UK

UK

Cortana for Android gets a refreshed look as it makes its UK debut

It’s been nearly a year since Microsoft officially launched the Android version of its Cortana digital assistant. Today, the company revealed that the app is finally available in the UK. At the same time, it will roll out an update this week that will give Cortana a fresh new look.

The revamped UI for the Android app includes what Microsoft is calling “Quick Actions”. Basically, Cortana now shows a number of features that can be called upon with one tap of the finger, in case you don’t want to use its voice features. These kinds of actions are available for things like showing the current weather forecast, the latest meeting schedule, a quick look at the most recent news and more. Quick Actions also allows users to set up new reminders, again with just one tap.

See also:

Best personal assistant apps for Android

2 weeks ago

In addition, when you need Cortana to answer a question, such as, “What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow?”, the Android version will now display that info on the screen in full page view, with a much cleaner look compared to earlier versions. Finally, Microsoft says it has made some changes under the hood, which will offer a faster overall performance for the app.

Overall, it sounds like Microsoft is still very interested in extending its Cortana assistant to as many platforms and markets as it can. You can grab the latest version now from the Google Play Store at the link below. Do you use the Android version of the app for your daily reminders and schedules?

Get it at Google Play

Samsung Gear S3 review

The newest version of the Gear series is a bit bigger, packs a little more punch, and brings a few more tools for the smartwatch enthusiast. Is there enough substance behind the style? We find out in this full review of the Samsung Gear S3.

Hot Android phones:

Before we begin, we will mention that while we are reviewing the Frontier edition, we were able to use the two different editions of it. A Wi-Fi only edition of the watch is available and is more or less the typical Gear experience, while the 4G-enabled edition through AT&T makes it easy use the watch without needing to have a phone nearby and connected.


Design

While it might not be easy for everyone to sport this large smartwatch, there is one simple reality for those who can – this is one sleek device. The Gear S3 Frontier brings grooves to the signature rotating bezel, giving it an added tactile quality that is subtle but noticeably felt. Seconds in increments of five line the area just below the rotating bezel – a small detail that adds to any analog watch face. Two buttons are on the right side, one to go backwards in the interface and the other to either go back to the watch face or open up the app list. To differentiate the Frontier and Classic editions, the Frontier’s buttons are more recessed to the body and are covered in a patterned leather.

In adding to the sporty nature of the Gear S3 Frontier, a silicone band comes standard. This helps with the watch’s water resistance, ensuring that no leather will get ruined if one’s wrist gets splashed. However, it is easy to replace the bands through the 22mm standard connectors. A myriad of bands are available from Samsung via partnerships with plenty of fashion companies, but this silicone complemented the style of the Gear S3 nicely.

Samsung Gear S3 review

The body case is a large 46mm, definitely bigger than either of the previous Gear S2 models. This size makes it tough to recommend for anyone with small wrists, regardless of one’s gender. Even my own wrists could barely contain the large frame of the watch. While it certainly doesn’t look obnoxious on my wrists, it took a little bit of time to get used to. This size adds room for plenty of features and protection – turning the watch body over reveals the heart rate sensor and designations for the 316L stainless steel material that makes it up. And finally, a MIL-STD 810G rating adds extra shock, heat, and cold resistance to the existing IP certification.

See also:

Samsung Gear S2 review

October 22, 2015

What we really applaud the Gear S3 Frontier for, is its ability to work with plenty of different outfits. While it is most at home among a more formal ensemble, the sleek head-turning design makes it a centerpiece when wearing casual clothing. And to that end, it is hardly a loud device in terms of look – the black color blends in well with most paired clothing.

Samsung Gear S3 review

Which brings us to the marquee feature that returns from the Gear S2 – the rotating bezel. It takes just little tug or a little push in order to make it move, and every click from the bezel is as satisfying as the last. Full touchscreen capabilities are available still, but this physical method of moving around the Tizen interface is fluid, responsive, and as snappy as it should be. Movements far in the interface or just to the next element are equally easy, making this an ideal smartwatch for anyone that wants a tactile experience to, in many ways, replace touchscreen experiences.

Display

Samsung Gear S3 review

And the display is half the story regarding the size of the Gear S3 – at 1.3 inches, the OLED display is covered in Gorilla Glass SR+ (Scratch Resistance Plus) and boasts 360 x 360 resolution. Though these specs might sound a bit run of the mill for most high-end smartwatches, credit goes to Samsung for leveraging it as effectively as possible. OLED lends to really great colors coming from the Tizen OS along with the ability to truly turn off the display’s lighting for battery savings.

And to that end, watch faces on the Gear S3 take on a different nature when the ‘Always on Display’ option is ticked. When using pretty much any watch face downloaded from the Samsung Gear application, covering the display with one’s hand or letting it time out reveals a more toned down version of the face that still keeps the essential elements in view no matter what angle you’re looking at the watch from. For any fans of the Always on Display on the Galaxy smartphones, this is about the closest that it can get strapped onto a wrist.

Samsung Gear S3 review

In all situations – even in broad daylight – the brightness of this OLED panel keeps everything properly viewable. And it is important to have an easy time glancing at the screen because the Tizen operating system tries to pack in as much as it can in the main screen. Some watch faces have hidden functionality when tapped upon. For example, the default face doubles up as a stopwatch. Even when features like these are running, small elements are strewn about the watch face to alert the user to changing circumstances like standing notifications or when the watch is not connected to a smartphone.

Make no mistake – this is the best way to read notifications on a smartwatch. Ever. The combination of the high quality screen and the rotating bezel to scroll down in even long notifications is an experience that is unparalleled by the touchscreen-centric Android Wear and the button pressing Pebble. Even when pictures load up in the preview, they’re shown in effective fashion and simply add to the idea that this watch is supposed to be more standalone than perpetually tethered to your smartphone.

See also:

The best Android Wear watches

4 weeks ago

Performance

Samsung Gear S3 review

So, for a watch that wants to do as much as possible, there has to be quite a bit of power under the hood. For the Gear S3, this comes in the form of an Exynos 7270, born and optimized by Samsung and for Samsung, in the case of their own smartwatch operating system Tizen. It comes at no surprise, then, that the watch simply flies through its operating system and applications. A quick spin of the rotating bezel shows how fluidly all of the widgets and screens zip past with no issues at all.

The only problems we had with applications came from third party developed downloads from the Gear Manager. This is not so much the problem of the watch and its processing power, but from the development of the apps. While this is an issue that bears mentioning, the core experience of the Gear S3 is still about as good as it can get – and that says a lot, because this watch tries to do a lot out of the box.

Hardware

Samsung Gear S3 review

As mentioned earlier, we have been able to use a 4G LTE enabled version of the Gear S3 that comes with a few extras. Namely, the ability to sync up the watch without needing to be around the smartphone it pairs with. Setting up the Gear Manager properly means that as long as both the smartphone and smartwatch are connected to some sort of network, notifications will come to the Gear S3, no matter where the user is.

The added benefit is the ability to make calls and send texts in this very situation, without the smartphone around. On AT&T, this service is called NumberSync and it makes it so that the watch goes off alongside its paired phone. Calls on the watch make use of a speaker and microphone combo that is found on the left side of the body, tucked under the top half of the watch. The experience of taking calls on the S3 is akin to a small walkie talkie that is strapped to your wrist, but it isn’t effective in even semi-loud environments and thus requires either a Bluetooth headset connection or, surprise surprise, moving to the phone. It’s a great idea made into reality, it’s just not as awesome as we probably all expected it to be.

Samsung Gear S3 review

Not the mention that having this extra functionality in the Frontier LTE means paying for a smartwatch plan that encompasses data and wireless signal, which costs $10 on top of any smartphone plan you are already paying for. Is it worth that extra money each month? That’s up to you, but we think that there is already so much fun to be had on the Gear S3 without having to shout at your wrist.

Connecting a Bluetooth headset to the watch opens up a couple of possibilities. Not only will calls be easier to manage, but the on-board storage can be used for local music playback. The LTE-enabled Frontier allows for Spotify streaming, which is nice but is a battery drain. 4GB of storage is available for local files so that content is always within reach.

Samsung Gear S3 review

One final feature on the Gear S3 is Samsung Pay, enabled on the Gear S3 through an add-on that is installed in the Gear Manager. The setup takes a little bit of time, but after getting any credit cards put into the add-on and then transferred over to the NFC and MST enabled Gear S3, payments are quite easy at multiple stations across major stores. Simply hold the back button, select which card to use, and then bring the watch up to the station and voila. This is yet another fun aspect to using the Gear S3, and even this skeptic that prefers physical credit cards gets a kick out of it.

See also:

Samsung Pay: What is it, how does it work and how do I use it?

March 5, 2016

The battery of the Gear S3 is charged via a wireless charging dock that is magnetic, making the watch snap right into place easily. Though Samsung claims two days of battery life out of the 380mAh unit, that is less true when usage is constant and aggressive. This is mostly true for the Frontier LTE, in which everything from taking calls, sending texts, and even fitness tracking combined will make the watch seem more like a one day warrior. When using more applications and functions on the regular, be prepared to take the watch off and dock it at least once a day to top off the battery.

Software

Samsung Gear S3 review

And lastly, Tizen – the smartwatch OS of choice for Samsung. Since the Gear S2, there have been some enhancements made to the operating system, and existing Gear S2 users will get this through an update. These are mostly in terms of using the rotating bezel, which can be rotated to answer or decline calls, for example.

The main noticeable changes are in the overall optimization of the Tizen software, and it shows in the smooth look and feel that the Gear S3 provides. Which is good, because there are a lot of apps that require some due diligence. Weather, calendar events, reminders, Flipboard, S Health, and so much more are available to the user, and it can get a little overwhelming. Add upon all that the different ways that users can respond to messages – voice, emoji, canned messages, and a T9 keyboard that is a bit easier to use on the larger screen but is still far from ideal.

Samsung Gear S3 review

S Health returns in Tizen as the main method of fitness tracking. Much like in the Gear S2, S Health will count steps and periodically take heart rate metrics to get a snapshot of the day’s fitness. While its step count default of 6000 is still rather absurd to us, there are a few more tools here to use when going out in the wild. GPS tracking is available when doing distanced based workouts, though it has to be enabled via the specifically selected activity, like hiking. And speaking of hiking, there are barometers and altimeters to get a better handle on one’s environment. Hikers, in particular, will probably find altitude information useful. Other functions in S Health help users track water and caffeine intake along with sleep, but these are rather simplistic in their execution.

The app ecosystem of Tizen has grown a lot since the Gear S2, and some apps that I envied Android Wear and Pebble for during my usage of Samsung’s OS have finally arrived. That said, there are issues with some third party application development, as we mentioned earlier. Sleep as Android, my sleep tracker of choice, is still a little buggy and didn’t give full reports a couple of nights. And S Voice is just not as good as Google’s voice assistance.

Samsung Gear S3 review

All in all, Tizen is an experience that is still best taken at its core, because that is where it shines best. Third party support is still lacking, but Samsung is still able to make it work where it counts – fitness tracking, though sometimes simplistic, is robust; and Samsung Pay helps add a bit of flair to the notification prowess and daily info already built into the Gear S3.

Gallery

Conclusion

Samsung Gear S3 review

There was a feeling I couldn’t shake when using the Gear S3 – with every notification that came in, I found myself enjoying reading the entire message (usually SMS) on the screen, scrolling down with the satisfying clicks of the rotating bezel. This is an experience I had before on the Gear S2, but for some reason this was better on the even larger, more men’s fashion-oriented Gear S3. And for any faults that I came across in this smartwatch, like buggy apps or tough to hear voice calls blaring from my wrist, the simplest daily activities were made better by what Samsung continues to build upon since premiering their unique tactile user experience.

...one of the most enjoyable smartwatch experiences we’ve had in a little while...

The Gear S3 Frontier, in particular, really tries to wear a lot of hats at once – smartwatch, notification center, health monitor, payment system, GPS tracker, audio player, and voice caller, to name a few. And though there are a large number of users that may be turned off by the visage of this smartwatch, credit has to be given where credit is due – Samsung managed to make the bulk of these features work well enough in concert to make what has been one of the most enjoyable smartwatch experiences we’ve had in a little while. Android Wear unfortunately has one of its biggest competitors in the Samsung Gear S3.

Hot Android Phones:

What do you think of the Samsung Gear S3? Would you buy one? Or is an Android Wear device or the Apple Watch more your type of smartwatch? Let us know your views in the comments below!

Next:

The best smartwatches

4 weeks ago

Snooper’s Charter: What you need to know about the UK’s new surveillance laws

The Investigatory Powers Act 2016, known colloquially as the Snooper’s Charter, is the UK’s new surveillance scheme which grants more power to police and other services to investigate online activity. The legislation was recently passed by the House of Lords and House of Commons, and is now legally binding, despite criticism that it would undermine the population’s right to privacy. Below are some key details about the bill.

What is the Snooper’s Charter?

The Snooper’s Charter is a UK surveillance initiative which provides more authority to government departments to investigate greater amounts of online data.

The legislation stipulates that internet providers and phone companies must collect and store customer browsing data for 12 months and allow police and other authorities to access it. This would involve internet service providers holding records of when, where and which websites have been accessed, and by whom.

Additionally, security services and the police will be granted further power to hack into individuals’ computers and phones, including the ability to download information, and install software to trace individual characters typed, if provided with a warrant.

How will the Snooper’s Charter affect me?

In terms of day-to-day online experience, the Snooper’s Charter is unlikely to affect how the internet is used and online content consumed. To be clear, that is not to say that the changes won’t have a far-reaching impact, only that those using the internet are unlikely to encounter a difference in how it operates.

The key impact it will have on UK citizens is their loss of privacy. While the legislation doesn’t allow the government to access the content of individual messages sent or web pages accessed, it does provide access to the metadata, which many argue can still be used to identify details about a person’s private life.

Additionally, it’s said that security services could be called upon to hack an individual’s phone to eavesdrop on conversations and that attempts could be made to decrypt encrypted messages, in special cases. The individual wouldn’t necessarily have to be suspected of criminal activity for this to occur either.

See also:

15 best Android VPN apps

October 28, 2016

Can I avoid the surveillance measures?

Using a private VPN network will put a step between you and others who may attempt to monitor your online activity (government bodies or otherwise) – but none of the commercial VPNs available are truly anonymous and untraceable. Likewise, anonymity network Tor is often recommended as a free way to keep your online activity private, however, there are still questions over how secure this is also.

Should the government wish to investigate an individual it may be difficult for them to avoid complete scrutiny simply through use of a service like Tor or a VPN – but these are likely the best options for now. It also bears noting that visitors to the UK will also be affected, as roaming data will also be logged and recorded because it occurs on local networks.

How have people responded to the Snooper’s Charter?

Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the world wide web, said that the Snooper’s Charter has “No place in a modern democracy – it undermines our fundamental rights online,” while NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden decried it as “The most intrusive and least accountable surveillance regime in the West.”

In its defence, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “The government is clear that, at a time of heightened security threat, it is essential our law enforcement and security and intelligence services have the power they need to keep people safe. The internet presents new opportunities for terrorists and we must ensure we have the capabilities to confront this challenge. But it is also right that these powers are subject to strict safeguards and rigorous oversight.”

As of the time of writing, an online petition to repeal the law has accrued more than 150,000 signatures.

When will the Snooper’s Charter come into effect?

The previous bill, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (DRIPA), must first be replaced and the Home Office has stated that some of the provisions in the bill will require extensive testing. The new Investigatory Powers Act likely won’t come into full effect until 2017.

What are your thoughts on the Snooper’s Charter? Is it a necessary security measure in the modern age or an abuse of privacy and freedom? Give us your thoughts in the comments.

ZTE Axon 7 mini goes on sale in the UK from Carphone Warehouse

0

The ZTE Axon 7 mini is crossing the pond to the UK. Carphone Warehouse is the first retailer in the United Kingdom to sell the 5.2-inch smartphone, both online and in its retail stores. This launch fallows the release of the phone in the US in October.

See also:

ZTE Axon 7 mini hands on

September 1, 2016

If you don’t want to bother with a pesky contract or payment plan, Carphone Warehouse is selling the phone unlocked for £249.99. However, if you want to pay over time, you can pay to get the phone for £13.50 a month with a £50 upfront cost, or for £17.50 a month with no upfront cost. The retailer is selling the phone in both its Ion Gold and Platinum Gray colors, although as of this writing the gray color is sold out online.

The ZTE Axon 7 mini has a 1920×1080 AMOLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor with a clock speed of 1.5 GHz,  3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage along with a microSD card slot to add up to 256GB of additional storage. The phone also has a 16 megapixel rear camera, an 8MP front-facing camera, and a non-removable 2705mAh battery. It comes with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow installed out of the box. The all-metal body of the phone also features dual front facing speakers.

Get it at Carphone Warehouse

Deal: Sony Xperia XZ and Xperia X Compact now 25% off

Sony branded smartphones haven’t been selling very well in recent years. Well, at least not as well as the company would like. In hopes of slightly increasing sales in one of its most important markets in Europe — the UK — Sony is offering a substantial discount for the Xperia XZ and Xperia X Compact.

The Japanese manufacturer is giving out a 25 percent discount on both devices but only when purchased through their official online store. The company’s flagship device, the Xperia XZ, which normally retails for £457.50, can now be yours for £411.75.

The more affordable and less powerful Xperia X Compact is normally available for £315.83, but you can get your hands on one for only £284.25 with the discount from Sony. Free shipping is included with both devices.

See also:

Sony Xperia X Compact gets September security update, Xperia C4 gets July’s

October 26, 2016

To get the discount, make sure you enter the code below during checkout:

Sony Xperia XZ code: 2XZDISCOUNT25
Sony Xperia X Compact code: 2XCOMDISCOUNT25

The Sony Xperia XZ is available in Mineral Black, Platinum, and Forest Blue, while you can get the Xperia X Compact in Universe Black, White, and Mist Blue. If you’re considering picking one up, head over to Sony’s official UK store by clicking the button below. And as always, we do suggest you hurry up as stocks won’t last forever.

Are you thinking of getting this deal? Will you be opting for the Xperia XZ or Xperia X Compact? Let us know in the comments below.

Buy Sony Xperia XZ
Buy Sony Xperia X Compact

Samsung Pay launch in UK delayed to 2017

0

Samsung Pay, the mobile payment service, first launched in South Korea and the US in 2015. The biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world has since expanded the service, as it is currently also available in Spain, Australia, Singapore, Brazil, and a few other countries.

At the beginning of the year, Samsung promised that it will also bring the popular payment service to the UK by the end of 2016. But unfortunately, it looks like that’s not going to happen. According to The Telegraph, the company recently confirmed that the launch date of Samsung Pay has been pushed back. Samsung plans on releasing it next year but hasn’t given a more specific time frame as to when that might happen.

See also:

Android Pay vs Apple Pay vs Samsung Pay Overview

April 27, 2016

Supposedly, the main reason for the delay is that Samsung is still negotiating with banks in the UK. These things apparently take a bit more time than the South Korean giant expected. But we do believe that the company is trying its hardest to bring the service to the UK, where it will go head to head with Apple Pay and Android Pay.

Do you see yourself using Samsung Pay when it hits the UK in 2017, or will you still be sticking to more conventional payment methods for now? Let us know in the comments below.

Samsung Pay launch in UK delayed to 2017

0

Samsung Pay, the mobile payment service, first launched in South Korea and the US in 2015. The biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world has since expanded the service, as it is currently also available in Spain, Australia, Singapore, Brazil, and a few other countries.

At the beginning of the year, Samsung promised that it will also bring the popular payment service to the UK by the end of 2016. But unfortunately, it looks like that’s not going to happen. According to The Telegraph, the company recently confirmed that the launch date of Samsung Pay has been pushed back. Samsung plans on releasing it next year but hasn’t given a more specific time frame as to when that might happen.

See also:

Android Pay vs Apple Pay vs Samsung Pay Overview

April 27, 2016

Supposedly, the main reason for the delay is that Samsung is still negotiating with banks in the UK. These things apparently take a bit more time than the South Korean giant expected. But we do believe that the company is trying its hardest to bring the service to the UK, where it will go head to head with Apple Pay and Android Pay.

Do you see yourself using Samsung Pay when it hits the UK in 2017, or will you still be sticking to more conventional payment methods for now? Let us know in the comments below.

Samsung Pay launch in UK delayed to 2017

0

Samsung Pay, the mobile payment service, first launched in South Korea and the US in 2015. The biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world has since expanded the service, as it is currently also available in Spain, Australia, Singapore, Brazil, and a few other countries.

At the beginning of the year, Samsung promised that it will also bring the popular payment service to the UK by the end of 2016. But unfortunately, it looks like that’s not going to happen. According to The Telegraph, the company recently confirmed that the launch date of Samsung Pay has been pushed back. Samsung plans on releasing it next year but hasn’t given a more specific time frame as to when that might happen.

See also:

Android Pay vs Apple Pay vs Samsung Pay Overview

April 27, 2016

Supposedly, the main reason for the delay is that Samsung is still negotiating with banks in the UK. These things apparently take a bit more time than the South Korean giant expected. But we do believe that the company is trying its hardest to bring the service to the UK, where it will go head to head with Apple Pay and Android Pay.

Do you see yourself using Samsung Pay when it hits the UK in 2017, or will you still be sticking to more conventional payment methods for now? Let us know in the comments below.

BLU Vivo 6 Hands On and First Impressions

0

The BLU Vivo 6 is a new phone that offers some fairly impressive features at a very compelling price point. An affordably priced device, it nevertheless comes with a 97% metal body, 4GB RAM, 64GB internal storage and a few other surprisingly high-end features. Like any affordable device however, it also presents a number of compromises which are apparent straight away.

BLU Vivo 6 Hands On and First Impressions

From the front, this is a rather stock-looking smartphone that seems to take design cues from other smartphone. It’s entirely white with a single home button with a dot on either side to indicate the capacitive buttons. The back is a bit more exciting though thanks to a rose gold, matte finish that I actually really like. It manages to look fairly premium and eye-catching without essentially being an oblong mirror for a change. This also bodes well for fingerprints. BLU saw fit to include a soft, transparent case for the back too which is a nice touch.

BLU Vivo 6 Hands On and First Impressions

The display is a 5.5-inch IPS panel of 1080p resolution and while it’s not QHD resolution, it is very bright and you’ll need to inspect closely to see that this isn’t QHD. Corning Gorilla Glass 3 provides some welcome protection and there’s also an included screen protector in the package. There’s a strange raised piece of glass – which is almost imperceptible – around the entire front of the device that I kept trying to peel off at first; this might be the ‘curved display’ that BLU keeps talking about but I’m not sure I get the appeal.

BLU Vivo 6 Hands On and First Impressions

There aren’t many surprises in terms of the hardware either. The home button features a fingerprint scanner that works in any direction and seems to work well enough from our initial tests. There are also two SIM card slots making the Vivo 6 one of the few handsets to natively offer dual SIM functionality in the UK. USB-C is a forward-thinking choice and while I haven’t had a chance to test it, the 3,130mAh battery is promising. For the times when you’re running low, Quick Charge helps get you topped up, with the Vivo 6 slated to offer a 40% charge in around 30 minutes.

BLU Vivo 6 Hands On and First Impressions

On the rear, the Vivo 6 has a 13MP Sony IMX sensor coupled with f/2.0 aperture, HDR (in software, not on the lens), Phase Detection autofocus and laser focus. Video recording tops out at 1080p at 30 frames per second while the front facing camera is capable of taking 8MP selfies.

In my quick tests, the camera seems to perform pretty averagely, with a lack of detail and lack of vibrancy prevalent throughout these quick snaps. Of course, we’ll be testing this further for the full review.

Under the hood, the BLU Vivo 6 is powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 processor clocked at 1.8GHz and this is paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB internal storage, that can be expanded by a further 64GB using the microSD card slot. It’s not the best processing package on a smartphone but, considering the price tag, it’s more than capable of getting the job done.

BLU Vivo 6 Hands On and First Impressions

The Vivo 6 is running Android 6.0.0 Marshmallow with a few tweaks from BLU. It’s a fairly light skin but with some weird choices. Like many custom Android implementations, there’s no app drawer (though this is easily fixed) and for some reason Opera appears to be the default browser. There isn’t much bloatware, but most apps that come preinstalled, such as McAfee Security, can be easily removed.

BLU Vivo 6 Hands On and First Impressions

The BLU Vivo 6 certainly won’t set the world alight but it is one of the few handsets at this price to offer a solid set of internals. While the design may seem unimaginative, the rear panel is quite nice and overall, it’s a functional design that gets the job done. It won’t replace your flagship but if you’re in the market for a device that offers a solid experience – say, for your tech-shy uncle perhaps – the Vivo 6 certainly seems to tick that box.

Of course, we’ll be bringing you a full review in the coming days so stay tuned but for now, let us know what you think of the BLU Vivo 6 in the comments below! If you’re interested in buying the Vivo 6, it’s available now at a cost of £239, however as a Black Friday launch special, it’s reduced to just £184.99! You can pick it up from the link below.

 

BLU Vivo 6 Hands On and First Impressions

0

The BLU Vivo 6 is a new phone that offers some fairly impressive features at a very compelling price point. An affordably priced device, it nevertheless comes with a 97% metal body, 4GB RAM, 64GB internal storage and a few other surprisingly high-end features. Like any affordable device however, it also presents a number of compromises which are apparent straight away.

BLU Vivo 6 Hands On and First Impressions

From the front, this is a rather stock-looking smartphone that seems to take design cues from other smartphone. It’s entirely white with a single home button with a dot on either side to indicate the capacitive buttons. The back is a bit more exciting though thanks to a rose gold, matte finish that I actually really like. It manages to look fairly premium and eye-catching without essentially being an oblong mirror for a change. This also bodes well for fingerprints. BLU saw fit to include a soft, transparent case for the back too which is a nice touch.

BLU Vivo 6 Hands On and First Impressions

The display is a 5.5-inch IPS panel of 1080p resolution and while it’s not QHD resolution, it is very bright and you’ll need to inspect closely to see that this isn’t QHD. Corning Gorilla Glass 3 provides some welcome protection and there’s also an included screen protector in the package. There’s a strange raised piece of glass – which is almost imperceptible – around the entire front of the device that I kept trying to peel off at first; this might be the ‘curved display’ that BLU keeps talking about but I’m not sure I get the appeal.

BLU Vivo 6 Hands On and First Impressions

There aren’t many surprises in terms of the hardware either. The home button features a fingerprint scanner that works in any direction and seems to work well enough from our initial tests. There are also two SIM card slots making the Vivo 6 one of the few handsets to natively offer dual SIM functionality in the UK. USB-C is a forward-thinking choice and while I haven’t had a chance to test it, the 3,130mAh battery is promising. For the times when you’re running low, Quick Charge helps get you topped up, with the Vivo 6 slated to offer a 40% charge in around 30 minutes.

BLU Vivo 6 Hands On and First Impressions

On the rear, the Vivo 6 has a 13MP Sony IMX sensor coupled with f/2.0 aperture, HDR (in software, not on the lens), Phase Detection autofocus and laser focus. Video recording tops out at 1080p at 30 frames per second while the front facing camera is capable of taking 8MP selfies.

In my quick tests, the camera seems to perform pretty averagely, with a lack of detail and lack of vibrancy prevalent throughout these quick snaps. Of course, we’ll be testing this further for the full review.

Under the hood, the BLU Vivo 6 is powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 processor clocked at 1.8GHz and this is paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB internal storage, that can be expanded by a further 64GB using the microSD card slot. It’s not the best processing package on a smartphone but, considering the price tag, it’s more than capable of getting the job done.

BLU Vivo 6 Hands On and First Impressions

The Vivo 6 is running Android 6.0.0 Marshmallow with a few tweaks from BLU. It’s a fairly light skin but with some weird choices. Like many custom Android implementations, there’s no app drawer (though this is easily fixed) and for some reason Opera appears to be the default browser. There isn’t much bloatware, but most apps that come preinstalled, such as McAfee Security, can be easily removed.

BLU Vivo 6 Hands On and First Impressions

The BLU Vivo 6 certainly won’t set the world alight but it is one of the few handsets at this price to offer a solid set of internals. While the design may seem unimaginative, the rear panel is quite nice and overall, it’s a functional design that gets the job done. It won’t replace your flagship but if you’re in the market for a device that offers a solid experience – say, for your tech-shy uncle perhaps – the Vivo 6 certainly seems to tick that box.

Of course, we’ll be bringing you a full review in the coming days so stay tuned but for now, let us know what you think of the BLU Vivo 6 in the comments below! If you’re interested in buying the Vivo 6, it’s available now at a cost of £239, however as a Black Friday launch special, it’s reduced to just £184.99! You can pick it up from the link below.