Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review of Xiaomi Mi3 and HTC Desire 616

Xiaomi Mi3

Affordable, yet smart

Until the Moto G was launched earlier this year, affordable Android phones were all about compromises—sluggish performance, basic screens and battery life that was shoddy at best. But newer Android phones seem to be changing all that. We examine two:

Xiaomi Mi3


The build quality indicates that an attempt has been made to make the affordable Mi3 feel premium. The metallic finish on the back panel contrasts well with the dark finish up front. The right- and left-side spines are slightly curved, which improves grip. The display’s glass design drops over on the sides, in a sort of cascade effect, and feels nice while using the swipe gestures on screen. The machined speaker grille
reminds of the precision HTC showed with the much more expensive One M7 and M8 (Rs.35,000-45,000).
The Mi3 has fairly high-end specifications, something largely unseen in other phones in this price range. The Snapdragon 800 processor is what the previous generation of high-end flagship phones used, and there’s no doubt that the performance is good. The interface, unlike some other Android phones, doesn’t affect performance in a negative way. The 5-inch full high-definition in-plane switching display ticks almost all the boxes—good for games and movies, and equally comfortable for reading and Web browsing. However, the fingerprint-attracting glass layer above the screen is rather reflective, which can be an issue outdoors.
The MIUI interface removes the separate app drawer, putting all the icons on various home screens. Seemingly inspired by Apple’s iOS interface, but something that will appeal to anyone switching to Android for the first time. There are a whole bunch of themes that users can download, to customize the interface. On the lock screen, double-tapping on the “slide to unlock” circle immediately takes the screen into music-player mode. Long-press the home touch key below the screen, and the flashlight switches on.
The 13-megapixel camera does a fairly good job in daytime as well as low-light conditions. The shots have adequate detailing and the colours look good too. One feature it misses out on is the Optical Image Stabilization, which automatically negates any hand shaking or slight camera movement while taking a shot, resulting in clearer images.
The 3,050 mAh pack lasts a day and a half when used as a primary phone. The phone packs a fairly recent Android version 4.4.2.

HTC Desire 616

HTC Desire 616

Another mid-range Android phone from HTC that seems to be a story replay of their recent efforts—good as an individual product, but with rivals offering better specifications on paper and attracting customers relatively easily. The Desire 616 is fairly well built. The soft finish on the spines is helpful in keeping the phone secure in your hands, and the shiny black colour on the removable battery panel looks good if you can keep it from getting scratched. Up front, there is the 5-inch screen, and the rest of the panel is completely clean—the home, return and options commands have been integrated in the on-screen user interface.
The 1,280x720-pixel display is quite well balanced for a variety of tasks—be it productivity or entertainment. This is good in its own right, but when phones like the Xiaomi Mi3 pack in full high-definition screens, 720p just may not be enough. The saving grace is the neat Sense UI, which is similar to what the more expensive HTC phones feature. The on-screen keyboard layout isn’t the same as on the HTC flagships, but is nevertheless well spaced out with fairly big individual keys.
Power for the Desire 616 comes from an octa-core MediaTek processor, paired with 1 GB of RAM. The performance is consistent and it can handle five-six apps running simultaneously. The processor may seem a lot, but don’t go by that—it will not offer blazing-fast multitasking. The 8-megapixel camera does a good job of capturing details when the lighting is good. A bit of noise tends to show up in low-light shots.
Battery backup with the 2,000 mAh battery is good for a day. You will have to charge the phone at night or the next morning.
The Desire 616 is competing against phones which come with better specifications. And most users tend to be swayed by that.

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