High ambition

Xiaomi Mi A2

By Tushar Kanwar
  • Published 19.08.18
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Xiaomi Mi A2
Price: Rs 16,999

The Mi A2 is the successor to the device that rebooted the Google Android One initiative and it improves on its predecessor in almost every perceivable fashion, bumping up the performance and camera stakes far above what its price point would suggest. If you can look past the relatively few chinks in its armour, the A2 earns an easy recommendation for an Android purist on a budget.

Xiaomi’s always excelled at the specs-for-the-money equation, and the A2 ticks off the requisite boxes — a Snapdragon 660 with 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage — making the A2 one of the most capable performers in its category and a reliable workhorse overall. The display offers natural colours —  although is a tad muted — and uses Gorilla Glass 5 for protection. Yet, it is on the camera front that Xiaomi has shown the biggest jump with the twin f/1.75 aperture lenses on the rear shooter. The Mi A2 captures detailed, colour-accurate images in both daylight and low light, and the dynamic range is spot on shot after shot. Long after you buy the A2, it will continue to surprise you with the kind of photographs it produces.

Xiaomi’s taken the slim and tall approach with the A2, with a tall 18:9 display (with somewhat sizeable bezels above and below) that is easy to hold in the hand and, for a change, avoids the me-too notch that’s quite the flavour of the season. Yet, one wishes that the company had refreshed its now-generic look to keep up with the Joneses. The lack of a microSD card slot and the 3.5mm jack, and the somewhat average battery life may turn a few folks away to the MIUI-sporting yet equally capable Note 5 Pro.

Huawei Nova 3
Price: Rs 34,999

As Huawei’s latest entry in the budget flagship segment, the Nova 3 brings a lot of firepower and good looks to OnePlus’ and Asus’ backyard, but do the AI capabilities and four cameras do enough? The competition is fierce, and the Nova 3 falls a bit short.

As with recent Huawei and Honor phones, the Nova 3 wows on looks and craftsmanship, with a glass-back, thin bezels and a notched display. The tall 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 6.3-inch LCD screen offers good brightness levels and vivid colours. The 6GB of memory and 128GB of storage are good spec options at the price. The quad camera setup — a dual-camera setup (16MP and 24MP) on the rear, with both cameras using f/1.8 lenses, and a dual-camera (24MP f/2.0 and 2MP) setup on the front — uses the camera’s AI algorithms to detect a number of scenes and adjust the shooting parameters accordingly. Images in good light tend to exhibit good details and colours. Night photos suffer a bit due to the lack of optical image stabilisation, though selfies (both solos and wider groups) were captured well, with accurate exposure and colours.

There is no scratch protection on the display. Considering that it’s competing against the Snapdragon 845-sporting OnePlus 6 and Asus Zenfone 5Z, the Huawei-proprietary Kirin 970 chip on the Nova 3 is left behind in pure speed and graphics performance. And the feature-rich yet bloatware-heavy EMUI does it no favours.

Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute Pro
Price: Rs 44,900

Dyson’s line of cord-free vacuum cleaners, often held as the gold standard for performance and futuristic design, has a new flagship at the helm in the Cyclone V10. Tweaking the design to measurably improve suction power and longevity, the V10 earns a solid recommendation, though its pricing means it’s not for everyone.

The big changes in the V10 are around the design, which has retained all the elements of the previous-generation V8’s space-age design yet moved the Dyson digital motor (which now spins up to more than  2,000 revs per second!) and the bin all in line with the suction tube. Not only does the resultant direct airflow make the motor more efficient, it also evenly distributes the weight above the handle to make the V10 easier to hold over longer durations. The effect is a larger array of cyclones which generate far more suction power than the previous V8, even though the motor itself is half the size of the previous gen one. The battery pack, though smaller, now lasts an impressive full hour of vacuuming on the lowest suction mode. Pick the right attachment — there are seven of them for different applications — and the V10 sucks up dirt, grime and even ‘hidden dust’ (microscopic insect droppings and bed mites) in a couple of passes.

Still doesn’t handle water spills or wet dirt. Too pricey for most folks.

Sennheiser Momentum Free
Price: Rs 14,990

Sennheiser’s Momentum series have set a high bar for consumer audio for the past five years. The latest is the Momentum Free, a neckband-style pair of wireless earphones, that is a good pick for folks who prefer audio quality over all else.

A sturdy and uncomplicated design characterises the Momentum Free  — a short cable runs between the earphones that are incredibly light and comfortable in the ear — if they fit. Their biggest plus is solid sound quality with impressive clarity and detail across the mids and the lows, along with well-reined-in bass levels. These make some of the competition almost sound muddied in comparison. The magnetic play/pause feature is neat.

These have to be tried on before they are bought. While they fit me fine, you should try one out for size since many have reported that the earphones fall out easily due to issues with the fit of the earbuds. They’re also expensive and battery life is disappointing.

Tushar Kanwar is a tech columnist and commentator. Follow him on Twitter @2shar. Mail your tech queries to t2onsunday@abp.in