?

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Best Last-Generation Smartphones That Are Still Worth Getting in 2020

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Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro

While it is always a good idea to get the shiniest, newest gadget you can buy on the market, the last-generation devices aren’t that bad at all. In fact, if you think about flagship smartphones, these mobile devices should last you at least 2 or 3 years without any problems.

That being said, you can save a lot of money when you look for last-generation models as opposed to the new ones, so if you are looking for affordable last-generation smartphones, you are in the right article.

Today, I am going to be talking about the best last-generation smartphones that are still worth getting in 2020.

Best Last-Generation Smartphones

1.Huawei P30 

Price: $350-$400

Huawei P30 

The Huawei P30 is a great phone not only for photography but also for gaming as well. It comes equipped with the company’s last-generation flagship SoC in the form of the Kirin 980.

Its display is actually pretty good for most people. You get a 6.1-inch OLED screen that is HDR10 compatible with a resolution of 2340 x 1080.

People that still want to use a microSD card will be happy to know that this one also supports it but only up to 256GB. If you do intend to use an external memory card, you will have to use the other SIM card slot in the tray.

But, the main feature of this smartphone is the camera array. You get a 40-megapixel main shooter with laser autofocus and PDAF, and it is accompanied by an 8-megapixel telephoto lens, as well as a 16-megapixel ultrawide sensor.

The reason why it has pretty good cameras is that the phone uses lenses from Leica which is a renowned brand in the camera industry. So, if you are the type of person that wants a phone that they can rely on to capture stunning images, the Huawei P30 is the one to get.

It is currently being offered as low as $350 up to $400 which is a definite steal.

2.OnePlus 7T

Price: $399

OnePlus 7T

 

OnePlus is one of the first companies to ever create a mainstream smartphone that has a high refresh rate screen.

The OnePlus 7T is an improved version of the vanilla OnePlus 7 and with it comes slightly better specs and that fluid 90Hz display.

You get a 6.55-inch AMOLED screen that has a resolution of 2400 x 1080 and is HDR10+ compliant. That means that watching HDR content from Netflix, for example, would provide you with a stunning visual experience.

A lot of people love OxygenOS which is the company’s own take on the Android theme, so if you want a simple interface that you can easily navigate through, this is the one to get.

The phone is no slouch at all when it comes to the performance department. You get a device that is packed with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ processor and the Adreno 640 GPU. It is safe to say that playing any Android game out there is possible with the 7T.

Although this one doesn’t have expandable storage, you do have the option to get the 128GB or the 256GB variant. In addition, you are getting UFS 3.0 storage which is quite fast in both read and write performance so opening and transferring files to and from your phone will be almost instantaneous.

Even though its cameras are middling at best when compared to the likes of the Google Pixel 3 XL, You do get a 48-megapixel shooter, along with an ultra-wide and telephoto lens to complement it.

Of course, this device charges quickly thanks to the included 30-watt warp charger. This thing can top up the phone in under 60 minutes which is really nice.

As a standalone product (meaning, no carrier service), you can get the OnePlus 7T for just $399 at the time of writing.

3.Asus Zenfone 6

Price: $450

Asus Zenfone 6

In 2019, most of the phones that you can find on the market all sport bezel-less displays without any camera on the screen. Well, the selfie camera is actually retractable and usually resides at the top portion of the phone, albeit tucked away in its space.

There have been many concerns about the retracting feature of such devices and so Asus wants to alleviate those concerns by also offering a phone with a bezel-less display with an interesting take on cameras.

Instead of having an actual selfie camera, Asus has made it a point to make the back cameras be the front cameras as well. To do that, you get an interesting motorized mechanism that allows you to use the cameras on the back of the phone and situate it to the front just by tapping the appropriate icon.

So, its 48-megapixel main camera lens and its 13-megapixel ultra-wide sensor can be used as a selfie camera as well which is pretty unique. In fact, it is the only phone in the wild that uses this kind of mechanism, so I’d have to give props to Asus for thinking about a unique take on the motorized camera mechanism.

Well, aside from its interesting take on cameras, you get a 6.4-inch IPS LCD display that is HDR10 compatible and has a resolution of 2340 x 1080. Although its screen is not as good as the other phones on this list, it still provides a somewhat good viewing experience nonetheless.

Its processing package is pretty good as well. You get a past flagship SoC in the form of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip and the Adreno 640 GPU.

You get to choose between 128GB/6GB RAM or 256GB/8GB variants, though keep in mind that it only uses the last-generation UFS 2.1 storage which is a bit slower than today’s flagships.

Although what the company did was admirable, there are some issues that might deter you from getting this device.

For one, its ‘fast’ 18-watt charger is quite slow by today’s standards. And second, its screen is an IPS display. It would have been nice if it had an AMOLED panel.

But hey, the issues are by no means a bummer because this is still quite a competitive phone in this day and age.

4.Samsung Galaxy S10

Price: $450

Samsung Galaxy S10

Who would have thought that Samsung’s previous flagships can go as low as $450 dollars? That’s right, if you are looking for one of the best phones under $500, last year’s Samsung Galaxy S10 is worth getting right now.

For those of you who do not know, Samsung’s flagship devices are always considered as one of the best. It usually has a pretty good display (sometimes even class-leading) and it has cameras that can somewhat rival what Google has to offer in its own smartphone lineup.

The base version of the S10 has a 6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED display which has an always-on feature, is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 6, and has a resolution of 3040 x 1440. That’s right, its 1440p resolution just makes any content that you see with this device will be crisp and amazing.

Even though it comes with Android 9 out of the box, you should receive a notification that will prompt you to download the latest version of Android. It still remains to be seen if the company would support Android 11 with its year-old flagship but it would be interesting if it does so.

When it comes to performance, you get two options. You either get a version that has the Exynos chip or one that comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC. If you live in the US, you should be getting the latter while in other parts of the country, you could be getting either of them.

Storage is plenty as you can have the choice of getting a 128GB phone with the option to expand the storage at a later date thanks to its microSD card support.

The S10’s cameras are pretty good and it ranks a bit lower than the Google Pixel devices.

Seriously, with a vivid screen and a performance package that can handle any application out there, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is quite an appealing phone to get in 2020.

5.Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro

Price: $350

Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro

If I were to tell you that you can buy a 2019 flagship device for under $400, you might laugh at me, but that is actually true with the last phone on the list.

The Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro has been available worldwide since August 21 of last year and this phone is nothing short of spectacular.

First are the aesthetics. When you look at the device, it gives off that premium look and feel and that is what you should be feeling when you are holding an expensive device.

You get a 6.39-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2340 x 1080 and while it can play HDR content, it doesn’t support HDR10+.

You also get a flagship processor in the form of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 and you get to choose between three storage variants: 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB. I would be getting the 128GB or 256GB version though as this phone doesn’t have expandable storage.

Its motorized pop-up selfie camera allows you to have more screen real estate, which is why plenty of people love this as a media-consumption phone.

Speaking of cameras, you get a 48-megapixel main shooter that is complemented with an 8-megapixel telephoto lens and a 13-megapixel ultra-wide sensor.

The quality of the camera is a middling performer but it is still pretty good compared to mid-range phones, for example.

Its 4,000 mAh battery should last you a whole day and if you need to charge this thing, you get a Qualcomm 4.0+, 27-watt charger included in the box.

Conclusion

As a consumer, you should be okay with the idea of buying last year’s flagship devices. They are equipped with top of the line specs at the time which means that you can use it without any issues for at least 3 years.

The phones on this list are priced just right and the prices have been discounted quite significantly from the original.

So, if you are looking for an affordable smartphone with flagship specs, just refer to this list and you won’t be disappointed.

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Google Nest Audio vs Amazon Echo- The Battle of the New ‘Smart’ Speakers

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Google Nest Audio vs Amazon Echo

Smart home speakers are not as popular as mobile phones, but in my opinion, it actually should be.

You see, companies are slowly rolling out smart home devices so that your life will be so much easier given the convenience of having them.

That being said, I am going to be talking about the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo speakers because they are the ones that are at the forefront when it comes to smart home speakers. Which of these should you choose? Read on to find out!

Design

For those of you who do not know, Google Nest Audio is actually the Google Home speakers that were released just about a year ago. It seems that Google wanted to use a new moniker to denote that this particular thing can ‘nest’ your other smart home devices.

The Amazon Echo, on the other hand, refers to the medium-sized Bluetooth speaker that the largest online retailer sells. The company is set to release a new version of this device soon, so it would be interesting to see how well it performs.

Even though the new version of the Amazon Echo hasn’t arrived at our doorstep yet for an official review, this is not to say that we can somehow speculate what it can offer, especially considering that the company has provided us with some really good information about it.

With all of those out of the way, let’s talk more about the design first. The Google Nest Audio takes on a more cylindrical approach in that the speaker itself has a higher height than the Amazon Echo.

For that reason, you are getting a 75mm woofer and a single 19mm tweeter. Google touts the Google Nest Audio as a better sound solution compared to its original Google Home Speaker because of the changes.

On the other hand, the Amazon Echo, in my opinion, has better sound quality. That is thanks to its two 20mm tweeters and a huge 76.2mm woofer. Its design is more spherical but I am pleased (and surprised) that Amazon was able to include two tweeters on its Bluetooth speaker implementation.

At the base of the Amazon Echo is a blue light ring that changes the way it emits light depending on the current usage.

Both of these Bluetooth speakers are offered in various colors so you have different options to choose from.

Sound Quality

Amazon Echo

If you look at the design of both speakers, you could make a case that the Amazon Echo wins this round when it comes to pure sound quality. Its two tweeters compared to the single tweeter on the Google Nest Audio, provides it with a much better chance of delivering mid-high sound frequencies.

This is not to discount the fact that Google has some tricks up its sleeves because its AI technology is smart enough to adjust the sound quality on the fly when needed.

Both of the speakers have an adaptive sound feature wherein if it detects that the ambient noise is loud enough, it increases the volume of whatever content you are consuming at that moment to compensate. This is using both of the speakers’ microphones. The volume should normalize to the last known level after it detects that the ambient sound has quieted down.

Of course, this is only my opinion after looking at the spec sheet because I will have to get my hands on these things before I can give my honest opinion. But, my initial assessment would be that the Amazon Echo delivers better sound compared to the Google Nest Audio.

Smart Features

Google Nest Audio

To be able to provide you with ‘smart’ features, both the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo are equipped with processors that can handle just that.

The Google Nest Audio comes with the company’s TeraOPS A53 processor which is a quad-core chip that boasts of better performance compared to the company’s previous Bluetooth speakers.

On the other hand, Amazon’s own speaker is equipped with the AZ1 Neural Edge processor that, according to the company, should be more responsive to voice commands compared to previous versions.

It is hard to say who wins this round. You see, Amazon has Zigbee hub integration which means that your connected smart home devices have better compatibility with the said speaker because of this.

However, we all know that Google’s AI technology is so advanced (and even more accurate) than Alexa, so it could potentially provide you with better features overall compared to Amazon’s Bluetooth speaker.

Of course, I cannot truly say which one wins this round until I get to review these wireless audio solutions. In that case, stay tuned for more.

Availability

The Google Nest Audio will be available on October 5, while the Amazon Echo will not be released until later this month (October 22). That being said, both of these speakers will retail for $99.99, so stay tuned for our official product reviews to help you know which one you should ultimately choose for yourself.

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Apple iPad 8th Generation Review- An Iterative Upgrade

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Apple iPad 8th Generation Review

When it comes to ease of use and convenience, people like getting Apple’s products because of its more streamlined approach to everything. Sure, there is a lot to tinker on Android but that is also precisely the reason why the user experience, at least for the layman, is not as great.

That being said, the 8th generation iPad was just released after the new iOS 14 update was launched. But, if you already have a 6th or 7th generation iPad, should you upgrade to the new one?

Design

Apple iPad 8th Generation Review 2020

There is this saying that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well, although I would have liked to say that here, I just don’t think that that approach applies here.

You see, the design of the 8th generation iPad is identical to its predecessor. As in everything about its aesthetics are similar which means that if you want to imagine what the new iPad looks like, all you have to do is look at the 7th gen variant.

Like all things, it can be a good thing or a bad thing. It is a good thing because that familiar design should feel right at home, especially for people that already own an iPad. It is bad because, in this day and age, more and more mobile devices have slimmer bezels and the new iPad still has those atrociously huge ones.

Don’t get me wrong, there are practical uses to having large bezels as it allows you to hold the tablet better when using it in landscape mode, but if you are watching online content, you can’t help but be bothered by the huge sides.

There are two versions of the 8th generation iPad and that is one with WiFi only and the other one having LTE. Its dimensions are 9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29. The only difference between the WiFi and the LTE versions is that the latter is a bit heavier at 495 grams compared to the 490 grams of the former.

Thankfully, Apple didn’t remove the headphone jack but if you are going to utilize its built-in speakers, you are better off using a good Bluetooth speaker instead.

Display

Apple iPad 8th Gen

The 8th generation iPad has a 10.2-inch Retina Display with a resolution of 2160 x 1620 and 264 pixels per inch or PPI. It has a good peak brightness at 500 nits, though you can still experience some problems when you are outside and the sun is shining brightly.

You can utilize the Apple Pencil on this device and it is also quite accurate as well (just keep in mind that it is sold separately).

What I love about iPads, in general, is that their displays provide you with crisp and clear details. Whether you are working on your documents or perhaps watching your favorite movies and TV shows, they do not disappoint.

Specs and Performance

  • CPU: A12 Bionic
  • GPU: Apple GPU (4-core graphics)
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32GB/128GB
  • Display: 10.2-inch Retina IPS LCD Display, 2160 x 1620, 4:3 aspect ratio, 500 nits brightness, 264 PPI
  • OS: iPadOS 14
  • Cameras: 8-megapixel (back), 1.2-megapixel (front)
  • Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 AC, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Battery: 32.4 Wh

So, if the 8th generation iPad has an identical design to its predecessor, what has changed here? Well, I am glad you asked. The only notable difference here is that the new model comes with the A12 Bionic chip and that’s pretty much it.

While you could be unhappy with the change, the new CPU actually beats its predecessor by a lot. By using Geekbench 5, single-core scores are about 60% higher than the 7th gen iPad and about 100% better in multi-core tasks than the previous model.

Granted that the said benchmark is relatively old, you couldn’t argue that the new processor is indeed way better than its predecessor.

Even when you are just using the tablet the way it should be used, you can really tell the difference. This is more evident if you are going to play some games

Now, do not worry about the 3GB of RAM because the iOS ecosystem is quite streamlined and efficient that you normally wouldn’t need more than that.

It should also go without saying that the included cameras are just there for show and they do not really do anything special, so I don’t think that covering them is warranted here.

Apple iPad 8th Gen Review

Verdict

Sure, the new 8th generation iPad doesn’t bring a lot to the table, but its new processor is leaps and bounds better than its predecessor. Does that justify buying the new one? Probably not, especially if you already own the 7th generation model.

However, if you own an older iPad and you want better performance across the board, then you could probably spend your money to get one.

My gripe here is that there are only two storage options to choose from. You can get the 32GB variant for only $329 but in this day and age, 32GB is not a lot of storage space.

If you want more storage, you will need to spend an additional $100 premium just to get the 128GB model. In fact, I would go on to say that you should be buying this particular model compared to the 32GB variant. I just don’t like that the company is gouging you another $100 ($429 in total) just to get one.

The 8th generation iPad is disappointing in a lot of ways and its only redeeming quality is its new processor. It would have been nice if there is a redesign or that the lightning cable is changed to USB-C, but there is just not a lot of things to talk about here.

Therefore, I should say that the 8th generation iPad is just an iterative upgrade. Whether you want to buy it or not is entirely up to you.

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Amazon Echo Studio Review- The Bigger ‘Echo’ Speaker That Competes

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Amazon Echo Studio Review

Amazon, the biggest online retailer in the world, has created its own AI implementation in the form of the Amazon Alexa.

It is actually quite polished and it can go against Apple’s Siri and Google’s own AI. That being said, the company has released some ‘Echo’ speakers that not only act as Bluetooth audio devices but as smart devices as well.

Today, I am going to be reviewing the Amazon Echo Studio. Does this thing really have what it takes to compete with the others?

Design

One of the biggest criticisms of Amazon’s Echo speakers of the past is that although its smart features are okay, their sound output leaves much to be desired. As a way of addressing the issue, Amazon has built the Echo Studio.

The Amazon Echo Studio is pretty big. It is 8 inches in height and 7 inches wide so this is indeed a pretty hefty audio solution. In fact, I would go on to say that this is one of the biggest Bluetooth speakers on the market.

Its design is pretty much akin to the Amazon Echo speakers of old. You get a fabric mesh design that encapsulates the speaker itself with all of its button controls situated at the top of the device.

You also get a blue ring light that will pretty much add to the aesthetic appeal of the unit. The microphone is also placed at the top and it is always on ‘listening mode’ so that whenever you want to interact with Alexa, it can do so at a moment’s notice.

Although you cannot see it, the Amazon Echo Studio is actually powered by a subwoofer, a tweeter, and four mid-range speakers that are mounted at the top and the sides. This thing is a beast as it can output 330 watts of power when needed, which is ample enough even for home cinema setups.

Audio Performance

Amazon Echo Studio Review 2020

The Amazon Echo Studio is quite a powerful Bluetooth speaker. No matter what genre of content you’d like to consume, this thing can output the necessary sound to make your viewing experience more immersive.

I am usually keen on an audio solution’s performance when it comes to playing music and I am happy with the Echo Studio’s prowess.

Although it favors the lower frequencies more than the mids and the highs, it does so without drowning the latter two, which is something that you normally do not see on large Bluetooth speakers.

An interesting feature that the Amazon Echo Studio has is its support for 3D Audio. You will need to sign in to your Amazon Music HD account before you can get a hold of this feature and it is the only platform that supports the Echo Studio’s 3D Audio. Amazon did mention that it will hand out support for other streaming platforms at a later date though.

So, how is the speaker’s performance on that front? Well, I am not really sure what to think about it as I have mixed feelings about the said feature.

3D audio is meant to provide a more immersive listening experience but I can hardly tell the difference between traditional Hi-Res audio and this one.

I guess you could say that for tracks that have a more melodic tone that you can discern a 3D audio-enabled track from a regular track, but other than that, non-audiophiles can hardly tell the difference.

To be fair, the said feature is still not polished yet, so expect it to improve in the years to come.

The Amazon Echo Studio also has seamless integration with the Amazon Fire TV Stick, though it does support all other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu as well.

You are also given the option to link up another Amazon Echo Studio speaker so that you can have them work in tandem to provide you with even better sound. I do not have a second unit though, so I cannot really tell anything about this. But, the feature is there if you want to get another unit.

Features

Amazon Echo Studio

Aside from 3D audio, the Echo Studio also acts as a control hub for your smart devices. You can use Alexa to turn off your lights at a specific time of the night or you can have it play your favorite track if you want. The possibilities are endless.

Do keep in mind that while it should support most of the smart home devices that you can buy on the market, there are some products that do not play ball. 

For instance, some smart locks can only be supported using Apple’s Siri, so you cannot control that using this device.

You can also link up a second Echo Studio speaker if you have one and you can use both of them to provide you with an even more powerful and more immersive listening experience.

You can control the speaker’s features by manually tapping on the buttons at the top of the device or by downloading its companion app.

Conclusion

Amazon has finally solved the issue of the Amazon Echo speakers of the past by giving you a relatively large speaker that can do a lot of things.

The Amazon Echo Studio has support for 3D audio, but you will need to have an Amazon Music HD account to get a hold of the said feature.

You can also use the speaker to control your smart home devices which is pretty nice. The microphone is always on listening mode so that you can call Alexa’s attention at a moment’s notice.

Normally, I would expect a product like this to cost more than $300, but the Amazon Echo Studio actually costs just $199. I guess getting another one is not too far out of the equation, eh?

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