Monday, 30th October 2017

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The Galaxy Fold checks all the boxes for a flagship, and tops those off with a ‘category of one’ folding design

The Fold is an audacious step into the future, even if it has had its stumbles along the way

  • Published 16.11.19, 8:12 PM
  • Updated 16.11.19, 8:12 PM
  • 6 mins read
Samsung Galaxy Fold Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Fold

Price: Rs 1.65 lakh

In a world of same-ish slabs we know as smartphones, the Galaxy Fold is an audacious step into the future, even if it has had its stumbles along the way. The Fold checks all the boxes for a flagship — great screens, strong performance and good cameras — and tops those off with a ‘category of one’ folding design that you simply cannot get anywhere else (for now, at least). It has its quirks, but if you’re the sort who absolutely must have the latest, greatest piece of tech, look no further.

Reminiscent of the Nokia Communicator of yore, the device packs in a 4.6-inch display on the front of a chunky, tall form-factor, but the real magic happens when you open it up to reveal the 7.3-inch foldable AMOLED screen within. I haven’t tired of the reaction the phone gets in public, and turned heads are guaranteed no matter which circles you hang out in! The bigger, tablet-esque screen is great for watching movies or playing games, and even for productivity applications — the extra screen real estate allows you to run apps side-by-side, say like browsing the web and responding to WhatsApp messages at the same time. Most apps transitioned seamlessly from the outer to the inner main screen with Samsung’s App Continuity feature. You get so engrossed with the Fold’s marquee feature that you almost forget it does all the usual things as well as any other Samsung flagship. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip with 12GB of memory and 512GB of storage is top-shelf stuff, as are the six cameras. Battery life is decent for a device with such a large display.

About those quirks — the smaller front display is good for casual use like making a quick phone call, but we’ve all collectively moved on to bigger displays and the Fold had me opening up the device often just to avoid using the dinky, almost-secondary display. It lacks any dust/water protection and there’s an inherent fragility about a ‘mostly glass, foldable display’ device that should be made clear to any potential buyers, especially when you’re spending this much.

Nokia 7.2
Nokia 7.2 Nokia

Nokia 7.2

Price: Rs 18,599 onwards

The Nokia 7.2 improves on the successful 7.1 in several measurable ways — build quality, battery, performance and cameras — but in doing so, it appears that HMD Global has priced it out of contention against the competition from Xiaomi and Realme.

There’s an understated sort of appeal about the Nokia 7.2, courtesy its curved frame and smooth frosted glass back, and there’s the Nokia hallmark of sturdiness that is immediately apparent when you hold the device. The display, a 6.3-inch full-HD+ HDR10-certified panel, is vivid and tack-sharp, with accurate colours. The new triple-camera setup, with a 48MP primary camera, an 8MP wide-angle and a 5MP depth sensor, turns out sharp and detailed images with good dynamic range, although it errs on the saturation levels. As with the other Nokia phones, this one too runs stock Android Pie without any bloatware and serves as an example for other OEMs to follow. Battery life is one of the 7.2’s strongest suits, with the phone lasting well past a day of heavy use.

It’s a bit bulky in the hand. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chip on the 7.2 doesn’t compare favourably to the Snapdragon 700-series devices in the same price segment, although performance is fine for day-to-day tasks (gaming suffers somewhat). Photos taken in low light lacked detail.

Lenovo Smart Clock
Lenovo Smart Clock Lenovo

Lenovo Smart Clock

Price: Rs 5,999

Following close on the heels of the Google Nest Hub is the Lenovo Smart Clock, which, true to its name, really is a smart clock with Google Assistant smarts and little else. If you’re looking to dip your feet in the smart display space and use a ton of Google services, this is one to consider.

If you know what you’re getting into, the Lenovo Smart Clock won’t disappoint. For instance, you can’t use it to watch a YouTube video, or, for that matter, see your pictures from Google Photos, tasks which the Nest Hub excelled at. It can, however, be used for the usual Assistant-based requests — checking your calendar, searching for stuff, controlling compatible smarthome products. The size is perfect for bedside use, and it even has a USB port to plug in your phone for overnight charging.

Sure, you’re getting a display at around the same price point as Amazon’s smart speakers, but the 4-inch LCD display isn’t particularly bright or sharp, neither is the single speaker audio output good for anything beyond voice interactions. Limited clock faces. No battery, powered by a proprietary wall adapter.  

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Bose

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Price: Rs 34,500

Frequent travellers swear by their noise-cancelling headphones, and the one brand that still tops mindshare in this category is Bose. With the latest Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, Bose has upgraded its bestseller to 2019 specs and earns a solid recommendation, although you’d be well advised to check out the competing Sony headphones as well.

The Bose 700 has a completely new design aesthetic, particularly around that distinctive new headband — a welcome departure from the signature yet dated look of the QuietComfort series. The soft foam padding on the headband and earcups ensures that the Bose 700 remains super comfortable over extended durations while ensuring proper noise isolation. Gesture controls on the right earcup work well to play/pause music, change tracks or adjust volume. But it’s the active noise cancellation where Bose continues to excel, blocking out ambient noise without too much of the uncomfortable ‘vacuum’ effect seen on such headphones. You can adjust the level of noise cancellation on the headset or via the Bose Music app.

Sound quality sees big improvements, with the headphones offering an open, airy soundstage, but the Sony WH-1000XM3 pulls slightly ahead in terms of detail, sound quality and codec support. The Bose AR audio-augmented reality experience is a tad gimmicky.

Mi TV 4X (65)
Mi TV 4X (65) Mi

Mi TV 4X (65)

Price: Rs 54,999

Xiaomi’s success in the TV space replicates its tried-and-tested smartphone formula — package good hardware specs at an ultra-competitive price — a formula which works, and how! The brand has been pushing the envelope on screen sizes and platform updates, and there’s no better example than the Mi TV 4X 65-inch LED TV, Xiaomi’s biggest, boldest TV yet.

With plastic bezels giving way to a brushed metal design, the Mi TV 4X gets a subtle yet discernible boost in terms of build quality and looks. The headlining news, of course, is the massive 65-inch IPS 4K panel sourced from LG, and the bump up in size is tangible, even compared to the already-large 55-inch Mi TV. Speaking of which, the panel offers a wide colour gamut with 10-bit HDR support. That, coupled with the Vivid Picture Engine enhancements, means punchier colours and deeper contrast, and the 4K HDR Netflix content I watched was excellent for the price segment in which the 65-inch Mi TV 4X operates. Netflix and Amazon Prime support out of the box is a long overdue addition, and the TV retains all the Patchwall + Android TV goodness, including universal voice search via Google Assistant. Data Saver mode is a bonus for folks who use their mobile hotspots to stream content.

It’s no 120Hz panel, but the Mi Tv 4X packs in a dedicated Reality Flow chip that analyses your content and interpolates frames to pump out super-smooth 60Hz video — great for gaming or sports, not so much for movies or action sequences. Fortunately, there’s an option to turn it off when you need. The 20W audio output is warmer and clearer than previous TVs, and there’s Dolby Audio and DTS-HD support as well, but if you’re using this in a big room (as you might, for a 65-inch TV), throw in a Mi soundbar into the mix as well.

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock
Amazon Echo Dot with Clock Amazon

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock

Price: Rs 5,499

Amazon’s Echo Dot has long been an affordable gateway to using Alexa for voice assistance, smart home management and the like. Yet, for something that people apparently ask of Alexa all the time — the time, not if she loved them (though that’s an oft-asked query as well!) — the Echo Dot lacked basic bedside charms. Ergo, the Echo Dot with Clock, a handy little smart speaker for not a whole lot of money.

Last year’s Echo Dot brought with it much improved sound quality — Amazon has taken the diminutive but capable mini speaker and added a bunch of LEDs under the fabric cover which can either show you the time (or alarm/timer) or the temperature outside. For something that’s ideally placed on your bedside, the device helpfully regulates the brightness according to ambient light. The rest is familiar territory — decent audio quality (yet strictly for casual listening), and the same range of smarthome control and overall smarts as long as there is an Alexa skill for that. Recently added support for Hindi is a plus.

None, really.